The Cost of Revival and Reformation – A Response to Concerns and Objections

By The Special Ministries Association

“A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work. . . . A revival and a reformation must take place, under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation are two different things. Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. . . . Revival and reformation are to do their appointed work, and in doing this work they must blend.” Selected Messages, book 1,121,128.

The Cost of Revival and Reformation

The Special Ministries Association represents various Seventh- day Adventist special ministries. These special ministries desire to work in harmony with the conferences, as fellow laborers, toward hastening the soon coming of Jesus. However, to our disappointment, we have been experiencing increasing resistance from some whom we would expect to be cooperating with us in this endeavor. This resistance has increased to the spreading of rumors and accusations. Generally these charges have not been answered. The ministries have merely kept on with their work. But the counsel of the Lord indicates that there comes a time to answer:

When man assails his fellow men, and presents in a ridiculous light those whom God has appointed to do work for Him, we would not he doing justice to the accusers, or to those who are misled by their accusations should we keep silent, leaving the people to think that their brethren and sisters, in whom they have had confidence, are no longer worthy of their love and fellowship. This work, arising in our very midst, and resembling the work of Korab, Dathan, and Abinam, is an offence to God, and should he met. Selected Messages, book 3, 348

Recently one of the conferences issued a twelve- page document concerning Marshall Grosboll, Director of Steps to Life, Inc., one of the special ministries. This document, entitled Concerns and Objections, lists a number of accusations. This paper The Cost of Revival and Reformation, is a response to the conference’s concerns and objections, and in so doing, details the principles that should prevail between workers in God’s cause.

Concerns and Objections was put together by an anonymous committee. It was read by Elder R, 1 Seventh- day Adventist conference president, to Elder Grosboll and others who were present, at a meeting on January 25, 1989. Those present at the meeting included representatives of the Union Conference, Hope International, Hartland, Steps to Life, some other ministries, and two conference presidents.

Marshall Grosboll is an ordained minister of the Seventh- day Adventist Church who took a leave of absence from the Kansas- Nebraska Conference in 1987 in order to devote full- time to the Steps to Life television ministry and its affiliate Bible worker training school (the Institute of Ministry). The leave of absence was prompted by the conference’s request for Pastor Grosboll to transfer to another district when, after considerable counsel and prayer, he felt convicted to continue the Steps to Life outreach and training ministries that were just getting started and established in Wichita.

The conference’s concerns and objections in this document involve methodology, procedure, and emphasis, not doctrine. Elder Grosboll believes and teaches all of the historical and fundamental teachings of the Seventh- day Adventist Church, and has never been charged with teaching false principles contrary to the church. The document ends with this statement:

Because of these and many other reasons we believe that Marshall Grosboll has demonstrated that he is not a true shepherd of the flock and therefore should not represent the Seventh- day Adventist Church as an ordained minister. Concerns and Objections, 12

Since Elder Grosboll has never yet been tried and is still a recognized, ordained minister of the Seventh- day Adventist Church, the Special Ministries Association has serious concerns about the conclusion of this document which calls for a change in this regard, and the reasons for arriving at said conclusion. The charges in the Concerns and Objections document involve the ministry and decisions of many people who are involved and benefitted by the Steps to Life ministry. Moreover, the charges brought against Elder Grosboll and the Steps to Life ministry can likewise be brought against many others who are conscientiously seeking to fulfill ministries for the Lord. Thus, many people have been prayerfully studying the issues raised in this document.

Pastor Grosboll’s Ministry

Elder Marshall Grosboll has served for 12 years as a pastor of the Seventh- day Adventist Church. Following is a short statement by Elder Grosboll concerning his ministry.

I have served as pastor to the best of my ability. Thanks only to the grace of God, the churches I have served have grown in attendance, tithe, and membership during my pastorates there. But I freely admit that I am not free from fault in my ministry. Realizing the high calling and sacred responsibilities of the ministry, I have always viewed myself as unworthy. Thus I have prayed for just a humble field of service in which I might serve Him.

As I view the lovely Majesty of heaven, lacerated and bleeding upon the cross, lam constantly reminded that for my sins He died. My only rightful reward is what Jesus suffered on the cross. He took my place. Knowing that, I have pledged myself to be true to Him, unworthy though I may be, to whatever calling and position He may ask me to fulfill. I fully believe that the Lord has called me and ordained me to the gospel ministry, and by His grace I am as true to that calling today as I have ever been.

Yet if I alone were being accused, I would not feel it prudent to answer. For the least of my sins is deserving of more than the goals this document is striving for. Whether I remain or not, or whether I am despised and condemned, accepted or unaccepted, is of little consequence. Jesus endured far more for me. But it is not I alone on trial, but rather it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

Let me also reaffirm that I believe, and have always believed, in the movement, message, and organizational principles upon which the Seventh- day Adventist Church was established. Moreover, I have always tried to cooperate with its leadership in a spirit of love. I have served under seven conference presidents and have had a wonderful relationship with most of them. And though, regretfully, that is not the situation here, I have sought to bring about reconciliation and cooperation with this conference. I am determined to continue to work for unity within the guidelines of biblical principle. I also, with the Protestant reformers and a multitude of others within the Seventh day Adventist Church, believe that the Word of God and the Holy Spirit must become and remain central in all that we do. All decisions of principle must be based upon this standard and this standard alone.”

Pastor Grosboll, as do most people in special ministries, desires to cooperate with the conference. Yet our perception is that the only cooperation wanted in this instance is unquestioning obedience to conference control. Ellen White said that Battle Creek operated on the “rule or ruin” principle (Testimonies to Ministers, 360). God designs that we should all work together, for His honor and glory, as brothers and sisters, willing to counsel and be counseled, and loving one another as Christ has loved us. Yet above and beyond our relationship with one another and the conference, must be our loyalty to truth and righteousness and obedience to the call and ordination of the Lord. May this become our experience. Our greatest desire is to see the conference filled with the spirit and power of the Holy Spirit. Elder Grosboll, and each of us in Special Ministries, are more than willing to work with the conference. We believe this is what God wants.

We find it unfortunate that the Concerns and Objection’s document, which was presented at the January 25 meeting, either did not seek to verify the facts, and/ or overlooked certain facts, before it was presented. Much work obviously went into this document, yet no one ever got in touch with Elder Grosboll. We also find it unfortunate that the document judges motives throughout, and does so in the most unfavorable light.

The January 25 Meeting

It should be noted that when Elder R came to speak with Pastor Grosboll, he said he was “following Matthew 18″ in coming to his brother with some concerns. Upon further investigation, it was found that this whole document had been presented, as fact, to the Executive Committee nearly two months before their meeting, without any defense or even knowledge on the part of the one being accused. The accuser and the judge were one and the same, with the Executive Committee acting as jury, but the accused was not only absent, but totally unaware of the accusations. Not only did the Executive Committee go along with the proceedings, but also not a word of these secret activities ever leaked out to any of those in question until the January 25 meeting nearly two months later.

Moreover, it should be noted that the ultimatums the president gave to Pastor Grosboll after the January 25 meeting, which he said would help to clear up the conference’s concerns; had little to do with the accusations of the document itself. This fact has caused some to question whether the accusations of the Concerns and Objections document, many of which are unfounded, were merely a means to an end, to try to gain control.

At the January 25 meeting the conference president told Elder Grosboll and the others present that a response was not wanted and would not be accepted at that time. The meeting was merely for the purpose of reading the concerns, with no chance of reconciliation or time to discuss the issues. This decision was in spite of the fact that, as soon as Pastor Grosboll found out that the president was coming, he wrote a response to him asking for an agenda. This request was

Second, the president was asked to allow enough time in order to discuss, pray about, and study whatever concerns he had. With people coming from great distances for the meeting, Pastor Grosboll desired an all- day meeting in order that there might be time to pray and discuss the issues together in brotherly love, thus allowing the Holy Spirit to guide them into true unity. Sadly, this request too was denied. Elder R, in addition to bringing friends with him from the Union Committee, invited Pastor Grosboll to bring anyone he wanted to the meeting with him, but when his group arrived, they were told there would not be time for them to make comments.

Our greatest disappointment is the lack of interest the conference seems to manifest for the soul- winning work of Steps to Life. No one has faulted the theology or content of their evangelism, preaching, or television programs. Converts from the Steps to Life ministry throughout North America are being baptized into their local Seventh- day Adventist Churches. Yet there almost seems to be a hope that this ministry will not succeed in bringing anyone into the church. Why? Could the following be part of the reason?

The word of the Lord came to Elijah; he did not seek to be the Lord’s messenger, but the word came to him. God always has men to whom He entrusts His message. His Spirit moves upon their hearts and constrains them to speak. Stimulated by holy zeal, and with the divine impulse strong upon them, they enter upon the performance of their duty without coldly calculating the consequences of speaking to the people the word which the Lord has given them. But the servant of God is soon made aware that he has risked something. He finds himself and his message made the subject of criticism. His manners, his life, his property, are all inspected and commented upon. His message is picked to pieces and rejected in the most illiberal and unsanctified spirit, as men in their finite judgment see fit. Testimonies, vol. 5, 299

The allegations and conclusions of the Concerns and Objections document must be addressed. Yet it is with great reluctance that we do so, for Pastor Grosboll and each one of us love the brethren who have formulated these concerns. We love every facet of our church, which we believe to be the remnant church of prophecy. We wish this response could have simply been shared at the meeting itself, and that understanding and peace could have ensued, without the necessity of a written response. May the Lord mold and shape each of us into a holy, united family for the infilling of the Holy Spirit and the finishing of the work of God on earth. This desired result, however, can never happen without a genuine revival and reformation. May this response paper be used by the Lord to help conferences understand the burden of special ministries and the opposition that some are encountering. May it also be used to help bring the Lord’s work together, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, for a finished work.

Mutual Concerns

The first paragraph of the Concerns and Objections document states that two of Pastor Grosboll’s goals are to bring, “revival and reformation to the membership of the church,” as well as the “evangelization of the world with the Three Angels’ messages.”

Conference leadership, in the next paragraph, elucidates how they also “deplore the sins in ourselves and in God’s true church.” They state: “We weep at the backsliding of God’s people. We pray and work for reformation and revival in our lives and the lives of our people.” We commend the conference on this stance. Yet we have never been able to engage the conference leaders into joining us in prayer and study for the guidance of the Lord. If Steps to Life, or any of us in special ministries, are doing something wrong, we want to know what it is. We do not suppose we have all the light or all the answers. In fact, we claim no new light. We are simply trying to do missionary work. We desire to sit down with our conference brethren and to work for revival and reformation. Where we are falling short of the purposes of God, we want to change.

How Concerned Is the Conference in Revival and Reformation?

In Wichita, as in each of the districts Marshall Grosboll has pastored, he concentrated his ministry on helping each member to develop a personal relationship with Christ through a daily study of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, earnest prayer, and following the Lord all the way in their personal lives. Pastor Grosboll stressed that, in both our personal lives and as a church body, we must put away self and sin and allow the Holy Spirit to have full control. We must follow every counsel of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, not from a legalistic standpoint, but from a heart of love and with faith in His Word. An analysis of the first year’s sermons reveals that sixty- six percent of the sermons were drawn from the gospels, with the rest from other portions of the Bible. Examples of these were a series that brought revival to many people, entitled, “Footsteps to Calvary,” and the sermon,” Extra Oil,” from Matthew 25.

Pastor Grosboll does not believe in concentrating on sin, for he believes that Jesus is the focus of our faith. Yet open sin cannot be overlooked by the faithful pastor, for it will prevent the blessing of the Lord. After Pastor Grosboll arrived in Wichita, he was informed by some of the elders and associate pastors that some of the leaders of the church were heavy coffee drinkers, others watched videos that were well beyond the questionable stage, and some had other such inconsistencies. Their concern was that these sins were preventing the Lord’s blessings. In an elders’ meeting which Pastor Grosboll called soon after he arrived, he asked one of his associate pastors to have the opening devotional. Before his devotional, the associate shared with Pastor Grosboll that he had spent nearly the whole previous night in prayer. He felt impressed to give a message, but felt apprehensive about the results. Marshall, as his associates called him, did not ask what the subject was, but encouraged him to share whatever the Lord had impressed him to give.

His message was on the importance of the elders being examples to the flock. He gave several illustrations, one of which caused many of the elders to be very upset: He suggested that the elders should strive toward becoming “vegetarians.”

Though this was not Pastor Grosboll’s timing, he felt that the Holy Spirit had impressed his associate to give the message he did, and he supported him. One of the elders later shared how he was convicted to change his diet following this meeting. Truly, the Holy Spirit had led in the remarks this associate had given at the elders’ meeting. But the fact that Pastor Grosboll supported his associate in the remarks given caused such a furor among the elders that Pastor Grosboll was soon called into the conference office to give an account of the meeting. Sadly, instead of supporting truth and righteousness, their sympathy was with those who had been offended. Their support seemed to be with those who could help or hurt them the most with their influence.

The associate who made the comments later told the pastor, with tears in his eyes, how much he appreciated his support. He said that before Pastor Grosboll arrived, that would not have happened.

The conference officers had called Pastor Grosboll to Wichita. The president shared that he believed the Holy Spirit had led them in this call. If the conference officers, after this elders’ meeting at the very beginning of Pastor Grosboll’s ministry, had supported the truths he preached and stood for, in spite of op position, what would have been the results? It is very probable, judging by the events which followed, that a great revival would have taken place in Wichita, and maybe even in the conference. Only eternity will show the full results of what appeared to be self- serving at this time.

“Many are the souls that have been destroyed by the unwise sympathy of their brethren; for, because the brethren sympathized with them, they thought they must indeed have been abused, and that the reprover was all wrong and had a bad spirit.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 329

Sometimes It Is Dangerous to Question

At about this same time, Marshall Grosboll presented in the Conference Administrative Committee, of which he was a member, his concerns about the new conference plan to “save” their academies. The conference was initiating a one- plus million dollar endowment program for Enterprise Academy, which the union president said would make it permanently secure.

Pastor Grosboll produced figures in the Administrative Committee to show that with a constant rate of investment, which is the only realistic way of figuring for offerings and gifts, and with currently normal inflation and interest rates, it would take 30 years just to recoup the investments made (in real buying power) without any return in the investment at all! The reason for this is that the investment is never touched, but will still be in the bank (if the bank is still solvent) when Jesus comes. The endowment plan is set up to put money in the bank forever, and just draw on the interest. To plan thirty years for a return on an investment was, in Elder Grosboll’s opinion, putting off the day of the Lord, and was being a poor steward of His goods. Does God want us to invest our money in the banks, when His work is in need? These statements were quoted: “[God] calls upon those who have money in the banks to put it into circulation.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 56

“The very means that is now so sparingly invested in the cause of God, and that is selfishly retained, will in a little while be cast with all idols to the moles and to the bats. Money will soon depreciate in value very suddenly. Evangelism, 63 Satan is much more vigilant, keen- sighted, and skillful in devising ways to secure means to himself than our brethren are to secure the Lord’s own to His cause.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 478

“The Lord desires us to let our light so shine before men that His Holy Spirit may communicate the truth to the honest in heart who are seeking after truth. As we do this work, we shall find that means will flow into our treasuries, and we shall have means with which to carry on a still broader and more far- reaching work.” Evangelism, 61- 62

Once we make a commitment never to touch the principal of an investment, we have left God clear out of the picture. Someday these investments that we legally cannot dispose of, because of binding agreements, will be a curse:

I saw that if any held on to their property, and did not inquire of the Lord as to their duty, He would not make duty known, and they would be permitted to keep their property, and in the time of trouble it would come up before them like a mountain to crush them. . . . I heard some mourn like this: “The cause was languishing, God’s people were starving for the truth, and we made no effort to supply the lack; now our property is useless. Oh, that we had let it go, and laid up treasure in heaven!” Counsels on Stewardship, 60

Why not, Elder Grosboll asked, put this money into soul winning rather than the banks? Will earning interest in the bank really bring more returns than using that same money to win souls? Moreover, soul winning will bring in new students, which our schools are really needing. If the conference really pushed the endowment program, Pastor Grosboll felt it would drain the other programs, and eventually the school could go down anyway- maybe even sooner. The real need of our academies, Pastor Grosboll felt, was the blessing of God that comes from doing His will. This is what they needed to be working toward.

Though the pastor was not adamant in his opinions, and only made one speech outlining his concerns, when called into the president’s office about the elders’ meeting, he was also criticized about his comments in the Administrative Committee about the endowment program. He was informed by the president that this endowment program was a program that he cherished and had helped to devise. The president said he could not argue with the figures but that even though the money would not bring any real increase on the investment for many years, it was an effective way to get money from the people because it was popular. Pastor Grosboll suggested that it took a great amount of promotion to make it popular.

Though Marshall Grosboll did not bring up the subject of endowments again, from that point on the program never achieved what had been hoped. Soon after, whether for this reason or for some other, Pastor Grosboll was informed that he was no longer on the Administrative Committee. A conference official told him months later, that his speech on the endowment funds was one of the main reasons the conference had withdrawn their support of him; but that many were wishing they had followed his advice, for the academy was at that point so low on money that they were having to ask some people who were putting their money into the endowment fund to reverse these pledges and give them for operating costs. This experience taught Pastor Grosboll the result of questioning a cherished project of some administrators. Was this the reason that such situations as the Davenport investments, that cost the church millions of dollars, were allowed to go on and on, even though many people clearly saw the dangers and inequities in the program?

“We Are God’s Favored People”

Pastor Grosboll developed a Preaching and Revival service for Sabbath vespers that dealt with revival and reformation. Over a hundred people attended regularly. His sermons also were calls for personal holiness and revival, for every person, from the conference worker to the lowliest member. The tapes of these sermons went far and wide. But while there was an increase in church attendance, and at all the services of the church, some did not appreciate these messages.

“Those whom God has chosen for an important work have ever been received with distrust and suspicion. Anciently, when Elijah was sent with a message from God to the people, they did not heed the warning. They thought him unnecessarily severe. They even thought that he must have lost his senses because he denounced them, the favored people of God, as sinners and their crimes as so aggravated that the judgments of God would awaken against them.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 261

The same attitude as the ancient people of God expressed, that we are “the favored people of God,” and thus we are safe from “the judgments of God,” seems to be echoed in the Concerns and Objections document. After affirming how the leadership laments the backsliding of God’s people, the document then says, in the same paragraph: “We believe that the Seventh- day Adventist Church, as presently organized, is God’s true church. We believe, despite the faults and imperfections of its leaders and members, this church is the only object of our Lord’s supreme regard” (Concerns and Objections, 1). Thus, in the context in which it is given, the thought is expressed, as in Elijah’s day, “Yes, we may have some imperfections, but we are the beloved of the Lord, rich and increased with goods. Whatever we decide to do or not do, we will yet remain God’s favored people, even “as presently organized” and functioning. Nothing evil can come to us.” But Jeremiah warns:

Do not trust in these lying words, saying, “The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord are these.” For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, . . . then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.” 2 2 Jeremiah 7: 4- 7 3

Ellen White has a most solemn warning to those in responsible positions: [God] shows us that when His people are found in sin they should at once take decided measures to put that sin from them, that His frown may not rest upon them all. But if the sins of the people are passed over by those in responsible positions, His frown will be upon them, and the people of God, as a body, will be held responsible for those sins. . . . The prejudice which has arisen against us because we have reproved the wrongs that God has shown me existed, and the cry that has been raised of harshness and severity, are unjust. God bids us speak, and we will not be silent. If wrongs are apparent among His people, and if the servants of God pass on indifferent to them, they virtually sustain and justify the sinner, and are alike guilty and will just as surely receive the displeasure of God; for they will be made responsible for the sins of the guilty. Testimonies, vol. 3, 265- 266

Of those who boast of their light, and yet fail to walk in it, Christ says, “But I Say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum [Seventh- day Adventists, who have had great light], which art exalted unto heaven [in point of privilege], shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.”. . .

Shall the Lord be compelled to say, “Pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee”? . . . The little sins that men think are of so trivial a character that on their account they will not be brought into condemnation, are very offensive in the sight of God. Says one, “You are too severe, a man must be allowed these little defects of character.”

. . . But this is simply soothing the conscience, and crying, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” Sin is sin, and it is the delusion of Satan to look upon it in any other light than that it is grievous. E. G. White, Review and Herald, August 1, 1893. (The brackets, along with the comments within them, are by Ellen White and are in the original.) vol. 3, 69- 70

Extraordinary power from God must take hold of Seventh- day Adventist Churches. Reconversion must take place among the members. . . . Renewed, purified, sanctified, the church must be, else the wrath of God will fall upon them with much greater power than upon those who have never professed to be saints. Lift Him Up, 301

The righteousness that is taught, from the conference office, from the pulpit, and beside the hearth, must include the call for reformation. It must at times include the reproof of sin and the call for repentance. But it is this very duty to call sin by its right name that is often the cause of opposition, and for this reason is often omitted. (See Testimonies, vol. 5, 676)

“Don’t Rock the Boat”

The third event that brought Pastor Grosboll into conflict with the conference was the directive given to him by the conference president not to do anything in the nominating committee to “rock the boat.” Suggestions were made by conference administration as to who should hold one of the important offices. Though he would like to have been able to see the conference’s suggestions followed, the nominating committee pointed out serious spiritual concerns with the ones suggested. The committee tried to follow the counsels of the Church Manual in this regard:

The decisions and votes of the [nominating] committee are not to be controlled or influenced by any church, group, or individual. Decisions are reached after prayerful and careful study of all aspects of the matters that come before them pertaining to the administration of the work.

Seventh- day Adventist Church Manual, 131 For years keeping a “smooth running ship” seems to have been more important than revival and reformation. There is a cost to revival and reformation- it brings the wrath of Satan. So the unwritten policy appears to have been to give lip service to revival and reformation in order to appease those concerned while shunning the consequences. Thus evil has often appeared to have been tolerated, and even encouraged.

Is it possible that, maybe unintentionally, evil has often been called good? Are there people who, according to the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, should not be in office, who have not only been kept in office, but praised and entrusted with even greater sacred responsibilities in order to elicit their good- will? The Bible warns against calling evil good. Those who condone the evil, soon condemn the good.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5: 20

The nominating committee that year was both the result and the continuation of the revival taking place in the church. This revival led the nominating committee to seek to please God first, in their selection of people for office, rather than to conciliate people, though they tried to take people’s feelings into account. In the nominating committee that year it was mentioned that there were some people whom the nominating committee of the year before had not put back into office at first, but whom the pastor later insisted that they reinstate. One of the associate pastors confided that the pastor had said these people could cost him his job [locally) if they were not put back. Pastor Grosboll told the nominating committee not to make him or his job a consideration, but one thing and one thing only- the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Several of those on the nominating committee that year recall how they spent an hour to an hour and a half at every session in the study of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy and in prayer, and how they felt the presence of the Lord.

The nominating committee sought to put away political concerns and to allow the Lord to lead them in every selection. No one had a controlling voice, and all voting was done by secret ballot. Most felt that the Lord was definitely leading. Yet, of nearly thirty members who had made up the board, only three were not asked to return, other than a couple who had asked not to be considered for office. Nevertheless, the changes that were made were ones that the nominating committee saw as vital for revival and reformation. These changes caused a storm of opposition.

But, as with most true revivals, some rose up against revival. Private committees were formed to develop plans to resist it. People were called in an organized manner and asked to quit paying their tithe into the conference until Pastor Grosboll was removed. Various and untrue rumors were started and circulated all the way to the General Conference. There was seen the fulfillment of the prophecy:

As the work of God’s people moves forward with sanctified, resistless energy, planting the standard of Christ’s righteousness in the church, moved by a power from the throne of God, the great controversy will wax stronger and stronger, and will become more and more determined. Mind will be arrayed against mind, plans against plans, principles of heavenly origin against principles of Satan. Truth in its varied phases will be in conflict with error in its ever- varying, increasing forms, and which, if possible, will deceive the very elect. . . .

The ministry, the pulpit, and the press demand men like Caleb, who will do and dare, men whose eyes are single to detect the truth from error. . . .

The man who rejects the word of the Lord, who endeavors to establish his own way and will, tears to pieces the messenger and message which God sends in order to discover to him his sin. . . . He begins to quibble at technicalities and manners. The spirit of Satan links him up with the enemy to bear a word of criticism on less important themes. The truth becomes of less and still less value to him. He becomes an accuser of his brethren, etc., and changes leaders. Testimonies to Ministers, 407- 409

The conference seemed to support this resistance movement to revival and the nominating committee, even to their withholding of tithe. A conference official was asked, within the hearing of a number of people, if the withholding of tithe would cause the conference to act upon their wishes. He admitted that it would have an effect. As far as could be observed, there was never one word of reproof or disapproval expressed for these manipulative tactics. In fact, a conference treasurer was quoted in an ensuing board meeting, by a discontented member who said he had gotten in touch with several treasurers for guidance, as suggesting that they collectively save their tithe in a commercial account. He later confessed that this advice came from the local conference

“Preach Only Love”

Soon after serving on the nominating committee of the Wichita church, Elder R became president of the conference. Within approximately two months of his arrival he asked Pastor Grosboll to take a call outside the conference. Pastor Grosboll had been in Wichita, at the time, for only six months. He was impressed, and still is impressed, that the Lord did not want him to leave his post of duty at that time. Most of the elders felt that if Pastor Grosboll left at that time, much of the reformation that had been accomplished would be lost.

As there had been little communication between Pastor Grosboll and the new president, he wondered why the new president seemed so anxious to have him moved before he had even gotten acquainted. He asked the president if he had received some direction from the previous president. He admitted that he had. He said that the only directive he had received from the departing president was to “do something about Wichita.” Elder R shared that he had probably made a mistake by making a decision about what to do about the Wichita situation before he had even talked to the pastor. But his attitude seemed unchanged.

Pastor Grosboll was warned by the new president not to preach any sermons that would cause anyone to be offended. “Preach only love,” he was told. Many of the members believed that this theme was what they were hearing from the pulpit. Many were being edified and reconverted. But in regard to the content and presentation of his sermons, Pastor Grosboll believed that he must submit that to prayer and allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct in the presentation of the Word. If there were theological disputes or questions of doctrine, or if the elders, as guardians of the flock and in a spirit of prayer, were impressed that the direction of his preaching ministry was not in accordance with the direction of the Holy Spirit, Pastor Grosboll would have been happy to change. But as there were no questions of theology or doctrine, and as most of the elders believed that the Holy Spirit was leading, and as Pastor Grosboll believed that the Holy Spirit was working and directing, he could not go against his convictions to preach what was given him to preach Sabbath by Sabbath.

The smooth sermons so often preached make no lasting impressions. . . . It is not from love for their neighbor that they smooth down the message entrusted to them. . . . True love seeks first the honor of God and the salvation of souls. Those who have this love will not evade the truth to save themselves from the unpleasant results of plain speaking. Prophets and Kings, 140- 141

Conviction and Opposition

Paul’s worst enemies were among the Jews, who made the highest claims to godliness. . . . The truth always involves a cross. Those who will not believe, oppose and deride those who do believe. The fact that its presentation creates a storm of opposition, is no evidence against the truth. Sketches from the Life of Paul, 279

The Concerns and Objections document accuses Pastor Grosboll of refusing to accept counsel. This accusation seems to have stemmed originally from the two convictions against which the conference had advised him, namely, (1) that the church nominating committee must act upon its own convictions, in a spirit of prayer, independent of outside pressure, and (2) that the pastor is personally responsible to God for the message he gives. But what does it mean to accept counsel? For some, to accept counsel means to yield one’s entire will. For others it means to carefully weigh all the counsel received and then seek the Lord for final guidance. The latter is Pastor Grosboll’s understanding.

We cannot depend for counsel upon humanity. The Lord will teach us our duty just as willingly as He will teach somebody else. The Desire of Ages, 668

We are to counsel together, and to be subject one to another; but at the same time we are to exercise the ability God has given us, in order to learn what is truth. Each one of us must look to God for divine enlightenment. We must individually develop a character that will stand the test in the day of God. We must not become set in our ideas, and think that no one should interfere with our opinions. Testimonies to Ministers, 110

Page two of Concerns and Objections begins with the following quotation: The church of Christ, enfeebled and defective as it may be, is the only object on earth on which He bestows His supreme regard. While He extends to all the world His invitation to come to Him and be saved, He commissions His angels to render divine help to every soul that cometh to Him in repentance and contrition, and He comes personally by His Holy Spirit into the midst of His church. [Testimonies to Ministers, 15]. Concerns and Objections, 2

But the rest of the statement from Testimonies to Ministers is omitted. The rest of the statement clarifies the first part of the quotation so that people will not misuse this statement to justify a spirit of control that exalts human leadership above God or His word. The rest of the statement identifies what the church is and sets the parameters of its authority:

Consider, my brethren and sisters, that the Lord has a people, a chosen people, His church, to be His own, His own fortress, which He holds in a sin- stricken, revolted world; and He intended that no authority should be known in it, no laws be acknowledged by it, but His own.” Testimonies to Ministers, 16

Thus the church is not some intangible structure or legal order, but it is the people of God, and these people are not to acknowledge any authority or laws but those of God. Leadership has no other authority except as invested and outlined in the Word of God. Nor have they authority to enforce any other laws than those supported by clear biblical principles. This principle is the basis of Protestantism.

With the first part of the quotation as a backdrop (Testimonies to Ministers, 15), without its qualifying parameters, the Concerns and Objections document then lists, “The specific problems we see in Elder Marshall Grosboll’s ministry ht Wichita, Kansas.” We will list them numerically:

  • “[ 1] divisive tactics he uses to achieve his goals,
  • [2] his refusal to counsel and plan with his ministering brethren,
  • [3] the appearance he gives of building an institution that supports only his goals,
  • [4] the separation of his teaching and preaching ministry from the organized church and the alienation of his supporters from the local Wichita churches and the local conference.”

We have come to a new day and age in the church when a conference leader will seek, not just to remove credentials, but to actually annul one’s ordination, as this paper calls for, over such subjective charges as these. [Pastor Grosboll did not have his credentials removed when he chose to take a leave of absence, though they subsequently expired.] To seek to take one’s ordination away is a very unusual and extreme action. That is declaring that the person was either ordained by mistake, or that he has turned away from God. Yet, to our knowledge, no charge of commandment breaking, false theology, or apostasy has ever been raised against Pastor Grosboll, nor is such found in Concerns and Objections. Nor is there anything charged against him relative to Paul’s counsels to either Titus or Timothy as to what are the conditions of eldership- simply these subjective charges, all of which have been leveled against God’s messengers in all ages.

Aleander’s attack on Luther included charges of’ “sedition, rebellion, impiety, and blasphemy” (The Great Controversy, 147). Luther’s response was: “I rejoice to see that the gospel is now, as in former times, a cause of trouble and dissension. This is the character; this is the destiny, of the word of God. ‘I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword, said Jesus Christ. God is wonderful and terrible in His counsels; beware lest, by presuming to quench dissensions; you should persecute the holy word of God, and draw down upon yourselves a frightful deluge of insurmountable dangers; of present disasters, and eternal desolation” (ibid., 159). Such boldness as Luther’s was not to be tolerated, and his enemies determined to put down this “daring obstinacy.” Ibid., 201

In this context, it should be noted that it was also a belief of Protestantism, and has been taught throughout the history of the Adventist Church, in accordance with the teachings of the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy, that ordination is from the Lord. The laying on of hands is to be in recognition of the call and ordination of the Lord. Inspiration makes it abundantly clear that not all who are called ministers by man are recognized as such by the Lord, and many whom the church condemns are still ordained by the Lord. Let us be careful that we not be found to be fighting against the Lord, as the Jewish church did in their contrivances against Jesus and the apostles, and as Ellen White said we also have already done, as for example, in 1888.

The initial charge given for the removal of ordination is that Pastor Grosboll is divisive. Is that true? Or has he stood for principle in the face of opposition? The smooth preaching that creates no trouble is condemned by God. Isn’t it time for something to stir the people of God? Isn’t it time to get ready for Jesus to come? And isn’t it time to ask why He hasn’t come?

Sins exist in the church that God hates, but they are scarcely touched for fear of making enemies. Opposition has risen in the church to the plain testimony. Some will not bear it. They wish smooth things spoken unto them. And if the wrongs of individuals are touched, they complain of severity, and sympathize with those in the wrong. As Ahab inquired of Elijah, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” they are ready to look with suspicion and doubt upon those who bear the plain testimony, and like Ahab overlook the wrong which made it necessary for reproof and rebuke. When the church depart from God they despise the plain testimony, and complain of severity and harshness. It is a sad evidence of the lukewarm state of the church.

Just as long as God has a church, He will have those who will cry aloud and spare not, who will be His instruments to reprove selfishness and sins, and will not shun to declare the whole counsel of God, whether men will hear or forbear. I saw that individuals would rise up against the plain testimonies. It does not suit their natural feelings. They would choose to have smooth things spoken unto them, and have peace cried in their ears. I view the church in a more dangerous condition than they ever have been. Experimental religion is known but by a few. The shaking must soon lake place to purify the church. Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, 283- 284

I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen, and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. This will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver, and will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. Some will not bear this straight testimony. They will rise up against it, and this is what will cause a shaking among God’s people.

I saw that the testimony of the True Witness has not been half heeded. The solemn testimony upon which the destiny of the church hangs has been lightly esteemed, if not entirely disregarded. This testimony must work deep repentance; all who truly receive it will obey it and be purified. Early Writings, 270

Preachers should have no scruples to preach the truth as it is found in God’s Word. Let the truth cut. I have been shown that why ministers have not more success is, they are afraid of hurting feelings, fearful of not being courteous, and they lower the standard of truth. Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, 284- 285

The people are asleep in their sins and need to be alarmed before they can shake off this lethargy. Their ministers have preached smooth things; but God’s servants, who bear sacred, vital truths, should cry aloud and spare not, that the truth may tear off the garment of security and find its way to the heart. Testimonies, vol. 1, 249

In this fearful time, just before Christ is to come the second time, God’s faithful preachers will have to bear a still more pointed testimony than was borne by John the Baptist. A responsible, important work is before them; and those who speak smooth things, God will not acknowledge as His shepherds. A fearful woe is upon them. Ibid., 321

Man may acknowledge these preachers, but “God will not acknowledge them as His shepherds.”

Are we putting our sincere preachers into a position where they must choose between pleasing God or the conference? Must they choose between receiving the woe of man versus the woe of God?

The reason for the conference’s charge of divisiveness appears to be Pastor Grosboll’s straight preaching and emphasis on revival and reformation. The evidence put forth to prove their charge is the accusation that he split up the Wichita South Church. Is that accusation true?

The Conference, the Church, and the Pastor

The Wichita South Church has a history of dissension and trouble. Often it seems that this trouble has been due to certain people holding the lines of power, often against majority wishes. A former elder of the South Church confided recently that for many years he drove 100 miles round trip every Sabbath in order to find another church so as to escape the politics of the South Church. In 1966 the church first divided, only to come back together again a few years later in order to build a new church. It was decided at that time that the union would be only temporary, for the building of the new church building, and that when it was completed they would start planning another new church in town.

There was a time when Wichita had a thriving sanitarium with a nurses’ training school. In 1986 the church celebrated its 100- year anniversary. And yet, after 100 years, the Kansas-Nebraska Conference still had only one church in Wichita, 4 the largest city of Kansas. The medical missionary facility had long since ceased to exist.

When Pastor Grosboll came, the majority of the elders and those on the board, as well as many other members in the church, soon joined solidly behind him in order to bring about revival and reformation. But nine months later the conference president announced to the board of elders his decision to transfer Pastor Grosboll to an undecided location. The elders wanted to express their feelings on the issue, but he told them that this was, “and employee employer situation and did not involve them.” The church board promptly met, and in the absence of Pastor Grosboll, voted the following and sent a copy of the action to the president:

November 30, 1986 During a November church board meeting we voted by overwhelming majority to officially and corporately express our support of Pastor Marshall Grosboll’s ministry in Wichita and our desire to not see him removed or transferred from his current office as pastor.

We humbly ask your respect of the Church Board’s opinion in this matter and look forward to greater evidences of mutual unity and support between our church and conference leadership so that our Seventh- day Adventist message may strongly advance. Respectfully, the Wichita Seventh- day Adventist South Church Board. David Jakstis, Head Elder, Chairman by absentia of Elder Grosboll.”

There were two apparent reasons preventing Pastor Grosboll from being able to move at this time. One was the nine- month Bible worker training program (the Institute of Ministry) begun in the fall of that year. Two of the six students in that initial year had moved, with their families, over a thousand miles to attend. Pastor Grosboll did not feel he could leave until this program, which was started with conference approval, was completed in June of the following year.

The second was that an evangelistic series, which Pastor Grosboll was to hold in Wichita the next month, had been voted by the board. The brochures had been ordered, and the Century II Convention Center of Wichita had been reserved for many months. The reservation of the theater room of the convention center was itself a blessing. Pastor Grosboll and the majority of the elders felt under deep conviction to hold this series.

Moreover, there did not appear to be any pressing reason for an immediate leave. The local offerings, tithe, church school enrollment, and church attendance were all up, in spite of those who were withholding tithe and causing dissension. And, as already mentioned, the elders and the board were very anxious that the pastor should stay. In fact, many felt it would do irreparable harm for the pastor to leave at that time under pressure from those opposed to reform.

Pastor Grosboll assured the president, however, that although, after earnest prayer, he felt convicted that he should complete these two tasks that were already under way, he would be very willing to accomplish them on a self- supporting basis if the Executive Committee requested him to step down as pastor.

The president said, however, that the evangelistic meetings, with Pastor Grosboll speaking, should go on as planned. A month and a half before the meetings were to begin, however, he presented the situation to the Administrative Committee. The Administrative Committee is a small committee within the Executive Committee that sends recommendations and actions to the official Executive Committee for final approval. They took this action:

Marshall Grosboll, for various reasons, some of which are not of his own making, has become the focal point of controversy in the Wichita Church, and out of concern for both the pastor and the church members, it was voted: That Marshall Grosboll and the conference officers aggressively work together toward Marshall Grosboll’s transfer from the Wichita Church which will take place shortly after the completion of the evangelistic meetings which conclude about March 1, 1987.- Administrative Committee Minutes

At this time Elder R told the elders that they should concentrate on the meetings and that nothing else would be done about the pastoral situation until after the meetings, which was confirmed by letter as follows: “We are committed to working in harmony with the December 1986 agreement with Pastor Grosboll that we would not pursue the Wichita matter until after the evangelistic meetings. “( Letter from Elder R, February 26, 1987). He also promised the elders that when the situation was presented to the Executive Committee they would have a chance to present their feelings. Unfortunately, neither of these promises made in December of 1986 were kept. In fact they had both been broken a month before this letter was written.

The first Executive Committee of the new year met on January 26, 1987. Since the evangelistic meetings were being set up at the time, Pastor Grosboll was unable to attend. At this meeting of the Executive Committee the minutes of the December 1986 Administrative Committee were voted upon. Within the Executive Committee minutes it was made clear that by voting on the Administrative Committee minutes, the action became official. Many of the church members felt betrayed and some wrote letters of concern to the president and members of the Executive Committee. The president responded to this effect:

The matter of the Wichita Church and Marshall Grosboll, the pastor, was not on the agenda for the Executive Committee. . . . The Executive Committee action to accept previous minutes in no way alters the opportunity for church members to appeal tile decision of die Administrative Committee or any decision of the Executive Committee. This particular January 26 meeting of the Executive Committee did not address the pros and cons of the decision made by the Administrative Committee. Letter to WHK by Elder R, February 23, 1987

Many felt that this response was double talk. First they were promised that nothing would be done until after the evangelistic meetings. Then they were also promised that they would be heard before any Executive Committee action was taken. But both of these promises were broken, and then justified. But they were told that nothing wrong had taken place because the church could “appeal” the action. Yet all know that an appeal is far different from being heard before an action is taken. There were weighty spiritual interests at stake, yet the church members who were concerned were made to feel that they were rebels and troublemakers.

Because of these, and other similar actions of the conference, confusion, uncertainty as to what the conference might do next, and disappointment began to grow within the church members. It seemed that those who were giving Bible studies, working on the evangelistic meetings, supporting the church, attending prayer meetings, and who loved this message were being overlooked. It also appeared that while the conference had chosen to overlook the wishes of the elders and the board, some people seemed to have special favor and influence with the conference. If these happenings just involved some secular interest, or was indeed merely an employee- employer situation, it would not make much difference, but the results of these decisions were bound to affect the health and well- being of God’s church and the conversion of souls. The effects are eternal. Concerned members began to pray as never before. They wondered what they should do. Some read this statement and knew they must do something:

If God abhors one sin above another, of which His people are guilty, it is doing nothing in case of an emergency. Indifference and neutrality in a religious crisis is regarded of God as a grievous crime and equal to the very worst type of hostility against God. Testimonies, vol. 3, 281

But it seemed that whatever the church members who wanted the pastor to stay tried to do, it was colored in the darkest hues. The worst construction was placed upon their motives. These members were viewed as a problem to be dealt with, and the conference blamed the pastor for the problem. The problem, in these members’ eyes, was the conference.

This response paper is not for the purpose of making a complaint against the conference’s actions or attitudes. We are answering the concerns and objections of the conference. We are not here to judge motives. Nevertheless, these feelings expressed in the preceding paragraph were the feelings of many of the members at the time.

Moreover, even if individuals were wronged, it is not they who were really wronged. We are all but mere stewards. The question is: Has the Lord been wronged? The Holy Spirit most definitely worked in the evangelistic meetings, with hundreds of non- Adventists attending, and many who are still making decisions for Christ over two years later. Many believe that the Lord definitely worked in the previous year’s nominating committee. Many felt the Holy Spirit bringing revival to their hearts from the sermons and other services of the church and were enjoying new conversion experiences. But when those in authority sympathize with those whom the Lord is convicting of sin, hearts are hardened instead of softened, and souls are lost.

Many are the souls that have been destroyed by the unwise sympathy of their brethren. Testimonies, vol. 3, 329 In nine cases out of ten if the one reproved [often by the Holy Spirit] had been left under a sense of his wrongs, he might have been helped to see them and thereby have been reformed. Ibid., 359

This unsanctified sympathy places the sympathizers where they are sharers in the guilt of the one reproved. Ibid., 359 These false sympathizers will have an account to settle with the Master by- and- by for their work of death. Ibid., 329

Let us not repeat the rebellion of 1888: I can never forget the experience which we had in Minneapolis, or the things which were then revealed to me in regard to the spirit that controlled men, the words spoken, the actions done in obedience to the powers of evil. . . . They were moved at the meeting by another spirit, and they knew not that God had sent these young men to bear a special message to them which they treated with ridicule and contempt, not realizing that the heavenly intelligences were looking upon them. I know that at that time the Spirit of God was insulted. Manuscript 24, 1892

Minneapolis was a type of a greater apostasy that Ellen White predicted would take place in the last days.

If we are to bear a part in this work to its close, we must recognize the fact that there are good things to come to the people of God in a way that we had not discerned; and that there will be resistance from the very ones we expected to engage in such a work. Letter from EGW to 0. A. Olsen, Letter 19d, 1892; The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, 1024

The light which will lighten the earth with its glory will be called a false light. EGW, Review & Herald, May 27, 1890, vol. 2, 397 Because of the disappointment by such a large number of church members, the conference set another Executive Committee date to discuss the situation with Pastor Grosboll present. They set the meeting for the day the evangelistic meetings were over, on March 10. On that day, forty members of the church took off work, met at the church, and fasted and prayed throughout the day for the Lord to intervene for the welfare of His work in Wichita.

The president gave the Executive Committee five options. But the motion the committee passed was quite different from any of the options presented. The motion that was voted upon was as follows:

In appreciation and support of the present soul- winning outreach among a significant proportion of the membership in Wichita and in recognition of a very real need for healing among the members, the Conference Executive Committee urges Dr. Grosboll to devote his untiring efforts to both the soul- winning and healing ministries of the church while also carefully and prayerfully, and in close counsel with conference leadership, formulating a plan for maximizing SDA ministry in Wichita and that the plan he presented for Conference Executive Committee action in June, 1987.

The plan should address: 1. The possibility of a new church in the area 2. The possibility of a mutually agreeable transfer for the pastor. 3. Any other considerations for change that could affect healing and church growth.

Surely the Lord led in this decision to support Pastor Grosboll rather than to transfer him at this time. Over the next six weeks, approximately 40 people were baptized. There were yet four months to go before the Institute of Ministry concluded, and there were many people from the evangelistic meetings to follow up.

But though some were pleased with the action, those opposed to the pastor, whose favor the conference had been courting, were now greatly offended, and decided to take things into their own hands. The next nominating committee was coming up. Plans were laid and secret activities took place by certain individuals opposed to the pastor in an endeavor to gain control of the nominating committee.

Except that there were many people in church who had not been in church for years, and that they left as soon as the secret- ballot voting was over, the election appeared normal and the process proceeded smoothly. But when the results came in, it was immediately apparent that it was very untypical. Some who had not received more than one vote the year before now had enough votes, in a 700- member church, to be on the committee. There seemed to be a core of people on the “Committee to Select the Nominating Committee” who were bitterly opposed to the pastor, and anyone who supported him.

The head elder and head deacon were dumbfounded. As the head deacon began to look through the voting ballots, he began to see something very unusual. Many of the ballots appeared to be nearly the same. He quickly went through and pulled out 64 ballots that were nearly identical in the first nine out of the eleven names. It was apparent that these 64 votes had been influenced to all vote the same. Upon investigation, several people confessed to having had a secret “pre- nominating election.” There were 222 votes cast— 64 by the “opposition party” and 158 by the rest of the church. But the 158 were voting individually, while the 64 pooled their votes. Thus those 64 who pooled their votes outweighed the rest of the church. As was pointed out in the ensuing board, this tactic is contrary to the church manual:

The effort of one individual or a small group to dictate to the entire membership of the church is disapproved. Everything of a political nature should be avoided. Seventh- day Adventist Church Manual, 1986, 126

Pastor Grosboll, in counsel with some of the elders, immediately called for an emergency church board meeting for the following afternoon in order to discuss the situation. The conference president, however, supported the results, possibly because some of those who were on the committee were opposed to the pastor, as he was. On Sunday morning, before the board meeting, he called the pastor and demanded that he call off the board meeting. By coincidence, another elder was visiting in the pastor’s office at the time of the phone call and was shocked at the president’s responses.

When told about the secret pre- nominating committee, the president said, “Just wink at those activities. Let things stand as they are. Do not involve the board.” Pastor Grosboll responded, “I have never been put in a situation where I have had to go against the direct command of a president, but in this case, I must be faithful to my charge as shepherd of the flock. You may fire me, but as long as I am the pastor here, I feel responsible to let the board know of the situation. The Lord cannot bless this church if we knowingly allow a small faction of discontented people to take it over through a dishonest election.”

The president then claimed that nothing could be proved. When informed that some had confessed, he then claimed that even so, nothing had been done that was wrong. But the board met, with nearly complete attendance. A conference official also met with them.

After seeing the evidence, the board voted 25- 4, by secret ballot, to hold another election, and to let the church vote on 11 of the top 22 votes from the previous election. That week the president, who was on vacation, made numerous calls to the pastor to try to get him to override the board’s decision. The president then informed the pastor that he had been in frequent contact with the General Conference about this issue and that the board had no such authority, but that their decision would have to be ratified by the church as a body.

On the next Sabbath morning, when the church was to vote again, the conference secretary called and asked to speak to the board before Sabbath school in order to get them to change their decision. The pastor informed the secretary that if he used undue pressure to get the board to go against their convictions, he would have to oppose his efforts, which he had never done in public before.

Many administrators and pastors understand that a committee can often be overpowered into doing what they do not really want to do simply by being told by one of authority that they “can’t” do something, or that they “must” do something.

The truth of this statement was born out just a few weeks after this date, when the South Church board elected their representatives to the upcoming Triennial Constituency meeting. The meeting was chaired by a conference official. The constituent representatives chosen by the board were primarily supportive of the pastor. The conference official said that he would not accept those representatives and had the church board re- vote. Again he refused to accept the vote. The board meeting lasted until late- until the board chose a group of representatives that he could agree with. Whether the list of names eventually chosen was more representative of the church, as the conference official claimed, or not, is not the point. The fact that a determined official can often override a committee was once again proved.

The conference secretary withdrew his request to meet with the board, but he came to church and made a motion on the floor to “table this vote and refer the whole situation to the conference Executive Committee,” and then proceeded to vote. He was voted down, and another election was held.

The going against a president’s command, though for conscientious reasons, and the voting down of a conference officer by the church body, resulted in another special Executive Committee being called the next day. The meeting was scheduled for ten days hence, and it appeared to be with intent to have the pastor fired.

By this time the Executive Committee had been more fully influenced against the pastor. As one committee member said at the meeting: “This is the second special executive meeting on this situation I have been called to, and my time is important. I do not intend to be called again!” Yet personal convenience or irritability is no reason to make a decision of so important a matter.

For about two hours, Pastor Grosboll quietly listened to the accusations against him by the conference leadership. When at last he arose to speak, he had only spoken for a few minutes when the union president arose and interrupted him, almost with vehemence, contradicting what he had said. Pastor Grosboll sat down, and did not speak again except to answer questions. There was no willingness to hear and no reason to speak. Minds were set. Reasoning only exasperated.

When One Door Closed, Another Opened

In the meantime there were other developments that appeared to be direct leadings of the Lord. First, during the evangelistic meetings that had just concluded one month previously, one of the largest television stations in town, an ABC affiliate, had asked Pastor Grosboll if he would consider producing a weekly television program for them. At first the pastor declined, not feeling qualified for such an endeavor. But as the pastor and others prayed about it, they felt maybe it was a providential leading of the Lord and not just coincidence. After the series concluded, Pastor Grosboll called the television station to ask if they were still interested.

They assured him they were and asked him to meet with them to discuss the matter. When they met, he told them he knew nothing about television and that if he was going to produce a program for their station, they would need to do all the technical work. They said they would, and the price they quoted was reasonable.

Pastor Grosboll then inquired about airing times. Sunday morning was the time when all their other religious programs aired, but the ratings for the best times on Sunday morning showed only 5,000 local viewers. He asked them if they would allow him to go on an evening time slot. They said they would make an evening slot available for him. They had a nightly program called “The Judge” on right after Nightline at 11: 30 P. M., which they offered to replace with a program that Marshall Grosboll might produce. They said he could choose any night of the week he wished. When they checked the ratings, they found that three times more people were viewing at 11: 30 P. M. than on Sunday mornings. They also found that more people viewed on Thursday evenings than on any other evening. When they asked about the price for the Thursday evening time slot, they were told they could have it for the same price as Sunday mornings. Thus the Steps to Life television program was born and became the only evening religious program aired in Wichita at that time.

Why was the television station so generous? Surely the Lord was opening up the way to reach Wichita as well as all of central and western Kansas.

A second development took place on the morning of the second voting of the Committee to Select the Nominating Committee. Several church members, independently, came to the conviction that the South Church should start a new church, in accordance with the suggestion of the Conference Executive Committee. One elder, just the day before, had been impressed to take a different route to work than he normally took, and on the way he came across a fairly new Mennonite church that had just come on the market that week. It appeared to be just the right size.

The Lord seemed to impress this conviction to start a new church on many hearts. A church board meeting, followed by a general church business meeting, had already been called for Sunday, the following day. The starting of a new church was not what the board was called for, but it was the only item discussed. That Sunday morning, before the board, a delegation of many church members went to look at the Mennonite church. The church board, with hardly a member missing, voted unanimously to start another church at this site. They then voted unanimously, minus one, to ask the conference for Pastor Grosboll to be the pastor of this new congregation. They also formed a steering committee, by another unanimous vote.

The actions of the board were then presented to the evening business meeting, with 181 voting members present. Again it was a unanimous vote to start the new church and a unanimous vote, minus one, to ask Pastor Grosboll to be the pastor. The steering committee was also approved by a unanimous vote. It was as if an angel had poured oil over troubled waters and brought everyone together into unity for a short period of time.

Within three weeks, the new church was meeting with 220 in attendance. The average attendance from that date to the end of the year was in excess of 190. This fact also created a problem. It seems that some people envisioned that when a new church started, a few of the leaders interested in revival and reformation would leave the parent church to start the new. This development would have left the power in the hands of those who had previously held it for decades. But it wasn’t perceived how big a dent would be made in the attendance and offerings of the South Church. Few dreamed that half of the attending members would pull up roots and go out to start this new church. Nearly all of those who were involved in giving Bible studies went with the new congregation.

Many of those who attended the new church testify that over the next seven months they experienced more peace and joy and the evident presence of the Lord in that congregation than they had ever experienced elsewhere. Thus began the “Three Angels Seventh- day Adventist Church.”

The charge has gone out from both the local conference and the Union to places throughout North America, and even the world field, that Pastor Grosboll wrecked the South Church by dividing it in two. Is this true? It was with the highest of motives that the new church was started. And the South Church continues to survive quite adequately.

But if the truth were really known, the conference refused to consider the wishes of the overwhelming majority on the church board, or the board of elders. Rather, the conference united with those who were determined to maintain the church under their control, by trying to bring someone in to pastor who would suit their purposes.

Under the prevailing circumstances, it would appear that the Lord did the best He could for His work in Wichita. Circumstances indicate that the Lord directed in the establishing of the new church. He guided the surprise recommendation through the Executive Committee, impressed various spiritual leaders in the church, opened up a church, and guided the process through the church board and the business meeting.

Pastor Grosboll Faces a Decision

While the new church was being formed, ten days before to the first worship service, Pastor Grosboll was terminated from pastoring in Wichita by the specially called Executive Committee. The pastor was given several alternatives, such as going back to Andrews University or joining the pastoral staff of the College View Church in Nebraska. Later he was offered another district in Kansas. After much prayer, Pastor Grosboll still did not feel free to leave the Institute of Ministry until it was finished nor to stop the television ministry that was just beginning. The president then suggested to him that he should take a leave of absence. Pastor Grosboll accepted this advice. The president also had suggested at an earlier date, shortly after he became president, that Pastor Grosboll might consider establishing a selfsupporting ministry. He indicated that he would cooperate with such an endeavor if he would. This counsel was also considered.

Pastor Grosboll accepted the decision of the Executive Committee, without question, and cooperated with them. Though asked to give a farewell speech to the church by the ensuing board meeting, at which Pastor Grosboll was not present, never again did he take the pulpit in the South Church, except to make a plea from the front to support the conference and to stay with the church, no matter what happened, because it is God’s church. Neither did Pastor Grosboll, for a time after his dismissal, take an active part in the organization of the new church. When asked by the elders of the new church to preach, he at first declined. But he then came under the conviction that, as he was called and commissioned by the Lord to preach, he should accept. This he did.

The president had promised to make the Three Angels congregation a conference church. But the conference soon set some conditions to making them a church, which conditions included total conference control of the pulpit and the board chairmanship. Pastor Grosboll was not the chairman of the board, nor the head of any department.) As the Three Angels congregation did not feel it could acquiesce to these conditions, the conference for several months ignored them. They did, however, accept their tithes and offerings. The Three Angels church was in the top 10% of the churches in the conference in both attendance and in the amount of tithe returned to the conference.

Eventually the president met with the head elder and Pastor Grosboll. His great concern was that the elders of the church were assigning who was to preach on Sabbath morning, which included Pastor Grosboll a large percentage of the time. These two elders shared that this was their understanding of the functions and duties of the elders, but that if they were wrong, and could be shown so from Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy, they would be happy to change.

They asked the president to study with them, but he declined, stating that, “Only the Biblical Research Department has the authority to study this. We must follow the Church Manual” But the Manual does not specify what the president was insisting on. Moreover, the two elders shared that they believed that the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy must be the guide which we follow and that God would help us to understand it, if we approach it in humility, prayer, and sincerity. The Manual may be a useful guide on procedure, but it is not inspired and must not take the place of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. But the president still declined to study the subject, stating that unless the congregation would agree to this condition without question, they could not be a church. Because the elders could not conscientiously agree to this, Pastor Grosboll was again accused of insubordination.

You should give your authority to the people from God’s Word. You should not believe any doctrine simply because another says it is truth. The Ellen G. White 1888 material, 170

Lines of Control

The Bible has ample counsel on the duties of an elder. To the elders (plural) of the church of Ephesus, Paul said, “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20: 28- 29). It was the local elders who were called to shepherd the flock and protect them from wolves. This was the New Testament model. It was the Roman apostasy that developed a central power to control the local congregation.

It was one of the leading doctrines of Romanism that the pope is… invested with supreme authority over bishops and pastors in all parts of the world. The Great Controversy’, 50

God wants all local congregations to work together in unity. God helped us to develop a system of government within the church in ,order to enhance unity and to preserve doctrinal purity. God did not design that anyone or any entity should work independently of His Spirit, or of the people and systems His Spirit was directing. (This statement means that the organized church is just as responsible for cooperating with God’s various ministries that are not under their direct control as the ministries are responsible for cooperating with the organized church. The same responsibility of cooperation was required of the Jewish leadership when John the Baptist and his disciples, and Jesus and His disciples, came preaching the gospel.) God intends that the church should be structured and organized. But this system was never designed for the purpose of dictating and controlling the consciences of men and congregations as was done during the Middle Ages. It is the love of God, and the Holy Spirit, that must unite us together in bonds of brotherhood. There is a place for disfellowshipping and discipline of members and churches based upon biblical principles, but never upon man- made rules. There is a place for leadership, but never arbitrary control and vindictiveness. Arbitrary human control and kingly power has been one of the great shortcomings of this church that has led us into Leodiceanism. This was one of our primary problems in 1888. Whenever human leadership supersedes the leadership of the Holy Spirit, Christ is denied. In 1888, Ellen White called for us to make “Christ our righteousness;” not man.

God designs that men shall use their minds and consciences for themselves. He never designed that one man should become the shadow of another, and utter only another’s sentiments. But this error has been coming in among us, that a very few are to be mind, conscience, and judgment for all God’s workers. The foundation of Christianity is “Christ our Righteousness.” Men are individually responsible to God and must act as God acts upon them, not as another human mind acts upon their mind; for if this method of indirect influence is kept up, souls cannot be impressed and directed by the great I AND. They wilt, on the other hand, have their experience blended with another, and will be kept under a moral restraint, which allows no freedom of action or of choice. . . .

If we would be wise, and use diligently, prayerfully and thankfully the means whereby light and blessings are to come to his people, then no voice nor power upon earth would have authority over us to say, “This shall not be.” The Lord has presented before me that men in responsible positions are standing directly in the way of the workings of God upon His people. The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, 112, 113

It is not for the Lord’s delegated ministers to look to other minds to plan and devise for them. They must use the ability God has given them, and make God the center and source of all their wisdom. Ibid., 90

The feeling of Elder Butler [was that] position gave unlimited authority. Ibid., 110 When finite men shall cease to put themselves in the way, to hinder, then God will work in our midst as never before. Ibid., 114

Let no human hand place a yoke upon your neck. Take the yoke Christ gives. Learn of Him. Ibid., 141

No one must be permitted to close the avenues whereby the light of truth shall come to tile people. As soon as this shall be attempted, God’s Spirit will be quenched. Ibid., 171

These are but a small sampling of the hundreds of statements Ellen White gave on this subject during and after the 1888 experience. Let us not just try to find other statements, wrested out of their context, to “counter” and “balance” these plain statements, but let us permit them to have their full weight. Let us obey the word of the Lord, not argue it away as those do who try to avoid the responsibilities of the Sabbath. These statements are not advising against receiving proper and due counsel, which we all need. Nor are they mitigating against organization, which the Lord has ordained. But rather, they are strictly condemning “kingly power” within organization, such as we had in Ellen White’s day, and which some people believe we have even more so today. She said this spirit of over- control would quench the Spirit of the Lord. Is that happening?

Is it possible that if a president becomes conscience for a pastor, that he in turn expects the pastor to be conscience for the people? According to the above statements, this practice will quench God’s Spirit. In a meeting between Pastor Grosboll and the president during a worker’s meeting right after the first nominating committee, the president encouraged him to reinstate into office some of those who were the most bitter. Pastor Grosboll said that, though some pastors may do so, he did not feel it was right for a pastor to override a nominating committee or to impose his own will upon them. The nominating committee had seriously prayed about their decisions and felt the Lord had guided them. Moreover, he shared that he did not feel it was right, even for a nominating committee, to put people into office just to appease them. He, as a shepherd, tried to minister to all, but to allow any segment of the congregation to run the church just to avoid trouble, he believed was wrong. Then he asked the president where that policy of appeasement was working for the advancement of God’s work. Will that policy bring about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit?

It should be noted that in 1896, according to the SDA Encyclopedia (1966), Kansas had 3,000 Seventh- day Adventist members. Today it has 4,756 members, or 8% fewer per capita of the Kansas population than before the turn of the century. In 1902 Kansas had 100 churches. Today it has 58 churches. In the last 7 years, Kansas membership has grown by 1, while the population has grown by over 100,000 people. Is God’s Spirit already being quenched?

If we want the Spirit’s power to return to our work, we must have less confidence and dependence in man, and far more in God. Jesus is to have pre- eminence in the church and over the church (Col. 1: 18). “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually’ as H e wills” (1 Cor. 12: 11). The Galatian church was severely reprimanded by Paul for yielding to the authority and influence of James and Peter from Jerusalem in going against the will of God. Is the church today any less responsible to God than was the church in Galatia?

The New Congregation Faces Change

Although the leaders of the new congregation would not yield their convictions about the duties of the elders and the limits of a conference’s rightful influence, the conference seemed to work long and hard to find a way to break down these convictions. One guest speaker who was invited in, by the elders, to speak to the congregation, reported how he was repeatedly called by the president and influenced as to what he should say to the congregation.

The conference eventually appointed a pastor for this group, although they were not yet accepted as an entity of the conference. The board of elders and the church board were both assured that this retired pastor was coming in to work with the Three Angels congregation as they were so functioning, and that he would not seek to change them. Having received this assurance, both the board of elders and the church board gladly voted unanimously to accept this new pastor. Elder Grosboll, as well as the members of the Three Angels church, wanted very much to work with the conference.

Elder Grosboll spoke only one time after the new pastor arrived, and that was a Sabbath that had been scheduled by the elders before the new pastor arrived. He was asked to speak twice more. The first time he declined, as he did not feel that the new pastor was yet comfortable with him. However, it soon appeared that the new pastor had come with an assigned purpose. The next time the elders asked Elder Grosboll to speak, the new pastor vigorously opposed it.

Person after person in the church began to experience what they felt was a concerted undermining of Pastor Grosboll’s ministry and the Institute of Ministry (now called Steps to Life, Inc.) by the new pastor. Some have shared how, in private conversations, various unflattering titles and characterizations were used to discredit Elder Grosboll and the Institute. When another minister visited the church one month after the arrival of the new pastor, he was told by the new pastor that he had come to Wichita “to straighten things out,” because “they were not what they should be.” But that was not what the board had been told as to the purpose of his coming.

Two months after the arrival of the new pastor, Elder Grosboll left on a one- month preaching tour overseas. During Elder Grosboll’s absence, the pastor began to advocate two things: 1) He wanted the elders to turn the pulpit over to him and 2) he wanted the congregation to agree to becoming a “company” within the conference. The elders had previously considered the possibility of becoming a conference “company.” They were united in their expressions that to become a company would be against all biblical and Spirit of Prophecy principles for the establishment of a group of believers, as will be explained later in this response paper. Upon Elder Grosboll’s return from overseas, the church was changed. Arriving back home on Friday afternoon, many met him with grave concerns. He was told there was to be a special organizational meeting the following evening with the president and conference- appointed pastor officiating. The church was to be officially organized into a conference company at this meeting. Many people had serious questions, not only about how this was rushed through while Elder Grosboll was out of the country and the methods used to achieve this change, but also about the biblical principles involved in being a company instead of a church. They asked if they could meet over at Elder Grosboll’s house on Sabbath afternoon to study and pray about the situation before the evening organizational meeting look place.

As the members studied and prayed together on Sabbath afternoon, they became more and more concerned about the situation. Many said they had tried to ask questions at various meetings during Elder Grosboll’s absence, but the pastor seemed to ignore these questions of concern. They related how at some of the meetings when some of them had tried to ask questions, the pastor had simply terminated the meeting. Moreover, they said that the church had never voted to become a company (as, in fact, the minutes verify. The actual motion that was voted upon was: “To proceed with the process of becoming a church.” Some people did indeed understand this to include the possibility of becoming a company first, but others did not.) These members felt that the decision had been pushed upon them.

Now, that very Sabbath afternoon, an hour before the sun was to set, there was to be a business meeting at which time they were to be officially made a company without ever having voted to be such, nor with their questions answered. They decided that before they could in good conscience sign their names to the company charter, some of their questions must be answered. With the conference president scheduled to be at the meeting, they hoped that he could answer these questions.

That evening the conference president, knowing that many had serious concerns, said that no one needed to sign the company charter who had uncertainties about doing so. Thus there was no need to ask any questions, because no one who had questions needed to become a part of the company. Everyone was free to do whatever he or she wanted. (Ever since that time, however, those who did not sign the company charter have been labeled as trouble makers or Grosboll followers.)

As this was a business meeting, however, several raised their hands to speak. When hands were not recognized, one person stood up to ask a question. The pastor asked whether the question was relevant, and thus stymied the questioner. A second person stood and sought to ask a question. When he got the floor and began to speak, the pastor suddenly interrupted him, without warning, and began to pray a lengthy prayer, asking the Lord to send the evil angels away and to “overcome the spirit of Satan.” Finally, when the prayer was over, another individual stood to ask a question and he walked up to the front to be able to speak. When he stepped up to the pulpit, the pastor said: “That is the president’s pulpit tonight, you are not allowed to speak from there.” The questioner then calmly walked over to the side mike, at which point the pastor moved the microphone and stood between the would- be speaker and the microphone. When the questioner finally managed to speak, it was but a simple question for the president.

Finally, someone got a motion on the floor to allow discussion. It easily passed. However, as soon as the first person got up to speak, several people who had previously been asked to do so, in what appeared to be an orchestrated move to block discussion, came up to sign their names to the charter- membership company book, refusing to listen to any comments or questions. (One prominent individual shared later about having been asked to come up right at the first and sign the book, evidently as an influence to get others to sign.) But the discussion continued, with little attempt to answer the questions.

Earlier that day, Elder Grosboll had jotted down some thoughts he wanted to share at the meeting. He talked for nearly an hour, outlining his concerns. It was not a prepared speech, and much of his speech concerned things said earlier by the pastor, the president, and some of the members. More on this speech later.

One of the members who spoke, simply asked the president: “Would you give us the biblical grounds for becoming a company?” The president replied, “There are no biblical grounds for becoming a company. The Bible also does not tell you not to smoke.”

Toward the end of the meeting, Elder Grosboll again took the floor and pled with the president not to divide the church. Turning to the president, he said, in effect: “We want to work together But people have honest questions and convictions. Why can’t we get together in a spirit of prayer and study these things out? Surely the Holy Spirit will reveal His will to us and bring us into harmony and unity.” iThe appeal was ignored.

That night, approximately 40 people signed the company charter. That night the church was divided.

The president said that the company status would not become effective for three more weeks, allowing more time for people to sign and become charter members.

The following night was a regularly scheduled board meeting. A motion was put forth by Elder Grosboll requesting the district pastor, who was on the conference executive committee, to express the following concerns to the Executive Committee:

  1. That the Three Angels Company he able to have regular elders, elected by the congregation.
  2. That they have a regular functioning board, with full board authority.
  3. That the congregation be allowed to admit their own members and care for their own discipline, exclusively. It was also moved:

That this church board, along with the current officers, remain as they were before the company formation, until the Executive Committee votes on the above request, and that after that date, the same church board meet together one more time, in full and regular session, in order to vote on what to do from that point.”

Thus the church could yet decide on what course it wanted to pursue. Both of these motions passed overwhelmingly, but the pastor was against it. The next day the conference president declared the actions of the board meeting null and void. The pastor of the newly formed company stated that only those who had signed the “company book,” as it was called, could remain an active part of the congregation.

Over the next several weeks, systematic visits were made to those who did not sign the book, encouraging them to sign. One person said that she was visited by two different teams on the same night. The visits went for hours, and late into the night. They tried to pressure her into signing the book. They came laden with Spirit of Prophecy quotations on yielding to authority, and other statements they thought would suit their cause. She also received calls at work by those who had signed seeking to pressure her into signing. This was typical of many people’s experience. Another family reports that when the conference- assigned pastor visited them, they were told that someone who didn’t sign the company book was a “Satanist.” Another person who didn’t want to sign was asked by the pastor if he could come over and study about “the Omega of Apostasy” with her. Yet, nothing was ever produced from the writings of inspiration to show that being a company is biblical. Eventually, 80 people either chose or were pressured into signing the book. Some who signed, however, disagreed with these pressure tactics and did not remain active with the company. Some of these were brandnew Adventist.

After the organizational meeting, the president wrote a two- page letter to every pastor of the conference, to every member of the Executive Committee, and to others, condemning Pastor Grosboll’s activities in this meeting. He requested in this letter that the letter be shared with others. There was no one to question the accuracy of the allegations made, however, because neither Elder Grosboll nor any- one associated with him either saw or knew about the letter until many months later, when someone from Washington D. C. got a copy of it from a person in the General Conference and sent it to Elder Grosboll. Other such letters have likewise been called to our attention long after they were written. At least one of these (secret) letters was sent to every conference president of North America.

Principles on Being a “Company”

As the questions began to mount, and the allegations against Elder Grosboll by the conference continued to fly, Elder Grosboll decided to put the thoughts of those opposed to becoming a company down on paper. The paper was titled, “Statement of Principles on Being a Company or Being a Church.” 5 This sixteen page paper began with this statement:

First, let it be understood that each member who does not wish to sign the company charter believes in the Seventh- day Adventist Church and in church organization, including the conference- church structure as our denomination is organized into. There is no desire for independence. Every member desires the Three Angels Seventh- day Adventist Church to be organized as a church under the Kansas- Nebraska Conference of Seventh- day Adventist.

Secondly, we have no desire for division, but seek peace and unity. “By this,” Christ said, “shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13: 35). We are pledged to work toward this unity of Spirit which will bring about the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit. However, true unity is never achieved by compromise.”

The paper then shared that, though we seek unity, we cannot conscientiously agree to becoming a company without certain questions being answered first. It then outlined the reasons why, as follows:

1) The first four and a half pages gave quotations from the Spirit of Prophecy predicting apostasy coming into the church, and warning against the yielding of principle in order to obtain peace.

2) The next three pages gave a historical background to the situation, ending with a listing of the four points that the conference demanded before considering the group to become a church:

These conditions involved four things: 1) Pulpit control, 2) Finances, 3) No church school, 4) the Institute of Ministry. The pulpit control appeared to he the biggest concern.

3) The next section dealt with the biblical principles of the duties of the elders in regards to worship and the pulpit.

4) The next section listed seven concrete aspects of a company that are directly against the principles outlined in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy for church organization. These were as follows:

1) A company cannot have any church elders.

2) The local, lay leader (the equivalent to an elder but without an elder’s status) is chosen by the conference.

3) The local treasurer is chosen by the conference.

4) The nomination of all other church offices, not directly chosen by the conference, is to be presided over by a person of the conference’s choice.

5) No discipline can be administered by a company, but all such matters are taken care of by the conference executive committee.

6) A company has no authoritative board or business meeting. The conference executive committee is the actual board of the group which has authority even over the entire business session of a company. Any decision- making ability of the local group is granted to it as a favor, not as a right.

7) The members of a company do not constitute a part of the constituency of the conference and have no voice or representation in conference activities.

All of these aspects of a company organization are according to The Seventh- day Adventist Church Manual. Certain conferences may make exceptions to one or more of these restrictions as a courtesy or privilege, but a company has none of these privileges by right.

5) The next section gave the clear scriptural principles for each of the seven areas of concern as listed above. It showed from the Bible and The Spirit of Prophecy that each of these organizational principles is contrary to the way God says a congregation should be organized. These principles of organization are condemned by God.

Strange fire has been offered… in restricting the liberty of God’s people, binding them about by your plans and rules, which God has not framed, neither have they come into His mind. All these things are strange fire, unacknowledged by God, and are a continual misrepresentation of His character. Testimonies to Ministers, 357- 358

Do we individually realize our true position, that as God’s hired servants we are not to bargain away our stewardship? . . We are warned not to trust in man nor to make flesh our arm. A curse is pronounced upon all who do this [Jeremiah 17: 51. Ibid., 361- 367

The chapter in Testimonies to Ministers from which this last quotation is taken is entitled, “Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods.” In this chapter she talks about the rule of the Sanhedrin, and the ruling- principle that was coming into our church, that would seek to put man’s principles and rulership above God’s. Here she talks about “the spirit of domination, “ and shows that it is morally wrong both to exercise such power and to voluntarily yield to such power. That is why we have counsel against joining such organizations as labor unions. It was for this reason that many could not conscientiously sign the company charter.

6) The document ended with these words: There is no desire to campaign or coerce our convictions upon others, except to share our beliefs. At this point, but a minority have signed the charter. But even if all but one should, the convictions should still be considered. As the Protestant reformers so boldly stated, “In matters of conscience the majority has no power” (Tile Great Controversy, 201). “The principles contained in this celebrated Protest [of the Princes] … constitute the very essence of Protestantism. Now this Protest opposes two abuses of man in matters of faith: the first is the intrusion of the civil magistrate, and tile second tile arbitrary authority of the church.” Ibid., 203- 204. 6 We desire to live peaceably with all people. We will turn the other cheek and allow ourselves to be taken advantage of. We will pray for those who despitefully use us. We will continue to work for the conversion of souls and to have them baptized into the local Seventh- day Adventist Church, We have made known our convictions, but we will not fight. We will praise the Lord in every trial. But we cannot go against our convictions nor join a movement that is working to divide the church and to fragment the believers in Christ.

. . . Beliefs cannot be legislatetl, but must be developed through thorough prayer and Bible study. . . .

May God help us never to compromise the truth, but to remain loving to one another and loyal to His church. . . . Let us determine that we are going to stand for the truth, but that we are going to maintain the spirit of Jesus. Let us rejoice under affliction. Let us do what is right, leaving the results with God, and developing a character for heaven.”

The members who could not, because of conscience, sign the charter, pledged themselves not to fight or agitate, but simply to go on with their work of winning souls. That is what they did. Even when thousands of dollars given for the Bible Worker fund for the Institute of Ministry workers, and held in trust by the Three Angels Church, and which the conference president pledged would not be touched, was diverted from what it had been pledged for and what the church body had voted to expend it for, no protest from the Institute was heard, except for a concern expressed some months later in a letter to the president. The next week after the Sabbath evening organizational meeting, Elder Grosboll spent over an hour with the conference- appointed pastor, pleading with him not to divide the congregation that God had established. He asked if the whole church might not come together for study and prayer. Surely God would lead them into truth and unity. If those who did not believe in the company concept could be shown from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy that they were wrong, surely they would be willing to change. If the others were shown to be wrong, they should be willing to change. But in any event, there should be love and tolerance for all. All of these pleas and requests were forthrightly refused. In the Concerns and Objections paper, the most unreasonable assumptions and charges are made about the motives of Elder Grosboll in opposing the formation of the company. It states:

It is clear that Elder Grosboll believes that he is fighting against agents of Satan (unconverted ministers, administrators and other members) who are attempting to take over God’s remnant church. . . . For this and other reasons Elder Grosboll felt justified in strongly resisting (in both his preaching and writing), the organization of the Three Angels congregation into a company recognized by the Kansas- Nebraska Conference on May 7, 1988. He believes firmly that this would be yielding to the leadership of unconverted men who are taking over the congregation and would have the power to interfere in the decisions of the local company. Concerns and Objections, 6- 7

How could any fair reading of the facts lead to such a conclusion, when Elder Grosboll had been seeking and desiring the Three Angels congregation to become a church, and when he had asked the conference brethren to be willing to study this issue out with them? The company status involves clear biblical principles, regardless of who the conference officers are. To support the above charge, however, Concerns and Objections quotes a passage from an article of Elder Grosboll’s in the November 1988 Steps to Life News. The passage quoted, however, is primarily from a quotation of Ellen White’s, which reads as follows:

Who knows but that the preachers who are faithful, firm, and true may be the last who shall offer the gospel of peace to our unthankful churches? It may be that the destroyers are already training under the hand of Satan and only wait the departure of a few more standard- bearers to take their places, and with the voice of the false prophet cry, “Peace, peace,” when the Lord hath not spoken peace. . . . When God shall work His strange work on the earth, when holy hands bear the ark no longer, woe will be upon the people. Testimonies, vol. 5, 77

The quoting of this Spirit of Prophecy passage was mentioned twice in the Concerns and Objections paper to prove that Pastor Grosboll is against conference leadership. Is the Spirit of Prophecy to come under trial? Are there some passages that are now approved for quoting, but others that, if quoted, will prove one to be disloyal to the church? Have we come to a time in the church when a minister can have his ordination brought into question for quoting a statement from the published volumes of the Testimonies for the Church? The president has made much of the speech Elder Grosboll made at the time of the formation of the company on May 7. This speech has been castigated because of two illustrations Elder Grosboll used by outlining the techniques and organizational principles of Catholicism and Communism, and warning against adopting the same principles in our organization. Elder Grosboll used these examples only as illustrations of principle. However, he later apologized for using personal illustrations of people or events to show the wrong tendency of the direction they were going, stating that he should have just shared theory and principle. It is reminiscent of Luther before the Diet of Worms where he was called into question for everything he had ever written or said:

In the third class of his books he had attacked individuals who had defended existing evils. Concerning these he freely confessed that he had been more violent than was becoming. He did not claim to be free from fault; but even these books he could not revoke, for such a course would embolden the enemies of truth, and they would then take occasion to crush God’s people with still greater cruelty. The Great Controversy, 158

The above statements, about not adopting similar principles of organization as other organizations use, were made in response to the president’s comments when he admitted that a company has no self- administrative rights, except as granted by the conference. But he said, “Just trust me.”

The point was made, and still stands, that in the Catholic Church, the local church has plenty of rights- as long as they please the hierarchy. But they have no rights by right, only by privilege. The same is true of Communist satellite countries. As long as they do as the Central Communist Party desires, they have plenty of rights. But, as Hungary found out in 1956, and as Czechoslovakia found out in 1968, these rights are only privileges granted as long as they please the central party. They are not privileges by right. Both groups want you to simply “trust them.” But Inspiration warns against all such alliances, whether in labor, government, or church administration. Is there ever a time or place when it is appropriate to use such illustrations? Consider the following vision about the leaders of Battle Creek:

I dreamed that I was in Battle Creek looking out from the side glass at the door and saw a company marching up to the house, two and two. They looked stern and determined. I knew them well and turned to open the parlor door to receive them, but thought I would took again. The scene was changed. The company now presented the appearance of a Catholic procession. One bore in his hand a cross, another a reed. And as they approached, the one carrying a reed, made a circle around the house, saying three times: “This house is proscribed. The goods must be confiscated. They have spoken against our holy order.”… [I] found myself in the midst of a company, some of whom I knew, but I dared not speak a word to them for fear of being betrayed. Testimonies, vol. 1, 578

Is there a danger that we can develop a system that functions like a hierarchy with its inherent evils? Let us give an example of the way the centralization of power can be used to restrict the rights of God’s people. Take the example of the conference executive committee being able to disfellowship members of a company without a trial or vote by their fellow brothers and sisters. It is true that the conference does not often disfellowship anyone. But the very fact that they, and they alone, have the right to do so, is wrong, and contrary to all the counsel of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. The very principle is wrong, whether it is misused or not. And for those who say that that kind of power would never be misused, consider the hundreds of faithful Seventh- day Adventist Church members in Hungary who were disfellowshiped by the conference, apart from the local churches, simply because they voiced their disapproval of the union of church and state and the joining of the ecumenical movement that is uniting the various Christian religions of that country.

The conference president said, “Trust me.” He made it very clear that unless the congregation was willing to become a company, they did not have enough trust for the conference to make them a church. That is a “Catch- 22″ situation. It is like the young women who wants to wait until she is married to have a relationship, but the boyfriend says, “Just trust me! If you don’t trust me enough to have a relationship with me now, you don’t have enough trust for me to marry you.” But if she is willing to marry him, that should be trust enough. And if the congregation is willing and desirous to be a church within the conference, that should be trust enough. No congregation of God’s church should be forced to transgress their convictions in order to show trust.

”Kingly Power”

This principle of central control is a spirit completely contrary to all the teachings of Jesus. Yet this principle has gradually, subtly, become more and more an accepted method of administration among us. For one reason, it is often the easiest way to deal with a problem.

God has given to men talents of influence which belong to Him alone, and no greater dishonor can be done to God than for one finite agent to bring other men’s talents under his absolute control, even though the benefits of the same be used to the advantage of the cause. In such arrangements one man’s mind is ruled by another man’s mind, and the human agency is separated from God, and exposed to temptation. Satan’s methods tend to one end- to make men the slaves of men. Testimonies to Ministers, 360- 361

God calls for cooperation. No one is called to work independently, either conference officer, pastor, or lay person. And yet we are all given capabilities and duties to which we are individually accountable to God.

The abuse of power may have its short term benefits, as noted above, but “It is a curse wherever and by whomsoever it is exercised.” Ibid. “The high- handed power that has been developed, as though position has made men gods,” Ellen White said, “makes me afraid, and ought to cause fear.” Ibid. God designs that the members of His church should learn to be responsible, stalwart workers for Him. He designs that the local members should be responsible for the work in their area. If they are under the guidance of the Lord, each church will work in harmony with every other church, and organization will be a pleasure and a blessing.

We are to be peacemakers, easy to be entreated, and cooperative, yet God holds us responsible for our individual calling and the stewardship He has entrusted into our hands. “Do we individually realize our true position, that as God’s hired servants we are not to bargain away our stewardship? We have an individual accountability before the heavenly universe, to administer the trust committed us of God.” Ibid., 361- 362

No one was easier to be entreated than Jesus. He was the King of Peace. Yet, He would not relinquish His calling for any. He had a divine call. Because He would not surrender His calling and mission, it brought great trouble and opposition. Thus Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matthew 10: 34). During the ministry of Jesus, the great conflict was over authority. The question that both He and John the Baptist were asked was, “By what authority are You doing these thing? And who gave You this authority?” Jesus’ answer was: “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things” (Matthew 21: 23- 27). The scribes and Pharisees “sought to lay hands on Him,” that is to arrest Him, for what was, in their opinion, insubordination Matthew 21: 46).

There are two great dangers, both centered in pride. There is the pride of dominance and control, and there is the pride of independence. Satan displayed both. But of the two, the love of power and control was the great sin of the Jewish church. This, also, has been a great curse in our church, even as early as 1886. We have already looked at some of the counsels of Ellen White following 1888. Here are some counsels given at the General Conference session thirteen years later:

In reference to our conference, it is repeated o’er and o’er and o’er again, that it is the voice of God, and therefore everything must be referred to the conference and have the conference voice in regard to permission or restriction or what shall be and what shall not be done in the various fields.

Now from the light that I have, as it was presented to me in figures: There was a narrow compass here; there within that narrow is a king- like, kingly ruling power. Here the outlets are blocked. And the work all over our field demands an entirely different course of action than we have had. We have heard enough, abundance, about that “everything must go around in the regular way.” . . . To have this conference pass on and close up as the conferences have done, with the same manipulating, with the very same tone, and the same order,- God forbid! God forbid, brethren. . . . This thing has been continued and renewed for the last fifteen years or more [that is at least since 1886], and God calls for a change. . . . Let me tell you that the enemy is getting the victory all the time . . . .Every conference has woven after the same pattern. It is the very same loom that carries it, and finally, why, it will come to naught. Ellen G. White speech at the 1901 General Conference. Spalding- Magan Collection, 163- 164

How wonderful it would have been if the 1901 General Conference had made a turnaround. They did in theory, but did they carry through? A few months later, Ellen White wrote to the new chairman of the General Conference Committee, Elder Daniells:

Pharisaism in the Christian world today is not extinct. The Lord desires to break up the course of precision which has become so firmly established, which has hindered instead of advancing His work. He desires His people to remember that there is a large space over which the light of present truth is to be shed. Divine wisdom must have abundant room in which to work. It is to advance without asking permission or support from those who have taken to themselves a kingly power. . . .

God calls for a revival and a reformation. The “regular lines” have not done the work which God desires to see accomplished. Let revival and reformation make constant changes.

Something has been done in this line, but let not the work stop here. No! Let every yoke be broken. Let men awaken to the realization that they have an individual responsibility.

The present showing is sufficient to prove to all who have the true missionary spirit that the “regular lines” may prove a failure and a snare. God helping His people, the circle of kings who dared to take such great responsibilities shall never again exercise their unsanctified power in the so- called “regular lines.” Too much power has been invested in unrevived, unreformed human agencies. Let not selfishness and covetousness be allowed to outline the work which must be done to fulfill the grand, noble commission which Christ has given to every disciple. He, our Lord and Master has given us an example, in His life, of selfsacrifice, of die way in which we must work to advance the kingdom of God. . . . To each human being God has assigned an individuality and a distinct work. . . .

Christ’s commission is, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Those who are impressed to take up the work in the home field or in regions beyond are to go forward in the name of the Lord. They will succeed if they give evidence that they depend upon God for grace and strength. At the beginning, their work may he very small, hut it will enlarge if they follow the Lord’s plan. God lives, and He will work for the unselfish, self- sacrificing laborer, wherever and whoever he may … .. The Macedonian cry is coming from every quarter. Shall men go to the “regular lines” to see whether they will be permitted to labor, or shall they go out and work as best they can, depending on their own abilities and on the help of the Lord, beginning in a humble way and creating an interest in the truth in places in which nothing has been done to give the warning message?

God grant that the voices which have been so quickly raised to say that all the money invested in the work must go through the appointed channel at Battle Creek, shall not be heard. The people to whom God has given His means are amenable to Him alone. It is their privilege to give direct aid and assistance to . . . .. . . .. And if means can be devised to reduce the expense of publishing and circulating books, let this be done. Ibid., 174- 177

How wonderful it would have been if God’s counsel had been heeded— we would have been in the kingdom long ere this. But, later that same year, she warned: “We may have to remain here in this world because of insubordination many more years.” Evangelism, 696. The fact that we are still here says something.

It should be noted that the quoting of these statements is not done as an attack on any person, nor on the General Conference or any conference. We are all responsible for being in this world too long. It should also be noted that inspired statements must be considered in the context of time and place. In the immediate aftermath of the 1901 General Conference reorganization, Ellen White cautioned people against using these statements and applying them just the same as before the reorganization. She wanted to give the new leadership a chance to prove themselves. But the point is, the same principles of organization and leadership still apply today, and if the conditions be met again, the conclusions remain the same.

Some progress may have been made in 1901. But the progress was not nearly as much as God desired. And the question remains, have we regressed from the progress we made, if we made any? Even as early as 1903, Ellen White began to write about the failure of the 1901 General Conference- not in the actions passed, but in the carrying out of the actions:

One day at noon I was writing of the work that might have been done at the last General Conference if the men in positions of trust had followed the will and way of God. Those who have had greatest light have not walked in the light. Testimonies, vol. 8, 104

In a letter she wrote to Judge Arthur on January 14, 1903, she lamented: The result of the last General Conference (1901) has been the greatest, the most terrible sorrow of my life. No change was made. The spirit that should have been brought into the whole work as the result of that meeting was not brought in because men did not receive the testimonies of the Spirit of God. As they went to their several fields of labor, they did not walk in the light that the Lord had flashed upon their pathways, but carried into their work the wrong principles that had been prevailing in the work at Battle Creek. The Lord has marked every movement made by the leading men in our institutions and conferences. Letter 17, 1903; MR 10: 6, 3- 4

It should not be construed from these statements that Ellen White gave up on the church, but the Lord through her gave the church the only formula by which it can be victorious. We are to have organization, based upon true love for God and for one another, with an attitude of service. But we are not to lord it over one another nor to become their conscience. The Lord is to be allowed to rule in His church.

Because we did not follow the inspired formula for simple, holy, humble organization, many of our institutions at our headquarters in Battle Creek were burned. For those who think that the church made a complete change for the good in 1901, it should be noted that these judgments from God took place after that General Conference. God is still waiting for His character to be more fully manifested in our organizational principles. When we, as a people, reflect His image fully, both in our personal lives and in our relationships to one another (which relationship is what constitutes the government of the church), God will come to claim us as His own.

The spirit of control still prevails in the human heart. In trying to make a congregation of 160 people, such as existed in Wichita, a company, the spirit of control is made official. These same principles also apply to the way many mission territories are organized and run in various parts of the world. In talking to ministers and leaders of the local churches in at least one large mission field in another part of the world, we have found the same abuses of power seemed to be practiced and legitimized (maybe unintentionally) there just as they are in the formation of a local company. [A mission territory is like a conference, except without the ability to be self-organized, much as a company is like a church, except without the ability to be self- organized.]

Moreover, even when the centralization of power is not official, as in the situation of a company, it is often practiced. Many churches, that officially have the full privileges of corporate self- government under the direction of the Holy Spirit and in cooperation with the world- wide fellowship of believers, are nevertheless run and controlled by the conference or mission. These methods of manipulation were among Ellen White’s greatest concerns and the motivation for some of her strongest warnings, such as found in the book Testimonies to Ministers. Here is a sampling:

The Lord has not placed any one of His human agencies under the dictation and control of those who are themselves but erring mortals. … There is a power exercised at Battle Creek that God has not given, and He will judge those who assume this authority. They have somewhat of the same spirit that led Uzzah to lay his hand on the ark. . . . Far less of man’s power and authority should be exercised toward God’s human agencies. Brethren, leave God to rule. . . . No man is a proper judge of another man’s duty. Man is responsible to God, and as finite, erring men take into their hands the jurisdiction of their fellow men, as if the Lord commissioned them to lift up and cast down, all heaven is filled with indignation. . . . The present order of things must change, or the wrath of God will fall upon His instrumentalities that are not working in Christ’s lines. Testimonies to Ministers, 347- 349

God will not vindicate any device whereby man shall in the slightest degree rule or oppress his fellow men. . . . We are warned not to trust in man, nor to make flesh our arm. A curse is pronounced upon all who do this. Ibid., 366- 367

State conferences may depend upon the General Conference for light and knowledge and wisdom; but is it safe for them to do this? Battle Creek is not to be the center of God’s work. God alone can fill this place. When our people in the different places have their special convocations, teach them, for Christ’s sake and for their own soul’s sake, not to make flesh their arm. . . . Is the president of the General Conference to be the god of the people? … The Lord has a controversy with His people over this matter. . . . Just as soon as man is placed where God should be, he loses his purity, his vigor, his confidence in God’s power. Moral confusion results, because his powers become unsanctified and perverted. He feels competent to judge his fellow men, and he strives unlawfully to be a god over them. But there must be no self- exaltation in the work of God. Ibid., 375- 377

Let me entreat our state conferences and our churches to cease putting their dependence upon men and making flesh their arm. . . . Our churches are weak because the members are educated to look to and depend upon human resources. Ibid., 380

Working the Unworked Areas

Several months before the Three Angels Church was made a company, the students of the Institute of Ministry held an evangelistic series in Winfield, Kansas, an unworked town of 10,000 people, 44 miles south of Wichita. At the conclusion of these meetings, there were a number of interests who said they would be willing to come to church if there was one in their area.

The students prayed earnestly about this. They also studied the writings of Ellen White to find what they should do in such a situation. They found such statements as these:

No field is so unpromising as one that has been cultivated just enough to give the weeds a more luxuriant growth. . . . A minister might better not engage in the work unless he can bind it off. . . . For years light has been given upon this point, showing the necessity of following up an interest that has been raised, and in no case leaving it until all have decided that lean toward the truth, and have experienced the conversion necessary for baptism, and united with some church, or formed one themselves. Evangelism, 322, 324

Place after place is to be visited; church after church is to be raised up. Those who take their stand for the truth are to be organized into churches. Ibid., 353

I saw jets of light shining from cities and villages, and from the high places and the low places of the earth. God’s Word was obeyed, and as a result there were memorials for Him in every city and village. His truth was proclaimed throughout the world. Ibid., 699

With the consideration of counsels such as these, and after talking to the pastor of the closest Adventist church to Winfield, the students who held the evangelistic series in Winfield decided to start holding Sabbath services there, which have continued ever since. Between ten and fifteen interests from the town are currently attending these services. Bible studies are continuing and the people are becoming rooted and grounded. The congregation in Winfield, though carrying out all the functions of a church, generally refer to themselves as a “mission.” The Concerns and Objections paper cites the starting of the Winfield congregation as yet another problem with Elder Grosboll’s ministry. It states:

He then started a church in Winfield, Kansas without consulting with either the district pastor or conference leaders. Concerns and Objections, 11

Neither the evangelistic meetings nor the beginning of fellowship meetings on Sabbath morning in Winfield were done without notification of the closest district pastor. Elder Grosboll also personally talked to the conference secretary about holding these meetings and he expressed no concerns. A budget request and the plans for these meetings were also sent to the president. But the president replied only by sending out a letter to the various pastors in the area condemning the holding of the meetings. He also said this action on the part of Pastor Grosboll would provide additional evidence to the Executive Committee of his lack of cooperation. It seemed that every attempt to communicate with the conference was met with a hostile reply.

It is an interesting note that the students who were involved with the Winfield evangelistic meetings and ultimately decided to continue meeting with the interests on Sabbath morning, were very “pro- conference” students (as most of our students are), who sincerely wanted to do everything to please the conference. One of them almost seemed to believe that nothing should be done if the conference is against it. But when it came to the actual salvation of souls, and after studying the inspired counsels, they decided to secure these interests.

It is inconceivable that raising up a new work, where there is no Seventh- day Adventist Church, could be placed in such condemnatory light as the conference is seeking to do. How many churches are being raised up today? This work should be encouraged, not condemned..

Moreover, the organization of churches is a part of the ministry which God commissions his ministers to perform. The same ordination that authorizes a person to baptize also authorizes him to organize churches.

Before being sent forth as missionaries to the heathen world, these apostles [Paul and Barnabas] were solemnly dedicated to God by fasting and prayer and the laying on of hands. Thus they were authorized by the church, not only to teach the truth, but to perform the rite of baptism and to organize churches, being invested with full ecclesiastical authority. The Acts of the Apostles, 161

When the members of the Three Angels group who felt they could not conscientiously sign the company book were told they could no longer be an active part of the group, they began to look for a place of service. Some went to Winfield. Some went to help a new and growing group of believers in Kingman that had been established three years before. Some went to other places. All of these people were, and are, free to serve the Lord where they wish.

It appears that certain persons sought how they might either gain control of the Three Angels group or break it up. When they succeeded and many of the members were scattered, they sought whom they might blame. But who really divided the church? If a church is divided because some members want to follow clear biblical and Spirit of Prophecy principles, and yet are willing to study these issues out and change if they have misinterpreted the inspired Word, what is the cause? And if they are dismissed from the group over these principles of conscience, which no one is willing to study with them to show where they might be wrong— we ask, if this divides a church, who divided it?

If following principle will divide a church, may every church of the land be divided! It is better to have a divided church where souls are following principle, than to have a whole church united in a Laodicean condition. Moreover, the possible consequences of our actions are not to dictate what is right and wrong. We are to act upon principle, leaving the results with God.

We should choose the right because it is right, and leave consequences with God. The Great Controversy, 460

Christ’s ambassadors have nothing to do with consequences. They must perform their duty and leave results with God. Ibid., 460

The greatest want of the world is the want of men- men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall. Education, 57

Sometimes the heavens may seem as about to fall. Let us notice this solemn appeal by the prophet of the Lord:

Plans contrary to truth and righteousness are introduced in a subtle manner on the plea that this must be done, and that must be done, “because it is for the advancement of the cause of God.” But it is the devising of men that leads to oppression, injustice, and wickedness. The cause of God is free from every taint of injustice. It can gain no advantage by robbing the members of the family of God of their individuality or their rights. All such practices are abhorrent to God. … They were determined to bring the individuals to their terms; they would rule or ruin. … The high- handed power that has been developed, as though position has made men gods, makes me afraid, and ought to cause fear. It is a curse wherever and by whomsoever it is exercised. . . . Do we individually realize our true position, that as God’s hired servants we are not to bargain away our stewardship? We have an individual accountability before the heavenly universe, to administer the trust committed us . . . .. . . ..

The spirit of domination is extending to the presidents of our conferences. If a man is sanguine of his own powers and seeks to exercise dominion over his brethren, feeling that he is invested with authority to make his will the ruling power, the best and only safe course is to remove him, lest great harm be done, and he lose his own soul and imperil the souls of others. “All ye are brethren.” This disposition to lord it over God’s heritage will cause a reaction unless these men change their course. Testimonies to Ministers, 359- 362

We appeal to each person who believes and loves the Three Angels’ Messages to put away all differences. Let us work together as brethren, for the finishing of the work, so that Jesus can return soon. Let us not fight one another. Steps to Life, as well as all who ate called and commissioned to work for the Master, cannot relinquish the work nor water down the message God has given them to preach. The reason they have never addressed some of the activities against them is that they want to cooperate with the conference, even if they have been wronged. Let us confess our sins and let bygones be bygones. Let us join hands for the conversion of souls that are perishing. As Ellen White says:

We are to subdue not our brother soldiers but our enemies, that we may build up Christ’s kingdom. We are laborers together with God. Ibid., 296

Conditions for “Acceptable Ministry”

The Concerns and Objections document itself says nothing about any conditions of working with the conference, or even of a possibility or desire on the part of the conference for reconciliation or cooperation. It merely ends with the decision that, “Pastor Grosboll has demonstrated that he is not a true shepherd of the flock and therefore should not represent the Seventhday Adventist Church as an ordained minister.” Nevertheless, at the conclusion of the January 25 meeting, after reading the document, the conference president said that if Steps to Life would submit to the eleven points voted on by the conference as “Guidelines for Acceptable Independent Ministries,” 7 they could yet work together. He outlined which three he wanted Steps to Life to work on first:

  1. The leaders of the independent ministry are [to be] members in good and regular standing in the local Seventh- day Adventist Church.
  2. The independent ministry actively encourages its supporters to be faithful in the returning of their tithes and giving of appropriate offerings to the organized Seventh- day Adventist Church and does not knowingly accept tithe from Seventh- day Adventist members. In such cases where they are aware that the contributed funds are tithe, they will counsel the donor to place their tithe in the proper channels of the organized church.
  3. The independent ministry will have on its guiding board or committee at least some individuals appointed by the Conference Executive Committee who will represent the organized Seventh- day Adventist Church. They may be employees of the church and/ or lay persons who are elected or appointed to the church executive or governing boards or committees at the local conference or other levels of the church structure.

It should be noted that these three items seem to have little to do with the document itself. Moreover, it should also be noted that the Kansas- Nebraska Conference took the eleven points that the North American Division has accepted, 8 but modified them to suit their needs. Since Steps to Life is the only ministry we know of in the Kansas- Nebraska conference to which these points could apply, it would seem that these changes were made with Steps to Life in mind. Yet no one from Steps to Life was ever consulted or dialogued with. These “eleven points” were merely handed down.

Let us examine the three points that the conference president specified as the first (of the eleven points) that he wanted Steps to Life to comply with, as quoted above:

1. Membership:

The leaders of Steps to Life are members in good and regular standing. It was stated at the January 25 meeting, however, that unless Pastor Grosboll is regularly attending the South Church, where his membership is, he is not a member in good and regular standing. This is not according to the Manual or any known church policy. It was mentioned by Elder W, another conference president who was in attendance, that he himself did not attend his local church more than about twice a year. But he said that though this was permissible for him, as he was doing the work of the Lord, it was not acceptable for Elder Grosboll.

It should be noted that ministers are encouraged not to continue to attend the church where they formerly pastored. Should Elder Grosboll regularly attend the South Church, could this not be used against him, as this was the church that he pastored less than two years ago? Elder Grosboll is in attendance at a Sabbath service every Sabbath. When he is in the area, he generally attends the Winfield mission.

Because the president spent quite a bit of time on this item, he was finally asked whether he and the local pastor had ever discussed the disfellowshiping of Pastor Grosboll. Both he and the local pastor admitted that they had, though the local pastor said there were no plans for such an action at the present time, nor would he consent to chair a meeting called for that purpose.

2. Tithe:

Steps to Life does not solicit tithe money. Steps to Life, in their evangelism, teaches that paying tithe is a sacred duty. Usually people pay their tithe into their local conference. But if a person is convicted to channel his or her lithe in a particular manner, whether to the Quiet Hour, Amazing Facts, Weimar, the Voice of Prophecy (all of which accept tithe), or to another conference than their local conference (most of whom accept such tithe), the personnel at Steps to Life encourage people to follow their convictions. We cannot influence people to go against their convictions. Is the conference saying that it, the conference, is the only “storehouse” that is to be entrusted with the Lord’s goods? It is understood that some conferences make this boast.

We simply asked for the scriptural evidence of this. If this can be produced, Steps to Life will gladly comply. A statement from Elder Grosboll should clarify the position of Steps to Life on this point:

Ellen White said that “The tithe should go to those who labor in word and doctrine, be they men or women” (Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 263). “A great mistake is made when the tithe is drawn from the object for which it is to be used— the support of the ministers. There should be today in the field one hundred well qualified laborers where now there is but one” (Testimonies, vol. 9, 249). Today we not only do not have 100 times more workers than when this was written in 1909, but, when figured on per capita of workers per membership in North America, we actually have 40% fewer than we had then. We, at Steps to Life, are convicted that we must do our part to fill this void in the Lord’s vineyard. Thus we have a separate “Bible worker fund,” which is set totally apart from our operating budget, that goes directly into putting Bible workers out into the field to hold evangelistic meetings, give Bible studies, train other Bible workers, and win souls to the kingdom. This not only supports Bible workers here at Steps to Life, but also missionaries elsewhere. If people are convicted to give to this fund, we do not question them first to find out what kind of money it is- that is between them and the Lord. We are carrying on the work of the Lord. Every penny that comes to us is sacred, and is always used for the exact purpose for which the people send it. Our books are annually audited by an independent auditor.

These inspired statements of Ellen White need to be looked at and accepted: I have myself appropriated my tithe to the most needy cases brought to my notice. I have been instructed to do this; and as the money is not withheld from the Lord’s treasury, it is not a matter that should be commented upon; for it will necessitate my making known these matters. . . .

Some cases have been kept before me for years, and I have supplied their needs from the tithe, as God has instructed me to do. And if any person shall say to me, Sister White, will you appropriate my tithe where you know it is most needed, I shall say, Yes, I will; and I have done so. I commend those sisters who have placed their tithe where it is most needed to help to do a work that is being left undone; and if this matter is given publicity, it will create knowledge which would better be left as it is. I do not care to give publicity to this work which the Lord has appointed me to do, and others to do. Spalding-Magan Collection, 215

The Word says, “The laborer is worthy of his hire.” When any such decision as this [to not pay ministers’ wives who were working with their husbands] is made, I will in the name of the Lord, protest. I will feel it in my duty to create a fund from my tithe money, to pay these women who are accomplishing just as essential work as the ministers are doing, and this tithe I will reserve for work in the same line as that of the ministers, hunting for souls, fishing for souls. Ibid., 117

God has not called us to be the conscience for other people, and Steps to Life will not do so. If some, after sincere prayer and the study of the word, feel convicted to send their tithe to a certain place where the Word is being preached, who can forbid them, unless one has clear scriptural reasons for doing so? Let us be careful that we do not become so concerned about paying “tithe of mint and anise and cumin,” that we neglect “the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.” Matthew 23: 23

Is the solution for the conference’s money woes more legislation, or more confidence of the people for their work?

Tithe is to be so liberal that it will sustain the work largely; each one … to act in their capacity in such a way that the confidence of the whole people will be established in them, and that they will not be afraid, but see everything just as light as day. Spalding- Magan Collection, 166 “The Lord desires us to let our light so shine before men that His Holy Spirit may communicate the truth to the honest in he. . . … As we do this work, we shall find that means will flow into our treasuries, and we shall have means with which to carry on a still broader and more far- reaching work. Evangelism, 61- 62

Many of our laymen are burdened and earnestly praying for direction in the proper use of the tithe the Lord has made them stewards of. They witness, Sabbath after Sabbath, preachers who are being supported by the tithe who are preaching the devil’s lie that you cannot quit sinning (see The Desire of Ages, 24). They witness those who seem unconverted, and who have no fruits for their labors. Here are a sampling of statements that many of our sincere laymen, as stewards of the Lord’s goods, have been prayerfully studying and pondering over:

The people are encouraged to center in Battle Creek, and they pay their tithe and give their influence to the building up of a modern Jerusalem that is not after God’s order. Testimonies to Ministers, 254

There are fearful woes for those who preach the truth, but are not sanctified by it, and also for those who consent to receive and maintain the unsanctifled to minister to them in word and doctrine. Testimonies, vol. 1, 261- 262

We wonder if the leaders in Old Jerusalem encouraged people to “pay their tithe and give their influence to the building up of… 101( 1! Jerusalem”? Did they understand themselves to be the only “storehouse” of God’s goods? Did they understand the Bible to mean: “All the tithe is the priests’ in Jerusalem,” rather than “All the tithe is the Lord’s”? Would people, as stewards of their Lord’s goods, have been questioned for giving the Lord’s tithe to the Lord, or to John the Baptist? If the Holy Spirit, through study and prayer, would have impressed a faithful Jew to give his influence and support to John the Baptist or Simeon or some other, but the person chose, because of priestly pressure, to give his influence and support to up-building the Sanhedrin, would he not be held responsible as an unfaithful steward? And would not those priests who tried to force him to go against his convictions be equally guilty?

The conference’s work is to gain the confidence of the people through following the counsels of the Lord and by doing the work Of the Lord. If the Holy Spirit is truly evident in the church, in our schools, in our medical institutions, in our publishing houses and publications, there will be no problem with money.

All we want to do is follow the will of the Lord in every detail, including tithing. What we need, however, is not legislation, but careful Bible study. We stand ready to follow every request from the conference that is based upon clear scriptural principles.

3. Board Representation:

This is one of the points that the Kansas- Nebraska Conference altered from the North American Division’s eleven- point guidelines. The North American Division’s guidelines specify that the board must include, “Some Individuals [plural] who currently represent the organized Seventh- day Adventist Church.” The Kansas- Nebraska guidelines say that the board must include, “individuals [plural] appointed by the Conference Executive Committee who will represent the organized Seventh- day Adventist Church.” Both documents then explain that to be a representative of the “organized” church, one must be either employed by the church, and/ or be a member of the Executive Committee. Both documents, as voted, require a plurality of board members who are thus “representatives” of the conference.

To thus require board representation before a conference will accept or cooperate with (and cease to fight against) a ministry, is totally without biblical principle and would have excluded Christ and His disciples from being accepted by the church, for Jesus had no one from, or appointed by, the Sanhedrin on His board. (Was this the reason the Sanhedrin felt justified in fighting against Him?) What motive or attitude would prompt a leader or corporate board to say that a ministry is unacceptable, regardless of what they are doing or teaching, and regardless of whether they might be called and ordained by the Lord or not, unless they themselves are a part of the ministry in a controlling capacity? Jesus said, “The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet ft shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” Matthew 20: 25- 28). Anyone who demands a position on a board, and is more interested in control than service, thereby disqualifies himself for that very position.

The changes made in the Kansas- Nebraska guidelines, where the conference must actually appoint the board members before a ministry can be acceptable in their eyes, makes their guidelines even more controlling in nature than the ones from the North American Division. Why this change?

After the meeting, one of the local elders who was in attendance at the meeting, stayed behind to talk with the president. The president told him that he himself was the one from the conference who should be on the Steps to Life board. But if Steps to Life is so bad, why does the president want to be on the board? And again, what scriptural principle is involved here. The Bible says, “Can two walk togethe,; unless they are agreed?” Amos 3: 3

Steps to Life, as other special ministries, would be happy to have any faithful Seventh- day Adventist on the board, but they do not choose board members based upon position. They seek, as any nominating committee should, to find those who are most qualified, and who most represent the character of Christ, to fill the board, regardless of position. The decisions of who should be representative on the boards are made according to the Church Manual: “The decisions and votes of the Nominating committee [that chooses the board members] are not to be controlled or influenced by any church, group, or individual. Decisions are reached after prayerful and careful study of all aspects of the matters that come before them pertaining to the administration of the work.” Seventh -day Adventist Church Manual, 131

Again we ask, where is the biblical principle for this mandate for acceptability? May the Lord help us to come back to the Protestant principle of the Bible and the Bible only.


Since the conference had already chosen to not renew the local conference credentials for Pastor Grosboll, why are they now so intent on seeking to try to annul his very ordination to the gospel ministry? This is a most unusual move, especially when there has been no false theology or commandment- breaking alleged against Elder Grosboll. Does the conference realize the seriousness of this kind of action, especially if the Lord has called Elder Grosboll?

Ellen White wrote to Uriah Smith in 1890, saying that he was committing the sin of “Korah, Dathan and Abiram” (The Ellen G White 1888 materials, 599- 605). What was this sin of” Korah, Dathan and Abiram,” and, in the case of Uriah Smith, how did it start? It was the sin of rebellion against God’s leadership, and in the case of Uriah Smith, it had started many years before. Ellen White wrote: “I was warned of this state of things in 1882.” This referred to the time when he, as a leader in the church, sought to undermine one whom he thought was under him but whom the Lord had chosen and who was to be under His control, namely Professor Bell. She asked Elder Smith: “Have you ever made confession to Prof Bell in regard to the position and work done at that time?” Ibid.

Uriah Smith’s apostasy which had begun by fighting Professor Bell, continued at Minneapolis as he continued to fight the ministry of the Holy Spirit which was given to Jones and Waggoner. Smith’s rebellion finally culminated in His fighting against the Spirit of Prophecy. She told him: “Do not labor so hard to do the very work Satan is doing. This work was done in Minneapolis. Satan triumphed.” Ellen White replied with him: “I cannot endure the thought of you being left as were Korah, Dathan and Abiram.” Ibid.

There is evidence that Uriah Smith repented, but in the process, how many hundreds lost their souls? She warned him: “Consider how many joined Korah, Dathan and Abiram. . . .Korah, Dathan and Abiram had done a similar work as you have been doing.” Ibid.

Let us consider the seriousness of the situation. Rebellion starts small, from a heart of selfishness, pride, and envy, and grows into open rebellion against the Lord. The Jewish leaders never believed they could come to the place where they could crucify the Son of God and commit perjury in doing so. As was demonstrated in 1888, we are no more secure from the dangers of pride and self- preservation than were they.

When Pastor Grosboll took a leave of absence from the conference, he supposed that, though the conference did not support him, they would at least be able to work together as brethren. Elder Grosboll has not sought to run down the conference, but rather to develop a working relationship with the conference. Following is the transcript of one of his letters to the president:

August 3, 1988

Dear Elder______:

I was so happy to read about the Revelation seminars you are holding in your home. Our prayers are with you in all your work of soul- winning. The saving of souls is our great burden and desire here in our ministry. In fact, I was getting ready to write to ask you if there are any towns here in Central Kansas that you would especially like us to work and to seek to raise up a church in. If the Lord has impressed you with a particular need, please let us know. We are anxious to cooperate and to work together with you for the up building of the church. One of our goals is to start a new church every year. We solicit your prayers and support for us in this endeavor.

I am concerned, Elder ______, that you seem to put the worst possible construction on every action or motive we have. We want peace and unity. We are again coming to you asking for your cooperation in our work. And yet, our work is not our work, but the Lord’s.

We are very concerned about the last conference letter that went out, which seemed to many to be very divisive. We are a part of the same church, and we are both ordained for the same reason. Your statements were interpreted by many to be a direct attack. The first item of news in a personal newsletter from you to every member of the conference in which you name me, the Institute of Ministry and the 1888 Bible Conference in a most uncomplimentary manner, does appear to be very divisive. We are here to fight the devil and his agents, not each other.

It is true that throughout history the greatest enemies of God’s work have often been the leaders of the church. Thus it was in Jesus’ day, in Martin Luther’s day and in 1888. But let us not have warfare here in Kansas- Nebraska. We are living too close to the end of earth’s history for that. And yet, if you persist in attacking God’s work here, we will have to come to its defense.

Let me share with you an incident that happened just a week ago. One of our 550 Bible students happens to be a backslidden Seventh- day Adventist lady. She has been receiving lessons for some period of time now and has been filling in the questions and growing spiritually. We did not know that her name was still on the church books, but as a result, she received your letter. This threw her into great confusion. She came to our office and one of our staff members talked to her. This letter has caused her to lose a great deal of confidence in the church and the conference. She knows she is learning truth and experiencing a reconversion- so what is she to think of a leader or an organization that is fighting and opposing the very means the Lord has chosen to lead her back to Him again? Our staff member had to spend quite a bit of time trying to re- establish her confidence and faith in the church. She has written me asking me to explain your actions. What should I write to her?

I want to share with you again that our work is totally for the purpose of winning souls to the Lord Jesus Christ and to build up His Seventh- day Adventist Church on earth. I was a conference pastor for twelve years and now I am self- supporting. I feel my calling no less today than at any time in my ministry. I am doing what I am doing simply because I have sought to follow God’s leading in my life and because I have been obedient unto His call.

I have no desire to fight your ministry or anyone else’s. But I must prosecute the work God has ordained me to do. This should not threaten you. Let us join hands together for a finished work. Let us consider these texts:

“Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.,” “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another.” Eph. 4: 3, Gal. 5: 15

Jesus also said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Let us not be divided but united.

This cannot be accomplished by mandate, but by prayer and the unity of the Spirit. Let us pray for one another rather than trying to undermine the other.

As you know, and as you have testified, plenty of things have been done to me since I have been here. I don’t care to itemize them here, for I believe that the Lord works all these things out for good. But there is an enemy seeking to destroy God’s work here— and the best way he can do it is by causing division, jealousy, envy and strife. Let us work to defeat him.

There is another concern I have. As you know, there was a Bible workers’ fund set up and voted by the church for certain Bible workers, of whom I was one. When the church became a company, and many chose not to join the company but to remain members of the Wichita Church South, the board voted to discontinue this fund but to pay out the money as it had been previously disbursed, until the fund was liquidated in about three months. This was a very great concern to many. You yourself promised that this would continue untampered with. But the conference- assigned pastor seems to have determined that this would not be. Somehow he has accomplished his purpose.

I would like to point out that this fund was not the fund of the Three Angels’ Company. It was the fund of everyone that made up the Three Angels’ Church. The company was made a guardian and caretaker of this fund. There was a promise and an agreement that the company would not tamper with this money. This was promised by you, Elder M___, [Elder] P___ and was a voted upon agreement of the board. What has happened is total dishonesty. We can do without the money, but I fear for the souls of those involved in this action. God is still a God of justice. lam asking you, for the well- being of the church, to take a personal interest in seeing that this decision is reversed.

We are trying to develop people’s confidence in the church and its leadership. But how can people feel right about giving their money into an organization that condones this kind of action and that is using God’s sacred tithe money to fight the very work that God is seeking to build up? I am sure that you will work to rectify this wrong.

Yours in Christ for a finished work,
Marshall J. Grosboll

P. S. This quotation was recently sent to me by a physician and church member in Nebraska. As a leader here in the Institute of Ministry, I have found these principles of divine origin to be a blessing in our work. Maybe you will find it to be a blessing too.

“A great many of the difficulties that have come into our work in California and elsewhere have come in through a misunderstanding on the part of men in official positions concerning their individual responsibility in the matter of controlling and ruling their fellow laborers. Men entrusted with responsibilities have supposed that their official position embraced very much more than was ever thought of by those who placed them in office, and serious difficulties arose as the result. {PC 298.3}
“Simple organization and church order are set forth in the New Testament Scriptures, and the Lord has ordained these for the unity and perfection of the church. The man who holds office in the church should stand as a leader, as an advisor and a counselor and helper in carrying the burdens of the work. He should be a leader in offering thanksgiving to God. But he is not appointed to order and command the Lord’s laborers. The Lord is over His heritage. He will lead His people if they will be led of the Lord in the place of assuming a power God has not given them. Let us study the twelfth and thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, and the fifteenth chapter of Acts. “Ellen G. White, December 6, 1909. Paulson Collection, 298

Another quotation of significance that is cause for reflection is as follows:

In the 41st to 45th chapters of Isaiah, God very fully reveals His purpose for His people, and these chapters should be prayerfully studied. God does not here instruct His people to turn away from His wisdom and look to finite man for wisdom. . . . Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by Myself the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness and shall not return, That unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength. . . .

I write thus fully, because I have been shown that ministers and people are tempted more and more to trust in finite man for wisdom, and to make flesh their arm. To conference presidents, and men in responsible places, I bear this message: Break the bands and fetters that have been placed upon God ‘5 people. To you the word is spoken, “Break every yoke.” Unless you cease the work of making man amenable to man, unless you become humble in heart, and yourselves learn the way of the Lord as little children, the Lord will divorce you from His work. Testimonies to Ministers, 480- 481 (1907) (emphasis in the original).

One other point I would like to mention just to prevent any misunderstanding- I have always tried to confine my communications to you in private letters or phone calls, but I notice that you have sent your letters many places. Plus, I keep learning of private letters you have sent out, either to individuals or to many people, about me. I merely mention this, as I said, to prevent any misunderstanding on allowing concerned individuals to also know of my communications to you, and I ask each to join with us in prayer as we pull together for a finished work.

CC: Neal Wilson
Ron Spear
C. E. Bradford
Jim Hiner
Ralph Larson
Joel Tompkins
Bob Dale
Colin Standish
Larry Pitcher
John Grosboll
O. J. Mills

This was the response to the above letter, dated September 2, 1988: Before there could be discussions with the Conference Administration and Executive Committee, about your desire to start new churches, etc., the Executive Committee will need your response to the criteria outlined in the Guidelines that I am sending you [The 11- point document as voted upon by the Kansas- Nebraska Conference.] … Regarding the question about the Bible Worker Fund, I believe that decisions about this matter are fully within the jurisdic lion of the local congregation. I am concerned that you seem to want the conference administration to be the ‘judge” in this matter whereas I believe this is a local church decision. . . . I am concerned that you chose to disassociate the Institute of Ministry from the Three Angels Company, and that during the entire time that the Three Angels Company associated with the Institute of Ministry, it is my understanding that financial reports of the Institute of Ministry and how funds were being used were not given to the Three Angels treasurer or the Three Angels Congregation. . . . Sincerely yours, G. L. R., president.

Note 1: Most of the finances of Steps to Life went through the Three Angels Congregation until they became independent at the time of the company formation. Steps to Life had no tax number at the time. Five of the local elders of the Three Angels Congregation were on the Steps to Life board. What funds did go directly through Steps to Life were audited, and the annual audited report was ready to present to the Three Angels Congregation at the time of the formation of the company. At about the same time, the conference- assigned pastor sought at one point to cut off the funds contributed to Steps to Life through the church. Thus it appeared to the Steps to Life board that, to protect the work that God had entrusted and ordained Steps to Life to do, they must become independent of the conference- controlled company, and they voted to do so.

Note 2: Steps to Life is not looking for the money that the Three Angels Company kept. But the Bible says, “You shall surely rebuke your neighbor; and not bear sin because of him” (Leviticus 19: 17). We are our brother’s keeper and should be concerned that there be nothing in the church that could prevent the Holy Spirit’s blessing.

Note 3: It is of interest to note that the local conference was sufficient of a judge over a congregation that when the church board wanted to transfer the Bible- Worker fund to the Institute of Ministry before the company was formed, their representative said, “You can’t do that” though both he and Elder R promised that the money would not be tampered with. It is also interesting to note that the only real authority of a company is the Conference Executive Committee. A company has no local authority. Furthermore, if the conference really is sincere about not judging, there would be no need for this response document. If they will not judge their own employees, we simply ask that they will also not judge those who are not under their employment.

It was shortly after this correspondence that the Concerns and Objections document was read by the president to the Conference Executive Committee, apparently as an initial step to take Elder Grosboll’s ordination away.

Yet, in answering “why” the conference is taking this drastic and dangerous step, there might be another answer. Since shortly after Elder Grosboll took a leave of absence, the conference administration has tried to keep track of every speaking appointment he has had. Over the last year, there has hardly been a speaking appointment by Elder Grosboll but that the conference president has called ahead of time and tried to get it canceled. He was able to cancel out an evangelistic series as well as a week- long 11 A. M. camp meeting speaking series for one of the large conferences of North America.

But while some conferences are withdrawing their invitations, more and more laymen are asking him to speak and are not bowing to pressure to withdraw their invitations. At the start of the school year at Loma Linda this year, the La Sierra student body representatives asked Elder Grosboll to have a weekend series for the students. When he arrived, the student representatives pulled him into a back room and said: “Your president has really caused trouble. He has gotten our local conference president involved, as well as the University president, saying that you should be barred from this campus. But we would not yield!” Praise the Lord, for a number of students made decisions on that weekend to start studying their Bibles and the Spirit of Prophecy every day and to seek to live the victorious life. A number of students also committed, or recommitted, themselves to be active witnesses for the Lord.

In another conference to which the laymen had asked Elder Grosboll to speak, they had a similar experience. Their conference president called demanding that Elder Grosboll not be allowed to speak. But when they asked him what Elder Grosboll had done, he did not know. Nevertheless he was not to speak. That weekend Marshall gave a seminar on how to give Bible studies. It is hoped that many people will be in heaven because of that weekend. Praise the Lord for solid laymen who have backbone.

Recently, on a speaking tour outside of North America, the union president for the church he was speaking in called saying he had talked to the conference officials from North America [presumably from the local or union conference] and was informed that Elder Grosboll was a trouble- maker in his home conference, and therefore he could not speak unless he had current credentials (which the president knew had expired). Pastor Grosboll told the elders that under those circumstances it would probably be better if he did not speak and asked if someone else could speak. But the elders of the church voted unanimously to allow Elder Grosboll to speak anyway, and they urged it upon him. Three other churches also asked him to speak that weekend.

In a fourth instance of seeking to block the speaking appointments of Elder Grosboll, both the conference president and the union president have tried repeatedly to get Elder Grosboll off at least one television station.

Why is the president so intent on blocking any speaking appointments by the pastor? Marshall Grosboll has seldom even mentioned the situation in Wichita when on speaking appointments, though it gets difficult to avoid at times when the president calls ahead to try to block appointments. The people in those cases want an explanation. Some people have thought that the conference is afraid that if Elder Grosboll continues his ministry, people may call into question their actions in connection to his being let go from the South Church. Whether that is true or not is not known, but for some reason there is a determined effort to stop his ministry.

The unfortunate thing is the way many administrators seem to be aligning themselves to support each other, whatever the facts. As one division president recently told Elder Grosboll and David Jakstis, the former head elder of the South Church: “It is the nature of our administration for the union president to support the conference president, and for the division president to support the union president.” Is this true justice? Is this the way God designed organization to work?

I commanded your judges, . . . saying, “Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the stranger who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s. Deuteronomy 1: 16, 17

In answering the question “Why?”, the most obvious reason appears to be that the president has not been very successful in blocking Elder Grosboll’s speaking appointments and ministry.

Maybe, if Elder Grosboll is officially “defrocked,” as John Huss was, he will have more success. Maybe he will. Jesus was barred from the churches after about the first six months of His ministry. Wesley was blocked from the churches. And Ellen White says: “If doubts and unbelief are cherished, the faithful ministers will be removed from the people” (Testimonies to Ministers, 410). But let us pray that this will not happen.

Closing Appeal:

Those who call for revival and reformation may be resisted and their characters maligned, yet there remains a rising cry being heard around the world from long- time, faithful Seventh-day Adventist members, as well as those in their first love of the truth: “What is happening to my church?” Many who have given their time, money, influence, and life to the unbuilding of this sacred institution are standing in shocked wonder at the rapid events taking place within this final movement which God established to take the everlasting gospel to the world. They are appalled at the reports of lawsuits, illegal disfellowshipings, the rapid proliferation of intercollegiate sports, increasing worldliness in dress, conversation, amusements, and drama, at the increased authoritarianism manifested from the lowest level to the highest, at the increase of “New Theology” teachings, at the hatred for the straight testimony, political entanglements, and the list goes on. Yes, what has happened? Many are giving up hope in the church and calling it Babylon. But it is not Babylon. Ellen White, in speaking of our church, said, “Everywhere the spirit of darkness in the garb of religion will confront you. If ail that appears to be divine life were such in reality; if all who profess to present the truth to the world were preaching for the truth and not against it, and if they were men of God guided by His Spirit,— then might we something cheering amid the prevailing moral darkness. But the spirit of antichrist is prevailing to such an extent as never before” (Testimonies, vol. 5, 79- 80). That was the condition of the church in 1882. She predicted that it would get worse. Yet the church is not Babylon. God loves it as the apple of His eye. He has not divorced it. “But the days of the purification of the church are hastening on apace. God will have a people pure and true. . . . The signs reveal that the time is near when the Lord will manifest that His fan is hi His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor.” Ibid.

The things we see should not discourage us. But they should call us to prayer as never before. “At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason.” Ibid., 136

Is the church today really in as sad a condition as the Spirit of Prophecy says it is? The church could have reformed since her day; but if it has, why hasn’t Jesus come? Where is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Is this church correctly depicted by God in the Laodicean message, or did He make a false prophecy? Is there a message of warning and hope to be given to the church today by the watchman on the walls of Zion?

Sad to say, the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy counsels that could heal the church are often held in disrepute. Today the Spirit of Prophecy is held in contempt by many in positions of trust. They accept what they want to accept, but too often scoff at what applies to them, especially if it is quoted, even in tenderness and love, by those who are in self- supporting work or special ministries. Many have heard men of influence in the church make sly remarks to discredit various counsels of the Spirit of Prophecy that were brought to their attention. But it is like the ten commandments- you can accept all nine commandments that you agree with, but if you reject the one that goes against your traditions and practices, you have in reality rejected them all. If we merely believe God where 1- le agrees with us, we really haven’t believed Him at all.

Whether they are accepted or rejected, here are some counsels of warning that God has given to us, in love, to help us prepare for the final events of earth’s history and to know how to relate to what is about to come to pass. They are also written to keep us from fulfilling the conditions predicted, if we will hear and obey. Who knows whether God will not give you up to the deceptions you love? Who knows but that the preachers who are faithful, firm, and true may be the last who shall offer the gospel of peace to our unthankful churches? It may be that the destroyers are already training under the hand of Satan and only wait the departure of a few more standard- bearers 10 take their places, and with the voice of the false prophet cry, “Peace, peace,” when the Lord hath not spoken peace. . . . When God shall work His strange work on the earth, when holy hands bear the ark no longer, woe will be upon the people. Ibid., 77

Before looking at the other statements, let us analyze this one. Here it is pointed out that “the preachers who are faithful firm, and true” may be replaced by those who have been trained “under the hand of Satan.” The message of these false shepherds will be politically pleasing. Where are the men of courage and strength in the ministry today who are willing to stand in the breach? Where are the workers “who will not be bought or sold, . . . who do not fear to call sin by its right name, . . . men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall?” See Education, 57. Could there indeed come a time when “holy hands hold the ark no longer,” but rather those who have been trained by Satan to give a smooth message and to fight against the straight testimony will be at the helm of the work? That is exactly what Ellen White warned might happen. [In fact, she says “when” it happens] We have not given any such accusation that these things have indeed taken place. But it behooves us to know what the words of Inspiration say, and to realize that when these predicted events do happen, those fulfilling the prophecies will think they are on the Lord’s side, rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing. As Jesus said, “They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” (John 16: 2).

Could the time be near when “holy hands bear the ark no longer,” and God will work “His strange work” (see Testimonies, vol. 5, 77, quoted above). If so, what is the strange work? Whom will it involve? The “strange work” is the woe of God being poured out first 9 upon the unfaithful Adventist ministry who have been preaching smooth and pleasing sermons when the church is in need of the stirring messages of revival and reformation. The woes of God, of course, were never intended for God’s church or for any within. They were only intended for the Beast and his followers who are at war with God.

In this fearful time, just before Christ is to come the second lime, God’s faithful preachers will have to bear a still more pointed testimony than was borne by John the Baptist. A responsible, important work is before them; and those who speak smooth things, God will not acknowledge as His shepherds. A fearful woe is upon them.” Ibid., vol. 1, 321

This woe upon the unfaithful ministry of the Seventh- day Adventist church, has been predicted over and over again. Our position is more serious than that of the Jewish leaders in John the Baptist’s day, for we have their example.

Ellen White graphically describes the condition of the church in the last days in the following counsel, in which she was shown a “little company,” a “faithful few” concerned Adventists in the midst of a general, Laodicean apostasy:

The leaven of godliness has not entirely lost its power. At the time when the danger and depression of the church are greatest, the little company who are standing in the light will be sighing and crying for the abominations that are done in the land. But more especially will their prayers arise in behalf of the church because its members are doing after the manner of the world.

The earnest prayers of this faithful few will not be in vain. When the Lord comes forth as an avenger, He will also come as a protector of all those who have preserved the faith in its purity and kept themselves unspotted from the world. It is at this time that God has promised to avenge His own elect which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them. The command is “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.” Ezekiel 9: 4 These sighing, crying ones had been holding forth the words of life; they had reproved, counseled, and entreated. Some who had been dishonoring God repented and humbled their hearts before Him. But the glory of the Lord had departed from Israel: although many still continued the forms of religion, His power and presence were lacking.

In the time when His wrath shall go forth in judgments, these humble, devoted followers of Christ will be distinguished from the rest of the world by their soul anguish, which is expressed in lamentation and weeping, reproofs and warnings. While others try to throw a cloak over the existing evil, and excuse the great wickedness everywhere prevalent, those who have a zeal for God’s honor and a love for souls will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any. Their righteous souls are vexed day by day with the unholy works and conversation of the unrighteous. They are powerless to stop the rushing torrent of iniquity, and hence they are filled with grief and alarm. They mourn before God to see religion despised in the very homes of those who have had great light. They lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church. The Spirit of God, which prompts to reproof is trampled underfoot, while the servants of Satan triumph. God is dishonored, the truth made of none effect.

The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God. The Lord commissions His messengers, the men with slaughtering weapons in their hands: “Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.”

Here we see that the church— the Lord’s sanctuary— was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust. They had taken the position that … the Lord . . . is too merciful to visit His people in judgment. Thus “Peace and safety” is the cry from men who will never again lift up their voice like a trumpet to show God’s people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. These dumb dogs that would not bark are the ones who feel the just vengeance of an offended God. Men, maidens, and little children all perish together. Testimonies, vol. 5, 209- 211

Must we fulfill these prophecies? And while they are being fulfilled, must our people be kept in ignorance of these solemn warnings? Few of our people are taught to withstand the evil that is predicted to come into our church. Rather than teaching them to test all things, as the Bible commands, our people are too often taught, either by precept or example, to place implicit trust in human instrumentalities and organizations as long as they are under the control of the “church.” This training will surely prove their ruin. This is the very opposite of the training God would have His people receive at the present time. (see Testimonies to Ministers, 375)

Our greatest desire is to work in harmony with each brother, leader, and laymen for the soon coming of Jesus. But we must be true to the trust administered to us by God. It is time for another revival and reformation. We do not suppose that this will come without conflict. But may we maintain the spirit of Christ that was manifested in both firmness and self- sacrificing love. Like the reformers, we must build upon the Rock Jesus Christ. Pastor Grosboll shares: We stand ready to recant, apologize, change, and confess any practice, saying, or action that is shown to be out of harmony with God’s Word. We are ready to study that Word with prayer and openness with the leaders of this church. It is not time to fight one another, but to draw together in humbleness of soul. But we believe, until shown differently, that God has commissioned us to do the work we are doing. We cannot but be obedient unto that commission. We must have the same convictions and courage, with humility, that the reformers had. Ellen White thus outlines the issues of the Reformation, from which the word “Protestant” was derived:

The Protest denied the right of civil rulers to legislate in matters between the soul and God, and declared with prophets and apostles, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” It rejected also the arbitrary power of the church, and set forth the unerring principle that all human teaching should be in subjection to the oracles of God. The protesters had thrown off the yoke of man’s supremacy, and had exalted Christ as supreme in the church, and His word in the pulpit. The power of conscience was set above the State, and the authority of the Holy Scriptures above the visible church… . The protesters had moreover affirmed their right to freely utter their convictions of truth. They would not only believe and obey, but teach what the Word of God presents, and they denied the right of priest or magistrate to interfere. The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 162- 163

Steps to Life has nearly 900 Bible studies going Out weekly from their office. Those who are trained in the Institute of Ministry as Bible workers are going to the far corners of the earth to give the three angels’ messages. Those in the Steps to Life ministry feel called to this work. They have not entered into it without serious consideration and conviction. And with their training institute and Bible correspondence school, they are also carrying on an active city mission.

In a letter by Ellen White to a conference president who was raising objections to the work of some who, like Steps to Life, were carrying on a city mission, she said,

“Let those who would follow Christ fully come up to the work; even if it be over the heads of ministers and president. . . . Let each member of the church awake. Let each laborer remember that the vineyard he tills is not his own, but belongs to his Lord, who has gone on a long journey and in His absence has commissioned His servants to look after His interests; and let him remember that if he is unfaithful to his trust he must give an account to his Lord when He shall return.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 369- 380

We must give an account of our work to God. If He has commissioned us, and we should fail our trust because of human pressure, would we not be in jeopardy of losing the blessing of the Lord?

And finally, let us remember that, as in the trials of Jesus, Paul, and Martin Luther, the ones being tried are not the only ones being tried. The whole heavenly universe, as well as God’s people on earth, are looking on with intense interest to see the responses and actions of each. May the Lord grant us that fortitude and Christlike forbearance that will stand the test of the heavenly “watcher” Daniel 4: 13).

The truth always involves a cross. Those who will not believe, oppose and deride those who do believe. The fact that its presentation creates a storm of opposition, is no evidence against the truth.” Ellen G. White, Sketches From the Life of Paul, 279


  1. This document is for the purpose of answering the Concerns and Objections document, not dealing with personalities. Therefore names are generally omitted, or initials used.
  2. Emphasis in quotations is supplied throughout this document, unless noted otherwise.
  3. Bible texts, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version.
  4. Central States Conference also had a church, and a Spanish company was getting started.
  5. This paper is available from Steps to Life. P. O. Box 782828, Wichita, KS 67278- 2828. Or Call: (800) 843- 8788.
  6. Read the whole chapter, entitled, “Protest of the Princes,” in The Great Controversy.
  7. For a copy of these guidelines as voted upon by the Kansas- Nebraska Conference, write to Steps to Life, P. O. Box 782828, Wichita, KS 67278- 2828. Or call, (800) 843- 8788.
  8. The document on “Acceptable Independent Ministries Guidelines,” originated in the North Pacific Union, seemingly as an attempt to control a/ some special ministry(ies) in their area. These eleven points were later accepted and voted upon by the North American Division. However, no one in the Special Ministries in question was asked or allowed to participate in the composition of these regulatory guidelines. Former General Conference President, Elder Robert Pierson, had urged certain North American Division leaders to dialogue with representatives of the Special Ministries before adopting such a document, but this was not done.
  9. See the final paragraph from the statement quoted hereafter from Testimonies, vol. 5, 209- 211


by Marshall J. Grosboll

The Cooperative Spirit of Heaven

In the great family of heaven, each one has his own individual personality, each has freedom, yet no one misuses that freedom to act independently, for all are held together by the cords of humility toward self and love toward one another. As the bee extracts the honey and leaves the pollen, so in heaven, each one receives in order to give — each works so as to benefit one another. Thus there is perfect harmony, yet with each maintaining his own identity, uniqueness and function.

Even God does not act independently. In fact, we should say especially God! Everything He does is for the well being of His creatures. In all that He does, He elicits the love and cooperation of those He has created. Consider the creation of Adam. As soon as he was created, God set him to work to assist Him. God asked him to name the animals. How much easier it would have been for God to have named the animals without Adam’s help. When Adam was created God programmed his mind with words and language — but He intentionally left out of his vocabulary the names of the animals so that Adam could unite with Him, as far as possible, in the work He was doing. The Bible says, “We are God’s fellow workers” (1 Corinthians 3: 91).

Then God went far beyond merely having Adam name the animals. He told Adam and Eve that they and their descendants were to continue the work that God had begun of populating the earth. God created just enough people so that they could continue His work. Again, how much easier it would have been for God to simply create, in a moment of time, enough people to populate the earth at the beginning — and they would have all been perfect! No one would have been raised by faulty parents! What a risk God took, and how poorly most people have done in carrying on the procreation work of God by the way they have raised their children. Yet, in spite of failure, God has not taken the responsibility away from the human family. God would rather suffer loss than to act alone without our cooperation. God has gone to more trouble than any other being to elicit our cooperation, calling us “kings and priests” (Revelation 1: 6), rather than to act alone and independent.

As it was on earth with Adam and Eve, so it was in heaven with the angels. God did not create a hierarchy or a dictatorship, but a family. That is why there was a war m heaven. When Satan chose to rebel, God could have simply spoken the word, and Satan would have been banished from the society of heaven. But God did not do that, for the angels were His fellow workers, and even in this crisis situation He did not take the reins into His own hands, but allowed the angels, as far as possible, to decide the issue (Revelation 12: 7).

Even after the war, Satan seems to have been allowed to come back to represent the earth at the councils of heaven. In the book of Job, God presented Job’s fidelity and challenged Satan’s claim to represent the earth. Satan did not represent all the inhabitants of the earth, but evidently the angels allowed him to remain. But that time of tolerance ended at the cross.

I have often contemplated the account by Ellen White where she was shown that, “All the angels that are commissioned to visit the earth hold a golden card, which they present to the angels at the gates of the city as they pass in and out.” —EW, 392~ Why must the an- gels who visit the earth present a golden card at the gate? Before the crucifixion of Christ, the angels continued to allow Satan access on what he considered official business (Job 1), because many still had some sympathy for him. At the cross Satan’s “disguise was torn away. . . . Henceforth his work was restricted. Whatever attitude he might assume, he could no longer await the angels as they came from the heavenly courts and before them accuse Christ’s brethren of being clothed with the garments of blackness and the defilement of sin. The last link of sympathy between Satan and the heavenly world was broken 3 .” —DA, 761.

Thus the angels decided that Satan could no longer visit heaven as the representative of earth. Jesus was henceforth to be the only representative of this planet. But how were they to keep him out? They evidently decided to issue golden identification cards to all who were commissioned to visit the earth, which they were to present upon exit and entry. Heaven is a very real place, and the angels have far more to do with the running of the government than most realize. Heaven is not run like a communist hierarchy, or like the totalitarian government of Satan, but as a loving family, each with his own part to act, each with a voice, and each with total faith in the wisdom of the Father.

Today there is a judgment going on in heaven. And why a judgment? Does God need a judgment? Of course not! He knew who would be saved and who would be lost from the very foundation of the earth! (Ephesians 1: 4; Isaiah 46: 10). The reason there is a judgment is because God is not running a hierarchical dictatorship. He has made the beings of heaven His fellow workers, and in order for them to be a practical part of the process, they need a judgment. They do not have all knowledge like God has. They must keep records and review them. God could have decided the eternal destiny of each, with complete accuracy, in a moment of time. But what He could do instantly by Himself takes much longer when He involves the cooperation of the angels. He is willing to expend the extra effort and energy in order to work with His angels rather than apart from them.

What a lesson for parents. How much easier it is, when children are young, for parents to make the beds, do the dishes, fix the food, and change the oil in the car by themselves without the help of the little ones. The “help” the little ones give takes so much more of the parents time! It is so much easier to simply tell a child to go off and play for awhile or to watch TV, while we do the work without him. But that is not the way God works. He says: “I want the cooperation of men and angels, even if it costs more work, trouble, and heartache.”

A Change Takes Place in Heaven

So heaven is built on the principle of cooperation and unity, and thus it had always been throughout all the ceaseless ages of eternity, until one arose to begin his own independent ministry and organization. This was sinful independence for it sought to work apart from God and His plans and organization. Independent ministry and self- supporting work were never a part of God’s original plan. But there was one who came along in a perfect environment, a perfect government, and began his own ministry in competition and opposition to the regular and established ministry of heaven which had been in operation for ages.

When that spirit of independence came to earth, this world entered into the darkness and misery of sin. The first great temptation of man was to be independent. The Bible says, “And the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God does know that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’ (Genesis 3: 4, 5). Thus the serpent tempted Eve with the thought that she would be unwise enough to act independently, knowing good and evil herself, without having to depend upon God for guidance. Multitudes still cling to this lie.

Thus this earth became a part of the independent ministry of Satan, which made things rather confusing on planet earth, because nearly the whole population of earth, with a few exceptions such as Noah, became loyal to Satan’s independent ministry. Now those who remained loyal to God, became themselves independent of the rebellion that persisted on earth. Thus those who were independent with Satan became the establishment, while those who humbly remained loyal to God appeared to be independent. The appearance was the opposite of the reality.

God’s Training for Heaven

God’s plan has always been for humble cooperation. God is trying to teach each one of us the essential character traits of humility and submission. This is the character of heaven. Every experience of life is to instill within us these precious traits of character so that we can fit into that society which Satan forfeited because of his pride and independence. That is why Paul tells us in Romans 13 that we are to learn to be submissive to the civil government and to obey their laws. Ephesians 6: 5, 6 tells us that we are to learn to be submissive to our employers. That is what is fundamentally wrong with labor unions. We can choose where we want to work, and whether we want to continue to work in a certain place, but, while there, we are to “be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh.”

Peter tells us that the younger are to be submissive to the elders, that the elders are to learn the principle of submission also, and are to show themselves thus unto the younger. “Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, ‘for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’ “ (1 Peter 5: 5, 6). A lot of people don’t like the idea of submission, unless they are the ones who are “on top.” Many husbands revel in Paul’s counsel for wives to “submit to your own husbands,” but they overlook the verse before which says that both husbands and wives are to submit to each other. Ephesians 6 tells us that children are to learn the lesson of submission. God wants everyone to be saved — husbands, children, workers, older people and younger people, and thus he is trying to teach each one the lessons that will allow them to fit within the society of heaven.

The spirit of humble submissiveness will be exemplified in the life and character of the 144,000. The Bible describes them as “the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Revelation 14: 4). There is no spirit of independence here. And yet they appear to be independent to human appearance, for “these are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins.” Women, in the Bible, represents churches and religions, and so the 144,000 are those who are not defiled with false religion and the false religious philosophies that predominate throughout the world. They are independent from man- made tradition, yet the Bible says they are “followers” — followers of the Lamb.

Appearance is not Always the Reality

From the beginning of sin, those who have remained submissive and dependent upon God by “following the Lamb, wherever He goes,” have found themselves out of step and independent from the world. Think of Noah. He was given the warning of the coming flood and he determined to follow the Lamb and to build the ark as God had directed. Yet, the rest of the world remained independent of God and His counsels. The churches and religious leaders counseled and legislated against the project. Only Noah and his family remained submissive to God. How alone and isolated Noah and his family seemed. How aloof from counsel he appeared to be! How independent they were accused of being! And yet they were the only truly non- independent ministry on earth.

Satan scored a major victory in the days of Noah when he succeeded in causing the whole world to join him in his independence. Yet his greatest victory came when he caused the whole church, God’s church, to be- come independent of God and of His counsels. God established His church with the children of Israel, and He led them out of Egypt by the hand of Moses. But the people rebelled against Moses and the leadership of God.

From the very beginning the “church in the wilderness” (Acts 7: 38) showed their independence from the Lord’s direction. Upon the return of the faithless spies: “All the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation (the Old Testament word for church, see Acts 7: 38), said to them. . . Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt. So they said to one another, ‘let us select a leader and return to Egypt’ “( Numbers 14: 2- 4). This was the first great nominating committee of the Hebrew church. They were going to select their own leader instead of the one God had chosen for them.

Caleb and Joshua remonstrated with the people, saying: “Do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them. And all the congregation said to stone them with stones” (verses 9, 10). Caleb and Joshua, m this instance, became independent of the organized church — they did not accept the leader the church was choosing nor the decisions they were making — and so the church chose to disfellowship them by stoning! (Stoning is the ultimate in disfellowshiping.) Thus those who refused to become independent from God became independent from an independent church. And the penalty for independence from the church was disfellowshipment by stoning.

Now, the question at stake is, who was right — those who remained loyal to the church or those who appeared to be independent and were therefore disfellowshiped? It is easy to give the answer when looking back at the Bible account, but not so easy when faced with the situation.

In the old covenant types, God often revealed His pleasure or displeasure immediately, as a “type” of the future reward and punishment of the new covenant which will be fulfilled at the last judgment (Revelation 22: 12). In this case, the unfaithful leaders “died by the plague before the Lord.” Yet, so entrenched was this spirit of independence and insubordination in the heart of the people, that not even the direct intervention of God seemed to be able to uproot it from their midst — and yet they thought they were just right, the holy people of God!

Moses Accused of Being Independent

Two chapters later in the book of Numbers, this sinful spirit of independence sprang up again in the rebellion of Korah. “Now Korah the son of Izar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown” (Numbers 16: 1, 2).

Like our church, the Israelites had a representative form of government. Today, when representatives of the church come together, we call it a constituency meeting, or a General Conference.

These “representatives of the congregation” were “men of renown,” and Korah was their chosen leader, with Dathan and Abiram his assistants. These leaders of the people “gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, ‘You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourself above the congregation of the Lord? ‘ (Numbers 16: 3).

Moses and Aaron were accused of being independent from the church, and taking too much upon themselves without the approval of the church. After all, it was God’s church that Korah and his associates represented, and the church, they said, was holy, for God had chosen it for Himself. Surely, when the entire church, through their appointed representatives, decides on something, it is as the voice of God to the people! How could Moses and Aaron not come under the authority of the church and the leaders the church had chosen? How could they justify their “independent” ways?

Yet, Moses and Aaron were not independent — again, as in Noah’s situation, they were the only truly non- independent ones within the church. Appearance was again deceptive. The church body had become independent, whereas those accused of being independent were the ones who had remained loyal and true to the government of heaven.

A peripheral reading of this story might lead to a false conclusion. I have heard ministers and leaders liken their ministry to that of Moses, and anyone who is not in harmony with their plans or the plans of the conference, regardless of their reasons or convictions, are likened to Korah, Dathan and Abiram. But, in writing to the leaders of the church, Ellen White warns:

“The question of religious liberty needs to be clearly comprehended by our people in more ways than one. With outstretched arms men are seeking to steady the ark, and the anger of the Lord is kindled against them because they think that their position entitles them to say what the Lord’s servant’s shall do and what they shall not do. They think themselves competent to decide what shall be brought before God’s people, and what shall be repressed. The Lord inquires of them, “Who has required this at your hand? Who has given you the burden of being conscience for My people? By what spirit are you guided and controlled when you seek to restrict their liberty?

I have not chosen you as I chose Moses — as men through whom I can communicate divine instruction to My people. I have not placed the lines of control in your hands. The responsibility that rested on Moses — of voicing the words of God to the people — has never been delegated to you.” —MR, # 1335, Aug. 1, 1895.

It should be noted that Moses was not the elected leader of the Children of Israel — he was never elected by the people. Rather, Moses was the one whom the people rejected (Acts 7: 35).

Moses was a type of Christ (Deuteronomy 18: 15), whom the leaders of the church hated and crucified. He was a prophet, chosen by God. The elected leader whom the people chose was Korah! “And Korah gathered all the congregation (or church) against” Moses and Aaron “at the door of the tabernacle of meeting” (Numbers 16: 19).

Did God recognize Korah’s position simply be- cause the whole church was behind him? Would to God that we, today, would remember the lessons of Korah and seek more for the will and direction of God rather than for position, victory at the polls, or referendum mandates. Will we learn the lesson that no committee or conference or power on earth has the authority to change one precept of truth, as the beast power claims to be able to do? God is seeking the cooperation of His fellow workers on earth, but He has not abdicated the throne, nor will He allow mankind to develop and assume kingly and controlling power over His heritage, which are His purchased possession.

John was Independent of Sanhedrin

When God called John the Baptist, a prophet equal with Moses (Matthew 11: 11), to prepare the way for Jesus’ first coming, leaders like Korah were in charge of the church. Though John was faithful to the church, he did not recognize the authority of these self- appointed leaders, and he fearlessly reproved them for their pride and arrogance. “John had not recognized the authority of the Sanhedrin by seeking their sanction for his work; and he had reproved rulers and people, Pharisees and Sadducees alike.” —DA, 132.

John’s calling and authority did not come from man, but from God, and John the Baptist respected the authority of heaven. The Sanhedrin, the highest human authority in the church, had tried to assume prerogatives and authority that belonged to God alone, thus making themselves independent of God, and John the Baptist did not join in their independence by submitting himself to them. Moreover, he reproved rulers and elders just as well as the common people — he was no respecter of people. Though some would consider that criticism of the leadership, John recognized clearly that sin in one was as bad as sin in another, and public sins that were unrepentant of needed to be publicly reproved.

When John the Baptist “saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them . . . . “bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘we have Abraham as our father, ‘ for I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire’ “ (Matthew 3: 7- 10).

John taught the people not to put full faith in any system, profession of personal piety, or institution — for “every tree which does not bear good fruit” will be “cut down.” Every independent person, congregation, conference, institution, or ministry, however large or small, that becomes independent from God, will be cut down. “God has a church. . . . It is the people who love God and keep His commandments.” —Upward Look, p. 315. God’s church, His people who are totally dependent upon Him and who “follow the lamb wherever He goes” (Revelation 14: 4), will go through to the end, and they will go through unitedly as a body of Christ. Yet it must be understood that the movement is much more than systems, buildings, and legal documents. When the Seventh- day Adventist headquarters at Battle Creek became independent, God burned it down, but the church itself survived, and will ultimately triumph. We want to triumph with it. God is not going to start a new church or a new movement. But the movement must be purified from every element of independence from Him.

The Jews thought that because they could trace their lineage and system back to Abraham, they were secure. But John said that God was not dependent upon them to have a people — He could take the stony hearts of the Gentiles and graft them into the true stock. In commenting upon John’s message, Ellen White elaborates:

“Not by its name, but by its fruit, is the value of a tree determined. If the fruit is worthless, the name (Jew, Israel, Christian, or Seventh- day Adventist) cannot save the tree from destruction. John declared to the Jews that their standing was to be decided by their character and life. Profession was worthless. If their life and character were not in harmony with God’s law, they were not His people.” —DA, 107.

Somehow John did not seem to understand, as the leaders did, that the church (which to them meant the visible structure that was under their control) was going through regardless. “The Jews had misinterpreted God’s promise of eternal favor to Israel: ‘Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is His name: If these ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever. Thus saith the Lord; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord’ (Jeremiah 31: 35- 37). The Jews regarded their natural descent from Abraham as giving them a claim to this promise. But they overlooked the conditions which God had specified.” —DA, 106.

The Jews trusted in the promises of the Bible that they would last forever, as long as the sun and moon existed. They could tauntingly argue with John the Baptist, asking “is the sun still shining, John? You see then, God must not have cast us off, has He?” But they had overlooked the conditions upon which the promises were based. John assuredly warned them that “every tree which does not bear good fruit” will be cut down and “thrown into the fire.” — Even Israel and Jerusalem!

When John warned the church that God could work without them, in their eyes he committed the unpardonable sin. Instead of taking his message to heart and working to purify the church so that the conditions of acceptance with God could be fulfilled, they sought to silence the reprover. To them the church was the structure of buildings and the human leadership in Jerusalem, and that system was as secure in their eyes as the throne of God itself. Yet “from the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church.” —AA, 11. Never has the Lord, either anciently or today, made His work or His church totally dependent on physical structure. God removed the structure in Jesus’ day, but the true church survived. Throughout the Old Testament

God had promised that “in the place where it was said ‘You are not My people, ‘ there it shall be said to them, ‘You are the sons of the living God’ “ (Hosea 1: 10). As it is today, so it was then, God was not dependent upon the established church to preserve a people. He could raise up children to Abraham from the stony hearts of the Gentiles, for “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3: 29).

John warned that it is “not, by its name, but by its fruit, is the value of a tree determined. If the fruit is worthless, the name cannot save the tree from destruction.” —DA, 107. When God’s people begin to worry about the semantics of their name, seeking to protect the words themselves by crucifying people who use it, as they did Jesus upon the cross, it is a sure sign that they have lost the true significance of the name. The primary purpose of a name is to signify the character within. If Jesus had not called Himself a Jew, the Jewish leaders would not have put Him to death.

It is time again for the message and ministry of John the Baptist to come to God’s heritage in order that we might be prepared for Jesus’ second coming. Today, we are called to do a work similar to that of John the Baptist, and to give the same message in even stronger terms, yet in a spirit of love. “In this fearful time, just before Christ is to come the second time, God’s faithful preachers will have to bear a still more pointed testimony than was borne by John the Baptist. A responsible, important work is before them; and those who speak smooth things, God will not acknowledge as His shepherds. A fearful woe is upon them.” —lT, 321. It is a fearful thing to be a minister and speak smooth and popular messages that please the people. Though they may receive the credentials and tithes of the conference, God does not acknowledge them as His ministers. “ ‘Peace and safety’ is the cry from men who will never again lift up their voice like a trumpet to show God’s people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. These dumb dogs that would not bark are the ones who feel the just vengeance of an offended God.” —ST. 211.

Jesus, our True Example

Probably the only person in the Bible who talked straighter than John the Baptist, as God’s preachers today are to do, was Jesus. When Jesus met the religious leaders, He did not simply call them poisonous snakes, as John had done, He plainly stated that they were the children of Satan. The Jews had argued with Him that they were assuredly God’s people because they had the official name and the official organization that had been sacredly handed down for centuries (John 8: 39- 41), but Jesus said: “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do” (John 8: 42- 44). You may think you represent God because you have the official name and represent the official organization, but if your life is not in harmony with God’s expressed will, you are most assuredly not His representatives.

When Jesus came, He was viewed from the very beginning as being independent, but of all the people on earth, He was the least independent person who ever lived. He said: “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 5: 30). Jesus was the least independent minister who ever lived, as far as His own will was concerned, but He was independent from the church organization on earth because they had become independent of God. He would like to have been united with them, but He could not unite with them and remain dependent on His Father, for the two were not in harmony. As the Bible says: “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3: 3).

Thus, to outward appearances, He manifested what appeared to be an independent attitude. “Under the synagogue teachers the youth were instructed in the countless regulations which as orthodox Israelites they were expected to observe. But Jesus did not interest Himself in these matters. From childhood He acted independently. . . .“ Jesus was viewed as being independent, but what was He independent from? Let us finish the sentence. “From childhood He acted independently of the rabbinical laws. The Scriptures of the Old Testament were His constant study, and the words, ‘Thus saith the Lord, ‘ were ever upon His lips.” —DA, 84.

If one wants to cause trouble, let him ask for the authority from the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy when confronted by the church manual. But that is the kind of trouble Jesus caused. (It was because we did not want our church to become like the Jewish church that we decided not to have a church manual when it was first proposed in 1883, but the decision was reversed in the General Conference of 1931.)

Though Jesus tried, “in every gentle and submissive way . . . to please those with whom He came in contact . . . He would not be influenced by their teaching.” —DA, 85. The priests could not tolerate this spirit of independence in Jesus. “They urged Him to receive the maxims and traditions that had been handed down from the ancient rabbis, but He asked for their authority in Holy Writ. He would hear every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; but He could not obey the inventions of men.” —DA, 85. I can hear them urging Him: “Jesus, don’t you believe that this is God’s church?” “Yes,” He would answer. “Well, don’t you believe that God has guided and directed in this church down through the ages?” “Yes,” He would answer again. “Then you must believe the practices and teachings of this church which have been decided upon and practiced for centuries. You don’t believe that all these rabbis were wrong, do you?” (Notice, it was the “maxims and traditions that had been handed down from ancient rabbis” which they urged upon Jesus.) But Jesus would simply answer, “Where does it teach that in the Bible?”

Even Jesus’ own mother, who was a converted person and a conscientious member of the church, thought Jesus was too independent. “Mary often remonstrated with Jesus, and urged Him to conform to the usages of the rabbis.” —DA, 90. What a trial this must have been for Jesus. All alone Jesus bore His fidelity to truth. He was misunderstood by the best people in church — they could not understand how any sincere, consecrated person could become so independent from the teaching of the much respected rabbis of the past and present, since they had been ordained of God.

For Jesus, there was no inspired manual other than the holy Word of God. But so hierarchical had the church become that they knew of no other way that the church could function other than by man- made rules and authority and a strong, Jerusalem- centered structure. But Jesus elevated truth above structure.

Jesus was viewed as being so independent of the structure that the leaders of the church decided that if He was allowed to continue He would destroy the church — and there is no question that their power structure would have been destroyed. “He who was the foundation of the ritual and economy of Israel would be looked upon as its enemy and destroyer.” —DA, 111. The pious leaders of the church tried to prevent His influence from destroying the church in every way possible. They tried to prove Him wrong. They warned the people against listening to Him. They prevented Him from speaking in the churches. They spread lies and rumors about Him and His ministry. They tried everything to limit His influence (and they were quite successful at this) but nothing seemed to stop Him. Finally, as a last resort, they “regretfully” decided that they must put Him to death. They undoubtedly “hated” to do this, but the church must be preserved — its reputation and name must be protected from such irresponsible people as Barabbas and Jesus.

Jesus and Barabbas, of course, were quite different — one was a murderer and one was a life- giver. But they were both independent, and of the two, Jesus was the most dangerous, because His doctrines and practices fooled the common people. And once the spirit of independence gets started, they figured that there was no way to protect the church. It was inconceivable to them that God could protect and preserve His church if they would purify themselves and call upon Him for His protection — no, if they did not preserve it, the church would be destroyed. It was either Jesus or the church (John 11: 50). Therefore, Jesus must be destroyed so that the church could survive. “If He stands in the way of Israel’s well- being, is it not doing God a service to remove Him? Better that one man perish than that the whole nation be destroyed. . . . In their opinion, He had set aside the priesthood. He had refused to acknowledge the theology of the rabbinical schools. He had exposed the evil practices of the priests and had irreparably hurt their influence. . . . Satan told them that in order to maintain their authority they must put Jesus to death. This counsel they followed. . . . Such was their deception that they were well pleased with themselves. They regarded themselves as patriots who were seeking the nation ‘s salvation.” —DA, 540- 541. Thus Jesus was disfellowshipped and the people who disfellowshipped Him thought they had saved the church from some great independent calamity that was threatening their very existence.

The Basis for True Authority

But though they tried, and verily thought they had succeeded, they could not disfellowship Jesus from the church. Jesus was the church. They merely succeeded in disfellowshipping themselves from the true church. For God “has put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1: 22, 23).

The church is still to be “built upon Christ as its foundation; it is to obey Christ as its head. It is not to depend upon man, or be controlled by man. Many claim that a position of trust in the church gives them authority to dictate what other men shall believe and what they shall do. This claim God does not sanction. The Saviour declares, ‘All ye are brethren. ‘ All are exposed to temptations, and are liable to error. Upon no finite being can we depend for guidance. The Rock of faith is the living presence of Christ in the church. Upon this the weakest may depend, and those who think themselves the strongest will prove to be the weakest, unless they make Christ their efficiency. ‘Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm’ (Jeremiah 17: 5).” —DA, 414.

“This principle bears with equal weight upon a question that has long agitated the Christian world — the question of apostolic succession. Descent from Abraham was proved, not by name and lineage, but by likeness of character. So the apostolic succession rests not upon the transmission of ecclesiastical authority, but upon spiritual relationship. A life actuated by the apostles’ spirit, the belief and teaching of the truth they taught — this is the true evidence of apostolic succession. This is what constitutes men the successors of the first teachers of the gospel.” —DA, 467.

Within Christ’s church there is to be no hierarchical, centralized, controlling power that supersedes the headship of Christ. As the messenger of the Lord said, “Battle Creek is not to be the center of God’s work. God alone can fill this place.” —TM, 375. There is a place for order, but it is to be a simple, humble order, always uplifting the primacy of Christ. For “He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence” (Colossians 1: 18).

Thus, as Christ is the head of the body, He is always to “have the preeminence.” Whenever the church assumes preeminence over Christ, or His word, it thereby becomes an idol to the people.

Christ created the structure — it is holy — but it is always to remain subservient to the Word and to Christ as its head. Anything that supersedes God becomes a false God. That’s what the Jews did with their temple. The temple became more important than the truth, or even God’s dear Son. A word of criticism spoken against the temple was worse than a false teaching being taught from its precincts. The final charge brought against Christ was that He spoke against the temple.

In view of this danger of making the system and its leadership a false God, Ellen White has a whole chapter in Testimonies to Ministers entitled, “Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me” — She was referring to Battle Creek, its system, and the leadership. She also warns that “the trials of the children of Israel, and their attitude just before the first coming of Christ, have been presented before me again and again to illustrate the position of the people of God in their experience before the second coming of Christ — how the enemy sought every occasion to take control for the minds of the Jews, and today he is seeking to blind the minds of God’s servants, that they may not be able to discern the precious truth.” —1SM, 406.

Jesus was rejected by most because He was not sanctioned by the visible church. And those who rejected Him were lost. According to the Spirit of Prophecy, this will likewise be our test.

“To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the lord when champions are few — this will be our test.” — 5T, 136.

The Head of the Church

“And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12: 28). God is the One who has promised to place various gifts in the church. When the church is pure, God is the one who calls and ordains through His chosen instrumentalities. He chooses through the official channels when He can, but when he cannot, He will call people directly, as in the case of David and John the Baptist. Never has God turned the entire control of His church over to human instrumentalities.

The Lord wants to direct His heritage and His church far more than we give Him opportunity to do. “If ministers and men in- positions of authority will get out of the way, and let the Holy Sprit move upon the minds of the lay brethren, God will direct them what to do for the honor of his name. Let men have freedom to carry out that which the Holy Spirit indicates. Do not put the shackles upon humble men whom God would use.” —RH, July 9, 1895.

It is not being independent for humble men and women whom God has called to act upon their God given responsibilities. In various places around the world I have been told by laymen that they cannot even give a Bible study without the pastor’s permission. In most places, a laymen is not even permitted to hold a prayer meeting in his own home, if it is called a prayer meeting, without the church’s permission — and if the pastor wants to come in and take control, he assumes that prerogative. Not long ago I was asked to have some meetings in one of the major cities of America. Previous to my coming they had had Ron Spear and Cohn Standish in to speak. This meeting was held in a private hall, and one of the local pastors was in attendance and expressed great appreciation for the meetings. However, the pastor of the largest church in town, where this laymen held office and membership, asked him not to have these meetings. The laymen, however, felt that the Lord wanted these meetings, and as they were not a part of any church function or on church property, and as those who were asked to speak were all ordained Seventh- day Adventist ministers and members in good and regular standing, he felt impressed to quietly go on with the meetings. He had no intention of having a conflict with the pastor, but was simply trying to serve the Lord. Yet, because of his supposed “independence” from the pastor he was duly disciplined by the church by way of official censor and removed from being an elder.

But who was acting independently — the laymen or the pastor? There is no law in the Bible, or even the manual, forbidding people from getting together and reading and studying the Bible together. For the pastor to arbitrarily make these rules is independence indeed! During the Dark Ages it was against the law to hold private meetings, but America guarantees that right — but have we lost it in the church? It is “Satan . . . [who] works to restrict religious liberty, and to bring into the religious world a species of slavery. Organizations, institutions, unless kept by the power of God, will work under Satan’s dictation to bring men under the control of men. . . . His methods are practiced even among Seventh- day Adventists, who claim to have advanced truth.” —TM, 366.

Today if someone tries to raise up a new congregation or hold a meeting for Bible study and prayer, the question asked is: “By whose authority are you holding these meetings?” That was the question that was asked of John the Baptist and Jesus. “Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority’ “( Matthew 21: 23).

“Laws and rules are being made at the centers of the work that will soon be broken into atoms. . . . The Lord does not ask permission of those in responsible positions when He wishes to use certain ones as His agents for the promulgation of truth. . . . Those who know the truth are to be worked by the Holy Spirit, and not themselves to try to work the Spirit. If the cords are drawn much tighter, if the rules are made much finer, if men continue to bind their fellow- laborers closer and closer to the commandments of men, many will be stirred by the Spirit of God to break every shackle, and assert their liberty in Christ Jesus.” —RH, July 23, 1895.

God has appointed leadership to act under Him, but never in His place. There is a place for organization — heaven is a place of order. God’s church, all through the ages, has been a place of order. The Old Testament church was a church of order, and God’s church today is to be just as ordered and orderly as was the Old Testament church. There is a place for leadership, a place for elders, a place for deacons and administrators. But their job description was never intended to be that of being the head of the church or of controlling the church, but rather they were to be the servants of God to the people. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20: 25- 28).

Do you suppose that I, or anyone else, could ever get to the place where we could supersede God’s authority in the church? We could try, but that would be a false, sinful and assumed authority that God and His true people would not recognize anymore than John the Baptist did (DA, 132). Suppose that I had a lot of charisma and a lot of good leadership abilities, and I made a lot of friends and made some good business or political decisions and so began to climb the corporate ladder in the church, until I got to the very top. Could I ever get to the place where I had enough authority to supersede God’s authority? Could I tell someone whom God had called to preach, for example, that God had not called him to preach, as they told John the Baptist and Jesus? I could tell him, but no matter how much authority I might have assumed or think I had, I could never get enough authority to supersede God’s authority. That would be the epitome of independence. But in my blind presumption, I would probably think that the person whom God had called and who was merely fulfilling His God- given mission was being independent because he had not listened to me! —what pride!

“But,” someone might insist, “someone must have that kind of authority in order to maintain order in the church.” That is exactly the claim of the papal church. “It is one of the leading doctrines of Romanism that the pope is the visible head of the universal church of Christ, invested with supreme authority over bishops and pastors in all parts of the world. . . . God has never given a hint in His word that He has appointed any man to be the head of the church.” —GC 50, 51.

While God has not given any man the authority to say who cannot preach, when the Holy Spirit has made it plainly evident that God has called him to preach, likewise God has not given any man the authority to say that someone can or should preach whom God has not called. No local church should ever be forced by some higher human authority to allow a conferenceappointed pastor or leader to speak when the congregation and elders feel, based upon Biblical evidence, that God has not called him to speak.

In fact, for men to receive those sent to them from the conference whom God has not sent, causes them to become independent from God along with the pastor, and results in the withdrawal of God’s blessings. “As there are woes for those who preach the truth while they are unsanctified in heart and life, so there are woes for those who receive and maintain the unsanctified in the position which they cannot fill.” —2T, 552. “There are fearful woes for those who preach the truth, but are not sanctified by it, and also for those who consent to receive and maintain the unsanctified to minister to them in word and doctrine.” —lT, 261, 262.

Yet, how many ministers whom God has never recognized are lauded and applauded by men, and how many ministers have been scourged and even put to death who were the chosen instrumentalities of God.

For a central, ruling authority to assume controlling power over the local membership, telling them who will preach to them and who will not preach to them, is to place one’s self in the place of God over the people. God has entrusted to His people certain inalienable rights and obligations, such as the right and the obligation to carefully and prayerfully decide who they will receive and maintain to minister to them. The Bible predicted that there would come a power that would seek to put itself in the place of God. “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2: 3, 4). That, in a special way refers to the papacy of the Middle Ages, and we can adopt some of the same policies, until we are “following in the track of Romanism.” —TM, 362.

“The high- handed power that has been developed, as though position has made men gods, makes me afraid, and out to cause fear. It is a curse wherever and by whomsoever it is exercised. this lording it over God’s heritage will create such a disgust of man’s jurisdiction that a state of insubordination will result. . . . The spirit of domination is extending to the presidents of our conferences. . . . They are following in the track of Romanism. . . . Rule, rule, has been their course of action. Satan has had an opportunity to represent himself.” —TM, 361- 363.

These statements from the Spirit of Prophecy were not written to imply that the church does not, or should not, have proper authority. The church is to have a great amount of authority under God. When a point or a decision can be shown from God’s word and from the leading of the Holy Spirit to be from the Lord, the leaders are to have a great deal of authority. Whenever the church utters the utterances of God, it is as the voice of God. But when they become independent of God and assume authority such as the Sanhedrin assumed, then they are no longer the voice of God. It was when the leaders were becoming independent of God, that Ellen White said: “That these men should stand in a sacred place, to be as the voice of God to the people, as we once believed the General Conference to be, that is past.” —GCB, 1901, p. 25.

The 1888 Problem

In the papal church, one central power decided who is called and who is not called, what should be preached and what should not be preached, what people could read and what they could not read, what meetings could be held and what could not be held. The church was a controlling element, and it was being controlled by human wisdom, with “the eyes of a man” (Daniel 7: 8). That was the same type of controlling element that ruled the church in Jesus’ day. The people came to worship the system as their lord and master rather than Jesus.

This false gospel of system worship, where the organization became the master rather than the servant, was what Ellen White recognized as the main problem of the General Conference of 1888. In talking about the problems of the church, she related the cause of these problems in the following letter: “This is largely due to the feeling of Elder Butler (the General Conference President) that position gave unlimited authority. . . . God designs that men shall use their minds and consciences for themselves. He never designed that one man should become the shadow of another, and utter only another’s sentiments. But this error has been coming in among us, that a very few are to be mind, conscience, and judgment for all God’s workers. The foundation of Christianity is ‘Christ our Righteousness. ‘ Men are individually responsible to God and must act as God acts upon them, not as another human mind acts upon their mind; for if this method of indirect influence is kept up, souls cannot be impressed and directed by the great I AM. They will, on the other hand, have their experience blended with another, and will be kept under a moral restraint, which allows no freedom of action or of choice. . . . If we would be wise, and use diligently, prayerfully, and thankfully the means whereby light and blessings are to come to His people, then no voice nor power upon earth would have authority over us to say, ‘This shall not be. ‘ “ —1888, 110- 113.

In a letter to Elder Butler, Ellen White related what was shown her in vision: “My guide. . . stretched out his arms toward Dr. Waggoner, and to you, Elder Butler, and said in substance as follows: ‘Neither have all the light upon the law; neither position is perfect.’ —1888, 93. The question was not simply theology — Elder Waggoner and Elder Jones’ positions were not perfect, but God had given them a message, even though still imperfect, to give to the church. But the leadership thought that every message should have to go through them for their approval. These young men from the West — Jones and Waggoner — had no right to work without the permission of the General Conference officers.

“Never, never feel the slightest disturbance be- cause the Lord is raising up youth to lift and carry the heavier burdens, and proclaim the message of truth. It has been at this point that Elder Butler has failed, and he is a deceived man . . . . I hope there will never be the slightest encouragement given to our people to put such wonderful confidence in finite, erring man as has been placed in Elder Butler, for ministers are not as God, and too much reliance has been placed upon Elder Butler in the past. Even the messages and testimonies were made of none effect through the influence of the words and ideas of Elder Butler. This sin has not been repented of by some of our people, and they will have to go over the ground again and again unless they cease from man, and put their whole trust in the living God.” —1888, 975.

There is a place for counsel, and even for warnings against false teachings, to be given by the leadership. But all such counsel and warnings are to be based upon sound biblical principle, not upon hierarchical authority. People are thus to be taught to depend upon the counsels and warnings of the Word, rather than that of man. We are to teach people to respect leaders, but not to depend upon human wisdom and leadership. “When our people in the different places have their special convocations, teach them, for Christ’s sake and for their own soul’s sake, not to make flesh their a~…. To place men where God should be placed does not honor or glorify God. Is the president of the General Conference to be the god of the people? Are the men at Battle Creek to be regarded as infinite in wisdom? When the Lord shall work upon human hearts and human intellects, principles and practices different from this will be set before the people. ‘Cease ye from man’ (Isaiah 2: 22).” —TM, 375, 376.

As one reads through the over 1800 pages of The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials and the book Testimonies to Ministers, he cannot help but be impressed with both the seriousness and the present prevalence of corporate independence. This was the chief problem in 1888, and it seems that it was never corrected. Supposedly a correction came in 1901, but two years later Ellen White commented: ‘The result of the last General Conference (1901) has been the greatest, the most terrible sorrow of my life. No change was made. The spirit that should have been brought into the whole work as the result of that meeting was not brought m because men did not receive the testimonies of the Spirit of God.” —MR, #1016, 3- 4 (Letter 17, January 14, 1903). It was in 1901 itself that she said: “We may have to remain here in this world because of insubordination many more years, as did the children of Israel.” —EV, 696.

Two Kinds of Kings

Kings are independent. That is why the messenger of the Lord associated independence with kingly power. In 1901 Ellen White warned our leaders against independence, insubordination, and rebellion. At the same time she told how this had come into the church — through the exercise of “kingly power,” so that God’s rulership was replaced by human kingship. In her opening address to the delegates of the 1901 General Conference, Ellen White repeatedly stated that we were being governed by “kingly power.” (See Ellen White’s speech in Spaulding and Magan, 162- 174.)

But there are two kinds of kings, both of which lead to independence from the Lord. First, there are those kings who have enough charisma and influence to get followers. We call them the successful kings. There are also those kings that cannot get anyone to follow them, but they are, nevertheless, going to do whatever they want to anyone, as a king without any subjects, independent of the Lord.

Some might wrongly suppose that because there are bad leaders, that gives them the right to become independent and do whatever they want to do. If they do this, they are no better off than the “bad” leaders they are critical of. God has not called anyone to be independent or to act independently. God has called us all to be servants of one another, and to draw together in true unity and love. God is not calling for separationism, but for a purifying of the church, where all can work together in true harmony for the finishing of the gospel. It is true that truth must be paramount, but wherever truth and the salvation of souls are not at stake, we are to do everything we can to live peaceably with all men and to work together in unity and harmony. We are to consider others first and self last. The true following of the principles of God will not lead to disunity, but to the true unity that was manifested at Pentecost, where all “were with one accord in one place” (Acts 2: 1).

God has a church, and it is the Seventh- day Adventist church. This is the church of prophecy and providence, and only God can start a church — it is to be built upon Him, not upon any human founder (Ephesians 2: 20). True, God’s remnant church is described as “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” in the Laodicean message of Revelation 3, but it is still God’s church. Leaders and members may not always exemplify God’s character, and for this reason we are still on earth. Whole congregations, institutions, or even conferences may apostatize — the organization itself may become so independent of God that He cannot use them any more, just as happened with Israel — nevertheless God will always have true and faithful Seventh- day Adventist people, registered on the books of heaven (Hebrews 12: 22, 23), who will constitute His church and who will go through victorious to the end. God wants every conference, institution, and congregation to triumph with them, if they will be purified of every sin.

Although we should strive to live peaceable with all men, nevertheless, when God sends His message to purify the church of sin and selfishness, it will cause a reaction. “Just as long as God has a church, He will have those who will cry aloud and spare not, who will be His instruments to reprove selfishness and sins, and will not shun to declare the whole counsel of God, whether men will hear or forbear. I saw that individuals would rise up against the plain testimonies. ft does not suit their natural feelings. They would choose to have smooth things spoken unto them, and have peace cried in their ears. . . . The shaking must soon take place to purify the church.” —2SG, 284.

The Lord is calling for individuals today to do the work of Elijah and John the Baptist, in all humility. But there are many who rise up to give a message on their own charge, without a commission from the Lord. There are many who would seek to steady the ark of God, as Uzzah did, with their own human wisdom and might. How can a person know whether he has been called of God or is simply motivated by feelings of importance?

Those who are truly called of God must be faithful, humble servants, not seeking for notice or first place. Moreover, whenever God calls for an individual to be His instrument, He always lays the burden upon more than simply he himself. Even when Jesus began His ministry, though He was not recognized or acknowledge by the church leadership, He was nevertheless acknowledged by John the Baptist and by the Holy Spirit at His baptism. David was anointed by Samuel. The disciples were called by Jesus. Paul received a vision and was set aside by the church at Antioch. Timothy was called by Paul. Daniel and Joseph were set apart by a series of circumstances and providence called forth by the Lord — but both had been faithful in the little things of life before being called to positions of prominence.

A Day and Age of Independence

As never before, a spirit of independence from the Lord afflicts our church, just as it did the Jewish church in the days of Korah and again in the days of John the Baptist (see lSM, 406). We are living in a day and age of independence. When I was pastoring, I was talking to one of my conference presidents about the local Adventist hospital. It had become so large that it was only able to fill a small percentage of its staff with Adventist help, yet they were building it still larger. In conversation one day I kindly pointed out that the Spirit of Prophecy counsels against building large hospitals and staffing them with those not of our faith. His response was that those counsels don’t apply to today. In our educational work, in our administrative work, in our educational work, in our medical work, it seems that self- rule and independence has become the rule of the day. God’s counsels, they reason, don’t apply any more. “Times have changed. These words strengthen their unbelief.” —5T, 211.

I was talking to a union president not long ago. He brought up the subject of tithing, and accused another ministry, that we at Steps to Life work with and support, of being a “thief’ because they accept tithe. They don’t solicit it, but when it comes in they accept it and apply it toward ministerial work. “Why,” I asked, “are they a thief? Who have they stolen from?”

The response was that all the tithe should go through the organization, because it is the storehouse. But I asked: “What then about Quiet Hour, Voice of Prophecy, and Amazing Facts, all of which accept tithe and always have? Are they thieves also?”

This was indeed hard to answer. He would not suggest that other ministries were stealing, but he still maintained that the ministry he was opposed to was stealing the tithe, even though this particular ministry is doing nothing different than most of our accepted ministries always have! The problem was that the ministry he was opposed to was preaching the straight testimony and that was what he was really opposed to — the tithe was only a smoke screen. Nevertheless I pursued the issue.

“What about Ellen White’s example and counsel,” I asked. She paid her tithe directly to various ministers and women Bible workers who were not being paid by the conference. Moreover, she accepted other people’s tithe who gave it to her and who did not want it to go to the conference. “Was she a thief?”

“Well,” he wanted to know, “do you base your beliefs on the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy?” “I thought they were the same,” I replied. But he then informed me that Ellen White did not understand tithing. So I asked him whether he understood the biblical principles of tithing better than Ellen White did.

He responded: “Yes I do. I understand tithing better than Ellen White.” I thought I had misunderstood, so I asked him again just to make sure I had heard right, and I received the same assurance that he understood this principle better than Ellen White. I asked him for his biblical references for his understanding, but he could produce none!

It is interesting that when the Colorado Conference president in 1905 tried to set up his will as the governing rule, stating that all tithe should come into the conference treasury rather than being sent directly to people who were not on the conference payroll, Ellen White warned him that if he agitated this question she would have to make known to others what she did with her tithe. In referring to disagreements with the management of the tithe by the conference, she said in Testimonies, vol. 9, page 249 that we should make our complaints known but that we should not withhold our tithe. However, in the case of apostasy and false teaching by the ministry, and in the case of the conference neglecting or refusing to support those whom the Lord had called and chosen, Ellen White made it crystal clear that it was not only the privilege but the duty of herself and others to send their tithe directly to where they thought it would do the most good (see lT 261, 262; 2T 552; Spaulding and Magan, 117, 215). Moreover, she stated that those who simply trusted the conference to expend their means, without taking responsibility themselves as to the outcome of the money God had made them stewards of, would not be held “guiltless” before the Lord for their stewardship 1888, pp. 1443, 1444. Some have formed such strong opinions and policies that they know more than the Spirit of Prophecy in these and other kindred areas.

Today, prideful independence from the Lord and His counsels has become the rule of the day.

Two Kinds of Independent Ministries

As there have always been, so today there are two kinds of independent ministries. As we read about Jesus: “From childhood He acted independently of the rabbinical laws.” —DA, 84. John the Baptist had an independent ministry from the Sanhedrin -DA, 132. Elijah and Paul had independent ministries. Madison Sanitarium and school was ordained by the Lord, with direct counsel from the messenger of the Lord, that they were to become an independent institution from the General Conference. God has always had independent ministries.

Many of these ministries have been unappreciated. When Elder A. T. Jones was not allowed to speak in Battle Creek in 1891, Ellen White said that “We will secure a hall in the city and the words God has given Bro. Jones to speak the people shall have them.” —1888, pp. 847, 848. Jesus spoke by the seashore, Wesley in the fields, and William Miller in tents. Today, while people like Desmond Ford are allowed to speak in our largest churches, many who have been faithful ministers for years are obliged to speak in rented halls be- cause of the straight message they bear. It may be, if the message is barred from the churches, that God will use the independent ministries to help finish the work where the official church has failed.

And so there is a healthy, God ordained place for independent ministries. God has never tied His hands to any set counsel of men, but has always had the privilege of choosing whom and how He desires. God has always used independent ministries. And yet there is sinful independence today also, as there always has been. Any independence that puts human wisdom and authority above God’s wisdom and authority, making man independent of God, is sinful independence. This was what Eve was tempted to do. Whenever a Christian hospital rejects, either openly or in practice, the counsels of the Lord, it has become an independent ministry. Whenever a church school or union college or university accepts the standards of the world in the place of the standards of the Lord, it has become an independent ministry. Whenever a conference or a church receives the counsels of psychologists and philosophers, or from religious institutions that do not keep the Sabbath, as Ahaziah did when he sought the god of Ekron (2 Kings 1: 2), rejecting the plain counsel of the Lord, it has become an independent ministry. Whenever a ministry that is designated an independent ministry because they are not under the conference structure, departs from the teachings and practices of the Lord, it has become independent in the wrong way. May the Lord save us from sinful independence.

A Reformation Needed

It is time to humble our hearts before the Lord so that He can send upon us the true revival and reformation that was displayed at Pentecost, where unity was achieved through the believing of truth, through humility toward self, and love toward one another; where the full gospel was preached in all its purity and power; where the principles of the government of heaven were followed, with Christ as the true head of the church and all its members were fellow servants.

Kingly power in the hands of religious rulers will never save or exalt the church. Unity through centralization will never exalt Christ. Blindly following religious teachers will not save a single soul. But humble cooperation, where every member is a fellow worker with Christ (1 Corinthians 3: 9), organized together in a body according to the call of God, and where dependence is placed first and foremost upon the revealed will of God, will bring the long- soughtfor blessings of the latter rain and the soon return of Jesus Christ. This is that primitive godliness that will be revealed among God’s people before the final visitation of God’s judgments upon the earth -GC, 464.

Scripture texts are from the New King James

Books titles by Ellen White are abbreviated as follows:

  • 1888 = Ellen G. White 1888 Materials
  • AA = Acts of the Apostles
  • DA = Desire of Ages
  • EW = Early Writings
  • EV = Evangelism
  • GC = Great Controversy
  • GCB = General Conference Bulletin
  • MR = Manuscript Release
  • RH = Review and Herald Magazine
  • 2SG = Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2.
  • IT, 2T, etc. are Testimonies to the Church, volumes I, 2, etc.
  • TM = Testimonies to Ministers

Emphasis are generally supplied

Chapter 10 Desire of Ages — Chapter 78

The Church “Then”. . . . . .and the Church Now

by Terry S. Ross

DA 741: “ ‘And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him. ’”

Who are the “they” in this quotation? Christ died for us all because we need a saviour but the Ancient Adventist Church should not have been the ones to murder Him.

DA 742: “The crowd that followed the Saviour saw His weak and staggering steps, but they manifested no compassion. They taunted and reviled Him because He could not carry the heavy cross. Again the burden was laid upon Him, and again He fell fainting to the ground. His persecutors saw that it was impossible for Him to carry His burden farther. They were puzzled to find any one who would bear the humiliating load. The Jews themselves could not do this, because the defilement would prevent them from keeping the Passover. None even of the mob that followed Him would stoop to bear the cross.”

No one who refuses to bear the humiliating load of Christ’s cross will share in the glory of Christ’s crown. Even though the “church” was literally killing the Son of God, they would continue business as usual and looked forward to keeping the Passover which represented the very Person whom they were killing! They had become so blind that they couldn’t recognize the Truth even when it was actually right before them! Do not be fooled into believing that something like this could not happen in the Seventh- day Adventist “Church.” It not only can happen, it has happened, and is happening for the last time right now.

DA 742- 43: “Not a few women are in the crowd that follow the Uncondemned to His cruel death. Their attention is fixed upon Jesus. Some of them have seen Him before. Some have carried to Him their sick and suffering ones. Some have themselves been healed. The story of the scenes that have taken place is related. They wonder at the hatred of the crowd toward Him for whom their own hearts are melting and ready to break. And notwithstanding the action of the maddened throng, and the angry words of the priests and rulers, these women give expression to their sympathy. As Jesus falls fainting beneath the cross, they break forth into mournful wailing.

“This was the only thing that attracted Christ’s attention. Although full of suffering, while bearing the sins of the world, He was not indifferent to the expression of grief. He looked upon these women with tender compassion. They were not believers in Him; He knew that they were not lamenting Him as one sent from God, but were moved by feelings of human pity. He did not despise their sympathy, but it awakened in His heart a deeper sympathy for them. ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, ’ He said, ‘weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. ’ From the scene before Him, Christ looked forward to the time of Jerusalem’s destruction. In that terrible scene, many of those who were now weeping for Him, were to perish with their children.”

Even these non- believing women are amazed at the hatred that the Conference Leadership has toward Christ! But Jesus tells them that they should be weeping for themselves. Why? He was looking forward and He knew that most of the people in the crowd would continue to be influenced by the apostate conference men who would continue to say “The ship is going through.” They, in turn, would continue to believe this and would be destroyed with that particular ship because it, in truth, was not the ship that was going through.

DA 743: “From the fall of Jerusalem the thoughts of Jesus passed to a wider judgment. IN THE DESTRUCTION OF THE IMPENITENT CITY HE SAW A SYMBOL OF THE FINAL DESTRUCTION TO COME UPON THE WORLD. He said, ‘Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry? ’ By the green tree, Jesus represented Himself, the innocent Redeemer. God suffered His wrath against transgression to fall on His beloved Son. Jesus was to be crucified for the sins of men. WHAT SUFFERING, THEN, WOULD THE SINNER BEAR WHO CONTINUED IN SIN? ALL THE IMPENITENT AND UNBELIEVING WOULD KNOW A SORROW AND MISERY THAT LANGUAGE WOULD FAIL TO EXPRESS.”

If Jerusalem is a symbol of the bigger destruction of the world, what then can we learn? Who made up the populace of that city? The headquarters of the “church” was also the headquarters of Rome in that part of the country. We will find in the near future that the headquarters of modern Rome will be located not too far from the Adventist structure’s headquarters. As they worked hand in hand for the destruction of Christ, in the future they will work hand in hand for the destruction of God’s last day people. This may be difficult to believe but not any more difficult than two thousand years ago. Only those who took God (Jesus) at His Word escaped the destruction of Jerusalem. We can expect that a similar group of believers that will escape the destruction to come, as it surely will.

Leaders who teach their congregations that they can continue in sin and cannot stop sinning either knowingly or unknowingly are leading these people to eternal damnation. If we truly love others, the exposure of this deadly heresy must take place and be openly challenged. People must be given the opportunity to know the truth to stop listening to the lies of these agents of Satan.

DA 743: “Of the multitude that followed the Saviour to Calvary, many had attended Him with joyful hosannas and the waving of palm branches, as He rode triumphantly into Jerusalem. But not a few who had then shouted His praise because it was popular to do so, now swelled the cry of ‘Crucify Him! crucify Him! ’ When Christ rode into Jerusalem, the hopes of the disciples had been raised to the highest pitch. They had pressed close about their Master, feeling that it was a high honor to be connected with Him. Now in His humiliation they followed Him at a distance. They were filled with grief, and bowed down with disappointed hopes. How were the words of Jesus verified: ‘All ye shall be offended because of Me this night; for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. ’ (Matt. 26: 31).”

To follow Christ for political reasons because it’s popular to do so or for any other reason than from conviction based on a love for God and His truth, will prove to be fatal! Every single person whose motivation and actions fall below the standard WILL betray, forsake, and be lost!

DA 744: “The Saviour made no murmur of complaint. His face remained calm and serene, but great drops of sweat stood upon His brow. There was no pitying hand to wipe the death- dew from His face, nor words of sympathy and unchanging fidelity to stay His human heart. While the soldiers were doing their fearful work, Jesus prayed for His enemies, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. ’ His mind passed from His own suffering to the sin of His persecutors, and the terrible retribution that would be theirs. No curses were called down upon the soldiers who were handling Him so roughly. No vengeance was invoked upon the priests and rulers, who were gloating over the accomplishment of their purpose. Christ pitied them in their ignorance and guilt. He breathed only a plea for their forgiveness, — ‘for they know not what they do. ’”

Here Jesus wonderfully demonstrates the balance of warfare and welfare. While He had exposed His enemies and denounced them with scathing rebukes, He had no human feelings of vengeance toward them, but only pity. He would have gladly forgiven them if they had repented; He had no pleasure in the thoughts of their future destruction. Today, although we are to do the same work, we can be guilty of murder ourselves if we enjoy the destruction of our enemies. We must do what we do for the purposes of salvation, not for the purpose of destruction. Jesus had the perfect balance of “not blind, nor bitter.”

DA 744- 45: “Had they known that they were putting to torture One who had come to save the sinful race from eternal ruin, they would have been seized with remorse and horror. BUT THEIR IGNORANCE DID NOT REMOVE THEIR GUILT; for it was their privilege to know and accept Jesus as their Saviour. Some of them would yet see their sin, and repent, and be converted. Some by their impenitence would make it an impossibility for the prayer of Christ to be answered for them. Yet just the same God’s purpose was reaching its fulfillment. Jesus was earning the right to become the advocate of men in the Father’s presence.

“That prayer of Christ for His enemies embraced the world. It took in every sinner that had lived or should live, from the beginning of the world to the end of time. Upon all rests the guilt of crucifying the Son of God. To all, forgiveness is freely offered. ‘Whosoever will’ may have peace with God, and inherit eternal life.”

Here is yet another description of the modern Adventist “Church.” No one has greater opportunity to learn about Jesus and His truth than those in the Adventist movement. The majority are ignorant of the weightier matters, but willfully so. Their ignorance will not be valid during the judgement period, but it does explain why they do what they do. Some, during this time of ongoing education, will see the truth, repent and be converted. Others (the majority) because of stubbornness, willful blindness, wanting to be popular, and love for cherished idols will refuse to be converted. This group is the reason why God inspired Sister White to write that we have more to fear from within than without.

DA 745: “Pilate then wrote an inscription in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, and placed it upon the cross, above the head of Jesus. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews. ’ This inscription irritated the Jews. In Pilate’s court they had cried, ‘Crucify Him! ’ ‘We have no king but Caesar. ’ (John 19: 15.) They had declared that whoever should acknowledge any other king was a traitor. Pilate wrote out the sentiment they had expressed. NO OFFENSE WAS MENTIONED, EXCEPT THAT JESUS WAS THE KING OF THE JEWS. THE INSCRIPTION WAS A VIRTUAL ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE ALLEGIANCE OF THE JEWS TO THE ROMAN POWER. IT DECLARED THAT WHOEVER MIGHT CLAIM TO BE THE KING OF ISRAEL, WOULD BE JUDGED BY THEM WORTHY OF DEATH. The priests had overreached themselves. When they were plotting the death of Christ, Caiaphas had declared it expedient that one man should die to save the nation. Now their hypocrisy was revealed. In order to destroy Christ, they had been ready to sacrifice even their national existence.”

You will notice that the only offense charged to Jesus was, in fact, the truth. You will also notice that the Jews’ (Ancient Adventists who were in apostasy) allegiance was with Rome and not God. To declare that the truth of Christ was above the traditions of Rome meant sure death. In the not too distant future, the true and faithful who will stand for God’s Word and declare that the traditions of Rome are not valid will face the death decree. Until it’s forever too late, the other group who declares that the traditions of Rome are above God’s Word will also face the death decree. It is up to you to decide which death decree you want to face.

DA 746- 49: “And Satan with his angels, in human form, was present at the cross. The archfiend and his hosts were co- operating with the priests and rulers. The teachers of the people had stimulated the ignorant mob to pronounce judgment against One upon whom many of them had never looked, until urged to bear testimony against Him. Priests, rulers, Pharisees, and the hardened rabble were confederated together in a Satanic frenzy. Religious rulers united with Satan and his angels. They were doing his bidding.”

Just as Jesus was completing the first phase of the plan of salvation, Satan and his angels, in human form, appeared to deceive all who could be deceived. The same deception will take place just as Jesus is bringing the final phase of salvation to a close. We are told in Revelation and the book Great Controversy that Satan will appear as an angel of light to deceive the nations.

Most Adventists I’ve met realize that Satan will personate Christ in order to deceive, but I have met very few Adventists who understand that Satan will not come alone. Did you realize that he will bring the apostles with him? Let’s read it here in Great Controversy page 557: “The apostles, as personated by these lying spirits, are made to contradict what they wrote at the dictation of the Holy Spirit when on earth.” Maybe you can better understand that unless we have the mind of Christ, which can only be obtained by following Him all the way, this deception to come will be overpowering. Only those who are fully connected with Christ will make it through this time. The preparation time which we are now enjoying is quickly disappearing and we had better be paying attention.

DA 749: “In their mockery of the Saviour, the men who professed to be the expounders of prophecy were repeating the very words which inspiration had foretold they would utter upon this occasion. Yet in their blindness they did not see that they were fulfilling the prophecy.”

This same blindness is even now being repeated. This prophecy is having its fulfillment in our day. In their blindness, the leaders are preaching toward their own doom and fulfilling the prophecy of their own destruction.

DA 753: “Upon Christ as our substitute and surety was laid the iniquity of us all. He was counted a transgressor, that He might redeem us from the condemnation of the law. The guilt of every descendant of Adam was pressing upon His heart. The wrath of God against sin, the terrible manifestation of His displeasure because of iniquity, filled the soul of His Son with consternation. All His life Christ had been publishing to a fallen world the good news of the Father’s mercy and pardoning love. Salvation for the chief of sinners was His theme. But now with the terrible weight of guilt He bears, He cannot see the Father’s reconciling face. The withdrawal of the divine countenance from the Saviour in this hour of supreme anguish pierced His heart with a sorrow that can never be fully understood by man. So great was this agony that His physical pain was hardly felt.

“SATAN WITH HIS FIERCE TEMPTATIONS WRUNG THE HEART OF JESUS. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God, that their separation was to be eternal. CHRIST FELT THE ANGUISH WHICH THE SINNER WILL FEEL WHEN MERCY SHALL NO LONGER PLEAD FOR THE GUILTY RACE. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God.”

Every soul who takes a stand for Jesus in these last days will have to go through a similar experience in their own sphere which He had to go through. But especially will the 144,000 understand by experience what price Jesus paid for our salvation. During the time of trouble after probation closes, this group will feel a similar anguish of soul that wrung the heart of their Saviour. This will be a terrible ordeal but in the end it will separate this group from any other in the entire universe. Theirs will be an elevated experience known only to them and their Lord.

On the other side of the coin, those who choose apostasy instead of Christ will feel a deepened terror that was only felt by those who killed Christ. There will not be another group of human beings who share in this same terror. To make a profession of Adventism and turn from what it really means (especially for the leadership) is serious business. Oh, Brothers and Sisters, we do not want to be a part of this “church!” To one day face the reality of this truth and know that eternity was in the palms of our hands, yet be forever lost! The terror will be indescribable. Let us choose rather to place our feeble selves in the hands of a caring Father for He will see us through the trouble ahead. I have always said that no one will escape persecution in the end anyway. A small group will be persecuted by man and Satan. The larger group will be persecuted by God. Let us choose the right group in which to be persecuted.

DA 756: “In silence the beholders watched for the end of the fearful scene. The sun shone forth; but the cross was still enveloped in darkness. Priests and rulers looked toward Jerusalem; and lo, the dense cloud had settled over the city, and the plains of Judea. The Sun of Righteousness, the Light of the world, was withdrawing His beams from the once favored city of Jerusalem. The fierce lightnings of God’s wrath were directed against the fated city.”

Jesus Christ Who had raised up Jerusalem with His own power had the power to reject it. According to this history, the fierce lightnings of God’s wrath will be directed against the apostate people of Jerusalem — Apostate Adventists.

DA 756: “Amid the awful darkness, apparently forsaken of God, Christ had drained the last dregs in the cup of human woe. In those dreadful hours He had relied upon the evidence of His Father’s acceptance heretofore given Him. He was acquainted with the character of His Father; He understood His justice, His mercy, and His great love. By faith He rested in Him whom it had ever been His joy to obey. And as in submission He committed Himself to God, the sense of the loss of His Father’s favor was withdrawn. BY FAITH, CHRIST WAS VICTOR.”

All immediate evidence suggested that the Heavenly Father had forsaken His Son, but Christ’s personal life experience with God had developed the faith that was victorious over all the assaults of Satan. This faith, the faith OF Jesus Christ, identifies His true people who ARE HIS TRUE CHURCH.

DA 756- 57: “Never before had the earth witnessed such a scene. The multitude stood paralyzed, and with bated breath gazed upon the Saviour. Again darkness settled upon the earth, and a hoarse rumbling, like heavy thunder, was heard. There was a violent earthquake. The people were shaken together in heaps. The wildest confusion and consternation ensued. In the surrounding mountains, rocks were rent asunder, and went crashing down into the plains. Sepulchers were broken open, and the dead were cast out of their tombs. Creation seemed to be shivering to atoms. Priests, rulers, soldiers, executioners, and people, mute with terror, lay prostrate upon the ground.

“When the loud cry, ‘It is finished, ’ came from the lips of Christ, the priests were officiating in the temple. It was the hour of the evening sacrifice. The lamb representing Christ had been brought to be slain. Clothed in his significant and beautiful dress, the priest stood with lifted knife, as did Abraham when he was about to slay his son. With intense interest the people were looking on. But the earth trembles and quakes; for the Lord Himself draws near. With a rending noise the inner veil of the temple is torn from top to bottom by an unseen hand, throwing open to the gaze of the multitude a place once filled with the presence of God. In this place the shekinah had dwelt. Here God had manifested His glory above the mercy- seat. No one but the high priest ever lifted the veil separating this apartment from the rest of the temple. He entered in once a year to make an atonement for the sins of the people. But lo, this veil is rent in twain. The most holy place of the earthly sanctuary is no longer sacred.

“All is terror and confusion. The priest is about to slay the victim; but the knife drops from his nerveless hand, and the lamb escapes. Type has met antitype in the death of God’s Son. The great sacrifice has been made. The way into the holiest is laid open. A new and living was is prepared for all. No longer need sinful, sorrowing humanity await the coming of the high priest. Henceforth the Saviour was to officiate as priest and advocate in the heaven of heavens. It was as if a living voice had spoken to the worshipers: There is now an end to all sacrifices and offerings for sin. The Son of God is come according to His word, ‘Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O God. ’ ‘By His own blood’ He entereth ‘in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. ’ (Heb. 10: 17; 9: 12).”

This terror and confusion spoken of in Desire of Ages is the same that will be on the earth and in the hearts of apostate pastors, leaders, and all who reject God’s warnings and mercies. The scenes that you have studied in this book are now being repeated and will continue to follow the same course viewed two thousand years ago.

When the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom at the command of God, it was a signal and an invitation to all to understand that no pastor or priest would stand between man and God save Jesus Christ alone. In this study, inspiration has clearly demonstrated that God is not bound to any pastor, Conference Worker, Conference Leader, General Conference, or a people once chosen.

This book has been written in the honest hope that all who read it will come to a better understanding of not only what has been, but what is and what will be. The author of this book is convinced that our loving Saviour, Jesus Christ, is warning us about events just now happening and those about to happen so we are not deceived. We also understand that many statements in this book are “hard sayings,” but it is just as imperative that we take them into our lives as it was for the disciples.

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” says God’s Word, for we are told in the Spirit of Prophecy that the majority will be lost because they refused to take God at His Word.

Wherever you are or whatever you’re doing, no matter where your present loyalties lie, we would plead with you to take this study most seriously. If our understanding of the past is correct, we believe that your very life depends on how you choose to react to what you have read.

It’s decision time, dear Brothers and Sisters. What will it be? Will you go to man for your salvation or to God? Your destiny hangs upon your answer. Choose ye this day….

Copyright © 1999 Servants of the Saviour
Terry & Cathy Ross

Table of Contents
Acknowledgements and Forward
Chapter 1 Desire of Ages — Chapter 63
Chapter 2 Desire of Ages — Chapter 64
Chapter 3 Desire of Ages — Chapter 65
Chapter 4 Desire of Ages — Chapters 66 & 67
Chapter 5 Desire of Ages — Chapters 68 & 69
Chapter 6 Desire of Ages — Chapters 70, 71 & 72
Chapter 7 Desire of Ages — Chapter 73
Chapter 8 Desire of Ages — Chapters 74 & 75
Chapter 9 Desire of Ages — Chapters 76 & 77
Chapter 10 Desire of Ages — Chapter 78

Chapter 9 Desire of Ages — Chapters 76 & 77

The Church “Then”. . . . . .and the Church Now

by Terry S. Ross

DA 716: “The history of Judas presents the sad ending of a life that might have been honored of God. Had Judas died before his last journey to Jerusalem, he would have been regarded as a man worthy of a place among the twelve, and one who would be greatly missed. The abhorrence which has followed him through the centuries would not have existed, but for the attributes revealed at the close of his history. But it was for a purpose that his character was laid open to the world. It was to be a warning to all who, like him, should betray sacred trusts.

“… Through becoming the slave of one vice he gave himself to Satan, to be driven to any lengths in sin.”

The testimony of Judas is a solemn warning left for all to understand that we may fool all around us for a time, but we cannot fool God. I know that I take the experience of Judas very seriously. It tells me that all people, especially pastors whether Conference or Independent who continue to break sacred trusts will in no wise enter God’s kingdom. It also tells me that although it is right to support those whom God has raised up to lead, we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ and not man.

How solemn to realize that one cherished sin will keep us out of heaven. How many of us have clung to some cherished idol knowing deep inside that we need to let it go and telling ourselves that we will, tomorrow? But tomorrow never comes, Brothers and Sisters. Letting go of our sin will never get any easier than it will be today. Now is the time to make this resolve and cling to the Rock of Jesus Christ. The Lord loves us, but be certain that no matter what we may think we have accomplished in this life, if we cling to one vice He will not make exception for us. Either we will make Jesus bigger than our sin or our sin will become bigger in our life than Jesus.

DA 717: “He felt in his own person the evidence of Christ’s power. He recognized the teaching of Christ as superior to all that he had ever heard. He loved the great Teacher, and desired to be with Him. He felt a desire to be changed in character and life, and he hoped to experience this through connecting himself with Jesus. The Saviour did not repulse Judas. He gave him a place among the twelve. He trusted him to do the work of an evangelist. He endowed him with power to heal the sick and to cast out devils. But Judas did not come to the point of surrendering himself fully to Christ. He did not give up his worldly ambition or his love of money. While he accepted the position of a minister of Christ, he did not bring himself under the divine moulding. He felt that he could retain his own judgment and opinions, and he cultivated a disposition to criticize and accuse.”

Of course, the above principle applies to each soul, but the specific lesson in this paragraph is regarding a pastor. Pastors have been given a broad scope of influence because of the position they hold and, therefore, that position is a serious one. With this position comes all the dangers that were the end of Judas. A large number of pastors will share the fate of Judas because they have abused their sacred trust and brought others, not to Jesus, but to their own perverted teachings. And let us not forget that Judas was an Independent Leader.

DA 720: “At the reproof from Jesus his very spirit seemed turned to gall. Wounded pride and desire for revenge broke down the barriers, and the greed so long indulged held him in control. This will be the experience of every one who persists in tampering with sin. The elements of depravity that are not resisted and overcome, respond to Satan’s temptation, and the soul is led captive at his will.”

These few words that you just read are full of instruction and warning that we all must reflect upon. We must plead with the Lord to help us to be honest with ourselves and to be open with our weaknesses in our dealings with Him. Please notice that it doesn’t say that this might be the experience of every one who persists… but this WILL be the experience!

Pride is a dreadful killer. It stalks its prey slowly, its danger undetected at first until it finally consumes its possessor. I have taken stock of what some of the attributes of pride are and one thing that is most scary is that pride is what I’ll call super- self protecting. Even when you recognize that you have the problem, when it raises its ugly head and is in control, it can take total possession. Pride, it almost seems, has a life of its own. I believe it to be a most dangerous vice. Another problem is, when the Lord allows a man to accomplish much, we human beings must be extremely guarded, for pride is a natural tendency of the human heart. Pride spoils the best of blessings and can ruin a life that otherwise would have been full of glory as demonstrated in the life of Judas. Even if someone has preached the straight truth for years, pride is so bad that those who cling to it will finally lose all reason and seek to literally annihilate those who dare to expose their sins. I have personally seen this in action. Everything goes along smoothly and it’s fine to expose the sins of others, but when you point out a concern for the one who is cherishing pride, although you thought this person to be a good friend, he can turn on you with a vengeance. This turning is for no other reason than pride that is filling the heart. Pride is why the church of two thousand years ago killed God. We must recognize it for what it is and give it to Jesus. He alone can cure this cancer.

DA 721- 22: “As the trial drew to a close, Judas could endure the torture of his guilty conscience no longer. Suddenly a hoarse voice rang through the hall, sending a thrill of terror to all hearts: He is innocent; spare Him, O Caiaphas!

“The tall form of Judas was now seen pressing through the startled throng. His face was pale and haggard, and great drops of sweat stood on his forehead. Rushing to the throne of judgment, he threw down before the high priest the pieces of silver that had been the price of his Lord’s betrayal. Eagerly grasping the robe of Caiaphas, he implored him to release Jesus, declaring that He had done nothing worthy of death. Caiaphas angrily shook him off, but was confused, and knew not what to say. The perfidy of the priests was revealed. It was evident that they had bribed the disciple to betray his Master.

“ ‘I have sinned, ’ again cried Judas, ‘in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. ’ But the high priest, regaining his self- possession, answered with scorn, ‘What is that to us? See thou to that. ’ (Matt. 27: 4.) The priests had been willing to make Judas their tool; but they despised his baseness. When he turned to them with confession, they spurned him.”

This will be the fearful experience of many a pastor who has falsified his sacred obligations. Even the devil, although he uses these people, hates a coward. The experience of Judas’ terror will be replayed by every pastor and all in positions of influence, no matter what “group” they are in, who choose not to let go of their pride. Pride is the ultimate lie about oneself. It says to its lover that he is something he is not. It strokes the ego of man until man forgets that NOTHING good can ever be accomplished by any person unless God sees to it. No man deserves anything but death, yet pride robs God of His goodness and perverts man into thinking God’s glory belongs to himself. The true Christian understands and realizes that if the Lord gives him anything good to do, it is a privilege and nothing else. This realized privilege, in turn, melts the heart of its receiver and the glory continues to be returned to the rightful owner — God.

DA 722: “Judas now cast himself at the feet of Jesus, acknowledging Him to be the Son of God, and entreating Him to deliver Himself. The Saviour did not reproach His betrayer. He knew that Judas did not repent; his confession was forced from his guilty soul by an awful sense of condemnation and a looking for of judgment, but he felt no deep, heart- breaking grief that he had betrayed the spotless Son of God, and denied the Holy One of Israel. Yet Jesus spoke no word of condemnation.” In this act of “repentance” is a future scene brought to light which can be found in Revelation, chapter 3, verse 9. At that time it will be seen that these people do have a church. But the church they belong to is the synagogue of Satan.

DA 723: “In the judgment- hall of Pilate, the Roman governor, Christ stands bound as a prisoner. About Him are the guard of soldiers, and the hall is fast filling with spectators. Just outside the entrance are the judges of the Sanhedrin, priests, rulers, elders, and the mob.

“After condemning Jesus, the council of the Sanhedrin had come to Pilate to have the sentence confirmed and executed. But these JEWISH OFFICIALS would not enter the Roman judgment- hall. According to their ceremonial law they would be defiled thereby, and thus prevented from taking part in the feast of the Passover. IN THEIR BLINDNESS THEY DID NOT SEE that murderous hatred had defiled their hearts.”

In parallel terms, who were the judges of the Sanhedrin, priests, rulers, elders, and the mob? They were none other than the Conference Committee, pastors, Conference workers, and elders or otherwise the acknowledged “Adventist Church” of their day. It certainly doesn’t take a degree to figure out this simple truth. Another truth is that we are repeating the history of our spiritual forefathers! The same spiritual pride is blinding the majority so that they do not know who and what the church is. In reality just as it was two thousand years ago, most will not see the truth until it’s too late! Run to the Lord, friend, and plead with Him not to let this happen to you. God’s people must understand what it means to be let go to a reprobate mind. The strong delusions and the deception to come upon the unconsecrated mind will be total.

DA 724: “Again Pilate asked, ‘What accusation bring ye against this man? ’ The priests did not answer his question, but in words that showed their irritation, they said. ‘If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up unto thee. ’ When those composing the Sanhedrin, the first men of the nation, bring to you a man they deem worthy of death, is there need to ask for an accusation against him? They hoped to impress Pilate with a sense of their importance, and thus lead him to accede to their request without going through many preliminaries. They were eager to have their sentence ratified; for they knew that the people who had witnessed Christ’s marvelous works could tell a story very different from the fabrication they themselves were now rehearsing.”

What is happening to Historic Adventists across this nation and around the world (within the structure) not only mirrors what happened between Pilate and Christ, but what will happen in the courts again. The Apostate Adventist Leaders could not bear up under honest scrutiny and this is why they pressed their own authority instead of the authority of God’s Word. Many today are being brought either under censure or disfellowshipped on a charge that is the same — not respecting properly constituted church authority. This charge, the same tactic used by the ancient forefathers, is now being utilized by the modern- day Sanhedrin. For a time it may seem that they have the upper hand, but in reality their authority will be short- lived.

DA 725: “The priests were in a dilemma. They saw that they must cloak their hypocrisy under the thickest concealment. They must not allow it to appear that Christ had been arrested on religious grounds. Were this put forward as a reason, their proceedings would have no weight with Pilate. They must make it appear that Jesus was working against the common law; then He could be punished as a political offender.”

Now, why do you suppose the Ancient Adventist Conference was trying desperately to keep the focus away from religious grounds? They knew that this exposure would show their true purpose and reveal them for who they really were. Their type of argumentation has already been seen today in the modern Adventist structure and will be seen in the courts soon enough.

DA 726: “With noisy cries, priests, scribes, and rulers demanded that He be sentenced to death. The cries were taken up by the mob, and the uproar was deafening. Pilate was confused. Seeing that Jesus made no answer to His accusers, Pilate said to Him, ‘Answerest Thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against Thee. But Jesus yet answered nothing. ’

“Standing behind Pilate, in view of all in the court, Christ heard the abuse; but to all the false charges against Him, He answered not a word. His whole bearing gave evidence of conscious innocence. He stood unmoved by the fury of the waves that beat about Him. It was as if the heavy surges of wrath, rising higher and higher, like the waves of the boisterous ocean, broke about Him, but did not touch Him. He stood silent, but His silence was eloquence. It was a light shining from the inner to the outer man.”

God speaks to each heart so we know when we are defending self, even in the midst of a religious battle. The spirit of Jesus shines brightest when we refuse to defend self during those times when we are being abused for His name’s sake.

DA 727: “Christ affirmed that His word was in itself a key which would unlock the mystery to those who were prepared to receive it. It had a self- commending power, and this was the secret of the spread of His kingdom of truth.”

Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. If the message we bear, either verbally or physically, is not a continual self- commending message (an understanding of soul value), it is not of Christ. Those who see Jesus will discern whether or not a man is walking with Christ. Those who live by heavenly principles, keeping their eyes firmly fixed on their Leader, will be able to rightly judge what is the truth about that man. Remember, it is not so much what is preached but what is lived that is the factor which determines whether or not a man is converted. Those who are convinced merely by the words that a man preaches can be fooled as those same people would have been in their opinions of Judas. In thus being fooled, they place themselves in a position of disadvantage with Satan. He then has an opportunity to have some control of the person who places confidence in the one preaching who is not truly converted.

DA 727: “These words from a heathen judge were a scathing rebuke to the perfidy and falsehood of the rulers of Israel who were accusing the Saviour. As the priests and elders heard this from Pilate, their disappointment and rage knew no bounds. They had long plotted and waited for this opportunity. As they saw the prospect of the release of Jesus, they seemed ready to tear Him in pieces.”

Be not fooled! Even today there are those of us who realize the Conference is plotting to “do in” certain individuals and certain Independent Ministries. The true reasons and the arguments starting to surface are strangely similar to those of long ago. We are not blind to the forecast on the horizon. There are many who may be unwary of these things, but be certain that not everyone is. The Lord has left us these plain Testimonies for serious contemplation and not everyone will forsake the Word of the Lord. While the majority are literally “dumping” the Spirit of Prophecy, there are others who are praising God’s Holy Name for this extended blessing.

DA 728: “Angry voices were now heard, declaring that the seditious influence of Jesus was well known throughout the country.”

Sedition — conduct or language inciting to rebellion against the authority of the state.

The ancient leaders were, in fact, worried about Christ causing rebellion but not against the state! They are still worried today about the same thing. It will be seen in the future that this concern for the overthrow of their own apostate power will be transferred to the state level in order that testimony might be brought against God’s true people. Our own books reveal out how it will all end as in the trial of Jesus we can clearly define our own future, whether we are faithful or among those who are not.

DA 729: “Herod questioned Christ in many words, but throughout the Saviour maintained a profound silence. At the command of the king, the decrepit and maimed were then called in, and Christ was ordered to prove His claims by working a miracle. Men say that Thou canst heal the sick, said Herod. I am anxious to see that Thy wide- spread fame has not been belied. Jesus did not respond, and Herod still continued to urge: If Thou canst work miracles for others, work them now for Thine own good, and it will serve Thee a good purpose. Again he commanded, Show us a sign that Thou hast the power with which rumor hath accredited Thee. But Christ was as one who heard and saw not. The Son of God had taken upon Himself man’s nature. He must do as man must do in like circumstances. Therefore He would not work a miracle to save Himself the pain and humiliation that man must endure when placed in a similar position.”

If we could but understand what Christ was willing to do because of His love for us while we were yet His enemies. I have heard not a few claim that Christ had an advantage in His overcoming sin that we don’t have. I shudder to think what many of us would have done if we had the power that was Christ’s, which He chose not to use for our sakes. The statement above shows that in many ways Christ had a decided disadvantage which made His journey as an overcomer all the more difficult. Jesus took no “advantage” that we cannot take if we choose to have it. The problem is not with any advantage or disadvantage but with people who murmur about wanting to go to heaven while clinging to their cherished sins. We can’t have it both ways.

DA 730: “Again the priests and rulers, in great anxiety, urged their accusations against Him. Raising their voices, they declared, He is a traitor, a blasphemer. He works His miracles through the power given Him by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.”

When people credit Lucifer with the work of God or the other way around, they are the ones guilty of blaspheming. It would be wise to understand that not all claimed miracles are such nor are they from the Lord. Another point to ponder is the true works of God, done by the true and the faithful, will be misaligned by those who wish to discredit the influence of the servant. We should know that this will be the lot of those who choose to stand on the side of the Lord. When these events come about (it’s already started), we cannot afford to allow them to discourage us. We must take a firm resolve as did Job and stay on course no matter who brings us a discouraging report, even if it be our “friends.”

I think I’ll take an opportunity here to mention the subject of gossip in the church. Please understand, gossip is a form of murder. When rightly understood, it will be detested by God’s people. Reporting that which is true within the framework of God’s principles is proper, but in many cases these principles are not followed. A gossiper is one who reports without verifying the truth of the matter. A gossiper is one who reports publicly the shortcomings of one who is truly not rebellious or in open sin but who is struggling to overcome. A gossiper is one who is more interested in the destruction of the one being spoken of than in his salvation. I can assure you that no gossipers will be found in heaven. Before we go reporting on someone, let’s consider our own motivation and let’s make sure we have followed Biblical principle.

Having said that, let’s also understand and accept the fact that the majority have no interest in what is written above and therefore gossip will continue and get worse. It happened to Jesus and He told His disciples that it would happen to them. As we follow God’s principles as true followers, it will save us much grief in at least two ways. We ourselves will not be gossipers and when we hear gossip, if we follow God’s principles, will find out the truth before we believe what was said or pass it on. I believe if this one evil was overcome, it would be a great blessing to us. A gossiper literally invites the devil to dine at his table.

DA 731: “No sooner were these words spoken, than a rush was made for Christ. Like wild beasts, the crowd darted upon their prey. Jesus was dragged this way and that, Herod joining the mob in seeking to humiliate the Son of God. Had not the Roman soldiers interposed, and forced back the maddened throng, the Saviour would have been torn in pieces.” Once again I ask the question, who made up the crowd that made Jesus a prey? Who was the crowd that the Roman soldiers had to stop? If it had been left to the “church” two thousand years ago, it would have torn Jesus to bits! There is indeed a future fulfillment of this scene and the players represented at the trial of Christ will all be in their places to act out their parts.

DA 731- 2: “He had declared that Jesus was innocent, yet he was willing for Him to be scourged to pacify His accusers. He would sacrifice justice and principle, in order to compromise with the mob. This placed him at a disadvantage. The crowd presumed upon his indecision, and clamored the more for the life of the prisoner. If at the first Pilate had stood firm, refusing to condemn a man whom he found guiltless, he would have broken the fatal chain that was to bind him in remorse and guilt as long as he lived. Had he carried out his convictions of right, the Jews would not have presumed to dictate to him. Christ would have been put to death, but the guilt would not have rested upon Pilate. But Pilate had taken step after step in the violation of his conscience. He had excused himself from judging with justice and equity, and he now found himself almost helpless in the hands of the priests and rulers. His wavering and indecision proved his ruin.”

The principles of action displayed by Pilate are a sad testimony of how many are acting, right now. Rather than taking a stand for the truth as it is in Jesus, many pastors and laity alike are swarming to the popular side. This fatal mistake can be changed but only by taking a firm stand for what is right and leaving the consequences with God. Those who cannot bring themselves to trust totally in the Lord will have no place with Him.

An example of this in today’s Adventist society is that many times of late I have heard complaints about placing such books as the Great Controversy in the forefront. The comments generally go something like this: “You are bringing on a time of trouble before it is time.” These comments are coming from the laity and Conference folks alike. At the same time these comments are being made, we have clear testimony in numerous places that tells us that God could have come over a hundred years ago if we would have done our part. To the unbelieving, the comment of bringing on a time of trouble prematurely will ALWAYS be valid. What is really being stated, however, to the discerning mind is that we want to live out our lives in peace and wish not to be disturbed. In this generation, the evidence is clear that everyone’s peace will be disturbed. The Lord is convincing many that it’s time to go into the promised land. I firmly believe that no matter what the complaint, this work is on its way to completion and nothing will stop it this time. It was the murmuring of Israel which kept them out of the promised land and it will be murmuring that will keep out the majority this time. Let’s pray that we will stop our murmuring and place our trust and confidence in our Guide and go home!

DA 733: “He was confused by his own conflicting emotions. But while he had been delaying to act, the priests and rulers were still further inflaming the minds of the people. Pilate was forced to action.”

The “church” played on the emotions of Pilate. These pastors and administrators knew how to apply the pressure and they seized this opportunity with success. Pilate was FORCED into action because his emotions ruled his principles instead of the other way around. This is why the big push on the mushy love that’s been pouring from the pulpits for so long. True love is a combining balance of mercy and justice. The laity are being force- fed the mercy without the justice which is nothing more than what we blame other churches for, but with a different name — cheap grace.

DA 736: “ ‘Speakest Thou not unto me? Knowest Thou not that I have power to crucify Thee, and have power to release Thee? ’

“Jesus answered, ‘Thou couldst have no power at all against Me, except it were given thee from above; therefore he that delivered Me unto thee hath the greater sin. ’”

An extremely important lesson which we need to ask the Lord to help us to learn has to do with God’s sovereign power. As we enter into our own experience of persecution, we must understand what Jesus always knew. What gave Him the faith to be victorious? He knew that nothing could happen to Him except as His Father would allow. He knew that His Father wouldn’t betray Him in His hour of need. This solid belief allowed Jesus to leave events and consequences fully in His Father’s hands. This is how to have the faith OF Jesus Christ.

DA 737: “ ‘He that delivered Me unto thee, ’ said Jesus, ‘hath the greater sin. ’ By this Christ meant Caiaphas, who, as high priest, represented the Jewish nation. They knew the principles that controlled the Roman authorities. They had had light in the prophecies that testified of Christ, and in His own teachings and miracles. The Jewish judges had received unmistakable evidence of the divinity of Him whom they condemned to death. And according to their light would they be judged. “THE GREATEST GUILT AND HEAVIEST RESPONSIBILITY BELONGED TO THOSE WHO STOOD IN THE HIGHEST PLACES IN THE NATION, THE DEPOSITARIES OF SACRED TRUSTS THAT THEY WERE BASELY BETRAYING. Pilate, Herod, and the Roman soldiers were comparatively ignorant of Jesus. They thought to please the priests and rulers by abusing Him. They had not the light which the Jewish nation had so abundantly received. HAD THE LIGHT BEEN GIVEN TO THE SOLDIERS, THEY WOULD NOT HAVE TREATED CHRIST AS CRUELLY AS THEY DID.

“Again Pilate proposed to release the Saviour. ‘But the Jews cried out saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend. ’ Thus these hypocrites pretended to be jealous for the authority of Caesar. Of all the opponents of the Roman rule, the Jews were most bitter. When it was safe for them to do so, they were most tyrannical in enforcing their own national and religious requirements; but when they desired to bring about some purpose of cruelty, they exalted the power of Caesar. To accomplish the destruction of Christ, they would profess loyalty to the foreign rule which they hated.”

Those at the top who are betraying their sacred trust will be condemned the most — not by men, but by God!

I want to point out an insight here and I pray that you grasp it. You will notice that the ancient Jews hated the Romans but when they needed them, they would exalt them. Today we hear the Conferences making the claim that they would never enter into league with the Roman power. But I ask you this: do you really think that the makeup of the human brain has changed? If you do, you are sadly mistaken. History has been and is being repeated because the minds of men have not changed. So, will an apostate conference go into league with the Roman power? The answer is seen in the trial of Christ. Jesus is trying to show us the truth in these matters. IT IS ONLY THOSE WHO ACCEPT THESE TRUTHS WHO WILL JOIN HIM ON HIS THRONE.

DA 737- 8: “… by choosing a heathen ruler, the Jewish nation had withdrawn from the theocracy. They had rejected God as their king. Henceforth they had no deliverer. They had no king but Caesar. To this the priests and teachers had led the people. For this, with the fearful results that followed, they were responsible. A NATION’S SIN AND A NATION’S RUIN WERE DUE TO THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS.”

By choosing the programs of Babylon and using the courts of the land against other Seventh- day Adventists, the Conferences have left the theocracy and chosen a king other than God. We are told in the book Great Controversy that the religious leaders of this nation will bring about national ruin. The guilt of this disaster will not rest upon the leaders of other Protestant churches alone but upon apostate Adventist leaders as well. As a matter of fact, the guilt of these Adventist leaders will be the greater because of their greater claim to the truth of Adventism.

DA 738: “Pilate longed to deliver Jesus. But he saw that he could not do this, and yet retain his own position and honor. Rather than lose his worldly power, he chose to sacrifice an innocent life. How many, to escape loss or suffering, in like manner sacrifice principle. Conscience and duty point one way, and self- interest points another. The current sets strongly in the wrong direction, and he who compromises with evil is swept away into the thick darkness of guilt.”

Many professed Christians, not excluding Seventh- day Adventists, will share in the feelings of Pilate because they are living by the same compromise he did. We must remember that it is the law of the universe that for every cause there is an effect. Whatever we choose to do will have its consequences somewhere down the line. For those of us who have made our share of mistakes, now is the pristine time to give our shortcomings to the Lord that the effect of our bad choices might be minimized and not be held on our account for eternity.

DA 738- 40: “When Pilate declared himself innocent of the blood of Christ, Caiaphas answered defiantly, ‘His blood be on us, and on our children. ’ The awful words were taken up by the priests and rulers, and echoed by the crowd in an inhuman roar of voices. The whole multitude answered and said, ‘His blood be on us, and on our children. ’

“The people of Israel had made their choice. Pointing to Jesus they had said, ‘Not this man, but Barabbas. ’ Barabbas, the robber and murderer, was the representative of Satan. Christ was the representative of God. Christ had been rejected; Barabbas had been chosen. Barabbas they were to have. In making this choice they accepted him who from the beginning was a liar and a murderer. Satan was their leader. As a nation they would act out his dictation. His works they would do. His rule they must endure. That people who chose Barabbas in the place of Christ were to feel the cruelty of Barabbas as long as time should last.

“Looking upon the smitten Lamb of God, the Jews had cried, ‘His blood be on us, and on our children. ’ That awful cry ascended to the throne of God. That sentence, pronounced upon themselves, was written in heaven. That prayer was heard. The blood of the Son of God was upon their children and their children’s children, a perpetual curse. “Terribly was it realized in the destruction of Jerusalem. Terribly has it been manifested in the condition of the Jewish nation for eighteen hundred years, — a branch severed from the vine, a dead, fruitless branch, to be gathered up and burned. From land to land throughout the world, from century to century, dead, dead in trespasses and sins!

“… Those who mocked and smote Him will be there. The priests and rulers will behold again the scene in the judgment- hall. Every circumstance will appear before them, as if written in letters of fire. Then those who prayed, ‘His blood be on us, and on our children, ’ will receive the answer to their prayer. Then the whole world will know and understand. They will realize who and what they, poor, feeble, finite beings, have been warring against. In awful agony and horror they will cry to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand? ’” (Rev. 6: 16, 17.)

To claim to be spiritual Israel but not to follow Christ’s instructions is to share in the curse of “let His blood be upon us and our children!”

Copyright © 1999 Servants of the Saviour
Terry & Cathy Ross

Table of Contents
Acknowledgements and Forward
Chapter 1 Desire of Ages — Chapter 63
Chapter 2 Desire of Ages — Chapter 64
Chapter 3 Desire of Ages — Chapter 65
Chapter 4 Desire of Ages — Chapters 66 & 67
Chapter 5 Desire of Ages — Chapters 68 & 69
Chapter 6 Desire of Ages — Chapters 70, 71 & 72
Chapter 7 Desire of Ages — Chapter 73
Chapter 8 Desire of Ages — Chapters 74 & 75
Chapter 9 Desire of Ages — Chapters 76 & 77
Chapter 10 Desire of Ages — Chapter 78

Chapter 7 Desire of Ages — Chapter 73

The Church “Then”. . . . . .and the Church Now

by Terry S. Ross

DA 663: “While He was building mansions for them, they were to build characters after the divine similitude…

“There are not many ways to heaven. Each one may not choose his own way. Christ says, ‘I am the way…. No man cometh unto the Father but by Me. ’”

Today, many demonstrate either by word, action, or both that they believe there is more than one way to heaven. These leaders are using their influence to try to convince others that it really doesn’t matter how we worship God. Remember that Cain had this same attitude. These same folks are also saying that we need not worry so much about forming perfect characters because Jesus understands we are only human. Unfortunately, most people will continue to believe this lie. You see, Jesus DOES understand our humanity! And the problem isn’t Jesus, but us. We need to understand His divinity! Those who do and trust Jesus all the way will find the ONLY way to heaven. We will discover eventually that all of these “poor little me” arguments to excuse sin are in vain. What good will have been accomplished at that time? It will be forever too late when people see that God was right. We cannot afford to allow this to be our experience. You have all that is necessary for yours to be a success story in the books of heaven. All you need is a sanctified choice (will) and Jesus. If you will do your part, Jesus has given His life to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, He will do His part. What good will it have been to have gone to church or anything else if it’s all been wasted in the end? Won’t you determine just now that you will cast your lot with Christ no matter what any man says? Won’t you promise yourself, right this moment, that you will take God and not man at His word? Those who in the end are safe to be saved for eternity will be those who trusted God will all their minds, bodies, and souls. It is a law of the universe that if we choose to place our confidence in man instead of God; if we choose to doubt God’s ability to bring us all the way to a perfected character, then our doubts will be realized. It is all the way with Christ or none of the way with Him. Those who meet Jesus halfway will lose heaven all the way.

DA 664: “How earnestly and perseveringly our compassionate Saviour sought to prepare His disciples for the storm of temptation that was soon to beat upon them. He would have them hid with Him in God.”

It was education time in the Ancient Adventist Church and this education Christ came to impart to His disciples. Even these Independent Ministers who were to take this education to the Conference and laity alike were not prepared for the approaching storm that was to commence within the structure. The message that Jesus gave to these men to share would cause them much trouble but, nonetheless, it was the message they were to give if they would remain faithful. These same messages of warning and education are being brought again at the Lord’s command, for the last time. Only those, as in the Ancient Adventist days, who heed the messages will be protected in the end.

DA 664: “As Christ was speaking these words, the glory of God was shining from His countenance, and all present felt a sacred awe as they listened with rapt attention to His words. Their hearts were more decidedly drawn to Him; and as they were drawn to Christ in greater love, they were drawn to one another.”

Much emphasis is placed on unity these days within the circles of Adventism. Certainly Jesus prayed for His people to have unity and all heaven is waiting for this to take place. “Christ calls for unity. BUT HE DOES NOT CALL FOR US TO UNIFY ON WRONG PRACTICES. The God of heaven draws a sharp contrast between pure, elevating, ennobling truth and false, misleading doctrines. He calls sin and impenitence by the right name. He does not gloss over wrongdoing with a coat of untempered mortar. I urge our brethren to UNIFY UPON A TRUE, SPIRITUAL BASIS.” (1SM 175)

All this talk of unity will have no value in the sight of God if it isn’t based on His high standard. Unity in itself is against God’s kingdom if it’s based on any other foundation than to hold up truth and the pure principles of the heavenly kingdom. God will have some day soon this unity among His true people. Will you and I be among this group? No man can make us do otherwise if this is where we choose to be.

DA 664: “The Saviour was deeply anxious for His disciples to understand for what purpose His divinity was united to humanity. He came to the world to display the glory of God, that man might be uplifted by its restoring power. God was manifested in Him that He might be manifested in them. JESUS REVEALED NO QUALITIES, AND EXERCISED NO POWERS, THAT MEN MAY NOT HAVE THROUGH FAITH IN HIM. His PERFECT HUMANITY is that which all His followers may possess, if they will be in subjection to God as He was.”

Love for the pure truth of God is the glue that alone will bring this binding together of which so many speak. This unity will ONLY come to those who honestly have the eternal interests of God’s government in mind. ONLY those who protect God’s throne while on this earth of sin will share in His glory in the world made new. This class is the ONLY one who will survive the great controversy.

DA 667: “All who will go to work, trusting not in what they themselves can do, but in what God can do for and through them, will certainly realize the fulfillment of His promise. ‘Greater works than these shall ye do, ’ He declares: ‘because I go unto my Father. ’”

Oh, friend! Do you believe that Jesus has enough power to overcome all the sin in your life? Do you believe that Jesus is your only hope if you are to be an overcomer? Do you believe that Jesus will help you cease from liking whatever sin it is that you may be holding on to? Are you tired of playing Catholicism with your Adventism? If you can answer “yes” to the preceding questions, Brother or Sister, there is hope! But you and I must be willing to put it all on the altar of the Lord. We must be willing to agonize, if need be, in order to overcome. As Christ overcame through this agonizing in the garden, so we too must travel this road. Remember, God is not building for just a moment but for eternity.

There are three identifying marks of the remnant church. We hear of two quite often but we need to understand the third much more than we seem to. The last church will keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy. But this is not all. The last church also will have the faith OF Jesus Christ.

What does it mean to have the faith OF Jesus Christ? It means that the people who comprise the last church, the only church that’s going through, will have the same faith that Jesus had. This faith is much more than a profession of belief. This faith believes with the total soul. It’s THE faith that the entire universe possesses. This is the only faith that entrusts itself completely and totally to the Heavenly Father. It is total trust, total commitment, total partnership with the Creator. This faith is the secret ingredient, and the only one, that will ensure total victory. This living faith will, for eternity, bar sin from ever returning to God’s expansive domain. Only those who obtain this faith will be trusted with the responsibilities of the faithful. The wonderful, wonderful news of Adventism is that all of heaven is active in giving us all the help we need to make the faith of Jesus our own, if we want it more than anything else. But we must want it just as much as Jesus wanted it. We must want it enough to lay down our own lives for the Father, for he that loses his life for My sake, Jesus said, shall find it.

DA 667: “As yet the disciples were unacquainted with the Saviour’s UNLIMITED RESOURCES AND POWER. He said to them, ‘Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name. ’ (John 16: 24.) He explained that the secret of their success would be in asking for strength and grace in His name. He would be present before the Father to make request for them. The prayer of the humble suppliant He presents as His own desire in that soul’s behalf. Every sincere prayer is heard in heaven. It may not be fluently expressed; but if the heart is in it, it will ascend to the sanctuary where Jesus ministers, and He will present it to the Father without one awkward, stammering word, beautiful and fragrant with the incense of His own perfection.”

If we are honestly seeking to follow God’s will, although we may not know how to ask properly, Jesus takes our personal requests upon Himself and presents them in such a manner that the Father is pleased to grant to us the blessing sought.

DA 667- 8: “ ‘In My name, ’ Christ bade His disciples pray. In Christ’s name His followers are to stand before God. Through the value of the sacrifice made for them, they are of value in the Lord’s sight. Because of the imputed righteousness of Christ they are accounted precious. For Christ’s sake the Lord pardons those that fear Him. He does not see in them the vileness of the sinner. He recognizes in them the likeness of His Son, in whom they believe.

“The Lord is disappointed when His people place a low estimate upon themselves. He desires His chosen heritage to value themselves according to the price He has placed upon them. God wanted them, else He would not have sent His Son on such an expensive errand to redeem them. He has a use for them, and He is well pleased when they make the very highest demands upon Him, that they may glorify His name. They may expect large things if they have faith in His promises.

“But to pray in Christ’s name means much. It means that we are to accept His character, manifest His spirit, and work His works. The Saviour’s promise is given on condition. ‘If ye love Me, ’ He says, ‘keep My commandments. ’ He saves men, NOT IN SIN, BUT FROM SIN; and those who love Him will show their love by obedience.

“All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart- work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.

“AS CHRIST LIVED THE LAW IN HUMANITY, SO WE MAY DO if we will take hold of the Strong for strength.”

It is true that we are not to be proud and selfish. We are to esteem others better than ourselves, as well. But the fact that heaven paid such a high price for our redemption should help us to realize that we are valued highly in the eyes of the Father. Have you ever had a friend who you KNEW valued you? You had been through a lot together, perhaps, and your friendship had stood the test. As a matter of fact, on reflection about some of the hard times, you have come to realize that these times helped to cement the relationship even more. This is how God feels about you, my friend. It is hard to explain the love of God, but He has proven to us this love is real.

The Father is not looking for people who have learned to follow a set of do’s and don’ts. The majority have been taught that God is lurking somewhere, everywhere, just waiting to pounce on them when they sin or even make mistakes. With this belief, is it any wonder that the requirements of God seem negative to most Christians? What the Father is really “lurking” around for is to find someone to appreciate Him, just as we would a true friend who has done much for us. God will have a people who finally realize their Best Friend has paid the supreme sacrifice because He so much wants them to be with Him. With this belief in tact, they will understand rightly that they are so much in His debt, they will literally do anything for Him. And this is exactly what they will be doing for eternity. Eternity with God will be living with your Best Friend forever.

Those who are saved out of this last generation, and especially the 144,000, will understand this love relationship better than any other generation before it. True obedience can never come from a heart that HAS to do what the Lord says. True obedience comes from a heart that WANTS to do what the Lord says because that heart wants to please their Best Friend.

DA 669: “When for the truth’s sake the believer stands at the bar of unrighteous tribunals, Christ stands by his side. All the reproaches that fall upon him, fall upon Christ. Christ is condemned over again in the person of His disciple. When one is incarcerated in prison walls, Christ ravishes the heart with His love.”

When the battle really heats up, as it surely will, the Lord has promised to bring the needed help. We are not to be concerned about this, for “Circumstances may separate us from every earthly friend; but no circumstance, no distance, can separate us from the heavenly Comforter. Wherever we are, wherever we may go, He is always at our right hand to support, sustain, uphold, and cheer” (DA 670).

Already we are seeing examples of how family members and many in the structure follow the mandates of the leadership to shun or ignore the true and the faithful. We are now getting glimpses of our own future, Brothers and Sisters. The treatment of those who are preaching and standing for the plain truth is but a prelude of worse, much worse abuses to come. But Jesus has promised that though these things would happen and all would forsake us, as they forsook Him, He would NEVER leave us.

DA 670: “Jesus had opened before His disciples a vast tract of truth. BUT IT WAS MOST DIFFICULT FOR THEM TO KEEP HIS LESSONS DISTINCT FROM THE TRADITIONS AND MAXIMS OF THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES. THEY HAD BEEN EDUCATED TO ACCEPT THE TEACHING OF THE RABBIS AS THE VOICE OF GOD, AND IT STILL HELD A POSER OVER THEIR MINDS, AND MOLDED THEIR SENTIMENTS. Earthly ideas, temporal things, still had a large place in their thoughts. They did not understand the spiritual nature of Christ’s kingdom, though He had so often explained it to them. Their minds had become confused. They did not comprehend the value of the scriptures Christ presented. Many of His lessons seemed almost lost upon them.”

When I read this statement, I thought how nothing, absolutely nothing has changed since two thousand years ago. The trouble in Christ’s day and the trouble in our own is the same. I looked up four key words in the quotation and thought it very interesting. The word “maxims” — rules of conduct written in precise form. I thought about the “church” manual immediately. “Scribes” — official writers, copyists, editors. I immediately thought of the Review. “Pharisees” — (leaders) who insisted on the validity of the tradition of the Elders. I immediately thought about Conference Committees who enforce “commandments” by opinion or popular vote — putting man’s opinion above God’s requirements. “Sentiments” — a mental attitude or response to a person, subject or idea conditional entirely by feeling instead of reason. I knew this was speaking of the reason the “church” is in so much trouble. People are acting upon feeling instead of principle. After looking up these words, I put the above quotation into the modern day language and this is how it reads:

Jesus had opened before His Independent Leaders a vast tract of truth. But it was most difficult for them to keep His lessons distinct from the traditions and church manual and writings of the Review and Conference. They had been educated by these same people to accept the teaching of the Conference as the voice of God, and it still held a power over their minds and molded their feelings.

Of course, this was before the upper room experience but it demonstrates all too well just the situation in which most Adventists find themselves. Most Adventists are placing their confidence in the wrong place. Most Adventists are confused and are having a difficult time taking God at His Word. Most Adventists have been educated by the Conference Leaders to accept whatever they say as the voice of God. But here is what the prophet has to say about that:

“… We hear that the voice of the Conference is the voice of God, but IT IS NOT, because some in connection with it are not men of faith and prayer, they are not men of elevated principle.” (Manuscript Release # 365).

Two thousand years ago the disciples and the general populace of the “church” had some real problems with Jesus because they had been educated by their Conference Leaders to believe that the Conference was the voice of God. When Jesus tried to show them the truth, they were confused and upset that Jesus had such an apparent disregard for that which was sacred to them. Nonetheless, Jesus forged ahead with the work of re- educating the people who would listen.

The Conference was on one side and Jesus on the other. The Conference was telling the people that Christ was a liar and an imposter. They were telling the people that the “church” was going through. Of course, the people automatically equated the church with the Conference because of the way they had been taught by these men. Their sentiments (feelings) had been molded in such a fashion as to effectively block the work of Christ.

Today, the exact same thing is happening throughout the ranks of Adventism. The sentiments of the people are the same as in former days. The confusion is also the same, as well as the effectiveness of the Conference. But in former times, not all the people stayed confused. There were some who finally took Jesus at His word. It was (as it is now) these who went through; not the Conference. It was these who were the REAL church that went through and Biblical history dictates these facts. The Conference is NOT the church! God’s church is made up of people who follow Him; not traditions and maxims of Scribes and Pharisees who don’t follow Him.

It was not Christ’s purpose to be at odds with the very system He had raised up. Christ came to save the lost and make salvation sure for all those who would except His truth. But here’s where the rub comes in. Christ ended up at odds with the counter system because it stood directly in the way of His real purpose, which was saving people. The Conference of His day was leading the people contrary to His Father’s will and hence not to heaven, but to hell. This left Christ with no choice but to oppose this corrupt Conference.

Most of us who find ourselves in the exact position of Christ’s day have not purposed in life to be at odds with the system that Christ has raised up. We want to do the same work that Christ did and has called us to do which is bringing the truth of salvation to the people. But the Conference is standing directly in the way of truth. The modern Conference, like the ancient one, is leading the people contrary to the Father’s will and hence not to heaven, but to hell. This leaves us with no choice but to oppose this corrupt Conference. They may be proclaiming, “The church is going through.” But, as in the old days, they mean that the Conference is going through. Frankly, we know better because the principles of God have not changed since two thousand years ago. We understand that the same history WILL, without a doubt, bring the same result.

I realize the process of which I speak is sometimes painful and upsetting. It’s hard for us to change and come to some of these realizations. As the disciples said, “This is a hard saying; who can hear it?” But Jesus understands this all too well and He will help us if we seek it. If we don’t, we will never come to understand — “We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed. As long as we hold to our own ideas and opinions with determined persistency, we cannot have the unity for which Christ prayed.” (1 SM 37).

Whether we like it, whether we admit it, whether we choose to deal with — we are living in the mirror image of Christ’s day, His first coming. The situation is the same and our choices, as in the days of old, will determine not so much IF the church is going through, but IF we are in THE church that does!

Dear friends, I would never ask you to take my word for this. That’s what led most Ancient Adventists into trouble and that’s what is causing the trouble now — people taking a man at his word. The Bible says that the only way to prove things is to the law and to the testimony. Please don’t take any man’s word, but rather study to show yourself approved. This is our only safety. We can have confidence that Jesus is still leading and through the Holy Spirit, guide you into all truth, if this truly is your desire.

DA 671: “The Comforter is called ‘the Spirit of truth. ’ His work is to define and maintain the truth. He first dwells in the heart as the Spirit of truth, and thus He becomes the Comforter. There is comfort and peace in the truth, but no real peace or comfort can be found in falsehood. IT IS THROUGH FALSE THEORIES AND TRADITIONS THAT SATAN GAINS HIS POWER OVER THE MIND. BY DIRECTING MEN TO FALSE STANDARDS, HE MISSHAPES THE CHARACTER. Through the Scriptures the Holy Spirit speaks to the mind, and impresses truth upon the heart. Thus He exposes error, and expels it from the soul. It is by the Spirit of truth, working through the word of God, that Christ subdues His chosen people to Himself.”

Can you comprehend these words, Brothers and Sisters? Jesus is showing us how the deception comes. He is showing us not only how and why the Conference of His day rejected him but how and why we are living in the parallel time. Twenty years ago the Religious Liberty Department of the Seventh- day Adventist Church warned the Church to keep the Charismatic Movement OUT of the system! Now the Charismatic Movement is well received. We know it as the Celebration Movement. As a matter of fact, at this writing, one of the “king- pins” who helped to bring this whole movement into the Adventist system just got a call to the General Conference, coming from Oregon Conference. “By directing men to false standards, he misshapes the character.”

Through the New Theology and the Church Manual, Satan gains his power over the mind. This IS exactly what has happened in the structure and why it won’t go through. Oh, some, perhaps many, will say that I can’t possibly know what I am speaking about. After all, as defective as it is, the Lord has promised that the church is going through. What I fear that most do not realize are two things of premier importance. God’s promises to anyone, or any organization or any nation are always based on obedience. The one who expects the promise to come true is expected to hold to his end of the contract. Also, you have to realize what God’s church is. How will we know what His church is? Well the study that you are now doing in Desire of Ages is a good place to find out. It is in the inspired words which tell the history of our forefathers where the secret lies. Why do you suppose Jesus has been so particular in having these things written? Why do you think the Bible plainly says these things were written down for those whom the end of the Earth comes upon? These are not cunningly devised fables or just bedtime stories. Our very existence depends on our acceptance of God’s Word as it is stated. It is not God Who is trying to deceive us, but men. What we have such a hard time accepting is that “we have far more to fear from within than without.” It is inside the system we must fear the enemy the most. And if we look at the past with candor and an honest seeking for truth, we shall learn the lessons Christ desires us to know and which we must know.

DA 671: “The power of evil had been strengthening for centuries, and the submission of men to this Satanic captivity was amazing. Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the third person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power. It is the Spirit that makes effectual what has been wrought out by the world’s Redeemer. It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. CHRIST HAS GIVEN HIS SPIRIT AS A DIVINE POWER TO OVERCOME ALL HEREDITARY AND CULTIVATED TENDENCIES TO EVIL, AND TO IMPRESS HIS OWN CHARACTER UPON HIS CHURCH.”

For forty centuries the power of evil had steadily strengthened before Jesus came the first time. It has now been sixty centuries and we are told the days in which we live are worse then when Jesus was here. Two thousand years ago, did the church that claimed to be THE church take on Christ’s character? Did the Ancient Adventist Conference? Was THAT Conference, which made the exact same profession that the modern- day Conference is now making, THE church? Is the same question directed at the current Conference any less valid simply because it lays at our own door? Who is God’s church? The Conference which refuses the high standards of Heaven or those who accept the character of Christ and become overcomers?

DA 672: “Christ has promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to His church, and the promise belongs to us as much as to the first disciples. But like EVERY OTHER PROMISE, IT IS GIVEN ON CONDITION. There are many who believe and profess to claim the Lord’s promise; they talk about Christ and about the Holy Spirit, yet receive no benefit. They do not surrender the soul to be guided and controlled by the divine agencies. We cannot use the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is to use us. Through the Spirit God works in His people ‘to will and to do of His good pleasure. ’ (Phil. 2: 13.) BUT MANY WILL NOT SUBMIT TO THIS. THEY WANT TO MANAGE THEMSELVES. This is why they do not receive the heavenly gift. Only to those who wait humbly upon God, who watch for His guidance and grace, is the Spirit given. The power of God awaits their demand and reception. THIS PROMISED BLESSING, CLAIMED BY FAITH, BRINGS ALL OTHER BLESSINGS IN ITS TRAIN. It is given according to the riches of the grace of Christ, and He is ready to supply every soul according to the capacity to receive.”

Those who claim to be “Christians” but continue to rule on the throne instead of God will come to their end. Their kingdom will perish. It is only by having the faith of Jesus (perfect trust in God) that God’s true and faithful can and will receive the blessings of the Early and Latter Rain.

In the gift of the early rain, all other blessings will follow in their train. God’s people will realize the gift of character perfection and become the reflection of Jesus. They will share in the experience of the overcomer and will at last be free indeed! The fruits of the Spirit will be seen in the character, not one missing. Heaven’s work for this people will be accomplished. God has promised, this WILL happen! There’s no question about it. The question is, will you and I choose to be a part of this experience?

In the blessing of the latter rain the fourth angel will combine his power with the third angel’s message, giving it convincing persuasion on the heart of the recipient. Those who have been totally engaged in the work of the early rain will be privileged at the time of the latter rain to bring others to the feet of Jesus. During Pentecost thousands were converted in a day! “These scenes are to be repeated, and with greater power. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was the former rain, but the latter rain will be more abundant. The Spirit awaits our demand and reception. Christ is again to be revealed in His fullness by the Holy Spirit’s power. Men will discern the value of the precious pearl, and with the apostle Paul they will say, ‘What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. ’” (COL 121, Phil. 3: 7,8.)

DA 675: “Israel had been represented as a vine which God had planted in the promised land. The Jews based their hope of salvation on THE FACT OF THEIR CONNECTION WITH ISRAEL. But Jesus says, I am the real Vine. Think not that through a connection with Israel you may become partakers of the life of God, and inheritors of His promise. Through Me alone is spiritual life received.”

The Jews (Ancient Adventists) based their hope of salvation on the fact their church had been handpicked by God. It was true that God had handpicked their church. It was also true that this same God was now standing directly in front of them, telling them plainly that they were lost unless they followed Him. Today, the Adventists (modern Jews, spiritually speaking) are claiming that their salvation is sure because their church was handpicked by God. It is true that God handpicked the Adventist church. It is also true that this same God is now for the last time, through His Word and the Spirit of Prophecy, standing directly in front of US, telling US plainly that we are lost unless we follow Him. It is ONLY by following Jesus that we are saved, not by following an apostate Conference. Our connection with “Israel” will not get us into heaven.

DA 675: “Many were attracted by the beauty of this Vine, and declared its heavenly origin. But to the LEADERS IN ISRAEL it appeared as a root out of a dry ground. They took the plant, and bruised it, and trampled it under their unholy feet. Their thought was to destroy it forever. But the heavenly husbandman never lost sight of His plant. After men thought they had killed it, He took it, and replanted it on the other side of the wall. The vine- stock was to be no longer visible. It was hidden from the rude assaults of men. But the branches of the Vine hung over the wall. They were to represent the Vine. Through them grafts might still be united to the Vine. From them fruit has been obtained. There has been a harvest which the passers- by have plucked.”

The Ancient Adventist Conference Leaders bruised, beat, and killed the Vine Stock (Jesus). The Father took Him back unto Himself and Jesus commissioned His Independent Leaders to bring His message of life to all who would listen. First to the Jews and then to the Gentiles was this message given. All who studied these things and believed the Ancient Independent Leaders came into the light of truth. Those who were faithful were saved although the Ancient Adventist Conference was lost.

DA 675: “Though He was about to be removed from them, their spiritual union with Him was to be unchanged. The connection of the branch with the vine, He said, represents the relation you are to sustain to Me. The scion is engrafted into the living vine, and fiber by fiber, vein by vein, it grows into the vine- stock. The life of the vine becomes the life of the branch. So the soul dead in trespasses and sins receives life through connection with Christ. By faith in Him as a personal Saviour the union is formed. The sinner unites his weakness to Christ’s strength, his emptiness to Christ’s fullness, his frailty to Christ’s enduring might. Then he has the mind of Christ. The humanity of Christ has touched our humanity, and our humanity has touched divinity. Thus through the agency of the Holy Spirit man becomes a partaker of the divine nature. He is accepted in the Beloved.”

We are accepted by the Father only if we, by our own free choice, are grafted into His Vine, Jesus Christ. When this happens, the life of the Stock becomes the life of the branch. The fruit comes from the Stock and is exemplified in the branch. Christ’s victory becomes our own.

DA 676: “This union with Christ, once formed, MUST BE MAINTAINED. Christ said, ‘Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. ’ This is no casual touch, NO OFF- AND- ON CONNECTION. The branch becomes a part of the living vine. The communication of life, strength, and fruitfulness from the root to the branches is unobstructed and constant. Separated from the vine, the branch cannot live. No more, said Jesus, can you live apart from Me. The life you have received from Me can be preserved only by continual communion. Without Me you cannot overcome one sin, or resist one temptation.”

When anyone preaches a message that is anything short of what upholds total victory through the power of Jesus Christ, utilizing justification and sanctification, you may know that he is a false shepherd. The generation that is now in power to a great extent in the Adventist system is that generation that has always rebelled against authority. It was educated to do the precise work of destroying the moral fiber of Christianity. It believes, “if it feels good, do it!” The power structure of the Adventist system has shifted from one that paid attention to the high standards of God’s moral government to no standard, that of the world. This is why the Leaders are acting from policy in the place of principle. But I can assure you on the authority of inspiration that entrance into God’s kingdom will never be based on Conference Committee vote! Whether or not we choose to take God’s standard serious, He does! This and this alone will determine our entrance into His kingdom or the barring of us from it. God HATES sin and He is NOT going to allow anyone off this planet who will continue to pollute His creative work. He sets before us life and death. It may not be popular with the “now” generation, but soon enough it will be realized that the “now” generation will be the extinct generation! For one, I do not wish to be a part of the “now” generation. How about you? Wouldn’t you rather be popular with God than man if it has to be that way?

DA 676: “So long as the soul is united to Christ, there is no danger that it will wither or decay. …

“When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our life; not one will be missing.”

The precious news of true Adventism is, it matters not what background we have. It makes no difference who our parents are or what they stood for or didn’t stand for. It is not of supreme importance if they have German, Irish, Italian, Hispanic or African blood running through their veins. If we give ourselves over to Christ, the victory that He has gained for us will be ours. It is not excuses for our lack of faith that will be heard, but exercises in our faith that will be seen by those who see Jesus in us.

DA 676: “ ‘… Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit, He taketh away. ’ While the graft is outwardly united with the vine, there may be no vital connection. Then there will be no growth or fruitfulness. So there may be an apparent connection with Christ, without a real union with Him by faith. A profession of religion places men in the church, but the character and conduct show whether they are in connection with Christ. If they bear no fruit, they are false branches. Their separation from Christ involves a ruin as complete as that represented by the dead branch.”

Many, many Adventists have been taught that the fruits spoken of above indicate the number of people we have influenced into being baptized into the “church.” This is incorrect. The fruits spoken of are primarily the fruits of the Spirit found in 1 Corinthians 13, and the fruits of obedience. Personal character development with all the fruits of the Spirit, active and vibrant, is the evidence that we are co- laborers with Christ.

DA 678: “This love is the evidence of their discipleship. ‘By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, ’ said Jesus, ‘if ye have love one to another. ’ When men are bound together, not by force or self- interest, but by love, they show the working of an influence that is above every human influence. Where this oneness exists, it is evidence that the image of God is being restored in humanity, that a new principle of life has been implanted. It shows that there is power in the divine nature to withstand that supernatural agencies of evil, and that the grace of God subdues the selfishness inherent in the natural heart.”

The love for the truth and love for the salvation of souls creates the unity among His people that Christ prayed for. This Satan hates, and his agents, those who refuse this love and converting power of the gospel, will intensify the persecution until the end. Some of the most flagrant demonstrations of hatred will come from those within the “church.”

DA 678: “This love, manifested in the church, will surely stir the wrath of Satan. Christ did not mark out for His disciples an easy path. ‘If the world hate you. ’ He said, ‘ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for My name’s sake, because they know not Him that sent Me. ’ THE GOSPEL IS TO BE CARRIED FORWARD BY AGGRESSIVE WARFARE, IN THE MIDST OF OPPOSITION, PERIL, LOSS, AND SUFFERING. BUT THOSE WHO DO THIS WORK ARE ONLY FOLLOWING IN THE MASTER’S STEPS.”

Now are you sure you want to be just like Jesus? Many do not as yet comprehend or quite believe that there was war in Heaven. They do not realize that the way to eternal bliss is blocked by the devil and that we will have to overthrow him as Christ did to seize the promised land. There is NO OTHER WAY for this last generation but through this terrible struggle. We especially who have been spoiled by “civilization” are at a great disadvantage. If we are to gain the eternal prize at all, it will only be by aggressive warfare in the midst of opposition, peril, loss, and suffering. But praise the Lord! He has traveled this road before us and He knows the way to safety. If you want Him to guide you through this wilderness on to the promised land, you must be willing to follow Him wherever He leads. Are you willing?

DA 679- 80: “It is His purpose that the highest influence in the universe, emanating from the source of all power, shall be theirs. They are to have power to resist evil, power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master, power that will enable them to overcome as Christ overcame.

“Christ designs that heaven’s order, heaven’s plan of government, heaven’s divine harmony, shall be represented in His church on earth. Thus in His people He is glorified. Through them the Sun of Righteousness will shine in undimmed luster to the world. Christ has given to His church ample facilities, that He may receive a large revenue of glory from His redeemed, purchased possession. He has bestowed upon His people capabilities and blessings that they may represent His own sufficiency. The church, endowed with the righteousness of Christ, in His depositary, in which the riches of His mercy, His grace, and His love, are to appear in full and final display. Christ looks upon His people in their purity and perfection, as the reward of His humiliation, and the supplement of His glory,– Christ, the great Center, from whom radiates all glory.”

If you are convinced that what you are reading above is inspiration, then this has to be read as more than just a statement of purpose. It is also a promise of what church Christ will present before the universe and to the Father. We MUST decide if we will be a part of this church or not. This is our opportunity to do something in return for Him who gave us His all. Those who submit fully to Jesus will be to Him the long awaited reward. Then all His suffering and sacrifice will have been worth it. His heart will be satisfied.

DA 680: “As a consecrated high priest He intercedes for His people. As a faithful shepherd He gathers His flock under the shadow of the Almighty, in the strong and sure refuge. For Him there waits the last battle with Satan, and He goes forth to meet it.”

In the faithful of the Lord — the ONE AND ONLY true church of God — lies the last great battle between Christ and Satan. Those who develop a pure love for Christ will not desert Him because it costs them something. To the contrary! They firmly and resolutely engage in the warfare with one purpose — to vindicate the character of God.

Copyright © 1999 Servants of the Saviour
Terry & Cathy Ross

Table of Contents
Acknowledgements and Forward
Chapter 1 Desire of Ages — Chapter 63
Chapter 2 Desire of Ages — Chapter 64
Chapter 3 Desire of Ages — Chapter 65
Chapter 4 Desire of Ages — Chapters 66 & 67
Chapter 5 Desire of Ages — Chapters 68 & 69
Chapter 6 Desire of Ages — Chapters 70, 71 & 72
Chapter 7 Desire of Ages — Chapter 73
Chapter 8 Desire of Ages — Chapters 74 & 75
Chapter 9 Desire of Ages — Chapters 76 & 77
Chapter 10 Desire of Ages — Chapter 78

Chapter 3 Desire of Ages — Chapter 65

The Church “Then”. . . . . .and the Church Now

by Terry S. Ross

In the last chapter I promised that we would go right to the Word of the Lord to establish who and what the church is and that’s just what we’re going to do. It’s alarming to find so many people who profess to be Adventists tossing out the Spirit of Prophecy. I have heard things like, “Well, if you need Ellen White, I guess that is all right for you, but I just need my Bible.” Perhaps these poor souls do not realize that when we throw away the Spirit of Prophecy, we are throwing away the Bible at the same time for, in the description of the remnant church in Revelation, one of the identifying marks of the true church is the gift of prophecy.

In the book of Acts we will discover the plain, simple truth about who and what the church is. We will better see if people are throwing out only the Spirit of Prophecy. Actually, this will prove that those who do not want to accept the truth will throw it aside no matter where it is found.

The good news is that this little study in Acts is amazingly clear and the honest Christian searching for truth and direction from the Lord will praise His name!

You know the story of Stephen. Now, was Stephen a Conference man or an Independent man? Well, of course. Stephen had been chosen by the disciples (Independent Preachers). The Conference did not recognize these men and told them they had no authority to preach. They forbade them to preach in the name of Christ.

The Independent Preachers (including Stephen) preached anyway because they didn’t get their orders from the Conference, but from the Lord. Stephen was called in by the “Conference Committee” and as he was explaining to them the prophecies concerning Christ, the Conference men became very angry. As a matter of fact, Acts 7 verse 54 says, they “gnashed on him with their teeth”. Let’s pick up the story in verse 55.

Acts 7: 55- 60: “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord [UNITY], And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

Now we know that those who stoned Stephen were Conference Leaders. And we know that Stephen was an Independent Preacher who was being murdered by the Conference Leaders for preaching for the cause of Jesus.

Who was Saul? Was he a Conference man or an Independent? Saul, of course, was a Conference man in whom the Conference put a lot of confidence. His future with the Conference looked bright indeed. Saul was gifted in the ability of argumentation and he was bold.

One important lesson we surely don’t want to miss is the spirit Stephen possessed as the Conference was literally stoning him for taking a stand for Jesus. Stephen rather than being bitter, rather than being vengeful, asked the Lord not to lay this sin against their charge. This is the same spirit that Jesus Himself demonstrated as He was being martyred by the same Conference people. Neither one of these men shunned the duty of exposing the true character of this apostate Conference and neither took on the spirit of hate while doing it. Both Jesus and Stephen truly were “not blind, nor bitter,” but let’s read on.

Acts 8: 1- 4: “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against THE CHURCH which was at Jerusalem;” STOP!

Let’s look at this closely because in these few words is a great truth and revelation! “And at that time there was a great persecution against…” whom? Yes! The church! Now who was persecuting whom in Jerusalem? Were the Romans persecuting the Conference men? No. The Conference men were persecuting the Independents and here the Bible, God’s Word, plainly says that this was THE church. Not A church but THE church. Brothers and Sisters, can it be any plainer than this? Here it is right in the Word of God and to dismiss these plain words you will have to throw away your Bibles. But let’s read on. There’s more.

“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, EXCEPT THE APOSTLES.” STOP!

Do you see it? The Bible plainly states that THE church being persecuted which was scattered abroad had the apostles in it. This proves beyond any doubt whatsoever that THE church in Christ’s day was NOT the Conference but those who followed Jesus or whom the Conference would have called the Independents at that time. The Conference hated the Apostles and the other Independent Leaders who had been chosen. This is why they were persecuting them and this is why Saul was persecuting them. But hate them or not, recognize their authority to preach Christ or not, the Conference plainly did not have the say. God did! God said they were THE CHURCH! But we’re not done yet!

“And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of THE CHURCH…” STOP!

Saul made havoc of whom? Yes! THE church. Now just whom was Saul making havoc of? Was Saul making havoc of the Ancient Conference Leaders? Of course not, for he was employed by the Ancient Conference, he being an Ancient Conference man. You know, Saul was making havoc of the Independents and those who supported them for taking a stand for Jesus. Going on.

“And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of THE church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”

Folks, it just doesn’t get any more simple than this. Here we see clearly that although the Ancient Conference had originally been raised up by Christ Himself and was claiming, “The church is going through, the church is going through,” it was NOT THE CHURCH THAT WAS GOING THROUGH.

Most Adventists (modern day Jews) have fallen into the same trap that the Jews (Ancient Adventists) fell into. Their pride influenced them to trust wholly in the Conference which had been raised by Christ. But when the Conference became corrupt the people which didn’t adhere to principle became corrupt with them and with blind loyalty followed after these men. That’s why Jesus had so much trouble while He was here. That’s why Jesus was rejected by the Conference while He was here. That’s why Jesus rejected and brought to an end the Conference HE HAD RAISED (they hadn’t raised themselves) while He was here. That’s why Jesus chose Independent Leaders and told them to move on with the work while He was here. AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHY HE IS DOING THE SAME THING TODAY.

What are our people reading today?! Many of you know the quotations which clearly tell us that the last day leaders will be educated by the Holy Spirit rather than by literary institutions, that God will have leaders in the last days of His own choosing. Doesn’t it clearly seem that the Lord is having to do just what He had to do while He was here? Are we like King Belshazzar who could not read the handwriting on the wall? This lesson that we are studying is vital! Just as vital to our understanding as it was in the days of our precious Lord for ONLY THOSE WHO GRASP THE LESSON WILL BE SAVED! Please allow me to ask another question. I don’t want anyone to miss these simple truths.

Later in the same story of Saul, what happened to him? He was on his way to Damascus continuing his persecution of THE church. He was on his way there to find those who were following the Independents and to throw them in jail. We read about it in Acts 9: 1- 2: “And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.”

So what Saul was doing was securing the authority from the Conference to go down to the local churches to disfellowship people in the strongest way. He was going to take care of these troublers of Israel who followed Jesus Christ, those whom the Conference rejected. But Saul never got the job done. Something happened out of the ordinary and we read about it in the very next verses.

Acts 9: 3- 5: “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined around about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest:…”

And so on the road to Damascus Saul literally sees the light and realizes that although he may have thought he was doing the proper work, he was actually persecuting the wrong people. The story goes on, as you know, and because of this experience on the Damascus road, Saul is blinded and spends a few days in Damascus. While there the Lord sends a disciple, Ananias, to him who gave him back his sight and he was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 9: 17- 18: “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales; and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.”

This is where the story of Saul’s intended work takes a drastic change and also where the prior claims which the Bible sets forth regarding who was THE CHURCH is verified once again.

Acts 9: 19- 21: “And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that DESTROYED THEM WHICH CALL ON THIS NAME IN JERUSALEM, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?”

Can there be any doubt as to what the Bible is clearly saying here? I think not. God’s Word is expressing in Acts 9 exactly what it did in Acts 7 & 8. God’s church was being persecuted in Jerusalem and that church was NOT the Conference.

Understandably, the church in Damascus (the followers of Jesus) was very apprehensive of Saul. They rightly stated that this was the same man who was persecuting the church in Jerusalem and they were nervous about trusting this Conference man. They were concerned that his intent was to drag them off to the Conference Committee that had already killed Jesus and stoned Stephen. It’s true that this was Saul’s original intent but the Lord had other plans, praise His name!

Acts 9: 22: “But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.”

So, I think Saul understood the situation and was willing to take up his new duties immediately to prove his new loyalty. You might want to ponder the point that Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, lead Saul to preach in His name rather than send him back to some literary institution. What happens next is very interesting and proves that the apostate Conference will, in the end, even turn on its own men rather than listen to plain words of truth.

Acts 9: 23: “And after that many days were fulfilled, the JEWS TOOK COUNSEL TO KILL HIM.”

The story goes on, of course, and Saul tries to work with the disciples in Jerusalem but they are nervous about his intentions. The Lord eventually works out the details and Saul becomes Paul — one of our heroes.

In this story we can learn many things and I want to ask a few questions which will give opportunity for you to reflect upon some important points. Why did the Jews now want to kill Paul, (Saul)? When he saw the truth as it is in Jesus, what was his course of action? Did Saul, who became Paul, continue to persecute THE church or did he support it and which church after his conversion was it that he supported? Did Saul remain a Conference Leader or did he become an Independent Leader? Did the Ancient Adventist Conference support his decision? Will Saul, who became Paul, who became an Independent Leader for Jesus, be in heaven or will the Ancient Adventist Conference Leaders?

I can’t place enough emphasis on the above scriptures and the vital lessons that are clearly in them. What a glorious God we serve Who has made provision for our every need. Most will end up like the Ancient Adventists did, unfortunately. Our own books tell us this but we who love the truth as it is in Jesus need not be deceived. Now let’s get back into the Desire of Ages and continue our study in prophetic parallels.

DA 590: “The priests and rulers had hardened their hearts through selfishness and avarice. The very symbols pointing to the Lamb of God they had made a means of getting gain. Thus in the eyes of the people the sacredness of the sacrificial service had been in a great measure destroyed…. AGAINST THESE PRACTICES CHRIST HAD SPOKEN THROUGH THE PROPHETS.”

What is Avarice? Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language says: “insatiable greed for riches; inordinate, miserly desire to gain and hoard wealth.” Insatiable means: “not satiable; incapable of being satisfied.” The word inordinate is described as: “not within proper limits; immoderate; excessive; disorderly; uncontrolled; unrestrained in conduct, feelings, etc.”

Did you know that millions of the dollars of which God has entrusted to you and of which you believed were going directly into the Lord’s work have been gambled in the stocks and bonds market? That’s right. You didn’t misread it. As a matter of fact, I have the documentation which proves that in 1980, at least $117,000,000 were “invested” in the world market. The documentation is very revealing to the layman who has no idea that this has been happening and this documentation is available through Servants of the Saviour. Let me share a letter written in 1983 by one concerned soul who understood what was going on.

“Dear Elder xxxxxx, “As a faithful member of the Seventh- day Adventist church, I am greatly concerned in regard to what goes on within the church structure. At this writing, I am concerned regarding the finances and handling of the finances of the church. The December 31, 1980 financial report of the General Conference of Seventh- day Adventists Investments leaves many unanswered questions. This report shows that as of December 31, 1980 the General Conference had $117,858,288.07 in investments, and the current value as of December 31, 1980 was $103,909,802.99, making a net loss of $13,948,379.92. This figure alone makes it very plain that our financial leaders and advisors in the General Conference are woefully lacking in following the Lord’s specific instructions to His church. Furthermore, 54 of the long- term investments do not mature until 2000 to 2020 A. D. and this amounts to almost $20,000,000. I have a question. Are the brethren in the financial department of our church putting off the coming of our Lord, or do they really expect Him to come at all? You will find these long- term investments listed on pages 28, 29, 30, 33, 47, 48, 49, 50, and 52 of the 1980 financial report of the General Conference.

“Those of us who are old enough to remember what happened in the years 1930- 1932 know perfectly well that if we had a depression now such as we had at that time, these millions of dollars of the Lord’s funds would be worthless as far as carrying on the church work is concerned.”

This same brother who has shared this documentation with us has also informed me that a couple of years after this letter was written, he was told that the invested amount had risen to over $250,000,000 and a couple of years after that to over $450,000,000!

There is not much I could add to what the letter above states but I would like to ask just three honest questions to go along with those already asked in the letter. Did you know that the funds you were sending in to “finish the work” were being invested in stocks and bonds? Why is God’s money being invested in worldly enterprises in the first place? And do you want to continue sending your dollars to those who do NOT place them into the finishing of God’s work but invest them in the stock market?

I can assure you that God will hold everyone responsible for what happens to the means He has entrusted to them according to the knowledge they have. And this principle doesn’t stop with the leadership, but is just as binding right down through the ranks to the lowliest layman.

In the Desire of Ages, it states that the very things God had entrusted to the church were turned into a way of making large profits and this caused many to lose respect for the sacredness of these entrustments.

I have always been offended (because I believe the Lord is) by the selling of magazine subscriptions, such as the Signs of the Times, in the Sanctuary on the Sabbath. I was a colporteur for about three years. I would never have thought of selling a book on the Sabbath and certainly not in the Sanctuary! I would have given one away, if need be, but never would have done business during these sacred hours or in the Sanctuary. This plainly would have been a violation of the Fourth Commandment. But the Conference thinks nothing of selling these things on Sabbath in the Sanctuary. This is something even the apostate Jews didn’t do! Has the result been a lowering of sacredness for the sanctuary, the Sabbath, and other sacred things? You know it has. In many ways we are worse than the Jews who, we readily admit, rejected Jesus.

DA 590: “HE KNEW THAT HIS EFFORTS TO REFORM A CORRUPT PRIESTHOOD WOULD BE IN VAIN; nevertheless His work must be done; to an unbelieving people the evidence of His divine mission must be given.”

Jesus knew that His work to reform the corrupt Ancient Conference would be in vain. We have been showing for years how the Conference is in apostasy and have tried to plead with these men to reform, but it has been in vain. Jesus, although knowing the Ancient Conference wouldn’t reform, did His work anyway. Why? Because on the books of Heaven the warnings have to be recorded; also others who were listening to the words of Christ would some day be converted. Even though we know that our work is in vain toward an apostate Conference, we also know that honest souls will come to conversion as a result of it, just as they did in Christ’s day. The same loving Jesus is still working through the Holy Spirit Who speaks to those who are willing to be taught. We must continue our work, having faith that these precious souls will come to a correct knowledge and walk in the light.

DA 591: “Those standing nearest Him drew as far away as the crowd would permit. Except for a few of His disciples, the Saviour stood alone.”

As this contest intensifies, the majority of those calling themselves Adventists will draw as far away from the truth as they dare and from those who are advocating it. Like the disciples of Christ, we must be willing to stand with Him alone and will have many opportunities to do just that. When it came time to stand against the apostate Conference in Christ’s day, but few were willing.

DA 592: “But a large number pressed through the hurrying crowd, eager to reach Him who was their only hope.”

These are the ones Christ is working for. These are the precious souls who accept His sacrifice on the cross and are willing to stay on the narrow path of Jesus wherever it leads them. These are those who realize that Jesus is their ONLY hope.

DA 592: “When the panic had abated, they were seized with anxiety to know what would be the next movement of Jesus.”

Here Jesus was coming to stand in His rightful place in the sanctuary which He had ordained. Here He was standing in the midst of the people He had chosen. HE OWNED THEIR VERY NAME, ISRAEL (are you thinking about parallels?), for it was He who had given it to Jacob. Why then were these Conference men and their loyal followers panicking?

Now you must know that after Jesus had cleansed the temple the first time that these Conference Leaders met in one of their committee meetings and discussed what had just taken place. I can almost hear them saying, “If this young fellow from Nazareth ever tries anything like that again, it will be a much different story. We’ll take care of him next time!”

Well, it did happen again and they panicked again! Why? Because darkness and Light cannot co-habitate. When Christ takes a commanding position, the devil’s agents have to give way. As the evidence of apostasy continues to be uncovered and Jesus makes plain to those who want to know the truth, we will witness more and more panic from the apostate Conference Leadership. Panic finally drove the Ancient Conference to seek out, persecute, and murder its own people. Has anything changed after two thousand years? Are you beginning to understand why this study is so important and why Jesus wanted us to have this knowledge? I pray that you are.

DA 593: “One whom they could not intimidate was in command.” So many times I have witnessed Seventh- day Adventist laymen shake in their shoes when someone from the conference was “sent down” to their church to take care of a “problem.” Maybe you have been one of those who have become very nervous when this event has taken place. If you have or have been involved in a meeting of this type, you know what I’m referring to. It seems the whole church just automatically crumbles in fear when the conference man shows up. I’m so glad that Jesus was “One whom they could not intimidate,” aren’t you?

In this little statement there’s a revealing lesson to be learned. If we are being intimidated by those who are trying to get us to serve something or someone other than Jesus, then Jesus is not our Commander. When we are totally converted and Jesus is in full command we cannot be intimidated by anyone, especially those who are trying to scare us into doing that which would dishonor our Lord.

DA 593: “Repairing to the temple where He was teaching, they proceeded to question Him: ‘By what authority doest Thou these things? and who gave Thee this authority? ’ They expected Him to claim that His authority was from God. Such an assertion they intended to deny. But Jesus met them with a question apparently pertaining to another subject, and He made His reply to them conditional on their answering this question. ‘The baptism of John, ’ He said, ‘whence was it? from heaven, or of men? ’”

Are you thinking about parallels? Have you heard similar questions being asked about those who are just preaching and teaching the truth? What they were really telling Christ was, “You can’t preach! You didn’t go to any of our schools and you haven’t obtained our permission!”

John 7: 14- 16: “Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, HAVING NEVER LEARNED? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me.” If you read the remainder of John 7, you will see that the apostate Conference Leadership didn’t want Jesus to preach and were actively trying to stop Him.

They also asked Jesus, “Who gave thee this authority?” or “Who told you that you could be a pastor?” Many times have I heard this question. To many, just as in Jesus’ day the question is not: Is this man bringing to us truth? It is rather: Who said you could preach or who said you could be a pastor? The inference is, of course, the Conference didn’t say that you could be a pastor, so what do you think you’re doing? How sad that we have all this history of the Ancient Adventists and we are still asking such questions. How Satan must marvel at our dullness of mind and stupidity. But, fortunately, the lessons don’t stop here.

DA 593- 4: “The priests saw that they were in a dilemma from which no sophistry could extricate them. If they said that John’s baptism was from heaven, their inconsistency would be made apparent. Christ would say, Why have ye not then believed on him? John had testified of Christ, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. ’ JOHN 1: 29. If the priests believed John’s testimony, how could they deny the Messiahship of Christ? IF THEY DECLARED THEIR REAL BELIEF, THAT JOHN’S MINISTRY WAS OF MEN, THEY WOULD BRING UPON THEMSELVES A STORM OF INDIGNATION; for the people believed John to be a prophet.”

One important lesson we can learn is how to use the methods of Christ; here is the parallel of the above quotation. When someone or some leader who claims to be an Adventist is giving you trouble when you are merely trying to clarify the truth, just ask them from where did the Spirit of Prophecy come? The writings of Ellen White, from where did they come? From the Devil or from God? If the person says from God, you should rightly be able to direct him to whatever references state the truth you are promoting. If he says from the Devil, he will be exposing himself. It’s a good question and just what the Lord did in similar circumstances. This won’t always work, however, and there’s another valuable lesson that is vital for us to know and understand.

In the introductory pages 6- 11 of Great Controversy, Sister White claims very plainly to be that prophet who has come in the Spirit and power of Elijah. She says that you either have to acknowledge her prophetic gift as from God or the Devil, one way or the other. Now read these words once more and let’s see the implication.

“If they [the apostate Conference Leaders] declared their real belief, that John’s ministry was of men, they would bring upon themselves a storm of indignation: for the people believed John to be a prophet.”

Dear fellow Adventists, we have to stop being so naive! Don’t you realize that a large portion of the professed Leadership of the Adventist “church” does not believe Ellen G. White to be inspired! As a matter of fact, they are trying to eradicate her. From a large number of pulpits every Sabbath her writings are either being dismissed or actively trashed. But if you think these Conference Leaders are so foolhardy as to openly declare their true belief (“ that John’s [Ellen White’s] ministry was [is] of men,” and “bring upon themselves a storm of indignation”), then we are indeed in need of the eye salve.

DA 594: “By their cowardice and indecision they had in a great measure forfeited the respect of the people, who now stood by, amused to see these proud, self- righteous men defeated.”

While all this apostasy has been going on openly in the Adventist structure, the same cowardice and indecision have taken place. You probably remember when we first began exposing the “Celebration” churches, the official statement from the Conference was that we will “wait and see.” Brothers and Sisters, Jesus never “waits and sees” in the midst of a spiritual crisis! Aren’t you glad that He doesn’t? If men who call themselves leaders are afraid to lead, then surely it would be better for them to find a position somewhere in which their influence would be minimized. Since they are not likely to pursue that course, let me tell you how it can be brought about anyway. DON’T ALLOW THEM TO LEAD YOU! We can place the blame on the “leaders,” and this is correct to some extent, but that’s not where fault stops. The decision of who leads YOU firmly rests with your own God- given power of choice. I am very happy to say that many have already made this choice and are determined to support those leaders who are supporting the truth, as it is in Jesus.

While the Conference Leaders continue to “wait and see,” Satan continues to divide and conquer. “By their cowardice and indecision they had [have] in a great measure forfeited the respect of the people.”

Before we move on, let me point out one other revealing truth about this decision to “wait and see” where it concerns the “Celebration” churches. Garrie Williams wrote the manual “Trinity Power Circle” that mirrors another book, “20/ 20 Vision” written by a “Celebration” Sunday preacher by the name of Dale Galloway. My research and subsequent exposure to this manual clearly showed that “Trinity Power Circle” was the manual for bringing the celebration service into our churches. Many Adventist Conference men would have you believe that they didn’t really have a part in all this and they weren’t even educated enough to make a judgement on it, so they wanted to “wait and see.” But Brothers and Sisters, I have “Trinity Power Circle” and PLAINLY WRITTEN ON THE BACK COVER ARE THE WORDS “GENERAL CONFERENCE WORLD MINISTRY COUNCIL, INDIANAPOLIS 1990. SEMINAR NO. GCM 7274″!! Did Garrie Williams slip these words onto the back cover without anybody from the General Conference knowing about it? If we believe that, we are very naive! Let’s read the quotation from the back cover about the author.

“Garrie Williams is a New Zealander by birth who studied and worked in Australia for 15 years before moving to the USA in 1982. He has served the Seventh- day Adventist Church as a pastor, evangelist, college lecturer and, since 1985, as Ministerial Director of Oregon Conference. Elder Williams has TRAVELED EXTENSIVELY AROUND THE WORLD and has taught Spirit- filled ministry seminars in a NUMBER OF DIVISIONS. In 1987 he FOUNDED the Homes of Hope small group ministry, and in 1989 and 1990 was chairman of the FIRST NATIONAL Adventist Small Group Conference. Garrie Williams is strongly committed to the historic Seventh- day Adventist message and mission, and believes that we are living in the time of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”

This quotation really says a lot! It reveals that this man has been intricately involved with the General Conference which has known for years what he has been doing. When you think about it, the main men who have plagued the Seventh- day Adventist “church” with heresy in recent years have mostly come from either the West coast or from Down Under. (And you can take that any way you wish, the application fits either way.) Is it any surprise that the author of 20/ 20 Vision is the proprietor and pastor of the Sunday- going celebration church which was the same one rented by the Seventh- day Adventists who started the first “Celebration” church in Oregon that became known as the Milwaukee Church? Isn’t it also a coincidence that the Seventh- day Adventist Conference Office of the Pacific Northwest is a mere four blocks or so from the same church?

As we continue to uncover these important truths for God’s honest children, it is wonderful to realize that many are breaking the mold of their past and studying to show themselves approved of God. Friends, we are in a desperate struggle for our very salvation. We are moving rapidly to the center of this battle that will intensify to the bitter end. The enemy will not surrender and he is not likely to give up any ground easily. I am happy to say, however, that just a few years ago there were only a handful who saw what was going on. Now there are many more.

DA 594 “But as the popular feeling turned in His favor, the hatred of the priests toward Jesus increased.”

We can read our own future in this statement and I believe the Lord would have us do just that. He warned His disciples many times of what was to come and He would have us realize that we, too, face the same future. Many of us have thought that it would be in the world where our greatest danger lay but we now realize: “We have far more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world. Unbelievers have a right to expect that those who profess to be keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, will do more than any other class to promote and honor, by their active influence, the cause which they represent. But how often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greatest obstacle to its advancement! The unbelief indulged, the doubts expressed, the darkness cherished, encourage the presence of evil angels, and open the way for the accomplishment of Satan’s devices.” 1SM 122.

DA 595- 6 “In His contest with the rabbis, it was not Christ’s purpose to humiliate His opponents. He was not glad to see them in a hard place. He had an important lesson to teach.”

For those who still say that it’s sinful to enter into this exposure of the Conference Leaders, we ask the question: What does “In His contest with the rabbis…” mean? We need so much to quickly learn that: “Our work is an aggressive one, and as faithful soldiers of Jesus, we must bear the blood- stained banner into the very strongholds of the enemy. ‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. ’ If we will consent to lay down our arms, to lower the blood- stained banner, to become the captives and servants of Satan, we may be released from the conflict and the suffering. But this peace will be gained only at the loss of Christ and heaven. We cannot accept peace on such conditions. Let it be war, war, to the end of earth’s history, rather than peace THROUGH APOSTASY AND SIN.”

But on the other hand, Jesus was not elated that His work had to put them in a difficult place. His motive was one of salvation and He was sorrowed to see human beings for whom He was about to die being humiliated. There is a real fear we need to respect — that we will become bitter toward our enemies. Jesus would have us ever keep in mind that vengeance is the Lord’s alone and we are to love even our enemies and not hate them. We are to be “not blind, nor bitter.” Our work must be the same work as Christ’s. That means that some of us will have to do the unpleasant work of exposure, etc. But we are to do our work that precious souls might cast their lot for Jesus — NOT BECAUSE WE ENJOY SEEING PEOPLE BURN! The Bible plainly teaches that any man who takes on this attitude of Satan, even though he may be gifted in all other areas, will himself be lost. Especially as the battle intensifies, we need the grace of Jesus in our lives so that the enemy of all souls is not able to place his character of hate into our motives. As the quotation above (DA 594) states, “the hatred of the priests [apostate leaders] toward Jesus [His followers in these last days] increased,” we will need the love of Jesus fully to keep our own motivation pure.

DA 595- 6: “They made great professions of piety, they claimed to be obeying the law of God, but they rendered only a false obedience. The publicans were denounced and cursed by the Pharisees as infidels; but they showed by their faith and works that they were going into the kingdom of heaven before those self- righteous men who had been given great light, but whose works did not correspond to their profession of godliness.”

Jesus is trying to teach us that we should not follow the example of or allow the influence of such men to rule over us. Yes, we are all human beings and we all make mistakes. But making an occasional mistake (and repenting for it) and making a mockery of inspiration are two different things. You know the difference. The Lord says that we should not allow the men who have no real interest (demonstrated by their works) in the truths we hold near and dear to our hearts to have persuasion over our lives.

DA 597 : “His warnings, failing to arouse them to repentance, would seal their doom, and He wished them to see that they had brought ruin on themselves. He designed to show them the justice of God in the withdrawal of their national privileges, which had already begun, and which would end, not only in the destruction of their temple and their city, but in the dispersion of the nation.”

Jesus came to the very church He had raised. He had handpicked them from among the other nations that He might show the rest of the world His goodness. This church had gone its own way and was misrepresenting Christ while professing to be the expression of who He was. Over the years Jesus had sent many to warn this church of the certain disaster that a lack of repentance and reform would bring. This church’s leaders, time and time again, refused these warnings. Now Jesus had come Himself to give the last call and was being rejected by the people who owed their very existence to Him.

Today, dear friends, can you see the parallel experience that we are passing through? If you ask any professed Adventists if we are living in the last days most of them would say, “Yes.” Do they not see then that the warning given in the message to the Laodiceans is the last message and that its close is in the near future? Oh! that we would understand the time of our visitation! The last message to God’s professed people is going forward. We ARE living in the reality of Ezekiel chapter 8. Ezekiel, chapter 9, is just around the corner and what are we doing!? As these statements reveal, the main reason that the Adventist system will be lost will be due to those apostate leaders who refuse to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

Not only this but to some degree we will continue to lose our national privileges and the dispersion of the Adventist “nation” will be caused by these self- destructing professors of Adventism.

The next line in The Desire of Ages is startling; the implication and the lesson to be applied is extremely important for us to better understand our situation.

DA 597: “The hearers recognized the warning.”

Dear precious Adventist friends, please understand that we are dealing with apostate leaders who have calculated what they are doing. They KNOW AND RECOGNIZE THE WARNING. However, they are determined to carry out their present agenda. I can tell you with a completely clear Christian conscience that the agenda hasn’t changed and these apostate leaders are forging ahead. Please don’t be fooled by an occasional strategically well- placed statement here or there. These occasional statements or articles are one of two things. Either a Joseph or Nicodemus is trying to hold the line from the inside or they are calculated to deceive you about the intentions or direction of apostate leaders. Do not be tricked by those who come in old clothes and have molded bread. We need to pray earnestly for the eyesalve of discernment. Our lovely Jesus will make sure it is applied if we do our honest part. He has died for us that we might be saved and He brings these truths forward that you shouldn’t be deceived. We may have made mistakes in the past. We may at times have felt that we are struggling to learn and understand. But let us run to Jesus, for “In Christ the guilty heart has found relief. His is the sure foundation. ALL WHO MAKE HIM THEIR DEPENDENCE REST IN PERFECT SECURITY.” “To fall upon the Rock and be broken is to give up our self- righteousness and to go to Christ with the humility of a child, repenting of our transgressions, and believing in His forgiving love. And so also it is by faith and obedience that we build on Christ as our foundation.” DA 599.

DA 600: “And what was it that destroyed the Jews?” I hope you are still thinking about prophetic parallels as you read this inspired answer to this most important question:

DA 600: “Men set themselves in opposition to God, and all that would have been their salvation was turned to their destruction. All that God ordained unto life, they found to be unto death. In the Jews’ crucifixion of Christ was involved the destruction of Jerusalem. The blood shed upon

Calvary was the weight that sunk them to ruin for this world and for the world to come. …

“By many illustrations and repeated warnings, Jesus showed what would be the result to the Jews of rejecting the Son of God. In these words He was addressing all in every age who refused to receive Him as their Redeemer. Every warning is for them. The desecrated temple, the disobedient son, the false husbandmen, the contemptuous builders, have their counterpart in the experience of every sinner. Unless he repent, the doom which they foreshadowed will be his.”

It is critical, friends, that we understand what constitutes God’s true church. After all, the great controversy is all over what? Yes, whom you are going to worship. We need to take God at His Word and not replace it with man’s opinion or popular committee votes. There is no such thing as a democratic legislation by the professed church on how to be admitted into God’s kingdom. I guarantee, based on the Word of God, that when we are all standing at the Judgment Bar of God, He will not acquiesce to the authority of the Conference Committee.

I will admit that the apostate Adventist Leaders and their followers do have a church. In the book of Revelation, both the true and this other church are spoken of so it would be well for us to read about these churches and their last experience with one another on earth.

Revelation 3: 8- 9, 12: “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my work, and hast not denied my name. Behold I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, WHICH SAY THEY ARE JEWS, AND ARE NOT, BUT DO LIE; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”

All those professed Adventists who believe in the doctrine of the “New Theology;” all professed Adventists who are preaching and believing that we don’t have to overcome but can go on sinning and still get into the kingdom because, after all, Jesus understands; all these poor diluted souls have a church but it is the synagogue of Satan.

Brothers and Sisters, be ye not deceived! Jesus does understand and it is not He who is confused, it is us! Read your Bible for it plainly states, “to him who overcometh will I grant.” What we need to do is quit loving sin and love Jesus enough to understand and believe by an experiential knowledge that we serve an all knowing, all loving, ALL POWERFUL God who will indeed finish the work of perfection which He has started in EVERY WILLING SOUL. May we, poor sinners take on the humility of our crucified Saviour and learn these most sacred truths.

Copyright © 1999 Servants of the Saviour
Terry & Cathy Ross

Table of Contents
Acknowledgements and Forward
Chapter 1 Desire of Ages — Chapter 63
Chapter 2 Desire of Ages — Chapter 64
Chapter 3 Desire of Ages — Chapter 65
Chapter 4 Desire of Ages — Chapters 66 & 67
Chapter 5 Desire of Ages — Chapters 68 & 69
Chapter 6 Desire of Ages — Chapters 70, 71 & 72
Chapter 7 Desire of Ages — Chapter 73
Chapter 8 Desire of Ages — Chapters 74 & 75
Chapter 9 Desire of Ages — Chapters 76 & 77
Chapter 10 Desire of Ages — Chapter 78

Chapter 1 Desire of Ages — Chapter 63

PROPHETIC PARALLELS – The Church “Then”. . . . . .and the Church Now

by Terry S. Ross

How many times have you heard it said or have said yourself: We shouldn’t criticize? I can remember when there used to be such a thing as constructive criticism. So far have we been removed from those days of honest correction that we no longer use such terminology. Why? Because when someone in our ranks today says we shouldn’t criticize, they mean we should keep from speaking anything that’s “negative,” especially if it’s directed at the “leadership” of the “church.”

Almost always on the heels of this comment you will hear someone say that Jesus never condemned anybody. And once again this comment is calculated to place a grim opinion on anyone who would proceed to prove that “they are out of step with what Jesus would have done.” Maybe you have been in Sabbath School and have tried to make a critical point on the lesson or have challenged some leader for his wrong actions and someone has said (on cue), “Jesus never condemned anybody.” You have almost heard the minds of all the Sabbath School members slam shut about this time and you would not be heard for the rest of the session. Your influence has just been killed!

But to make such statements, in reality, shows the prejudice of the comment and exposes the ignorance of the one who makes it. If Jesus never condemned anyone, then why did the “church” crucify Him! It doesn’t take a genius to realize that to say Jesus never condemned anyone is to be very inaccurate and shows that the one making such comments knows not what the Spirit of Prophecy says nor the Bible itself. All one has to do is read through the four Gospels and pay attention to the red lettering. I guarantee that you will find in a big way throughout that Jesus was, in fact, condemning the leadership of the Ancient Conference of His day. To deny this obvious fact is to deny the simplest historical accounts of the New Testament. Jesus called the apostate leaders of His day “sons of the devil” (John 8: 44), “hypocrites” (Matt. 6: 2, 15: 7, 23: 13 and numerous other places), and “white sepulchers” (Matt. 23: 27). He certainly agreed with John the Baptist, His cousin, who called the leaders a “generation of snakes” in Matt. 3: 7. As a matter of fact, Jesus spoke of John as the greatest prophet who ever lived (Matt. 11: 11). We could sight many more situations when Jesus did things that most Seventh- day Adventists would be appalled at today, such as overthrowing the money tables in the courts of the church, but this should demonstrate that most people either don’t know what Jesus was like or they really don’t want to be “just like Jesus.”

It’s also quite simple to prove that Christ condemned the leadership of the “church” by looking at many plain Spirit of Prophecy statements. We will but take a look at one or two. DA 616: “The Saviour continued [that means He had already been doing it] His DENUNCIATIONS of the scribes and Pharisees: ‘Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, … ’”. Another example is found in DA 618: “But when obedience to God requires self- denial and humiliation, these very persons stifle their convictions, and refuse obedience. Thus they manifest the same spirit as did the Pharisees whom CHRIST CONDEMNED.” (All emphasis of the author is supplied in capital letters or contained within brackets unless otherwise stated.)

We will have further comments on some of these passages later in our study but it only takes a little examination by an honest student to discover that the person who makes the comment that Christ never condemned anybody for whatever reason simply doesn’t know what he is talking about. Once we learn the truth about the matter we are obligated by our ostensible love for the truth and God’s people, professed or otherwise, to educate those who remain ignorant. One might ask oneself, “Where did we get the idea that Jesus never condemned anybody or that we should never condemn anybody?” The answer is found in the same place the disciples found it — from the same leaders that Jesus was condemning!

Certainly, if you have been around Adventist churches for any length of time, you have heard this next comment: “We should never speak against the leadership.” Well, we have pretty much answered that above, but once again if you will just think for a moment, you will find that it is not a sin to expose that which leads people away from God. As a matter of fact, I have made a little challenge in times past and will make it here again. Think of any three “heroes” from the Bible or Reformation Period of this earth’s history. Now as you’re choosing your favorite three, reflect upon what makes them your heroes and show me, if you can, that they didn’t experience affliction, in their day for speaking up against apostate leadership. I dare say, with very few exceptions, it doesn’t matter what three you choose; most of them fit the above criteria and this is what actually makes them your heroes! Because they took a stand against their leaders and laid everything on the line, you admire them. The problem we face is, as historic as they are, modern day heroes are rarely appreciated by their own generation or in their own country as the Bible states. But whether accepted or not, the Lord will continue to raise them and they will continue to lay everything on the line.

Here’s another statement that in itself is wonderful but sometimes calculated to hold the tongue of the reformer: “I just want to be like Jesus.” This statement sounds so good and so pious. But one must be very careful how he uses this statement. The appropriate question to those who are trying to use it to silence an honest approach to truth, may be — are you sure you are willing to be just like Jesus?

To be just like Jesus is to speak and act just as Jesus did. Without elaborating, at this point it is all too clear that Jesus’ words and actions got Him killed by His own church! Are we really ready to be just like Jesus? If we are, we will pay much more attention to what His Father tells us to do than to men who are in leadership positions or to their opinions. This is what Jesus did and He was rejected by those who claimed they were interested in righteousness while at the same time plotted to kill God! They, the conference leaders of that day, did end up killing God and all who remained loyal with them ended up with the same crime written in the books of heaven, you know, right there beside their names. Think about it.

How about this statement: “The church is going through.” Almost anyone who has been an Adventist any length of time at all has heard this echoed time and time again. But even in the statement itself, the way it’s stated is a subtle deception and we shall discover how more in detail later. But for now this is what is really meant, most of the time, when you hear the above words, “The Conference is going through.” When people don’t want their lives rattled at all, they don’t want to take responsibility for working out their own salvation. In some cases people are just honestly confused. When they say the church is going through, they really mean the conference is going through. This we will discover is a “taught” understanding by those who are trying to protect their own interests. The words “conference” and “church” in the sense of Biblical understanding are not the same thing although leadership would have us believe they are.

Our understanding of the truth in this matter alone is crucial and our study in the Desire of Ages will be a blessed one in helping us to realize God’s definition of the true church.

Maybe you have heard someone make this comment: “If anything is wrong in the church, I’ll read it in the Review.” Well, all I have to say at this point about this statement is that it has some truth. If you wish to read what’s wrong in the “church” just read the Review!

Here’s yet another: “The Conference is the voice of God.” The fact of the matter is that Ellen G. White’s last comment on this subject still stands and was never reversed. It is found in Manuscript Release #37 (my family has verified it with the White Estates) written in 1901 on page 8: “It [the 1901 General Conference] is working upon wrong principles, that has brought the cause of God into its present embarrassment. The people have lost confidence in those who have the management of the work. Yet we hear that the voice of the Conference is the voice of God. Every time I have heard this, I have thought it was almost blasphemy. The voice of the Conference ought to be the voice of God, but it is not, because some in connection with it are not men of faith and prayer, they are not men of elevated principle. There is not a seeking of God with the whole heart; there is not a realization of the terrible responsibility that rests upon those in this institution to mold and fashion minds after the divine similitude.”

If one is to understand and analyze the principles that Sister White has established as to what makes true leaders for God, then the subject of who and what is the church could be simply decided from the above statement alone. It is either God’s way or no way. Also, notice that she doesn’t say “all” the leaders in connection with the work but “some” leaders. This makes a big difference and has always been true when investigated. When Jesus left the “true church” of His day desolate, not ALL the leaders were apostate but MANY of them were. If people are waiting until the day they can say, “Well, I know now that every leader in the structure is now in apostasy,” before they make their own decision as to what course to follow, they will find themselves beating on the outside of the ark. But the door will already be shut.

Just a couple more comments you have probably heard that have become common within the past few years: “I’m not held responsible for what happens to my money once it’s paid to the Conference.” Oh really!? Please allow me to demonstrate how ridiculous this comment is in our day. Let’s say that you and I are walking down the street of some major city here in America. We are discussing how wonderful the Lord has been to us and relating some blessing the Lord has brought our way. In the midst of our testimonies a man stumbles out of an alley we are passing. We “size him up” in just a couple of seconds.

Standing in front of us we see a man who is quite unkept and unclean. His clothes and general makeup is in much disarray. He says something about having gone without several meals and asks if we might have a couple of dollars to help him out. As we listen to his story we can’t help but notice the repulsive odor that emanates from his person and the slur in his voice. Nonetheless, we are sympathetic to his present lot in life.

When he is finished relating his troubles, we politely offer to escort him back a block or so to the cafe we just passed a few minutes prior to our encounter. We tell him that we will purchase the meal he is seeking, but as we extend our offering he declines and tries to convince us that he can handle the situation on his own if we will only part with the cash.

Now, Brothers and sisters, at this point anyone who is even just a little bit street wise knows that this fellow is not asking for our money to be spent on any meal unless in liquid form. While making a profession of Christianity at this juncture, we must make a decision concerning our response to his request. Let me ask you this simple question as you are contemplating this scenario. Knowing that this man will take the money which the Lord has entrusted to you down to the nearest liquor store to buy his next “meal,” do you think the Lord would hold you responsible if you parted with your cash?

The answer is all too clear. Of course He would, and that is why you wouldn’t and couldn’t give this man cash, knowing he would get drunk off your money if you just gave it to him. You would conceive that the Lord would not approve. Well, what made the difference in your decision? Yes, you had information that brought you to the realization that the Lord would not approve of you “helping” this man in the way he wanted you to.

Now let me ask you another simple question. If you have knowledge that you are giving to a cause or a church where God’s money is going to be mishandled, are you responsible for what happens to it? The answer is just as simple as the one above. Of course you are! I am not telling you what to do with your money, but if we are not acting from right principles, we will be held accountable. For one to say in this day and age (and I’m addressing this to the present situation in the “church”) that all I have to do is put my money in any offering plate and my responsibility stops there is being willingly naive and is taking a dangerous position. To be a good steward means to educate oneself regarding the issue to the best of one’s ability. After we have done this, our responsibility is then complete if we act according to an honest conscience.

The last comment with which we want to deal has been more recently heard than some of the rest: “If the Conference takes away your membership, you’re lost unless you repent and are accepted back in.” But in many places Spirit of Prophecy plainly teaches that having our names on the roles of the Seventh- day Adventist Membership books does not place us on Heaven’s book.

God’s Amazing Grace, page 249: “The fact that our names are on the church books will not secure for us an entrance into the kingdom of heaven. God asks, Have you used your opportunities for service and for the development of Christian character? Have you traded faithfully with your Lord’s goods? Knowing the will of God concerning you, how have you obeyed that will?”

Of course, the opposite is true as well. Just because someone has taken our names off the “church’s” books does not mean we are taken off the rolls of heaven’s books. Brothers and sisters, if this were true, then Jesus, Himself would be lost. For you cannot be disfellowshipped any harder than to be crucified by your church! So with these initial points in place, let’s dive into our study of Desire of Ages and Prophetic Parallels. Remember, we are concentrating in this study on our research as to what happened in Christ’s day and its parallels to our own day. Chapter 63 —

DA 569: “Five hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Zechariah thus foretold the coming of the King to Israel.” And at the bottom of the next paragraph: “The hope of the new kingdom was again springing up.”

Now let me explain something right here so we are not blamed for unnecessary things later. Our study, although detailed in many ways, will be nonetheless, an overview of the most important points pertinent to the study. By necessity, we will skip many paragraphs and words to be as efficient as we can. But lest any make the charge we are trying to deceive by doing this “skipping,” please feel free to read every word as I, of course, have several times. You will find that it will not detract from anything parallel that is uncovered and, in fact, many times you may think, “Terry you should have used this one!”

So for five hundred years the Lord had brought to view the reality that the Messiah was on His way. But do you know what happened before He arrived? The educational system of the Ancient Adventists became polluted. By the time Jesus arrived on the scene, the Conference leaders “knew” more than He did. Remember when they asked Him by what authority had He to preach? They made the charge that He didn’t have any authority because He hadn’t attended any of their schools and they hadn’t given Him any authority. These same apostate leaders later made the same charges against the disciples.

At the time of Christ’s arrival the “church” had a misconception of the event. And where did they get this misconception? From the Conference leaders, of course. The Desire of Ages explains more in detail on page 457: “Many among Christ’s hearers who were dwellers at Jerusalem, and who were not ignorant of the plots of the rulers against Him, felt themselves drawn to Him by an irresistible power. The conviction pressed upon them that He was the Son of God. But Satan was ready to suggest doubt; and for this the way was prepared by their erroneous ideas of the Messiah and His coming. It was generally believed that Christ would be born at Bethlehem, but that after a time He would disappear, and at His second appearance none would know whence He came. There were not a few who held that the Messiah would have no natural relationship to humanity. And because the popular conception of the glory of the Messiah was not met by Jesus of Nazareth, many gave heed to the suggestion, ‘Howbeit we know this Man when He is; but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence He is. ’

“While they were thus wavering between doubt and faith, Jesus took up their thoughts and answered them: ‘Ye both know Me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of Myself, but He that sent Me is true, who ye know not. ’ They claimed a knowledge of what the origin of Christ should be, but they were in utter ignorance of it. If they had lived in accordance with the will of God, they would have known His Son when He was manifested to them.”

So you see, God’s “chosen people” had disregarded the manner in which He had said He would come. They could not rightly discern spiritual things because they had not lived “in accordance with the will of God.”

When Christ arrived on the scene, the “church” had been polluted with the leading of diluted teachers. Even the disciples were not immune to these things and as they listened to Christ’s words, “The hope of the new kingdom was again springing up.”

DA 570: “… hope brightened in their hearts with the joyous thought that He [Jesus] was about to enter the capital, proclaim Himself King, and assert His royal power. While on their errand they communicated their glowing expectations to the friends of Jesus, and the excitement spread far and near, raising the expectations of the people to the highest pitch.”

Here we see the disciples of Christ spreading the “gospel” of Christ’s arrival and exciting the people with their news. But their news was based on the popular belief of their day that they had received from their leaders which was wrong. In reality, although the disciples didn’t understand it, while they were getting the people excited, they were really setting themselves and the people up for a great disappointment. We see the parallel to this first in the period of 1843. Because of belief in popular theology there was a misunderstanding not so much as to the event but how the event would take place.

During 1843 the people thought that Christ was coming back. They had been taught by the leaders of their day that the earth was the sanctuary and if Christ was about to cleanse the sanctuary this then meant they were about to experience the second coming of Christ. Many became excited about this “gospel news” and began fervently sharing it with anyone who would listen and people’s expectations raised to the point that they stopped all other activities and even left their farms and places of business. But while they thought they were doing the right thing they were really being set up for the great disappointment of 1843- 44.

The same thing is happening all over again. You ask how? I’ll tell you how. The popular “gospel” today (and remember we’re talking within Adventism) is that you can continue to sin, and because God understands we are human, He will still save us. While the majority of Adventists may be excited about this, they are really being set up one last time for the great disappointment. There is one big difference, however. This time it will be an eternal disappointment and by the time most realize they’ve been deceived, it will be too late.

Because we are studying Prophetic Parallels this might be a good place to set in motion some ground rules. Now I’m going to make the claim that in this study we will discover that essentially nothing has changed in the story as far as what had happened 2,000 years ago and what is happening today. I’m making the claim that Jesus has intentionally inspired the writing of this parallel in Desire of Ages and has graciously brought it to the forefront at this time because it’s time to do so. In keeping with this, let’s pause to discuss the “players” in this drama.

If we had lived 2,000 years ago and had only the knowledge of the Jews, it would have been obvious to us who the church was. Most of us would have recognized that the “church” was the Sanhedrin. We would have said that Jerusalem was “Conference Headquarters” and the priests, scribes, and Pharisees were the Conference leaders of our day. We would have been right based on the same assumptions that are being made today by the majority. This is so obvious as illustrated by verses in Scripture already mentioned, and by statements from the disciples themselves such as, “Don’t you know, Jesus, You just offended the pastors?” (Matt. 15: 12). And you may also want to note Jesus’ corresponding response.

If we would have been guilty of not diligently studying to show ourselves approved and part of the popular thought of that day, 2,000 years ago, we would have definitely believed that the Conference was the church and that the Conference was the hierarchy or the Sanhedrin. To deny this simple truth is either the admission of gross ignorance or the height of prideful piety.

Sister White certainly knew and made public claim of this parallel many, many times when she rightly called the Seventh- day Adventist people “Modern day Israel.” In over forty places of her writings (I’ve looked up every one) she plainly shows, by calling the Seventh- day Adventist people Modern day Israel, that the parallel is true.

Within the last several years many of you may have heard the term “Ancient Adventists” used for Ancient Israel. If you have, you probably know that it was the author of this book who coined that phrase. The above explanation is how I arrived at the name. If we are “Modern day Israel,” then it stands to reason that we are abusing nothing, in the spiritual sense by calling them “Ancient Adventists.” Because this is so simple and nearly all with whom I have spoken have readily recognized the Biblical analogy, I will not spend any more time with it here. But as we continue in the study, if there is any doubt, things should not remain confusing very long. If they do, you may be in a lot more trouble than you think.

I’ll demonstrate the analogy just one more time before we press on with our study. If we are supposed to be the bolt of cloth claiming to be the modern day chosen people, from where did we originate? Who are our “spiritual ancestors,” if not the Jews? Well, I think this point has been agreed upon a long time ago and we have been claiming it for well over 100 years now.

Along with the truths just pointed out would come the one that as we had clung to Conference thought we would not have accepted Jesus as anyone more than a divisive troublemaker whom we finally voted to put away. Now I realize this is hard to take but not any more difficult to take than it was for those to whom the disciples told it. What one must do with this information is to decide how to react toward it. In Christ’s day there were two groups: those who decided to continue to fight against these truths and those who repented for hanging on to that which had put Christ on the cross.

In His day, how would Christ and His disciples have been identified? They would have been recognized by most of us as Self- supporting ministers. They would not have been recognized as having authority to give their messages and this is plainly pointed out in Scripture. Remember, it is only those who began to look at the truth for themselves who discovered the Conference leaders of their day to be wrong. All those who clung to the self- promoted idea that the “church” (Conference) was going through died in the slaughter of A. D. 70. Not only were they removed that day from off the face of the earth but also from the Lamb’s Book of Life!

Do we realize, Brothers and Sisters, that if it hadn’t been for the Self-supporting Ministers, there wouldn’t have been any 1844? As a matter of fact, there wouldn’t have been an Adventist movement at all! Our own modern- day forefathers were blamed by their own church for the same thing some of us are being blamed for today. They endured the same thing that Jesus endured, and we are grateful they did!

And what was it that originally put in action the downfall of the structure in ancient times? It was the choosing of a King. The Scriptures plainly teaches that this was never God’s plan. Let’s read about it in 1 Samuel 8: 5- 8: “… make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.”

“Modern day Israel” has followed in the same footsteps and is in the same trouble. The reason God didn’t desire for Israel to have a king is a good one. Having one man at the head is not God’s plan for nearly every time this has been the case, that “king” ends up protecting his own kingdom to the destruction of God’s.

DA 571- 2: “This day, which seemed to the disciples the crowning day of their lives, would have been shadowed with gloomy clouds had they known that this scene of rejoicing [the triumphal entry] was but a prelude to the suffering and death of their Master. Although He had repeatedly told them of His certain sacrifice, yet in the glad triumph of the present they forgot His sorrowful words, and looked forward to His prosperous reign on David’s throne.”

Of course, the Great Controversy speaks of this parallel; during the time the church is looking to years of prosperity, sudden destruction comes. You see, Jesus had tried to warn them but their minds were so full of preconceived ideas placed there by the corrupt priesthood that His words fell on deaf ears. Although Christ has renewed His warnings to His professed people in the volumes of Spirit of Prophecy books, today for the most part, they are falling on deaf ears. In a time when the “church” is crying peace and safety, in a time when the “church” is looking forward to years of prosperity, sudden destruction is about to fall.

DA 572: “Many Pharisees witnessed the scene, and, burning with envy and malice, sought to turn the current of popular feeling. With all their authority they tried to silence the people; but their appeals and threats only increased the enthusiasm. They feared that this multitude, in the strength of their numbers, would make Jesus king. … They declared that such noisy demonstrations were unlawful, and would not be permitted by the authorities.”

Here we have the Conference Pastors witnessing the scene and they are burning with envy and malice. Now do you know what malice is? If you look it up you will find that it is defined as “hatred or intense hatred.” Why did the Ancient Adventist Pastors hate Jesus, the very One Who, they were claiming to worship? We also read that these same Pastors feared that the multitude would make Jesus their king. Why would an Adventist Pastor fear that the laity would make Jesus their king?

I’ll tell you why, for the reason hasn’t changed over the last 2,000 years. The Adventist Pastors feared that if the people had made Jesus their king, they would have found out the truth about who the Pastors really were and what their style of pastoring was really all about. They feared that their own authority would be nullified and they would be without a job! They feared they would lose control of the money and lose all their authority. You want to know something? They were right! I hope you are thinking about parallels in our own day.

DA 576: “In the midst of a scene of rejoicing, where all were paying Him homage, Israel’s King was in tears; not silent tears of gladness, but tears and groans of insuppressible agony. …

“The tears of Jesus were not in anticipation of His own suffering.” Jesus had some very real and deadly enemies but His was always the spirit of unselfish love. His weeping was for a lost people. It broke His heart to know that the Ancient Adventist Church, the very church which He Himself had raised up, had rejected Him. His tears were shed not for Himself but for these people who claimed to be “the church” but were sadly blinded by their own pride and stubbornness.

DA 576: “The thought of His own agony did not intimidate that noble, self- sacrificing soul. It was the sight of Jerusalem that pierced the heart of Jesus — Jerusalem [Ancient Adventist Headquarters] that had rejected the Son of God and scorned His love, that refused to be convinced by His mighty miracles, and was about to take His life. He saw what she was in her guilt of rejecting her Redeemer, and what she might have been had she accepted Him who alone could heal her wound.”

DA 576: “The record of more than a thousand years of Christ’s guardian care and tender love, such as a father bears his only child, was there. In that temple the prophets had uttered their solemn warnings. There had the burning censers waved, while incense, mingled with the prayers of the worshipers, had ascended to God. There the blood of beasts had flowed, typical of the blood of Christ. There Jehovah had manifested His glory above the mercy seat. There the priests had officiated, and the pomp of symbol and ceremony had gone on for ages. BUT ALL THIS MUST HAVE AN END.”

Christ does not easily give up on people nor does He quickly cast them aside. For centuries He labored and cared for this church He had started but it all had to come to an end. You might say “Well yes, Terry, the sacrifices of lambs and other animals did have to come to an end,” and you would be right; but go back and read all of the above quotation. It says that the “church” in Christ’s day had to come to an end. Why? Because they had rejected Him and become corrupt. Although they had been raised by Christ they no longer represented the work and purpose for their original existence and it had to stop. Christ no longer accepted their apostasy as His church. Are there any parallels today? If the circumstances of our day are the same, will not the results be the same as they were in the days of our spiritual forefathers? To the honest, truth seeking Christian, the answer is clear.

DA 576- 577: “Here the Saviour paused, and left unsaid what might have been the condition of Jerusalem had she accepted the help that God desired to give her, … The glorious destiny that might have blessed Jerusalem had she accepted her Redeemer rose before the Son of God. …

“But the bright picture of what Jerusalem might have been fades from the Saviour’s sight. HE REALIZES WHAT SHE NOW IS UNDER THE ROMAN YOKE, BEARING THE FROWN OF GOD, DOOMED TO HIS RETRIBUTIVE JUDGMENT.”

Did you read that friend? Are you thinking of prophetic parallels? Can you see that the Seventh- day Adventist organization is moving toward Rome? Do you know that it will be apostate Seventh- day Adventists who will fall under the Roman yoke fully and will betray the true Seventh- day Adventists who will be hunted down, imprisoned, and/ or killed?

You’ve heard or read this quotation before — 1SM 122: “We have far more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world. Unbelievers have a right to expect that those who profess to be keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus will do more than any other class to promote and honor, by their consistent lives, by their godly example and their active influence, the cause which they represent. But how often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greatest obstacle to its advancement! The unbelief indulged, the doubts expressed, the darkness cherished, encourage the presence of evil angels, and open the way for the accomplishment of Satan’s devices.”

Did you notice that she is speaking about fearing those who are unbelievers but profess to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus? Is there any doubt in your mind that she is speaking about fearing those who claim to be Seventh- day Adventists but who don’t live up to the name? Notice that she never says we need to fear those who are true Adventists, but those who make a profession of Adventism without corresponding works based on the inspiration of true Adventism which is the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy.

DA 577: “Christ came to save Jerusalem with her children; but PHARISAICAL PRIDE, HYPOCRISY, JEALOUSY, AND MALICE had prevented Him from accomplishing His purpose.”

Jesus came to save Jerusalem. Does this mean that Jesus didn’t come to save anyone else, including the Jews who didn’t live in Jerusalem? Remember that His own mother didn’t live in Jerusalem. The reason Jerusalem is mentioned here is because Jerusalem was indeed the headquarters and, therefore, represented all of Israel or Ancient Adventism.

But Jesus couldn’t save the headquarters of Ancient Adventism. Why? Because of Pharisaical (Pastoral) pride, hypocrisy (teaching the laity one thing and doing another themselves), jealousy (the love of self over the love of other men and God), and malice (or hatred). Because of these things Jesus could not accomplish what He otherwise could have. Do you realize the gravity of what’s being said here? Jesus came to give the people the very message that would have placed them into His kingdom, but the leadership of the Ancient Adventist Church actively blocked Him from doing this vital work. If we were to rewrite this in the modern day vernacular, this is how it might read:

Christ came to save Silver Spring and her children; but pastoral pride, professing one thing but doing another, protecting their jobs but not protecting others and the truth, and hatred for sacred things prevented many from knowing the truth who otherwise might have been saved.

DA 577- 578: “Jerusalem had been the child of His care, and as a tender father mourns over a wayward son, so Jesus wept over the beloved city. How can I give thee up? How can I see thee devoted to destruction? … When the fast westering sun should pass from sight in the heavens, Jerusalem’s day of grace would be ended.”

Jerusalem indeed represented headquarters of the system of religion that Christ Himself had raised up. Israel, Ancient Adventists, were indeed the “chosen” people who Christ had entrusted to do a special work. He had also promised them that they would go through. But as with every other promise, these chosen people had either forgotten or ignored the detail that all was based on obedience to God’s instructions. Our own books tell us in many places that history repeats itself and “we are worse than they.” If God has not changed, then this “chosen” generation of professors without belief, with its headquarters, will suffer the same end as did their unbelieving forefathers. If God has changed, no one can trust Him nor can we look forward to the hope of salvation.

For anyone who has been in the “church” for any length of time, you have heard the statement, “The church is going through.” In reality the statement means “The conference is going through.” Most Adventists believe just as their counterparts did that no matter what the conference does, the church and the conference are going through. Well, let me ask you this simple question. Do you believe in once saved, always saved? You may say, no, but are you sure? If you believe that the conference is going through and that it cannot do otherwise no matter how corrupt it becomes, then you indeed do believe in once saved, always saved. Let’s take a familiar story out of the Bible to graphically illustrate the point:

1 Samuel 8: 4- 7 “Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.”

Did you know that one of the major steps the leaders of Israel took which put them on the road to apostasy was to choose a king to rule over them? The Spirit of Prophecy has many things to say regarding this subject and kingly power.

Praise the Lord, however, for He does not easily cast us aside! Right from the start the Lord has always had a plan “A” to follow. If we would follow this plan we would have far less concerns than we do presently. Also, right from the start the Lord has usually had a plan “B” to implement if plan “A” was not followed by the people. I am so thankful that the Lord loves us with this kind of love, aren’t you?

So Israel’s leaders had insisted on having a King rule over them. God had told Samuel that they had rejected Him by making this request. But, nonetheless, He implemented plan “B” rather than casting them aside at this time. 1 Samuel 9: 15- 17 “Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying, To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me, And when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my people.”

So the Lord went to plan “B” and told Samuel what it was. Now, did the Lord hand pick Saul? Yes! And was there to be an ordination for this man who was handpicked? Yes! Let’s continue.

1 Samuel 10: 1 “Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?”

So indeed the Lord handpicked Saul and the Lord had Saul ordained to the mission of ruling over His people.

1 Samuel 10: 6 “And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.”

Brothers and sisters, this has to be one of the most exciting stories in all of the Bible! Here we have a man who is handpicked by God. He is ordained to his mission by the prophet Samuel and now he is given the promise that the Holy Spirit will fill him and he will be changed into another man! How would you like a prophet to promise you a quick, total conversion? Not maybe, but for sure! Let’s see what happened.

1 Samuel 10: 9- 11 “And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day. And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. And it came to pass, when all that knew him before time saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?

What an exciting story! I dare say, that with few exceptions, you won’t find too many more stories like this one anywhere. So to recap — Saul had been handpicked, he was anointed to the position, he was filled with the Holy Spirit, he prophesied, and was given a new heart. If this isn’t a total conversion experience direct from God, I don’t know what is! But sadly this is not the end of the story.

1 Samuel 15: 16- 23 “Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on. And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee King over Israel? And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord? And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of the Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal. And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”

Now I would like to ask another one of those simple questions. Was the Seventh- day Adventist “Church” handpicked with a different set of rules than was Saul? Did everyone in the Administration have the same conversion experience as Saul or do you think for the most part Saul has the edge in this part of the story?

One last time. Saul was handpicked. He was appointed and anointed. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. He prophesied among the other prophets before witnesses who knew him. He was in fact given a new heart. Brother and sister, you just can’t get anymore saved than this! Now here’s the question and the point. Will Saul be in heaven?

Many of you have thought that you have never believed in once saved, always saved but in the light of the story we just read I think many Seventh- day Adventists do believe, so far as the conference is concerned, that they cannot be lost because God has chosen them. If you believe that, then you don’t believe the story of Saul to be true or inspired. If this is the case, I implore you to please get on your knees and beg God to give you the eyesalve of Revelation 3.

Saul will not be in heaven for a simple and plain stated reason. He broke his contract of salvation with God. When he rejected the Word of the Lord, the Lord rejected him. His course took him into spiritualism. And strangely enough we are told in the book Great Controversy that a three- fold union will rise up to exterminate God’s people. Also, strangely enough, we have exposed the fact that there are many professed Seventh- day Adventist leaders who have or are being educated in NLP techniques and are using other spiritualist techniques such as imagery right in the “church.” Things have not changed over the centuries, for if you choose not to go to the Lord for wisdom, then where is there left to go?

Just as surely as Samuel told king Saul that God rejected Him as the ruler of the laity in his day, so now Jesus had rejected the Ancient Conference whose kingly and corrupted power were in the service of another master in His day.

Copyright © 1999 Servants of the Saviour
Terry & Cathy Ross

Table of Contents
Acknowledgements and Forward
Chapter 1 Desire of Ages — Chapter 63
Chapter 2 Desire of Ages — Chapter 64
Chapter 3 Desire of Ages — Chapter 65
Chapter 4 Desire of Ages — Chapters 66 & 67
Chapter 5 Desire of Ages — Chapters 68 & 69
Chapter 6 Desire of Ages — Chapters 70, 71 & 72
Chapter 7 Desire of Ages — Chapter 73
Chapter 8 Desire of Ages — Chapters 74 & 75
Chapter 9 Desire of Ages — Chapters 76 & 77
Chapter 10 Desire of Ages — Chapter 78

PROPHETIC PARALLELS – The Church “Then”. . .and the SDA Church Now



by Terry S. Ross

Prophetic Parallels condensed - blue

Table of Contents
Acknowledgements and Forward
Chapter 1 Desire of Ages — Chapter 63
Chapter 2 Desire of Ages — Chapter 64
Chapter 3 Desire of Ages — Chapter 65
Chapter 4 Desire of Ages — Chapters 66 & 67
Chapter 5 Desire of Ages — Chapters 68 & 69
Chapter 6 Desire of Ages — Chapters 70, 71 & 72
Chapter 7 Desire of Ages — Chapter 73
Chapter 8 Desire of Ages — Chapters 74 & 75
Chapter 9 Desire of Ages — Chapters 76 & 77
Chapter 10 Desire of Ages — Chapter 78


This book is first dedicated to those men and women who have through the ages taken their stand on the side of the Lord at the cost of their own reputations, being misunderstood and slandered for the name and cause of Christ and the Father.

To those people whom many regard as heroes, in memory of their Christian faith and honor. To the men and women who suffered derision and scorn, loss of family, friends, all they had or every hoped to have, yet standing firm for the Lord, this volume is dedicated.

To those such as Noah, who in his day was mocked. “They held a carnival [celebration] over the words of Noah, calling him a crazy fanatic” but whose faith took him into the ark. To Enoch who was “the first prophet among mankind” and “a fearless reprover of sin.” “It was the Spirit of Christ that spoke through Enoch; that spirit is manifested, not alone in utterances of love, compassion, and entreaty; it is not smooth things only that are spoken by holy men. God put into the heart and lips of His messengers truths to utter that are keen and cutting as a two- edged sword.” Yes, to Enoch, who proved to mankind before the flood that man can through perfect faith live a totally holy life. (7A 22, 20, PP 86)

To Job, who in the face of total rejection but by his family and “church” determined to trust God though He slay him. To Moses, whose leadership was consistent and meek, who bravely trusted in the Lord‘ s guidance and loved the people enough to offer his own life that they might be saved. To Daniel, who without question had a character devoted to God that stood forth through three diverse governments and showed the brighter with each passing test. To Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, although rejected by his own “church” continued to preach a warning message year after year after year. To Nehemiah, who refused to come off the wall. To queen Esther, who risked her own life for the life of her people. To Elijah, who in the face of fierce rejection stood against all odds and gave his message to a “church” who had backslidden horribly. To John the Baptist, who many, many years later came in the power of Elijah and faced the same opposition, who though despised by the conference leaders of his day carried on the work given to him by God anyway.

To men such as the disciples, who after the upper room experience went boldly forward proclaiming the truth for their day in the face of deadly opposition from a corrupt priesthood that called itself the “church” and claimed to be “going through.” To Stephen, who told it like it was but had no spirit of hatred in him, who was “not blind, nor bitter.” To Saul, the conference leader who became Paul, who although obeying man instead of God at first, “saw the light” on the Damascus road and was converted to follow Jesus anywhere He led. To Paul, who became an honorable defender of Jesus and who quite possibly understood the purifying effects of trial more than any other man.

To all the millions who shed their blood during the Dark Ages that I might be able to write this book and that we might have a chance to have a part in the story of salvation. To all those men and women, who in the midst of this terrible dark history, stood in opposition to their church and became fierce defenders of the truth as God had given it to them. To James White, who went to an early grave because of his dedication to present truth and his concern to educate people. And to his wife, Ellen G. White, the prophetess, whose written works are the greatest gift to modern man, who at times was despised by those who claimed to follow inspiration, who “lead” this latter day movement, and whose published works I now use to compile this study. To my own wife, Cathy, who has been my helper and confidant through better or worse, who continues to be a devoted and dedicated worker for God and my trusted friend, who, if I am in heaven by the grace of God, will have played the major role in my salvation, excepting Jesus Himself.

And most of all, to the One who is The Desire of Ages, our lovely Jesus Christ. To Him, especially, is this book dedicated because without Him none of our other heroes would ever have been heroes and this book would be without purpose or cause.

It is my desire and reason for writing this book that those who give it study will come to a place in their Christian experience that they will become totally committed to stand in their lot in these closing scenes of earth‘ s history. May we realize in some deeper degree why we are here and the price that was paid, not only by the spilt blood of Jesus Christ, but by millions of others who gave their lives. With this realization may we better understand and grasp anew that it is our turn to take up the banner of Emmanuel and boldly carry on what those before us carried to their graves.


Often I have thought about the quotation from 4T 374 that says in part: “It would be well to spend a thoughtful hour each day reviewing the life of Christ from the manger to Calvary. We should take it point by point and let the imagination vividly grasp each scene, especially the closing ones of His earthly life.” Then it continues to state that there are many lessons to be learned from this study.

In my eighteen plus years of being a Seventh- day Adventist, a lot of water has gone under the bridge. I have read and referred to The Desire of Ages numerous times and I‘ m sure the reader will agree with me that it is the most beautiful book of love ever written. But about seven years ago I believe the Lord impressed me to take a different look at this book.

Love is all important and we never want to do anything without it but sometimes when we are focused in one spot too long, our vision of the bigger picture can become blurred. I believe that the Lord prompted me to take another look at Desire of Ages and refocus my study, not about love, but about prophetic parallels. That‘ s not to say that love has been forgotten, certainly not, but with my focus on prophetic parallels I discovered that The Desire of Ages is one of the most important books ever written for this exact time.

Over the last several years it has become painfully apparent, generally speaking, that many of the professed leaders of the Adventist organization have lowered the standard to such a point that in far too many places the “church” is almost completely different from what it was, say thirty, or even twenty years ago. As if this isn’t alarming enough, we are witnessing a bold trend of these “professors” exerting their brash liberal beliefs right in the faces of those who love this movement and message with all their hearts. Unfortunately for those who for most of their Christian lives have given strict loyalty, it is being quickly realized that the leaders are far more interested in maintaining their own power than a “thus saith the Lord.”

Brothers and Sisters, as surprising as this has been in this soft generation, it‘ s really nothing new. Most of our “heroes” had to stand up against this type of apostasy and hypocrisy in their day and if they had shunned such a disagreeable duty, you and I wouldn’t be enjoying the liberty of this discussion today.

Spiritual giants such as Moses, Joshua & Caleb, Enoch, Elijah, John the Baptist, all of the disciples, Martin Luther, Calvin, Huss, Zwingley, Knox, Ellen White, many, many others and the greatest Hero of all, our Lord Jesus Christ, had to meet this “enemy within.”

We will discover that when the Lord inspired Sister White to pen the words found in 1SM 122, He knew the greatest weight of these words would fall in our time: “We have more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world. . . how often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greatest obstacle to its advancement! The unbelief indulged, the doubts expressed, the darkness cherished, encourage the presence of evil angels, and open the way for the accomplishment of Satan‘ s devices.”

Everywhere Cathy and I have been preaching this message, people are discovering, most for the first time, that we need to let the Lord lead and not man. People are realizing that it is important to put God first and man second, no matter who the man is, whether a pastor, Conference President or General Conference President. They are discovering that this battle isn‘ t a matter of vindictiveness on the part of faithful independent ministries, but of hypocrisy and lack of faith in the lives of professed leadership.

They are discovering what you are about to discover; Jesus wants you all to Himself and He has made provision for you to move forward even if the whole world chooses to do otherwise! Pray, dear one, for the Holy Spirit to guide you in this study. For what you are about to embark on is, I believe, one of the most important studies you will ever do in your life. This message is the same message that Jesus gave to His disciples in a time past which mirrored our own. In it you will discover that we are living in the express parallel of the days of Christ and the “church” of His day. All the players in that play are still present in our day — the Conference, Headquarters, and even the self- supporting Ministers whom Jesus raised up to continue the pure “Seventh- day Adventist” message in His day of reform. You will find in this amazing study that absolutely nothing has changed, that in the book Desire of Ages is the same message which set the disciples free and the exact work that Jesus did for them — He is doing for us today.

In this study we believe if rightly understood, will be given God‘ s blessing, as you choose to serve Him first and relegate to man a second position. In Christ‘ s day the “church” had strangely changed leaders and rejected the Originator of their movement. In our day we face this same tragedy. Most “Ancient Adventists” — our spiritual ancestors — were lost because of their misplaced loyalty in a leadership (priesthood) that had become corrupt. Today their history has once again become our reality.

It is now your privilege to discover and understand that this same Jesus Who lived through the history of our ancestors, in His grace and mercy toward us, has had The Desire of Ages written not just to show us what love is, but for much deeper reasons than this. He is giving us, Seventh- day Adventists in particular, a last chance to learn from the mistakes of others and take heed. Whether or not you do will determine your eternal destiny!

Our prayers are with you and it is our hope and desire that you will find the freedom that our Saviour has died to give you — only then will you be free indeed. But if not, you will be chained to men who have no higher concept of Adventism than did their counterparts found in the conference office of the ancient church — the Sanhedrin.

Our study will take us through the heart of The Desire of Ages beginning with chapter 63, “Thy King Cometh,” and concluding with chapter 78, which is “Calvary”. When you have finished, we hope you will be much richer for the labor and much wiser for the study. May the Lord be with you.

Copyright © 1999 Servants of the Saviour
Terry & Cathy Ross

None Dare Call It Apostasy, Part II

Dr. Ralph Larson


Since many have asked, the following is a statement that was prepared by Elder Ralph Larson to present to the “Prex- Ad” Council of the Pacific Union Conference on February 18, 1992. This is a group of about twenty administrators of conferences, colleges, hospitals and ethnic groups who consult together before meeting with the Union Committee.

Although Dr. Larson had been told that he would be given thirty minutes and had prepared his paper accordingly, he was cut off when fifteen minutes had passed and was told that the administrators could read the rest of the paper later. Yet the council made their decision to affirm their denial of his honorary ministerial credentials after Dr. and Mrs. Larson left the room, apparently without waiting to read the paper, a tragic lack of due process.

This information is being shared, not for purposes of malice or revenge, but so that others may understand what actually was said and what they may possibly encounter when placed in similar circumstances. Our trust must be wholly in the Lord and in His truth, and we must firmly resolve to stand for the right though the heavens fall.

Part two

We come before you today because we understand from the Lord’s counsels that this is our Christian duty. We are sure all would recognize that a hearing conducted after judgment regarding my credentials has already been made, would not be described as justice in any judicial system in the world. We find this principle expressed in the question put to the Pharisees by Nicodemus: “Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?” John7: 51.

In our situation, the answer would appear to be, yes, it does. More troubling still, to those who are concerned about the principles of fairness, is the fact that this group is not the proper body to either conduct a hearing or make judgment regarding my case. Proper procedures would have required a hearing

We would do well to remember that in every’ judicial proceeding, not only is the accused on trial, but the court is also on trial.

before the Union Conference Committee, which has been empowered to issue credentials, and that such a hearing have been conducted before judgment was made.

And there is yet another cloud over these proceedings. Elder Castillo wrote to me:

“At our past Union Executive Committee, it was voted to deny your honorary ministerial credential.”

Yet, four members of the committee have stated that my name was not mentioned in their meeting, and so was neither discussed nor voted upon. Elder Mostert, while conceding that the minutes contain no record of an action denying my credentials, told me over the phone that my name was placed before the executive committee and the reasons for denying my credentials were fully explained. He suggested that the four committee members might have all happened to be out of the room at that particular time.

In any case, it would seem that basic principles of fairness would require that if a minister who has given his life to the service of the church, whose life and character have never been questioned, whose theology and preaching is the same as that presented in Seventh- day Adventists Believe, and whose ministry has resulted in more than five thousand persons being added to the church by baptism, is to be denied honorary ministerial credentials, this should be properly done by a duly authorized body, and the action and reasons for it should be fully and specifically stated in the committee records and announced to the church. This would, of course, require that a hearing be conducted before a decision is made, and that the accused be provided an opportunity to face his accusers and respond to their accusations.

This proper procedure has not been followed. Yet the editors of Ministry magazine have quickly seized upon the action that was taken, and in spite of the grievous irregularities, announced to its world- wide constituency that my credentials had been denied. Since no reason has been given, speculation is now arising as to whether I have been found guilty of financial fraud or gross immorality. Questions of this nature are reaching us and are very troubling, not only to us but also to our two children who are workers in God’s cause. We do not believe the Lord appreciates this manner of dealing with one who has rendered Him a lifetime of service and whose present problem is simply that he has been found defending the principles of our faith as set forth in the book Seventh- day Adventists Believe.

We would do well to remember that in every judicial proceeding, not only is the accused on trial, but the court is also on trial. We do not believe that you ~‘ gentlemen have served yourselves well by the manner in which you have dealt with this case. Neither have you served well the church or the Lord. We believe this group has a moral responsibility to set this matter right, and it should be done now, not after my death, as in the case of Elder M. L. Andreason. We believe I am entitled to a fair trial regarding my theology and ministry before the Union Executive Committee. If that committee, after a fair trial has been conducted, votes to deny my credentials, we believe a full statement of the specific reasons for that action should be made, and the statement published in Ministry magazine.

But now may we suggest that we lift our eyes from the individual tree we have been examining and spend a few moments considering the forest as a whole. it is apparent that there is division in the church. We would like to offer a few thoughts regarding:

Division: Its Nature, Its Causes, and Its Cure.

Division is most easily defined as the opposite of unity. We all believe that unity in the church is precious. It is priceless. Unity was the great burden of the last recorded prayer of Jesus for His disciples (John 17). Unity was what made possible the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Unity was one of the major factors that gave power to the Seventh- day Adventist Church as it emerged from the Millerite Movement.

What is the basis of this precious unity? Paul calls it “the unity of the faith” Ephesians 4: 13. He further describes it as “speaking the truth in love,” verse 15, and indicates that those who have this unity of the faith will not be “carried about with every wind of doctrine” verse 14.

Ellen White describes the search for unity in 1844:

“We would come together burdened in soul, praying that we might be one in faith and doctrine; for we knew that Christ is not divided” TM 24. [All emphasis supplied.]

Their prayers were answered. They did become one in faith and doctrine, and they bestowed that legacy of unity upon us. Our church has enjoyed a phenomenal degree of unity throughout most of its history. We who have spent years in soul- winning work have found it an enormous advantage to be able

“No one has any Independent authority apart from Christ and His word” SDA‘s Believe 146.

to tell our converts they were uniting with a worldwide church that had a oneness in faith and doctrine over all the earth.

But notice how God has warned us through His messenger that unity must be based upon faith and doctrine:

“Christ calls for unity. But He does not call for us to unify on wrong practices. The God of heaven draws a sharp contrast between pure, elevating, ennobling truth and fulse, misleading . . . . I urge our brethren to unify upon a true, scriptural basis” 1 SM 175.

“We are to unify, but not on a platform of error” Series B, “Freedom in Christ” 47. Our church has not unified upon a platform of error, but upon a platform of truth. Our doctrines have been the foundation of our unity, but if wrong doctrines are introduced, causing the foundation of truth to crumble, we will struggle in vain to preserve our unity. The wise man does not build his house upon the sand.

At various times in the history of Christianity, there have arisen tensions between Christians who had differing views of what constitutes sound declines. Instead of meeting this problem on the theological level, church officials have sometimes tried to resolve it on the basis of church authority. This has never been and never will be successful. Ecclesiology must be derived from theology. Theology cannot be derived from ecclesiology, lest it degenerate into ecclesiolatry.

Our doctrinal book states: “Christ exercises His authority through His church and its specially appointed servants, but He never transfers His power. No one has any independent authority apart from Christ and His word’ SDA ‘s Believe 146.

“Whatever the church does that is in accordance with the directions given in God’s Word will be ratified in heaven” 7T 263.

“The church . . . . must say about sin what God says about it. She must deal with it as God directs, and her action is ratified in heaven” DA 806.

This brings us immediately and specifically to the heart of our present problem. There is a wide- spread and rapidly growing conviction among many church members, especially in the North American Division, Australia and Europe, that some of our church leaders are emphatically not saying about sin what God says about It, but rather are saying that we will all keep on sinning until Jesus comes, at which time He will miraculously fix us so we will never sin again. This makes our sanctuary doctrine nonsensical and invalidates the Spirit of Prophecy, which repeatedly endorses the sanctuary doctrine.

These concerned church members recognize that this strange new doctrine is out of harmony with our historic faith, out of harmony with the Scriptures, and out of harmony with the Spirit of Prophecy in which there are literally thousands of statements affirming the reality of victorious Christian living, and at least forty- eight warnings against the idea that Christ will change our characters when He comes. (See our Tell of His Power.)

This is manifestly a theological problem, and it needs to be dealt with on a theological level. Church members do not see this as a minor issue. They see it as one which vitally concerns their eternal salvation. But when they question or challenge this strange new doctrine and ask, “Why is the church not saying about sin what God says about it as stated in Seventh- day Adventists Believe?” they often find, to their bewilderment, that they are accused of being divisive trouble- makers who are attacking the church.

More tragically still, the response of church officialdom to questions, appeals, and protests, consistently reflects a desire to ignore the theological dimensions of the problem and to issue appeals for unity, supported by stem admonitions about the authority of the church. Within the last thirty days I received a letter from a conference president which said frankly, “Most of my response will be from a practical point of view, rather than a theological approach,” yet the matter at hand was theological in nature.

Thus we see a tension between a concept of truth and a concept of church authority. When the disciples of Jesus were summoned to appear before the Sanhedrin, they went gladly, anticipating an opportunity to express their convictions of truth about Jesus. They found, however, that the Sanhedrin proposed one question only, Do you submit to our authority?

Result— the church was split.

When Martin Luther and his companions were summoned to appear before the emperor, they also went gladly, hoping for a discussion of the principles of scriptural truth. But they were confronted with the same question, Do you submit to our authority? Result— the church was split.

Today we find ourselves caught up in a similar situation, and we may well reflect about the past. It has been said that those who cannot learn from history are condemned to repeat history. Surely the lesson of history is clear that theological questions must be

There is a wide- spread and rapidly growing conviction. . . that some of our church leaders are emphatically not saying about sin what God says about it.

given theological answers, and that unity will result if the theological answers are sound and persuasive because they bear up well under scriptural investigation. The introduction of false doctrines into our platform of truth cannot but bring division. Fair- minded people everywhere will judge that the division is caused by those who introduce changes in our theology, not by those who prefer to maintain our historic theology unchanged.

It cannot be denied that, in a certain sense, truth is divisive. Note the words of Jesus on this point:

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter- in- law against her mother- in- law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household” Matthew 10: 34- 36.

When truth and error meet, division may be the result, but should we blame the division on those who teach the truth?

This leads us to the questions of responsibility and guilt Jesus unquestionably created division when He came to this earth. But was this wrong? Should He have stayed in heaven in order to avoid creating division? Would the unity that might have resulted been desirable? Clearly the apostles created division wherever they went. But again we ask, Was this wrong? Would it have been better for them to have hushed their voices for the sake of unity?

One of the most bitter accusations hurled at us as a people has been that by preaching the Sabbath we created division among Christians. But has this been wrong and has not the accusation of divisiveness been hurled at all reformers? We read in Signs of the Times, January 28, 1886:

“Reformers of the present day will meet with the same discouragements as did their Master.”

Neither is there anything new about the same, strange misjudgment we meet today: “When controversy is awakened, the advocates of truth are accredited with causing disturbance” ST, 10- 17- 95.

The following counsel is timely: “Now as in former ages, the presentation of a truth that reproves the sins and errors of the times will excite opposition…. Elijah was declared to be a troubler in Israel, Jeremiah a traitor, Paul a polluter of the temple. From that day to this, those who would be loyal to truth have been denounced as seditious, heretical, or schismatic…. This spirit will increase more and more. . . .

“In view of this, what is the duty of the messenger of truth? Shall he conclude that the truth ought not to be presented, since often its only effect is to arouse men to evade or resist its claims? No; he has no more reason for withholding the testimony of God’s word, because it excites opposition, than had earlier Reformers” GC 458- 459.

When truth and error meet, division may be the result, but should we blame the division on those who teach the truth?

Several months ago we received an urgent request to conduct a seminar in a church in this Union. The people there had many questions, which we answered from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. As we were leaving, they gave us a tape and suggested we listen to it on the way home.

The tape turned out to be a message that had been presented to them by their conference president a few weeks before our visit. On several points, he had told them the exact opposite of what we had shown them. Here is a sampling of the president’s opinion regarding perfection of character.

“Is it not extremely discouraging to us to discover, as we look back through the annals of history, to discover [sic] that no one except Jesus has ever reached that perfect standard, at least so far as we know? If Jesus is the only one so far who has reached that perfect standard, it doesn’t give us a great deal of encouragement, does it, to be able to accomplish what the great spiritual giants of the past were not able to accomplish.”

We, of course, had known nothing about this, so we had walked right into trouble. We had shown them our research report entitled Tell of His Power, which contains 2,500 statements from Ellen White’s writings, all of which strongly affirm the possibility of character perfection through the power of Christ. Worse yet, we had shown them a chapter in our book which records 48 warnings from Ellen White that there will be no change of character when Christ comes. We had also shown them a chapter which contains 37 statements from Ellen White regarding persons who have achieved character perfection. Jesus was not the only one, according to the Lord’s messenger. Her list of champions includes the patriarchs, the apostles, Enoch, Elijah, Joseph, Daniel and John. She writes:

“Souls that have borne the likeness of Satan have become transformed into the image of God” AA 476.

“Thousands have set the Lord before them, and by beholding have been changed into the same image” COL 133- 134.

“Some few in every generation from Adam resisted his (Satan’s) every artifice and stood forth as noble representations of what it was in the power of man to do and to be— Christ working with human efforts, helping man in overcoming the power of Satan” RH 3- 3- 74.

“In every phase of your character building you are to please God. This you may do; for Enoch pleased Him though living in a degenerate age. And there are Enochs in this our day” COL 332.

This is only a sampling. We had shown them many other Spirit of Prophecy passages that could not be harmonized with the opinions of the president. As we were driving along and listening to the tape, Jeanne turned to me and said, “This is it, Ralph. This is going to cost you your credentials.”

So— on that day we began to prepare our minds for the experience through which we are now passing. Yet, what else could we have done? Should we have

Elder Mostert wrote me a letter which began with these words:
“I despair with you over the fact that so many of our church members are finding It necessary to turn to independent ministries in order to hear basic Adventist teaching. ”

withheld the truth from the people in order to protect our position? No doubt the president’s visit, followed by ours, created some division of thought in that district Who is responsible for that division? What would be a fair judgment? And what would be God’s judgment?

We are not suggesting that this is the only dynamic working in the situation. We had earlier incurred the displeasure of the officers of the Division. Elders Bradford, Crumley and Dale had asked Dr. Frank Holbrook of the Biblical Research Institute to prepare a theological rationale to be used against independent ministry leaders. This paper was then sent to Ron Spear, along with warnings that he must submit to the authority of the church.

But, unfortunately, Dr. Holbrook had spread his net in such a manner that the first victim would have been Elder Bradford himself. After comparing independent ministry leaders with the rebel Satan and the rebels Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, Dr. Holbrook had set forth two theological aberrations that called for disfellowshipping members from the church, views we historic Adventists hold regarding 1) the human nature of Christ, and 2) righteousness by faith.

When this paper came into my hands, I wrote to the Division leadership, pointing out that on November 16, 1988, Elder Bradford had written a letter to me containing the following lines:

. . . . my views on the human nature of Christ are almost identical with some that you and others have expressed. I have preached them at large gatherings and camp meetings around the world.”

This is precisely the fault for which Dr. Holbrook had recommended disfellowshipping— holding a “wrong” view about the human nature of Christ and disturbing church members in other countries about it. He had also argued that our view regarding righteousness by faith is not in the book Seventh- day Adventists Believe. It is actually stated in that book 140 times!

I pointed these things out in a letter to the officers of the Division, and they were most displeased. Therefore, when Elder Mostert told me that the Division officers were in favor of denying my credentials, I was not surprised.

This paper by a member of the Biblical Research Institute may be taken as a sampling of the incredible theological confusion that exists in the church today. It is beyond question a theological problem which urgently needs to be dealt with on a theological level. The longer this is delayed, the greater will be the damage to the church. Our people have historically had an orientation toward truth. Many have left other churches and united with our church for the sake of truth. They have recognized that placing confidence in church leaders above devotion to the truth is a danger to be avoided. They have accepted the principle of individual responsibility for studying and knowing the truth and have turned away from the concept that the church is the interpreter of Scriptures. They have accepted Ellen White’s statement that:

“The Bible with its precious gems of truth was not written for the scholar alone” ST 331.

Therefore, it is a serious mistake to meet their urgent questions and concerns about our “truths that have been held sacred” with evasions and dissimulations. Suggestions by leadership that historic Seventh- day Adventists think they are the only ones in the church who know the truth, or that they are setting themselves up to be the judges of the church, or that they consider themselves to be the only holy ones, are recognized by many church members as simply throwing dust into the air. These tactics have a disastrous effect upon their confidence in leadership.

The historic Adventists, numbering in the thousands, are most emphatically not a group of crackpots and weirdos. They are not a group of malcontents and fanatics who turn to independent ministries simply as an expression of their rebellious spirit They are, for the most part, loyal, steadfast church members who have faced Sabbath tests, endured opposition from families and friends and have persevered in their devotion to the Lord and His sacred truth in the face of formidable odds. They turn to the independent ministries for a reason that has been well stated by our own Union president, Elder Mostert. On May 1, 1990, Elder Mostert wrote me a letter which began with these words:

“I despair with you over the fact that so many of our church members are finding it necessary to turn to independent ministries in order to hear basic Adventist teaching.”

Where will they go to hear basic Adventist teaching when the independent ministries have been destroyed, as seems to be the intention of the present church leadership? No doubt you have heard of the addresses given by our General Conference president at such places as the camp meeting in Hope, British Columbia, in 1991, which seemed to be a declaration of open season on the independent ministries and those who support them. I have tapes of those messages, and some of the statements are as awesome as they are inaccurate, intemperate and inflammatory.

But these messages have apparently set the pace, and in response, equally inaccurate and intemperate tirades have already been published by two Union presidents in their Union papers. I am finding it increasingly difficult to persuade the church members to whom I minister that these false accusations are made in ignorance and not in malice.

If the independent ministries are successfully destroyed, what can we expect to happen then? Can anyone seriously suppose that those church members who, as stated by our Union president, have had to turn to independent ministries in order to hear basic Adventist teaching will then meekly submit to authority and give their support to those who have destroyed the independent ministries? Can we expect them to just forget that their theological questions have not been answered? And, are we remembering a fact that was expressed to me recently by a retired Union Conference president:

“I hope that our brethren will remember that our conservative members are the financial backbone of our church.”

Which leads us inexorably to the question of tithe. As I have testified that the historic Adventists are not weirdos and crack- pots who support independent ministries simply as an expression of their rebellious spirit, I also wish to testify that neither do they send tithe to independent ministries because they prefer to do so. They would much rather send their tithe through church channels but feel they cannot conscientiously support the preaching of false theology.

I wish to address myself to an enormous misunderstanding that I regard as one of the major factors in our present problem. We hear much talk and many accusations about the independent ministries soliciting tithe. No independent ministry of my acquaintance has ever solicited tithe. Brethren, I plead with you to believe me when I say that the independent ministries do not solicit tithe, because they do not need to solicit tithe. It comes to them unsolicited, unbidden, unrequested. It is freely and voluntarily contributed by church members who are trying to relieve their consciences of a heavy burden.

This is the effect. What is the cause? The cause is the lack of preaching basic Seventh- day Adventist truths in their home churches and often supplanting them with either empty pablum or errors borrowed from Babylon. The cause is emphatically not the eloquence and trickery of a group of skillful con men who are leading independent ministries, as some seem to believe. To suppose that crushing the independent ministries and leaving the problem in the churches unresolved is a fearful mistake.

It was in response to the many urgent questions of such church members that I researched the matter and published my findings in the September, 1991 edition of Our Firm Foundation, in an article entitled, “The Tithe Problem, Who Is Responsible?” This article was a straight- forward and factual report of my findings on that subject. I stand ready to modify or correct my conclusions at any time evidence is presented to me that would justify such a modification or correction.

Unfortunately, some of the responses to that article have been something less than straightforward and factual, so much so that the office of the White Estate has made clear that the article on tithe published in the Review was a private project of Roger Coon, done entirely independent of either the White Estate Board or the White Estate staff. Of the many problems in the Roger Coon article, I would mention two. Coon argued that when Ellen White used the word “means,” this generally referred only to offerings and not to tithe. We are presently aware of 168 occasions when Ellen White went into print using the word “means” in a way that included tithe. Why did an officer of the White Estate not know this?

Again, Coon faults those who make reference to the “Watson letter,” since Ellen White had stated she did not desire her diversions of tithe to be widely

“God has a church. It Is not the great cathedral, neither Is it the national establishment . . . It Is the people who bye God and keep His commandments ” UL 315.

advertised. This overlooks the fact that the entire relevant portions of the Watson letter were published by the White Estate itself in 1981 (see Ellen G. White, The Early Elmshaven Years, 395- 396), and again in 1987 (see 2MR 99- 100). Why did an officer of the White Estate not know this?

In summary, may I quote the second sentence of the letter written to me by Elder Mostert on May 1, 1990:

“Obviously, one of the most unmet needs in the church at the present time is the lack of opportunity for leaders to dialogue with members in a meaningful way that does not create further frustration.”

I agree with and heartily applaud this statement It echoes the cries we hear from hurting and bewildered historic Adventists all across the continent: Why will not our leaders talk to us? Why will they not listen to us? Why will they not investigate our condition to determine whether our appeals are valid? Why are we considered trouble- makers because we are holding to the doctrines that are set forth in the book Seventh-day Adventists Believe? Can our leaders not recognize that antagonistic doctrines are being preached in many of our pulpits, taught in many of our schools, printed in our publishing houses and circulated in the Review? Is it their intention to support these false doctrines?

Further, they ask, Why do our leaders identify us as evildoers and enemies of the church when we finally give up appealing to them and turn in despair to places where our historic faith is being defended? Why do they use their power and authority against a minister who is widely known as a defender of our historic faith, while the facilities of some of our largest churches remain open to one who is equally well- known as an enemy of our historic faith?

Jeanne and I are presently ministering, by their invitation, to thousands of historic Adventists in this country and in other countries. In the year 1991 we spent forty of the fifty-two weekends conducting seminars in defense of our historic faith. (We pause to mention that we receive no remuneration whatever for conducting these seminars. The people pay only our expenses. We are sure you can understand how perplexed the historic Seventh- day Adventists are when they read in a Union paper that we are doing this for our own financial benefit.) We are presently fully booked for 1992 and into 1993.

We are able to report to you that the conviction is spreading among these historic Adventists that they are going to be hounded out of the church. They feel this is the only possible understanding of the inflammatory tirades that are being published against them. They are observing closely those situations in which illegal church discipline is being applied and disfellowshipping has already begun in flagrant disregard of the provisions in the church manual. One of the most evident characteristics of these actions has been and is continuing to be a lack of “due process.”

The historic Adventists remember that when Dr. Desmond Ford launched a vigorous assault against our sanctuary doctrine, the principles of “due process” were carefully followed. Every effort was made to ensure his case was dealt with in a fair and prudent manner, and rightly so. The historic Adventists are also noting that even though Dr. Ford is now attacking much more than our sanctuary doctrine and contributing very largely to the present apostasy in the church, the facilities of some of our largest churches remain open to him.

They are contrasting this with the fact that in a Pacific Union Recorder of 1991 an announcement stated Ralph Larson would conduct a seminar in the Beaumont Church on July 26 and 27 entitled “In Defense of the Sanctuary.” Before six weeks had passed, he had lost his ministerial credentials, without due process. This speaks volumes to the historic Seventh- day Adventists. Why, they are asking, is there so much patient tolerance toward those who attack our faith and so little toward those who defend it?

These developments are causing historic Adventists to consider carefully the proper relationship between the truth, the church and church authority. They are asking, Is it a valid theology of church authority that requires us to surrender the truth and accept false doctrines or is this a misuse and abuse of church authority? Is it a valid theology of stewardship that requires us to give financial support to the preaching of false doctrines? Is it a valid theology of church order that brands the preaching of truth as

The present division in the church Is a tension between our true historic faith, as described In Seventh- day Adventists Believe, and the Incompatible doctrines of modern Calvinism.

“divisive,” while tolerating the preaching of untruth? And, in the ultimate sense, what is the church? Let the Lord through His chosen messenger provide us with the answer:

“God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment . . . it is the people who love God and keep His commandments.” UL 315.

We are directing your attention to the reality that the present division in the church is a tension between our true historic faith, as described in Seventh- day Adventists Believe, and the incompatible doctrines of modern Calvinism. We hold that it is unreasonable and unfair to charge this division upon those ministers and church members who wish to cling to our historic faith. The responsibility for division should be laid at the door of those who are promoting the false doctrines of Calvinism among us.

We believe that every administrator has a sacred obligation to encourage and support those who are defending our historic faith and not let himself be manipulated or maneuvered into an attitude of opposition toward them by camouflaged accusations of divisiveness, etc.

We are presently hearing that Dr. Desmond Ford is broadcasting that many of our scholars and administrators are now accepting his theology. This charge cannot be well met by silence and inaction, which will cause people to conclude that the allegation must be true.

Kenneth Sample, successor to Walter Martin, reports that when he took a survey of fifty- six ministers in a single conference in this Union, fourteen admitted to disbelief in the biblical basis of our sanctuary doctrine and thirteen more passed by that question while answering the other questions in the survey. Thus, about half of those surveyed could not bear a positive testimony in regard to the doctrine of which Ellen White wrote:

“The correct understanding of the ministration in the heavenly sanctuary is the foundation of our faith” Letter 208, 1906; EV 221.

Surely it is time for the officers of this Union to resolutely lead the way in ascertaining what persons, in the classrooms of our schools and the pulpits of our churches, are teaching the doctrines described in Seventh- day Adventists Believe, and what persons are substituting for those doctrines antagonistic and incompatible doctrines.

And it is time for a thorough investigation of my particular case, and a full and fair trial to be conducted by the Union Conference Committee. At that trial I will submit evidence that

  1. I have appealed to our church leaders and scholars to recognize our theological problem by an investment of much time, many written appeals, and several thousand dollars worth of our two major research reports, The Word Made Flesh and Tell of His Power, that have been distributed among them.
  2. I have sought no speaking appointments anywhere, but have simply responded to urgent requests for help from the suffering historic Seventh- day Adventists.
  3. The evidence presented in our research reports has not been challenged by biblical or Spirit of Prophecy evidence from anyone. It has been met by sneers, jeers, and arguments against the man.
  4. My theology is precisely the theology that is set forth in Seventh- day Adventists Believe.

Therefore, those who oppose my ministry and our doctrinal book are the ones who are divisive.

We are to unite, but not upon a platform of error.

Order copies of “None Dare Call it Apostasy” from our bookstore.

The Tithe Problem, Part II

by Ralph Larson

The editors of the Adventist Review have taken notice of the questions about tithe that are troubling an increasing number of our church members and have published in their edition of September 7, 1991, a supplement in the form of an inserted tract dealing with the subject.

This development is most welcome. It is hoped that the Review editors will continue this enlightened policy, and that they will apply it to the other areas of concern that are as troubling to our members as the tithe question, if not more troubling.

We suggest that every church member who has a sincere desire to know and to do God’s will, will do well to save this special insert and compare it with the article on tithe in the September issue of Our Firm Foundation, as well as with this article.

We are confident that only good can come from such a comparison. let every church member examine the evidence and draw his or her own conclusions. Here the matter must ultimately rest, as was recognized by Ellen White in a thought- provoking statement on page 616 of The Desire of Ages:

“The Jewish rulers recognized the obligation of tithing, and this was right; but they did not leave the people to carry out their own convictions of duty.”

It is to be hoped that all concerned parties will remember that church members cannot be forced to pay tithe. They must act out their own convictions in the matter, and these convictions will grow out of their satisfaction with the scriptural and the Spirit of Prophecy evidences placed before them. Scoldings and threatenings will not suffice, and church discipline on this point is specifically forbidden in the church Manual. See page 240 in the 1971 edition and page 165 in the 1986 edition

We, therefore, welcome the decision of the Review editors to bring the subject out into the open, so that church members may be provided with the opportunity to weigh evidence, evaluate arguments, and develop their own convictions of duty.

Basic Principles Before considering the specifics of the situation, let us identify some landmarks and fixed boundaries, basic principles that must apply to any and all of the details. The most important and relevant truth that must be kept in mind throughout all of our study is:

“It should be remembered that the promises and threatenings of God are alike conditional.” – Selected Messages, book 1,67

The experience of the Israelites, who were once the chosen people of God but were eventually rejected as a people by God, testifies eloquently to the truth of this statement. The opinion that prevailed among the Jews of Christ’s time was that regardless of how far they departed from the express will of God, they nevertheless retained their position as the chosen people of God, with all of the rights and privileges pertaining thereto. This conviction was in spite of such clear warnings as had been given in Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28, Jeremiah 18, and elsewhere.

Here is the crux of the matter. The questions that we must consider are these: Could it be possible that the error of the Jews might have, to some degree, crept into our thinking? Are we beginning to believe that we are unconditionally the true church of God? Are we presuming that the rights and privileges of a true and faithful church are ours unconditionally? That the promises of God are without condition?

Are we supposing that the rights and privileges of a true and faithful ministry can be claimed by our ministry unconditionally? That they have a right to collect tithe regardless of what they teach and do?

Doubtless we would find these questions easier to answer if they were expressed in terms of totality— total rejection of all of the will of God by all of the ministers of our church. We would quickly agree that such is not the case. But does that resolve our problem? Was there not always a faithful remnant in Israel? And do we know of any church today that rejects all of God’s truth? Yet, God rejected Israel, and we know God is calling His people out of the popular churches of our time.

Is it not apparent that there is a line beyond which infidelity may not pass with impunity? A line beyond which neither a church nor a ministry can claim for itself the rights and privileges that God has guaranteed to a faithful church and to a faithful ministry? We must remember the promises and the threatenings of God are alike conditional.

We come now to the question, How should we see our church and its ministry today? The Review tract writer suggests that there is a significant difference between saying there is apostasy in a church and saying a church, speaking of the entire body of believers, is in apostasy. This point is well taken. I know of only one independent ministry leader who has a conviction that the church is in apostasy. The rest would say, like the Review tract writer, that there is apostasy in the church, although they would not minimize it as he does.

I have received a letter from a Union Conference president which opens with this sentence: “I despair with you over the fact that so many of our church members are finding it necessary to turn to independent ministries in order to hear basic Adventist teaching.” And I would recommend for thoughtful study the Annual Council 1973/ 1974 Appeals for reform as published in Our Firm Foundation in December 1991.

The precise point in increasing apostasy at which it would be appropriate to stop saying there is apostasy in the church and start saying the church is in apostasy is a difficult problem. It is doubtful that human wisdom is sufficient for the question. Probably it would be best to let that point be defined by the Divine Mind that never errs in judgment.

But the questions that are coming to me from all across the country are from church members who are facing an immediate, practical problem. They are being forced to recognize that some of the doctrines being presented in their particular churches are very different from the doctrines they were taught when they joined the church or when they attended Adventist schools. Many recognize the strange doctrines as the very errors they left behind when they withdrew from other churches in order to become Seventh- day Adventists.

These members do not wish to return to those errors, nor have them taught to their children. Many have made fruitless appeals to church pastors and administrators. These are the kind of people who are turning in despair to ministries which are teaching the unchanged Seventh- day Adventist faith. These are the kind of people who are asking the urgent question, “Does God require me to pay tithe to support the teaching of false doctrines? Would it be wrong to pay tithe to a ministry that teaches the faith that I believe?”

I sympathize with them, although I do not presently share their problem. The church where I hold membership is served by a pastor who preaches the historic Seventh- day Adventist message, and so I am comfortable paying tithe and offerings to this church. If this pastor were transferred and a Calvinistic Adventist pastor put into his place, I do not know what I would do. I hope that I never have to face the problem. But others are facing the problem.

These questions are what caused me to do the research that was reported in Our Firm Foundation, September 1991. I set forth my conclusion in this statement:

“In neither Ellen White’s writings nor her practice was there anything to support the view that all tithe, regardless of circumstances, must be paid through regular channels.”

The writer of the Review tract article challenges this conclusion and sets forth a series of arguments in support of the view that all tithe must be paid through the regular church channels, apparently regardless of circumstances. He sees it as the correct understanding of Ellen White’s writings on the subject.

For purposes of analysis, we will group his arguments as follows:

  1. Argument from the Scriptures
  2. Arguments from the Spirit of Prophecy
  3. Arguments regarding Document File 213
  4. Arguments based on supernatural powers
  5. Arguments ad hominem, against the man
  6. Theological questions

Argument From the Scriptures

We use “argument” in the singular form because there is only one scriptural argument presented:

“The Old Testament gives clear instruction for the return and use of the tithe. The New Testament does not elaborate further, except to endorse the necessity of tithe paying.” Page 2

Let us compare this statement with 1 Corinthians 9, in which the apostle Paul responds to questions about his credentials and his right to the financial support of the people. The general principles set forth in the first twelve verses are brought to a specific conclusion in verses 13 and 14:

“Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? And they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.”

Verse 13 is an obvious reference to the tithing system, by which the Levites were supported. Verse 14 specifically applies the same principle to another group. And who are they? “They which preach the gospel.”

Their credentials are the gospel which they preach. And was Paul a pluralist? Was he saying that preachers of any gospel and all gospels are to be supported by the tithe? We will find the answer in Galatians 1: 8- 9:

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

Does “let him be accursed” equate with “Let him be supported by the tithe?” And notice that Paul includes even himself in the warning, saying “Though we preach any other gospel unto you….” Is he not putting the test of truth above all other tests? Is he not telling them that the true gospel is the highest of all credentials? So much so that they should refuse to listen to even Paul himself if he came back to them preaching a different gospel, a new theology? How, then, can it be argued that if a minister is a member of a certain church and carries credentials from that church, he is entitled to be supported by the tithes of God’s people regardless of what gospel he preaches?

Arguments From the Spirit of Prophecy

Unfortunately, much of the material in this area is wasted, because it does not deal with the question before us. The longest series of Spirit of Prophecy quotations presented are warnings against withholding tithe, a practice which no one is defending. All of the parties involved in the present discussion believe that tithe paying is a sacred duty. None would approve of withholding it.

Similarly, much attention is given to the Spirit of Prophecy counsels regarding the proper use of the tithe to support the ministers of the gospel, a matter concerning which there is no significant disagreement. All of the parties involved are committed to following these inspired counsels, although in his list of the proper uses of the tithe, the writer might have included this instruction: “But while some go forth to preach, He calls upon others to answer to His claims upon them for tithes and offerings with which to support the ministry, and to spread the printed truth all over the land” Testimonies, vol. 4, 472; emphasis supplied in all quotations

Emphasis in the Review tract is placed upon a caution against any person “gathering up tithes,” which I would understand to mean solicitation. I do not know of any independent ministry that solicits tithe. Tithe comes to the independent ministries voluntarily from church members who are weary of false teachings being presented in their particular churches. Most of these church members have been faithful tithe payers for many years. Their devotion and fidelity to this Bible truth is not different from their devotion and fidelity to the other truths of our faith which they cannot bear to see changed. Where truth is taught, tithe is paid. That is the bottom line.

A strong attempt is made to apply Ellen White’s warnings against withholding tithe to the payment of tithe through other than the regular church channels. Two lines of reasoning are set forth in support of this proposition.

First, it is argued that for Ellen White the expression “the Lord’s treasury” meant only church and conference treasuries. This statement is in spite of the fact that when she herself sent tithe directly to needy ministers, and not through church or conference treasuries, she wrote, “The money is not withheld from the Lord’s treasury.” (The Watson letter, quoted in Review tract, page 13.) How, then, can it be maintained that for her “the lord’s treasury” meant only church and conference treasuries?

The Review tract writer apparently anticipated this question and offered what is, to my mind’ a very unsatisfactory explanation. After having admonished us that for Ellen White “the lord’s treasury” meant always and only the church and conference treasuries, he then tells us that when Ellen White’s tithe was sent directly to needy ministers, bypassing church and conference treasuries, it was not withheld from the lord’s treasury because they were Seventhday Adventist ministers.

Readers may decide for themselves whether this attempt to walk on both sides of the street at once is persuasive. Would not this interpretation open the door for all of us to bypass church and conference treasuries and send our tithe directly to needy ministers of our choice?

The second line of reasoning advanced in support of the claim that for Ellen White “the Lord’s treasury” meant only church and conference treasuries is that for Ellen White the word “means” does not generally include tithe but is applied only to offerings. Since only this argument was new to me, I checked it out carefully, and quickly discovered that the claim does not bear up well under investigation.

I went to that marvelous invention, the “CD Rom,” as produced by the White Estate, and asked it to report whether in Ellen White’s writings the words tithe, tithes, tithing, and tenth, were ever used in connection with the word means. It promptly supplied 168 references in which these words were used in such a manner as to make it impossible to separate them from the word means, which obviously included them. In some passages tithes and offerings together are referred to as means, and in other passages tithe alone is referred to as means. For the sake of brevity, we will provide here a sampling of those statements that do not include offerings: “Every soul who is honored in being a steward of God is to carefully guard the tithe money. This is sacred means.” Manuscript Releases. vol. 1, 185

“There are a large number of names on our church books; and if all would be prompt in paying an honest tithe to the lord, which is His portion, the treasury would not lack for means.” Counsels on Stewardship, 95

“Of the means which is entrusted to man, God claims a certain portion- a tithe.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 149 “God has given special direction as to the use of the tithe. He does not design that His work shall be crippled for want of means.” Gospel Workers, 224

“Should means flow into the treasury exactly according to God’s plan- a tenth of all the increase, there would be abundance to carry forward His work.” Evangelism, 252

“And in view of this the Lord commands us, ‘Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house; ‘ that is, a surplus of means in the treasury.” Review and Herald, vol. 2, 18

“If all of our people paid a faithful tithe, there would be more means in the treasury.” Ibid., vol. 4, 507

“With an increase of numbers would have come an increase of tithe, providing means to carry the message to other places.” Pamphlet No. 67,9

“If all, both rich and poor, would bring their tithes into the storehouse, there would be a sufficient supply of means.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 475

Since Ellen White went into print 168 times with statements clearly identifying tithes as means, (sometimes using duplicate words), it is difficult to understand how the Review tract writer could have reached an opposite conclusion. And since his representation that for Ellen White the expression “the lord’s treasury” means only church and conference treasuries is not supported by either of the two evidences he offers, it collapses of its own weight. It deprives of all validity the attempt to apply Ellen White’s warnings against “withholding tithe” to those who do not withhold tithe but, rather, send it to ministers that they feel are faithful to our message. And it gives particular force to her statement:

“All the means is not to be handled by one agency or organization.” Spalding- Magan Collection, 421

Arguments Regarding Document File 213

As was stated in my article in Our Firm Foundation, September 1991, this file contains a record of the plans that were made by Willie White, Ellen White’s son and secretary; General Conference President A. 0. Daniells; Elder W. W. Prescott; and others to deal with criticisms of Ellen White that had been published by a Dr. Stewart in the year 1907. Stewart had charged Ellen White with inconsistency in that she recommended paying tithe through organizational channels, yet did not always follow her own counsel. Their proposal for dealing with the challenge was set forth in these words:

“As to the proper use of the tithe: the outline of a statement upon this subject which was agreed upon was briefly this: to give extracts from Sister White’s writings as to the tithe and its use; to show that her testimony and her own usual practice was in favor of paying the tithe into the regularly designated treasury, to be used under the counsel of the committees appointed for such purposes; to show further from her writings that when those who have charge of the expenditure of the tithe so far fail in the discharge of their duty that the regularly organized channels for the distribution of the tithe become hindrances to its proper use, then in order to carry out the divine plan that the tithe should be expended in the wisest manner for the furtherance of the work, individuals have the right to pay their tithes direct to needy fields; but that this involves a considerable degree of personal responsibility, which must be assumed by those who decide to follow this plan. It was thought that this matter could be handled in a way to show that the departure from the regular plans was authorized only when the regular plans failed to be carried out by those in positions of responsibility.”

The Review tract writer tries to offset this evidence by the following methods: First, doubt is cast upon the authorship and dating of the document. I see no reason for such doubts. The file contains four letters from Dr. Stewart on the subject, all addressed to Willie White. There is also a letter of response from Willie White to Dr. Stewart. The notes, or “memoranda,” contain ten references to Willie White as the one who should answer certain questions. The most significant of the ten for the purposes of our inquiry is

“Tithe— to whom it should be paid: “Refer this to W. C. White. Very important.” In the light of this evidence it appears that to question Willie White’s involvement in the proceedings is hardly reasonable. And to question the date is not more reasonable. The four letters if of Dr. Stewart to Willie White are dated October 22, 1906; May 8, 1907; June 10, 1907; and June 24, 1907. Willie White’s letter to Dr. Stewart is dated June 9, 1907. The book by Dr. Stewart was published in mid- October, 1907, and a copy was sent to Willie White on October 27, 1907. The “memoranda” which includes the statement about tithe makes specific reference to this book. These facts seem to adequately establish the date for all practical purposes.

Second, the Review tract writer proposes that these men did not properly understand Ellen White’s thinking regarding the tithe, and supports this proposal with a most unhelpful comparison. He refers to a vision of heavenly planets given to Ellen White in 1846 in the presence of James White and Joseph Bates, who assumed that she was seeing Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. Then, we are told:

“Closeness to a prophet does not guarantee correctness.” We are asked to accept this as evidence that Ellen White’s son Willie, who had been her personal secretary and companion for twenty- six years, did not understand her thinking regarding the tithe, a matter concerning which she had gone into print well over a thousand times. The Review tract writer, viewing the situation from a distance of more than 80 years, seems to feel he has a better understanding of her thinking than Willie White did.

This reasoning strains the credulity to the breaking point.

Another attempt to discredit Document File 213 will be commented on in section 4. Before leaving this section we must mention a puzzling question and answer found on page 5 of the tract:

  1. “I’ve heard it said that other women who joined Mrs. White in her ‘tithe project’ for the Southern ministers didn’t send their tithe through Mrs. White but sent it directly to needy ministers, and that she must have approved of such actions. Is this so?”
  2. “No.” (Followed by a lengthy explanation.) I do not understand how the writer proposes to harmonize this statement with the following lines in the Watson letter, which appears on page 13 of the Review tract:

“If there have been cases where our sisters have appropriated their tithe to the support of the ministers working for the colored people in the South, let every man, if he is wise, hold his peace….

“I commend those sisters who have placed their tithe where it is most needed to help do a work that is being left undone.”

Especially puzzling is the writer’s recommendation that “the only safe course to follow, as regards Mrs. White’s position on the tithe question, is to let her speak for herself.” Page 6

Why, then, should the writer pose two questions about Ellen White’s writings (on pages 5 and 6) and refer us to two interpreters of Ellen White’s writings for the answers? We are reminded of her own words:

“My Instructor said to me, Tell these men that God has not committed to them the work of measuring, classifying, and defining the character of the testimonies.” Selected Messages, book 1,49

I intend no disrespect to anyone, but I prefer to look at Ellen White’s writings with my own eyes and not through the eyes of another.

Arguments Based on Supernatural Knowledge

On page six of the tract we find two statements that go far beyond human knowledge and could only be made by persons who are writing with supernatural wisdom of some kind.

In the first, a White Estate archivist makes reference to the Document File 213 and writes: “The Watson letter is the only Ellen White statement from which they formed their conclusions.” Compare this with some lines from the statement itself: “To give extracts from Sister White’s writings…. To show that her testimony and her own usual practice….. To show further from her writings.”

We see here no indication that they considered nothing but the Watson letter In the absence of such an indication, to state what they did or did not consider would require supernatural knowledge.

On page 6 of the tract we find this bold statement: “And it is an undeniable fact that Mrs. White never counseled anyone to place his or her tithes anywhere except in the denominational ‘treasury.” ‘

This is breathtaking. How could any human being know with such certainty what Ellen White never did? Only by supernatural knowledge. A logician would point out that nothing can be proved by the absence of evidence. It would be more accurate and more modest for a writer to state that he had found no evidence of such counsel in the written records. But, to firmly state as an “undeniable fact” that she never gave any such counsel would surely require godlike powers.

Similar in nature is the bold statement on page 9 of the tract: “Ellen White never even considered such an option.” How can any human being state with such assurance what another person has or has not considered? Would not this require supernatural knowledge?

On page 10 the Review tract writer does not hesitate to tell us what Ellen White intended and on page 15 he explains to us what Ellen White had in mind on a certain occasion. All of this requires powers that are not possessed by ordinary humans. Most of us would have to admit that we are not able to read the minds of our contemporaries, much less the minds of persons who died long before we were born. Surely such statements should be regarded with extreme caution.

Arguments Ad Hominem

A long established principle of discussion is that those who have evidence will present their evidence, whereas those who do not have evidence will attack the man. This is called the argument ad hominem, against the man, also expressed in the statement:

“As evidence decreases, vehemence increases.” It is to be regretted that the Review tract writer makes several references to those who “solicit or accept” tithe. As stated earlier, I have never heard of any ministry that solicits tithe. Also as stated before, tithe comes to independent ministries unbidden from distressed and disenchanted church members. Ellen White herself did not reject such tithe. (See the Watson letter.)

Neither have I ever heard of anyone who accuses the church of being in apostasy simply because of a different view regarding the human nature of Christ. See “Theological Questions” below. For the evidence which causes most historic Adventists to reject the author’s reasoning about the human nature of Christ, we refer the reader to our 365- page research report, The Word Was Made Flesh, available from Hope International.

When a writer proposes that he will present to us a “fair reading” of Ellen White’s writings (page 11), he is alleging that only an unfair person could understand the matter differently than he does.

And to suggest or imply that persons who quote a portion of a long statement have sinister purposes m mind is again to lay claim to supernatural abilities to read minds and to judge motives.

Since Ellen White strongly indicated in the Watson letter that she preferred that her personal handling of tithe funds not be widely advertised, it is alleged that persons like myself who have made reference to the letter are at fault. This allegation overlooks the fact that the entire letter has been published twice by the White Estate itself, in 1987 in Manuscript Releases, Vol. 11, pages 99- 100, and in 1981 in Elder Arthur White’s Ellen 0. White: The Early Elmshaven Years, pages 3953%. To fault those who now make reference to it is hardly candid.

The tendency to use the argument against the man reaches its climax on page 7, where it is proposed that it may eventually be discovered that

(1) “Those who now take the position that the church has apostatized were themselves guilty of apostasy.”

We respond again that the vast majority of the thousands of members who are calling for the church to return to its pure teachings are not saying that the church has apostatized. They are saying there is apostasy in the church, which the Review tract writer himself concedes (page 3). And we take exception to the writer’s definition of these people’s views about God’s storehouse:

(2)… “teaching others that God’s ‘storehouse’ today is the treasury of any place where Sabbath- keeping religious work for Christ is being performed.”

I have never heard of any person who would so describe the storehouse. To so characterize those who are pleading for the church to hold to all of the doctrines of our historic faith, including the sanctuary, the three angel’s messages, and so on, is not appropriate.

I must commend the Review tract writer, however, for not indulging in the type of argument “against the man” that some others are employing. The allegation is that those who are appealing for the church to heed and follow God’s counsels are setting themselves up as “more holy,” “holy ones,” “pious critics,” “the only ones who are right.” These allegations constitute the nadir, in my opinion, of the arguments against the man.

It is left to the considered judgment of the reader how well the cause of truth is served by such allegations as these. As for the Review tract writer’s attempt to apply the principle of Matthew 18: 15 to the present problem in the church, I refer the reader to Testimonies, Volume 2, page 15, where it is emphasized that Matthew 18: 15 applies to personal injuries, not church problems.

The Review tract writer does not seem to allow for an independent ministry to be legitimate and loyal unless it is to some degree under the supervision and/ or control of the church organization. This is similar to the views expressed in the eleven demands that were made upon independent ministries some time ago. According to P. T. Magan, who with E. A. Sutherland was a co- founder of Madison College, Ellen White’s views were a bit different. From Magan’s copious diaries we excerpt a few lines:

August 8, 1904: “He [E. A. Sutherland?] says that he worked with W. C. White during the forenoon getting articles and plans ready regarding the incorporation of the school at Nashville. In the afternoon he met with Daniels,( the General Conference president,) Prescott, (field secretary of the General Conference,) Griggs, Washburn, Byrd, and W. C. White to consider our plan of organization. Daniels did not like it.”

As later entries in the diary indicate, the Spirit of the Lord was giving instructions through Ellen White to the founders of Madison College which the General Conference president did not like. August 9, 1904: “Talk with Mrs. E. G. White and W. C. White regarding our plans for organization. She said we were not to go under the dominion of the Southern Union Conference.”

August 14, 1906: “Spent forenoon with Daniels. Told him why our school was independent and would have to eat showbread.” May 7, 1907: “Talked with Sister White regarding attitude of General Conference toward us. Mrs. Sara McEnterfer and Lillian present. Told Sister White about the administration view that we had no right to go and get money unless we were owned by the conference. She replied: “You are doing double what they are. Take all the donations you can get. The money belongs to the Lord and not to these men. The position they take is not of God. The Southern Union Conference is not to own or control you. You cannot turn things over to them.”

May 14, 1907: “I talked to her [E. G. White] about the General Conference position that concerns non- conference owned should have no money. She answered: ‘Daniels and those with him are taking a position on this matter that is not of God. ‘”

May 23, 1907: “Spent the forenoon with W. C. White. He gave me Sister White’s letters to Daniels regarding us. He told me he did not agree with the administration at Washington in insisting that all monies pass through their hands. Said that he would not agree to our going under conference domination.”

As is noted by the Review tract writer, Ellen White served as a board member of Madison College. This would seem to indicate that in her view an institution and/ or a ministry could be totally independent from the church organization and still be approved by. the Lord. But, as in Ellen White’s time, this view is still not appreciated by some of our church administrators.

Theological Questions

Although we have already pointed out that the heart of the present tithe issue is a theological problem, the theological points raised by the Review tract writer have been purposely deferred to this section for comment.

After conceding that there is apostasy in the church, the Review tract writer strangely takes no notice at all of the fact that this apostasy is the immediate and urgent concern of probably 95 percent of the people whom he is trying to correct. This apostasy is the specific reason for the redirection of their tithe.

Instead of dealing with this problem, the writer addresses his remarks toward a minuscule group who may be guilty of various charges that he directs at them. This tactic is not helpful to the thousands of church members who are not doing the things that he deplores, but who are deeply concerned about the increasing apostasy in the church. Their question is, Why does he not address our problem? Why doesn’t he talk to us?

And I wish to address to the Review tract writer, as well as to all others who have expressed similar concerns, the same question: Why don’t you talk to us? Why do you tilt at windmills? Why do you flog dead horses? Why do you focus on the symptoms and ignore the disease? Why do you set up straw men and then beat them to pieces while we can only look on in wonderment?

The vast majority of church members who are variously known as “historic Adventists,” “Independents,” and so forth, do not recognize themselves at all in the pictures often painted. The Review tract writer sets out to fault and hopefully correct certain persons whom he apparently suspects of evil purposes toward the church. He identifies these persons by three characteristics which he vigorously condemns:

  1. Solicitation of tithe,
  2. Saying that the church is in apostasy, and
  3. Basing the above accusation on a view of the nature of Christ. When the writer repeatedly describes the offenders as persons who solicit tithe, we can only respond that we do not know of whom he is speaking. I, personally, have never heard of any person who solicits tithe.

When the writer faults persons who say the church is in apostasy, we wonder, “To whom is he referring?”

And when the Review tract writer takes aim at persons who allegedly set forth a different view of the nature of Christ as the basis of their accusation that the church is in apostasy, we ask again, “Of whom is he speaking?” I have never heard of such persons.

The people to whom I minister have enormously larger concerns. They are witnessing, for example, rejection of our sanctuary doctrine, the introduction into our church of false Calvinistic doctrines of justification and sanctification, rejection of the Spirit of Prophecy, and a general lowering of the church standards. They are not helped by the singling out of the nature of Christ as if that were the only issue.

We pause to point out that the true doctrine of the nature of Christ is set forth in the new Seventh- day Adventists Believe, pages 37- 56. Check and see. The Review tract writer places before us an unhelpful comparison of the present apostasy with the pantheistic apostasy of Dr. J. H. Kellogg. We must remember that Kellogg’s apostasy was met head- on. It was not ignored until apostasy had spread through a large portion of the church, as is happening today. A. 0. Daniels, General Conference president at the time, used the power and influence of his office to defend the truth and to oppose the error. We look in vain for such decisive action today, in spite of clear Spirit of Prophecy counsels that apply to both apostasies.

There is a crying need for communication on the part of our church leaders, a communication that includes some attentive, open- minded listening. There are mountains of misunderstanding.

I am finding it more and more difficult to persuade the historic Adventists to whom I minster that the misinformation that is being constantly circulated about them is done in ignorance and not with malice. It is not easy to explain to those who want only to believe and practice the faith that they accepted when they joined our church why they should now be called divisive, controversial, troublemakers, legalists, rightwingers, destructive critics, attackers of the church, and so forth. They see these epithets as grossly unfair, untrue allegations. I believe that any impartial court would agree with them. Surely any fair- minded person would agree that those who are promoting theological changes are the ones who produce division, and those who resist theological changes should not be so accused. To represent those people as attacking the church is absurd. To call for a church to be true to the counsels of the Lord is surely not attacking the church.

We now come to my strongest point of disagreement with the Review tract writer. He presents the following question and answer:

  1. “I recently read that the SDA church leadership is out to resolve its ‘tithe- problem’ by ‘crushing’ and ‘destroying’ independent ministries that are doing a lot of good. Is this so?”
  2. “The answer is No.” (It is followed by a lengthy explanation.) I do not question the sincerity of the writer, but I do not find it possible to accept this answer. At a camp meeting in the Northwest in 1991, a speaker who represents our church administration at its highest level unburdened himself of some opinions about independent ministries. When audio tapes of his messages were sent to me, I listened in deep sadness to language that was inaccurate, intemperate, and highly inflammatory. When copied to typewriter paper, the tirade filled two pages single- spaced, and ended with an appeal to his hearers to “deal with” the offenders in their local churches.

The speaker apparently was not even aware of his inappropriate use of the word “new” to describe the views regarding the nature of Christ that are held by most of the historic Adventists. There are 1200 statements from pre- 1950 Seventh- day Adventist writers, including 400 from Ellen White, to support the position that the historic Adventist view is the “old” and the Calvinistic view is the “new.” Sadly, the speaker seems to regard these 1200 statements as “snake- oil.”

I know of no independent ministry whose books are not audited. I know of no independent ministry that pays anyone a yearly salary of $100,000 or more. Far, far from it. All of the independent ministries of my acquaintance are legally registered as nonprofit corporations and can provide donors with full accountability in the form of tax- deductible receipts. I know of no independent ministry that is trying to divide or destroy the church. Many independent workers are former denominational workers, intensely loyal to the church, who feel called to the work they are doing.

When a church administrator compares certain Seventh- day Adventists to the butchers of Auschwitz and Dachau who exterminated millions of Jews, I feel that we are forced to recognize that it is an attempt to fan the flames of passion against those church members, preparatory to disfellowshiping them. Already it seems that some other church leaders are taking the cue and are adding fuel to the flames.

But will this injustice crush and destroy the faith of those who do not wish to change their theology? I doubt it. It might even cause that faith to grow and to multiply. It has happened before in the history of religion.

A retired Union Conference president said to me recently, “I hope the brethren will not forget that our conservative members are the financial backbone of our church.” This point is worthy of reflection.

To summarize and to state the problem in simple terms: The Seventh- day Adventist church today contains three groups of church members. At one end of the spectrum is a group who know very well what they are doing. They are working vigorously to change the doctrines of our church and with the flexibility of method provided by their theological principle that God does not expect anyone to stop sinning. Hence, the misrepresentations, false allegations, and so on.

At the other end of the spectrum is another group who know very well what they are doing trying to preserve in their purity the doctrines of our church and to prepare a people for the coming of the Lord. In spite of bitter opposition and misrepresentation, this group is growing very rapidly.

In the center of the spectrum is a third and larger group who apparently have not yet comprehended what the tensions are about, or who lack the courage of their convictions.

Over all preside our church administrators, most of whom seem to be looking on, either benignly or indifferently, while attempts are being made to change our theology, from time to time issuing piteous pleas for unity which can only remind us of the Ellen White warning:

“We are to unify, but not upon a platform of error.” Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 2, article “Freedom in Christ,” 47

And we are presently witnessing what appears to be an orchestrated propaganda campaign, conducted for the purpose of fanning the flames of prejudice against historic/ independent church members, preparatory to disfellowshiping them from the church.

So— the historic Adventists continue to ask, “Why will nobody talk to us? Why can we not even be granted a fair hearing? Why are we being so continuously misrepresented and falsely accused? And why do those who thus deal with us yet think they have a right to demand our tithes and offerings?”

I submit that these are valid questions. Since this article began with questions about tithe, let me conclude it with some final thoughts on that subject. Recently I sat in a meeting with a thousand other church members and listened to a General Conference representative repeatedly denounce “the independent ministries who are draining off the church’s money.”

I listened in silence, but the language of my heart was, “Get real, Brother. Get real.” I had heard in my own church a pastor say that televangelist Jerry Falwell counts Seventh-day Adventists as his second largest group of financial supporters. It was stated that the source of this information was a Union Conference secretary. I telephoned’ the secretary, and he verified the report. He had heard it from Falwell’s own lips.

The Union secretary added that an Adventist Church member who had spent some time working with televangelist Pat Robertson’s organization reported the same was true there. When we remember that these men count their receipts in many millions of dollars per year, we have to recognize that the portion they receive from Seventh- day Adventists, their second highest donor group, must also be measured in millions. It is doubtful that the combined budgets of all the Adventist independent ministries would equal what even one of these televangelists is collecting from Seventh- day Adventists each year.

Why is nobody asking why? Why do so many of our leaders seem to be unaware of the malaise that is affecting so many of our churches, where so few messages from the pulpit reflect any sense of the urgency of our task? Is it any wonder that church members, who have never doubted that our Creator is a loving, caring God, (a message they could hear in most non-Seventh- day Adventist Christian churches) grow weary of hearing this truth endlessly repeated, and turn to preaching that seems to have more immediate significance?

Preaching the wonderful love of God we must do, but not leave the other undone. Let us remember that if Noah had done nothing but preach about a loving, earing God, there would have been no ark and his family would have perished in the Flood. If Moses had done nothing but preach about a loving, caring God there would have been no deliverance of God’s people from the land of bondage. If we do no more than preach about a loving, caring God, it will be necessary for God to raise up another people to take the three angels’ messages to the world. Our loving, caring God is a God of action, and His saving action for this world is in its final stages. The last warning message must go to the world. Will it be carried by a faithful Adventist ministry and people, or by those whom God calls to take their places?

And now a thought question. There are two distinct series of Ellen White predictions about the Adventist ministry of the end- time. One series describes how unfaithful ministers will arise among us, and is expressed in such shockingly clear statements as these:

“Many will stand in our pulpits with the torch of false prophecy in their hands, kindled from the hellish torch of Satan.” Testimonies to Ministers, 409- 410

“In the very midst of us will arise false teachers, giving heed to seducing spirits whose doctrines are of satanic origin. These teachers will draw away disciples after themselves.” Review aud Herald, vol. 5, 9

The other series of predictions emphasizes that in the closing work God will pass by many ministers who have been trained in “literary institutions,” and will call men from their regular employment to finish the preaching of our message. See The Great Controversy, 608, and Testimonies, vol. 5, page 80 Two classes of ministers are thus placed before us. One group are highly educated but selfconfident, self- dependent, and in some cases unfaithful. The other group, though having less formal education, place their confidence in God, in His Word, and in the Spirit of Prophecy.

Which of these two groups of ministers, according to your convictions, should be supported by our tithes? And are we safe in assuming that this description is a faraway scenario that will probably not occur in our time?

Two very powerful forces within the Seventh- day Adventist Church are now on a collision course and seem to be moving inexorably toward what may well be a major confrontation. One force is represented by the rapidly increasing number of church members who are reacting against changes in our theology and are making firm decisions that, come what may, by God’s grace, they will be true to the Scriptures and to the Spirit of Prophecy.

The other force is represented in what appears to be a heedless, headstrong authoritarianism in which there is an equally firm determination that regardless of circumstances, all church members must be required to submit to the authority of the church. Theological questions, the heart of the problem, are being brushed aside as irrelevant, or are themselves being subordinated to church authority in an echo of the papal policy that the Scriptures mean whatever the church says they mean.

We cannot but view the scene with apprehension as we reflect about similar confrontations in the past. It was headstrong authoritarianism that divided Israel from Judah in the days of Rehoboam. It was similar authoritarianism that divided the followers of Christ from Israel in New Testament times and that divided Protestants from Catholics in Reformation times. Will it be the same with us? Is the remnant church foredoomed to also founder in the shoals of authoritarianism? Or might we yet be able to turn the church back from disaster by joining the apostle Paul in placing the test of truth above all other tests?

As we ponder such matters, we find ourselves struggling with two concepts. On the one hand we have a hope, to which we cling desperately, that the church we love so ardently will recover and complete our God- given task.

On the other hand, we have before us the Spirit of Prophecy predictions that our church will experience an enormous convulsion as we near the end of time, a shaking and a purging that will take many of our leaders and more than half of our members out of the church.

Which experience are we now entering? Will we be granted a respite? Or must we brace ourselves for the shaking time?

In any case, let us remember that the greatest hours of our message, the loud cry and the latter rain, are after the shaking time. Let us take to our hearts the words of the lord to Joshua:

“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong.” Joshua 1: 9

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