ISSUES: Part III – No New Organization – Section II

by Marshall Grosboll

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: 9. (Texts are from the NKJ Version)

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 pro- creation 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 in 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” EW39. Why must the angels 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” DA 761. (All emphasis supplied)

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.”


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 wise 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 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. Many people do not 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” Ibid. Women, in the Bible, represent 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.


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 become 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: 381 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” Ibid., verses 9, 10. Caleb and Joshua, in 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 Disfellowshipping.) 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 Disfellowshipped? 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” Ibid., verse 37. 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!


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 servants 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” ‘ 18MR 223.

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 them [Moses and Aaron] at the door of the tabernacle of meeting” Numbers 16: 19.

Did God recognize Korah’s position simply because 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.


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 com mon people— he was no respecter of persons. 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 unrepented 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” UL 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 before God 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 those 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” 1T 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” 5T 211.


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 counsels 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 easily 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” DA9O. 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.


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 is 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 of 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” ST 136.


“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 Spirit 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 7/ 9/ 95.

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 hail 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— 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 7/ 23/ 95.

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 charisma and good leadership abilities, 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 conference- appointed 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” 1T 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 ought 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 of representing 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 4/ 3/ 01.


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 because 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 arm . . . . 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 1,800 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 in because men did not receive the testimonies of the Spirit of God” 13MR 122. 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.


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 Spalding 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 individuals 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. It 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.


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 1SM 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 do not apply to today. In our educational work, our administrative work and our medical work, it seems that self- rule and independence has become the rule of the day. God’s counsels, they reason, do not apply anymore. “Times have changed. These words strengthen their unbelief” ST 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 do not 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. I then asked: “What 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 in 1905 when the Colorado Conference president 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 that we should make our complaints known but that we should not withhold our tithe (9T 249). 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 1T 261, 262; 2T 552; SpM 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, 1443, 1444). Some have formed such strong opinions and policies that they think 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.


As there have always been, so today there are two kinds of independent ministries. We read about Jesus: “From childhood He acted independently of the rabbinical laws” DA 84. John the Baptist had a ministry independent 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 institution independent 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, “We will secure a hall in the city and the words God has given Bro. Jones to speak the people shall have them” 1888, 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 because 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.

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, 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 counsel from 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), and rejects the plain counsel of the Lord, it has become an independent ministry. [A new organization] Whenever a ministry that is designated as independent 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.


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 believing the truth, through humility toward self and love toward one another; where the full gospel was preached in all its purity and power; and 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) and 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- sought- for 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).

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ISSUES: Part III – No New Organization – Section I

issues 3 no new organizationSECTION I – NO NEW ORGANIZATION


Those who do not uphold God’s law are joining the new organization that was started by Satan.

Thousands of years ago in heaven God presided over a wonderful organization, a wonderful government. This government had representatives. We read in Patricachs and Prophets, page 36, about a time when God called a meeting shortly before the overt beginning of the great controversy and all the representatives of the unfallen worlds were present Although God’s government had representatives, it was not a democracy and no elections were ever held because our God is not only the Creator, He is a great king; and Jesus Christ the only begotten of God shared the Father’s throne, having equal authority, divinity and power with the Father. “The Father then made known that it was ordained by Himself that Christ, His Son, should be equal with Himself; so that wherever was the presence of His Son, it was as His own presence. The word of the Son was to be obeyed as readily as the word of the Father” LHU 18. Christ was “not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, but a Son begotten in the express image of the Father’s person, and in all the brightness of his majesty and glory, one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection. In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” ST 5/ 23/ 95.

Although the Father and the Son had absolute power and authority and had a law which governed the entire universe, their rule was very beneficent and mild. It came to the angels almost as a matter of surprise that God had a law when Lucifer brought it up as a point of contention.

We know that the organization or government of God had the following characteristics: (1) Only the service of love was desired— the use of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government (DA 22). (2) God willed to give to both the angels and to man freedom of will. This is the highest possible level of freedom. (3) Although each is given freedom of will, each is responsible for the choices made. God’s government is moral, that is, it is based on ethical principles which each citizen must at all times be in harmony with to remain a subject of the divine government. (4) To prevent the possibility of making a seriously wrong choice that would bring disaster and suffering on one’s self and others, God had (and still does have) a law that explicitly defines morality or right and wrong. This law although very brief is comprehensive enough to maintain peace and order and allow for the fullest development of happiness by all creatures in the universe and is of such pivotal importance it is the foundation of God’s government. (See GC 493.) In God’s government, the truth is always primary and to communicate anything at all that is not true is to step outside the perimeter of God’s government and start your own independent organization or government. (5) There was no hierarchy in God’s government— there was only one Lord and only one Father who was all in all. (6) Jesus Christ, being one with the Father from eternity, was exalted over all created intelligences and was the One who participated in the councils of the deity. (7) Another characteristic of God’s government is the necessity of work and bearing fruit or producing results. (See John 15: 1- 7.) Heaven is a place of intense activity. The Father and the Son are both constant and earnest workers and so are all the angels. If we are to be members of God’s organization we must be laborers together with God. There was one who wanted to reorganize the government of God. He wanted to start a new organization. He did not claim to be doing this. He said that he just wanted to improve on God’s government, but the government of God being perfect, any change would not be an improvement and God would not consent to a new organization.


God Himself had established the order of heaven. Lucifer decided to dispute the supremacy of Christ. His work to start a new organization involved an attempt, first of all, to change the law of God— specifically to effect a change in the first commandment which says, “You shall have no other Gods before me” Exodus 20: 2. He wanted to be equal with Christ and this would require a change in the first commandment. It is important to recognize that whenever there is an attempt to change God’s law that men have entered into a new organization which God has not authorized.

Lucifer began to insinuate doubts concerning the laws of God, intimating that they were not necessary for angels. He claimed to be loyal to the divine government and to be working for its stability when actually he was fomenting discord and rebellion.

Many of God’s loyal, faithful and true Seventh- day Adventist people today are being accused of separating from “God’s faithful movement” and starting a new organization. The charge has been tossed about far and near in various printed materials and needs to be carefully examined. Before you can rightfully accuse someone of separating and starting a new organization, you must know what it means to stay with the movement and stay loyal to God’s organization. Let us begin by looking at three inspired statements:

“But let it ever be remembered that the work must move solidly and in complete harmony with God’s plan of organization” 1SM 112.

God’s work is the same in all time, although there are different degrees of development and different manifestations of His power to meet the wants of men in the different ages. Beginning with he first gospel promise and coming down through he patriarchal and Jewish ages and even to the resent time, there has been a gradual unfolding of the purposes of God in the plan of redemption (PP 373).

Christ designs that heaven’s order, heaven’s plan of government, heaven’s divine harmony, shall be represented in His church on earth (DA 680).

We have already seen a few of the prominent characteristics of heaven’s order and plan of government. We are assured that God’s work is the same in all time so we may know when we are remaining true to God’s organization and when we have stepped off the foundation of God’s organization, even though we may call ourselves by the same name.

The church of God must have the same type of government as in heaven. To attempt to establish a different type of government is to start a new organization. When a new organization like this is started, it almost always retains the name of the original organization to give it legitimacy. But the original organization will always have the same identifying marks.

God’s plan of organization for His church today is no different than His plan for organization in heaven at the beginning of the great controversy. Our responsibility is to find out what that plan is and repent and come into harmony with it so that we are not condemned in the judgment for starting a new organization, which is always apostasy from the truth.

It is very serious to leave God’s organization and start something independently from Him. Following are a few ways that this is done.

1. “God has a church, and these churches are organized on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” Testimonies to Southern Africa, 7. If we cease to teach and preach and operate according to the principles of the New Testament and the Old Testament, we have stepped off the foundation and started a new organization. This is what happened to the Roman church in the second century: “Romanists have persisted in bringing against Protestants the charge of heresy and willful separation from the true church. But these accusations apply rather to themselves. They are the ones who laid down the banner of Christ and departed from ‘the faith which was once delivered unto the saints’ Jude 3” GC 51. If you lay down the banner of Christ and depart from the faith once delivered unto the saints, you have started a new organization and the only saving way out of that situation is to repent, confess, make restitution and commit to stand again on the truth of God’s word. If that is not done, all is lost for that organization. If anyone is accused of starting a new organization, it must first be proved that they have left God’s organization. Paul went all over the world establishing new churches, but none of these were new organizations— they were just an enlargement of God’s organization, His church. Every home church or other church established on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets is likewise an enlargement of God’s organization on earth, His church.

“We now need skillful generals to organize into working companies the Lord’s believing children. Nothing must be looked upon as too great for us to undertake, if the Captain of the Lord’s host plans the work and arranges the battle and leads us forth, ‘terrible as an army with banners. ‘ Every movement will be a victory. We need Jesus as our constant Leader” Testimonies to Southern Africa, 44.

2. “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” John 18: 37. God has given to Seventh- day Adventists the present truth (II Peter 1: 12). If we leave this present truth, we have left the movement, God’s organization, and are in a new organization, even if we have the same name. “The burden of the warning now to come to the people of God, nigh and afar off, is the third angel’s message. And those who are seeking to understand this message will not be led by the Lord to make an application of the Word that will undermine the foundation and remove the pillars of the faith that has made Seventh- day Adventists what they are today” 2SM 103. “I saw a company who stood well guarded and firm, giving no countenance to those who would unsettle the established faith of the body. God looked upon them with approbation. I was shown three steps— the first, second, and third angels’ messages. Said my accompanying angel, ‘Woe to him who shall move a block or stir a pin of these messages. The true understanding of these messages is of vital importance” ‘ EW 258.

What is this platform? It is the messages in Revelation 14: 6- 12, and we are forbidden to step off of this platform. The first angel’s message in verses 6 and 7 proclaims that the hour of God’s judgment has come. This message cannot be proclaimed without an understanding of the sanctuary and the 2300 days prophecy, and the investigative judgment. Those who have left this historic Adventist teaching have stepped off the platform and are no longer a part of the organization founded on the prophets and the apostles. The same is true concerning those who no longer know who Babylon is (the second angel’s message), those who no longer know who antichrist is (the third angel’s message), etc., and also those who believe that the law cannot be kept perfectly, that a person cannot perfectly overcome. They no longer believe Revelation 14: 12, which is part of the third angel’s message. All of these people have stepped off the platform of present truth and have become part of a new organization. God has sent historic Adventist preachers to these people for years to urge them to get back on the platform that the church militant stands on. Very soon opportunity for repentance and reform and getting back on the platform with the church militant will be over for professed- only Seventh- day Adventists. “In every age there is given to men their day of light and privilege, a probationary time in which they may become reconciled to God. But there is a limit to this grace. Mercy may plead for years and be slighted and rejected; but there comes a time when mercy makes her last plea. The heart becomes so hardened that it ceases to respond to the Spirit of God. Then the sweet, winning voice entreats the sinner no longer, and reproofs and warnings cease.” DA 587.

The awful possibility of the Seventh-day Adventist church organization starting a new organization independent from God is a matter of prophecy. Ellen White prophesied that what we are seeing today could happen. We will look at the 12 main points of the prophecy having to do with the new organization in Adventism. It was a conditional prophecy in her day. It is coming to pass in our day.

Following are the 12 main points of the prophecy. Ellen White wrote that the enemy of souls would seek to bring in among us the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Adventists. This reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith and engaging in a process of reorganization. Ellen  White then said that the result of this would be:

  1. Principles of truth that God…has given to the remnant church would be discarded—our religion would be changed.
  2. The fundamental principles that have sustained the work in the 19th century would be accounted as error.
  3. A new organization would be established.
  4. Books of a new order would be written.
  5. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced.
  6. The founders of this system would go into the cities to do a wonderful work.
  7. The Sabbath would be lightly regarded (as the God who created it).
  8. Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement.
  9. The leaders would teach that virtue is better than vice, but God being removed,
  10. They would place their dependence on human power, which, without God, is worthless.
  11. Their foundation would be built on the sand.
  12. Storm and tempest would sweep away the structure.

Let us look at each of these 12 points briefly.


Has our religion been changed? Have our teachings been changed? The book Apostasy is the Issue by Dr. Larson shows conclusively that this has occurred. Many authors have substantiated this fact. See also the booklet Issues: The Real Issue, the Side Issues, and the Pseudo-Issues by Dr. Larson, which also substantiates this fact.


Predicts that fundamental principles would be changed. What are the fundamental principles? The fundamental principles are as follows:

  1. Those doctrines that have made Seventh-day Adventists what they are: “Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayerful study, and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord. But the waymarks which have made us what we are, are to be preserved, and they will be preserved, as God has signified through His word and the testimony of His Spirit. He calls upon us to hold firmly, with the grip of faith, to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority” Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 2, p. 59 (1904).
  2. The fundamental principles will not lead a man to transgress God’s law. (See RH 7/05/92)
  3. When the fundamental principles are given up, usually opposition to the visions of Ellen White are an early manifestation. (See The Progressive Years, vol. 2, 149.)
  4. An article by James White in the Signs of the Times in 1874 briefly explains the fundamental principles of the Seventh-day Adventist faith.

Part of these fundamental principles included the doctrines included the doctrines of the investigative judgment beginning in 1844 (the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary), and not only a profession but a demonstration of living according to the counsels of the Spirit of Prophecy. The same books mentioned above document the fulfillment of point 2 of the prophecy.


A new organization would be established. When do you establish a new organization? When did the Roman church separate from the true church and establish a new organization? When they laid down the banner of Christ and departed from the faith once delivered unto the saints (GC 51). When the above two points have been fulfilled and the organization supports these changes, then you no longer have the same organization—you have a new organization established.

When the angels in heaven chose to follow Lucifer instead of Jesus Christ, they had decided to start a new organization. They claimed that they were only trying to improve or work for the good of the original organization, but actually they were starting a new organization. Jesus Christ is still the head of the church today (Ephesians 1:22, 23) as he has been the Commander and Captain of the Lord’s host from the days of eternity. If any organization or group of human leaders changes leaders so that Jesus is not the Head of their organization, then that is a new organization. Has this ever happened in Adventism and is there any possibility of it happening today? Inspiration gives the answer in the following statements:

  1. “There are some who in the past have had a correct experience, but who have changed leaders. Not all, but many have been beguiled. There are leaders who, before God can own and accept them, must first be converted, and led back to God. The beauty of His holiness is eclipsed by their unsanctified words and acts. They are strangers to God. They have no union with Him.” Special Testimonies, Series B, p. 19.
  2. “Let none suppose that because they have been used as the Lord’s instrumentalities, they are all-sufficient. The Lord uses men and honors them by giving them His wisdom, as long as they are true to Him, and do not gather glory to themselves. Those who make themselves capable of managing the work, are not led by His Spirit, but by ‘another spirit.’ Satan steps in, and they change leaders. Then comes the crookedness and subtlety of the serpent’s guile. Manuscript 37, May 1, 1903, ‘Directions for Work’” UL 135.
  3. “If you indulge stubborness of heart, and through pride and self-righteousness do not confess your faults, you will be left subject to Satan’s temptations. If when the Lord reveals your errors you do not repent or make confession, his providence will bring you over the ground again and again. You will be left to make mistakes of a similar character, you will continue to lack wisdom, and will call sin righteousness, and righteousness sin. The multitude of deceptions that will prevail in these last days will encircle you, and you will change leaders, and not know that you have done so.” RH 12/6/90.
  4. “I would caution all believers to learn to maintain a godly jealously over yourselves, lest Satan shall steal your heart away from God, and you slip unconsciously into work in Satan’s lines, without perceiving that you have changed leaders, and be found in the treacherous power of a tyrant.” RH 11/8/56.
  5. “This is a time when Satan’s deceptive power is exercised, not only upon the mind of those who are young and inexperienced, but upon the minds of men and women of mature years and of broad experience. Men in positions of responsibility are in danger of changing leaders. This I know; for it has been plainly revealed to me. I have been instructed that the enemy seeks to link up with men bearing large responsibilities in the Lord’s work, in order that he may fill their minds with evil devisings. Under his influence men will suggest many things that are contrary to the mind of God.” Special Testimonies, Series B, p. 48.
  6. “Men have broken God’s laws, and despised and trampled on His Sabbath. Thus they have broken their contract with God, and He cannot work in their behalf. The Lord tells us in words too plain to be misapprehended that that metal of the faith of His once chosen people is corrupted. They have a spurious faith. They have changed leaders, and no longer bear the King’s sign. They cannot be trusted in time of test or trial, for they will act the traitor’s part. They do not draw from the Lord’s foundry.” 15 MR 36.

According to these statements, it is possible for leaders in Adventism to change leaders and not even know it! When this happens, a new organization has been established because Jesus is the Head of the church and if His leadership is changed for the leadership of Lucifer, a new organization has been formed (although as at the beginning, it will be claimed that only efforts for the good of the original organization are promoted).


Books of a new order would be written. Again, this has been documented by many others in books such as Questions on Doctrine.


A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced. If you would like to see if a system of intellectual philosophy has been introduced, study such books as The Word Made Flesh by Dr. Larson or, for confirmation, read the book Issues Part II.


The founders of this system would go into the cities and do a wonderful work. The great apostasy in the second century began as a tremendous campaign to be more successful in evangelism. Here is predicted large scale evangelistic campaigns, but the result would not be people who were taught that they could keep all of God’s law—Sabbath-keeping would be lax among these new converts. Point #6 pinpoints a problem we have had in Adventism for many years now.


The Sabbath would be lightly regarded. Notice that the prophecy does not say that the Sabbath would be given up but that it would not be strictly kept. Is this happening where you live? If the church organization were to condone sending your children to school on Sabbath, would that fulfill this prophecy? That has been happening for many years in some parts of the world with the knowing silence of the Seventh-day Adventist world structure. (See The Kulakov File.)


Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement. This is being fulfilled before our very eyes. Anyone who protests the apostasy and will not bow to the new theological ideas today being promoted all over the world is stripped of church office, ostracized from all church functions (often not allowed to even pray or announce a song in public service) and then censured and finally disfellowshipped. We have found this happening in every part of the world where we have traveled, which includes most of the continents of the world. If the majority of the church stand for historic Adventism, the church is disbanded and then reorganized without the true and faithful Seventh-day Adventists.


The leaders would teach that virtue is better than vice—they would give lip service to much theological truth but the truth would not be lived out—professed but not practiced.

POINT #10:

They would put their dependence on human rather than divine power. When a church who is supposed to be the bride of Christ puts her trust in the arm of the state-either legislative, judicial or executive powers of the state-have they fulfilled this prophecy? If a church begins to sue members who do not agree with the leaders who are changing the historic doctrines of the church, is that church fulfilling this prophecy?

POINT #11:

Their foundation would be built on the sand. What does it mean to have your foundation built on the sand? It means that your life-practice is not in harmony with the teachings of Christ (Matthew 7:24-27). When we step off the foundation of the three angel’s messages and will no longer preach them but rather want to preach a peace and safety message, a love and unity message, when we have been called to do a work similar to Elijah and John the Baptist, we are stepping off the true foundation and building a foundation on the sand. Have you noticed that little preaching of the actual three angels’ messages taking place where you live? Have you noticed that many so-called Adventist preachers are afraid to preach the three angel’s messages today? What will be the result of this?

POINT #12:

Storm and tempest sweep away the structure! As of this writing, this last point in the prophecy has not yet been fulfilled. The only way to prevent it from being fulfilled is by a thorough repentance followed by confession and restitution and a stepping back on the true foundation, the true platform—retracing all the steps of apostasy that we have taken and following the Lord in simple, humble obedience to all inspired counsel.

It is thought by many that we do not need to concern ourselves about unsanctified ministers because God will take care of this, and the Sunday law crisis coming will shake them out—God will correct anything and everything that is wrong at the head of the work.

The shaking will indeed culminate in the Sunday law crisis, but that is not the beginning of the shaking and sifting which will separate the wheat and the tares. The shaking begins as a result of the introduction of false doctrines among God’s people (TM 112), which already happened decades ago. The second phase of the shaking is the presentation of the straight testimony (EW 270), which has been in progress in Adventism now for several years. These two developments separate the church into two distinct camps. “Divisions will come in the church. Two parties will be developed” 2SM 114. Then, in the third phase of the shaking, the church will be sifted by the fiery trials of the Sunday law crisis, which will not start but finish the shaking and sifting process. The reaction of people to the shaking process which is now well under-way will, in almost every case, determine the decision they will make in the great test soon to come: “The mark of the beast will be urged upon us. Those who have step by step yielded to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will not find it a hard matter to yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death.” 5T 81. Whether or not we are yielding to worldly demands and conforming to worldly customs now makes all the difference in our eternal destiny. The purpose of the shaking is to purify the church (2SG 284) and this process began a long time ago. It is not something that begins and ends in the Sunday law crisis—that is simply the final end of a process that we have been in for a long time already. The church is becoming progressively more and more purified by this shaking process.

In most churches, the majority reject the straight testimony upon which the destiny of the church hangs (EW 270) and finally cast out the true and faithful, which we see happening around the world at the present time. When this occurs, that church has gone through the second phase of the shaking and the true and faithful who are meeting in someone’s home are the true church; the rest, who have the building, the pastor, the “organization,” the money, etc. are professed-only church—they still have the name, the profession, but they have been shaken out of the true church. Though they maintain all the forms of religion (see GC 378, 614, 615; 5T 210, 682), these forms will be powerless to give them the spiritual strength to remain true in the Sunday law test. They will then manifest whose synagogue they are really members of.

If we support unsanctified ministers, we will meet the same fate that they meet: “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.

“If the truth has not sanctified, made pure and clean, the hands and heart of him who ministers in holy things, he is liable to speak according to his own imperfect experience; and when he speaks of himself, according to the decisions of his own unsanctified judgment, his counsel is not then of God, but of Himself. As he that is called of God is called to be holy, so he that is approved and set apart of men must give evidence of his holy calling and show forth in his heavenly conversation and conduct that he is faithful to Him who hath called him” 1T 261.

“Just as soon as God’s people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come. Indeed, it has begun already;…(MS 173, 1902)” 4BC 1161.

“As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel’s message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls. They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren.” GC 608. We see this happening already. Those who join the ranks of the opposition are presently still calling themselves Seventh-day Adventists, but they are opposing with all their might the true and faithful Adventists and trying with all their power to keep control of the minds of God’s professed people.

Around the world there is a giant tidal wave taking place that many professed Adventist ministers are trying to stop. People are searching and finding historical Adventism—the same doctrines of the Bible that electrified our pioneers and made the Seventh-day Adventist church what it has been. These people are finding out that the present Seventh-day Adventist churches in their localities no longer believe and practice historic Adventism so they are assembling in home churches which are not recognized by “the conference.” It is then claimed that they are not united with the church. But the question needs again to be asked, Who and what is the church? Since the remnant of the woman’s seed consists of those who love God and keep His commandments and have the spirit of prophecy, if you are united with an organized body of historic Seventh-day Adventist believers, you are united with the church. (To have a church, you need to have two historic Seventh-day Adventists who are agreed and unified—see Matthew 18.)

Actually, to be truly united with the church, you must have a mutual spiritual experience. If this spiritual experience is lacking, we are not united to the church no matter where our physical membership may be located: “Union is strength, and the Lord desires that this truth should be ever revealed in all the members of the body of Christ. All are to be united  in love, in meekness, in lowliness of mind. Organized into a society of believers, for the purpose of combining and diffusing their influence, they are to work as Christ worked. They are ever to show courtesy and respect for one another. Every talent has its place, and is to be kept under the control of the Holy Spirit.” Testimonies to Southern Africa, 89.


“You who are finite, erring, and unsanctified, have supposed that God’s children were put under your jurisdiction, for you to plan for them, and bring them to your terms. The policy you have labored so hard to establish in your connection with the work is an offense to God. He has never justified an arrangement, through organization, discipline, or laws, whereby men who have evidenced that they are not susceptible to the Holy Spirit’s moving shall use their power to sustain others in a like disregard of the Spirit’s work. But such has been the arrangement that has prevailed.” 1888 Materials, 1367.


One of the most exciting aspects of the worldwide home church movement among historic Seventh-day Adventists is the fact that these people are not loners who prefer to act alone and they are not erratic people who want to pull apart or be disorganized into independent atoms. These are people who fully believe in church organization and want the unity for which Christ prayed; but they understand that you can never have the unity for which Jesus prayed unless you unite on the truth, and the conference churches they have gone to have made it abundantly clear to them that they will not stand simply on a plain “thus saith the Lord” in the writings of Ellen White, and sometimes not even in the Bible.

Around the world there are historic Seventh-day Adventists who want to press together in faith and love (RH 12/6/06) and God is drawing them together with other historic Adventist believers at the same time that they are being cast out of conference churches. These true and faithful believers are coming into line as God ordained that the church should always be. They are coming into perfect unity with other historic Adventist believers. At the very time when there is more pluralism and less harmony in many conference churches than ever before, God is drawing His true and faithful believers into a harmony and unity with other believers (who are having victory over sins in their lives) where you worship, you had better go to your closet and pray—soon your opportunity to be united with God’s true and faithful believers will be over. “We are to unify, but on a platform of error.” Battle Creek Letters, 111.


“I am instructed to say to Seventh-day Adventists the world over, God has called us as a people to be a peculiar treasure unto Himself. He has appointed that His church on earth shall stand perfectly united in the Spirit and counsel of the Lord of hosts to the end of time.—Letter 54, 1908. (Jan. 21, 1908.)” 2SM 397. Notice that the church is to be perfectly united in the spirit of the Lord and in the counsel of the Lord. We can never have unity until we are all under the control of the same Spirit. You cannot go to a church where music is played that comes from a different spirit and ever become united in unity with the Holy Spirit (see I Corinthians 10:20, 21). You cannot go to a church where there is a spirit of unbelief and ever be a united body with the Holy Spirit. Either the spirit of unbelief and the music with the wrong spirit will be overcome and cast aside or God will separate the true and faithful from those who refuse to repent and reform.

Neither can we be in unity until we are united in the counsel of the Lord—until we are willing to submit and obey the Spirit of Prophecy just as it reads. In spite of the fact that the true and faithful Seventh-day Adventists all over the world are being harassed and cast out of conference churches recognized by the general conference, these people are being led by the same Spirit and are submitting to the entire counsel of inspired writings—they are willing to follow all the divine directions to be ready for the soon coming of Christ, and the unity that is becoming more and more evident at their meetings is awesome to behold and experience.


Because the true and faithful Adventists have often been cast out of their churches and in other instances they can no longer with clear conscience go to their conference churches because of the apostasy that is being both taught and practiced, they have been forced to raise up home churches; but this is not a new organization of any kind—rather, it is the people who are determined to maintain all the old historic beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists—the people who are part of the original organization not only in name but in doctrine and spirit. This movement is not independent of the church—it is an integral part of the church (the true church, not just the church by profession only), God’s last remnant faithful people, those who keep the commandments of God and the spirit of prophecy as manifested in the writings of Ellen G. White. The same situation that was faced by Sutherland and Magan in educational work at the beginning of the 20th century is now faced by the home church movement. Just as it was necessary to begin educational institutions which were independent from the structure now (but never independent from the Lord). The counsel given then is just as much or more applicable to the home church movement today: “The Lord does not set limits about His workers in some lines as men are wont to set. In their work, Brethren Magan and Sutherland have been hindered unnecessarily. Means have been withheld from them because in the organization and management of the Madison school, it was not placed under the control of the conference. But the reasons why this school was not owned and controlled by the conference have not been duly consideredThe Madison School, 31, 32.

Recent developments among professed Adventist ministers, such as the video on a lost mine, the denial of basic Adventist doctrines on television by prominent Adventist ministers and the heart-sickening immorality by others, have left some Adventists reeling—Where is the prophesied pure, true sanctified ministry prepared for the latter rain (3SM 385) going to come from? It is not going to come from Adventist ministers who just stand by and do nothing and say nothing in such a crisis of apostasy as we are in today. “Many have tried neutrality in a crisis, but they have failed in their purpose. No one can maintain a neutral position” RH 4/ 19/ 98. “Preachers and people are in danger of being found upon the side of the powers of darkness. There is no such thing now as a neutral position. We are all decidedly for the right or decidedly for the wrong” 3T 328. “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 crises is regarded of God as a grievous crime and equal to the very worst type of hostility against God.” 3T 281.

Where is the pure, true sanctified ministry prepared for the latter rain going to come from—it is going to come from the faithful few who are standing in the gap and crying aloud and sparing not, calling on God’s people to come into line—come into full harmony with inspired counsels, be the cost what it may, and stand up for the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, maintaining the testimony of Jesus. “There are precious ones now hidden who have not bowed the knee to Baal. They have not had the light which has been shining in a concentrated blaze upon you. But it may be under a rough and uninviting exterior the pure brightness of a genuine Christian character will be revealed” 5T 81.

We are in the exciting time when these hidden ones are beginning to come to view! It is only as we take a bold decided stand for the truth now that we will be enabled to stand in the soon-coming Sunday law crisis.

The devil is trying by every manner of fanaticism and attack from professed Adventists to divide and destroy the grass-roots revival and reformation that is taking place in Adventism. Unfortunately, the so-called structure is acting the part of one of the most skillful of the devil’s agents to bring this about. Every manner of smear tactic is being used. Independent ministers are being accused of being the same as David Koresh in Waco. This is indeed sad when one realizes that all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone (Revelation 21:8).


It is a necessity for home churches to not allow any person into the pulpit, even a conference employee, unless they meet the criteria in Early Writings on page 100: “I saw that the church should feel their responsibility at the lives, qualifications, and general course of those who profess to be teachers. If unmistakable evidence is not given that God has called them, and that the ‘woe’ is upon them if they heed not this call, it is the duty of the church to act and let it be known that these persons are not acknowledged as teachers by the church. This is the only course the church can take in order to be clear in this matter, for the burden lies upon them.” Those who are guilty of telling lies, and have not repented and are in apostasy from the truth, who no longer believe the three angels’ messages and try to prevent others from fulfilling their God-given duty of proclaiming them to the world, and who seek to rule with authority that God has not given them, must not be allowed to speak to God’s people.


There is a time when the regular lines (the conference structure) is not to be endorsed or cooperated with: “We have heard much about everything moving in the regular lines. When we see that the ‘regular lines’ are purified and refined, that they bear the mold of the God of heaven, then it will be time to endorse these lines. But when we see that message after message given by God has been received and accepted, yet no change has been made, we know that new power must be brought into the regular lines. The management of the regular lines must be entirely changed, newly organized. There must be a committee, not composed of half a dozen men, but of representatives from all lines of our work, from our publishing houses, from our educational institutions, and from our sanitariums, which have life in them, which are constantly working, constantly broadening” 13MR 193. “The Lord in His wisdom has arranged that by means of the close relationship that should be maintained by all believers, Christian shall be united to Christian, and church to church. Thus the human instrumentality will be enabled to cooperate with the divine. Every agency will be subordinate to the Holy Spirit, and all the believers will be united in an organized and well-directed effort to give to the world the glad tidings of the grace of God” GW 444. Notice that it is not enough to have representatives from all over to meet in council if these representatives do not “have life in them”—only those who give evidence of being under the control of the Holy Spirit can meet in council and have authority over the church. If the representatives are not under the control of the Holy Spirit, the conference or council does not have Divine authority. The result of a council or conference in which the representatives are under the control of the Holy Spirit is that every agency will be under the control of the Holy Spirit.

There can be no unity between truth and error. We can unite with those who have been led into deception only when they are converted.


What are the pillars of the faith that were established by the word of God and by the revelations of His Spirit?

  1. “We are now to understand what the pillars of our faith are,—the truths that have made us as a people what we are, leading us on step by step.” RH 5/25/05.
  2. “For more than half a century the different points of present truth have been questioned and opposed. New theories have been advanced as truth, which were not truth, and the Spirit of God revealed their error. As the great pillars of our faith have been presented, the Holy Spirit has borne witness to them, and especially is this so regarding the truths of the sanctuary question. Over and over again the Holy Spirit has in a marked manner endorsed the preaching of this doctrine. But today, as in the past, some will be led to form new theories and to deny the truths upon which the Spirit of God has placed His approval.” Ev 224.
  3. “Infidelity prevails to an alarming extent, not in the world only, but in the church. Many have come to deny doctrines which are the very pillars of the Christian faith. The great facts of Creation as presented by the inspired writers, the fall of man, the atonement, the perpetuity of the law—these all are practically rejected by a large share of the professedly Christian world.” LHU 157.
  4. “There are the main pillars of our faith, subjects which are of vital interest, the Sabbath, the keeping of the commandments of God.” Counsels to Writers and Editors, 77.
  5. “[The] pillars of truth were revealed, and we accepted the foundation principles that have made us what we are—Seventh-day Adventists, keeping the commandments of God and having the faith of Jesus.” UL 352.
  6. “Our people need to understand the reasons of our faith and our past experiences. How sad it is that so many of them apparently place unlimited confidence in men who present theories tending to uproot our past experiences and to remove the old landmarks! Those who can so easily be led by a false spirit show that they have been following the wrong captain for some time,—so long that they do not discern that they are departing from the faith or that they are not building upon the true foundation . We need to urge all to put on their spiritual eyeglasses, to have their eyes anointed that they may see clearly and discern the true pillars of faith. Then they will know that ‘the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.’ We need to revive the old evidences of the faith once delivered to the saints” The Southern Watchman 4/5/04.
  7. “Our faith in reference to the messages of the first, second, and third angels was correct. The great waymarks we have passed are immovable. Although the hosts of hell may try to tear them from their foundation, and triumph in the thought that they have succeeded, yet they do not succeed. These pillars of truth stand firm as the eternal hills, unmoved by all the efforts of men combined with those of Satan and his host. We can learn much, and should be constantly searching the Scriptures to see if these things are so.” Maranatha, 247.
  8. “The truths that have been substantiated by the manifest working of God are to stand fast. Let no one presume to move a pin or foundation-stone from the structure. Those who attempt to undermine the pillars of our faith are among those of whom the Bible says that ‘in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.’” Bible Training School 3/1/15. [This statement defines what entering into a new organization really is.]


ISSUES: Part II – Appendixes

Dr. John J. Grosboll

Appendix #1
Appendix #2
Appendix #3
Appendix #4

Appendix #1

Inspired Definitions and Descriptions of the true church:

  1. “Those who keep God’s commandments, those who live not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, compose the church of the living God. Those who choose to follow Antichrist are subjects of the great apostate. Ranged under the banner of Satan, they break God’s law, and lead others to break it” 1MR 296.
  2. “The church is the instrumentality by which Christ enlightens those that sit in darkness” RH 3/ 22/ 98.
  3. “The people of God have a high and holy calling. They are Christ’s representatives. Paul address the church in Corinth as those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints. ‘

And he adds: For we are laborers together with God; ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. ‘ ‘Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. ‘ Again he says to them: What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. ‘ To the saints at Ephesus he writes: ‘Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and the household of God, and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. ‘ Says Peter, ‘Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” RH 5/ 6/ 1884.

  1. “To the end of time, the presence of the Spirit is to abide with the true church” CS 251.
  2. “Jesus sees His true church on the earth, whose greatest ambition is to cooperate with Him in the grand work of saving souls” HP 284.
  3. “There is a strife between the forces of good and evil, between the loyal and the disloyal angels. Christ and Satan are not at an agreement, and they never will be. In every age the true church of God has engaged in decided warfare against satanic agencies. Until the controversy is ended, the struggle will go on, between wicked angels and wicked men on the one side, and holy angels and true believers on the other” Testimonies for the church Containing letters to Physicians and Ministers Instruction to Seventh- day Adventists, 5.
  4. “We can see from this scripture that it is not the true church of God that makes war with those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. It is the people who make void the law, who place themselves on the side of the dragon, and persecute those who vindicate God’s precepts” ST 4/ 22/ 89.
  5. “In holy vision, John saw the remnant church on the earth, in an age of lawlessness, and he points them out in unmistakable language: ‘Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. ‘ They are in harmony with that law that rests in the ark in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary” ST 2/ 3/ 88.
  6. “It is Christ’s organized body upon the earth, and respect is required to be paid to His ordinances. In the case of Saul, Ananias represents Christ, and he also represents Christ’s ministers upon the earth who are appointed to act in Christ’s stead” 3T 433.
  7. “God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the people who love God and keep His commandments. ‘Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them. ‘ Where Christ is, even among the humble few, this is Christ’s church, for the presence of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity can alone constitute a church. Where two or three are present who love and obey the commandments of God, Jesus there presides, let it be in the desolate place of the earth, in the wideness, in the city, [or] enclosed in prison walls. The glory of God has penetrated the prison walls, flooding with glorious beams of heavenly light the darkest dungeon. His saints may suffer, but their sufferings will, like the apostles’ of old, spread their faith and win souls to Christ and glorify His holy name. The bitterest opposition expressed by those who hate God’s great moral standard of righteousness should not and will not shake the steadfast soul who trusts fully in God” 17MR 81, 82.
  8. “God calls the church His body. The church is the bride, the Lamb’s wife. God is the Father of the family, the shepherd of the flock. But a mere outward connection with any church will not save a man. It is personal faith in a personal Saviour that brings the soul into spiritual union with Christ. This truth Christ plainly teaches in the sixth chapter of John” 16MR 277.
  9. “The church on earth is God’s temple, and it is to assume divine proportions before the world. This building is to be the light of the world. It is to be composed of living stones laid close together, stone fitting to stone, making a solid building. All these stones are not of the same shape or dimension. Some are large, and some are small, but each one has its own place to fill. In the whole building there is not to be one misshapen stone. Each one is perfect. And each stone is a living stone, a stone that emits light. The value of the stones is determined by the light they reflect to the world” RH 12/ 4/ 00.
  10. “In the Scriptures the figure of the erection of a temple is frequently used to illustrate the building of the church. . . . Writing of the building of this temple, Peter says, ‘To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood… ‘ (1 Peter 2: 4, 5)” God’s Amazing Grace, 123. 14. “The church is very precious in His sight, It is the case which contains His jewels, the fold which encloses His flock, and He longs to see it without spot or blemish or any such thing. He yearns after it with unspeakable love” 6T 261.

Appendix #2

Ellen White quotations which distinguish between the true church and the professed church:

  1. “Romanists have persisted in bringing against Protestants the charge of heresy and willful separation from the true church. But these accusations apply rather to themselves. They are the ones who laid down the banner of Christ and departed from ‘the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. ‘ Jude 3” GC 51.
  2. “There is a lack of moral and spiritual power throughout our Conferences. Many churches do not have light in themselves. The members do not give evidence that they are branches of the True Vine, by bearing much fruit to the glory of God, but appear to be withering away. Their Redeemer has withdrawn his light, the inspiration of his Holy Spirit, from their assemblies; [‘ To the end of time the presence of the Spirit is to abide with the true church” AA55.] for they have ceased to represent the self- denial, the sympathy and compassionate love of the world’s Redeemer; they have not love for the souls for whom Christ has died. They have ceased to be true and faithful. [“ From the beginning faithful souls have constituted the church on earth” AA 11.] It is a sad picture— the feeble piety, the want of consecration and devotion to God. There has been a separation of the soul from God; many have cut off the communication between him and the soul by refusing his messengers and his message” 1888 Materials, 764.
  3. “These are the true feelings of a large class in Battle Creek. Satan exults at his success in controlling the minds also many who profess to be Christians. He has deceived them, benumbed their sensibilities, and planted his hellish banner right in their midst, and they are so completely deceived that they know not that it is he. The people have not erected graven images, yet their sin is no less in the sight of God. They worship mammon. They love worldly gain. Some will make any sacrifice of conscience to obtain their object. God’s professed people are selfish and self- caring. They love the things of this world, and have fellowship with the works of darkness. They have pleasure in unrighteousness. They have not love toward God, nor love for their neighbors. They are idolaters— worse, far worse, in the sight of God, than the heathen graven- image worshipers who have no knowledge of a better way” Appeal to the Battle Creek Church, 2,3.

Contrast the above statement about the professed church with the following statement about the true church: “There is a strife between the forces of good and evil, between the loyal and the disloyal angels. Christ and Satan are not at an agreement, and they never will be. In every age the true church of God has engaged in decided wait are against satanic agencies. Until the controversy is ended, the struggle will go on, between wicked angels and wicked men on the one side, and holy angels and true believers on the other” Special Testimonies, Series B, 5.

  1. “The apostle’s words of warning to the Corinthian church are applicable to all time, and are specially adapted to the wants of our day. By idolatry he did not alone mean the worship of idols, but also selfishness, love of ease, the gratification of appetite and passion. All these come under the head of idolatry. A mere profession of faith iii Christ, and a boastful knowledge of the truth, does not constitute a Christian. A religion which seeks only to gratify the eye, the ear, and the taste, or which permits any hurtful self- indulgence, is not the religion of Christ. It is in harmony with the spirit of the world, and is opposed to the teachings of the Holy Scriptures. Festivals and scenes of amusement, in which professed members of the Christian church imitate the customs and enjoy the pleasures of the world, constitute a virtual union with the enemies of God” LP 169, 170.
  2. “For many centuries, first through paganism and then through the Papacy, Satan exerted his powers to blot from the earth God’s faithful witnesses. Both heathen and papists were actuated by the same dragon spirit. They differed only in that the Romish apostate, making a pretense of serving God, was the more dangerous and cruel foe. Through the agency of Romanism, Satan took the world captive. The professed church of God was swept into the ranks of this delusion, and for more than a thousand years the true people of God suffered under the dragon’s ire” ST 2/ 8/ 10.
  3. “Even the professed church of Christ, with their exalted privileges and high professions, discerned not the image of Christ in this self- denying child of God because they were so far removed from Christ themselves that they reflected not His image. They judged by the external appearance and took no special pains to discern the inward adorning. Here was a woman whose resources of knowledge and genuine experience in the mysteries of godliness exceeded those of anyone residing at ,and whose manner of address to the youth and children was ~5V~ sing, instructive, and salutary. She was not harsh, but correct and sympathetic, and would have proved one of the most useful laborers in the field as an instructor of the youth and an intelligent, useful companion and counselor to mothers. She could reach hearts by her earnest, matter- of- fact presentation of incidents in her religious life, which she had devoted to the service of her Redeemer. Had the church emerged from darkness and deception into the clear light, their hearts would have been drawn out after the lonely stranger. Her prayers, her tears, her distress, at seeing no way of usefulness open to her, have been seen and heard in heaven. The Lord offered to His people talented help; but they were rich and increased with goods, and had need of nothing. They turned from and rejected a most precious blessing of which they will yet feel the need. Had Elder E stood in the clear light of God and been imbued with His Spirit when this servant of Jesus, lonely, homeless, and thirsting for a work to do for her Master, was brought to his notice, spirit would have answered to spirit, as face answereth to face in a mirror; his heart would have been drawn out after this disciple of Christ, and he would have understood her. Thus also with the church. They had been in such spiritual blindness they had lost the sound of the voice of the true Shepherd and were following the voice of a stranger, who was leading them from the fold of Christ” 2T 141, 142. Notice that the fold is the church of Christ (1MR 237) and these were professed church members, members of the Battle Creek SDA church who were being led ‘from the fold of Christ, ‘ that is, from the true church.
  4. “Pride and lukewarmness have made the professed people of God an offense in his sight” RH 8/ 7/ 94. Now notice the contrast between the professed people and the true people of God: “We are to find the assurance of our acceptance with God in his written promise, not in a happy flight of feeling. Were we to ground our hope upon joyful emotions, there are many of God’s true people who would be without assurance. There are in the fold of Christ not only the sheep, that he leads into green pastures, but the lambs, that the Shepherd gathers in his arms and carries in his bosom. . . . they are precious in the sight of the Lord” ST 4/ 18/ 95.
  5. “There are many, many, professed Christians who are waiting unconcernedly for the coming of the Lord. They have not on the garment of His righteousness. They may profess to be children of God, but they are not cleansed from sin. They are selfish and self- sufficient. Their experience is Christless. They neither love God supremely nor their neighbor as themselves. They have no true idea of what constitutes holiness. They do not see the defects in themselves. So blinded are they, that they are not able to detect the subtle working of pride and iniquity. They are clad in the rags of self- righteousness, and stricken with spiritual blindness. Satan has cast his shadow between them and Christ, and they have no wish to study the pure, holy character of the Saviour” RH 2/ 26/ 1901.
  6. “The times are marked by extraordinary depravity. The religion of the churches of today is of a kind that should make every true follower of God afraid of it. The religious character of professed Christians makes them act like demons. ‘We have a law, ‘ they say, and by our law He ought to die. ‘ More than common contempt will be shown to those who make the Word of God their criterion” ST 1/ 31/ 1900.
  7. “The trouble is, religion is professed but not practiced. The Spirit of God will dwell in the hearts of his followers. The condition of the cause of God will cause the deepest suffering of mind and anguish of soul. Oh that the history of the past would influence the present! Oh that all would feel to the depths of their souls that they have it as a privilege and duty individually to be earnest believers in the truth and co- laborers with their self- denying Saviour who has loved them and given his life for them” Special Testimony to the Battle Creek Church, 17, 18.
  8. “When Jesus came as a man to our world, Satan had led the Jews into the practice of a religion that pleased the powers of darkness. The professed people of God had departed from God, and were following another leader. Through their own perversity, they were going on to destruction; but Christ came to dispute the authority of Satan. He was met on every hand by the temptation of the enemy, who sought to appear not as a fallen, evil angel, but as an exalted, loyal angel. He sought to veil his true character of the deceiver, the falsifier, the apostate, the accuser of the brethren, and the murderer, and to present himself as one who had the honor of God at heart. But the life of Christ was made one long scene of conflict. Satan stirred up the evil hearts of men, and set envy and prejudice at work against the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. He caused men to question and to doubt the word, works, and mission of Christ” ST 4/ 25/ 95.
  9. “The true people of God, who have the spirit of the work of the Lord and the salvation of souls at heart, will ever view sin in its real, sinful character. They will always bean the side of faithful and plain dealing with sins which easily beset the people of God. Especially in the closing work for the church, in the sealing time of the one hundred and forty- four thousand who are to stand without fault before the throne of God, will they feel most deeply the wrongs of God’s professed people. This is forcibly set forth by the prophet’s illustration of the last work under the figure of the men each having a slaughter weapon in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen. with a writer’s inkhorn by his side. ‘And the Lord said unto him, 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” 3T 266.
  10. “But the heavenly principles that distinguish those who are one with Christ from those who are one with the world have become almost indistinguishable. The professed people of Christ are no longer a separate and peculiar people. The line of demarcation is indistinct. People are subordinating themselves to the world, to its practices, its customs, its selfishness. The church has gone over to the world in transgression of the law, when the world should have come over to the church in obedience to the law. Daily the church is becoming converted to the world. Professing Christians are slaves of mammon. Their indulgence of appetite, and extravagant expenditure of money for selfish gratification, greatly dishonors God” Special Testimony to the Battle Creek Church, 9.
  11. “Christ declares that there will exist similar unbelief concerning His second coming. As the people of Noah’s day ‘knew not until the Flood came, and took them all away; so, ‘ in the words of our Saviour, ‘shall also the coming of the Son of man be. ‘ Matthew 24: 39. When the professed people of God are uniting with the world, living as they live, and joining with them in forbidden pleasures; when the luxury of the world becomes the luxury of the church; when the marriage bells are chiming, and all are looking forward to many years of worldly prosperity— then, suddenly as the lightning flashes from the heavens, will come the end of their bright visions and delusive hopes” GC 338, 339.
  12. “Satan was seeking by this means to oppose and destroy the work of God. The people had been greatly stirred by the advent movement, thousands of sinners had been converted, and faithful men were giving themselves to the work of proclaiming the truth, even in the tarrying time. The prince of evil was losing his subjects; and in order to bring reproach upon the cause of God, he sought to deceive some who professed the faith and to drive them to extremes. Then his agents stood ready to seize upon every error, every failure, every unbecoming act, and hold it up before the people in the most exaggerated light, to render Adventists and their faith odious. Thus the greater the number whom he could crowd in to make a profession of faith in the second advent while his power controlled their hearts, the greater advantage would he gain by calling attention to them as representatives of the whole body of believers” GC 395.
  13. “Those among Sabbathkeepers who have yielded to the influence of the world are to be tested. The perils of the last days are upon us, and a trial is before the professed people of God which many have not anticipated. The genuineness of their faith will be proved. Many have united with woridlings in pride, vanity, and pleasure seeking, flattering themselves that they could do this and still be Christians. But it is such indulgences that separate them from God and make them children of the world. Christ has given us no such example. Those only who deny self, and live a life of sobriety, humility, and holiness, are true followers of Jesus; and such cannot enjoy the society of the lovers of the world” 4T 633

Appendix #3

Who is an historic Seventh- day Adventist?

An historic Seventh- day Adventist is a person who believes the historic teachings of Seventh- day Adventists. The following article by James White from the Signs of the Times in 1874 outlines the historic doctrines of Seventh- day Adventists. A historic Seventh- day Adventist still believes all of these. It should also be said that an historic Seventh- day Adventist believes that Ellen G. White is a prophet of God and that her writings have divine authority— an historic Seventh- day Adventist will never argue against a theological position based on the weight of evidence in the Ellen G. White writings.

Fundamental Principles By James White

In presenting to the public this synopsis of our faith, we wish to have it distinctly understood that we have no articles of faith, creed. or discipline aside from the Bible. We do not put forth this as having authority with our people, nor is it designed to secure uniformity among them, as a system of faith, but is a brief statement of what is, and has been, with great unanimity, held by them. We often find it necessary to meet inquiries on this subject, and sometimes to correct false statements circulated against us, and to remove erroneous impressions which have obtained with those who have not had an opportunity to become acquainted with our faith and practice. Our only object is to meet this necessity.

With these remarks, we ask the attention of the reader to the following propositions which aim to be a concise statement of the more prominent features of our faith.

  1. That there is one God, a personal, spiritual Being, the Creator of all things, omnipotent, omniscient, and eternal, infinite in wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, truth, and mercy; unchangeable, and everywhere present by His representative, the Holy Spirit. Psalm 139: 7.
  2. That there is one Lord Jesus Christ, and Son of the Eternal Father, the One by whom God created all things, and by whom they do consist; that He took on Him the nature of the seed of Abraham for the redemption of our fallen race; that He dwelt among men, full of grace and truth, lived our example,’ died our sacrifice, was raised for our justification, ascended on high to be our only Mediator in the sanctuary in heaven, where, with His own blood, He makes atonement for our sins; which atonement, so far from being made on the cross, which was but the offering of the sacrifice, is the very last portion of His work as priest, according to the example of the Levitical priesthood, which foreshadowed and prefigured the ministry of our Lord in heaven. See Leviticus 16; Hebrews 8: 4, 5; 9: 6, 7; etc.
  3. That the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, contain a full revelation of His will to man, and are the only infallible rule of faith and practice.
  4. That baptism is an ordinance of the Christian church, to follow faith and repentance, an ordinance by which we commemorate the resurrection of Christ, as by this act we show our faith in His burial and resurrection, and, through that, of the resurrection of all the saints at the last day; and that no other mode fitly represents these facts than that which the Scriptures prescribe, namely, immersion. Romans 6: 3- 5; Colossians 2: 12.
  5. That the new birth comprises the entire change necessary to fit us for the kingdom of God, and consists of two parts First, a moral change, wrought by conversion and a Christian life; second, a physical change at the second coming of Christ, whereby, if dead, we are raised incorruptible, and, if living, are changed to immortality in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. John 3: 3, 5; Luke 20: 36.
  6. We believe that prophecy is a part of God’s revelation to man; that it is included in that scripture which is profitable for instruction (2 Timothy 3: 16); that it is designed for us and our children (Deuteronomy 29: 29); that so far from being enshrouded in impenetrable mystery, it is that which especially constitutes the word of God a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119: 105; 2 Peter 1: 19); that a blessing is pronounced upon those who study it (Revelation 1: 1- 3); and that, consequently, it is to be understood by the people of God, sufficiently to show them their position in the world’s history, and the special duties required at their hands,
  7. That the world’s history from specified dates in the past, the rise and fall of empires, and the chronological succession of events down to the setting up of God’s everlasting kingdom, are outlined in numerous great chains of prophecy; and that these prophecies are now all fulfilled except the closing scenes.
  8. That the doctrine of the world’s conversion and temporal millennium is a fable of these last days, calculated to lull men into a state of carnal security, and cause them to be overtaken by the great day of the Lord as by a thief in the night; that the second coming of Christ is to precede, not follow the millennium; for until the Lord appears, the papal power, with all its abominations, is to continue, the wheat and tares grow together, and evil men and seducers wax worse and worse, as the word of God declares.
  9. That the mistake of Adventists in 1844 pertained to the nature of the event then to transpire, not to the time; that no prophetic period is given to reach to the second advent, but that the longest one, the two thousand and three hundred days of Daniel 8: 14, terminated in that year, and brought us to an event called the cleansing of the sanctuary.
  10. That the sanctuary of the new covenant is the tabernacle of God in heaven, of which Paul speaks in Hebrews 8, and onward, of which our Lord, as great High Priest, is minister; that this sanctuary is the antitype of the Mosaic tabernacle, and that the priestly work of our Lord, connected therewith, is the antitype of the work of the Jewish priests of the former dispensation (Hebrews 8: 1- 5, etc.); that this is the sanctuary to be cleansed at the end of the 2300 days; what is termed its cleansing being in this case, as in the type, simply the entrance of the high priest into the most holy place, to finish the round of service connected therewith, by blotting out and removing from the sanctuary the sins which had been transferred to it by means of the ministration in the first apartment (Hebrews 9: 22,23); and that this work, in the antitype, commencing in 1844, occupies a brief but indefinite space, at the conclusion of which the work of mercy for the world is finished.
  11. That God’s moral requirements are the same upon all men in all dispensations; that these are summarily contained in the commandments spoken by Jehovah from Sinai, engraved on the tables of stone, and deposited in the ark, which was in consequence called the “ark of the covenant,” or testament (Numbers 10: 33; Hebrews 9: 4, etc.); that this law is immutable and perpetual, being a transcript of the tables deposited in the ark of God’s testament; for under the sounding of the seventh trumpet we are told that “the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament” (Revelation 11: 19).
  12. That the fourth commandment of this law requires that we devote the seventh day of each week, commonly called Saturday, to abstinence from our own labor, and to the performance of sacred and religious duties; that this is the only weekly Sabbath known to the Bible, being the day that was set apart before Paradise was lost (Genesis 2: 2, 3), and which will be observed in Paradise restored (Isaiah 66: 22, 23); that the facts upon which the Sabbath institution is based confine it to the seventh day, as they are not true of any other day; and that the terms Jewish Sabbath and Christian Sabbath, as applied to the weekly rest day, are names of human invention, un- Scriptural in fact, and false in meaning.
  13. That, as the man of sin, the papacy has thought to change times and laws (the laws of God, Daniel 7: 25), and has misled almost all Christendom in regard to the fourth commandment; we find a prophecy of a reform in this respect to be wrought among believers just before the coming of Christ (Isaiah 56: 1, 2; 1 Peter 1: 5; Revelation 14: 12, etc.).
  14. That, as the natural or carnal heart is at enmity with God and His law, this enmity can be subdued only by a radical transformation of the affections, the exchange of unholy for holy principles; that this transformation follows repentance and faith, is the special work of the Holy Spirit, and constitutes regeneration or conversion.
  15. That, as all have violated the law of God, and cannot of themselves render obedience to His just requirements, we are dependent on Christ, first for justification from our past offenses, and, secondly, for grace whereby to render acceptable obedience to His holy law in time to come.
  16. That the Spirit of God was promised to manifest itself in the church through certain gifts, enumerated especially in 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4; that these gifts are not designed to supersede, or take the place of, the Bible, which is sufficient to make us wise unto salvation, any more than the Bible can take the place of the Holy Spirit; that in specifying the various channels of its operation, that Spirit has simply made provision for its own existence and presence with the people of God to the end of time, to lead to an understanding of that word which it had inspired, to convince of sin, and work a transformation in the heart and life; and that those who deny to the Spirit its place and operation do plainly deny that part of the Bible which assigns to it this work and position.
  17. That God, in accordance with His uniform dealings with the race, sends forth a proclamation of the approach of the second advent of Christ; that this work is symbolized by the three messages of Revelation 14, the last one bringing to view the work of reform on the law of God, that His people may acquire a complete readiness for that event.
  18. That the time of the cleansing of the sanctuary (see proposition 10), synchronizing with the time of the proclamation of the third message, is a time of investigative judgment, first, with reference to the dead, and, at the close of probation, with reference to the living, to determine who of the myriads now sleeping in the dust of the earth are worthy of a part in the first resurrection, and who of its living multitudes are worthy of translation— points which must be determined before the Lord appears.
  19. That the grave, whither we all tend, expressed by the Hebrew Scheol and the Greek hades, is a place of darkness in which there is no work, device, wisdom, or knowledge. Ecclesiastes 9: 10.
  20. That the state to which we are reduced by death is one of silence, inactivity and entire unconsciousness. Psalm 146: 4; Ecclesiastes 9: 5, 6; Daniel 12: 2; etc.
  21. That out of this prison house of the grave, mankind are to be brought by a bodily resurrection; the righteous having part in the first resurrection, which takes place at the second advent of Christ; the wicked, in the second resurrection, which takes place a thousand years thereafter. Revelation 20: 4- 6.
  22. That at the last trump, the living righteous are to be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and with the resurrected righteous are to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, so forever to be with the Lord.
  23. That these immortalized ones are then taken to heaven, to the New Jerusalem, the Father’s house in which there are many mansions (John 14: 1- 3), where they reign with Christ a thousand years, judging the world and fallen angels, that is, apportioning the punishment to be executed upon them at the close of the one thousand years (Revelation 20: 4; 1 Corinthians 6: 2,3); that during this time the earth lies in a desolate and chaotic condition (Jeremiah 4: 20- 27), described, as in the beginning, by the Greek term abussos, bottomless pit (Septuagint of Genesis 1: 2); and that here Satan is confined during the thousand years (Revelation 20: 1, 2), and here finally destroyed (Revelation 20: 10; Malachi 4: 1); the theater of the ruin he has wrought in the universe, being appropriately made for a time his gloomy prison house, and then the place of his final execution.
  24. That at the end of the thousand years, the Lord descends with His people and the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21: 2), the wicked dead are raised and come up upon the surface of the yet unrenewed earth, and gather about the city, the camp of the saints (Revelation 20: 9), and fire comes down from God out of heaven, and devours them. They are then consumed root and branch (Malachi 4: 1), becoming as though they had not been (Obadiah 15, 16). In this everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 1: 9), the wicked meet the everlasting punishment threatened against them (Matthew 25: 46). This is the perdition of ungodly men, the fire which consumes them being the fire for which “the heavens and the earth, which are now,” are kept in store, which shall melt even the elements with its intensity, and purge the earth from the deepest stains of the curse of sin. 2 Peter 3: 7- 12.
  25. That a new heavens and earth shall spring by the power of God from the ashes of the old, to be, with the New Jerusalem for its metropolis and capital, the eternal inheritance of the saints, the place where the righteous shall evermore dwell. 2 Peter 3: 13; Psalm 37: 11, 29; Matthew 5: 5.

‘As stated in the first paragraph of this article, the “Fundamental Principles” was not regarded as a creed but rather as a synopsis of current beliefs generally held by Seventh- day Adventists, beliefs which were and are subject to deeper understanding and restatement from time to time. An example of the restatement of an essential doctrine— that of the atoning work of Christ, of which Ellen G. White said, “The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster” (Gospel Workers, page 315)— is seen in a revised statement of principles by the congregation at Battle Creek in 1894. Many of the leaders of the church were residing at Battle Creek at the time, so that the revision, presented under the title, “Some Things Seventh- day Adventists Believe,” may be considered representative.

The portion of the revision which concerns the atonement is as follows: “lived our example, died our sacrifice, was raised for our justification, ascended on high to be our only Mediator in the sanctuary in heaven, where, through the atoning merits of His blood, He secures the pardon and forgiveness of all who penitently come to God through Him; and as the closing portion of His work as priest before He comes again as King of kings, He will make the final atonement for the sins of all believers, and blot them out, as foreshadowed and prefigured by the Levitical priesthood.”

Appendix #4

Who is the church that appears to fall but does not?

By Ellen White

My mind is deeply exercised in regard to our condition as a people. . . . when we do practice the truth we are then following Jesus, who is the light of the world; and if we as a people are not constantly elevating, becoming more and more spiritually minded, we are becoming like the Pharisees— self righteous— while we do not the will of God.

I think of how many who profess the truth are keeping it apart from their lives. They do not bring its sanctifying, refining, spiritualizing power into their hearts. I think how this grieves Jesus.

I think of His great sorrow as He wept over Jerusalem, exclaiming, “0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not” [Luke 13: 34]! God forbid that these words shall apply to those who have great light and blessings. In the rejecting of Jerusalem it was because great privileges were abused, which brought the denunciation upon all who lightly regarded the great opportunities and precious light that were entrusted to their keeping. Privileges do not commend us to God, but they commend God to us. No people are saved because they have great light and special advantages, for these high and heavenly favors only increase their responsibility. The more and increased light God has given makes the receiver more responsible. It does not place the receiver in any safer position unless the privileges are wisely improved, prized, and used to advance God’s glory. Christ said, “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee. Bethsaida! for if the mighty works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes” (Matt. 11: 21].

When Jerusalem was divorced from God it was because of her sins. She fell from an exalted height that Tyre and Sidon had never reached. And when an angel falls he becomes a fiend. The depth of our ruin is measured by the exalted light to which God has raised us in His great goodness and unspeakable mercy. Oh, what privileges are granted to us as a people! And if God spared not His people that He loved, because they refused to walk in the light, how can He spare the people whom he has blessed with the light of heaven in having opened to them the most exalted truth ever entrusted to mortal man to give to the world?

We are far from being the people God would have us to be. because we do not elevate the soul and refine the character in harmony with the wonderful unfolding of God’s truth and His purposes. “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” [Prov. 14: 34]. Sin is a disorganizer. Wherever it is cherished— in the individual heart, in the household, in the church— there is disorder, strife, variance, enmity, envy, jealousy, because the enemy of man of God has the controlling power over the mind. But let the truth be loved and brought into the life, as well as advocated, and that man or woman will hate sin and will be a living representative of Jesus Christ to the world.

The people claiming to believe the truth will not be condemned because they had not the light, but because they had great light and did not bring their hearts to the test of God’s great moral standard of righteousness. The people who claim to believe the truth must be elevated by living it out. Real Bible religion must leaven the life, refine and ennoble the character, making it more and more like the divine model. Then will the home be vocal with prayer, with thanksgiving and praise to God. Angels will minister in the home and accompany the worshiper to the house of prayer.

Let the churches who claim to believe the truth, who are advocating the law of God, keep that law and depart from all iniquity. Let the Individual members of the church resist the temptations to practice evils and indulge in sin. Let the church commence the work of purification before God by repentance, humiliation, deep heart searching, for we are in the antitypical day of atonement— solemn hour fraught with eternal results. . . .

God never forsakes people or individuals until they forsake Him. Outward opposition will not cause the faith of God’s people, who are keeping His commandments, to become dim. The neglect to bring purity and truth into practice will grieve the Spirit of God and weaken them because God is not in their midst to bless. Internal corruption will bring the denunciations of God upon this people as it did upon Jerusalem. Oh, let pleading voices, let earnest prayer be heard, that those who preach to others shall not themselves be castaways. My brethren, we know not what is before us, and our only safety is in following the Light of the world. God will work with us and for us if the sins which brought His wrath upon the old world, upon Sodom and Gomorrah and upon ancient Jerusalem, do not become our crime.

The least transgression of God’s law brings guilt upon the transgressor, and without earnest repentance and forsaking of sin he will surely become an apostate.

All the policy in the world cannot save us from a terrible sifting, and all the efforts made with high authorities will not lift from us the scourging of God, just because sin is cherished. If as a people we do not keep ourselves in the faith and not only advocate with pen and voice the commandments of God, but keep them every one, not violating a single precept knowingly, then weakness and ruin will come upon us. It is a work that we must attend to in every one of our churches. Each man must be a Christian. . . .

We are to be ready and waiting for the orders of God. Nations will be stirred to their very center. Support will be withdrawn from those who proclaim God’s only standard of righteousness, the only sure test of character. And all who will not bow to the decrees of the national councils and obey the national laws to exalt the sabbath instituted by the man of sin to the disregard of God’s holy day, will feel, not the oppressive power of popery alone, but of the Protestant world, the image of the beast.

Satan will work his miracles to deceive; he will set up his power as supreme. The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out–the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place. None but those who have been overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony will be found with the loyal and true, without spot or stain of sin, without guile in their mouths. We must be divested of our self-righteousness and arrayed in the righteousness of Christ.

The remnant that purify their souls by obeying the truth gather strength from the trying process, exhibiting the beauty of holiness amid the surrounding apostasy. All these, He says, I have graven…upon the palms of my hands” [Isa. 49:16]. They are held in everlasting, imperishable remembrance. We want faith now, living faith. We want to have a living testimony that shall cut to the heart of the sinner. There is too much sermonizing and too little ministering. We want the holy unction. We need the spirit and fervor of the truth. Many of the ministers are half paralyzed by their own defects of character. They need the converting power of God. Manuscript Releases, Volume Twelve, Pages 318-325

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Spiritual Nature of the Church
The promises
Israel (Abraham’s seed)
The apostasy in Christendom
When reformation of the church was impossible
Can you tell the difference between the true church and the professed- only church?
Two true churches? (the invisible church)
The professed church and the true church
Who are God’s denominated people?
Questions and answers

To be a Christian is not merely to take the name of Christ, but to have the mind of Christ, to submit to the will of God in all things. Many who profess to be Christians have yet to learn this great lesson. Many know little of what it is to deny self for Christ’s sake. They do not study how they can best glorify God and advance His cause. But it is self, self, how can it be gratified? Such religion is worthless. In the day of God those who possess it will be weighed in the balance and found wanting. TMK 174

ISSUES: Part Two SECTION TWO “The Church”

Dr. John J. Grosboll

The church is one of the things of God, the most precious thing on earth in His sight. It has been established and purchased at an infinite cost to heaven. What is it about the church that makes it so precious? Although no human can give a complete answer to this question, a very imperfect and partial answer could be as follows. When the great controversy was inaugurated in heaven, God and His government were challenged with the following justification:

  1. First of all, Lucifer claimed that God’s law was unnecessary for angels, and second, he claimed that created beings could not perfectly keep the law. Lucifer wanted a change in God’s law that would allow him to be part of the Godhead or like God (this would require a change in the first commandment and a change in the spiritual meaning of the rest of the commandments).
  2. Lucifer claimed that Christ had privileges that he should have also. God did not at all consent to this demand.
  3. Lucifer claimed that he wanted to obtain more freedom and liberty and that the principles of God’s government did not work perfectly and could be improved upon. Although Lucifer attempted to gain God’s condemnation by the entire universe of creatures created by God’s own hand, the nature of the charges made it impossible for God to vindicate His character or government as God because the charges which were accepted by about one third of the angels were not only against God, His government and His law, but they claimed that created beings could not keep His law and that His law resulted in a condition of life for created beings that was inferior to that life which could be enjoyed if the law were changed.

After Lucifer was expelled from heaven, he determined to be revenged upon God by causing the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve, which he succeeded in doing. When Adam and Eve fell, they lost their former righteousness and purity of character. They were transgressors of the first commandment and spiritually they had broken every commandment in God’s law (Romans 7: 14). Satan claimed that either Adam and Eve would have to die with all the other transgressors of God’s law (including himself) or God would have to allow him and all the other fallen angels back into heaven if Adam and Eve were forgiven. God said to the devil, “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise your head and you will bruise his heel” Genesis 3: 15.


Here in Genesis 3: 15, immediately after the fall, God announces the establishment of His church as His people. All people in the world can claim Eve as their mother according to the flesh, but God was here speaking only of those who would be, not just the fleshly descendants of Eve, but her spiritual descendants— those who would demonstrate by the character that they would develop that God was their Father and the devil their adversary.

Immediately after the fall of man, the spiritual nature of the church is revealed. There would be descendants of Eve that would be the seed of the devil— his spiritual children— and there would be enmity between these descendants of Eve according to the flesh and the descendants of Eve who were not only her fleshly but her spiritual children. Immediately after the fall, God makes it plain that ONLY the spiritual descendants of Eve are His people, His church. Those who are only her descendants according to the flesh, or who make a profession of being His children but develop characters like Satan, are the seed of the serpent and are not God’s children or part of His church at all. “There must be open and avowed enmity between the church and the serpent, between her seed and his seed” ST 8/ 26/ 89.


From this time on, often the church was again likened to a woman or sometimes the seed of the woman. This promise in Genesis 3: 15 was passed down for twenty generations. In the twentieth generation, the promise was renewed and more explicitly stated to Abraham in Genesis 12, 15, and 17. God’s covenant renewed with Abraham included the following provisions: (1) The sign or token that one had entered into this covenant was the rite of circumcision (Genesis 17: 10- 14). (2) For everyone who entered into this covenant, God promises to be their God (Genesis 17: 7, 8). (3) God promised that everyone who was part of this covenant would “inherit the land in which you are a stranger” (Genesis 17: 8). Some have thought that this refers only to the land of Palestine, but Abraham understood it to refer not only to Palestine but to an eternal inheritance in the earth made new at the end of time (Hebrews 11: 8- 10). The righteous are strangers in this earth (Hebrews 11: 13- 16; 1 Peter 1: 1), but they will inherit the earth (Psalm 37). (4) To be part of the covenant you must be part of Abraham’s seed because the covenant was made only to Abraham and his seed (Genesis 17: 7). (5) The covenant was not made with the fleshly descendants of Abraham but only with those who were his spiritual seed. We know for sure that this was a condition of the covenant from the beginning because Ishmael was of the seed of Abraham according to the flesh and was circumcised— he received the token or symbol of being part of the covenant (Genesis 17: 25), yet Ishmael was never part of the covenant! (see Romans 9) This is absolute proof that to be part of the covenant or testament you must be the spiritual seed of Abraham, not just the literal seed. In fact, you could be part of the spiritual seed of Abraham and thereby be part of the covenant even if you were not of the seed of Abraham according to the flesh. The experience of Rahab the harlot in Jericho and of Ruth the Moabitess who became one of the progenitors of Christ demonstrates this fact— neither were of the physical seed of Abraham, but they both became part of his spiritual seed, so much so, that Ruth was chosen to be an ancestor of the Christ who was to come from the seed of Abraham.


This covenant or testament of promise was renewed with Isaac and Jacob. After the night of Jacob’s trouble, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, which means “a prince with God,” and this became the official name of God’s people in this world forever. (This is not the only official name of God’s people today, however.) From this time on, one of the most common names for God’s church is “Israel.” In describing the victory of the saints at the end of the time of trouble, Ellen White calls them the Israel of God (EW 285).

However, many in ancient times and today are confused because they think that whenever the Bible talks about Israel it is talking about God’s true church. This assumption is often not true.

The human mind was originally created to operate in harmony and within the parameters of the Ten Commandments. Almost all learning from babyhood is based on the assumption that what is heard or what is seen is the truth. Without an observance of the ninth commandment, no order or learning can take place. But sin deceived (Romans 7: 11) and people who were the descendants of Abraham according to the flesh did not develop a character of faith and love like Abraham. They were his descendants according to the flesh, but they were not his spiritual descendants; they were not God’s children. Therefore an element of confusion was initiated which has continued to the present day: people who professed to be the children of Abraham, Israelites, God’s people, part of His church, were not the spiritual children of Abraham at all; spiritually they were not Israelites but they were called Israel; they professed to be part of Israel; they professed the same religion and were called Israelites (and they were Israelites according to the flesh). They were Israel by profession but not in reality. This is one of the awful results of sin— you cannot determine reality by a person’s profession or word.

Even a casual reading of the Old Testament reveals that many who were Israelites according to the flesh were not God’s people (some of them were called by the Old Testament writers the sons of Belial, that is, the devil); whereas those who are really part of His church are His people. Notice how explicitly the Bible writer states it: “They are not all Israel who are of Israel” Romans 9: 6. Those who are of Israel are those who profess to be God’s people, those who profess to be the Israel of God; but not all of these are really Israel; not all of them are really God’s people; not all of them are really part of the church. Today as then there are many who are “of Israel.” They have received the rite of baptism; they have professed to be God’s people; they are accounted by men to be God’s people, His church; they are numbered with God’s people and joined to them, but they are not really part of the church at all— they are only “pretended believers,” they are “false brethren” (COL). A false brother is not a true brother, but all those who are really part of the church are true brethren.

Until this basic fact is understood, much confusion will exist in the mind of a student of the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy. In the Bible “different meanings are expressed by the same word; there is not one word for each distinct idea” 1SM 20. If the word Israel or the word church is always interpreted to mean the same thing, then explicit contradictions are found in the inspired writings; but a real contradiction is impossible because ‘‘ all truth. . . . is consistent with itself in all its manifestations PP 114. No lie is of the truth (1 John 2: 21).

It is a common practice when an apparent contradiction occurs in inspired writings for students to make philosophical models to explain these contradictions. Because those who are part of the true church by profession and those who are part of the true church in character (reality) as well as profession have not been the same group for thousands of years and the prophets are using the imperfect language of men (1SM 20) in prophetic writings, both groups are often called simply “the church.”

In the Bible the word law is another example of the imperfectness of human speech. Sometimes the Bible writer uses the word law when talking about the Ten Commandments. At other times the same word without qualifiers is used to describe the ceremonial law or the same word is used to describe the first five books of Moses which were called the law in the Hebrew Bible. And still other times the word law is used to describe the effect of sin on a person or persons. In each case, the context of the verse must be examined to determine what law is being talked about.

This multiple use of the word law has been a prolific field for misunderstanding in which Seventh- day Adventists have had to learn how to explain the different ways that the word is used and that the moral law of Ten Commandments has never been and never can be changed. If a person is candidly looking for evidence, the different ways that the word law is used can be demonstrated from the text itself so that there is no real contradiction, even though from the first casual reading there had seemed to be. The same is true for the word church.

Until it is understood that “they are not all Israel who are of Israel,” the Old Testament prophets cannot be properly understood because when they use the word Israel, sometimes they are talking about the real or true Israel of God, His true church, and sometimes they are talking about Israel according to the flesh, those who profess to be Israel but are not all Israel. A knowledge of this fact explains many apparent contradictions in the Old Testament. For example, compare the following apparently direct contradictions: “I have forsaken My house, I have left My heritage”; Jeremiah 12: 7 (see also Deuteronomy 31: 17; Isaiah 2: 6; Jeremiah 7: 29; 2 Chronicles 15: 2; 24: 20) and “For Israel is not forsaken nor Judah by his God, the Lord of hosts, though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel ” Jeremiah 51: 5 (see also Deuteronomy 31: 6, 8). How do you explain this apparently direct contradiction? An examination of all similar passages reveals the answer. The professed Israel, or Israel according to the flesh, the professed church of that day was forsaken and left by God (Ezekiel describes it graphically in the first chapters of his book.) because they had forsaken Him; but the true Israel of God never has been and never will be forsaken (Hebrews 13: 6). Those who will never be forsaken are the spiritual seed 01 Abraham— those who seek God and put their trust in Him (Psalm 9: 10), those who are righteous, the saints (Psalm 37: 25,28). Because God’s professed people forsook Him, He forsook them; but even though the land (that actually belonged only to His true people) was filled with the sin of His professed people, His true people were not forsaken and never will be.

But in Bible times as today people often base their life on what they can see and not on the spiritual reality of a godly character. Most of the tribes of the children of Israel were “lost” as a result of the Assyrian captivity and have not since that time had a distinct visible identity. Of the Israelites who remained, the majority were of the tribe of Judah and the name for God’s true people became the Jews instead of Israel (which they still were).

Most of the Jews eventually put their trust in the outward church organization instead of developing a godly character. They became so confused their thinking that they thought the outward manifestations or symbols of true religion were the essence itself. They could not tell the difference between the professed church and the true church. They could not distinguish the form from the substance. They could not tell the difference between profession and spiritual reality. This is always the result of spiritual blindness. (Jesus said that the Jews were spiritually blind— John 9 and Matthew 15.) This is one of the main reason for the confusion today about who and what the church is— Laodicea is spiritually blind.

One of the results of this misperception is that religious faith and trust is placed in church organizations, creeds and outward forms of religion. When trust is placed in the creature instead of the Creator, instead of fearing God (Revelation 14: 6) men fear other men. This fear of men is amply documented in the gospels which speak often about the fear of the Jews (see John 7; 9; 12).

Also, whenever spiritual blindness has occurred, the emphasis in religion is always upon the physical— circumcision of the flesh, baptism with water, the attainment of various human goals and objectives; but it does no good to keep the symbols if the spiritual reality that is symbolized is lost. Circumcision represented the cutting away of sin from the life (Deuteronomy 30: 6); baptism represents the washing away of sin from the life and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It does no good to observe the symbol if the spiritual reality is not experienced.

When Jesus was here, the Jews believed they were the true church because they were the seed of Abraham. They forgot that the promises were given only to the spiritual seed. They forgot that without a spiritual similarity to Abraham, a genealogy showing your fleshly connection to him was useless. When John the Baptist said, “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” Matthew 3: 9, he was assaulting their most treasured religious beliefs. They believed that, because they were Abraham’s descendants, they were members of the true church, the true people of God. John the Baptist told them not to think that a fleshly connection to Abraham guaranteed this. “John declared to the Jews that their standing before God 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. (All emphasis supplied) It was true that to become Abraham’s seed was to have everlasting life, but the Jews thought it was the literal seed that counted and John the Baptist said that this counted for nothing— profession counted for nothing. It was character that counted and God could raise up from the stones (Gentiles— people spiritually dead) people who would have the character of Abraham and therefore be in the most literal sense Abraham’s spiritual children. John the Baptist said that it was character likeness or spiritual relationship to Abraham that counted, not an outward relationship of profession (or of the flesh).

Jesus stated this truth in even stronger language “‘ I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father and you do what you have seen with your father. They answered and said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father. ‘ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’ children, you would do the works of Abraham. Bu now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did no do this. You do the deeds of your father. ‘ Then the said to Him, ‘We were not born of fornication; w have one Father— God. ‘ Jesus said to them, ‘I God were your Father, you would love Me, for proceeded forth and came from God; nor have come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” ‘ John 8: 37- 44.

Jesus acknowledged that they were the descendants of Abraham according to the flesh, but He denied that they were the children of promise. He denied that they were Abraham’s spiritual seed; He denied that they were part of the church, rather Jesus said plainly that they were of the synagogue of Satan. Jesus here made it plain that it was spiritual or character likeness that counted.

“The Pharisees had declared themselves the children of Abraham. Jesus told them that this claim could be established only by doing the works of Abraham. The true children of Abraham would live, as he did, a life of obedience to God. They would not try to kill One who was speaking the truth that was given Him from God. In plotting against Christ, the rabbis were not doing the works of Abraham. A mere lineal descent from Abraham was of no value.

Without a spiritual connection with Him, which would be manifested in possessing the same spirit, and doing the same works, they were not His children” DA 466, 467.

The Jews believed that the professed church professed Israel (Israel according to the flesh), was the true church; but Jesus said that they were not truly the children of Abraham but rather the children of the devil— they were not the true church at all, but of the synagogue of Satan, the devil’s children. They were the professed church of God. the professed people of God, the professed true church, but not the true church at all in reality. In a time of apostasy, the professed church and the true church is not the same at all.

This same battle over the definition of the true church— that the professed or outward church is not the same as the true church— had to be fought by the apostles and is discussed in detail in the New Testament, not only in the gospels but in the epistles and other New Testament books.

The theology of the Jews taught that the professed church was the true church. The theology of the apostles taught that the true church could only be defined by spiritual relationship and not on profession alone.

The Jews thought that the fleshly seed of Abraham or the professed church was the true church, but the apostles taught that only the spiritual seed was truly the church (Romans 4: 13- 17; 9: 8; Galatians 3: 7).

The Jews thought that the visible, outward relationship was what counted, but the apostles taught that it was the inward, vital relationship that counted (Romans 2: 28, 29).

The Jews professed to be the true church of God. If you could not tell the difference between the professed church and the true church, you would not have become a member of the apostolic church at Pentecost.


However, in Christendom something very similar happened to what had formerly happened in Judaism. Part of the great apostasy in Christianity, was the teaching which has affected Christendom to the present day that “Christianity consists in the mere profession of the name pertaining not to the essential character, nor implying any material change in the general conduct” Great Empires of Bible Prophecy, A. T. Jones, 471.

A person calling himself a Christian, professing to be a Christian but not living a Christlike life, is a fraud; he is a Christian in name but not in character. He is not really a true Christian but a professed Christian only. Likewise a church professing to be Christian but breaking God’s law, teaching others to break God’s law or saying that it cannot be kept, is a Christian church in name only, not in reality. It is not a true Christian church at all. As apostasy comes into a church, the whole church is of professed Christians; but within the professed church is a usually much smaller number of true Christians whose character is in harmony with their profession. A true Christian may not have character perfection yet and may be making many mistakes, but he will be loyal to the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus or spirit of prophecy and will not seek any excuse to explain away disobedience.

Professing Christians became confused again between the profession and the reality. A philosophy was developed which has enslaved billions of human beings right up to the present day. Seventh- day Adventists are not exempt from this slavery. Again the confusion had to do with the identification of the true church just as in the days of John the Baptist, Jesus and the apostles. The philosophy which has enslaved so many could be summarized like this:

Christians were taught and believed that you could only have eternal life if you belonged to the “visible church.” They believed that this was the professed Christian organization who claimed to have received apostolic authority directly from a line of uninterrupted bishops all the way back to Peter and that these bishops had the keys to the kingdom of heaven and could send a person to heaven or hell. People believed that if these bishops or their appointed subordinates cut one off from their church organization (excommunication and mass excommunications called interdicts), that one would lose eternal life and go to everlasting burnings.


As in the time of Christ, people were confused between profession and real spiritual relationship. Eternal life is only for those who are a part of the body of Christ, but who is part of the body of Christ? It is spiritual relationship and not merely visible profession that makes one a part of the church or the body of Christ (see Ephesians 5: 25- 32).

There has only been one church since the beginning of time. The apostolic church was not a new church, and the Seventh- day Adventist Church is not a new church founded in the nineteenth century. The Adventist Church is but the remnant of the church that has existed since the beginning of time (see Revelation 12 and the first chapter of Acts of the Apostles).

The keys to the kingdom of heaven— the power to bind and loose— is given to all Christians (see 1 Corinthians 5 and Matthew 18: 15- 20), but a person is not a Christian unless he is Christlike in character (see 1 John 3). In other words, it is impossible for any person or group of persons who do not have a Christlike character to actually cast a person out of the true church. In the Dark Ages there never could be revival or reformation until the fear of man was broken. Many Roman Catholics abhorred the apostasy which had engulfed the Christian world and they wrote and preached about the need of revival and reformation, but reformation was impossible. Every time revival and reformation started, the church threatened excommunication.

Revival and reformation could never come until the fear of man was overcome. In Jesus’ time you had to overcome your fear of man to follow Jesus. In the Dark Ages and in the time of the Reformers you had to overcome your “fear of man” to follow truth (see John 14: 6). It was impossible for the Reformation to succeed as long as people thought they would lose eternal life if the church excommunicated them. Until men understood who and what the church was according to the New Testament, there could be no reformation. People could see that the men who were operating the church were wicked, but they said the church is holy! Those who were following the doctrines and teachings of the church were evil, but they said the church was righteous!

Again, as in the days of Christ, men had mistaken profession for character, the symbols for the substance, the forms and rituals for the reality. Again mankind had to learn that if the character does not conform to the profession, all the professions in the world are worse than meaningless because, if our character does not conform to our profession, we are living a lie. The devil’s most successful agents are men and women who profess to be Christians but are unlike Christ in character.

Who has apostolic authority? The doctrine of apostolic succession teaches that Christ gave to the apostle Peter apostolic authority and this apostolic authority was passed down in succession to each later bishop of Rome (the pope). Ellen White comments on this “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.

This is especially applicable in the present day when such an ado is being made about who has authority to baptize, preach, write, or ordain or to call himself a Seventh- day Adventist, a Seventh- day Adventist minister or a Seventh- day Adventist Church. A real or true Seventh-day Adventist minister (an historic Seventh- day Adventist) will teach and preach the Seventh-day Adventist message that God raised up the second advent movement to proclaim to the world— Revelation 14: 6- 12. A person who claims to be a Seventh- day Adventist minister who is not preaching this message is not really a Seventh- day Adventist minister, no matter what credentials he has; and a person who is preaching the historic Adventist message is a Seventh-day Adventist minister, whether he has received credentials or not. The way some reason today would have kept them from hearing John the Baptist and Jesus and, for sure, the apostle Paul.

I wonder, have we learned and retained the lesson the apostles had to learn about the identity of the true church? Have we learned and retained the lesson the Reformers had to learn about who the church is? Is there any chance that in these last days the devil has forgotten errors which he has used so successfully in the time of Christ and since that time to cause the loss of countless millions of human beings?


In the days of Jesus and the apostles, unless you could tell the difference between the real true church and the professed true church you would never have been a Christian. The Jewish church professed to be the true church of God all the days of the apostle Paul (see Sketches from the Life of Paul, 226). In a time of apostasy, unless you can tell the difference, you will not be able to make proper decisions about what church to be a part of.

The Jews believed that the true church was professed Israel, but the apostles taught that the true church was spiritual Israel only (see Romans 9: 6- 8).

You become a member of God’s professed people when you are baptized with water, but you only become a member of God’s true people when you are baptized with the Holy Spirit—” By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body” 1 Corinthians 12: 13. Baptism with water is a symbol of baptism with the Holy Spirit and after the ratification of the New Covenant, if a person does not receive the Holy Spirit at his baptism (Acts 2: 38), his baptism is only a form.

You are in reality part of the church only when you partake of the life of Christ; and the person who partakes of the devil’s program of living— any kind of living in known sin— is not a member of the body of Christ (the church) no matter what his profession is (1 Corinthians 10: 15- 21).

Being part of the true church involves a vital union with Christ, but a person can be a part of the professed church with only a superficial or professed union with Christ (Ephesians 5: 32; John 12: 40- 42).

To really be a member of the true remnant church, you must keep the commandments and have the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 12: 17 and 19: 10); but you may profess to be a member, and outwardly be a member in a time of apostasy, and not live according to the spirit of prophecy or keep God’s commandments.

There could be no sixteenth century reformation until men understood who the true church really was because as long as they thought that they would burn in hell- fire if the church excommunicated them, fear of men would prevent any lasting reformation.

Disfellowshipping is occurring again today and a lasting revival and reformation cannot occur until men and women have no fear of what men can do. Whole churches are being disbanded. We must face reality. Whole conferences and even divisions could be lost. Even the General Conference could be lost in the battle before the final victory of God’s saints. Actually, all of these entities will be lost and destroyed if there is not true repentance, confession of wrong and restitution, and a determination to stand on the solid platform where the church militant stands (UL 152). If you are not prepared for such an eventuality, you simply are not prepared for what is very rapidly developing among God’s professed people today (see None Dare Call It Apostasy). Many who are professed “Christians” are actually part of the synagogue of Satan— Revelation 2: 9— they are not really part of the body of Christ, or the church, at all. This can be true of people in all churches, including the Seventh- day Adventist Church.

“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” 1SM 406.


In attempting to create a philosophical model which will explain the apparent contradictions in inspired writings, many inventions have been developed. One of the oldest of these is the theory of two true churches. The Bible teaches that there is only one true church (Ephesians 4: 4). This is true for both time and space. Ellen White concurs with this Biblical teaching as you would expect (see the first chapter of Acts of the Apostles) . There has only been one true church since the beginning of time and there is only one true church in all the universe. Ellen White says that the church in heaven and the church on earth are one (ST 6/ 6/ 95; 6T 366) and also that from the beginning of time faithful souls have constituted the church (AA 11; OHC 172).

There have not been two or three or six churches since the beginning. The church in Old Testament times, in the days of the apostles, and today are not separate churches even though they might be called by different names to designate the time or place being spoken of. They are each a part of the one church that has been since the beginning. This one church has always gone through and it will always go through. The true church went through in Jesus’ day, but very few of the professed church went through with it. The same was true in the time of the midnight cry and the same will be true at the end.

In the Dark Ages the theory of two true churches was developed. The theory went like this, “There is an invisible church and Christ is the head of that and there is a visible church and the pope is the head of that.” Concerning this theory John Wycliffe said that if the church had two heads, it was a monster. All the Protestant Reformers said that the church had only one head and that head was Christ (Ephesians 1: 22, 23).

The concept that there are two true churches, a visible church and an invisible church, is heresy and is not acknowledged by any inspired writer. This false teaching forms the foundation of an entire theological structure which may seem very logical but is not based on inspired writings. This theory was part of the confusion of the Dark Ages and, unfortunately, many have imbibed this ancient heresy and brought it into their experience today. This theory and all the theology built on it will end in disaster. It results in a totally distorted concept of who the church is. Anytime anyone starts talking about the “invisible church,” a red flag should wave in your mind and the bells should start ringing in your head that you are being taught heresy. Not once does Ellen White ever talk about an invisible church.

It is true that part of the true church is presently invisible to us, but it is not a separate entity or church. Ellen White says that the church on earth and the church in heaven are one and we cannot presently see the church in heaven while the church on earth is visible to us, but inspired writers never speak of a separate entity or church called the invisible church. Such an entity does not exist. Like the Virgin Mary, an entire theology has been built up over an assumption which is none- existent. When the foundation of a theology is based on a false assumption, no matter how logical the system is, it is entirely false.

Many Protestant theology students have been surprised to find out how logical Roman Catholic theology is. But even though it is logical, it is still false because it is built on a false foundation— the assumption that the Roman bishop is by divine right the head over all the churches in the world and that the decrees of the church supersede the Bible. In the same way, all the theology built on the theory of two true churches, a visible and an invisible church, will someday be seen to have caused the loss of a multitude of souls because it is built on a false foundation. One of the most common ways that this man- made theory is used to cause the loss of souls is to define the visible church as a certain church organization and then take inspired statements concerning the true church and use them to influence people to be faithful to that church organization no matter how deep in apostasy or sin it becomes. This sly tactic caused the loss of millions of souls during the Dark Ages and the devil has not forgotten it.

The net effect of creating two true churches and designating them the visible and the invisible church is to enable a person to ignore some of the plainest statements in inspired writings about who and what the church is. One of the most common ways that this man- made theory is used to cause the loss of souls is to pre- define the inspired statements about the true church to refer to a non- entity, the invisible church, and then simply sweep aside all the inspired statements that explicitly define who and what the church is. The most clear, simple, convincing and explicit definition statements in inspired writings are simply made of none- effect by this theory. But the statements still say the same thing and they will still have to be faced in the judgment if at no other time. It is not honest to take the clear statements of inspiration and simply sweep them aside and arbitrarily relegate them to something that really does not exist— the invisible church. Once this heresy has really taken hold of a person’s mind you cannot touch them with any evidence from inspired writings— as soon as you read a definition statement about the church, they immediately decide in their mind that the statement is talking about the invisible church (which term Ellen White never uses) and then refer to a quotation in which the word church is used in a different way to prove their position. It is very similar to talking to a Church of Christ member about the Sabbath and the law. The clearest statements in Scripture are swept aside with the theological system they have developed and then texts talking about the ceremonial law are used to prove that you are in error.

For example, in at least five places in the Ellen White writings you will find a statement similar to the following: “All down through the history of the world, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth” OHC 172 (see also AA 11; RH 12/ 4/ 1900). This is not just a sentence in which the word church appears, as are many of the statements used by those teaching the heresy of the invisible church. This is a definition statement of who and what the church is. But those who believe in the false doctrine of two true churches, a visible and an invisible church, sweep away this plain inspired definition of who and what the church is and make it of none effect by saying that it refers to the nonentity that they have concocted in their imagination— the invisible church. They make the plain inspired Word of God of none effect by their tradition— their man- made doctrine of the invisible church.

Notice that this statement is not talking about the church triumphant. It is talking about the church down through the history of the world or, as is stated in Acts of the Apostles on page 11, the church that has existed from the beginning. I

Incidentally, what does the word constitute mean? Synonyms would be the words compose , comprise, form, and make up. If you insert any of these simple words into the definition statement of Ellen White as to who and what the church is, you will see how plain inspiration is in defining who and what the church is. In the Appendix of this booklet there are listed numerous inspired definitions of the church; but if this was the only definition you had, you would have enough to know the truth for sure— you would never need to be mixed up because truth is always consistent with itself in all its manifestations (PP 113) and you can be sure that Ellen White, being an inspired prophet of the Lord, will never say anything in any other context that will contradict her plain definition statements about who and what the church is. If you are really a sincere seeker for truth, you will interpret all difficult texts that you may not understand in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy by the clear definition statements that are unmistakable. You would not, for example, use the details of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus as a definition statement about the state of the dead. In the same way, when the word church is used by Ellen White or a bible writer to describe many different entities in place or time, you will not take these statements as definition statements.

This is basic Protestant theology. Notice how John Knox explained this principle: “Said Mary: ‘Ye interpret the Scriptures in one manner, and they [the Roman Catholic teachers] interpret in another; whom shall I believe, and who shall be judge?” ‘

“‘ Ye shall believe God, that plainly speaketh in His word, ‘ answered the Reformer; ‘and farther than the word teaches you, ye neither shall believe the one nor the other. The word of God is plain in itself: and if there appear any obscurity in one place, the Holy Ghost, which is never contrary to Himself, explains the same more clearly in other places, so that there can remain no doubt but unto such as obstinately remain ignorant” ‘ GC 251.

But many people take some of the plainest statements in inspired writings about who and what the church is and make them of no effect because of their man- made doctrine about an entity that does not exist— the invisible church. This false teaching is often explained like this: All the statements in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy stating exactly who and what the church is are swept aside by saying that they are talking about the invisible church (the non- entity), and that all those in spiritual Babylon who are God’s true children, all in the apostate world who are His true children, compose this non- entity of the invisible church as well as the true and faithful Seventh- day Adventists. But then they say that there is a second true church, the visible Seventh- day Adventist Church or the church militant, which is obviously composed of wheat and tares. Since this is confusing to many people, we should ask the question: What is the church militant, which is often referred to as the visible church and sometimes as the organized church?

Before answering this question from inspired writings, it can be pointed out what the church militant is NOT. Never does Ellen White define the church militant as being a certain church organization. This is important to understand because many are reading into Ellen White statements their own preconceived opinions just as the Jews did with inspired statements in the time of Christ.

One of the most prominent definitions of the church militant in the Ellen White writings is that it is God’s living church (TM 45). The living church has the following characteristics:

  1. It is a working church (RH 11/ 6/ 88).
  2. It has a high standard of holiness (9MR 185, 186).
  3. Each member of a living church is “individually a habitation of God through the Spirit.., that the Lord Jesus Christ may dwell in his innermost being, ennobling and sanctifying his human nature by His divine attributes” IHP 283.
  4. This living church was not founded in 1844 or 1863, it “through the ages has been building in accordance with the divine pattern, with materials that have been likened to ‘gold, silver, precious stones, ‘ ‘polished after the similitude of a palace. ‘ 1 Corinthians 3: 12; Psalm 144: 12. Of this spiritual temple Christ is ‘the chief Cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord. ‘ Ephesians 2: 20, 21” PK 36, 37.
  5. It will be “practicing the word” (1888 Materials, 1532).
  6. “We have a work to do if we would be a living church. Individually and as a whole we are to tread sin under our feet. Our habits, our conversation, our daily life, must be placed on the Lord’s side. We must intercede and wrestle with a covenant- keeping God in behalf of His watchmen, that souls may be won to the Saviour” 12MR 102.

The above quotations do not exhaust the Ellen White descriptions of what a living church is but they do make it evident that not every professed Seventh- day Adventist is part of the church militant because the church militant is a living church (FLB 305).

Second, the church militant is fighting and wrestling against temptations and is fighting severe battles with the spiritual forces of evil. It is wrestling “against the confederacy of evil” (FLB 305). It is in a severe conflict and this conflict will become more bitter and fierce until the end. If we do not individually take part in the battle, we are not really part of the church militant and will never be part of the church triumphant. Notice the following graphic descriptions of this fact:

“The Christian life is a constant warfare. The church militant is not the church triumphant. Paul says, ‘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. ‘ We must meet human beings of power and influence who are on Satan’s side of the controversy” Peter’s Counsel to Parents, 23.

“The church militant is not in this world the church triumphant. From generation to generation, the enemy has been marshaling his forces against God. His enmity against the law of God has increased as time has passed. And his followers are at enmity with any one who has moral courage to depart from evil, and bear witness to the truth” RH 7/ 26/ 1898.

“The Church militant is not the Church triumphant. Unless the people of God wage a valiant warfare against every species of sin, they will never pass through the portals of the holy city. And we shall have no second trial” RH 12/ 31/ 1901.

“Christians are engaged in a warfare. The church militant is not the church triumphant. The followers of Christ, marching toward Zion, must fight at every step…. He [Satan] has claimed this world. Declaring that no human- being can keep the law of God’s kingdom, he claims all men as his subjects” ST 6/ 10/ 03.

“The Lord desires us to be victorious over the powers of darkness. He is willing to save to the uttermost all who come to Him. It is through Him that ~we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand. ‘ Through Him we have access to heaven’s treasure- house— His Word, the Holy Scriptures. From this treasure- house we are to draw the weapons of our warfare— the weapons so effectively used by our Saviour. With the sword of truth— ‘it is written’— He vanquished the foe. Armed with this sword, and protected by the shield of faith, we, the church militant, shall be able to stand unmoved by Satan’s assaults. Continuing to resist the enemy, we shall constantly gain strength, and finally become the church triumphant” ST 6/ 10/ 03.

Third, the church militant does not sustain (condone) those who are carnally minded although carnally minded people will be found within her borders (RH 1/ 16/ 94). We will see how this occurs shortly.

Fourth, the church militant is composed of erring men and women and is not yet perfect (as the church triumphant will be) and it will be necessary not only to exercise mercy toward the erring but also by this practice we will be preparing to become part of the church triumphant (ST 1/ 4/ 1883).

So who is the church militant? The church militant is the living church of God that has all the above identifying characteristics. Obviously, not every professed Seventh- day Adventist is part of the church militant— the church militant is by definition that church who is fighting the spiritual forces of darkness in this world; and those who are not taking part in the war, who are spiritually dead while they have a name that they are living, cannot be part of the church militant in reality. They are simply part of the professed church or/ people of God. This is a term used frequently by Ellen White and she often draws a sharp distinction between the professed church and the true church. In times of persecution, the professed people of God and His true people become almost the same thing, but, in times of liberty, the same is not true.


We have seen that in Old Testament times there was only one true Israel of God, but we saw that this true Israel of God was a remnant of a much larger group that Paul calls Israel according the flesh. Paul made it very clear that “they are not all Israel [the true people of God] who are of Israel [the professed people of God]” Romans 9: 6. The same was true during New Testament times. We saw that the Jews were the professed true church of God all during the time of the apostle Paul’s ministry. But the true church of God were those, both Jews and Gentiles, who had not only the profession but the spiritual relationship to the True Vine, the ones who were in reality the spiritual seed of the woman. So there was a difference between the professed church in both Old Testament and New Testament times.

Was this true during the Dark Ages also? Indeed it was: “For many centuries, first through paganism and then through the Papacy, Satan exerted his powers to blot from the earth God’s faithful witnesses. Both heathen and papists were actuated by the same dragon spirit. They differed only in that the Romish apostate, making a pretense of serving God, was the more dangerous and cruel foe. Through the agency of Romanism, Satan took the world captive. The professed church of God was swept into the ranks of this delusion, and for more than a thousand years the true people of God suffered under the dragon’s ire” ST 2/ 8/ 1910. What is this inspired statement saying? Who was the professed true church of God during the Dark Ages? It was those churches that had been swept into the Roman apostasy and were no longer part of spiritual Israel but had become part of spiritual Babylon. In plain English, the professed true church of God during the Dark Ages was the Romanist or Roman Catholic Church. But was that giant professed true church the true people of God, His true church, the spiritual seed of the woman (Genesis 3: 15)? No, they were trying to destroy the true church. In plain language, the professed true church was attempting to destroy the real or true church. Obviously, the professed true church and the real or true church was not the same.

Would the same be true today during the time of the end? “Oh, no,” someone might say, “the cycles have to stop in the last days; God’s professed true people today are finally the true church in reality” (even though this has never once been completely the case in nearly 6,000 years!). The professed church will never be the same as the one true church until the very end (see Word to the Little Flock, 12). There is only one true church, not two; and this one true church is defined in Appendix #1.

The professed Seventh- day Adventist Church is composed of all those who have made a profession of faith in all the doctrines of the Bible, including Revelation 14: 6- 12, and have been baptized by water. If they experience what they profess, they are really modern Israel, the spiritual seed of the woman (Revelation 12: 17). If they do not experience what they profess, if their character is not in harmony with their profession, they are only Israel according to the flesh— the professed people of God but not such in reality.

You become part of the professed church when you are baptized with water, but you are not actually part of the body of Christ unless you have been baptized with the Holy Spirit, which is one of the things baptism with water represents. Paul says that we become part of the body of Christ (the church) when we are baptized with the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12: 13). You are part of the professed remnant church when, having been baptized with water, you profess to keep all the commandments of God and live according to the Spirit of Prophecy as revealed in the writings of Ellen White (Revelation 12: 17; 19: 10; Joel 2: 28- 32); but you are recognized in heaven as part of the true church when you actually do what you profess.

We are not to accept into fellowship in the professed church anyone who is living in open sin and all such that are already members are to be disfellowshipped (see 1 Corinthians 5; 2 John). This does not mean that there are no tares (A tare is someone who is living a righteous life on the outside, that is, he is not living in open sin, but his heart is not right— see COL 70- 74.) in the borders of the professed church of God. There will be tares until the angels separate them from the wheat. (It appears that we have been in this separation process now for several years— it is most commonly referred to by Ellen White as the shaking and is called a terrible ordeal.)

This shaking and sifting process continues until the end. Until the very end there will always be a difference between the professed and the true church or people of God. Following are a few Ellen White statements which contrast the professed church and the true church as we near the end. It is important to understand the difference because, just as in the Dark Ages, the professed Seventh- day Adventist Church can turn on and attempt to destroy the true Seventh-day Adventist Church (see the clear inspired definitions of the true Seventh- day Adventist Church in Appendix #1).

“The true people of God, who have the spirit of the work of the Lord and the salvation of souls at heart, will ever view sin it its real, sinful character. They will always be on the side of faithful and plain dealing with sins which easily beset the people of God. Especially in the closing work for the church, in the sealing time of the one hundred and forty- four thousand, who are to stand without fault before the throne of God, will they feel most deeply the wrongs of God’s professed people” RH 6/ 8/ 86 (parallel statements in 3T 266 and RH 9/ 23/ 1873).

“You think, that those who worship before the saint’s feet, (Rev. 3: 9), will at last be saved. Here I must differ with you; for God shew me that this class were professed Adventists, who had fallen away, and ‘crucified to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. ‘ And in the ‘hour of temptation, ‘ which is yet to come, to show out every one’s true character, they will know that they are forever lost; and overwhelmed with anguish of spirit, they will bow at the saint’s feet” Word to the Little Flock, 12. In Maranatha on page 287, these professed Adventists are called the synagogue of Satan.

In Christ’s day, most of the Jews, the professed people of God, were actually the synagogue of Satan, as Jesus made clear in John 8: 44. A professed church becomes part of the synagogue of Satan when it becomes involved in deliberate disobedience to God’s law: “Christ speaks of the church over which Satan presides as the synagogue of Satan. Its members are the children of disobedience. They are those who choose to sin, who labor to make void the holy law of God. It is Satan’s work to mingle evil with good, and to remove the distinction between good and evil. Christ would have a church that labors to separate the evil from the good, whose members will not willingly tolerate wrong- doing, but will expel it from the heart and life” RH 12/ 4/ 00.

“All that is not in accordance with the known and expressed will of God, is at enmity with God, and has its origin in the synagogue of Satan. The will of God is expressed in his law, and sin is the transgression of the law. Those who disregard the commandments of God, and teach for doctrines the commandments of men, are working in Satan’s line, and are in harmony with the great leader of apostasy” ST 6/ 11/ 94.

“It should be noted that this is not the same as saying that a church or group has past the borders of probation. After a professed church has begun following Satan by practicing disobedience, the Lord sends messengers to them to turn them from this disobedience and bring them back into harmony with the law of God and the testimony of Jesus. If the reproofs and rebukes of God are listened to, a revival and reformation can happen and the lost sheep of the house of Israel can be reclaimed. If nobody will listen to messages of warning, then the last resort God has is to send judgments and finally mercy makes her last plea” (DA 587).


It is often assumed that God’s distinct denominated people must be a certain Seventh-day Adventist organization, etc., but we must let inspiration tell us who God’s distinct denominated people are. Again we will find that inspiration defines God’s distinct denominated people today in spiritual terms and if we do not have the spiritual characteristics, we are not really God’s distinct denominated people no matter what organization we are a member of.

  • The identifying mark that makes you part of God’s denominated people is keeping God’s commandments:

“As I was considering this matter in the night season, it seemed as if One stood up in the midst of us and pointed us back to the Israelites as an illustration of a distinct people, denominated of God. That which made them denominational was the observance of God’s commandments. In the twelfth to the eighteenth verses of the thirty- first chapter of Exodus their distinguishing sign is mentioned. ‘Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep, ‘ the Lord declared, ‘for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.. . . It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever” ‘ 19MR 38.

  • We are Seventh- day Adventists because we keep the Sabbath and look for the second advent:

“We are Seventh- day Adventists. This is a fitting name, for we keep the seventh-day Sabbath, and look for the second advent of our Lord in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. Even with respect to the name indicating some of the peculiar points of faith distinguishing us from other Christians, we are denominational. In keeping the Sabbath that God declares should be kept holy as a sign between Himself and His people, we show to the world that we are His peculiar, chosen people— a people whom He has denominated” 19MR 40.

  • When you decide to serve God, you are denominational: Mrs. E. G. White: “When you come to the point where you decide to serve God, you are denominational.

You should not link up with men who have no faith, men who although acquainted with the truth for many years, refuse to obey its teachings. Such men are not to have a voice in your council- meetings. Even if they were very rich, I would not bind myself to them by a single thread. I would not seek their advice in regard to the business transactions and other matters connected with the management of the institution. The time has come when we must find our bearings. We must come to our senses, and know where we are standing. We are on the very borders of the eternal world. We cannot tell what may happen next” 19MR 52.

  • Those who keep the Sabbath are God’s denominated people and we are to cherish this denominational distinction:

“Do not these words point us out as God’s denominated people? and do they not declare to us that so long as time shall last, we are to cherish the sacred, denominational distinction placed on us? The children of Israel were to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations ‘for a perpetual covenant. ‘ The Sabbath has lost none of its meaning. It is still the sign between God and his people, and it will be so forever” RH 8/ 4/ 04.

  • We are not to hide our name: “In the name of the Lord we are to identify ourselves as Seventh-day Adventists” BCL 52. “The reasons why we are denominated people of God are to be repeated and repeated. Deuteronomy 4: 1- 13; 5: 1- 33.— Ms 175, 1905. (Diary, July 10, 1905.)” 8MR 427.

There has been an attempt to slander God’s true people. God’s true people, His true church, are those who keep the commandments of God and obey the Spirit of Prophecy (see UL 315). But there has been an attempt to say that anyone who is not under the authority of a certain Seventh- day Adventist organization is not a part of God’s true people or true church. Conscientious Seventh- day Adventist ministers have been asked by a conference or union or the General Conference to do something that they could not do with a clear conscience. For being faithful to their conscientious convictions, they have been fired or disfellowshipped or in some other way forcefully separated from the organized structure, the professed Seventh- day Adventist Church, the professed true church of God of the last days. Then the message goes out far and near that these persons have separated from the church, that they are working independent of the church. In some cases the charge is made that they are not part of God’s denominated people anymore, that they are not Seventh- day Adventists, when the truth is that the professed Seventh- day Adventist Church cast them out with force. This has not only been done with individuals but with entire churches and even larger groups! This underhanded work is misleading because many Seventh- day Adventists do not yet know who the true church really is— they think that it is a certain church organization, but it is rather the people who love God and keep His commandments (UL 315). In many cases around the world, the true and faithful have been disfellowshipped; but these are still the only true church and those who have disfellowshipped them thereby give the whole universe evidence that they are on the opposite side of the great controversy from God’s true and faithful people— His true church. They thereby show that they are part of the synagogue of Satan just as the Jews were in Christ’s day. They are not part of the true church at all: “We can see from this scripture [Revelation 12: 17] that it is not the true church of God that makes war with those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. It is the people who make void the law, who place themselves on the side of the dragon, and persecute those who vindicate God’s precepts” ST 4/ 22/ 1889.


Question: Who and what is a Seventh- day Adventist church?
A Seventh- day Adventist church is a congregation of Seventh- day Adventist believers who are organized as a local church body. To tell if a professed Seventh- day Adventist church is a truly historic Seventh- day Adventist local church, you should find out if they believe the historic Adventist beliefs as listed in Appendix #3.

Question: Could you give me more quotations where Ellen White draws a distinction between the true church and the professed church?
Yes, see Appendix #2.

Question: What is an historic Seventh- day Adventist?
An historic Seventh- day Adventist is a person who professes to believe all the historic Seventh- day Adventist beliefs (briefly listed in appendix #4) and does not believe the “new theology.” Hallmarks of the new theology are the following concepts:

  1. A person cannot have complete and perfect victory over sin in this life,
  2. rejection of the significance of 1844 and the investigative judgment and the doctrine of the heavenly sanctuary being the antitype of the Jewish sanctuary,
  3. rejection of the writings of Ellen White as those of a true prophet of God and authoritative,
  4. salvation (and the gospel) is by justification alone and
  5. substitution of the authority of the church (church manual) in place of the supreme authority of the Bible. If a person believes any one of the five above, he is not an historic Adventist.

Question: Who is modern Israel?
“I was shown that those who are trying to obey God and purify their souls through obedience to the truth are God’s chosen people, His modern Israel” 2T 109.

Question: Could you give many Ellen White definition statements of the church to back up your thesis?
Yes, see Appendix #1.

Question: Doesn’t the Spirit of Prophecy say that God’s people today are destined to triumph?
The truth is soon to triumph and only those who stay with the truth will triumph with it:

“The church of God, hated and persecuted by the world, are educated and disciplined in the school of Christ. They walk in narrow paths on earth; they are purified in the furnace of affliction. They follow Christ through sore conflicts; they endure self- denial and experience bitter disappointments; but their painful experience teaches them the guilt and woe of sin, and they look upon it with abhorrence. Being partakers of Christ’s sufferings, they are destined to be partakers of His glory. In holy vision the prophet saw the triumph of the people of God. He says, ‘I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory, . . . stand on the sea of glass, having the hams of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints. ‘ ‘These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. ‘ Revelation 15: 2, 3; 7: 14, 15” MB 31. “The truth is soon to triumph gloriously and all who now choose to be laborers together with God will triumph with it” 9T 135.

Question: Who is really a church member? (Who is really a Seventh- day Adventist?)
(1) You become a member of the professed church when you are baptized with water; but you are not a member of the true church, the actual body of Christ, unless you are baptized with the Holy Spirit. According to 1 Corinthians 12: 13, we do not become a member of the true church— the body of Christ— until we are baptized by the Holy Spirit. (2) When your name is voted in by a local church body after your baptism with water, then your name is added to the church book on earth and you are a member of a local professed church. Usually, within this body, some are professed only, but some are both professed and members of the true church— the church of the Firstborn and the names of the members of the church of the First- born are registered in heaven (Hebrews 12: 23). “God . . . . draws the dividing line between those who bear his name by profession, and those whose character shows them to be his children” ST 6/ 30/ 1881.

Special Note: In this small booklet only the definition issue of the church has been addressed. Several other serious and slanderous charges are being leveled against ministries attempting to help complete the gospel commission in the world. These will be addressed later if the Lord wills. One issue is the charge of separation; another is the charge of criticism; another is the charges concerning church authority and church organization; and still another issue is the definition of Babylon. All these must be addressed because: “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 be 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 Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, is an offence to God, and should be met. And on every point the accusers should be called upon to bring their proof. Every charge should be carefully investigated” 3SM 348.

Appendixes –>

ISSUES: Part II: The Letter the NAD Officers did not Publish in their ISSUES Book

Issues 2, The Letter the NAD Offices did not publish in their Issues bookThen I was shown a company who were howling in agony. On their garments was written in large characters, “Thou art weighed in the balance, and found wanting.” I asked who this company were. The angel said, “These are they who have once kept the Sabbath, and have given it up.” I heard them cry with a loud voice, “We have believed in Thy coming, and taught it with energy.” And while they were speaking, their eyes would fall upon their garments and see the writing, and then they would wail aloud. I saw that they had drunk of the deep waters, and fouled the residue with their feet,— trodden the Sabbath underfoot,— and that was why they were weighed in the balance and found wanting. –Life Sketches 117,118

Has your character been transformed? Has darkness been exchanged for light, the love of sin for the love of purity and holiness? Have you been converted, who are engaged in teaching the truth to others? Has there been in you a thorough, radical change? Have you woven Christ into your character? You need not be in uncertainty in this matter. Has the Sun of Righteousness risen and been shining in your soul? If so, you know it; and if you do not know whether you are converted or not, never preach another discourse from the pulpit until you do. How can you lead souls to the fountain of life of which you have not drunk yourself? Are you a sham, or are you really a son of God? Are you serving God, or are you serving idols? Are you transformed by the Spirit of God, or are you yet dead in your trespasses and sins? To be sons of God means more than many dream of, because they have not been converted. Men are weighed in the balance and found wanting when they are living in the practice of any known sin. It is the privilege of every son of God to be a true Christian moment by moment; then he has all heaven enlisted on his side. He has Christ abiding in his heart by faith.

Testimonies To Ministers 440, 441 Oh, that the people of God would take this to heart! That they would consider that not one wrong will be righted after Jesus comes! Not one error of character will be removed when Christ shall come. Now is our time of preparation. Now is our time of washing our robes of character in the blood of the Lamb. If we go on excusing our errors and trying to make ourselves believe we are about right, we deceive our own souls and will find ourselves weighed in the balance and found wanting. Many profess the truth but are not sanctified through the truth. 5 Manuscript Releases 21,22


The letter that composes the first part of this booklet was received by us on January 19, 1993. It was sent to us by a supporter of Steps to Life. In this letter we read, “in as much as this letter is to be published . . . .“, indicating that this letter was written for publication.

It appears from this letter, that the NAD (North American Division) officers and their committee, especially Robert Dale, requested letters against “certain private organizations” to be used in their ISSUES book. However, this letter is nowhere to be found in their ISSUES book. We do not concur with the author of this letter on several points. However, in the name of fair play, we believe this letter should have been published in the NAD ISSUES book along- side the others.

We did not ask permission of any person to publish this letter. The letter itself states it was prepared for publication: “in as much as this letter is to be published. . . .“ We have depersonalized it even further, as you can tell by the blank _____ lines. This booklet contains all of the letter that was sent to us. In the letter we received, certain portions were missing, you will find these in [brackets].

“This is a partial copy of a letter written by _____ of Andrews University, to Elder Robert Dale of the N. A. D. . . . . I understand the letter was sent in May 1992.” [written on the top of the letter we received]

The Letter the NAD Officers did not Publish I do not agree with everything in Our Firm Foundation. I receive a complimentary copy every month, but I do not subscribe to the magazine and have never sent a donation. Ron Spear has called me on the phone a couple of times over a period of several years, but I have never called him. I would rather the magazine didn’t exist. But I must add that I am, [ ] I among them, appreciate quite a bit of what is published in the paper. Though we deeply regret the critical spirit that appears at times and oppose that one- time instruction on tithing, we nonetheless wish that the best of Our Firm Foundation could appear in the Adventist Review. We would like to see the magazine cease publication but feel that for the time being it fills a useful place in feeding Christ’s sheep.

1. Feed the Sheep’s Four Hungers.

The Review has carried a variety of warnings, especially the Perth declaration, aimed against

Our Firm Foundation and other private publishing ventures. What I have not yet seen but would like to see is an exploration into the reasons why these private publishing ventures succeed.

Career malcontents are going to publish critical materials no matter what any committee comes up with, and neither spiritual appeals nor demagoguery will make them stop. If the Committee is trying to reach career malcontents, they might as well quote Nehemiah and refuse to waste their time.

I therefore assume that the Committee is trying to reach, not the career malcontents, but the loyal and reasonable church members who send donations to support the independent publishers. So let us ask, Why do these readers support these private publishers? I’d like to propose four reasons, four legitimate hungers.

  • A hunger for what appears to be solid food.

Our Firm Foundation is notable for its lengthy doctrinal articles and for its republished appeals by Ellen G. White. Evidently, then, people are supporting Our Firm Foundation because they want to read lengthy doctrinal articles and they want to read earnest appeals written by Ellen G. White.

  • A hunger for prophetic interpretation and application.

Several of the independent papers consist largely of prophetic interpretation and application. Evidently, then, people pay for these papers because they want to read articles on prophetic interpretation and application.

  • A hunger for the serious use of Ellen G. White.

The conservative publications quote the Ellen G. White writings copiously and do so as if they regarded the writings as authoritative.

  • A hunger for sincere repentance by church leadership.

It is easy to dismiss the Pilgrims Press as merely salacious and erroneous. I assure you that I don’t subscribe to it and only rarely even see a copy of it. But a very large number of Adventist church members in the North American Division are aware that some of their leaders are opinionated, selfish, and power hungry. Some of our church members hunger for evidence of humility and the character of Christ in their leaders.

Of course, a lot of our NAD members don’t have these four hungers, or don’t have all of them. Some of them scarcely read any of our papers, not even their Union papers or the Review.

And some are excited by Spectrum, with its criticism of Ellen G. White and the sanctuary doctrine and its campaign for social activism and a billions- of- years post- creation chronology.

But these less- hungry people aren’t sending their tithe to Our Firm Foundation, so they aren’t in the Committee’s focus. Speaking about those who, I presume, are in the Committee’s focus, my first suggestion for reclaiming the loyalty of people who read the independent publications is that as promptly as possible the North American Division acknowledge the four deep hungers I have listed as legitimate and meet them with a. solid, sound doctrinal articles, b. solid, sound prophetic interpretation and application, c. appropriate respect for the inspired authority of Ellen G. White, and d. evidence of humility and the character of Christ as needed among our leaders.

I have heard (the information may be incorrect) that one of the reasons the Committee is preparing a paper against the independent publications is that “third world” ministers are basing sermons on articles in Our Firm Foundation. Of course they are! Our Firm Foundation appears to meet at least three of the four hungers. By contrast, the Adventist Review usually offers little essays not over six typewritten pages in length, pays only sporadic attention to the fulfillment of prophecy, virtually never cites Ellen G. White for authoritative direction, and admits the failings of denominational leadership only in extraordinary areas of finance (e. g., Davenport and Harris Pine Mills). In response to intense criticism, the Review has commendably begun the Anchor Point series; but it occupies only a fraction of the available pages.

2. Avoid Discrimination.

The Quiet Hour accepts tithe. The Voice of Prophecy accepts tithe. The people at Hope International know that the Quiet Hour accepts tithe and that the Voice of Prophecy accepts tithe. Many other people either know this or assume it. If the Committee clamps down on Hope International and not on the Quiet Hour and the Voice of Prophecy, it will be guilty of discrimination. Worse, it will likely be ineffective— and will even run the risk of having Our Firm Foundation publish the facts about QH and VOP and embarrass leadership.

[Added later: I do not for a moment suggest that leadership ought to crack down on either the QH or the VOP, even though acceptance of tithe by both of them is contrary to voted NAD policy. They are both doing a noble work and should be encouraged. When Elder Tucker in the 1950’s accepted a call to Berrien Springs, the Northern California Conference refused to let him take the Quiet Hour with him from Oakland. Because the NCC had given the QH a small fraction of its operating cost, it persuaded itself that it had full rights of ownership. Tucker felt abused but stayed loyal. He waited till the QH in Oakland failed before resuming it in Michigan, and when he resumed it, he resolved he would never again accept even a penny from church leadership but would, if possible, give money to the church. An this he and his sons after him have done, with utmost loyalty and devotion. To discipline the QH for occasionally accepting tithe— like Mrs. White did— from people whose hungers are not being met by leadership, would be a peculiarly abusive demonstration of “kingly power.”]

Now let me enlarge the scope of discrimination. If our leadership is going to defrock conservatives, it absolutely must be even handed and defrock supporters of Spectrum. (Who the principals of Spectrum are can be identified by a glance inside any front cover.)

Let us grant that the General Conference has a right to define where tithe should be paid. Very well, if leadership is going to defrock conservatives for defying denominational policies on where tithe should be paid, what is leadership going to do about the college staff which, scarcely waiting for the ink to dry on the denominational vote restricting extramural competition, ran an ad on the back of Insight saying (as close as I can remember), “Meet You at Court Side.” Their ad listed both the old and the newly added opportunities at their college for extramural competition.

If leadership is going to defrock conservatives for defying “denominational policy” in regard to where tithe should be paid, what is leadership going to do about the presidents of the Carolina Conference and the Southern Union? Denominational policy requires Conference presidents and Union presidents to respond “normally within three weeks” to appeals from workers who request the Conciliation Process. A certain pastor in the Carolina Conference has appealed at least five times for the Conciliation Process over a period of nearly four years but has been given a deaf ear, in disregard of denominational policy. I have, literally, a drawer full of evidence that this pastor has probably been treated insensitively and unfairly. I have appealed to the leaders directly involved asking them to appoint an independent third party to look into the situation and see if there might be a basis for the pastor’s complaints; but all that each of these (otherwise good) brethren has done in response has been to consult together and report to me (or not report at all) that everything has been done just right. The pastor in question has been fired and is in debt, with a wife who may be developing cancer that they cannot afford to treat. Two individuals who are closer to the pastor than I am, two people who for many years have been very loyal tithe- paying Seventh- day Adventists, pastor. You can appreciate the fact, Bob, that nothing the Committee publishes on tithe paying will persuade these two people to follow “denominational policy” in regard to where to send tithe as long as the brethren I have mentioned decline to follow “denominational policy” on the Conciliation Process. I think you can see their point.

On another theme, who is speaking out officially in favor of the loyal, tithe paying Seventh-day Adventists who for decades have supported our church schools and our missionary magazines and the Voice of Prophecy, etc., who now hate to attend their own churches because of the “evangelical burlesque” (so- called Celebrationism) going on there in a misguided attempt to retain the unconverted? Who is speaking out on their behalf? If in a given conference no one is, can leadership there in good conscience blame these loyal tithe paying Seventh- day Adventists if, after paying their tithe to the conference for decades, they now send some of it to someone who does have courage to speak out? I don’t agree with them in this use of some of their tithe. I only say that if the Committee is serious about persuading such members to return to paying all their tithe to the Conference, then the Committee should persuade Conference leadership to speak up on their behalf in respect to the worship- entertainment issue.

The Committee, I say, must do all in its power to avoid discriminating against easy conservative targets while neglecting to tackle the serious problems that so deeply concern the easy conservative targets.

3. Evaluate Actual Losses.

Inasmuch as tithe is a major bone of contention, I’d like to ask the Committee to find out just how much money the NAD is actually losing to the independent publications. Is the amount worth the blood that may be shed by a frontal assault?

To determine the money being lost to the NAD, tallying up the income of the independent publications isn’t good enough. It is my current impression that many of the Adventists who are sending donations to these publications would not start sending their money to the Conferences if these publications were today shut down. So long as their four hungers persist unsatisfied, they will send their money elsewhere or bide their time till the publications are replaced with other independent publications.

What I’m trying to say in this section is that the loss of offerings to these publications is not due to the existence of the publications but to the doubtful quality of the Review and the apparent lack of humility and repentance among some of our leaders.

I would also like to urge that the amount of money these publications are receiving is relatively small, and that the proportion of tithe involved is very small.

Suppose Hope International, the largest publisher, does actually receive $1,250,000 a year as Ron Spear, when I asked him, told me that it does. Well, the total church contributions made by NAD Adventists is over $600,000,000. So Ron Spear gets only 1/ 500th (0.2%), a sizable amount to be sure, but scarcely enough to credit him with holding up the general progress of the cause.

But what about the tithe he receives, the increment of his earnings most zealously targeted by denominational leadership? Spear says (I am told) that only about 10% of his $1,250,000 represents tithe. By nature he seems to be an open man with figures, but let’s suppose that the tithe total is closer to 20%. Twenty percent of $1,250,000 is $250,000— whereas NAD Adventists give $400,000,000 tithe each year. So let’s figure it out. The tithe that creeps into Hope International represents at most 1/ 1600th (0.0625%) of total NAD Adventist tithe paying.

Against the amount of money that might be regained by opposing the independent publications, the Committee will want to weigh the value of souls who may become discouraged by a denominational outburst. What will it profit the church to gain several thousand dollars but lose hundreds of souls?

4. Remove the Offense.

You said in your letter that the Committee dealing with Hope International wants to be “balanced.” This is commendable; and I expect the objective is sincere. You ask my comments in a desire to achieve this end. Inasmuch as you asked, let me continue to oblige.

What about Spectrum and its parent organization, The Association of Adventist Forums? If you don’t read Spectrum, I don’t blame you. But you probably made an exception and read about Elder Folkenberg and the anonymous donors in the August 1991 issue. Is it all right for Spectrum to be sharply critical of leadership but not for Pilgrim’s Press to be critical? What about “Growing Up with the Beasts” and “Social Reform as Sacrament of the Second Advent” in the May 1991 issue of Spectrum? These articles reinterpret the beasts of Revelation as social ills and the “remnant” as social activists. The Committee should also savor the relish with which the magazine’s March 1992 issue, on pp. 63- 64, reported that Seventh- day Adventist Kinship International won its trademark case with the General Conference. The Committee should then read the articles about Desmond Ford and by Ford himself beginning on pp. 9 and 12 of the March issue.

Inasmuch as this letter is to be published, I am deleting the names of certain individuals whose behavior and theology are strikingly out of harmony with normal Adventism. But I have privately called them to your attention.

What about the seven papers written by honor students at Walla Walla College in the spring of 1991 that have received deserved notoriety. I understand that Elder Folkenberg has reproved the WWC religion faculty, and I’m mighty glad to hope that the report is true. But will there be any real change at WWC?

What are our people to expect of Adventist education as long as strong supporters of Spectrum serve as college presidents? As long as the president of Atlantic Union College is the man who publicly praised another of our retired educators for coming out in favor of a billions- of years post- creation chronology, can we reasonably expect our conservatives to support our schools?

As earnestly as I am capable of saying it, if the Committee is serious about reclaiming the loyalty of those people who support our independent conservative publications, I urge it first of all to set about removing the most obvious offenses.

5. Review Our History.

Our Firm Foundation, like some of our other independent publications,

  • (a) speaks of a “new theology” that it says arose in the 1950’s. It
  • (b) emphasizes that Jesus had the same human inheritance as we all have, rather than having been created as clean as Adam. And it
  • (c) talks about perfecting our characters in preparation for the second coming.

These emphases annoy a branch of our conservatives even more than they also annoy our liberals. These annoyed conservatives almost angrily scold Our Firm Foundation for emphasizing doctrines that are “not generally agreed on” in our denomination.

But does their distaste for Our Firm Foundation on these points prove that the magazine is wrong on these points? [ ]theology for over twenty years, requiring me to do constant research. I have [ ] with my antennae out for the same length of time, and have served as a minister since 1946. 1 can say unequivocally that in the 1950’s Adventist theology as taught in our NAD centers did undergo a change, one that can be attributed especially but not exclusively to two of the editors of Questions on Doctrine and to at least two fascinating and influential Seminary professors— a change which has been perpetuated and (we must recognize) distorted by students who rose quickly to positions of educational and administrative prominence. Yes, indeed, there is a “new theology,” and Our Firm Foundation is historically correct when it refers to it.

Perhaps, however, we should say, more precisely, that certain views which had been held for some time by a minority were, in the 1950’s, reformulated, given new emphasis, and taken up by a large group of those Adventists who enjoyed the advantage of attending our schools. I believe in our schools ______, but I observe that the theological cleavage which exists today among conservative NAD Adventists is largely between those who have studied the writings of non- SDA theologians in our colleges on the one hand and, on the other hand, those who, deprived of an SDA college education, have confined their study mostly to the Bible and the writings of Ellen G. White. I am repeatedly struck with the way new converts, fresh from the study of the Bible and Ellen G. White, side with the older SDA theology, while so- called “second” and “third- generation” Adventists tend to side with the new theology.

Maybe I should add at this point that I think that some language used by the QOD editors in defense of their product set an ugly stage that leadership still needs to sweep clean. Deeply embarrassed to have the Evangelicals discover that many Adventists did not agree with QOD’s new theology, the QOD editors cruelly denounced the conservatives as a “lunatic fringe.” I knew a lot of those lunatics and respected them highly. They included the fine PUC teachers who set the tone of my ministry. Well, leaders can say things like this, but it seems hardly reasonable for them to expect people they call lunatics to enjoy paying them their tithe.

The cry is often raised by the new- theology conservatives that Our Firm Foundation and similar publications are all wrong when they insist on the view that Jesus was not given a pre- f all nature like Adam’s. These new- theology conservatives say that the publications are wrong in that they insist on a view of Christ’s nature that has never been accepted as a Fundamental Belief by the church as a whole.

But if the denomination has never taken an official stand on this subject, why is it wrong for the old- theology conservatives to publish articles on the subject but perfectly right for the new theology conservatives to do so? New- theology conservatives such as the editors of Our Firm Foundation are frequently criticized for bringing up the issue. But let’s face it; they didn’t start the argument! The argument was started publicly by the 1949 edition of Bible Readings and the 1957 publication of Questions on Doctrine, and by certain Seminary professors and others in the years that followed. And the pot has been kept boiling by the professors and others in the years that followed. And the pot has been kept boiling by the new- theology liberals and conservatives, who now control several of our magazines and colleges. One recalls the old quip:

“You started the fight when you hit me back.” The fact that new- theology people control the chief NAD publications and colleges represents choices made by entities of the NAD. Choices involve consequences. If NAD entities have chosen such editors and presidents, NAD must expect a reaction. It is in my opinion irresponsible and unsportsmanlike for NAD to choose partisans of new- theology views which have not been officially accepted by the General Conference and then cry foul when loyal church members publish evidence in favor of the old- theology views which they committed themselves to when they became Seventh- day Adventists.

6. Assess the implications of Voluntaryism.

I have just spoken about the convictions of people who adopted certain understandings when they became Seventh- day Adventists. If church leadership thinks the time has come to teach different views from the views being taught when these people became Seventh- day Adventists, that is one thing. But to treat people as rebellious, heretical, disloyal, and legalist because they choose to continue to believe what they sincerely committed themselves to years ago, seems gross and boorish.

Commitment is precious, and church membership is sacred. Church membership is also entirely voluntary. Payment of tithe and offerings in the Seventh- day Adventist movement is totally unenforceable. Loyalty is unenforceable. Ours is a voluntary movement.

Members will pay or will not pay tithe as they please. They will be loyal or disloyal as they please, and no one can force them to be any different.

How important, then, that our leaders seek consensus rather than political victories. Our previous General Conference presidency was marked by increasingly sharp politicization at the expense of consensus. You and the Committee are painfully aware of this.

If leadership wants to settle for, say, a vote of 60%, let it do so. No one can stop it. But let leadership recognize that when it settles for 60% it runs the real risk of alienating many of the other 40%. Alienation and loyalty are opposite principles.

The trouble with administrating a voluntary organization on the basis of major- fraction votes is that the volunteers who are unconvinced may simply stop being volunteers. How much better, how very much better, for the church to move slowly enough and persuasively enough to secure consensus!

One of the seething causes of the current wave of unofficial publications is frustration with disenfranchisement. Church leadership, apparently intent on retaining our educated liberals, has found ways politically and editorially to give several of the denomination’s colleges, periodicals, and key administrative positions to educated liberals. Time after time our conservatives, the ones who still read the Spirit of Prophecy, have been frustrated. Their articles have been rejected by denominational editors. And even when they have written “letters to the editor,” too often their letters haven’t been published unless a contrary letter was available for publication next to theirs, to make their letters look foolish. All of this maneuvering has left many of our thinking conservatives frustrated. But they love our church more than they love their money. They are alarmed at the way things are going because they care enough to be alarmed; and so, well, they speak up through their own publications, and they put their money where their mouths and hearts are. They are, after all, volunteers, generous, giving volunteers who support the kind of Adventism they believe in.

7. Conclusion.

It is my conviction, as I said in beginning, that Our Firm Foundation ought to close down. We ought not to need it. We ought to have an Adventist Review that feeds our people’s legitimate hungers without the accusing spirit and without the false tithe advice sometimes found in Our Firm Foundation. The Review— and our colleges, pastors, and teachers— should feed our people’s hunger for solid, sound doctrinal instruction, for solid, sound material dealing with the fulfillment of prophecy, and for solid respect for the inspired authority of Ellen G. White. And our administrators should use the columns of the Review to make earnest confession, acknowledging specific wrongs and offering specific restitution.

The Committee (it seems to me) should persuade leadership to act without discrimination, removing offenses, and counting the possible gain in money against the possible loss in souls.

In brief, in dealing with the supporters of Our Firm Foundation, the Seventh- day Adventist movement needs to display strong, clear- headed, moral leadership. God give us moral leadership, armed by faith, winged by prayer, and informed by the Spirit of Prophecy, its soul cleansed and its influence enhanced where necessary through public confession and repentance.

There is a danger that God’s commandment- keeping people will be found, as were the Jews, weighed in the balance of the heavenly sanctuary, and found wanting. YI, 10/14/97

Next Section –>

ISSUES: The Credibility Crisis, Section IV

by Dr. Ralph Larson

Chapter X – The Credibility Crisis

1— Anonymous Authorship. Secrecy does not create confidence. Church members know that individuals have done the writing. They will look askance at the representations that it was done by the officers of the North American Division. They know very well that it was not written by “your church.” They will be unpleasantly reminded of the carefully concealed authorship of Questions On Doctrine, with its baleful results, and will have the sensation of “Here we go again.” Full openness would have been much better, along with full responsibility. As members reflect about the secrecy, some will conclude that, given the quality of the writing, it is understandable that no one wants to assume responsibility for it, but somebody should. Otherwise the onus for the multitudinous errors will rest upon all of the North American Division officers.

2— Inaccurate Accusations. If accusations of a personal and private nature need to be accurate, how much more those accusations that are spread before the entire membership of the church, and that by church leaders. But the Issues publication is riddled with inaccuracies. We have enlarged on this point in previous chapters, but will here mention the repeated charge that the “dissidents” are saying that the church is in apostasy, whereas informed church members know that they are actually saying there is apostasy in the church. Credibility is severely damaged by this sort of thing.

3— Unwise Recommendations. Unqualified recommendations are given by the Issues writers to a series of Review articles by Norman Gulley and to a Review tract by Roger Coon, in spite of the fact that church leaders have been shown that both contain very serious errors.

4— Totally False Allegations. The Issues appendix contains an article written by D. D. Devinich, president of the Canadian Union, and published in the Canadian Union Messenger. In the article, Devinich alleged that he found two evidences of dishonesty in the writings of Ralph Larson. I promptly offered Pastor Devinich two separate rewards of $1,000.00 if he would produce from my writings the evidence to support his allegations, and made this offer known to more than a hundred of the church’s leaders. Though months have passed by, neither Devinich nor the church leaders have responded. Yet the North American Division leaders published his false allegations in the Issues book. Why?

Meanwhile, Devinich’s article was reprinted in two other Union papers and with slight modifications in Ministry, along with personal recommendations from the Union presidents and the editor of Ministry. This would seem to have established an all- time low in administrative and journalistic irresponsibility in the Seventh- day Adventist Church. Need we comment as to the effect of this upon the church’s credibility?

5— Astonishing Claims. Statements are soberly set forth in the Issues tract and book that are breath- taking in their divergence from reality. On page 7 of the tract we find a claim, italicized for emphasis, that:

Seventh- day Adventists have never “formally” adopted a position on the question of just how Jesus’ nature compared with Adam’s and with ours. Neither has the church ever “formally” adopted a position on perfection and the precise nature of human obedience.

Incredibly, we find this claim immediately following a paragraph which refers to the statement of faith that was voted at the General Conference of 1980, thus making it as “formal” as anything can be in our church. In article 17 of that “formal” document we read that:

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. As the Lord’s messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.

In the “authoritative” writings of Ellen White described in this “formal” document, there are more than 4,500 statements affirming the reality of victorious Christian living through the power of Christ, and more than 400 statements that our Lord came to this earth in the human nature of fallen man.

Moreover, the book Seventh- day Adventists Believe, which is an explication of the statement of faith, contains 140 affirmations of victorious Christian living, and its position on the nature of Christ is stated like this on page 49:

He took the nature of man in its fallen state, bearing the consequences of sin, not its sinfulness. He was one with the human race, except in sin. As we look back at earlier statements of faith as presented in the appendix of Issues, we find more there than the Issues writers indicate. See the quotations in Chapter IX, “The PseudoSearch for Historic Adventism.”

We submit that these statements of faith, though brief, are clear. Ellen White, who is said to be “authoritative” in Seventh- day Adventists Believe, puts her position on the doctrine of sanctification in print 4,500 times. If we yet insist that it is not possible to be sure of her intention, the problem is most emphatically with us, not with the writer.

6— The Straw- Man Technique. This is one of the most regrettable features of the entire

Issues project. The straw man technique is used in debate like this: (a) You misrepresent the opinions or positions of your opponent; (b) You vigorously attack your misrepresentations, and (c) Unwary listeners will conclude that you have demolished your opponent’s argument, when, in fact, you have only demolished your own misrepresentations. It is a very effective technique, but is it ethical?

It is the straw- man technique that is being employed when the writers of Issues allege:

  • That we are attacking the church, when we are actually attacking apostasy in the church.
  • That we are saying the church is in apostasy, when we are actually saying that there is apostasy in the church.
  • That we are setting ourselves up as examples when we are actually setting up Jesus as the example.
  • That we are defending our personal opinions when we are actually defending our historic faith as set forth in SDAs Believe, etc.
  • That we are defining “historic faith” by looking at the statements of 1861, 1872 and 1931, when we are actually defining it by our examination of the entire body of Adventist literature published before the appearance of Questions On Doctrine.
  • That we are trying to establish a church within the church, when we are actually trying to bring a reform message to the entire church and provide a means of spiritual survival for the historic Adventists.
  • That independent ministries should be divided into two groups. The good ones operate schools, clinics, etc., and ignore the church’s theological problems. The bad ones keep raising embarrassing questions about unauthorized changes in our church’s theology.

The list could be enlarged, but perhaps this is enough to illustrate our point. Thoughtful church members will recognize what is being attempted by the straw- man technique, and the damage to the church’s credibility will be enormous.

Seventh- day Adventists tend to be an intensely loyal people, loyal to the faith, loyal to the church, and loyal to the leaders of the church. They are extremely reluctant to believe that our leaders could make a mistake. But in view of the clear warnings in the Spirit of Prophecy that many of our leaders will go astray in the last days, church members are being forced to take a clear- eyed look at what is happening in the church today.

When they turn a clear gaze at the Issues tract and book, they are certain to suffer keen disappointment. Their confidence in the church’s leadership cannot but be severely damaged. A serious credibility crisis has been created. To avoid further loss of confidence, our leaders should publish corrections as soon as possible, and then make provision for a straightforward treatment of the real issue— unauthorized changes in our church’s theology.

It is to be devoutly hoped that church leaders will recognize the dire need to abandon the “good old boy” attitude of “Let’s close ranks and stonewall it” that has characterized their approach to the problems thus far. Devastating damage to church credibility is certain to result when church members learn that much of the material in the Issues appendix has already been shown to be grossly inaccurate and untrue, and that the church leaders have had this evidence in their hands long before Issues was printed. I refer in particular to the “Unity” article by Frank Holbrook of the BRI, the Devinich article, the “Tithe” article by Roger Coon, etc. For the leaders to set such articles as these before the people with no hint as to their serious faults is unconscionable.

But though this causes us much concern for the church, let us remember that there is no doubt how it will end.

The Majesty of Heaven has the destiny of nations, as well as the concerns of His church, in His own charge.— 5T 753.

Final Section

ISSUES: Adventist Inquisition, Section V

Chapter XI – How Shall We Relate To The Great Adventist Inquisition?

by Dr. Ralph Larson

If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trusted, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? Jeremiah 12: 5.

The Jordan is swelling. The horsemen are here. By their publication of the Issues tract and book, the North American Division leaders, no doubt acting in counsel with General Conference leaders, have clearly announced their intention of seeking out those who have been associating with and supporting “certain private organizations” and dealing with them as a cancer in the body of the church, which must be cut out. This will be the historic Adventist’s reward for persistently calling for loyalty to our historic faith and for insistently raising questions about unauthorized changes in our church’s doctrines.

It will be no small task. The Historic Movement is growing very rapidly in North America and has adherents numbering in the thousands. It also has sympathizers in high places who will come forward like Nicodemus when circumstances require such an action. In overseas divisions, excepting Australia, New Zealand and Western Europe, those who hold to our historic faith are the overwhelming majority. Most of the members in mission fields will be astonished beyond measure when they learn that in North America church members are being disciplined for believing the very doctrines that those in the mission fields have been taught and still hold.

As one considers the magnitude of this Inquisition, the question is likely to occur, Would it not be simpler and easier to just repudiate the unauthorized changes in our doctrines and return to the purity of our faith? But it does not appear that this solution to the problem is even being considered.

This is unfortunate. Such an approach would have brought a positive solution to the problem, rather than a negative solution. Surgery would not be necessary. The dissidents would cease to be dissident and would joyfully give full support to the church administration. Tithes and offerings would flow through the regular channels, and the independent ministries would willingly go out of business because they would no longer be needed.

But we must accept the grim reality. Given the choice between reforming our theology or silencing the voices of those who are calling for reform, the North American Division leaders appear to have chosen the latter course. This is a fateful decision. It will touch off such a “witch- hunt” as has never before been seen in Adventism, although it has been seen before in the history of Christianity.

The early Christians were hounded out of the Jewish synagogues; the Protestants were hounded out of the Catholic church; and the Millerite Adventists were hounded out of the Protestant churches, all for the same reason. All were reacting against apostasy in the church and calling for reform. In each case the church authorities refused to consider reform and chose rather to silence the Reformers’ voices.

The Pharisees had just cut one off from the fold because he had acknowledged that Jesus had wrought a wonderful miracle, and had opened his eyes. . . . They were false shepherds indeed, and sought to scatter the sheep. … in no gentle manner they thrust him out of the synagogue. The sheep was cast out of the fold for being a living witness to the power of Christ. Many have been cast out of the church whose names were registered upon the book of life. Wolves in sheep’s clothing were ready to cast out of the fold and devour one who was entitled to the Lord’s pasture; but Jesus, the True Shepherd, sought him, and gave him a place within the fold.— ST 12- 4- 1893. (This does not mean that Jesus went to Caiphas and got the man’s name back on the roll of the synagogue.)

We seem to be witnessing a demonstration of the principle that those who cannot learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Unless God intervenes in a way not presently foreseeable, many of us are going to be called upon to submit to trial in our various home churches. How shall we meet this situation? Let us consider both the words and the example of our Lord.

We observe first that Jesus did not refuse to stand trial, although He could very easily have resisted arrest or concealed Himself from Judas and the mob. Let us follow His example and not refuse to stand trial. Our testimony there may well bring salvation to someone. Then let us study the records of His trial and the inspired commentary in The Desire of Ages, chapters 75 and 77. (Chapter 76 deals with the sad experience of Judas.) From these chapters we glean lines like these: (Emphasis supplied.)

Of all the throng He alone was calm and serene. Page 704.

He spoke no burning words of retaliation. Page 700.

His calm answer came from a heart sinless, patient, and gentle, that would not be provoked. Page 700.

Patiently Jesus listened to the conflicting testimonies. Page 706.

On His face he [Pilate] saw no sign of guilt, no expression of fear, no boldness or defiance. Page 724.

He stood unmoved by the fury of the waves that beat about Him. Page 726.

Pilate was filled with amazement at the uncomplaining patience of the Saviour. Page 736.

The Son of God had taken upon Himself man’s nature. He must do as man must do in like circumstances. Page 729.

Jesus is our example, and to glorify Him by our conduct when we are placed on trial will be our privilege and our honor. If we are faithful, we will be standing in direct line with those of all ages who have been dealt with unjustly by church authorities, including Jesus Himself. We need have no fear. We know it is all going to end in the triumph of truth over error, of right over wrong, of Christ over Satan.

The End

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ISSUES: The Pseudo Issues, Section III

Chapter V – The Pseudo Issue Of Attacking The Church
Chapter VI – The Pseudo Issue Of Divisiveness
Chapter VII – The Pseudo Issue Of Personalities
Chapter VIII – The Pseudo Issue Of Alleged Financial Irregularities
Chapter IX – The Pseudo Search For Historic Adventism

by Dr. Ralph Larson

Chapter V – The Pseudo Issue Of Attacking The Church

The fallacy of identifying the small group of officers of the North American Division who wrote Issues as “the church” has been pointed out in Section One. We concede that they are members of the church and leaders in the church, but by no stretch of the imagination can they properly say:

We are the church! Anyone who disagrees with us is rejecting the authority of the church! Anyone who presumes to criticize anything that we do is attacking the church!

From the human standpoint we probably must recognize that if a church leader is criticized for wrong doing, his most effective defense would be to set up a cry that the church is being attacked. This would be calculated to produce an emotional response akin to that produced by the burning of the flag or an attack on motherhood. Thus we find the Issues tract and book liberally sprinkled with phrases like these:

Increasingly critical of (the church), at stake is the integrity of the church, undermine confidence in the church, threaten the viability of the church, threaten to pull the church apart, criticize and tear down the church, fighting the church, etc.

Perhaps the most astonishing of these misleading phrases is in the line that describes the purposes of Hope and Hartland as “gaining control of the church and ‘purifying’ it by purging out those who do not agree with their theology. “— Issues book, page 19. If the reader will pause a moment to reread the paragraph of descriptive phrases above and substitute the word “unauthorized theology” for every use of the word “church,” this will make it a much more accurate statement.

If the emotion arousing purpose of such language as this is successful, it can be counted upon to arouse an unreasoning fury against any persons who would so assault the church of God. But not all Seventh- day Adventists are that unreasoning or unreasonable. Many will reflect that they have not heard or read any such attacks on the church in the presentations of the independent ministries. They have, rather, heard and read many warnings against unauthorized changes in the church’s doctrines, and criticisms, by a few, of wrong doing on the part of certain individuals, but nothing remotely resembling a wholesale condemnation of the church.

Under the date of April 3, 1992, a “study paper” was circulated among the leaders of the North American Division which set forth a rationale for taking strong action against certain independent ministries. Portions of this paper were later incorporated into the Issues tract and book.

The proposed strategy is to (a) represent to the church members that certain independent ministries are “attempting to force (their) view on the church” and are planning “to purge out those who would resist them” NAD Paper, pages 9, 11, 14.

The next step in the proposed strategy is to (b) argue that since force is being used against the church, the church is justified in taking forceful actions against these ministries and those who support them.

Though the charge of “using force” is as false as it is ridiculous, this accusation is a device of deception quite commonly used by those who are trying to persuade people to do something which their consciences do not approve. While pursuing my doctoral studies in the liberal radical educational community of Boston, I attended a seminar in which the dean of a liberal theological seminary used the same technique by stating with emphasis that:

If a man overcharges you for a loaf of bread, that is violence!

The intent of this strategy is obvious. If a man is using violence against you, you are clearly justified in taking strong measures in return. So— go ahead and burn down his store, or take whatever other actions seem appropriate. You may quiet your conscience by accepting the concept that he first “used violence” against you.

But is overcharging for a loaf of bread a valid definition of violence? Not to a careful thinker. And is charging certain persons with apostasy a valid definition of “using force”? If it is, then our church has been “using force” against both Catholic and Protestant churches throughout our entire history in that we have been charging them with apostasy. Are we ready to plead guilty to “using force” against these churches, or would it be better to simply reject in its entirety this false definition of “using force”?

Chapter VI The Pseudo Issue Of Divisiveness

This is a charge that is carefully left undefined. It is apparently desired that church members simply accept the testimony of the leaders of the North American Division that the independent ministries are divisive, and not ask, “Divisive about what?” We are reminded of a passage in The Desire of Ages, page 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.

The purpose of the Issues writers seems to I be to avoid entering into theological discussions of any kind, yet the charge of divisiveness leads directly to theological realities. Repeatedly the Issues writers affirm that the independents are creating division by urging (forcing) their theological opinions upon the church.

We have already pointed out that it is not our opinions that we are defending, but rather the Bible doctrines that are expressed in the book, Seventh- day Adventists Believe. Thus, we challenge the use of the term “opinions,” but we do not challenge the use of the term “theological.” Theology is what it is all about, or more precisely, unauthorized changes in our theology.

Thus we are led directly to the question, Who is properly chargeable with divisiveness, those who are making the unauthorized changes, or those who are resisting the changes? Surely any fair- minded person would place the responsibility at the door of those who are making the unauthorized changes.

When the Review editor writes that disagreements about the nature of Christ are harmful to the unity of the church and create division, we respond that this is a valid point, but it is 35 years too late. It should have been advanced in 1956 and 1957 when the Review was printing arguments against our historic position on the nature of Christ and the secret writers of

Questions On Doctrine (QOD) were preparing that ill- fated volume for publication. They are the ones who destroyed the unity of the church on this point. We are not.

In our massive research report, The Word Was Made Flesh, we record 1,200 statements by Adventist writers, including many of our most prominent leaders, that our Lord came to this earth in the human nature of fallen man. Four hundred of them were from the inspired pen of Ellen White. All were published in the one hundred year period 1852- 1952. There was total unity on the subject. In all of our research, we did not find a single dissenting opinion. This perfect unity was shattered in 1957 when the secret writers of QOD foisted upon the unsuspecting church members the Calvinistic doctrine that Christ came to earth in the human nature of the unfallen Adam. Brazenly they declared that this had always been the belief of our church. Possibly never before in the history of Christianity had so many been misled by so few, and so easily.

The perfect unity that our church had enjoyed for more than a hundred years on this point and on other points that depend on it was destroyed and division was created. And now, in defiance of all logic, fairness and justice, the similarly secret writers of Issues are proposing that the independent ministries are responsible for this division. Can judgment be more unfair than this?

Likewise, the literature of our church before the publishing of QOD abounded with statements, sometimes entire articles, affirming that victorious Christian living through the power of the indwelling Christ is possible for all Christians. This statement appears in the writings of Ellen White more than 4,500 times and it has appeared in our statements of faith as well, including 140 times in Seventh- day Adventists Believe. Yet those who are bringing the doctrines of Calvinism into our church are now teaching and preaching, without authorization, that all Christians must keep on sinning until Jesus comes, at which time He will miraculously fix us so that we will not sin any more. Ellen White has written 48 warnings that nothing of this kind will ever happen.

Nevertheless, the writers of Issues are saying that victorious Christian living is a new standard of Adventism invented by the independent ministries, and are charging us with divisiveness. Yet perhaps this should not surprise us. Ellen White wrote:

When controversy is awakened, the advocates of truth are accredited with causing a disturbance.— ST 10- 17- 95.

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. Multitudes who are too unbelieving to accept the sure word of prophecy, will receive with unquestioning credulity an accusation against those who dare to reprove fashionable sins. This spirit will increase more and more.— GC 458, 459.

Should divisiveness be charged against those who are resisting unauthorized changes in our church’s theology, or upon those who are making the unauthorized changes? We submit this question to the considered judgment of every fair-minded Seventh- day Adventist, and we reaffirm that this is a pseudo issue.

Chapter VII – The Pseudo Issue Of Personalities

One of the most time tested realities about discussion and debate is that those who have evidence will present their evidence, whereas those who do not have evidence will attack the man. This has been recognized for so long that it has come down to us with a Latin name: the argument ad hominem (against the man.) It is very disappointing to historic church members when they ask their pastor or even their conference president why wrongful and unauthorized changes are being made in our church’s theology, and they are told in reply that certain independent ministry leaders are not good men. In support of this allegation, barrages of hear- say, innuendo and pure gossip are often presented by those who are expected to preach against such things.

But that is beside the point. Arguments about men can go on forever, but this has nothing to do with the problem of wrongful and unauthorized changes in our church’s theology. To point to an alleged fault in a man, or even to an apparent and discernible fault, does not provide anyone with authority to change a doctrine of our faith.

One of the most regrettable and indefensible of these arguments against the man is the allegation that the historic Adventists are setting themselves up as the standard for others to follow and imitate. (Issues, page 14, et al.) Surely this is the absolute nadir of discussion, the lowest level that argument can possibly reach.

I have been ministering to historic Adventists for nearly half a century and have become personally acquainted with many of the independent ministry leaders. I have never met nor heard of a single person among them who would dream of setting himself or herself up as the standard for anything. They would all with one accord declare that our standard and example is the Lord Jesus Christ, and that no human being should be regarded as our example. This is in sharp contrast to the theological position of the Calvinist, which places great emphasis upon the sacrificial substitution of Christ and minimizes as much as possible His role as our example. Arguments such as this are obviously pseudo issues, and should be recognized as confessions of the abject poverty of a cause.

Chapter VIII – The Pseudo Issue Of Alleged Financial Irregularities

Since this is a variation of the argument against the man, which was discussed in the previous chapter, we need not analyze it at length here. The same principles apply to both. To state the matter simply, if by microscopic examination of the life records of all independent ministry leaders it could be demonstrated that one or all of them had been involved in an apparent financial irregularity of some kind, would this provide authorization for anyone to make changes in the doctrines of the church? To ask the question is to answer it, because the idea is so ridiculous. This is transparently a pseudo issue.

But if the North American Division leaders insist on trying to make it appear as a real issue, then there are several more chapters that will have to be written and published. We will simply list a few of the chapters that would be needed:

  1. A chapter dealing with financial irregularities involving NEMA and the Kettering law suit.

  2. A chapter dealing with the suit against the Lake Union by Lloyds of London.

  3. A chapter dealing with the Davenport scandal.

  4. A chapter dealing with the unnecessary declaration of bankruptcy by the Harris Pine Mills.

  5. A chapter dealing with the Rebok scam.

  6. A chapter dealing with the solicitation of tithe from well- to- do members in certain conferences in North America and the diversion of that tithe to a mission field in Central America, along with an explanation of the means whereby that tithe was channeled through a North American Division office so that the donors could have a tax exemption.

  7. A chapter dealing with the highly irregular arrangements that were set up whereby money could be channeled through the books of a certain Union in order to provide secret salaries to the wives of certain highly placed church leaders.

Much more might be added, but perhaps this is enough to demonstrate our point. I am proposing that it would be better to give our attention to the real issue of wrongful and unauthorized changes in our church’s theology and leave pseudo issues such as this one alone.

Chapter IX – The Pseudo Search For Historic Adventism

Those who are changing the doctrines of our church have endeavored to apply the term “traditional Adventists” to those of us who do not accept their changes. This may be a purposeful ploy. To most Seventh- day Adventists the word “tradition” carries very negative connotations. We have recognized and identified the problem of other churches as following tradition rather than Scripture. So we have preferred to call ourselves “historic Adventists.”

As our published writings have made quite clear, we understand and use the term “historic” to refer to the truths that were held by virtually all Adventists before the book Questions on Doctrine appeared in 1957.

We are not ignorant of our church’s history. We are well aware that the formation of our doctrines was a gradual process, with major principles being established in the early years and further refinements coming later. We are also well aware of the difference between “landmarks” and “pillars” of our faith and the less important items.

But these matters had been sorted out and our theology well refined before 1957, and it is to the common faith of the pre- 1957 era that we have reference when we describe ourselves as “historic Adventists.” Again, this is clearly stated in our writings.

We, therefore, look in wonder at the 18 page search for historic Adventism in the Issues book, pages 35- 53. The chapter requires us to look back to the earliest years of SDA experience for definitions of the term “historic Adventism.” Insofar as the present discussion is concerned, this has little or no relevance. We are talking about pre- 1957, not pre- 1857.

We are further mystified by the selection of material and by the treatment of material.

The Selection of Material. Throughout most of its existence, our church has printed and published to a phenomenal degree. The Archives contain untold thousands of pages of material in which our doctrines were expounded, explained and recommended to the world. The writers of this material did not neglect the two points of faith now under consideration— the nature of Christ and sanctification. As mentioned elsewhere, our leading administrators, editors and other writers went into print 1,200 times during the years 1852- 1952 with statements that our Lord came to earth in the human nature of fallen man, and not a single statement affirming the opposite. Four hundred of these statements were by Ellen White. Her statements expressing our historic view of sanctification total more than 4,500. The statements on that subject by other writers are too numerous to count.

There is no lack of source material. If you want to know what historic Adventism consisted of, especially in regard to the nature of Christ and sanctification, spend just a few months in the Archives. My wife and I have done this and have reported our findings in our two research volumes, The Word Was Made Flesh and Tell of His Power.

The Issues authors have not done this. They have chosen a different approach which we view with astonishment. They have chosen to ignore this enormous mass of historical evidence and look only at the few and unofficial statements of faith that can be found in the 1861,1872 and 1931 historical records.

The first statement to which they direct our attention (1861) was not by the general church but only by the Michigan Conference. It consisted of 30 words:

We the undersigned, hereby associate ourselves together, as a church, taking the name of Seventh- day Adventists, covenanting to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus Christ.— Issues book, page 36.

The Issues writers then lead us to 1872 and a statement composed by Uriah Smith and published in the Review, of which he was editor. Here we find the treatment of evidence no less astonishing than the selection of evidence.

The Treatment of Evidence. We present this as it appears in Issues on page 39 with emphasis supplied and quotation marks to indicate the words of Uriah Smith:

In 1872 Adventists published an anonymous, non- binding statement of beliefs. In the introduction, the unnamed author (Uriah Smith) took great pains to emphasize the unofficial and non- creedal nature of the document: ‘In presenting to the public this synopsis of our faith, we wish to have it distinctly understood that we have no articles of faith, creed, or discipline aside from the Bible. We do not put forth this as having any authority with our people, nor is it designed to secure uniformity among them, as a system of faith, but is a brief statement of what is and has been, with great unanimity, held by them. We often find it necessary to meet inquiries on this subject, and sometimes to correct false statements circulated against us, and to remove erroneous impressions which have obtained with those who have not had an opportunity to become acquainted with our faith and practice. Our only object is to meet this necessity.’

The non- binding, non-creedal status of the statement is of special interest. Even more significant, however, is the fact that the statement is distinctly non-Trinitarian. Jesus is described as Creator and Redeemer but is nowhere identified as God or as eternal. He simply is “the Son of the Eternal Father.”

For those who would wish to define “historic Adventism” in terms of specific doctrinal content, the 1872 date presents a real dilemma. To accept what Adventists considered binding at that time would exclude any reference to the nature of Christ or to a particular type of obedience.

We see no dilemma. We consider historic Adventism as pre- 1957. We observe that:

1- The Issues writers in describing this statement acknowledge that it was the work of one man (Uriah Smith) and was published in the Review on his own initiative. It was, therefore, not produced by the “Adventists” speaking by way of a board, a committee or a constituency meeting.

2- Though Uriah Smith may not have been clear on the eternal pre- existence of Christ, he was clear on the human nature of Christ and on sanctification, as shown in his book Looking Unto Jesus (c189 7 ), pages 23 and 30:

In the likeness of sinful flesh, He reached down to the very depths of man’s fallen condition, and became obedient unto death, even the ignominious death of the cross. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh to demonstrate before all parties in the controversy that it was possible for men in the flesh to keep the law. He demonstrated this by keeping it Himself. On our plane of existence, and in our nature, He rendered such obedience to every principle and precept, that the eye of Omniscience itself could find no flaw therein. His whole life was but a transcript of that law, in its spiritual nature, and in its holy, just and good demands. He thus condemned sin in the flesh, by living Himself in the flesh and doing no sin, showing that it was possible for man thus to live.

3— The Issues writers also describe the statement as non- binding, unofficial, non-creedal, non- binding and non-creedal.

Yet in the tenth line following we find this: To accept what Adventists considered binding at that time. . . . So the statement no longer reflects the thinking of Uriah Smith but of “Adventists” and that which was described as non- binding, unofficial, and non-creedal, has suddenly become “what Adventists considered binding.”

While you are catching your breath, we will move on to the next problem. Throughout their discussion, the Issues writers place great emphasis on the alleged absence from the three statements (1861, 1872, 1931) of any reference to our historic view of the nature of Christ and the doctrine of sanctification. But when we examine those statements in the appendices of

Issues, this is what we find:

. . . covenanting to keep the commandments of God.— Issues book, page 36.

That there is one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, the one by whom God created all things, and by whom they do consist; that he took on him the nature of the seed of Abraham for the redemption of our fallen race. . . . That the new birth comprises the entire change necessary to fit us for the kingdom of God, and consists of two parts: first, a moral change, wrought by conversion and a Christian life. . . . That as all have violated the law of God, and cannot of themselves render obedience to His just requirements, we are dependent on Christ, first for justification from our past offenses, and, secondly, for9race whereby to render acceptable obedience to his holy law in time to come.— lbid. 437, 439.

While retaining His divine nature He took upon Himself the nature of the human family. . . .

By accepting Christ, man is reconciled to God, justified by His blood for the sins of the past, and saved from the power of sin by his indwelling life. Thus the gospel becomes “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” This experience is wrought by the divine agency of the Holy Spirit, who convinces of sin and leads to the Sin- Bearer, inducting the believer into the new covenant relationship, where the law of God is written on his heart, and through the enabling power conformity to the divine precepts.— lbid. 444.

The end is not yet. The Issues writers have woven through all of their presentation a very strong emphasis upon the doctrines of church authority, Christian unity, and tithes and offerings. We have taken note of this emphasis in our section on side issues.

Then, turning their attention to the alleged faults of historic Adventists, they argue strenuously that if a doctrine is not specifically mentioned in the 1872 statement it is therefore nonbinding, but rather optional, and different views and practices on those points are not subject to challenge.

We ask. Where in the 1872 statement do we find a reference to the three doctrines that are the basis for their planned disciplinary actions— the doctrines of authority, unity, and tithe? Answer: nowhere. There is not a word in the 1872 statement about any of these three doctrines. Therefore, by their own argument, the Issues writers have pronounced judgment against themselves for preparing to apply church discipline to us.

We rest our case. Section Four: Credibility Credibility is a crucial factor in all church administration. The church is not able to levy taxes on its members like the government does and collect them by force, applying stiff fines and even prison sentences for failure to pay. The vast financial structure of our church and its institutions, involving total annual budgets that doubtless run into billions of dollars, must of necessity rest upon a foundation of confidence, trust, credibility. Let this confidence and trust be lost, let this credibility be destroyed, and the church will struggle in vain to collect money from its members.

How important, then, that wise statesmanship be exercised in all decision making and in the conducting of all church affairs. The question that urgently needs to be considered at every step of the way is, How will this affect the church’s credibility? Openness, accuracy, fairness, justice and truthfulness are the vital elements that will enhance credibility. The absence of any of them, in whole or in part, will do enormous damage to the church’s credibility and thus to the church’s financial structure. financial structure.

We would like to suggest that the expensive publication of the Issues tract and the 467 page book has done nothing to enhance the church’s credibility. The many responses that are reaching us indicate that it may have a severely damaging effect. As briefly as possible we will list some potential problems.

The next section: The Credibility Crisis

ISSUES: The Side Issues, Section II

Chapter II – The Side Issue Of Church Authority
Chapter III – The Side Issue Of Christian Unity
Chapter IV – The Side Issue Of Tithes And Offerings

by Dr. Ralph Larson

While awaiting the time for an appointment with the Union presidents of the North American Division, I heard one of the presidents address the others in this manner:

We must find some way to stop Ron Spear, but we can’t do it with theology because there is nothing wrong with his theology.

Two questions occurred to me. If there is nothing wrong with Spear’s theology, why should he be stopped? And if theological questions must be avoided, what methods will be used to stop him?

The first question remains open, but it seems that the second question is now being answered. The Issues tract and book both carefully avoid the real issue of unjustified and unauthorized changes in our church’s theology. After listing five of the alleged changes on page 5 of the tract, the writers continue:

It is not the purpose of this statement to provide a theological rebuttal to the views held by the members of Hope International.

Therein lies the tragedy. The concerns of the historic church members are theological in nature, and they need to be dealt with on the theological level. No other means can be substituted with effective results. Yet that is what is happening. Attempts are being made to advance the side issues of church authority and Christian unity while ignoring the real issue of unauthorized changes in our church’s theology. As admitted by the Union president, there is nothing wrong with our theology. And he is not alone in this opinion. The president of the Pacific Union wrote to me on May 1, 1990:

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 on November 16,1988, Elder Charles Bradford, president of the North American Division, wrote to me:

. . . my views on the nature of Christ are almost identical with some that you and others have expressed. I have preached them at large camp meetings around the world.

When a few persons have criticized my writings, I have responded by asking, “Have I said or written anything that is not true? If so, point it out and I will make an immediate correction.” But nothing has been pointed out. The idea seems to be that even if it is true, I should not have written it. I have difficulty with this concept.

The real issue is unauthorized changes in our church’s theology. But since the Issues writers have chosen to place their emphasis on side issues, we will have to consider them.

Chapter II – The Side Issue Of Church Authority

Has God given authority to the church? Of course. Is this authority supported by the Scriptures? Undoubtedly. Is it supported by the Spirit of Prophecy? Beyond question, it is.

No one is questioning the principle of church authority. But can a valid doctrine of church authority be based upon a false theology? Who would answer “Yes” to that question? How could any person, any group of persons, or any church have authority from the God of truth to teach or enforce doctrines that are not true?

False doctrines have no authority, nor can they ever have. A false doctrine, apostasy, cannot apply to itself any promise of God, nor can apostasy claim for itself any right or privilege that God has given to the true church. Let us remember that the church of God is described in Scripture as “the pillar and ground of truth” I Timothy 3: 15.

To describe a church that teaches untruth as a true church is manifestly ridiculous. Our church has been greatly blessed and honored by God because it has steadfastly taught the truth of God, in spite of strong opposition from the world and from other churches. But now, in an eagerness to have acceptance from the world and the worldly churches, some among us are turning from the truth and are embracing doctrines that are not true. Thus, the church is in peril and is in danger of losing the blessing and the power of God.

Contrary to the allegations in Issues, the Historic Adventists are not saying that the church is in apostasy. They are saying that there is apostasy in the church, and that the apostasy is spreading rapidly with no apparent opposition from most church leaders. And to the degree that church leaders condone or support false doctrines, to that degree they lose their authority. When a church member asks, “Why are the doctrines of the church being changed?” it will not suffice to give him a stern lecture on church authority, nor will denials of the changes be effective when the church member is observing the changes in his own house of worship. When truth goes down, authority goes down with it.

It is not possible for church authority to be the central issue in the present discussion. Fullness of truth brings fullness of authority. Therefore, let our leaders set the church’s theology in order and questions of authority will quickly disappear. Our doctrinal book states:

No one has any independent authority apart from Christ and His word.—. SDAs Believe, page 146. And Ellen White writes:

“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 the present problem. In ever widening circles within our church, its spokesmen are emphatically not saying about sin what God says about it. They are saying instead that it will be necessary for us to keep on sinning until Jesus comes, at which time He will miraculously fix us so that we will not sin any more. This is a concept which is forcefully rejected in the Scriptures (Revelation 22: 11- 12), and against which we find more than 40 strong warnings in the Spirit of Prophecy.

When the disciples of Jesus were summoned to appear before the Sanhedrin, they went gladly, anticipating an opportunity to express their convictions 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 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. Will our leaders respond to our expressions of concern about unauthorized changes in our church’s theology, or will they simply demand submission to their authority, putting authority above the truth? The question is fraught with great and eternal results. May God save His church.

Chapter III – The Side Issue Of Christian Unity

The same principles that apply to the side issue of authority are also applicable here. The Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy are unmistakably clear in exalting the importance of Christian unity. But Christian unity, like church authority, must be built upon the foundation of truth.

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 to tell our converts they were uniting with a world- wide 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 false, misleading doctrines. … I urge our brethren to unify upon a true, scriptural basis.— l 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 doctrines. 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.

Chapter IV – The Side Issue Of Tithes And Offerings

Again we note that the returning of tithes and offerings to the Lord is the sacred duty of every Christian. God has commanded us to bring the tithe into the storehouse. But only the storehouse of truth can be the storehouse of tithe.

We doubt that anyone would seriously argue that God requires church members to pay tithes and offerings to support the teaching of soul- destroying false doctrines. Let the questions about false doctrines be properly dealt with and the tithe problem will disappear.

It is unfortunate that attempts have been made to show that Ellen White taught that the tithe should only be paid through regular church channels, regardless of the circumstances. These endeavors do not bear up well under investigation. (See booklet The Tithe Problem— Who Is Responsible? available from Steps to Life bookstore.)

In summation of the section, let us point out that neither authority nor unity nor tithe paying can stand alone or upon the foundation of a false theology. None of them can be first and the truth second. Truth must be first and church authority second. Truth must be first and Christian unity second. Truth must be first and tithe paying second. The real issue in our church is truth in conflict with untruth, unauthorized changes in our church’s theology.

The next section: The Pseudo Issues

ISSUES: The Real Issue, Section I

Issues 1: The Real Issues, the Side Issues, and the Pseudo IssuesISSUES: The Real Issue, the Side Issues, and the Pseudo Issues

by Dr. Ralph Larson

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

It is natural for the wrongdoer to hold the messengers of God responsible for the calamities that come as the sure result of a departure from the way of righteousness. Those who place themselves in Satan’s power are unable to see things as God sees them. When the mirror of truth is held up before them, they become indignant at the thought of receiving reproof. Blinded by sin, they refuse to repent; they feel that God’s servants have turned against them and are worthy of severest censure.

Standing in conscious innocence before Ahab, Elijah makes no attempt to excuse himself or to flatter the king . . . . He has no apology to offer. Indignant, and jealous for the honor of God, he casts back the imputation of Ahab, fearlessly declaring to the king that it is his sins, and the sins of his fathers, that have brought upon Israel this terrible calamity. “I have not troubled Israel,” Elijah boldly asserts, “but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim” – Prophets and Kings, 139,140 ISSUES: The Real Issue the Side Issues

A response to the recent attack against “certain private organizations” by the officers and the Union presidents of the North American Division.

Does The church have a cancer?

Chapter I – The Real Issue Of Unjustified And Unauthorized Changes In Our Church’s Theology


The Adventist Review of November 5, 1992, contained a sixteen- page, tract style insert titled “Issues: The Seventh- day Adventist Church and Certain Private Organizations.” It is described as an abbreviated and adapted version of a larger book with a similar title. Both the tract and the 467 page book are apparently being published for the purpose of preparing church member’s minds for the mass disfellowshipping of thousands of church members who have been protesting against unauthorized and unjustified changes in our church’s theology.

It is alleged that these “dissident” members are a cancer in the body of the church that must be cut out.

To have an informal church operating within the regular church is like having active cancer cells in a healthy body. A person diagnosed as having cancer has three options:

  1. deny there is a cancer and refuse to recognize the progressive sickness in the body;
  2. recognize that there is cancer, ignore medical treatment, and pray that God will work a miracle of healing;
  3. recognize that the cancer must be gotten rid of, have it medically treated, and, if possible, have it cut out.— Issues book, page 19.

With this awesome introduction we are ushered into the era of what appears to be an Inquisition of no small proportions.

I have written about The Great Adventist Apostasy in an attempt to alert both church members and church leaders that totally unauthorized and unjustified changes are being made in our church’s theology, and that those changes are being effected through our educational system and our church pulpits.—( See articles by Ralph Larson in Our Firm Foundation, January through December, 1991.)

When so warned and challenged, church leaders may respond in either of two ways. They may conduct careful investigations in order to determine whether the charges are valid and take appropriate corrective action as needed. Or they may decide to simply “stonewall” the charges, close ranks, assume a defensive attitude, and try to silence the voices of those who are sounding the alarm and calling for reform.

Tragically, the North American Division leaders seem to have chosen the latter course, and it appears that The Great Adventist Apostasy is to be followed by The Great Adventist Inquisition.

But will this Inquisition succeed in silencing the voices of those church members who are appealing for loyalty and adherence to the principles of our historic faith, or will it have the opposite effect? Perhaps we would do well to look back at similar situations as recorded in the pages of church history.


The Real Issue Of Unjustified And Unauthorized Changes In Our Church’s Theology

The doctrines of our church are being changed, and this is the real issue. This is the reason for the existence of the “certain private organizations” that are being attacked; and it is the reason that these private organizations are receiving such widespread support from church members who view the changes with alarm, wondering why church leaders seem to be doing little or nothing to interfere with the changes.

The changes are wrongful for two reasons. First, they are unofficial and unauthorized, having never been voted by the General Conference in session. Second, the changes have no valid basis in Scripture but are false doctrines drawn from the Calvinistic segment of Babylon where they have been held for centuries. Our pioneers met them and rejected them, as did virtually all of our church leaders, until we started sending our young people to the educational institutions of Babylon to receive their advanced degrees.

The unauthorized doctrinal changes are being effected through our educational system and our church pulpits. Instead of presenting them to a General Conference in session as a proper procedure would have required, the proponents of these changes have simply started teaching them in our schools. As a result, there is not a Seventh- day Adventist higher educational institution in North America today which is free from the false doctrines of Calvinism.

Graduates of these institutions are now taking their places in the pulpits of our churches, in the administrative offices of our conferences and in the editorial offices of the Adventist Review and Ministry. Notable exceptions to date are the Sabbath School quarterlies of the last few years which have presented lessons in harmony with our historic faith.

Compare, for example, the following clear affirmation of the Calvinistic doctrine of original sin (defined as inherited guilt) in the Review with the equally clear rejection of that same doctrine in a Sabbath School quarterly:

If a baby dies a few hours or days after birth, it is still subject to the second death— the condemnation death— even though it has never broken any commandment.— Norman Gulley, Adventist Review, January 25, 1990, page 13. Some have taught that every human being shares the guilt for Adam’s sin, as though each of us had committed that sin ourselves. Adventists reject this unscriptural teaching.— Sabbath School Quarterly, second quarter, 1990, page 42.

Here we see Adventism and Calvinism competing with each other in two of our church’s publications. Calvinistic theology offers solutions to the horrible teaching expressed in the

Review by its doctrines of predestination and/ or infant baptism. The Review offers no solution at all but simply leaves us to the awful conclusion that all children who die in infancy must be burned to death in the fires that will consume the earth. If time and space permitted, we could fill a fair- sized book with descriptions of similar outbreaks of tension between the two theologies that are competing with each other in the Adventist Church today. In Australia, suggestions have been sent to ministers from conference offices advising them as to the best methods of sustaining the doctrines of Calvinism in opposition to the doctrines of Adventism presented in the quarterlies. In England, where they print quarterlies, they simply make changes in favor of the Calvinistic doctrines. (I have samples in my files.)

I am grateful to the writers of the Issues tract and book for presenting quotations from my writings which list five major changes in our doctrines that are now taking place in various places and to varying degrees. No doubt the Holy Spirit will use this information to alert church members to their danger, but since some readers of this paper may not have seen the Issues, I will here briefly list the five doctrines:

  1. The doctrine that we receive weakness from Adam, but not guilt, now being replaced by the Calvinistic doctrine of original sin defined as inherited guilt.
  2. The doctrine that our Lord came to this earth in the human nature of fallen man, now being replaced by the Calvinistic doctrine that Christ came to earth in the human nature of the unfallen Adam.
  3. The doctrine of righteousness by faith, now being replaced by the Calvinistic doctrine of unrighteousness by presumption, salvation in sin.
  4. The doctrine of the sanctuary, now being either denied or replaced by vague uncertainties.
  5. Belief in the Spirit of Prophecy, now being denied because it supports all of the Adventist doctrines listed above and firmly rejects the Calvinistic doctrines.

While I do appreciate the printing of quotations from my writings in Issues, I would have been even more grateful if it had been pointed out that I was comparing our present situation with the following Spirit of Prophecy quotations:

“Before the last developments of the work of apostasy, there will be a confusion of faith. . . . one truth after another will be corrupted.”— ST 5- 28- 94.

“God will arouse His people; if other means fail, heresies will come in among them, separating the chaff from the wheat.”— 5T 707.

These unauthorized doctrinal changes, these heresies, are the real issue. We are most emphatically not defending or propagating our personal views, as the Issues writers insist more than 20 times. To repeatedly represent to the church membership that the contest is between the personal opinions or interpretations of the “dissidents” and “the church” is reprehensible and sets up a doubly false proposition.

We are defending the theological positions that are set forth in every statement of faith that our organization has ever published (denials notwithstanding) and that are most fully and clearly stated in the 1988 publication, Seventh- day Adventists Believe. In that volume, our position on righteousness by faith is affirmed not less that 140 times, and our position on the human nature of Christ is stated like this:

He took the nature of man in its fallen state, bearing the consequences of sin, not its sinfulness.— page 49.

These are obviously not the personal views or interpretations of the “dissidents,” much less a “new standard of Adventism” as alleged in the Issues book, page 14. And how shall we understand the bald assertions that our views do not even appear in the book SDAs Believe? (See Issues book, pages 13, 49, 241,242.) I have pointed out that we are being confronted with a doubly false proposition that the issue is between our personal opinions and “the church.” Just as we have firmly denied that we are defending our personal opinions, we must with equal firmness deny that the writers and promoters of the Issues tract and book are “the church.” They are a very small group of persons within the church. We must remember that more than nine tenths of our membership live outside of the North American Division, and that the unauthorized changes in our doctrines have scarcely been heard of in most of the countries that we call mission fields. They are beginning to make their appearance there through the influence of the more recent graduates of our educational institutions, but they have as yet hardly touched the lives of the vast majority of the membership.

To a lesser degree the same principle even applies to the North American Division. The ethnic groups in North America are comparatively untouched by the doctrinal changes, as are many of our local Hispanic members, although it is moving in on the Hispanics very rapidly.

The vast majority of our world- wide membership is certainly not involved in the publication of the Issues, nor in the doctrinal controversy that it represents. In view of this reality, for those who prepared the tract and the book to refer to themselves as “the church” is wildly inaccurate and not a little presumptuous. Let us remember the definition of the church that is given to us by Ellen White:

God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the people who love God and keep His commandments.— UL 315.

Settle it in your mind forever, my friend and fellow believer. The real issue is unjustified and unauthorized changes in the doctrines of our church, doctrines that have been made clear to us and sealed as to their truthfulness by the Holy Spirit of God. This, of course, gives rise to a question in our minds. Why are the North American Division leaders so reluctant to discuss the real issue? Why do they prefer to emphasize side issues and pseudo issues? We will consider this question in the next chapter.