Chapter 1 Desire of Ages — Chapter 63

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

by Terry S. Ross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DA 576: “In the midst of a scene of rejoicing, where all were paying Him homage, Israel’s King was in tears; not silent tears of gladness, but tears and groans of insuppressible agony. …

“The tears of Jesus were not in anticipation of His own suffering.” Jesus had some very real and deadly enemies but His was always the spirit of unselfish love. His weeping was for a lost people. It broke His heart to know that the Ancient Adventist Church, the very church which He Himself had raised up, had rejected Him. His tears were shed not for Himself but for these people who claimed to be “the church” but were sadly blinded by their own pride and stubbornness.

DA 576: “The thought of His own agony did not intimidate that noble, self- sacrificing soul. It was the sight of Jerusalem that pierced the heart of Jesus — Jerusalem [Ancient Adventist Headquarters] that had rejected the Son of God and scorned His love, that refused to be convinced by His mighty miracles, and was about to take His life. He saw what she was in her guilt of rejecting her Redeemer, and what she might have been had she accepted Him who alone could heal her wound.”

DA 576: “The record of more than a thousand years of Christ’s guardian care and tender love, such as a father bears his only child, was there. In that temple the prophets had uttered their solemn warnings. There had the burning censers waved, while incense, mingled with the prayers of the worshipers, had ascended to God. There the blood of beasts had flowed, typical of the blood of Christ. There Jehovah had manifested His glory above the mercy seat. There the priests had officiated, and the pomp of symbol and ceremony had gone on for ages. BUT ALL THIS MUST HAVE AN END.”

Christ does not easily give up on people nor does He quickly cast them aside. For centuries He labored and cared for this church He had started but it all had to come to an end. You might say “Well yes, Terry, the sacrifices of lambs and other animals did have to come to an end,” and you would be right; but go back and read all of the above quotation. It says that the “church” in Christ’s day had to come to an end. Why? Because they had rejected Him and become corrupt. Although they had been raised by Christ they no longer represented the work and purpose for their original existence and it had to stop. Christ no longer accepted their apostasy as His church. Are there any parallels today? If the circumstances of our day are the same, will not the results be the same as they were in the days of our spiritual forefathers? To the honest, truth seeking Christian, the answer is clear.

DA 576- 577: “Here the Saviour paused, and left unsaid what might have been the condition of Jerusalem had she accepted the help that God desired to give her, … The glorious destiny that might have blessed Jerusalem had she accepted her Redeemer rose before the Son of God. …

“But the bright picture of what Jerusalem might have been fades from the Saviour’s sight. HE REALIZES WHAT SHE NOW IS UNDER THE ROMAN YOKE, BEARING THE FROWN OF GOD, DOOMED TO HIS RETRIBUTIVE JUDGMENT.”

Did you read that friend? Are you thinking of prophetic parallels? Can you see that the Seventh- day Adventist organization is moving toward Rome? Do you know that it will be apostate Seventh- day Adventists who will fall under the Roman yoke fully and will betray the true Seventh- day Adventists who will be hunted down, imprisoned, and/ or killed?

You’ve heard or read this quotation before — 1SM 122: “We have far more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world. Unbelievers have a right to expect that those who profess to be keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus will do more than any other class to promote and honor, by their consistent lives, by their godly example and their active influence, the cause which they represent. But how often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greatest obstacle to its advancement! The unbelief indulged, the doubts expressed, the darkness cherished, encourage the presence of evil angels, and open the way for the accomplishment of Satan’s devices.”

Did you notice that she is speaking about fearing those who are unbelievers but profess to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus? Is there any doubt in your mind that she is speaking about fearing those who claim to be Seventh- day Adventists but who don’t live up to the name? Notice that she never says we need to fear those who are true Adventists, but those who make a profession of Adventism without corresponding works based on the inspiration of true Adventism which is the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy.

DA 577: “Christ came to save Jerusalem with her children; but PHARISAICAL PRIDE, HYPOCRISY, JEALOUSY, AND MALICE had prevented Him from accomplishing His purpose.”

Jesus came to save Jerusalem. Does this mean that Jesus didn’t come to save anyone else, including the Jews who didn’t live in Jerusalem? Remember that His own mother didn’t live in Jerusalem. The reason Jerusalem is mentioned here is because Jerusalem was indeed the headquarters and, therefore, represented all of Israel or Ancient Adventism.

But Jesus couldn’t save the headquarters of Ancient Adventism. Why? Because of Pharisaical (Pastoral) pride, hypocrisy (teaching the laity one thing and doing another themselves), jealousy (the love of self over the love of other men and God), and malice (or hatred). Because of these things Jesus could not accomplish what He otherwise could have. Do you realize the gravity of what’s being said here? Jesus came to give the people the very message that would have placed them into His kingdom, but the leadership of the Ancient Adventist Church actively blocked Him from doing this vital work. If we were to rewrite this in the modern day vernacular, this is how it might read:

Christ came to save Silver Spring and her children; but pastoral pride, professing one thing but doing another, protecting their jobs but not protecting others and the truth, and hatred for sacred things prevented many from knowing the truth who otherwise might have been saved.

DA 577- 578: “Jerusalem had been the child of His care, and as a tender father mourns over a wayward son, so Jesus wept over the beloved city. How can I give thee up? How can I see thee devoted to destruction? … When the fast westering sun should pass from sight in the heavens, Jerusalem’s day of grace would be ended.”

Jerusalem indeed represented headquarters of the system of religion that Christ Himself had raised up. Israel, Ancient Adventists, were indeed the “chosen” people who Christ had entrusted to do a special work. He had also promised them that they would go through. But as with every other promise, these chosen people had either forgotten or ignored the detail that all was based on obedience to God’s instructions. Our own books tell us in many places that history repeats itself and “we are worse than they.” If God has not changed, then this “chosen” generation of professors without belief, with its headquarters, will suffer the same end as did their unbelieving forefathers. If God has changed, no one can trust Him nor can we look forward to the hope of salvation.

For anyone who has been in the “church” for any length of time, you have heard the statement, “The church is going through.” In reality the statement means “The conference is going through.” Most Adventists believe just as their counterparts did that no matter what the conference does, the church and the conference are going through. Well, let me ask you this simple question. Do you believe in once saved, always saved? You may say, no, but are you sure? If you believe that the conference is going through and that it cannot do otherwise no matter how corrupt it becomes, then you indeed do believe in once saved, always saved. Let’s take a familiar story out of the Bible to graphically illustrate the point:

1 Samuel 8: 4- 7 “Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.”

Did you know that one of the major steps the leaders of Israel took which put them on the road to apostasy was to choose a king to rule over them? The Spirit of Prophecy has many things to say regarding this subject and kingly power.

Praise the Lord, however, for He does not easily cast us aside! Right from the start the Lord has always had a plan “A” to follow. If we would follow this plan we would have far less concerns than we do presently. Also, right from the start the Lord has usually had a plan “B” to implement if plan “A” was not followed by the people. I am so thankful that the Lord loves us with this kind of love, aren’t you?

So Israel’s leaders had insisted on having a King rule over them. God had told Samuel that they had rejected Him by making this request. But, nonetheless, He implemented plan “B” rather than casting them aside at this time. 1 Samuel 9: 15- 17 “Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying, To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me, And when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my people.”

So the Lord went to plan “B” and told Samuel what it was. Now, did the Lord hand pick Saul? Yes! And was there to be an ordination for this man who was handpicked? Yes! Let’s continue.

1 Samuel 10: 1 “Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?”

So indeed the Lord handpicked Saul and the Lord had Saul ordained to the mission of ruling over His people.

1 Samuel 10: 6 “And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.”

Brothers and sisters, this has to be one of the most exciting stories in all of the Bible! Here we have a man who is handpicked by God. He is ordained to his mission by the prophet Samuel and now he is given the promise that the Holy Spirit will fill him and he will be changed into another man! How would you like a prophet to promise you a quick, total conversion? Not maybe, but for sure! Let’s see what happened.

1 Samuel 10: 9- 11 “And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day. And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. And it came to pass, when all that knew him before time saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?

What an exciting story! I dare say, that with few exceptions, you won’t find too many more stories like this one anywhere. So to recap — Saul had been handpicked, he was anointed to the position, he was filled with the Holy Spirit, he prophesied, and was given a new heart. If this isn’t a total conversion experience direct from God, I don’t know what is! But sadly this is not the end of the story.

1 Samuel 15: 16- 23 “Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on. And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee King over Israel? And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord? And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of the Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal. And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”

Now I would like to ask another one of those simple questions. Was the Seventh- day Adventist “Church” handpicked with a different set of rules than was Saul? Did everyone in the Administration have the same conversion experience as Saul or do you think for the most part Saul has the edge in this part of the story?

One last time. Saul was handpicked. He was appointed and anointed. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. He prophesied among the other prophets before witnesses who knew him. He was in fact given a new heart. Brother and sister, you just can’t get anymore saved than this! Now here’s the question and the point. Will Saul be in heaven?

Many of you have thought that you have never believed in once saved, always saved but in the light of the story we just read I think many Seventh- day Adventists do believe, so far as the conference is concerned, that they cannot be lost because God has chosen them. If you believe that, then you don’t believe the story of Saul to be true or inspired. If this is the case, I implore you to please get on your knees and beg God to give you the eyesalve of Revelation 3.

Saul will not be in heaven for a simple and plain stated reason. He broke his contract of salvation with God. When he rejected the Word of the Lord, the Lord rejected him. His course took him into spiritualism. And strangely enough we are told in the book Great Controversy that a three- fold union will rise up to exterminate God’s people. Also, strangely enough, we have exposed the fact that there are many professed Seventh- day Adventist leaders who have or are being educated in NLP techniques and are using other spiritualist techniques such as imagery right in the “church.” Things have not changed over the centuries, for if you choose not to go to the Lord for wisdom, then where is there left to go?

Just as surely as Samuel told king Saul that God rejected Him as the ruler of the laity in his day, so now Jesus had rejected the Ancient Conference whose kingly and corrupted power were in the service of another master in His day.

Copyright © 1999 Servants of the Saviour
Terry & Cathy Ross

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

Bible Study Guides – Book of Joshua – Courageous Leadership

December 29, 2019 – January 4, 2020

Key Text

“Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord” (Psalm 31:24).

Study Help: The Ministry of Healing, 497–502.


“You may reach God’s ideal if you will resolve that self shall not be woven into your work. To know that you are striving in spirit and in works to be Christlike, will give you strength and comfort and courage.” Gospel Workers, 164.



  • How did Israel respond to the death of Moses? Deuteronomy 34:7, 8; Psalm 112:6.

Note: “The Israelites deeply mourned for their departed leader, and thirty days were devoted to special services in honor of his memory. Never till he was taken from them had they so fully realized the value of his wise counsels, his parental tenderness, and his unswerving faith. With a new and deeper appreciation they recalled the precious lessons he had given while still with them.

“Moses was dead, but his influence did not die with him. It was to live on, reproducing itself in the hearts of his people. The memory of that holy, unselfish life would long be cherished, with silent, persuasive power molding the lives even of those who had neglected his living words.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 481.

  • What should the loss of faithful workers make us consider? Psalm 116:15.

Note: “Satan is constantly working through his agents to dishearten and destroy those whom God has chosen to accomplish a great and good work. They may be ready to sacrifice even their own life for the advancement of the cause of Christ, yet the great deceiver will suggest doubts, distrust, jealousy, concerning them, that if entertained will undermine confidence in their integrity of character, and thus cripple their usefulness. Too often he succeeds in working through their own brethren, to bring upon them such sorrow and anguish of heart that God graciously interposes to give his persecuted servants rest. After the hands are folded upon the pulseless breast, after the voice of warning and encouragement is silent, then death may accomplish that which life has failed to do; then the obdurate may be aroused to see and prize the blessings they have cast from them.” Sketches from the Life of Paul, 232.



  • Why is it important to respect God-fearing leaders? Hebrews 13:17; 1Timothy 5:17.

 Note: “The names of God’s chosen servants have been handled with disrespect, and in some cases with absolute contempt, by certain persons whose duty it is to uphold them. The children have not failed to hear the disrespectful remarks of their parents in reference to the solemn reproofs and warnings of God’s servants. They have understood the scornful jests and depreciatory speeches that from time to time have met their ears, and the tendency has been to bring sacred and eternal interests, in their minds, on a level with the common affairs of the world. What a work are these parents doing in making infidels of their children even in their childhood! This is the way that children are taught to be irreverent and to rebel against Heaven’s reproof of sin. …

“There are many who find special enjoyment in discoursing and dwelling upon the defects, whether real or imaginary, of those who bear heavy responsibilities in connection with the institutions of God’s cause. They overlook the good that has been accomplished, the benefits that have resulted from arduous labor and unflinching devotion to the cause, and fasten their attention upon some apparent mistake, some matter that, after it has been done and the consequences have followed, they fancy could have been done in a better manner with fairer results, when the truth is, had they been left to do the work, they would either have refused to move at all under the attending discouragements of the case, or would have managed more indiscreetly than those who did do the work, following the opening of God’s providence.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 195, 196.

  • How can we demonstrate respect and care for church leaders today? Hebrews 12:12, 13; Job 4:4.

Note: “The words of criticism that have been spoken have at times had a very discouraging effect. But again and again in their necessity, the Lord sent them the word to go straight ahead, to follow their Leader. I have been instructed to lift up the hands that hang down and to strengthen the feeble knees, to encourage the faithful laborers with words from the Lord.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 6, 409.



  • Who was appointed to be the visible leader of Israel after Moses’ death? What were his qualifications? Deuteronomy 34:9.

Note: “Joshua was now the acknowledged leader of Israel. He had been known chiefly as a warrior, and his gifts and virtues were especially valuable at this stage in the history of his people. Courageous, resolute, and persevering, prompt, incorruptible, unmindful of selfish interests in his care for those committed to his charge, and, above all, inspired by a living faith in God—such was the character of the man divinely chosen to conduct the armies of Israel in their entrance upon the Promised Land. During the sojourn in the wilderness he had acted as prime minister to Moses, and by his quiet, unpretending fidelity, his steadfastness when others wavered, his firmness to maintain the truth in the midst of danger, he had given evidence of his fitness to succeed Moses, even before he was called to the position by the voice of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 481, 482.

  • What characteristics contributed to Joshua’s success? Isaiah 57:15; 66:2.

Note: “It was with great anxiety and self-distrust that Joshua had looked forward to the work before him.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 482.

  • What was God’s plan for the successful conquest of Canaan? Joshua 1:1–5, 9.

Note: “Joshua was a wise general because God was his guide.” Conflict and Courage, 116.

“The Lord promised Joshua that He would be with him as He had been with Moses, and He would make Canaan an easy conquest to him, provided he would be faithful to observe all His commandments. Joshua had been anxious concerning the execution of his commission to lead the people into the land of Canaan; but this assurance removed his fears.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 156, 157.



  • What did God repeatedly tell this new leader? Why? Joshua 1:6, 7.

Note: “Do you think that all these charges would have been given to Joshua if there had been no danger of his being brought under misleading influences? It was because the strongest influences were to be brought to bear against his principles of righteousness that the Lord in mercy charged him not to turn to the right hand or to the left. He was to follow a course of strictest integrity. … If there had been no peril before Joshua, God would not over and over again have charged him to be of good courage. But amid all his cares, Joshua had his God to guide him.

“There is no greater deception than for man to suppose that in any difficulty he can find a better guide than God, a wiser counselor in any emergency, a stronger defense under any circumstance.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 993.

  • How was Joshua to be prepared in order to fulfill God’s plans? Joshua 1:8. What can we learn from this?

Note: “While Bible religion embodies the principles of activity in service, at the same time there is the necessity of asking for wisdom daily from the Source of all wisdom. What was Joshua’s victory? Thou shalt meditate upon the Word of God day and night. …

“Those holding the positions of counselors should be unselfish men, men of faith, men of prayer, men that will not dare to rely upon their own human wisdom, but will seek earnestly for light and intelligence as to what is the best manner of conducting their business. Joshua, the commander of Israel, searched the books diligently in which Moses had faithfully chronicled the directions given by God—His requirements, reproofs, and restrictions,—lest he should move unadvisedly. Joshua was afraid to trust his own impulses, or his own wisdom. He regarded everything that came from Christ, who was enshrouded by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, as of sufficient importance to be sacredly cherished.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 993, 994.



  • What assurance do we have as we seek to be of good courage in doing our part in the Lord’s vineyard? Psalm 31:24; Isaiah 41:10.

Note: “As the standard-bearers are fainting and falling, who are coming up to take their place? … Are there not men who will dedicate themselves to God, soul, body, and spirit, to go forth and enlighten others? …

“The torch of truth must be carried into the dark places of the earth. While the angels are holding the winds, we must work as Christ worked. …

“If we had toiled with fidelity, patience, and love, we should have had one hundred workers where there is one. Unimproved opportunities are written against us in the same book that bears the record of envy and rebellion against God.” The Review and Herald, December 15, 1885.

“This world is God’s great field of labor; He has purchased those that dwell on it with the blood of His only-begotten Son, and He means that His message of mercy shall go to everyone. Those who are commissioned to do this work will be tested and tried, but they are always to remember that God is near to strengthen and uphold them. He does not ask us to depend upon any broken reed. We are not to look for human aid. God forbid that we should place man where God should be. … The Lord Jehovah is ‘everlasting strength’ (Isaiah 26:4).” Reflecting Christ, 352.

“Be of good courage in the Lord. Remember how merciful and kind He is, how great has been His keeping power over you. That which men have failed to do, God has done. Honor Him. Be an example of piety to all with whom you are connected. Let God do all judging. Your work is to love and serve God and to be a help to others.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 151.



1     What should the Israelites have considered while Moses was still alive?

2    How may I be at risk of undermining the effectiveness of faithful leaders?

3    Explain the secrets of Joshua’s success from the very beginning of his work.

4    How was Joshua able to develop courage?

5    What should motivate us to cultivate the quality of courage?

Good News for Pharisees and Sadducees

Have you ever played the game called follow-the-leader? Boys and girls have played it for years. I can remember leading the other children in the neighborhood through the swimming pool with their clothes on, through the mud, off the highest steps of the porch, and in, through, or off any other ridiculous place I could think of. They came right along behind, because we were playing follow-the-leader.

Even though follow-the-leader is considered a childhood game, most of us continue to play it in one way or another. The entire advertising industry is built on this tendency of human beings to follow the leader, to do what they see someone else, some leader, doing.

Sheep are notorious for following the leader. At a slaughterhouse in New York City, New York, a goat was trained to jump into the chute as soon as the gate opened. The sheep always followed. Just before the slaughtering section, there was a little side door. When the goat reached that point, he jumped out, the side door slammed shut behind him, and the sheep kept going to their death. The goat went back for another group of followers. The people at the slaughterhouse had come up with an appropriate name for the goat—Judas! The game of follow-the-leader repeatedly ended up tragically, at least for the sheep.

Following Religious Leaders

At the time of Christ, people followed religious leaders. There were two main groups, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The leaders were off course, and the people followed. Both leaders and people went astray. Jesus told a parable about this follow-the-leader syndrome, perhaps one of the shortest parables He ever told. It is found in Luke 6:39, 40. “He also told them this parable: ‘Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.’ ” Perhaps we could paraphrase it this way: “The followers will invariably be like their leaders, and rarely will a follower rise above his leader.”

We could mention one name—Hitler—to give a classic example of the danger of people blindly following the leading of other people. And the German people are no more gullible than the rest of us. All of us are prone to follow leaders. Sometimes the most self-centered leader is the one who attracts the most self-centered followers.

The tragedy in the days of Christ was that a whole nation perished because they went blindly following their religious leaders instead of studying Scripture for themselves. The great danger we face as a church today is that we will depend upon other people. This is one of the primary reasons for disunity. We are not in the habit of studying Scripture for ourselves. Many study a lot of the teachings of various leaders, but not so many study the Scripture for themselves.

I would like to assure you that this is not an attack on organized church leadership. People often choose for leaders those who have no official leading position in an organized church structure. This is rather a warning against following anyone, regardless of his occupation. We are to be followers of Christ. No leader is to be followed blindly, even though most people who do so would not admit to blindness. The proper function of a leader is to help people to see for themselves.

We need leaders. God believes in leadership. According to Scripture, even heaven has its system of leadership. But the function of the leader is to lead the people to know Jesus for themselves. The purpose of leadership is not to hand truth to people for them to accept without any further investigation. There is an old adage that says, “You can give a man a fish, and you will feed him for a day. You can teach a man to fish, and you will feed him for a lifetime.”

Paul was a mighty leader in the early church. He was not blind, and he taught the truth he received from God. But the Bereans checked it out for themselves. They had the perfect combination. Their lesson to us is this: If we are in the habit of checking truth for ourselves, we will not be misled.

Who They Were

The Pharisees and Sadducees at the time of Christ were only representatives of the entire nation. The people who followed the Sadducees became like their leaders. The people who followed the Pharisees became pharisaical. We are not just having a history lesson when we look at these religious leaders from the time of Christ. Their characteristics are still present in the church today, both in leaders and followers, for those on every level of the church who are spiritually blind.

In terms of behavior, the Pharisees were the conservatives and the Sadducees were the liberals. The Pharisees observed many more rites and ceremonies and traditions than did the Sadducees. But both groups were legalists, because both had their attention on their performance instead of upon God.

The Pharisees were traditionalists, according to Mark 7 and Matthew 15, and were very loyal in their support of that which had been handed down from the fathers. The Sadducees were the intellectuals who loved to discuss hard questions, such as the status of marriage in heaven. The Pharisees were perfectionists. The Sadducees were imperfectionists.

The Sadducees did not believe in resurrection from the dead, physically or spiritually. They did not believe in the power of God worked out in the life. They did not accept the judgment and believed that only the first five books of the Scriptures were inspired. Among the Sadducees were some of Jesus’ worst enemies.

The Pharisees and Sadducees were violently opposed to each other. The Jewish nation at the time of Christ had much theological discord. The people lined up behind the leaders, some following Pharisees, some following Sadducees.

Neither the Pharisees nor Sadducees were converted to the teachings of Jesus. Neither group could offer a realistic hope of salvation to the weak person. Neither group had time for the harlots and thieves and publicans. Both groups misinterpreted Scripture, misinterpreted the law, misinterpreted prophecy, and misinterpreted the kingdom of heaven that Jesus taught. The principle that man can save himself by his own righteousness was the principle of both groups, even though they had a great theory of justification, and the blood of the lambs flowed freely at their sacrificial services.

Jesus called both groups hypocrites because of their external religion. The essence of Jesus’ teaching, which was self-surrender, found no acceptance in their thinking or experience. Neither group had experienced the supernatural work of the Spirit upon the heart. They had never experienced the new capacity for knowing God, which is not even present in the unconverted heart. That is why there was so little meaningful Scripture study, so little truly private prayer, so little relationship with God. The capacity was not even there. While these hypocrites were meticulous Sabbath keepers and tithe payers and health reformers, there was so little on the inside that responded to the truths of God’s Word, that they ended up tying the Scriptures to their wrists and foreheads in an attempt to substitute for what they lacked on the inside. There was no room for God’s Word in their hearts. Self was the center of their focus. Nobody is more selfish than a Pharisee. And the new birth, which would have brought about the death of the Pharisee, because it changes the heart, was threatening to those who were interested only in changing the outside.

Reasons They Disliked Jesus

The religious leaders did not like Jesus because He received sinners, the open sinners whom they despised.

They did not like Jesus because He was more interested in the true meaning of the Sabbath than in the external regulations they had invented.

They did not like Jesus because He did not observe their traditions, fasts, washings, and ceremonies.

They did not like Jesus because He was not impressed with their external goodness.

They did not like Jesus because of His teaching of self-surrender, the very thing they feared more than anything else.

They did not like Jesus because He did not live up to their expectations as the Messiah.

They did not like Jesus because He did not treat them with the respect they craved.

And, most of all, they did not like Jesus because of the condemnation they felt in His presence.

The Pharisees and Sadducees were victims of salvation by works, and, in spite of the meticulous appearance they tried to maintain before the crowds, they all had their hidden problems. This made them uneasy in the presence of Jesus, whose purity was a rebuke to their sins. They did not like Jesus because they did not want to give up on the idea of saving themselves.

Another reason why they did not like Jesus was the manner of His coming. They had expected that the religious leaders would be the first to herald the coming of the Messiah. To be passed by, to be informed of His birth by ignorant shepherds and heathens from another country was more than their pride could take. They refused to accept that God could be trying to communicate to them through these channels. Once they had made their position public, they were too proud to retract it and continued to the end to deny the testimony of their own senses.

Their motivation for being religious was an attempt to gain the temporal blessings that came as a result of moral living. They liked to see the grasshoppers stopped at the fence line when they had paid their tithe. They liked the respect of the people. And although they were at swords’ points with one another, they finally united in the end at the crucifixion of Jesus. Both groups were legalists; both groups were against Jesus, and both groups were wrong.

It is true that they had a limited acceptance of Jesus. They did not reject Him altogether, in spite of the fact that they did not like Him. They believed Him to be a prophet. They accepted Him as a miracle-worker and healer. They accepted Him as a great teacher. But they did not accept Jesus as Saviour, Lord, and God. Lordship is where they drew the line. And their limited acceptance led to total rejection in the end. The people, who were following blindly along, also ended up rejecting Jesus, in spite of the tremendous evidence that He was exactly whom He claimed to be. The people were sometimes astonished at the lack of acceptance Jesus found with their leaders, but they continued in the end to follow the leaders they had chosen.

Could it be possible to be in the camp of the Pharisees or Sadducees today? Is it still possible to be a conservative legalist, who hopes to get into heaven by his own works? Is it possible to be a great defender of the traditions that have been handed down from the fathers and still to miss recognizing and accepting the living Christ? Or is it possible to be a Sadducee today, who finds his security in a liberal standard of conduct, who does not believe in the resurrection from being spiritually dead, and who does not accept that God has power for him to overcome sin? Is it possible today to join those who discard their belief in the judgment and who are selective as to which of the inspired writings they will accept? Is it possible to hold a theory of righteousness by faith in Jesus when it comes to justification, but to reject the righteousness by faith that is worked out in the life, in favor of trying hard in your own strength?

Whether you find yourself a Pharisee or Sadducee today, the picture looks pretty black. It looks like bad news right down the line. But there is good news for the Pharisees and Sadducees of today, just as there was good news for the Pharisees and Sadducees in the days of Jesus.

Jesus Loves Pharisees Too!

The good news for Pharisees and Sadducees is that they are loved by Jesus just as much as every other sinner in this world is loved. “While Jesus ministered to all who came to Him, He yearned to bless those who came not. While He drew the publicans, the heathen, and the Samaritans, He longed to reach the priests and teachers who were shut in by prejudice and tradition. He left untried no means by which they might be reached.” The Desire of Ages, 265. Christ is able to save Pharisees and Sadducees and all of the people who have been followers of these leaders and have partaken of their spirit. Jesus is still seeking to bring each one to know Him personally, to come to Him personally, and to accept personally His gift of salvation.

What is the good news for the Pharisees? The good news is that being a Pharisee is not the unpardonable sin. The disease of hypocrisy is not incurable. Jesus has the power available to change even the Pharisee and Sadducee so that they are righteous inwardly as well as outwardly. You can join the exceptions to the rule. You might join one of the leading Pharisees who came for a nighttime visit with Jesus to discuss the subject of religion, but who went away to experience the new birth of which Jesus told him in their interview. He found the vital relationship with God and gave of his riches to support the early church after the crucifixion of Jesus.

You might join a man named Simon, who held a feast to pay Jesus back for healing him of his leprosy. But he ended up accepting Jesus at his own feast and became a follower of Jesus.

You can join the friendly scribe who came to Jesus for the purpose of trapping Him and humiliating Him before the people, but who saw in Jesus’ words a wisdom beyond his own. And Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Mark 12:34.

At the end of Jesus’ ministry here on earth, when the Pharisees and Sadducees had finally united in their enmity against Him, the Sanhedrin was gathered together to determine how to rid themselves of this Jesus. After the discussions had continued for some time, Caiaphas rose to his feet. With a sneer on his face, he said to the leaders who were assembled there, “ ‘You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.’ He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation, but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.” John 11:49–52.

That is the good news for Pharisees in one sentence: It is better for you that one man die for the people. Listen, friendly scribe who comes to ply Jesus with questions, It is better for you that one Man die for the people. Listen, Nicodemus, who comes under cover of darkness, It is better for you that one Man die for the people. Listen, Simon, the leper, It is better for you that one Man die for the people.

Listen, Pharisee and Sadducee, wherever you are today. You can give up on the double life, give up your external performance covering your inner emptiness, and come to Jesus for the free gift of salvation. It is expedient for you, it is good news for you, that one Man should die for the people.

And one Man did die. Ever since that time, it has been good news. If you are playing follow-the-leader, you will miss the good news. But you can be an exception and follow Jesus today.

Domingo Nunez is Director of Outreach Ministry for Steps to Life. He may be contacted by telephone at: 316-788-5559, or by e-mail at:

The Seal of Apostleship, Leaders Ordained of God

While Christ is the minister in the sanctuary above, He is also, through His delegates, the minister of His church on earth. He speaks to the people through chosen men, and carries forward His work through them, as when in the days of His humiliation He moved visibly upon the earth. Although centuries have passed, the lapse of time has not changed His parting promise to His disciples: ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’ [Matthew 28:20.] From Christ’s ascension to the present day, men ordained of God, deriving their authority from Him, have become teachers of the faith. Christ, the True Shepherd, superintends His work through the instrumentality of these undershepherds. Thus the position of those who labor in word and doctrine becomes very important. In Christ’s stead they beseech the people to be reconciled to God.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 393.

“Paul [a minister who was not on the payroll of the church organization but, rather, was what would be called, today, a self-supporting minister or a minister working in pioneer evangelistic work] further disproved the accusations of his enemies, by showing that his position as an apostle of Christ had been acknowledged by the council at Jerusalem, and that in his labors among the Gentiles he had complied with the decisions of that council. Those who were seeking to destroy his influence, professed to acknowledge Peter, James, and John as pillars of the church. They were constantly extolling these apostles, and endeavoring to prove them superior to Paul in position and authority. But Paul showed that his enemies could not justify their course by a pretended regard for these apostles. While he honored them as faithful ministers of Christ, he showed that they had not attempted to instruct him, neither had they commissioned him to preach the gospel. They were convinced that God had called him to present the truth to the Gentiles, as he had designated Peter to go especially to the Jews. Hence they acknowledged before the council Paul’s divine commission, and received him as a fellow-laborer of equal position with themselves.

“It was not to exalt self, but to magnify the grace of God, that Paul thus presented to those who were denying his apostleship, proof that he was ‘not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.’ [11 Corinthians 11:5.] Those who sought to belittle his calling and his work were fighting against Christ, whose grace and power were manifested through Paul. Hence the apostle felt that he was forced, by the opposition of his enemies, and even by the course of his brethren, to take a decided stand to maintain his position and authority.” Sketches from the Life of Paul, 193, 194.

“Men are deceived in thinking they are serving God when they are serving themselves and making the interest of the cause and work of God a secondary matter. Their hearts are not consecrated. The Lord takes no pleasure in the services of this class. From time to time, as the cause has progressed, He has in His providence designated men to fill positions at Battle Creek. These men could have filled important positions if they had consecrated themselves to God and devoted their energies to His work. These men of God’s selection needed the very discipline that a devotion to His work would give them. He would honor them by connecting them with Himself and giving them His Holy Spirit to qualify them for the responsibilities they were called to bear. They could not gain that breadth of experience and knowledge of the divine will unless they were in positions to bear burdens and responsibilities.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 468, 469.

“But what are the members of the church doing that they should be designated “laborers together with God”? 1 Corinthians 3:9. Where do we see travail of soul? Where do we see the members of the church absorbed in religious themes, self-surrendered to the will of God? Where do we see Christians feeling their responsibility to make the church prosperous, a wide-awake, light-giving people? Where are those who do not stint or measure their loving labor for the Master? Our Redeemer is to see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied; how is it with those who profess to be His followers? Will they be satisfied when they see the fruit of their labors?” Ibid., vol. 6, 423.

“O that this experience might be understood in all our ranks! Were children and parents converted, and did they but unite in using all their intrusted talents for the Master, and by using them double them, what a work might be done. Never was there a time in the history of the world when there was a more urgent demand for workers than at present. The seeds of truth are to be sown, and the reapers are to follow after to gather in the sheaves. If the members of all our churches did but have the love of Christ, and the love for souls which his indwelling presence would impart, they would be aggressive workers, and would lay aside their busy activities upon unimportant things, and would put out to interest their talents, and invest in that which would bring treasure throughout eternal ages. In the service of the Master, they would have increased strength and light. O then, why not study as to how you may reach souls who are out of the ark of safety? Let your work be proportionate to your advantages and privileges, and trade on the talents you have at your command, and you will have a living experience in the things of God. Some excuse themselves, saying they do not know how to do the kind of work that is called for in the missionary. You ought to have known how to do the work from the very beginning of your religious life. Will you be content to rest in ignorance and indifference? Will you venture to be a slothful servant to the end of the chapter? Or will you now seek most earnestly after God, and know what it is to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man, and become laborers together with God? ‘Ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.’ [1 Corinthians 3:9.] You must render an account to God as to how you build; for every provision has been made that you may be successful in your work. Will he who with his divine finger drew the boundaries of Judea, who designated the exact spot where the temple should stand, who wrought out designs for the Jewish church and for the service of the sanctuary, leave his people, his chosen people, who keep his commandments, to a chance experience, to accident, to stumble along in darkness? Shall those to whom he has committed most precious light, to whom he has intrusted the third angel’s message, have less of his providential leading than had his ancient people?” Review and Herald, February 21, 1893.

“The Lord has designated his people as ‘the light of the world,’ and to them he has committed the sacred trust of preaching the gospel in all the world. In order to do this, how great need there is of bringing our wants within the least possible scope, that we may give ourselves and our all for the fulfilling of our divine commission. We should all learn to economize in the use of means. God does not require that his people should deprive themselves of that which is really necessary for their health and comfort, but he does not approve of wantonness and extravagance and display. In no sense should we abuse the gifts of God; for we shall be called upon at the last day to give an account of our stewardship. Let us look at the precept and example of our divine Lord, regarding economy, and making the most of the blessing of heaven. When Jesus had worked a notable miracle, and had fed five thousand people, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.’ [John 6:12.] This command had a double meaning; for it not only showed that every morsel of bread given through the miracle of Christ was sacred, but that those morsels, imparted to others, multiplied and extended the blessing to those who had need. From this circumstance we may learn a lesson in spiritual matters. As the bread was carefully saved to be given to others in need, so we should carefully treasure up all that God gives us, in order that it may be again imparted to those who have need.” Ibid., December 19, 1893.

“This large work and its sure results are plainly presented to me. I am so sorry that sensible men do not discern the trail of the serpent. I call it thus; for thus the Lord pronounces it. Wherein are those who are designated as departing from the faith and giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, departing from the faith which they have held sacred for the past fifty years? I leave that for the ones to answer who sustain those who develop such acuteness in their plans for spoiling and hindering the work of God.” Testimonies for the Church Containing Messages of Warning and Instruction to Seventh-day Adventists (1906), 61.

“Would that every minister might realize the sacredness of his office and the holiness of his work, and show the courage that Elijah showed! As divinely appointed messengers, ministers are in a position of awful responsibility. They are to ‘reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering.’ 11 Timothy 4:2. In Christ’s stead they are to labor as stewards of the mysteries of heaven, encouraging the obedient and warning the disobedient. With them worldly policy is to have no weight. Never are they to swerve from the path in which Jesus has bidden them walk. They are to go forward in faith, remembering that they are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. They are not to speak their own words, but words which One greater than the potentates of earth has bidden them speak. Their message is to be, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ God calls for men like Elijah, Nathan, and John the Baptist—men who will bear His message with faithfulness, regardless of the consequences; men who will speak the truth bravely, though it call for the sacrifice of all they have.” Prophets and Kings, 142.

“A dignified looking personage, who had been repeatedly presented to me in my dreams as making one in our council meetings, and who seemed to have authority, was listening with the deepest interest to every word. He spoke with deliberation and with perfect assurance. ‘The whole world,’ he said, ‘is God’s great vineyard. The cities and villages constitute a part of that vineyard. These must be worked, and not passed by. Satan will try to interpose himself, so as to discourage the workers, and prevent them from giving the message of light and warning in the more important as well as in the more secluded places. Desperate efforts will be made to turn the people from the truth of God to falsehood. Angels of heaven are commissioned to work with the efforts of God’s appointed messengers. The preachers of the truth must encourage faith and hope, as did Christ, your Living Head. Keep humble and contrite in heart before God. Maintain an unwavering faith in the promises of God.’ ” Special Testimonies for Ministers and Workers, — No. 7 (1897), 3.

“If we are the Lord’s appointed messengers, we shall not spring up with new ideas and theories to contradict the message that God has given through His servants since 1844. At that time many sought the Lord with heart and soul and voice. The men whom God raised up were diligent searchers of the Scriptures. And those who today claim to have light, and who contradict the teaching of God’s ordained messengers, who were working under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, those who get up new theories, which remove the pillars of our faith, are not doing the will of God, but are bringing in fallacies of their own invention, which, if received, will cut the church away from the anchorage of truth, and set them drifting, drifting, to where they will receive any sophistries that may arise.—Manuscript 75, 1905, pp. 2, 3. (“Building the Waste Places,” May, 1905.)” Manuscript Releases, vol. 4, 247.


“You are at this time passing through a trying experience. Stand strongly linked with My appointed messengers, and let not any evil words prejudice your minds or be as seed sown in your hearts. Your strength now is not in keeping silent and allowing fables to be brought in and taught as truth. My word will go forth as a lamp that burneth. I will work through messengers who will not yoke up with Dr. Kellogg, who will not endorse his methods and plans, but who will reprove them. He has refused to wear My yoke, and unless he is converted I will separate from him and from those who sustain him in his self-exaltation.” Ibid., vol. 21, 175.

“From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth. In every age the Lord has had His watchmen, who have borne a faithful testimony to the generation in which they lived. These sentinels gave the message of warning; and when they were called to lay off their armor, others took up the work. God brought these witnesses into covenant relation with Himself, uniting the church on earth with the church in heaven. He has sent forth His angels to minister to His church, and the gates of hell have not been able to prevail against His people.” The Acts of the Apostles, 11.

“The watchmen anciently placed upon the walls of Jerusalem and other cities, occupied a most responsible position. Upon their faithfulness depended the safety of all within those cities. When danger was apprehended, they were not to keep silent day nor night. Every few moments they were required to call to one another, to see if all were awake, and no harm had come to any. Sentinels were stationed upon some eminence overlooking the important posts to be guarded, and the cry of warning or of good cheer was sounded from them. This was borne from one to another, each repeating the words, till it went the entire rounds of the city.

“These watchmen represent the ministry, upon whose fidelity depends the salvation of souls. The stewards of the mysteries of God should stand as watchmen upon the walls of Zion; and if they see the sword coming, they should sound the note of warning. If they are sleepy sentinels, if their spiritual senses are so benumbed that they see and realize no danger, and the people perish, God will require their blood at the watchmen’s hands.” Gospel Workers (1892), 21.

“Sinful and worthless creatures though we are, through a vital connection with Christ we yet may be renewed in knowledge and true holiness, and thus reflect the glory and image of our Creator and Redeemer, and be qualified to care for His sheep and lambs. Not only have the sheep and lambs been dealt with in hardness, but even the shepherds themselves have been treated with reckless disregard. They have been spoken of in a way that shows that many in high and lower positions have little courtesy to give to God’s ordained ministers. The churches themselves have been educated in such a way that they have had too little respect for those who preach the Word of God, and who for years have given full proof of their ministry. But this way of dealing with the ministers and with the members of the family of God must be changed. The blessing of God cannot rest upon those who manifest little respect for the workers together with Him.” Review and Herald, October 24, 1893.

“These ordinances are regarded too much as a form, and not as a sacred thing to call to mind the Lord Jesus. Christ ordained them, and delegated His power to His ministers, who have the treasure in earthen vessels. They are to superintend these special appointments of the One who established them to continue to the close of time. It is on these, His own appointments, that He meets with and energizes His people by His personal presence. Notwithstanding that there may be hearts and hands that are unsanctified who will administer the ordinance, still Jesus is in the midst of His people to work on human hearts. All who keep before them, in the act of feet-washing, the humiliation of Christ, all who will keep their hearts humble, and keep in view the true tabernacle and service, which the Lord pitched and not man, will never fail to derive benefit from every discourse given, and spiritual strength from every communion. These ordinances are established for a purpose. Christ’s followers are to bear in mind the example of Christ in His humility. This ordinance is to encourage humility, but it should never be termed humiliating, in the sense of being degrading to humanity. It is to make tender our hearts toward one another.” Review and Herald, May 31, 1898.

“Jesus is the sinner’s friend, His heart is ever open, ever touched with human woe; He has all power, both in heaven and upon earth; but He respects the means which He has ordained for the enlightenment and salvation of men. He directs Saul to the church, thus acknowledging the power that He has invested in it as a channel of light to the world. 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.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 433.

“Matters of grave import come up for settlement by the church. God’s ministers, ordained by Him as guides of His people, after doing their part are to submit the whole matter to the church, that there may be unity in the decision made.” Ibid., vol. 7, 263, 264.

“The ministers have their appointed work. The importance of the ministry is to be understood and appreciated. The preaching of the word is one of the means by which the Lord has ordained that his warning message shall be given to the people.” Australasian Union Conference Recorder, September 1, 1900.

“The gospel ministry is a high and sacred calling. Properly done, the work of the gospel minister will bring many souls into the fold. ‘All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,’ Christ said. ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.’ [Matthew 28:18, 19.] This commission is given to every ordained minister. The minister who is merely a speaker, who does not labor as Christ labored, putting his whole soul intelligently into the work, needs true conversion.” Review and Herald, October 6, 1904.


“The forces for good among the lay members of the church cannot be developed and brought into proper working order without careful planning and systematic training. And as these workers are developed, they must be given the wise, helpful supervision of experienced leaders. They should not be left to struggle along alone, unaided. While it is true that the responsibility of leadership rests heavily upon the officers of the local churches, yet this responsibility is to be shared by the ordained ministers and by conference officers. Those in positions of trust in the General Conference and in union and local conferences cannot overlook their responsibility toward every church member, however humble may be the work in which he is engaged. All lines of service are to be bound together in one united whole.” Ibid., October 22, 1914.

“The ministers whom you condemn God has ordained to do a work for which He has not qualified you. Money cannot supply your deficiency. Your prejudices, preferences, dislikes, your sweeping condemnation of both the Healdsburg College and the Health Retreat, have been active influences in encouraging fault-finding, jealousy, evil surmising throughout all the churches. When your ideas and expectations are not met, you have talked out your dissatisfaction, but God has not prompted you in your independent spirit, in your accusation of His instrumentality. There can be no unity where such things exist. Confidence cannot live amid suspicion and evil surmisings.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 20, 97.


“It is a truth which should make every one of us weep, that those living in these last days, upon whom the ends of the world are come, are far more guilty than was Belshazzar. This is possible in many ways. When men have taken upon themselves the vows of consecration, to devote all their powers to the sacred service of God; when they occupy the position of expositors of Bible truth, and have received the solemn charge; when God and angels are summoned as witnesses to the solemn dedication of soul, body, and spirit to God’s service—then shall these men who minister in a most holy office desecrate their God-given powers to unholy purposes? Shall the sacred vessel, whom God is to use for a high and holy work, be dragged from its lofty, controlling sphere to administer to debasing lust?” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 434.


“The powers of every minister of the gospel should be employed to educate the believing churches to receive Christ by faith as their personal Saviour, to take Him into their very lives and make Him their Pattern, to learn of Jesus, believe in Jesus, and exalt Jesus. The minister should himself dwell on the character of Christ. He should ponder the truth, and meditate upon the mysteries of redemption, especially the mediatorial work of Christ for this time.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 187.

“Our churches are in need of those to minister in holy office who shall be men of honor, of piety, of purity; who shall be sanctified by the Spirit and by the word.” The Signs of the Times, February 2, 1882.

“Let your sanitariums be conducted by physicians and ministers who are in harmony with the light God has been giving to His people for the last half century. Place not men in positions of holy office who will not listen to God’s counsel concerning His way and His will. There are influences working mightily against the very work God requires to be done. The time has come when the Lord’s name is to be magnified in all your camp meetings. Every soul must now draw in even cords. Unbelief has taken possession of men who have been warned in regard to the seducing influence of Satan’s working and the methods of his work, yet who have taken no heed. They are of the party that will give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. Where is this party that will depart from the faith? Consider this. Do not place in charge of your important work or even of the less important enterprises, those who will lead minds away from the truth which is to decide the destiny of souls.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 91.

“The work of the minister represented by the seven stars is a high and sacred work. When he entertains the idea that his work is comprehended in sermonizing, he overlooks, and is sure to neglect, the work devolving upon a shepherd of the flock. It is his work to have care, to oversee the flock, to so arrange the elements of the church that each may have something to do.” Review and Herald, May 31, 1887.

“The light that has been given me for the past fifteen years has been a representation of the great responsibility which is attached to the work of the ministry. The work of the minister should be regarded in a far higher light. It is the low estimate placed on this work that leaves our Conferences in such a weak, feeble condition. We can not afford this. Those ministers who place a low estimate on the work intrusted to them neither do justice to themselves or to the church. Just as long as our ministers fail to feel a sense of responsibility proportionate to the greatness of their work, there will be a deficiency in our Conferences.” The General Conference Bulletin, April 16, 1901.

“We do not want to lose sight of the peculiar sacredness of this mission of ministering in word and in doctrine to the people. It is the work of the minister to speak the words of truth to the people, solemn, sacred truth.” Review and Herald, February 22, 1887.

“The ceremony of the laying on of hands added no new grace or virtual qualification. It was an acknowledged form of designation to an appointed office and a recognition of one’s authority in that office. By it the seal of the church was set upon the work of God.” The Acts of the Apostles, 161, 162.

“The circumstances connected with the separation of Paul and Barnabas by the Holy Spirit to a definite line of service show clearly that the Lord works through appointed agencies in His organized church. . . . And now, when the divine commission given at that time was to be more fully carried out, the Holy Spirit, again bearing witness concerning Paul as a chosen vessel to bear the gospel to the Gentiles, laid upon the church the work of ordaining him and his fellow laborer. . . .

“God has made His church on the earth a channel of light, and through it He communicates His purposes and His will. He does not give to one of His servants an experience independent of and contrary to the experience of the church itself. Neither does He give one man a knowledge of His will for the entire church while the church—Christ’s body—is left in darkness. In His providence He places His servants in close connection with His church in order that they may have less confidence in themselves and greater confidence in others whom He is leading out to advance His work.

“There have ever been in the church those who are constantly inclined toward individual independence. They seem unable to realize that independence of spirit is liable to lead the human agent to have too much confidence in himself and to trust in his own judgment rather than to respect the counsel and highly esteem the judgment of his brethren, especially of those in the offices that God has appointed for the leadership of His people. God has invested His church with special authority and power which no one can be justified in disregarding and despising, for he who does this despises the voice of God.

“Those who are inclined to regard their individual judgment as supreme are in grave peril. It is Satan’s studied effort to separate such ones from those who are channels of light, through whom God has wrought to build up and extend His work in the earth. To neglect or despise those whom God has appointed to bear the responsibilities of leadership in connection with the advancement of the truth, is to reject the means that He has ordained for the help, encouragement, and strength of His people. For any worker in the Lord’s cause to pass these by, and to think that his light must come through no other channel than directly from God, is to place himself in a position where he is liable to be deceived by the enemy and overthrown. 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 co-operate 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.” Ibid., 162–164.

“Words were spoken by One of authority, and I will try to repeat in finite words the instruction given regarding the work to be done. The heavenly messenger said, The ministry is becoming greatly enfeebled because men are assuming the responsibility of preaching without gaining the needed preparation for this work.

“Those who give themselves to the ministry of the Word of God enter a most important work. The gospel ministry is a high and sacred calling. Properly done, the work of the gospel minister will add many souls to the fold. Many have made a mistake in receiving credentials. They will have to take up work to which they are better adapted than the preaching of the Word. They are being paid from the tithe, but their efforts are feeble, and they should not continue to be paid from the tithe. In many ways the ministry is losing its sacred character.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 17, 304, 305.

“It was at the ordination of the Twelve that the first step was taken in the organization of the church that after Christ’s departure was to carry on His work on the earth. Of this ordination the record says, ‘He goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto Him whom He would: and they came unto Him. And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach.’ Mark 3:13, 14.” The Acts of the Apostles, 18.

“After choosing His disciples, Christ appointed them as His representatives, and gave them their ordination charge, their commission. They were to go forth as His witnesses, to declare what they had seen and heard of Him. Their office was the most important to which human beings had ever been called, and was second only to that of Christ Himself. They were to be workers together with God for the saving of the world.

“He who called the first disciples is still calling men to His service. And He is just as willing to manifest His power through us as through the first disciples. However imperfect and sinful we may be, the Lord holds out to us the offer of partnership with Him, of apprenticeship to Christ. He invites us to come under the divine instruction, that, uniting with Christ, we may work the works of God.” Pacific Union Recorder, December 4, 1902.


“The resolution [Resolved, That we recommend to the churches in the State of Michigan to unite in one conference with the name of the Michigan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists] was quickly adopted. Then the ministers and delegates from the churches were declared members of the Michigan Conference. Appropriate officers and a conference committee were elected. The chairman, Joseph Bates, and the clerk, Uriah Smith, were voted in as the officers for the current year, and the time for the first session was set for October 5 to 8, 1862. There was one more important question, and that was ‘ministers’ papers.’ Here is the action:

“Resolved, That our ministers’ papers consist of a certificate of ordination, also credentials to be signed by the chairman and clerk of the conference, which credentials shall be renewed annually.” White, Arthur L., Ellen G. White: The Early Years, Volume 1, 1827–1862, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington D.C., 1985, 455.

“The minutes of this conference session set forth some interesting items of business that Elder Sanborn brought from Illinois and Wisconsin, calling for the opinion of the conference:

“1. How shall we treat divorced marriages?

“2. Shall preachers from other denominations embracing the message preach and baptize among us, on the strength of their former ordination and standing as ministers?

“3. Shall young preachers, before being ordained, be allowed to baptize? . . .

“After satisfying themselves to the full intent of the first question—and ascertaining that what was involved was the accepting into church membership those couples comprised of individuals who had been divorced on grounds other than the violation of the seventh commandment, actions were taken as follows:

“1. Resolved, That the matter of divorced marriages be referred to the conference committee. [Diligent search fails to disclose any report on this perplexing item.]

“2. Resolved, That ministers of other denominations, embracing present truth, should give proof of being called to preach the message, and be ordained among us, before administering the ordinances.

“3. Resolved, That no person, young or old, should administer the ordinances before being ordained.” Ibid., 478, 479.

“1868: James White reported concerning their eastern tour:

‘We have, in this time [nearly three months], traveled by railroad 3,200 miles, and by private conveyance 600. Have held 140 meetings, and preached 60 times, and have spoken more or less in nearly all these meetings. Mrs. White has spoken from half an hour to two hours in more than 100 of these meetings. We have assisted in the ordination of four ministers, and the dedication of one house of worship. Have presided in the examination of 150 candidates for baptism, and have baptized 18. . . .’ ” White, The Progressive Years, Volume 2, 1862–1876, 220.


“We are certainly living in the closing days of this earth’s history. We need to devote much time to our spiritual interests, if we would experience the spiritual growth that is essential in this age. We are to make decided reforms. The Voice said: The watchmen need to awake, and give the trumpet a certain sound. The morning cometh; and also the night. Wake up, My watchmen. Voices that should now be heard presenting the truth are silent. Souls are perishing in their sins, and ministers and physicians and teachers are asleep. Wake up the watchmen!” Pacific Union Recorder, February 20, 1908.

“The message of the third angel is to go forth with a loud voice. Wake up the watchmen; leave them not to settle back in their death-like slumber.” Review and Herald, July 23, 1908.

Were the Jewish Rulers Part of the Church?

This is a loaded question usually asked by theological opponents who expect the answer to be yes, since the Jewish rulers and people are repeatedly called God’s people. (See for example Christ’s Object Lessons, 293.) They then expect to ask if the leaders in the structure of Adventism are not by the same criteria God’s people today. The next question is, aren’t they part of His church if they are part of His people? As with other loaded questions, multiple hypothetical assumptions are contained within the question. These underlying assumptions must be dealt with first from inspired writings. All emphasis is supplied in the following quotations.

  1. The first assumption is that profession equals the real or the true. Contrary to this assumption, inspired writings draw a sharp distinction between professed and true. Profession can be the same as true or it can be the complete opposite of true. Inspiration sharply distinguishes between those who profess to be the true church and the true church in reality.

Notice the distinction in the following two statements: “I saw that the church of God was then pure. There was no danger of men with corrupt hearts coming into the church of God then; for the true Christian, who dared to declare his faith, was in danger of the rack, the stake, and every torture which Satan and his evil angels could invent, and put into the mind of man.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, 118. Who was the true church of God? It was those who were being martyred.

Who was attempting to destroy the true church? Notice who it was in the following quotation: “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 people of God [the true church, see Great Controversy, 64, 65] suffered under the dragon’s ire.” Signs of the Times, November 1, 1899. So who was it that killed members of the true church for over 1,000 years? It was “the professed church of God.”

It should be more than obvious from these two statements that inspired writings draw a sharp distinction between the true church and the professed church. The professed church is part of the true church only when she lives out her profession.

It is not the true church who persecutes those who believe differently than she, but rather it is the professed church which is actually controlled by the devil: “The civil power is called to the aid of the Church in persecuting those who keep holy the seventh day. The Church and the world are united in trampling upon God’s commandments, and those who obey these commandments they threaten with death. John declares, ‘The dragon was wroth with the woman.’ ” Review and Herald, July 16, 1901.

“ ‘The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.’ We can see from this scripture that it is not the true church of God which 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.” Signs of the Times, April 22, 1889.

  1. The second assumption is that the professed church is recognized by God as being equivalent to the true church. It is true that God recognizes those people who have made a covenant with Him by baptism, on their confession of faith, to serve Jesus as their only Lord and Saviour from sin. But does God equate the professed church with the true church? Again the question is loaded with a false assumption because the truth is that, “God is honored, not so much by the great number, as by the character of those who serve Him. He appreciates moral worth. He draws the dividing line between those who bear His name by profession, and those whose character shows them to be His children.” Signs of the Times, June 30, 1881. “Time proved that his profession was not real.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 278. “It is something more than a profession that distinguishes the children of obedience from the children of disobedience.” Signs of the Times, September 17, 1894. “The sum is proved by one who never makes a mistake. The contradiction between the life and the profession of the Christian who speaks evil of his brethren is self-evident.” Signs of the Times, October 30, 1901. “If sin is practiced in daily life, there is no real value in all their profession.” General Conference Daily Bulletin, February 4, 1893. “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.” Desire of Ages, 107.

God gives opportunity to everyone who makes a profession to demonstrate and develop a perfect character, but if a person deliberately chooses to live in sin, his profession is obviously worthless. “The Lord will not compel men to deal justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with their God; He sets before the human agent good and evil, and makes plain what will be the sure result of following one course or the other. Christ invites us, saying, ‘Follow me.’ But we are never forced to walk in His footsteps. If we do walk in His footsteps, it is the result of deliberate choice. As we see the life and character of Christ, strong desire is awakened to be like Him in character; and we follow on to know the Lord, and to know His goings forth are prepared as the morning. We then begin to realize that ‘the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.’ ” Review and Herald, March 31, 1896 (See also Christ’s Object Lessons, 318; Desire of Ages, 764; Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1143, 1144; Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, 192.)

  1. A third assumption is a false definition of the church. Since it is assumed that the professed church and the true church in reality are the same, it is assumed that the true church contains faithful and unfaithful, the loyal and the traitors, the angelic and the demonic. Statements in the inspired writings, speaking about the professed church, are used in an attempt to prove this. But definition statements of the true church in the inspired writings do not contradict, they cannot contradict without destroying the prophets and the Bible altogether. “All truth, whether in nature or in revelation, is consistent with itself in all its manifestations.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 114.

Inspired writings cannot have mutually contradictory definition statements unless they are inspired by the devil. “God never contradicts Himself. Scripture proofs are misapplied if forced to testify to that which is not true. Another and still another will arise and bring in supposedly great light, and make their assertions. But we stand by the old landmarks.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 162.

Here is the way the true church is always defined in the writings of Ellen G. White: “The Jewish tabernacle was a type of the Christian church . . . The church on earth, composed of those who are faithful and loyal to God, is the ‘true tabernacle,’ whereof the Redeemer is the minister. God, and not man, pitched this tabernacle on a high, elevated platform.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 931. “Christ is withdrawn only from the eye of sense, but He is as truly present by His Spirit as when He was visibly present on earth. The time that has elapsed since His ascension has brought no interruption in the fulfillment of His parting promise,—‘Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.’ God has provided light and truth for the world by having placed it in the keeping of faithful men, who in succession have committed it to others through all generations up to the present time. These men have derived their authority in an unbroken line from the first teachers of the faith. Christ remains the true minister of His church, but He delegates His power to His under-shepherds, to His chosen ministers, who have the treasure of His grace in earthen vessels. God superintends the affairs of His servants, and they are placed in His work by divine appointment.” Signs of the Times, April 7, 1890.

Notice, God is still in charge and people are placed in His work, in His church, by His own divine appointment. It is up to the church to recognize those who give evidence that the Holy Spirit has called and ordained them to a certain work. However, in the dark ages the professed church chose to burn His faithful servants at the stake instead. Persecution of those who are thought to be heretics is a sure sign that the professed church has forsaken her professed Lord, is serving another Master, and is in a state of apostasy. A church that is in a state of apostasy is attracted to other churches in apostasy: “The great I AM has decided what shall constitute the rule of faith and doctrine, and He has designed that the Bible shall be a household book. The church that holds to the word of God is irreconcilably separated from Rome. Protestants were once thus apart from this great church of apostasy, but they have approached more nearly to her, and are still in the path of reconciliation to the Church of Rome. Rome never changes. Her principles have not altered in the least. She has not lessened the breach between herself and Protestants; they have done all the advancing. But what does this argue for the Protestantism of this day? It is the rejection of Bible truth that makes men approach to infidelity. It is a backsliding church that lessens the distance between itself and the Papacy.” Signs of the Times, February 19, 1894.

“The church on earth, composed of those who are faithful and loyal to God, is the ‘true tabernacle,’ whereof the Redeemer is the minister. God, and not man, pitched this tabernacle on a high, elevated platform. This tabernacle is Christ’s body, and from north, south, east, and west, He gathers those who shall help to compose it.” Signs of the Times, February 14, 1900.

“Faithful souls have constituted the church of God on earth, and He has taken them into covenant relation with Himself, uniting His church on earth with His church in heaven. He has sent forth heavenly angels to minister to His church, and the gates of hell have not been able to prevail against His people.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 2, 266.

“The church is God’s fortress. His city of refuge, which He holds in a revolted world . . . From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth . . . God brought these witnesses into covenant relation with Himself, uniting the church on earth with the church in heaven. He has sent forth His angels to minister to His church, and the gates of hell have not been able to prevail against His people.” The Acts of the Apostles, 11.

Man may fulfill his profession and thereby demonstrate that he is a member of the true church, or he may deny his profession by his speech or actions and thereby cease to be a part of the true church and become part of the synagogue of Satan. “Satan is earnestly striving to lead souls away from right principles. Multitudes who profess to belong to God’s true church are falling under the enemy’s deceptions. They are being led to swerve from their allegiance to the blessed and only Potentate.” Review and Herald, October 15, 1903.

“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.” The Great Controversy, 51. When a person(s) lays down the banner of Christ and departs from the faith, he has separated from the true church. This is universally true and unfortunately shows that large numbers of professed Seventh-day Adventists have separated from the true church. As in the apostasy of the church in Rome during the early centuries, the unfaithful majority still had the church buildings, organization, bank accounts, pastors, and all the outward machinery of a church. Yet, they were still the separationists. The faithful, loyal, and true to God remain the true church even if they are disfellowshipped or burned at the stake.

“I was shown, Oct. 2, 1868, the state of God’s professed people. [Notice this testimony is to and about the professed church which in this case is not really the true church.] Many of them were in great darkness, yet seemed to be insensible of their true condition . . . Especially is this the case in Battle Creek. Men in responsible places at the heart of the work are asleep. They are paralyzed by Satan, that his plans and devices may not be discerned while he is active to ensnare, deceive, and destroy. [Some people believe that you can be paralyzed by Satan and at the same time be a soldier of Christ in His army. Does this not approach blasphemy? Does Christ have any army over which He Himself is not in control? Would anyone say that the Lord is not able to organize and maintain a spiritual army of human beings under His own direction and control?] Those who are occupying the position of watchmen to warn the people of danger, have given up their watch, [They are not actually watchmen anymore.] and recline at ease. They are unfaithful sentinels. [They are not the faithful who compose the true church—they are unfaithful.] They have remained inactive and indolent while their wily foe has entered the fort, and works successfully by their side to tear down what God has commanded to be built up. [Is it possible for Satan to work side by side with a soldier in the true church and nothing happen?] They see that Satan is deceiving the inexperienced and unsuspecting, yet they take it all quietly, as though they had no special interest, as though these things did not concern them. They apprehend no special danger. They see no cause to raise an alarm. All to them seems to be going well, and they see no necessity of raising the faithful, trumpet tones of warning they hear in the plain testimonies borne showing the people their transgressions and the house of Israel their sins . . .

“These are the true feelings of a large class in Battle Creek. Satan exults at his success in controlling the minds [Does Satan control the minds of the people of the true church of God?] of so many who profess to be Christians. He has deceived them, benumbed their sensibilities, and planted his hellish banner right in their midst, [Has the devil deceived the people of the true church and planted his hellish banner in their midst with no resistance?] 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. [Repeatedly, Ellen White tells you whom she is talking about, it is the professed people of God. They are not the true church because they are unfaithful, and are controlled, deceived, fraternizing with, and paralyzed by Satan, and have fellowship with the works of darkness.] 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, 1–3.

Ellen White clearly states that these members of the professed church were not in reality members of the true church, not really children of God: “Christ’s followers are required to come out from the world and be separate, and touch not the unclean, and they shall be sons and daughters of the Lord. If the conditions are not complied with on their part, they will not, cannot, realize the fulfillment of the promise of being children of the Most High God, members of the royal family.” The Southern Work, 13, 14. [For anyone who cares to investigate, the expression “royal family” is one of the definitive descriptions of who the true church is in the Spirit of Prophecy. This is therefore, a most explicit statement that these Seventh-day Adventists in Battle Creek are not part of the true church in reality.]

“A profession of Christianity is nothing in the sight of God; but true, humble, willing obedience to His requirements designates them as the children of His adoption, the recipients of His grace, the partakers of His great salvation. Such will be peculiar, a spectacle unto the world, to angels, and to men. Their peculiar, holy character will be discernible, and will distinctly separate them from the world, from its affections and lust. I saw that but few answer to this description in Battle Creek. Their love to God is in words, not in deed and in truth. Their course of action, their works testify of them, that they are not children of the light, but of darkness.” Ibid. [Notice they are not the children of God, but they are the children of the devil. To be part of the church by profession is to claim to be a child of God, but to be part of the church in reality is to be a child of God in character by obedience.] “I call upon every church in our land to look well to your own souls. [The context shows that she is using the word “church” here, as in hundreds or thousands of other places, to refer to the professed church. However, the rest of the paragraph shows that not all in the professed church are actually children of God. All of the professed church is not part of the true church.] ‘Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?’ God makes no distinction between the North and the South. Whatever may be your prejudices, your wonderful prudence, do not lose sight of this fact, that unless you put on Christ, and His Spirit dwells in you, you are slaves of sin and of Satan. Many who claim to be children of God are children of the wicked one, and have all his passions, his prejudices, his evil spirit, his unlovely traits of character. But the soul that is indeed transformed will not despise any one whom Christ has purchased with His own blood.” The Southern Work, 13, 14.

“In both the Old and the New Testament the Lord has positively enjoined upon His people to be distinct from the world, in spirit, in pursuits, in practice, to be a holy nation, a peculiar people. The east is not farther from the west than are the children of light, in customs, practices, and spirit, from the children of darkness. And this distinction will be more marked, more decided, as we near the close of time. It is not a profession of faith, or a name registered in the church book [The church book on earth is the professed church. She is not saying not to make the profession—all of the members of the true church will make the profession. The point is that profession is not enough to really be a child of God and to actually be a part of the true church.] that constitutes us children of God. It is a vital connection with Christ. We must be one with Him, imbued with His Spirit, partakers of the divine nature, crucified to the world with its affections and lusts, renewed in knowledge and true holiness.” Review and Herald, November 12, 1914. See also General Conference Bulletin, July 1, 1900, paragraph 16; General Conference Bulletin, February 4, 1893, paragraph 8; 1 John 3:7–10.

“Who are the children of God? They are members of the royal family, a royal nation, and a peculiar people, showing forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. They do not worship idols, they love God with all the heart, and their neighbors as themselves.” Review and Herald, August 1, 1893.

“Their works have been in selfishness, in unrighteousness. Their works have not been wrought in God. Their hearts are strangers to His renewing grace. They have not experienced the transforming power that leads them to walk even as Christ walked. Those who are living branches of the heavenly Vine, will partake of the sap and nourishment of the vine. They will not be withered and fruitless branches. They will show life, and vigor, and will flourish and bear fruit to the glory of God. They will be careful to depart from all iniquity, and perfect holiness in the fear of God.” For those who care to investigate, there is another parameter distinguishing between the true church in reality and those who are the true church by profession only. It is that the true church member has an inner vital connection with the true vine. The person who is a member by profession but not in reality has an outer connection but the inner vital connection is lacking. “The church [In her opening sentence she made it clear that she is talking about the professed church. The professed Seventh-day Adventist church in Battle Creek, which, according to the testimony, was not part of the true church in reality at all.] has departed from the light, neglected her duties, abused her high and exalted privileges of being peculiar and holy in character, and thereby dishonored her God, like ancient Israel. They have violated their covenant to live for God and Him only. They have joined in with the selfish and world-loving. Pride, the love of pleasure, and sin, are cherished, and Christ has departed. His Spirit has been quenched in the church.” Appeal to the Battle Creek Church, 4.

Concerning the true church in reality she says, “To the end of time the presence of the Spirit is to abide with the true church.” Acts of the Apostles, 55. The fruit is the difference between the true church and the church by profession only. “Satan works side by side with professed Christians; yet they are so destitute of spirituality and discernment that they do not detect him. They have not the burden of the work. The solemn truths they profess to believe are not a reality to them. They have not genuine faith. Men and women will act out all the faith they in reality possess. By their fruits ye shall know them. Not their profession, but the fruit they bear, shows the character of the true.” Appeal to the Battle Creek Church, 4. Every member of the true church in reality makes an outward profession but everybody who makes a profession is not a member of the true church in reality.

The true church has sometimes had to flee, (Revelation 12:6) but it is not invisible. Every member makes an outward, public profession of faith and is baptized in a visible service. There is great confusion about this today because of false teaching. There will be many people from Babylon and from heathen countries who will be saved, but these people cannot now be described as belonging to an invisible or any other kind of church of God. (See Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary vol. 5, 1121; Desire of Ages, 239, 638.)

“Many have a form of godliness, their names are upon the church records, but they have a spotted record in Heaven. The recording angel has written deeds. Their acts have been faithfully written. Every selfish act, every wrong word, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling, is faithfully chronicled in the book of records kept by the recording angel. Very many profess to be servants of Jesus Christ who are none of His. (See Romans 8:9.) They are deceiving their own souls to their own destruction. While they profess to be servants of Jesus Christ, they are not living in obedience to His will. Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; Whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Many, while professing to be servants of Jesus Christ, are obeying another master, and working daily against the Master of whom they profess to be servants.” Ibid., 5. (See also Testimonies, vol. 2, 439.)

  1. A fourth assumption is that the past approximately equals the present. Stated in a different way, what was true in the past is true today. This false assumption was one of the great deceptions in Christ’s day. The Jews thought that because God had started their organization, and instituted the temple and all its services, that what had been true in the past was still true then. They did not discern that having the oracles of truth and all the symbols of true religion was not worth anything without a change of heart. That being lineal descendants of Abraham was worthless unless conversion was experienced, “The Jewish people might have repented, if they would, but they were clothed with the garments of their own self-righteousness. They claimed to be the descendants of Abraham, and looked upon every promise made to Israel as theirs. But the Israel of God are those who are converted, not those who are the lineal descendants of Abraham. [It was this conversion experience and not the fact that they were lineal descendants of Abraham that made them the people of God, even in Old Testament times.] ‘What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.’ Romans 3:1, 2. ‘For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.’ Romans 2:28, 29.” Upward Look, 80.

“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.

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.” The Desire of Ages, 466, 467.

The same false assumption is evident today. The past experience of the true and faithful in Adventism does not equal anything today unless we are true and faithful as they were. The nation of Israel according to the flesh (according to profession) cannot be equated to the true church of God. (See Romans 9:6–8.) It is the children of the promise, the spiritual children that are accounted for the seed—the true church. The children of the flesh, those who make a profession but do not fulfill their profession by their life and character, are not in reality God’s church (like Ishmael). Only the children of the promise are accounted for the seed.

So, were the Jewish rulers in Christ’s day part of the true church?

  1. They were part of the true church by profession but in character or reality “they were not His people.” The Desire of Ages, 107. They were given many opportunities to repent, return and become His people in reality, but they “cut themselves away from Him.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 293.

In the chapter on the Lord’s vineyard in Christ’s Object Lessons, Ellen White is talking about the “professed church” or the “professed people of God” and often refers to this group simply as the church, but the context shows clearly what she is talking about—“the professed followers of Christ.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 303. She declares that the professed followers of Christ were “unfaithful” Ibid. She says that they bear Christ’s name, but they “are not under Christ’s rule.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 304. She says that “they are under the control of the enemy.” Ibid. Can anybody believe that the true and faithful children of God (His true church) are under the control of the devil? Obviously these people, part of the professed church are not in reality part of the true church. They do not have the true identifying marks even if they go to church every Sabbath. The reasons that these who profess to be members of the true church, who bear Christ’s name are actually under the control of the enemy is given in the same page: “They are not heeding His instruction [they will not listen to the counsel of the Holy Spirit given in the Spirit of Prophecy] and they are not doing His work.” Ibid. Anytime you see this you may know that those in whom these criteria develops, are under the control of Satan and are members of the true church by profession only and not in reality.

  1. The true church is defined as follows: “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.’ ” Signs of the Times, February 3, 1888. To keep the commandments of God has always been an identifying mark of the true church. But the meaning of keeping the commandments is to love God supremely and your neighbor as yourself. (See Review and Herald, November 17, 1896.) Since the Jewish rulers “did not love God” (Christ’s Object Lessons, 293), they could not possibly be described as being part of the true church.
  2. The true church from the beginning has been composed of faithful souls (Acts of the Apostles, 11). But these Jewish rulers were “unfaithful.” (Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, 34.)
  3. The true church is made up of the people of God but the Jewish rulers were the children of the devil. (John 8:44.) They were the children of God by profession but the children of the devil in reality or in character.

God bears long with His professed people. He gives them ample opportunities to become vitally connected with the true vine, if they choose. He gives everyone opportunity for all the tares (evil traits of character) to be uprooted from his heart so that only the wheat (the divine character traits) will be left. He gives all opportunity to develop and manifest their true character and be a member of the true church, not just by profession, but in character. But this opportunity does not go on forever. When tares go to seed, when members of the professed church of God openly demonstrate a life of sin, they are to be disfellowshipped. (See Christ’s Object Lessons, 71.)

If the tares get in control of the church (the professed church), Jesus said to “let them alone.” Failure to heed this counsel resulted in the eternal destruction of millions of Jews and (would to God that He would forbid such to happen again) could indeed happen in Adventism. The destruction of Jerusalem is a faint picture of what will indeed happen in Adventism if those who make such a high profession deny such profession by their works, and fail to be sanctified by the truth and perfect holiness in the fear of God.

As we approach the final judgment (which approach has been in process since 1844—over 150 years) the tares go to seed and are removed from the field by the angels. Another name for the separation of the wheat and the tares is the shaking. We believe that this removal and separation is taking place with alarming rapidity during these closing years. When people lay down the banner of Christ and depart from the faith once delivered to the saints, they are by that very act separated from the true church, they are bound up in bundles to be burned, all the while assuming that they are part of the true church headed for glory. The deception is the very same as was upon the Jews in Christ’s day. The National Sunday Law will make it evident to the whole universe which bundle each person is part of. “Not one who is abiding in Christ will fail or fall.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 368.

Day by day each Adventist is preparing to be in one group or the other for the final roll call which will be the last phase of the shaking (the separation of the wheat from the tares). The fact that the Jewish rulers were not part of the true church and will end up in the blackness of eternal night, assumes ominous proportions when one considers the following prophecies:

“We want to understand the time in which we live. We do not half understand it. We do not half take it in. My heart trembles in me when I think of what a foe we have to meet, and how poorly we are prepared to meet him. 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.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 406.

“In His Word the Lord declared what He would do for Israel if they would obey His voice. But the leaders of the people yielded to the temptations of Satan, and God could not give them the blessings He designed them to have, because they did not obey His voice but listened to the voice and policy of Lucifer. This experience will be repeated in the last years of the history of the people of God, who have been established by His grace and power. Men whom He has greatly honored will in the closing scenes of this earth’s history pattern after ancient Israel.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 379.

“The time of the judgment is a most solemn period, when the Lord gathers His own from among the tares. Those who have been members of the same family are separated. A mark is placed upon the righteous.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 234.