Keeping Up with the Light

The path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.” Proverbs 4:18. Notice, this verse does not say the room of the just, but the path of the just. As you walk that path, if you stay on it, the light is going to become brighter and brighter. But it is also true, friend, that if you do not keep walking on the path, the light is going to become darkness, because the light is moving.

The Bible talks about present truth. (See II Peter 1:12.) There are certain things that can be preached at one time that cannot be preached at another time. There are some truths that are timeless, but there is some truth that is present truth. What is present truth today is not exactly the same as it was 100 years ago.

I believe that very soon God’s servants are going to have to preach things that we have never thought we were going to preach. We are in a situation very similar to the Jews in the time of Christ. The devil had manipulated them into a situation, through what they had been taught, so that they were ready to reject the truth. They had developed a series of criteria which, if Jesus was the Messiah, they believed He would meet. Interestingly enough, they based these expectations on the Old Testament. Jesus did not, however, meet their criteria. It is interesting to note, in the study of history, that almost every time prophecy which is fulfilled is not fulfilled in the way expected.

Seventh-day Adventists used to wonder what Ellen White meant when she said, “I was shown the startling fact that but a small portion of those who now profess the truth will be sanctified by it and be saved.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 608. Very soon we are going to find out.

This concept that spiritual light is moving and the person who does not keep walking in the light finds himself in the dark explains many spiritual phenomena that are happening all around us that otherwise would be very confusing. A few years ago, two Seventh-day Adventist ministers came to question me. One of them asked something like this: “Do you believe that the Seventh-day Adventist Church organization was ordained by God? Well, do you or don’t you?” Well, let me ask you some questions? Do you believe that the Jewish church organization was ordained by God, or that He had a hand in setting it up? Was there a time when the Jews were in the light? Yes, there was. The Jews had been called by God and chosen as His special people. They had been in the light. They had, friends, the spirit of prophecy. They had all of the Old Testament; that is the spirit of prophecy. But when the light moved, they did not move with it. God had more light for them, but they would not accept it. They stayed put and, as a result, they were left in the dark.

Jesus is the light of the world. I want you to notice Revelation 14:4 and what it says about the 144,000. “These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” When the light (Jesus) moves, the 144,000 follow. The problem today is that when the light moves, there are so many people who do not follow it; they stay put. They are left in the dark and are then spiritually blind. There was a time when they were in the light; but the light moved, and they did not move with it. “As the light and life of men was rejected by the ecclesiastical authorities in the days of Christ, so it has been rejected in every succeeding generation.” The Desire of Ages, 232. Did you notice that she said that this has taken place in every succeeding generation? “Again and again the history of Christ’s withdrawal from Judea has been repeated. When the Reformers preached the Word of God, they had no thought of separating themselves from the established church; but the religious leaders would not tolerate the light.” Ibid. What happened? The religious leaders refused to walk in the light. “And those that bore it were forced to seek another class, who were longing for the truth.” Ibid. Everyone who does not love the truth is going to be deceived and be lost.

“Few are listening for the voice of God, and ready to accept truth in whatever guise it may be presented. Often those who follow in the steps of the Reformers are forced to turn away from the churches they love, in order to declare the plain teaching of the Word of God.” Ibid. Did you know that there are many people who no longer believe that this statement can apply today? Have you ever heard people say, “Well, the cycles have to stop somewhere, and they stopped in 1863 because that is when we incorporated”? The trouble is, friends, The Desire of Ages was not even written until 1898.

We are living in a time that a few years ago no one expected to see. We believed that when persecution came, it would come from outside of the church. We failed to understand what Ellen White meant when she said that we have far more to fear from within than from without. (See Selected Messages, Book 1, 122.) Who would have thought that in Adventism the apostasy would become so great that in many places it would become spiritually dangerous to even attend the local Seventh-day Adventist Church because error was being “forced home to the people”? (See Early Writings, 125.) We were not expecting the true and faithful Seventh-day Adventists to be disfellowshipped and persecuted by their former brethren all over the world, as is taking place today. But when we go to the inspired writings, we see all of this prophesied—we just did not understand it. People have come to believe that these things would not happen until after the National Sunday Law. Friend, that theory is a dangerous deception. The National Sunday Law does not initiate the shaking; it brings the shaking to a climax! Those who are waiting to take a bold, unyielding stand for the truth until the Sunday law test comes are simply preparing to receive the mark of the beast.

You see, when anyone rejects the light of truth that God has given to this people, he has turned his back on the light and goes out in darkness. He may still call himself a Seventh-day Adventist, but if he does not believe the First Angel’s Message and the truth of the Investigative Judgment beginning in 1844, he has gone into darkness. You cannot, with safety, go to his church and listen to him preach. When a person rejects the truth of the great Day of Atonement that began in 1844 and says that instead of afflicting the soul (Leviticus 16:29, 30) it is time to celebrate, they have gone out into darkness. If a preacher says that you will sin until Jesus comes, he has accepted Satan’s fatal sophistry (See The Great Controversy, 489.), and you dare not go and listen to him preach lest you be deceived and lose your own soul. Finally, if you are not hearing the historic doctrines of Adventism preached in your church, if you are hearing the same kinds of sermons that you could hear in any other church, then you are endangering your soul if you do not either find a Historic Seventh-day Adventist congregation, or start a home church where you can teach the truth, at least to your own family.

Our opportunities for learning and knowing God’s last message to a perishing world and being prepared for what is coming on the world are very limited at best, and we dare not allow ourselves and our families to be exposed to either heretical preaching or “peace and safety” messages that come just before destruction. “I saw that we have no time to throw away in listening to fables. Our minds should not be thus diverted, but should be occupied with the present truth, and seeking wisdom that we may obtain a more thorough knowledge of our position, that with meekness we may be able to give a reason of our hope from the Scriptures. While false doctrines and dangerous errors are pressed upon the mind, it cannot be dwelling upon the truth which is to fit and prepare the house of Israel to stand in the day of the Lord.” Early Writings, 125.

Every Sabbath after church, you should be more fitted to stand in the day of the Lord than before. But the prophet wrote sadly, “Those who have been regarded as worthy and righteous prove to be ring-leaders in apostasy and examples in indifference and in the abuse of God’s mercies. Their wicked course He will tolerate no longer, and in His wrath He deals with them without mercy.

“It is with reluctance that the Lord withdraws His presence from those who have been blessed with great light and who have felt the power of the word in ministering to others. They were once His faithful servants, favored with His presence and guidance; but they departed from Him and led others into error, and therefore are brought under the divine displeasure. …

“Not all who profess to keep the Sabbath will be sealed. There are many even among those who teach the truth to others who will not receive the seal of God in their foreheads. They had the light of truth, they knew their Master’s will, they understood every point of our faith, but they had not corresponding works. These who were so familiar with prophecy and the treasures of divine wisdom should have acted their faith. They should have commanded their households after them, that by a well-ordered family they might present to the world the influence of the truth upon the human heart.

“By their lack of devotion and piety, and their failure to reach a high religious standard, they make other souls contented with their position. Men of finite judgment cannot see that in patterning after these men who have so often opened to them the treasures of God’s Word, they will surely endanger their souls. Jesus is the only true pattern. Everyone must now search the Bible for himself upon his knees before God, with the humble, teachable heart of a child, if he would know what the Lord requires of him. However high any minister may have stood in the favor of God, if he neglects to follow out the light given him of God, if he refuses to be taught as a little child, he will go into darkness and satanic delusions and will lead others in the same path. …

“What are you doing, brethren, in the great work of preparation? Those who are uniting with the world are receiving the worldly mold and preparing for the mark of the beast.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 212–216.

Friends, it is a dangerous thing to fail to advance in the opening providence of God. The light is moving. Are you moving with it or are you in the dark? Early in her experience, Ellen White saw a vision about this light. You can read this vision in Early Writings, 15–20. In other places in her writings, she speaks about the light that was set up at the beginning of the path that the Advent company was traveling that shone all of the way up to the Holy City. This path, friends, is narrow, and if you do not have light on the path, you are going to stumble and fall off.

What was that light that was set up at the beginning? Sister White says that it was the Midnight Cry. The Midnight Cry was based on the Bible prophecies of Daniel 8 and 9, and Revelation 14:6, 7—the message of the 2300 days and the sanctuary and the Investigative Judgment. The devil knows that if we reject these truths, we will stumble and fall off the path. It is amazing how successful the devil has been in leading people to reject them.

We have been told that, “When the power of God testifies as to what is truth, that truth is to stand forever as the truth. No after suppositions contrary to the light God has given are to be entertained.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 161. Yet there are Adventist teachers and ministers today who no longer believe these truths. Friend, if you are in the situation where you listen to this error, you are in the dark; you are going to lose your way. The Lord is not going to work a miracle to save you; you have turned your back on the light. This idea that you can have a spirit of free inquiry and ask any question you want to is not according to the Scriptures. Jesus rebuked people for their doubt. Friend, if these truths are not being upheld in your church, your church is in the dark.

In Testimonies, vol. 2, 594–597, Ellen White describes a very impressive dream. “I dreamed of being with a large body of people. A portion of this assembly started out prepared to journey. We had heavily loaded wagons. As we journeyed, the road seemed to ascend. On one side of this road was a deep precipice; on the other was a high, smooth, white wall. … As we journeyed on, the road grew narrower and steeper. … We concluded that we could no longer travel with the loaded wagons. We … took a portion of the luggage from the wagons and placed it upon the horses, and journeyed on horseback. As we progressed, the path still continued to grow narrow. … We then cut the luggage from the horses, and it fell over the precipice. We continued on horseback. … A hand seemed to take the bridle and guide us over the perilous way. As the path grew more narrow, we … left the horses and went on foot, in single file. … At this point small cords were let down from the top of the pure white wall; these we eagerly grasped. … The path finally became so narrow that we concluded that we could travel more safely without our shoes, so we slipped them from our feet. … Soon it was decided that we could travel more safely without our stockings; these were removed, and we journeyed on with bare feet.”

One of the most interesting points of this dream is that several changes were made. They began with heavily loaded wagons, then changed to horses with a portion of the luggage, to horses with no luggage, to single file on foot, to removing their shoes, and finally to removing their stockings. Notice that “at every change some were left behind, and those only remained who had accustomed themselves to endure hardships. The privations of the way only made these more eager to press on to the end. … We pressed close to the white wall, yet could not place our feet fully upon the path, for it was too narrow. We then suspended nearly our whole weight upon the cords, exclaiming: ‘We have hold from above!’ ” Ibid.

The light, friends, is moving. Are you keeping up with the providence of God? Are you aware that the road we are traveling is getting narrower? Have you noticed it? How are you going to stay on the path and keep up with the providence of God? The only way is to have faith. These cords represent faith. A few years ago a good friend of mine told me that he was sorry that I had worked so many years for the Adventist denomination and now had to give up all of my retirement benefits. If you stay on the road all the way to the end, you are going to give up much more than retirement benefits.

Oh friend, how much time are you spending in prayer? If you are energetic enough to get up and to pray, God will hear and answer.

“Where there is no active labor for others, love wanes, and faith grows dim.” The Desire of Ages, 825. You must not only study your Bible and pray, you must be actively involved in missionary work. If you are not, ask the Lord to show you what to do to become involved in some type of outreach program spreading the Third Angel’s Message.

We did not follow the path to the end of the vision. The time came, however, when the path disappeared and all that was left were the cords that had been let down from above. When you come to this place in your experience, will you have a faith that will hold you? Do you want the Lord to let down a cord of faith today so that you can get a hold from above? If so, determine that from this day forward you will faithfully walk in the light as God sheds it upon your pathway.

Pastor John Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

SDA Roots, part 6

We pause in our perusal of the history of the rise of the Advent Movement to take a look at four men that unreservedly gave themselves to the propagation of the Second Advent message in 1838. We will consider their “backgrounds, talents, training, standing and diverse religious affiliations.” The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, 528.

The first of this quartet of men is Dr. Josiah Litch (1809–1886). Litch was a well-known minister in the New England Methodist Conference. He was born in Higham, Massachusetts, and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church at his conversion, at the age of 17.

Near the beginning of 1838 he received a copy of Miller’s Lectures with the request that he read it and render his opinion on the truth of what it advocated. Litch disagreed with the notion of setting a time for Christ’s coming. He at first refused to read the book. However, to please his friend and to satisfy his own curiosity to discover what evidences could be summoned to support such a doctrine, Litch read the book.

The more he read the more he was convinced of the solid foundation of Miller’s position. He felt that if all the evidences Miller presented in that book were true then he, Litch, had a responsibility to also preach the messages Miller had been giving around New England and elsewhere. Being fully persuaded, of the truth of Miller’s position, he decided to present the truth as he saw it, at any cost to himself.

Litch was studious and keen of mind and immediately began to write on the theme of the Second Coming. His first product was a forty-eight page synopsis of Miller’s views entitled Midnight Cry, or a Review of Mr. Miller’s Lectures on the Second Coming of Christ, About A.D. 1843. A wide distribution of this work resulted in bringing in many friends to the Advent cause. Wherever he went, Litch preached the imminent return of Christ. Throughout New England, Litch was one of only two ministers closely identified with Miller. The other was Charles Fitch who, for a time, had taken his stand with Miller. However, shortly thereafter, he returned to his former views that there would be a temporal millenium before Christ’s coming.

In April of 1838, Litch produced a two hundred-page book entitled The Probability of the Second Coming of Christ About A.D. 1843. Because so many of the prophecies had been fulfilled, he declared, in the preface, his belief in the certainties of prophecy and that the prediction of the Second Coming would be fulfilled in due time. During this same year “He prepared articles for the public print on the subject of the seven trumpets of the Revelation. He took the unqualified position that the sixth trumpet would cease to sound and the Ottoman power would fall on the 11th day of August, 1840, and that that would demonstrate to the world that a day in symbolic prophecy represents a year of literal time.” The Great Second Advent Movement, 129.

The fulfillment of the prediction “intensified the interest of the people to hear upon the subject of fulfilled and fulfilling prophecy. Dr. Litch said that within a few months, after August 11, 1840, he had received letters from more than one thousand prominent infidels, some of them leaders of infidel clubs, in which they stated that they had given up the battle against the Bible, and had accepted it as God’s revelation to man. Some of these were fully converted to God, and a number of them became able speakers in the great second advent movement.” Ibid., 132.

It was not until 1839, in Lowell, Massachusetts, that Litch first met Miller personally. He was on the Committee of Arrangements for the first general conference that was held in October of 1840. He was one of the leading speakers at that convocation as well as in subsequent general conferences.

“In June, 1841, Litch attended the Methodist Episcopal Conference at Providence, Rhode Island. Here he was closely interrogated by the presiding bishops as to his relation to the Millerite teachings. After Litch had expounded his convictions, the bishop asked, ‘Do you think that is Methodism?’ Litch replied, ‘I do. At least it is not contrary to the articles of the Methodist Episcopal Church.’ After considerable discussion the conference also came to the conclusion that Litch held nothing contrary to Methodism, though he had at points gone beyond it. They granted his request to ‘locate’, that is, to retire from the itinerant ministry. This allowed him to devote most of his time to preaching the second advent.” The Prophetic Faith of our Fathers, 532.

Litch came to the conclusion that he had to divorce himself from the Methodist ministry that he had carried on for eight years and utilize all his energies in the advent movement. He soon became one of the leading editors of the Millerite paper, The Signs of the Times. He continued traveling and lecturing and was Miller’s companion on his trips to Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and New York. Eventually he resided in Philadelphia where he became the leading Millerite representative.

Next in our list of ministers, that became closely associated with the Millerite movement is Charles Fitch who lived from 1805–October 14, 1844. He was born in Hampton, Connecticut. After graduating from Brown University, Fitch was ordained to the Congregational ministry and served at Abington, Connecticut, Warren, Massachusetts, and Hartford, Connecticut, successively. In 1836 he went to the Marlboro Congregational Chapel in Boston, and later to Newark, New Jersey, and Haverhill, Massachusetts. Fitch’s greatest contribution was made at Cleveland, Ohio, after he became the western proponent of the advent message. His other interests included his membership in the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

He was a strong opponent to slavery as revealed by a pamphlet he produced entitled, Slaveholding Weighed in the Balance of Truth, and Its Comparative Guilt Illustrated. In it he stated, “Every man has a tongue, and he can use it; he has influence, and he can exert it; he has moral power, and he can put it forth. Up my friends and do your duty, to deliver the spoils out of the hands of the oppressor, lest the fire of God’s fury kindle ere long upon you.” The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, 534.

In 1838, while he was pastor of the Marlboro Street Congregational Church in Boston, he was given a copy of Miller’s Lectures, containing his views on the Second Advent. Fitch wrote to Miller, in March, confessing his “overwhelming interest such as I never felt in any other book except the Bible.” Ibid. After carefully studying the book and comparing the message with Scripture, Fitch stated that he came to believe in the correctness of Miller’s views. On March 4 he preached two sermons on the Second Advent, creating a deep interest among his hearers. He proposed to present the whole subject of the Second Advent to a meeting of the Ministerial Association on March 6. He secured a dozen copies of Miller’s Lectures for distribution stating, “I trust that I may thereby do something to spread the truth.” Ibid.

The Association’s reaction was so negative and accompanied with so much searing ridicule and contempt that Fitch lost confidence in the advent message and he lapsed into his former views of the world’s conversion.

But his mind could not rest. He thirsted for truth and longed for holiness of life. While serving as pastor of the Free Presbyterian Church of Newark, New Jersey, in 1839, he wrote his Views of Sanctification. This was his statement of faith and he stressed sanctification by divine grace through Scripture. This prompted the appointment of a committee by the presbytery to counsel Fitch on his views on perfection. This meeting resulted in the passage of a Resolution of Censure, declaring his views to be a dangerous error and asking him to preach his views no more. Fitch replied in a Letter to the Newark Presbytery in 1840, wherein he November 1998 31 defended his views. He stated that “‘I cannot regard your admonition,’ and offered his reasons.” Ibid.

“After years of unsatisfactory living, he had found, personally and experimentally, the enabling grace of Christ. He had learned the secret of reckoning himself dead to sin. The world had lost its charm, and his heart was filled with joy. He had entered into a new life—and supported his position with an imposing array of texts. He took this stand, he adds, ‘in view of an approaching judgment.’ Then he avers, ‘If you still adhere to that opinion, I must consider myself as no longer of your number.’ The presbytery must do to him as they think our Lord requires. This he soon followed with his Reasons for Withdrawing From the Newark Presbytery, the title page adding, ‘By Charles Fitch, Pastor of the Free Presbyterian Church, Newark.’ The Preface states that he felt called to preach the ‘blessed doctrine of sanctification by faith in Christ.’ He recognized that if he did not withdraw he would be excommunicated. So he states, ‘I do hereby withdraw from you.’ Thus he bade adieu to his Presbyterian brethren.” Ibid.

When Fitch explained his perplexities to Litch the latter said, “What you need is the doctrine of the second advent to put with the doctrine of holiness.” Fitch again studied Miller’s teachings comparing them with the Bible while studying all other available writings on the subject of the Second Advent. After pursuing this course of study for a time and reviewing the Lord’s leading since leaving Brown University, he brought all this before the Lord in fasting and prayer. He stated:

“When Dear Bro. Litch named the second advent, I went to the Lord; I read my Bible, and all the works that I could obtain. I possessed myself of all the evidences in the case that I could; and then with fasting and prayer I laid them and myself with my all before the Lord, desiring only that the Blessed Spirit might guide me into all truth. I felt that I had no will of my own, and wished only to know the will of my Saviour. Light seemed breaking in upon my mind, ray after ray, and I found myself more and and more unable to resist the conviction that it was indeed the truth, that the coming of the blessed Saviour was at the door.” Ibid., 537.

Having made his decision, Fitch threw all his energies into the proclamation of the advent message. He now found doors opening wide on every hand as he joined Miller, Litch and soon Himes, along with a steadily growing number of Adventist preachers.

“And now so soon as I was ready to come out on the Second Advent, the door before me was thrown wide open, and I have been wholly unable for the last 8 months to meet one half the calls which I have received. Wherever I have been God has been with me. Since the first of Dec. last, I have preached as often as every day and about sixty times besides. I have been in all the New England States, congregations have been large in all places. Wherever I have been I have preached holiness. My usual practice has been to preach on Holiness in the afternoon, and on the Second Advent in the evening. I have seen saints sanctified and sinners led to Christ.” Ibid.

While some rejected the message and turned against Fitch, many others accepted the advent truth. Among them were Dr. and Mrs. W. C. Palmer that wrote many advent hymns, including, Watch Ye Saints, number 549 in the old Church Hymnal.

One of Fitch’s most notable productions, at least as far as Seventh-day Adventists are concerned, was his famous “1843” prophetic chart (1842) with the able assistance of Apollos Hale, who usually attended Fitch’s church.

Fitch presented his chart to the Boston General Conference in May, chaired by Joseph Bates. Plans were laid to proclaim the “Midnight Cry” more vigorously. Three hundred copies were authorized for use by the Adventist preachers.

Fitch received more calls to preach than he could fill. Wherever he spoke, large crowds gathered to hear him. The following is his own description of a typical speaking trip: “I reached this place(Montpelier) at about half past twelve o’clock on Wednesday. I had then preached thirteen times in a week, and attended many prayer meetings and then at the end of it instead of taking rest I had had a most fatiguing ride of 75 miles. A meeting however was appointed for me here on the evening of my arrival. Accordingly I went to bed, and after sleeping two hours and a half, I arose exceedingly refreshed, and preached in the evening. The audience was tolerable for numbers—though by no means such as I had left at Claremont. Yesterday I preached twice, and the audience in the evening was much increased. The spirit of the Lord was present, and truth had power.” Ibid., 540.

Toward the end of 1842, Fitch carried the advent message to Cleveland, Ohio, and to Oberlin College near Cleveland. He reveals how the faculty reacted to his messages: “I have never seen the glorious truths of the Bible, teaching the kingdom and coming of Christ, met with more determined opposition, contempt and scorn, than they have been by the Oberlin Faculty; and never, in all my life have I felt such anguish at my heart’s core, or shed such bitter, burning tears as I have at their rejection of the Word of the Lord.” Ibid., 541.

In the spring of 1843, Fitch preached a sermon entitled, “Come Out of Her My People.” He “contended that Babylon was no longer limited to the Roman Catholic Church, as held back in Protestant Reformation days, but now included also the great body of Protestant Christendom. He maintained that, by their rejection of the light of the advent, both branches of Christendom had

fallen from the high estate of pure Christianity. Protestantism was either cold to the doctrine of the second advent or had spiritualized it away.” Ibid., 544.

“But Fitch did not have much longer to live and labor. He was in Buffalo, New York, in October, 1844, when a large number of new believers requested baptism. Others had not yet fully made up their minds. Arrangements were made, and the company who were ready went with him to the lake shore and were baptized in the chilly autumn water. A cold wind was blowing as Fitch started for home in his wet garments—for they had no protective baptismal robes or waterproof waders in those days. But just then he was met by another company of tardy candidates, on their way to the lake, who similarly desired baptism. So, cold as he was, Fitch went back with them and immersed them. And then came a belated third company who had at last made their decision. At their request he turned back a second time, and baptized them also. But Fitch was seriously chilled.

“Ill as he was from the effects of this prolonged exposure, he nevertheless rode several miles the next day in the cold wind to meet another appointment. This proved too much for him, and he was stricken down with fatal illness, doubtless pneumonia, which speedily brought on his death at the early age of thirty-nine. His last triumphant words on October 14, shortly before the day of expectation, were, ‘I believe in the promises of God.’ It may confidently be said that none of the Adventist preachers were more widely loved than Charles Fitch. Couragous and resourceful, helpful and hopeful, he interpreted the love of God in word and deed, in the light of the second advent, to the thousands to whom he ministered.” Ibid., 545.

Next month we will consider the other two prominent Second Advent preachers: Joseph Bates and Joshua V. Himes.


Ask the Pastor – Return to Which Roots?


Certain individuals have told me that we need to come back to the teachings of the pioneers of the Adventist movement. These same people have also started teaching that Jesus was created, that there is not the person of the Holy Spirit, and that we need to call Jesus and Jehovah God by their Hebrew names. Can you help me work through these things?


First of all, when studying a passage or statement, we must always look at the context surrounding it. These individuals who are saying that we need to get back to what the pioneers taught are, for the most part, over-reacting, because there has been so much apostasy taking place in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They are over-correcting in an effort to keep from being a part of the apostasy. Such individuals think that if they return all the way to what the pioneers taught, they will be safe. But such is not always the case.

If we go back into the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, we will find that many things were being taught in its early years, which had not been thoroughly studied. True understanding developed with further study over time. One prime example of this would be the eating of swine’s flesh. “If God requires His people to abstain from swine’s flesh, He will convict them on the matter. He is just as willing to show His honest children their duty, as to show their duty to individuals upon whom He has not laid the burden of His work. If it is the duty of the church to abstain from swine’s flesh, God will discover it to more than two or three. He will teach His church their duty.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 207 [written 1858]. “God has given you light and knowledge, which you have professed to believe came direct from Him, instructing you to deny appetite. You know that the use of swine’s flesh is contrary to His express command, given not because He wished to especially show His authority, but because it would be injurious to those who should eat it.” Ibid., vol. 2, 96 [written 1868].

Just because something was taught at one time in the Seventh-day Adventist Church by the pioneers, does not mean that it is forever settled. The Bible says, in Proverbs 4:18, “The path of the just [is] as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” The pioneers, who were searching and searching for truth, found it, because they gathered more and more light as they studied from the Word. Those who did not continue to study, guided by the Holy Spirit, were left in darkness. (See Proverbs 4:19.)

Many things about which the pioneers wrote and believed at some point in time, and which are being picked up and used by Seventh-day Adventists today, are like the statement quoted above from volume one of the Testimonies. More light has come, changing the understanding on these matters. Some pioneers may have believed in the calling of God by His Hebrew name, that Jesus was created, and the no-personhood Holy Spirit ideas, but light has replaced darkness on these subjects. We should not go back and pick up these errors and begin preaching them today, as, with continued prayer and study, additional enlightenment has been given.

Those who did not keep pace with the light, as it was leading forward, went off on many and varied tangents. Many people today who have not been able to understand the process of how truth developed have, as a result, gone off on their own tangents, regardless of what clarification the light has made on variant issues.

It is not enough to be historic in our beliefs. We must also, through the study of the Word, receive the truth as it developed.

Pastor Mike Baugher is Associate Speaker for Steps to Life. If you have a question you would like Pastor Mike to answer, e-mail it to:, or mail it to: LandMarks, Steps to Life, P. O. Box 782828, Wichita, KS 67278.

Seventh-day Adventist Camp Meetings

The season of year when these meetings can be held with comfort is rapidly approaching. As the writer has attended hundreds of these gatherings, and has taken a prominent part in many of them, it may not be deemed improper for him to express some thoughts concerning them.

These meetings have been very important in the progress of this cause in the past, and it is reasonable to expect they will be still more important in the future. In the early growth of this work, a great need was felt for large gatherings of our people for consultation, for instruction, for seeking God, and for promoting unity and oneness of purpose in carrying on the great work that God has committed to His people. The lack of such opportunities was deeply felt. . . .

Our people believed that all gatherings for the worship of God should be orderly, reverential, and solemn, with everything savoring of fanaticism discarded. In short, if we were to have camp meetings, we should have them with as good order as meetings in a church. The question with our leading brethren was whether or not this could be done.

Our first camp meeting was held in Wright, Michigan. It was a matter of great importance, and our people were deeply interested in its success. Of course everything was crude in comparison with our camp meetings at the present time. We had no family tents, so we had to learn how to make them. The campers were made as comfortable as possible. The attendance was quite good. Our leading brethren were present to supervise, and the order was as good as at meetings conducted in a church. Best of all, the Lord was there by His Spirit, and those attending were greatly blessed. The meeting was a great success. . . .

The purpose served by our camp meetings has been similar to that of the great feasts celebrated by ancient Israel. God required Israel of old to attend these gatherings, which were considered very important. The people came hundreds of miles, in many instances on foot, to attend these feasts. In the Saviour’s time, when the Jews were scattered among the nations, many thousands gathered at Jerusalem on these occasions.

The spiritual life of our people is largely influenced by our camp meetings. At these gatherings, all important interests in the cause of God are considered and advanced. Through indifference in attending these meetings, some of our people are suffering great loss spiritually, and are in danger of getting worldly-minded and careless. A large number of souls will be lost because of this great mistake. The camp meetings are a very prominent means of grace, to keep us as a people spiritually alive. They cost considerable money, to be sure, but what is the loss of a little money in comparison with jeopardizing the salvation of our souls?

We are coming rapidly to the time when our people will be terribly tested. The time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation is just upon us. . . . My dear brethren and sisters, we must be spiritually awake or be lost. There is no escaping this conclusion. There will be a terrible shaking before this shaking time ends.

Many among us are liable to be shaken out and lost, lost forever. Shall we not use this blessed means of grace provided at much cost, preparatory to the terrible scenes before us? How can we escape, if we neglect the means of grace designed to warn and arouse us? May the Lord impress this thought on all our hearts.

Reprinted from The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Vol. 93, No. 26, Takoma Park Station, Washington, D.C., May 25, 1916.

George Ida Butler, twice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (1871–1874 and 1880–1888), was a church administrator for many years.

SDA Roots, part 1

The Reformation spread quickly during the sixteenth century in Europe. Rome became concerned over the spreading “heresy” and determined to stop it. The persecutions inflicted were not as effective as she had hoped. The more pressure that was put upon the Protestants to yield to her demands, the more they increased. So another approach was initiated.

“The Papacy suffered a major setback throughout the Reformation. The help of the monastic orders was sought, but they were so decadent that they had lost the respect of the people. The Dominicans and Franciscans, peddling relics and indulgences, had become the butt of ridicule and mockery. At this crisis Loyola and his companions offered their services, to go wherever the pope should designate, as preachers, missionaries, teachers, counselors, reformers. A new order was created, authorized in 1540, which infused a new spirit and spread rapidly over Europe. Like a wounded giant, Romanism arose in desperation to recover her lost prestige and enlarge shrunken territory.

“From 1540, then, the Counter Reformation may be dated. Within fifty years the Jesuits had planted stations in Peru, Africa, the islands of the East Indies, Hindustan, Japan, and China, and before long in the Canadian forests and the American colonies. Their members secured important chairs in universities. They became counselors and confessors to monarchs, and were the most able of all Catholic preachers. By 1615 they had a membership of thirteen thousand. Thus through the Jesuits, the Counter Reformation, next to the Protestant Reformation itself, became the most memorable movement in the history of modern times.” The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. II, 464.

By 1565 Catholicism had reached a low ebb and it was on the defensive, as Protestantism became victorious in one stronghold after another. In 1566 Pius V revived the Inquisition, the Index, and the Company of Jesus once more assumed the offensive. All this included the Marian persecutions in England, the wars in France against the Huguenots, the burning of heretics by the Inquisition in Spain, the attempt to exterminate the Protestants in the Netherlands and the invasion of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Protestant books were placed on the Index to be destroyed. In addition to these engines of destruction, Rome used polemics against the Protestants, and in an attempt to stem the tide she began a mission program to the heathen.


Deceiving Doctrines


None of these things had any lasting effect on stopping the Reformation. Then the Jesuits came up with an idea that was calculated to have a confusing effect upon those who had been influenced by the reformers. The main thrust of the idea was aimed at the reformer’s prophetic interpretations of Daniel and Revelation, particularly dealing with the antichrist. Luther and others had said that the antichrist of Daniel was the Papacy. To take the heat off the Papacy, the Jesuit, Francisco Ribera of Salamanca in Spain and Robert Bellarmine of Rome put forth a futuristic interpretation of Bible prophecy.

Ribera assigned the first few chapters of Revelation to ancient Rome and the rest to just before the Second Advent. Bellarmine insisted that the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation had no application to the papal power, and that the year-day principle did not apply to the prophecies.

“Protestantism and Catholicism now stand face to face in opposition over the prophecies, each with its weapons of argument drawn. The issues having been clearly enunciated, the battle is begun between the distinctively Protestant and papal interpretations, the two positions being irreconcilable. Stalwarts in the Protestant ranks arose to defend and perfect the Historical School of interpretation, though some compromisers adopted the Catholic countertheories —particularly the Preterist scheme.” Ibid., 506.

The foundation for the interpretation of the time prophecies of the Bible is the year-day principle. Thomas Brightman (1562–1607), a Puritan scholar, confuted Ribera’s Futurism and stressed the year-day principle for interpreting the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation.

As previously stated there were some Protestants that compromised with the Catholic views on the prophecies. These included Hugo Grotius a Dutch jurist, statesman, historian and theologian and Henry Hammond, called the “Father of English Biblical Criticism.” These men, among others, adopted the Catholic Preterist theory. According to this view, the prophecies of Revelation were descriptive of the victory of the early church as fulfilled by the downfall of the Jewish nation and the overthrow of Pagan Rome, thus limiting them to the first six centuries after Christ and implicating Nero as the antichrist.

“By the middle of the sixteenth century the Protestant Reformation had taken firm root in all countries north of the Alps, with the exception of France and the Netherlands. Thus Europe, for the most part, seemed lost to the Holy See. But the Catholic Counter Reformation began, with a program of reform in the Roman church, along with the formation of new religious orders. The church set about recovering the lands from which it had been driven. Its two chief instruments were the Jesuits and the Inquisition, and a third was the Council of Trent.” Ibid., 526.

Between 1555 and 1580 the Reformers were broken up into three groups—Lutherans, Calvinists and Socinians, thus weakening the Protestant position. Eventually Calvinists and Lutherans began persecuting one another; thus the Jesuits regained Poland. Religious wars developed in France and the Netherlands and a strong Catholic reaction soon followed. While the Protestants were losing power, the Catholic Counter Reformation was gaining strength. By the end of the sixteenth century Catholicism had regained almost half of Europe. While in this territory Protestantism was split into two groups, Protestant and Reformed. For some time it seemed that Catholicism would reign supreme again, but it was not to be so. There still remained the cornerstone of individual liberty in men’s hearts that could not be completely subdued. If necessary, men would fight for this freedom despite all odds.


Protestants Agree on Prophecies


During the Post-Reformation period of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, hundreds of Protestant commentaries, large and small, began to appear throughout Europe and England and now for the first time in the North American continent. In spite of some of the differences of interpretation on the part of some of the writers, there was surprising agreement on the essentials.

Throughout the seventeenth century men all over the world were focusing their attention upon the prophecies of Daniel with emphasis upon the 1260 and 2300-day prophecies. For the first time, the 70 weeks were connected to the 2300-day prophecy. Various interpretations were advanced regarding the beginning and ending dates of these prophecies, but the year-day principle of prophetic interpretation had been firmly established in the Protestant world. During the eighteenth century, the interest in and propagation of Biblical interpretation continued to grow and develop in England and Germany especially. The Huguenots in France also held the prophetic banner high. It is obvious to us now that the Lord was preparing the way for the Great Advent Movement of the nineteenth century.

“The Eighteenth century . . . was a climactic period, witnessing the recognized close of one of the greatest of the prophetic time periods. It was a century of extreme contrasts. The seeds of the Jesuit Preterist counterinterpretation sprang up and began to bear their evil fruit of acceptance among German rationalists, and thence to similar groups in England and America. Furthermore, no sooner had premillennialists repudiated the false Augustinian theory of a post millennium, than postmillennialism, introduced among Protestants by a Protestant, swept like a scourge over a large percentage of the churches. And coupled to this was the tragedy of bitter reaction against all Christianity, false and true, as the insidious principles of infidelity and atheism reached their climax in the French Revolution (1793).

“On the other hand, the ending of the 1260 year-day period took place—anticipated for a full century by a line of expositors who believed France might be the instrument to accomplish it. Prophetic students on three continents watched for and recognized the fulfillment, which they duly attested. Prophetic interpretation in the hands of able men in Britain, France, and Germany—and now in America—continued to advance. Errors were corrected, and new principles were discerned. The great Lisbon earthquake was seen as a sign that the approaching end was clearly recognized. And just before the close of the century men in two different lands independently arrived at the identical conclusion that the 70 weeks of years are the first part of the 2300 year-days. Such were the prophetic highlights of this new century.” Ibid., 640, 641.

Isaac Newton (1642–1727), one of the greatest mathematical and philosophical minds of his time, applied the same exactness to prophetic interpretation as he did to the sciences. His understanding of Daniel’s prophecies is manifested by his writings on that subject. For the most part he is correct in his interpretation as evidenced by understanding that the cleansing of the Sanctuary was still future. He also stated that the starting date for the 2300 days was 457 B.C.

There were many others in various parts of the world that were following the same line of thought regarding the prophecies. Men such as John Fletcher (1729–1785) in Switzerland, defended the year-day principle, among other teachings that dealt with prophetic interpretation. John Gill (1697–1771) in England, supported the historic position on the prophecies of Daniel. Johann Bengel (1687–1752) of Germany, taught that the beast was the Papacy and that the crucifixion occurred in the midst of the 70th week. John Petrie (1718–1792), also of Germany, believed that the 70 weeks were a part of the 2300-day prophecy.

The two common denominators that stand out among the Post-Reformation Protestant witnesses are that the Papacy is the predicted antichrist and that the year-day principle was to be applied to the prophecies. From the Renaissance on, prophetic exposition continued to steadily unfold and expand.

With the close of the eighteenth century, it is seen that the two major focal points of that period are the Reformation position that the Papacy is the antichrist and that the French Revolution was a turning point in the absolute controlling power of the Papacy. Although Protestant Historicists differed considerably as to the beginning of the 1260-day period of antichrist, they were all united upon the fact that 1260 years had been allotted him and that that period was drawing to a close. When the French Revolution occurred, it was looked upon as the stroke that brought the Papacy down. It gave a new concept of the freedom from bondage to the Roman Catholic Church.

“And if the papal system received a heavy blow in the theological and prophetic fields through the Reformation, it received an even greater stroke in some ways, through the emancipation of reason by the French Revolution. The shackles of superstition were stricken from the wrists and ankles of humanity, and mankind was seemingly delivered out of Catholicism’s hand.” Ibid., 795.


A New Era in Human History


Not only was the period of the eighteenth century remarkable for these “emancipating events” but it was also a turning point in modern history as well. Just before, during and after this time great advances were made in the harnessing of steam power and the first experiments were done with the electric light and power, which contributed greatly to the Industrial Revolution that brought about profound changes in all aspects of human thought and activity.

Political, religious and intellectual freedom lay at the foundation of all the other advances, including communication and transportation. Freedom of speech and the press resulted in religious revivals and worldwide missions, followed by the establishment of Bible and tract societies. Reformation and development followed in the fields of education, health and temperance.

“So at this turn of the century may be found the beginning of all those far-reaching influences that molded the succeeding century, and which are continuing to operate. But the implications reach not only forward into the future but back into the past. Another discovery was made in thatera—the finding of the Rosetta stone in Egypt in 1799, the deciphering of which became the magic key that unlocked the secrets of Biblical archeology. This not only cleared away many of the mists that had hung like a pall over the early ages of history, but gave us a greater and richer understanding of the Bible and its prophecies. And this, in turn, has provided an antidote for the virus of rationalism projected by the French Revolution.

“Such focusing of vital events, and the bringing forth of new wonders, all having their common beginning around the end of the eighteenth century, indicate beyond peradventure that an old epoch had come to its end and a new era had begun, just as prophecy had predicted.” Ibid., 796.

Next time we will continue our journey through the annals of history watching the unfolding of God’s plan for the continuation of the Reformation and the establishment of the Great Second Advent Movement.