By The Special Ministries Association
“A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work. . . . A revival and a reformation must take place, under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation are two different things. Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. . . . Revival and reformation are to do their appointed work, and in doing this work they must blend.” Selected Messages, book 1,121,128.
The Cost of Revival and Reformation
The Special Ministries Association represents various Seventh- day Adventist special ministries. These special ministries desire to work in harmony with the conferences, as fellow laborers, toward hastening the soon coming of Jesus. However, to our disappointment, we have been experiencing increasing resistance from some whom we would expect to be cooperating with us in this endeavor. This resistance has increased to the spreading of rumors and accusations. Generally these charges have not been answered. The ministries have merely kept on with their work. But the counsel of the Lord indicates that there comes a time to answer:
When man assails his fellow men, and presents in a ridiculous light those whom God has appointed to do work for Him, we would not he doing justice to the accusers, or to those who are misled by their accusations should we keep silent, leaving the people to think that their brethren and sisters, in whom they have had confidence, are no longer worthy of their love and fellowship. This work, arising in our very midst, and resembling the work of Korab, Dathan, and Abinam, is an offence to God, and should he met. Selected Messages, book 3, 348
Recently one of the conferences issued a twelve- page document concerning Marshall Grosboll, Director of Steps to Life, Inc., one of the special ministries. This document, entitled Concerns and Objections, lists a number of accusations. This paper The Cost of Revival and Reformation, is a response to the conference’s concerns and objections, and in so doing, details the principles that should prevail between workers in God’s cause.
Concerns and Objections was put together by an anonymous committee. It was read by Elder R, 1 Seventh- day Adventist conference president, to Elder Grosboll and others who were present, at a meeting on January 25, 1989. Those present at the meeting included representatives of the Union Conference, Hope International, Hartland, Steps to Life, some other ministries, and two conference presidents.
Marshall Grosboll is an ordained minister of the Seventh- day Adventist Church who took a leave of absence from the Kansas- Nebraska Conference in 1987 in order to devote full- time to the Steps to Life television ministry and its affiliate Bible worker training school (the Institute of Ministry). The leave of absence was prompted by the conference’s request for Pastor Grosboll to transfer to another district when, after considerable counsel and prayer, he felt convicted to continue the Steps to Life outreach and training ministries that were just getting started and established in Wichita.
The conference’s concerns and objections in this document involve methodology, procedure, and emphasis, not doctrine. Elder Grosboll believes and teaches all of the historical and fundamental teachings of the Seventh- day Adventist Church, and has never been charged with teaching false principles contrary to the church. The document ends with this statement:
Because of these and many other reasons we believe that Marshall Grosboll has demonstrated that he is not a true shepherd of the flock and therefore should not represent the Seventh- day Adventist Church as an ordained minister. Concerns and Objections, 12
Since Elder Grosboll has never yet been tried and is still a recognized, ordained minister of the Seventh- day Adventist Church, the Special Ministries Association has serious concerns about the conclusion of this document which calls for a change in this regard, and the reasons for arriving at said conclusion. The charges in the Concerns and Objections document involve the ministry and decisions of many people who are involved and benefitted by the Steps to Life ministry. Moreover, the charges brought against Elder Grosboll and the Steps to Life ministry can likewise be brought against many others who are conscientiously seeking to fulfill ministries for the Lord. Thus, many people have been prayerfully studying the issues raised in this document.
Pastor Grosboll’s Ministry
Elder Marshall Grosboll has served for 12 years as a pastor of the Seventh- day Adventist Church. Following is a short statement by Elder Grosboll concerning his ministry.
I have served as pastor to the best of my ability. Thanks only to the grace of God, the churches I have served have grown in attendance, tithe, and membership during my pastorates there. But I freely admit that I am not free from fault in my ministry. Realizing the high calling and sacred responsibilities of the ministry, I have always viewed myself as unworthy. Thus I have prayed for just a humble field of service in which I might serve Him.
As I view the lovely Majesty of heaven, lacerated and bleeding upon the cross, lam constantly reminded that for my sins He died. My only rightful reward is what Jesus suffered on the cross. He took my place. Knowing that, I have pledged myself to be true to Him, unworthy though I may be, to whatever calling and position He may ask me to fulfill. I fully believe that the Lord has called me and ordained me to the gospel ministry, and by His grace I am as true to that calling today as I have ever been.
Yet if I alone were being accused, I would not feel it prudent to answer. For the least of my sins is deserving of more than the goals this document is striving for. Whether I remain or not, or whether I am despised and condemned, accepted or unaccepted, is of little consequence. Jesus endured far more for me. But it is not I alone on trial, but rather it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
Let me also reaffirm that I believe, and have always believed, in the movement, message, and organizational principles upon which the Seventh- day Adventist Church was established. Moreover, I have always tried to cooperate with its leadership in a spirit of love. I have served under seven conference presidents and have had a wonderful relationship with most of them. And though, regretfully, that is not the situation here, I have sought to bring about reconciliation and cooperation with this conference. I am determined to continue to work for unity within the guidelines of biblical principle. I also, with the Protestant reformers and a multitude of others within the Seventh day Adventist Church, believe that the Word of God and the Holy Spirit must become and remain central in all that we do. All decisions of principle must be based upon this standard and this standard alone.”
Pastor Grosboll, as do most people in special ministries, desires to cooperate with the conference. Yet our perception is that the only cooperation wanted in this instance is unquestioning obedience to conference control. Ellen White said that Battle Creek operated on the “rule or ruin” principle (Testimonies to Ministers, 360). God designs that we should all work together, for His honor and glory, as brothers and sisters, willing to counsel and be counseled, and loving one another as Christ has loved us. Yet above and beyond our relationship with one another and the conference, must be our loyalty to truth and righteousness and obedience to the call and ordination of the Lord. May this become our experience. Our greatest desire is to see the conference filled with the spirit and power of the Holy Spirit. Elder Grosboll, and each of us in Special Ministries, are more than willing to work with the conference. We believe this is what God wants.
We find it unfortunate that the Concerns and Objection’s document, which was presented at the January 25 meeting, either did not seek to verify the facts, and/ or overlooked certain facts, before it was presented. Much work obviously went into this document, yet no one ever got in touch with Elder Grosboll. We also find it unfortunate that the document judges motives throughout, and does so in the most unfavorable light.
The January 25 Meeting
It should be noted that when Elder R came to speak with Pastor Grosboll, he said he was “following Matthew 18″ in coming to his brother with some concerns. Upon further investigation, it was found that this whole document had been presented, as fact, to the Executive Committee nearly two months before their meeting, without any defense or even knowledge on the part of the one being accused. The accuser and the judge were one and the same, with the Executive Committee acting as jury, but the accused was not only absent, but totally unaware of the accusations. Not only did the Executive Committee go along with the proceedings, but also not a word of these secret activities ever leaked out to any of those in question until the January 25 meeting nearly two months later.
Moreover, it should be noted that the ultimatums the president gave to Pastor Grosboll after the January 25 meeting, which he said would help to clear up the conference’s concerns; had little to do with the accusations of the document itself. This fact has caused some to question whether the accusations of the Concerns and Objections document, many of which are unfounded, were merely a means to an end, to try to gain control.
At the January 25 meeting the conference president told Elder Grosboll and the others present that a response was not wanted and would not be accepted at that time. The meeting was merely for the purpose of reading the concerns, with no chance of reconciliation or time to discuss the issues. This decision was in spite of the fact that, as soon as Pastor Grosboll found out that the president was coming, he wrote a response to him asking for an agenda. This request was
Second, the president was asked to allow enough time in order to discuss, pray about, and study whatever concerns he had. With people coming from great distances for the meeting, Pastor Grosboll desired an all- day meeting in order that there might be time to pray and discuss the issues together in brotherly love, thus allowing the Holy Spirit to guide them into true unity. Sadly, this request too was denied. Elder R, in addition to bringing friends with him from the Union Committee, invited Pastor Grosboll to bring anyone he wanted to the meeting with him, but when his group arrived, they were told there would not be time for them to make comments.
Our greatest disappointment is the lack of interest the conference seems to manifest for the soul- winning work of Steps to Life. No one has faulted the theology or content of their evangelism, preaching, or television programs. Converts from the Steps to Life ministry throughout North America are being baptized into their local Seventh- day Adventist Churches. Yet there almost seems to be a hope that this ministry will not succeed in bringing anyone into the church. Why? Could the following be part of the reason?
The word of the Lord came to Elijah; he did not seek to be the Lord’s messenger, but the word came to him. God always has men to whom He entrusts His message. His Spirit moves upon their hearts and constrains them to speak. Stimulated by holy zeal, and with the divine impulse strong upon them, they enter upon the performance of their duty without coldly calculating the consequences of speaking to the people the word which the Lord has given them. But the servant of God is soon made aware that he has risked something. He finds himself and his message made the subject of criticism. His manners, his life, his property, are all inspected and commented upon. His message is picked to pieces and rejected in the most illiberal and unsanctified spirit, as men in their finite judgment see fit. Testimonies, vol. 5, 299
The allegations and conclusions of the Concerns and Objections document must be addressed. Yet it is with great reluctance that we do so, for Pastor Grosboll and each one of us love the brethren who have formulated these concerns. We love every facet of our church, which we believe to be the remnant church of prophecy. We wish this response could have simply been shared at the meeting itself, and that understanding and peace could have ensued, without the necessity of a written response. May the Lord mold and shape each of us into a holy, united family for the infilling of the Holy Spirit and the finishing of the work of God on earth. This desired result, however, can never happen without a genuine revival and reformation. May this response paper be used by the Lord to help conferences understand the burden of special ministries and the opposition that some are encountering. May it also be used to help bring the Lord’s work together, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, for a finished work.
The first paragraph of the Concerns and Objections document states that two of Pastor Grosboll’s goals are to bring, “revival and reformation to the membership of the church,” as well as the “evangelization of the world with the Three Angels’ messages.”
Conference leadership, in the next paragraph, elucidates how they also “deplore the sins in ourselves and in God’s true church.” They state: “We weep at the backsliding of God’s people. We pray and work for reformation and revival in our lives and the lives of our people.” We commend the conference on this stance. Yet we have never been able to engage the conference leaders into joining us in prayer and study for the guidance of the Lord. If Steps to Life, or any of us in special ministries, are doing something wrong, we want to know what it is. We do not suppose we have all the light or all the answers. In fact, we claim no new light. We are simply trying to do missionary work. We desire to sit down with our conference brethren and to work for revival and reformation. Where we are falling short of the purposes of God, we want to change.
How Concerned Is the Conference in Revival and Reformation?
In Wichita, as in each of the districts Marshall Grosboll has pastored, he concentrated his ministry on helping each member to develop a personal relationship with Christ through a daily study of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, earnest prayer, and following the Lord all the way in their personal lives. Pastor Grosboll stressed that, in both our personal lives and as a church body, we must put away self and sin and allow the Holy Spirit to have full control. We must follow every counsel of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, not from a legalistic standpoint, but from a heart of love and with faith in His Word. An analysis of the first year’s sermons reveals that sixty- six percent of the sermons were drawn from the gospels, with the rest from other portions of the Bible. Examples of these were a series that brought revival to many people, entitled, “Footsteps to Calvary,” and the sermon,” Extra Oil,” from Matthew 25.
Pastor Grosboll does not believe in concentrating on sin, for he believes that Jesus is the focus of our faith. Yet open sin cannot be overlooked by the faithful pastor, for it will prevent the blessing of the Lord. After Pastor Grosboll arrived in Wichita, he was informed by some of the elders and associate pastors that some of the leaders of the church were heavy coffee drinkers, others watched videos that were well beyond the questionable stage, and some had other such inconsistencies. Their concern was that these sins were preventing the Lord’s blessings. In an elders’ meeting which Pastor Grosboll called soon after he arrived, he asked one of his associate pastors to have the opening devotional. Before his devotional, the associate shared with Pastor Grosboll that he had spent nearly the whole previous night in prayer. He felt impressed to give a message, but felt apprehensive about the results. Marshall, as his associates called him, did not ask what the subject was, but encouraged him to share whatever the Lord had impressed him to give.
His message was on the importance of the elders being examples to the flock. He gave several illustrations, one of which caused many of the elders to be very upset: He suggested that the elders should strive toward becoming “vegetarians.”
Though this was not Pastor Grosboll’s timing, he felt that the Holy Spirit had impressed his associate to give the message he did, and he supported him. One of the elders later shared how he was convicted to change his diet following this meeting. Truly, the Holy Spirit had led in the remarks this associate had given at the elders’ meeting. But the fact that Pastor Grosboll supported his associate in the remarks given caused such a furor among the elders that Pastor Grosboll was soon called into the conference office to give an account of the meeting. Sadly, instead of supporting truth and righteousness, their sympathy was with those who had been offended. Their support seemed to be with those who could help or hurt them the most with their influence.
The associate who made the comments later told the pastor, with tears in his eyes, how much he appreciated his support. He said that before Pastor Grosboll arrived, that would not have happened.
The conference officers had called Pastor Grosboll to Wichita. The president shared that he believed the Holy Spirit had led them in this call. If the conference officers, after this elders’ meeting at the very beginning of Pastor Grosboll’s ministry, had supported the truths he preached and stood for, in spite of op position, what would have been the results? It is very probable, judging by the events which followed, that a great revival would have taken place in Wichita, and maybe even in the conference. Only eternity will show the full results of what appeared to be self- serving at this time.
“Many are the souls that have been destroyed by the unwise sympathy of their brethren; for, because the brethren sympathized with them, they thought they must indeed have been abused, and that the reprover was all wrong and had a bad spirit.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 329
Sometimes It Is Dangerous to Question
At about this same time, Marshall Grosboll presented in the Conference Administrative Committee, of which he was a member, his concerns about the new conference plan to “save” their academies. The conference was initiating a one- plus million dollar endowment program for Enterprise Academy, which the union president said would make it permanently secure.
Pastor Grosboll produced figures in the Administrative Committee to show that with a constant rate of investment, which is the only realistic way of figuring for offerings and gifts, and with currently normal inflation and interest rates, it would take 30 years just to recoup the investments made (in real buying power) without any return in the investment at all! The reason for this is that the investment is never touched, but will still be in the bank (if the bank is still solvent) when Jesus comes. The endowment plan is set up to put money in the bank forever, and just draw on the interest. To plan thirty years for a return on an investment was, in Elder Grosboll’s opinion, putting off the day of the Lord, and was being a poor steward of His goods. Does God want us to invest our money in the banks, when His work is in need? These statements were quoted: “[God] calls upon those who have money in the banks to put it into circulation.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 56
“The very means that is now so sparingly invested in the cause of God, and that is selfishly retained, will in a little while be cast with all idols to the moles and to the bats. Money will soon depreciate in value very suddenly. Evangelism, 63 Satan is much more vigilant, keen- sighted, and skillful in devising ways to secure means to himself than our brethren are to secure the Lord’s own to His cause.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 478
“The Lord desires us to let our light so shine before men that His Holy Spirit may communicate the truth to the honest in heart who are seeking after truth. As we do this work, we shall find that means will flow into our treasuries, and we shall have means with which to carry on a still broader and more far- reaching work.” Evangelism, 61- 62
Once we make a commitment never to touch the principal of an investment, we have left God clear out of the picture. Someday these investments that we legally cannot dispose of, because of binding agreements, will be a curse:
I saw that if any held on to their property, and did not inquire of the Lord as to their duty, He would not make duty known, and they would be permitted to keep their property, and in the time of trouble it would come up before them like a mountain to crush them. . . . I heard some mourn like this: “The cause was languishing, God’s people were starving for the truth, and we made no effort to supply the lack; now our property is useless. Oh, that we had let it go, and laid up treasure in heaven!” Counsels on Stewardship, 60
Why not, Elder Grosboll asked, put this money into soul winning rather than the banks? Will earning interest in the bank really bring more returns than using that same money to win souls? Moreover, soul winning will bring in new students, which our schools are really needing. If the conference really pushed the endowment program, Pastor Grosboll felt it would drain the other programs, and eventually the school could go down anyway- maybe even sooner. The real need of our academies, Pastor Grosboll felt, was the blessing of God that comes from doing His will. This is what they needed to be working toward.
Though the pastor was not adamant in his opinions, and only made one speech outlining his concerns, when called into the president’s office about the elders’ meeting, he was also criticized about his comments in the Administrative Committee about the endowment program. He was informed by the president that this endowment program was a program that he cherished and had helped to devise. The president said he could not argue with the figures but that even though the money would not bring any real increase on the investment for many years, it was an effective way to get money from the people because it was popular. Pastor Grosboll suggested that it took a great amount of promotion to make it popular.
Though Marshall Grosboll did not bring up the subject of endowments again, from that point on the program never achieved what had been hoped. Soon after, whether for this reason or for some other, Pastor Grosboll was informed that he was no longer on the Administrative Committee. A conference official told him months later, that his speech on the endowment funds was one of the main reasons the conference had withdrawn their support of him; but that many were wishing they had followed his advice, for the academy was at that point so low on money that they were having to ask some people who were putting their money into the endowment fund to reverse these pledges and give them for operating costs. This experience taught Pastor Grosboll the result of questioning a cherished project of some administrators. Was this the reason that such situations as the Davenport investments, that cost the church millions of dollars, were allowed to go on and on, even though many people clearly saw the dangers and inequities in the program?
“We Are God’s Favored People”
Pastor Grosboll developed a Preaching and Revival service for Sabbath vespers that dealt with revival and reformation. Over a hundred people attended regularly. His sermons also were calls for personal holiness and revival, for every person, from the conference worker to the lowliest member. The tapes of these sermons went far and wide. But while there was an increase in church attendance, and at all the services of the church, some did not appreciate these messages.
“Those whom God has chosen for an important work have ever been received with distrust and suspicion. Anciently, when Elijah was sent with a message from God to the people, they did not heed the warning. They thought him unnecessarily severe. They even thought that he must have lost his senses because he denounced them, the favored people of God, as sinners and their crimes as so aggravated that the judgments of God would awaken against them.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 261
The same attitude as the ancient people of God expressed, that we are “the favored people of God,” and thus we are safe from “the judgments of God,” seems to be echoed in the Concerns and Objections document. After affirming how the leadership laments the backsliding of God’s people, the document then says, in the same paragraph: “We believe that the Seventh- day Adventist Church, as presently organized, is God’s true church. We believe, despite the faults and imperfections of its leaders and members, this church is the only object of our Lord’s supreme regard” (Concerns and Objections, 1). Thus, in the context in which it is given, the thought is expressed, as in Elijah’s day, “Yes, we may have some imperfections, but we are the beloved of the Lord, rich and increased with goods. Whatever we decide to do or not do, we will yet remain God’s favored people, even “as presently organized” and functioning. Nothing evil can come to us.” But Jeremiah warns:
Do not trust in these lying words, saying, “The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord are these.” For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, . . . then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.” 2 2 Jeremiah 7: 4- 7 3
Ellen White has a most solemn warning to those in responsible positions: [God] shows us that when His people are found in sin they should at once take decided measures to put that sin from them, that His frown may not rest upon them all. But if the sins of the people are passed over by those in responsible positions, His frown will be upon them, and the people of God, as a body, will be held responsible for those sins. . . . The prejudice which has arisen against us because we have reproved the wrongs that God has shown me existed, and the cry that has been raised of harshness and severity, are unjust. God bids us speak, and we will not be silent. If wrongs are apparent among His people, and if the servants of God pass on indifferent to them, they virtually sustain and justify the sinner, and are alike guilty and will just as surely receive the displeasure of God; for they will be made responsible for the sins of the guilty. Testimonies, vol. 3, 265- 266
Of those who boast of their light, and yet fail to walk in it, Christ says, “But I Say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum [Seventh- day Adventists, who have had great light], which art exalted unto heaven [in point of privilege], shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.”. . .
Shall the Lord be compelled to say, “Pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee”? . . . The little sins that men think are of so trivial a character that on their account they will not be brought into condemnation, are very offensive in the sight of God. Says one, “You are too severe, a man must be allowed these little defects of character.”
. . . But this is simply soothing the conscience, and crying, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” Sin is sin, and it is the delusion of Satan to look upon it in any other light than that it is grievous. E. G. White, Review and Herald, August 1, 1893. (The brackets, along with the comments within them, are by Ellen White and are in the original.) vol. 3, 69- 70
Extraordinary power from God must take hold of Seventh- day Adventist Churches. Reconversion must take place among the members. . . . Renewed, purified, sanctified, the church must be, else the wrath of God will fall upon them with much greater power than upon those who have never professed to be saints. Lift Him Up, 301
The righteousness that is taught, from the conference office, from the pulpit, and beside the hearth, must include the call for reformation. It must at times include the reproof of sin and the call for repentance. But it is this very duty to call sin by its right name that is often the cause of opposition, and for this reason is often omitted. (See Testimonies, vol. 5, 676)
“Don’t Rock the Boat”
The third event that brought Pastor Grosboll into conflict with the conference was the directive given to him by the conference president not to do anything in the nominating committee to “rock the boat.” Suggestions were made by conference administration as to who should hold one of the important offices. Though he would like to have been able to see the conference’s suggestions followed, the nominating committee pointed out serious spiritual concerns with the ones suggested. The committee tried to follow the counsels of the Church Manual in this regard:
The decisions and votes of the [nominating] committee are not to be controlled or influenced by any church, group, or individual. Decisions are reached after prayerful and careful study of all aspects of the matters that come before them pertaining to the administration of the work.
Seventh- day Adventist Church Manual, 131 For years keeping a “smooth running ship” seems to have been more important than revival and reformation. There is a cost to revival and reformation- it brings the wrath of Satan. So the unwritten policy appears to have been to give lip service to revival and reformation in order to appease those concerned while shunning the consequences. Thus evil has often appeared to have been tolerated, and even encouraged.
Is it possible that, maybe unintentionally, evil has often been called good? Are there people who, according to the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, should not be in office, who have not only been kept in office, but praised and entrusted with even greater sacred responsibilities in order to elicit their good- will? The Bible warns against calling evil good. Those who condone the evil, soon condemn the good.
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5: 20
The nominating committee that year was both the result and the continuation of the revival taking place in the church. This revival led the nominating committee to seek to please God first, in their selection of people for office, rather than to conciliate people, though they tried to take people’s feelings into account. In the nominating committee that year it was mentioned that there were some people whom the nominating committee of the year before had not put back into office at first, but whom the pastor later insisted that they reinstate. One of the associate pastors confided that the pastor had said these people could cost him his job [locally) if they were not put back. Pastor Grosboll told the nominating committee not to make him or his job a consideration, but one thing and one thing only- the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Several of those on the nominating committee that year recall how they spent an hour to an hour and a half at every session in the study of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy and in prayer, and how they felt the presence of the Lord.
The nominating committee sought to put away political concerns and to allow the Lord to lead them in every selection. No one had a controlling voice, and all voting was done by secret ballot. Most felt that the Lord was definitely leading. Yet, of nearly thirty members who had made up the board, only three were not asked to return, other than a couple who had asked not to be considered for office. Nevertheless, the changes that were made were ones that the nominating committee saw as vital for revival and reformation. These changes caused a storm of opposition.
But, as with most true revivals, some rose up against revival. Private committees were formed to develop plans to resist it. People were called in an organized manner and asked to quit paying their tithe into the conference until Pastor Grosboll was removed. Various and untrue rumors were started and circulated all the way to the General Conference. There was seen the fulfillment of the prophecy:
As the work of God’s people moves forward with sanctified, resistless energy, planting the standard of Christ’s righteousness in the church, moved by a power from the throne of God, the great controversy will wax stronger and stronger, and will become more and more determined. Mind will be arrayed against mind, plans against plans, principles of heavenly origin against principles of Satan. Truth in its varied phases will be in conflict with error in its ever- varying, increasing forms, and which, if possible, will deceive the very elect. . . .
The ministry, the pulpit, and the press demand men like Caleb, who will do and dare, men whose eyes are single to detect the truth from error. . . .
The man who rejects the word of the Lord, who endeavors to establish his own way and will, tears to pieces the messenger and message which God sends in order to discover to him his sin. . . . He begins to quibble at technicalities and manners. The spirit of Satan links him up with the enemy to bear a word of criticism on less important themes. The truth becomes of less and still less value to him. He becomes an accuser of his brethren, etc., and changes leaders. Testimonies to Ministers, 407- 409
The conference seemed to support this resistance movement to revival and the nominating committee, even to their withholding of tithe. A conference official was asked, within the hearing of a number of people, if the withholding of tithe would cause the conference to act upon their wishes. He admitted that it would have an effect. As far as could be observed, there was never one word of reproof or disapproval expressed for these manipulative tactics. In fact, a conference treasurer was quoted in an ensuing board meeting, by a discontented member who said he had gotten in touch with several treasurers for guidance, as suggesting that they collectively save their tithe in a commercial account. He later confessed that this advice came from the local conference
“Preach Only Love”
Soon after serving on the nominating committee of the Wichita church, Elder R became president of the conference. Within approximately two months of his arrival he asked Pastor Grosboll to take a call outside the conference. Pastor Grosboll had been in Wichita, at the time, for only six months. He was impressed, and still is impressed, that the Lord did not want him to leave his post of duty at that time. Most of the elders felt that if Pastor Grosboll left at that time, much of the reformation that had been accomplished would be lost.
As there had been little communication between Pastor Grosboll and the new president, he wondered why the new president seemed so anxious to have him moved before he had even gotten acquainted. He asked the president if he had received some direction from the previous president. He admitted that he had. He said that the only directive he had received from the departing president was to “do something about Wichita.” Elder R shared that he had probably made a mistake by making a decision about what to do about the Wichita situation before he had even talked to the pastor. But his attitude seemed unchanged.
Pastor Grosboll was warned by the new president not to preach any sermons that would cause anyone to be offended. “Preach only love,” he was told. Many of the members believed that this theme was what they were hearing from the pulpit. Many were being edified and reconverted. But in regard to the content and presentation of his sermons, Pastor Grosboll believed that he must submit that to prayer and allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct in the presentation of the Word. If there were theological disputes or questions of doctrine, or if the elders, as guardians of the flock and in a spirit of prayer, were impressed that the direction of his preaching ministry was not in accordance with the direction of the Holy Spirit, Pastor Grosboll would have been happy to change. But as there were no questions of theology or doctrine, and as most of the elders believed that the Holy Spirit was leading, and as Pastor Grosboll believed that the Holy Spirit was working and directing, he could not go against his convictions to preach what was given him to preach Sabbath by Sabbath.
The smooth sermons so often preached make no lasting impressions. . . . It is not from love for their neighbor that they smooth down the message entrusted to them. . . . True love seeks first the honor of God and the salvation of souls. Those who have this love will not evade the truth to save themselves from the unpleasant results of plain speaking. Prophets and Kings, 140- 141
Conviction and Opposition
Paul’s worst enemies were among the Jews, who made the highest claims to godliness. . . . The truth always involves a cross. Those who will not believe, oppose and deride those who do believe. The fact that its presentation creates a storm of opposition, is no evidence against the truth. Sketches from the Life of Paul, 279
The Concerns and Objections document accuses Pastor Grosboll of refusing to accept counsel. This accusation seems to have stemmed originally from the two convictions against which the conference had advised him, namely, (1) that the church nominating committee must act upon its own convictions, in a spirit of prayer, independent of outside pressure, and (2) that the pastor is personally responsible to God for the message he gives. But what does it mean to accept counsel? For some, to accept counsel means to yield one’s entire will. For others it means to carefully weigh all the counsel received and then seek the Lord for final guidance. The latter is Pastor Grosboll’s understanding.
We cannot depend for counsel upon humanity. The Lord will teach us our duty just as willingly as He will teach somebody else. The Desire of Ages, 668
We are to counsel together, and to be subject one to another; but at the same time we are to exercise the ability God has given us, in order to learn what is truth. Each one of us must look to God for divine enlightenment. We must individually develop a character that will stand the test in the day of God. We must not become set in our ideas, and think that no one should interfere with our opinions. Testimonies to Ministers, 110
Page two of Concerns and Objections begins with the following quotation: The church of Christ, enfeebled and defective as it may be, is the only object on earth on which He bestows His supreme regard. While He extends to all the world His invitation to come to Him and be saved, He commissions His angels to render divine help to every soul that cometh to Him in repentance and contrition, and He comes personally by His Holy Spirit into the midst of His church. [Testimonies to Ministers, 15]. Concerns and Objections, 2
But the rest of the statement from Testimonies to Ministers is omitted. The rest of the statement clarifies the first part of the quotation so that people will not misuse this statement to justify a spirit of control that exalts human leadership above God or His word. The rest of the statement identifies what the church is and sets the parameters of its authority:
Consider, my brethren and sisters, that the Lord has a people, a chosen people, His church, to be His own, His own fortress, which He holds in a sin- stricken, revolted world; and He intended that no authority should be known in it, no laws be acknowledged by it, but His own.” Testimonies to Ministers, 16
Thus the church is not some intangible structure or legal order, but it is the people of God, and these people are not to acknowledge any authority or laws but those of God. Leadership has no other authority except as invested and outlined in the Word of God. Nor have they authority to enforce any other laws than those supported by clear biblical principles. This principle is the basis of Protestantism.
With the first part of the quotation as a backdrop (Testimonies to Ministers, 15), without its qualifying parameters, the Concerns and Objections document then lists, “The specific problems we see in Elder Marshall Grosboll’s ministry ht Wichita, Kansas.” We will list them numerically:
- “[ 1] divisive tactics he uses to achieve his goals,
-  his refusal to counsel and plan with his ministering brethren,
-  the appearance he gives of building an institution that supports only his goals,
-  the separation of his teaching and preaching ministry from the organized church and the alienation of his supporters from the local Wichita churches and the local conference.”
We have come to a new day and age in the church when a conference leader will seek, not just to remove credentials, but to actually annul one’s ordination, as this paper calls for, over such subjective charges as these. [Pastor Grosboll did not have his credentials removed when he chose to take a leave of absence, though they subsequently expired.] To seek to take one’s ordination away is a very unusual and extreme action. That is declaring that the person was either ordained by mistake, or that he has turned away from God. Yet, to our knowledge, no charge of commandment breaking, false theology, or apostasy has ever been raised against Pastor Grosboll, nor is such found in Concerns and Objections. Nor is there anything charged against him relative to Paul’s counsels to either Titus or Timothy as to what are the conditions of eldership- simply these subjective charges, all of which have been leveled against God’s messengers in all ages.
Aleander’s attack on Luther included charges of’ “sedition, rebellion, impiety, and blasphemy” (The Great Controversy, 147). Luther’s response was: “I rejoice to see that the gospel is now, as in former times, a cause of trouble and dissension. This is the character; this is the destiny, of the word of God. ‘I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword, said Jesus Christ. God is wonderful and terrible in His counsels; beware lest, by presuming to quench dissensions; you should persecute the holy word of God, and draw down upon yourselves a frightful deluge of insurmountable dangers; of present disasters, and eternal desolation” (ibid., 159). Such boldness as Luther’s was not to be tolerated, and his enemies determined to put down this “daring obstinacy.” Ibid., 201
In this context, it should be noted that it was also a belief of Protestantism, and has been taught throughout the history of the Adventist Church, in accordance with the teachings of the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy, that ordination is from the Lord. The laying on of hands is to be in recognition of the call and ordination of the Lord. Inspiration makes it abundantly clear that not all who are called ministers by man are recognized as such by the Lord, and many whom the church condemns are still ordained by the Lord. Let us be careful that we not be found to be fighting against the Lord, as the Jewish church did in their contrivances against Jesus and the apostles, and as Ellen White said we also have already done, as for example, in 1888.
The initial charge given for the removal of ordination is that Pastor Grosboll is divisive. Is that true? Or has he stood for principle in the face of opposition? The smooth preaching that creates no trouble is condemned by God. Isn’t it time for something to stir the people of God? Isn’t it time to get ready for Jesus to come? And isn’t it time to ask why He hasn’t come?
Sins exist in the church that God hates, but they are scarcely touched for fear of making enemies. Opposition has risen in the church to the plain testimony. Some will not bear it. They wish smooth things spoken unto them. And if the wrongs of individuals are touched, they complain of severity, and sympathize with those in the wrong. As Ahab inquired of Elijah, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” they are ready to look with suspicion and doubt upon those who bear the plain testimony, and like Ahab overlook the wrong which made it necessary for reproof and rebuke. When the church depart from God they despise the plain testimony, and complain of severity and harshness. It is a sad evidence of the lukewarm state of the church.
Just as long as God has a church, He will have those who will cry aloud and spare not, who will be His instruments to reprove selfishness and sins, and will not shun to declare the whole counsel of God, whether men will hear or forbear. I saw that individuals would rise up against the plain testimonies. It does not suit their natural feelings. They would choose to have smooth things spoken unto them, and have peace cried in their ears. I view the church in a more dangerous condition than they ever have been. Experimental religion is known but by a few. The shaking must soon lake place to purify the church. Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, 283- 284
I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen, and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. This will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver, and will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. Some will not bear this straight testimony. They will rise up against it, and this is what will cause a shaking among God’s people.
I saw that the testimony of the True Witness has not been half heeded. The solemn testimony upon which the destiny of the church hangs has been lightly esteemed, if not entirely disregarded. This testimony must work deep repentance; all who truly receive it will obey it and be purified. Early Writings, 270
Preachers should have no scruples to preach the truth as it is found in God’s Word. Let the truth cut. I have been shown that why ministers have not more success is, they are afraid of hurting feelings, fearful of not being courteous, and they lower the standard of truth. Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, 284- 285
The people are asleep in their sins and need to be alarmed before they can shake off this lethargy. Their ministers have preached smooth things; but God’s servants, who bear sacred, vital truths, should cry aloud and spare not, that the truth may tear off the garment of security and find its way to the heart. Testimonies, vol. 1, 249
In this fearful time, just before Christ is to come the second time, God’s faithful preachers will have to bear a still more pointed testimony than was borne by John the Baptist. A responsible, important work is before them; and those who speak smooth things, God will not acknowledge as His shepherds. A fearful woe is upon them. Ibid., 321
Man may acknowledge these preachers, but “God will not acknowledge them as His shepherds.”
Are we putting our sincere preachers into a position where they must choose between pleasing God or the conference? Must they choose between receiving the woe of man versus the woe of God?
The reason for the conference’s charge of divisiveness appears to be Pastor Grosboll’s straight preaching and emphasis on revival and reformation. The evidence put forth to prove their charge is the accusation that he split up the Wichita South Church. Is that accusation true?
The Conference, the Church, and the Pastor
The Wichita South Church has a history of dissension and trouble. Often it seems that this trouble has been due to certain people holding the lines of power, often against majority wishes. A former elder of the South Church confided recently that for many years he drove 100 miles round trip every Sabbath in order to find another church so as to escape the politics of the South Church. In 1966 the church first divided, only to come back together again a few years later in order to build a new church. It was decided at that time that the union would be only temporary, for the building of the new church building, and that when it was completed they would start planning another new church in town.
There was a time when Wichita had a thriving sanitarium with a nurses’ training school. In 1986 the church celebrated its 100- year anniversary. And yet, after 100 years, the Kansas-Nebraska Conference still had only one church in Wichita, 4 the largest city of Kansas. The medical missionary facility had long since ceased to exist.
When Pastor Grosboll came, the majority of the elders and those on the board, as well as many other members in the church, soon joined solidly behind him in order to bring about revival and reformation. But nine months later the conference president announced to the board of elders his decision to transfer Pastor Grosboll to an undecided location. The elders wanted to express their feelings on the issue, but he told them that this was, “and employee employer situation and did not involve them.” The church board promptly met, and in the absence of Pastor Grosboll, voted the following and sent a copy of the action to the president:
November 30, 1986 During a November church board meeting we voted by overwhelming majority to officially and corporately express our support of Pastor Marshall Grosboll’s ministry in Wichita and our desire to not see him removed or transferred from his current office as pastor.
We humbly ask your respect of the Church Board’s opinion in this matter and look forward to greater evidences of mutual unity and support between our church and conference leadership so that our Seventh- day Adventist message may strongly advance. Respectfully, the Wichita Seventh- day Adventist South Church Board. David Jakstis, Head Elder, Chairman by absentia of Elder Grosboll.”
There were two apparent reasons preventing Pastor Grosboll from being able to move at this time. One was the nine- month Bible worker training program (the Institute of Ministry) begun in the fall of that year. Two of the six students in that initial year had moved, with their families, over a thousand miles to attend. Pastor Grosboll did not feel he could leave until this program, which was started with conference approval, was completed in June of the following year.
The second was that an evangelistic series, which Pastor Grosboll was to hold in Wichita the next month, had been voted by the board. The brochures had been ordered, and the Century II Convention Center of Wichita had been reserved for many months. The reservation of the theater room of the convention center was itself a blessing. Pastor Grosboll and the majority of the elders felt under deep conviction to hold this series.
Moreover, there did not appear to be any pressing reason for an immediate leave. The local offerings, tithe, church school enrollment, and church attendance were all up, in spite of those who were withholding tithe and causing dissension. And, as already mentioned, the elders and the board were very anxious that the pastor should stay. In fact, many felt it would do irreparable harm for the pastor to leave at that time under pressure from those opposed to reform.
Pastor Grosboll assured the president, however, that although, after earnest prayer, he felt convicted that he should complete these two tasks that were already under way, he would be very willing to accomplish them on a self- supporting basis if the Executive Committee requested him to step down as pastor.
The president said, however, that the evangelistic meetings, with Pastor Grosboll speaking, should go on as planned. A month and a half before the meetings were to begin, however, he presented the situation to the Administrative Committee. The Administrative Committee is a small committee within the Executive Committee that sends recommendations and actions to the official Executive Committee for final approval. They took this action:
Marshall Grosboll, for various reasons, some of which are not of his own making, has become the focal point of controversy in the Wichita Church, and out of concern for both the pastor and the church members, it was voted: That Marshall Grosboll and the conference officers aggressively work together toward Marshall Grosboll’s transfer from the Wichita Church which will take place shortly after the completion of the evangelistic meetings which conclude about March 1, 1987.- Administrative Committee Minutes
At this time Elder R told the elders that they should concentrate on the meetings and that nothing else would be done about the pastoral situation until after the meetings, which was confirmed by letter as follows: “We are committed to working in harmony with the December 1986 agreement with Pastor Grosboll that we would not pursue the Wichita matter until after the evangelistic meetings. “( Letter from Elder R, February 26, 1987). He also promised the elders that when the situation was presented to the Executive Committee they would have a chance to present their feelings. Unfortunately, neither of these promises made in December of 1986 were kept. In fact they had both been broken a month before this letter was written.
The first Executive Committee of the new year met on January 26, 1987. Since the evangelistic meetings were being set up at the time, Pastor Grosboll was unable to attend. At this meeting of the Executive Committee the minutes of the December 1986 Administrative Committee were voted upon. Within the Executive Committee minutes it was made clear that by voting on the Administrative Committee minutes, the action became official. Many of the church members felt betrayed and some wrote letters of concern to the president and members of the Executive Committee. The president responded to this effect:
The matter of the Wichita Church and Marshall Grosboll, the pastor, was not on the agenda for the Executive Committee. . . . The Executive Committee action to accept previous minutes in no way alters the opportunity for church members to appeal tile decision of die Administrative Committee or any decision of the Executive Committee. This particular January 26 meeting of the Executive Committee did not address the pros and cons of the decision made by the Administrative Committee. Letter to WHK by Elder R, February 23, 1987
Many felt that this response was double talk. First they were promised that nothing would be done until after the evangelistic meetings. Then they were also promised that they would be heard before any Executive Committee action was taken. But both of these promises were broken, and then justified. But they were told that nothing wrong had taken place because the church could “appeal” the action. Yet all know that an appeal is far different from being heard before an action is taken. There were weighty spiritual interests at stake, yet the church members who were concerned were made to feel that they were rebels and troublemakers.
Because of these, and other similar actions of the conference, confusion, uncertainty as to what the conference might do next, and disappointment began to grow within the church members. It seemed that those who were giving Bible studies, working on the evangelistic meetings, supporting the church, attending prayer meetings, and who loved this message were being overlooked. It also appeared that while the conference had chosen to overlook the wishes of the elders and the board, some people seemed to have special favor and influence with the conference. If these happenings just involved some secular interest, or was indeed merely an employee- employer situation, it would not make much difference, but the results of these decisions were bound to affect the health and well- being of God’s church and the conversion of souls. The effects are eternal. Concerned members began to pray as never before. They wondered what they should do. Some read this statement and knew they must do something:
If God abhors one sin above another, of which His people are guilty, it is doing nothing in case of an emergency. Indifference and neutrality in a religious crisis is regarded of God as a grievous crime and equal to the very worst type of hostility against God. Testimonies, vol. 3, 281
But it seemed that whatever the church members who wanted the pastor to stay tried to do, it was colored in the darkest hues. The worst construction was placed upon their motives. These members were viewed as a problem to be dealt with, and the conference blamed the pastor for the problem. The problem, in these members’ eyes, was the conference.
This response paper is not for the purpose of making a complaint against the conference’s actions or attitudes. We are answering the concerns and objections of the conference. We are not here to judge motives. Nevertheless, these feelings expressed in the preceding paragraph were the feelings of many of the members at the time.
Moreover, even if individuals were wronged, it is not they who were really wronged. We are all but mere stewards. The question is: Has the Lord been wronged? The Holy Spirit most definitely worked in the evangelistic meetings, with hundreds of non- Adventists attending, and many who are still making decisions for Christ over two years later. Many believe that the Lord definitely worked in the previous year’s nominating committee. Many felt the Holy Spirit bringing revival to their hearts from the sermons and other services of the church and were enjoying new conversion experiences. But when those in authority sympathize with those whom the Lord is convicting of sin, hearts are hardened instead of softened, and souls are lost.
Many are the souls that have been destroyed by the unwise sympathy of their brethren. Testimonies, vol. 3, 329 In nine cases out of ten if the one reproved [often by the Holy Spirit] had been left under a sense of his wrongs, he might have been helped to see them and thereby have been reformed. Ibid., 359
This unsanctified sympathy places the sympathizers where they are sharers in the guilt of the one reproved. Ibid., 359 These false sympathizers will have an account to settle with the Master by- and- by for their work of death. Ibid., 329
Let us not repeat the rebellion of 1888: I can never forget the experience which we had in Minneapolis, or the things which were then revealed to me in regard to the spirit that controlled men, the words spoken, the actions done in obedience to the powers of evil. . . . They were moved at the meeting by another spirit, and they knew not that God had sent these young men to bear a special message to them which they treated with ridicule and contempt, not realizing that the heavenly intelligences were looking upon them. I know that at that time the Spirit of God was insulted. Manuscript 24, 1892
Minneapolis was a type of a greater apostasy that Ellen White predicted would take place in the last days.
If we are to bear a part in this work to its close, we must recognize the fact that there are good things to come to the people of God in a way that we had not discerned; and that there will be resistance from the very ones we expected to engage in such a work. Letter from EGW to 0. A. Olsen, Letter 19d, 1892; The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, 1024
The light which will lighten the earth with its glory will be called a false light. EGW, Review & Herald, May 27, 1890, vol. 2, 397 Because of the disappointment by such a large number of church members, the conference set another Executive Committee date to discuss the situation with Pastor Grosboll present. They set the meeting for the day the evangelistic meetings were over, on March 10. On that day, forty members of the church took off work, met at the church, and fasted and prayed throughout the day for the Lord to intervene for the welfare of His work in Wichita.
The president gave the Executive Committee five options. But the motion the committee passed was quite different from any of the options presented. The motion that was voted upon was as follows:
In appreciation and support of the present soul- winning outreach among a significant proportion of the membership in Wichita and in recognition of a very real need for healing among the members, the Conference Executive Committee urges Dr. Grosboll to devote his untiring efforts to both the soul- winning and healing ministries of the church while also carefully and prayerfully, and in close counsel with conference leadership, formulating a plan for maximizing SDA ministry in Wichita and that the plan he presented for Conference Executive Committee action in June, 1987.
The plan should address: 1. The possibility of a new church in the area 2. The possibility of a mutually agreeable transfer for the pastor. 3. Any other considerations for change that could affect healing and church growth.
Surely the Lord led in this decision to support Pastor Grosboll rather than to transfer him at this time. Over the next six weeks, approximately 40 people were baptized. There were yet four months to go before the Institute of Ministry concluded, and there were many people from the evangelistic meetings to follow up.
But though some were pleased with the action, those opposed to the pastor, whose favor the conference had been courting, were now greatly offended, and decided to take things into their own hands. The next nominating committee was coming up. Plans were laid and secret activities took place by certain individuals opposed to the pastor in an endeavor to gain control of the nominating committee.
Except that there were many people in church who had not been in church for years, and that they left as soon as the secret- ballot voting was over, the election appeared normal and the process proceeded smoothly. But when the results came in, it was immediately apparent that it was very untypical. Some who had not received more than one vote the year before now had enough votes, in a 700- member church, to be on the committee. There seemed to be a core of people on the “Committee to Select the Nominating Committee” who were bitterly opposed to the pastor, and anyone who supported him.
The head elder and head deacon were dumbfounded. As the head deacon began to look through the voting ballots, he began to see something very unusual. Many of the ballots appeared to be nearly the same. He quickly went through and pulled out 64 ballots that were nearly identical in the first nine out of the eleven names. It was apparent that these 64 votes had been influenced to all vote the same. Upon investigation, several people confessed to having had a secret “pre- nominating election.” There were 222 votes cast— 64 by the “opposition party” and 158 by the rest of the church. But the 158 were voting individually, while the 64 pooled their votes. Thus those 64 who pooled their votes outweighed the rest of the church. As was pointed out in the ensuing board, this tactic is contrary to the church manual:
The effort of one individual or a small group to dictate to the entire membership of the church is disapproved. Everything of a political nature should be avoided. Seventh- day Adventist Church Manual, 1986, 126
Pastor Grosboll, in counsel with some of the elders, immediately called for an emergency church board meeting for the following afternoon in order to discuss the situation. The conference president, however, supported the results, possibly because some of those who were on the committee were opposed to the pastor, as he was. On Sunday morning, before the board meeting, he called the pastor and demanded that he call off the board meeting. By coincidence, another elder was visiting in the pastor’s office at the time of the phone call and was shocked at the president’s responses.
When told about the secret pre- nominating committee, the president said, “Just wink at those activities. Let things stand as they are. Do not involve the board.” Pastor Grosboll responded, “I have never been put in a situation where I have had to go against the direct command of a president, but in this case, I must be faithful to my charge as shepherd of the flock. You may fire me, but as long as I am the pastor here, I feel responsible to let the board know of the situation. The Lord cannot bless this church if we knowingly allow a small faction of discontented people to take it over through a dishonest election.”
The president then claimed that nothing could be proved. When informed that some had confessed, he then claimed that even so, nothing had been done that was wrong. But the board met, with nearly complete attendance. A conference official also met with them.
After seeing the evidence, the board voted 25- 4, by secret ballot, to hold another election, and to let the church vote on 11 of the top 22 votes from the previous election. That week the president, who was on vacation, made numerous calls to the pastor to try to get him to override the board’s decision. The president then informed the pastor that he had been in frequent contact with the General Conference about this issue and that the board had no such authority, but that their decision would have to be ratified by the church as a body.
On the next Sabbath morning, when the church was to vote again, the conference secretary called and asked to speak to the board before Sabbath school in order to get them to change their decision. The pastor informed the secretary that if he used undue pressure to get the board to go against their convictions, he would have to oppose his efforts, which he had never done in public before.
Many administrators and pastors understand that a committee can often be overpowered into doing what they do not really want to do simply by being told by one of authority that they “can’t” do something, or that they “must” do something.
The truth of this statement was born out just a few weeks after this date, when the South Church board elected their representatives to the upcoming Triennial Constituency meeting. The meeting was chaired by a conference official. The constituent representatives chosen by the board were primarily supportive of the pastor. The conference official said that he would not accept those representatives and had the church board re- vote. Again he refused to accept the vote. The board meeting lasted until late- until the board chose a group of representatives that he could agree with. Whether the list of names eventually chosen was more representative of the church, as the conference official claimed, or not, is not the point. The fact that a determined official can often override a committee was once again proved.
The conference secretary withdrew his request to meet with the board, but he came to church and made a motion on the floor to “table this vote and refer the whole situation to the conference Executive Committee,” and then proceeded to vote. He was voted down, and another election was held.
The going against a president’s command, though for conscientious reasons, and the voting down of a conference officer by the church body, resulted in another special Executive Committee being called the next day. The meeting was scheduled for ten days hence, and it appeared to be with intent to have the pastor fired.
By this time the Executive Committee had been more fully influenced against the pastor. As one committee member said at the meeting: “This is the second special executive meeting on this situation I have been called to, and my time is important. I do not intend to be called again!” Yet personal convenience or irritability is no reason to make a decision of so important a matter.
For about two hours, Pastor Grosboll quietly listened to the accusations against him by the conference leadership. When at last he arose to speak, he had only spoken for a few minutes when the union president arose and interrupted him, almost with vehemence, contradicting what he had said. Pastor Grosboll sat down, and did not speak again except to answer questions. There was no willingness to hear and no reason to speak. Minds were set. Reasoning only exasperated.
When One Door Closed, Another Opened
In the meantime there were other developments that appeared to be direct leadings of the Lord. First, during the evangelistic meetings that had just concluded one month previously, one of the largest television stations in town, an ABC affiliate, had asked Pastor Grosboll if he would consider producing a weekly television program for them. At first the pastor declined, not feeling qualified for such an endeavor. But as the pastor and others prayed about it, they felt maybe it was a providential leading of the Lord and not just coincidence. After the series concluded, Pastor Grosboll called the television station to ask if they were still interested.
They assured him they were and asked him to meet with them to discuss the matter. When they met, he told them he knew nothing about television and that if he was going to produce a program for their station, they would need to do all the technical work. They said they would, and the price they quoted was reasonable.
Pastor Grosboll then inquired about airing times. Sunday morning was the time when all their other religious programs aired, but the ratings for the best times on Sunday morning showed only 5,000 local viewers. He asked them if they would allow him to go on an evening time slot. They said they would make an evening slot available for him. They had a nightly program called “The Judge” on right after Nightline at 11: 30 P. M., which they offered to replace with a program that Marshall Grosboll might produce. They said he could choose any night of the week he wished. When they checked the ratings, they found that three times more people were viewing at 11: 30 P. M. than on Sunday mornings. They also found that more people viewed on Thursday evenings than on any other evening. When they asked about the price for the Thursday evening time slot, they were told they could have it for the same price as Sunday mornings. Thus the Steps to Life television program was born and became the only evening religious program aired in Wichita at that time.
Why was the television station so generous? Surely the Lord was opening up the way to reach Wichita as well as all of central and western Kansas.
A second development took place on the morning of the second voting of the Committee to Select the Nominating Committee. Several church members, independently, came to the conviction that the South Church should start a new church, in accordance with the suggestion of the Conference Executive Committee. One elder, just the day before, had been impressed to take a different route to work than he normally took, and on the way he came across a fairly new Mennonite church that had just come on the market that week. It appeared to be just the right size.
The Lord seemed to impress this conviction to start a new church on many hearts. A church board meeting, followed by a general church business meeting, had already been called for Sunday, the following day. The starting of a new church was not what the board was called for, but it was the only item discussed. That Sunday morning, before the board, a delegation of many church members went to look at the Mennonite church. The church board, with hardly a member missing, voted unanimously to start another church at this site. They then voted unanimously, minus one, to ask the conference for Pastor Grosboll to be the pastor of this new congregation. They also formed a steering committee, by another unanimous vote.
The actions of the board were then presented to the evening business meeting, with 181 voting members present. Again it was a unanimous vote to start the new church and a unanimous vote, minus one, to ask Pastor Grosboll to be the pastor. The steering committee was also approved by a unanimous vote. It was as if an angel had poured oil over troubled waters and brought everyone together into unity for a short period of time.
Within three weeks, the new church was meeting with 220 in attendance. The average attendance from that date to the end of the year was in excess of 190. This fact also created a problem. It seems that some people envisioned that when a new church started, a few of the leaders interested in revival and reformation would leave the parent church to start the new. This development would have left the power in the hands of those who had previously held it for decades. But it wasn’t perceived how big a dent would be made in the attendance and offerings of the South Church. Few dreamed that half of the attending members would pull up roots and go out to start this new church. Nearly all of those who were involved in giving Bible studies went with the new congregation.
Many of those who attended the new church testify that over the next seven months they experienced more peace and joy and the evident presence of the Lord in that congregation than they had ever experienced elsewhere. Thus began the “Three Angels Seventh- day Adventist Church.”
The charge has gone out from both the local conference and the Union to places throughout North America, and even the world field, that Pastor Grosboll wrecked the South Church by dividing it in two. Is this true? It was with the highest of motives that the new church was started. And the South Church continues to survive quite adequately.
But if the truth were really known, the conference refused to consider the wishes of the overwhelming majority on the church board, or the board of elders. Rather, the conference united with those who were determined to maintain the church under their control, by trying to bring someone in to pastor who would suit their purposes.
Under the prevailing circumstances, it would appear that the Lord did the best He could for His work in Wichita. Circumstances indicate that the Lord directed in the establishing of the new church. He guided the surprise recommendation through the Executive Committee, impressed various spiritual leaders in the church, opened up a church, and guided the process through the church board and the business meeting.
Pastor Grosboll Faces a Decision
While the new church was being formed, ten days before to the first worship service, Pastor Grosboll was terminated from pastoring in Wichita by the specially called Executive Committee. The pastor was given several alternatives, such as going back to Andrews University or joining the pastoral staff of the College View Church in Nebraska. Later he was offered another district in Kansas. After much prayer, Pastor Grosboll still did not feel free to leave the Institute of Ministry until it was finished nor to stop the television ministry that was just beginning. The president then suggested to him that he should take a leave of absence. Pastor Grosboll accepted this advice. The president also had suggested at an earlier date, shortly after he became president, that Pastor Grosboll might consider establishing a selfsupporting ministry. He indicated that he would cooperate with such an endeavor if he would. This counsel was also considered.
Pastor Grosboll accepted the decision of the Executive Committee, without question, and cooperated with them. Though asked to give a farewell speech to the church by the ensuing board meeting, at which Pastor Grosboll was not present, never again did he take the pulpit in the South Church, except to make a plea from the front to support the conference and to stay with the church, no matter what happened, because it is God’s church. Neither did Pastor Grosboll, for a time after his dismissal, take an active part in the organization of the new church. When asked by the elders of the new church to preach, he at first declined. But he then came under the conviction that, as he was called and commissioned by the Lord to preach, he should accept. This he did.
The president had promised to make the Three Angels congregation a conference church. But the conference soon set some conditions to making them a church, which conditions included total conference control of the pulpit and the board chairmanship. Pastor Grosboll was not the chairman of the board, nor the head of any department.) As the Three Angels congregation did not feel it could acquiesce to these conditions, the conference for several months ignored them. They did, however, accept their tithes and offerings. The Three Angels church was in the top 10% of the churches in the conference in both attendance and in the amount of tithe returned to the conference.
Eventually the president met with the head elder and Pastor Grosboll. His great concern was that the elders of the church were assigning who was to preach on Sabbath morning, which included Pastor Grosboll a large percentage of the time. These two elders shared that this was their understanding of the functions and duties of the elders, but that if they were wrong, and could be shown so from Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy, they would be happy to change.
They asked the president to study with them, but he declined, stating that, “Only the Biblical Research Department has the authority to study this. We must follow the Church Manual” But the Manual does not specify what the president was insisting on. Moreover, the two elders shared that they believed that the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy must be the guide which we follow and that God would help us to understand it, if we approach it in humility, prayer, and sincerity. The Manual may be a useful guide on procedure, but it is not inspired and must not take the place of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. But the president still declined to study the subject, stating that unless the congregation would agree to this condition without question, they could not be a church. Because the elders could not conscientiously agree to this, Pastor Grosboll was again accused of insubordination.
You should give your authority to the people from God’s Word. You should not believe any doctrine simply because another says it is truth. The Ellen G. White 1888 material, 170
Lines of Control
The Bible has ample counsel on the duties of an elder. To the elders (plural) of the church of Ephesus, Paul said, “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20: 28- 29). It was the local elders who were called to shepherd the flock and protect them from wolves. This was the New Testament model. It was the Roman apostasy that developed a central power to control the local congregation.
It was one of the leading doctrines of Romanism that the pope is… invested with supreme authority over bishops and pastors in all parts of the world. The Great Controversy’, 50
God wants all local congregations to work together in unity. God helped us to develop a system of government within the church in ,order to enhance unity and to preserve doctrinal purity. God did not design that anyone or any entity should work independently of His Spirit, or of the people and systems His Spirit was directing. (This statement means that the organized church is just as responsible for cooperating with God’s various ministries that are not under their direct control as the ministries are responsible for cooperating with the organized church. The same responsibility of cooperation was required of the Jewish leadership when John the Baptist and his disciples, and Jesus and His disciples, came preaching the gospel.) God intends that the church should be structured and organized. But this system was never designed for the purpose of dictating and controlling the consciences of men and congregations as was done during the Middle Ages. It is the love of God, and the Holy Spirit, that must unite us together in bonds of brotherhood. There is a place for disfellowshipping and discipline of members and churches based upon biblical principles, but never upon man- made rules. There is a place for leadership, but never arbitrary control and vindictiveness. Arbitrary human control and kingly power has been one of the great shortcomings of this church that has led us into Leodiceanism. This was one of our primary problems in 1888. Whenever human leadership supersedes the leadership of the Holy Spirit, Christ is denied. In 1888, Ellen White called for us to make “Christ our righteousness;” not man.
God designs that men shall use their minds and consciences for themselves. He never designed that one man should become the shadow of another, and utter only another’s sentiments. But this error has been coming in among us, that a very few are to be mind, conscience, and judgment for all God’s workers. The foundation of Christianity is “Christ our Righteousness.” Men are individually responsible to God and must act as God acts upon them, not as another human mind acts upon their mind; for if this method of indirect influence is kept up, souls cannot be impressed and directed by the great I AND. They wilt, on the other hand, have their experience blended with another, and will be kept under a moral restraint, which allows no freedom of action or of choice. . . .
If we would be wise, and use diligently, prayerfully and thankfully the means whereby light and blessings are to come to his people, then no voice nor power upon earth would have authority over us to say, “This shall not be.” The Lord has presented before me that men in responsible positions are standing directly in the way of the workings of God upon His people. The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, 112, 113
It is not for the Lord’s delegated ministers to look to other minds to plan and devise for them. They must use the ability God has given them, and make God the center and source of all their wisdom. Ibid., 90
The feeling of Elder Butler [was that] position gave unlimited authority. Ibid., 110 When finite men shall cease to put themselves in the way, to hinder, then God will work in our midst as never before. Ibid., 114
Let no human hand place a yoke upon your neck. Take the yoke Christ gives. Learn of Him. Ibid., 141
No one must be permitted to close the avenues whereby the light of truth shall come to tile people. As soon as this shall be attempted, God’s Spirit will be quenched. Ibid., 171
These are but a small sampling of the hundreds of statements Ellen White gave on this subject during and after the 1888 experience. Let us not just try to find other statements, wrested out of their context, to “counter” and “balance” these plain statements, but let us permit them to have their full weight. Let us obey the word of the Lord, not argue it away as those do who try to avoid the responsibilities of the Sabbath. These statements are not advising against receiving proper and due counsel, which we all need. Nor are they mitigating against organization, which the Lord has ordained. But rather, they are strictly condemning “kingly power” within organization, such as we had in Ellen White’s day, and which some people believe we have even more so today. She said this spirit of over- control would quench the Spirit of the Lord. Is that happening?
Is it possible that if a president becomes conscience for a pastor, that he in turn expects the pastor to be conscience for the people? According to the above statements, this practice will quench God’s Spirit. In a meeting between Pastor Grosboll and the president during a worker’s meeting right after the first nominating committee, the president encouraged him to reinstate into office some of those who were the most bitter. Pastor Grosboll said that, though some pastors may do so, he did not feel it was right for a pastor to override a nominating committee or to impose his own will upon them. The nominating committee had seriously prayed about their decisions and felt the Lord had guided them. Moreover, he shared that he did not feel it was right, even for a nominating committee, to put people into office just to appease them. He, as a shepherd, tried to minister to all, but to allow any segment of the congregation to run the church just to avoid trouble, he believed was wrong. Then he asked the president where that policy of appeasement was working for the advancement of God’s work. Will that policy bring about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit?
It should be noted that in 1896, according to the SDA Encyclopedia (1966), Kansas had 3,000 Seventh- day Adventist members. Today it has 4,756 members, or 8% fewer per capita of the Kansas population than before the turn of the century. In 1902 Kansas had 100 churches. Today it has 58 churches. In the last 7 years, Kansas membership has grown by 1, while the population has grown by over 100,000 people. Is God’s Spirit already being quenched?
If we want the Spirit’s power to return to our work, we must have less confidence and dependence in man, and far more in God. Jesus is to have pre- eminence in the church and over the church (Col. 1: 18). “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually’ as H e wills” (1 Cor. 12: 11). The Galatian church was severely reprimanded by Paul for yielding to the authority and influence of James and Peter from Jerusalem in going against the will of God. Is the church today any less responsible to God than was the church in Galatia?
The New Congregation Faces Change
Although the leaders of the new congregation would not yield their convictions about the duties of the elders and the limits of a conference’s rightful influence, the conference seemed to work long and hard to find a way to break down these convictions. One guest speaker who was invited in, by the elders, to speak to the congregation, reported how he was repeatedly called by the president and influenced as to what he should say to the congregation.
The conference eventually appointed a pastor for this group, although they were not yet accepted as an entity of the conference. The board of elders and the church board were both assured that this retired pastor was coming in to work with the Three Angels congregation as they were so functioning, and that he would not seek to change them. Having received this assurance, both the board of elders and the church board gladly voted unanimously to accept this new pastor. Elder Grosboll, as well as the members of the Three Angels church, wanted very much to work with the conference.
Elder Grosboll spoke only one time after the new pastor arrived, and that was a Sabbath that had been scheduled by the elders before the new pastor arrived. He was asked to speak twice more. The first time he declined, as he did not feel that the new pastor was yet comfortable with him. However, it soon appeared that the new pastor had come with an assigned purpose. The next time the elders asked Elder Grosboll to speak, the new pastor vigorously opposed it.
Person after person in the church began to experience what they felt was a concerted undermining of Pastor Grosboll’s ministry and the Institute of Ministry (now called Steps to Life, Inc.) by the new pastor. Some have shared how, in private conversations, various unflattering titles and characterizations were used to discredit Elder Grosboll and the Institute. When another minister visited the church one month after the arrival of the new pastor, he was told by the new pastor that he had come to Wichita “to straighten things out,” because “they were not what they should be.” But that was not what the board had been told as to the purpose of his coming.
Two months after the arrival of the new pastor, Elder Grosboll left on a one- month preaching tour overseas. During Elder Grosboll’s absence, the pastor began to advocate two things: 1) He wanted the elders to turn the pulpit over to him and 2) he wanted the congregation to agree to becoming a “company” within the conference. The elders had previously considered the possibility of becoming a conference “company.” They were united in their expressions that to become a company would be against all biblical and Spirit of Prophecy principles for the establishment of a group of believers, as will be explained later in this response paper. Upon Elder Grosboll’s return from overseas, the church was changed. Arriving back home on Friday afternoon, many met him with grave concerns. He was told there was to be a special organizational meeting the following evening with the president and conference- appointed pastor officiating. The church was to be officially organized into a conference company at this meeting. Many people had serious questions, not only about how this was rushed through while Elder Grosboll was out of the country and the methods used to achieve this change, but also about the biblical principles involved in being a company instead of a church. They asked if they could meet over at Elder Grosboll’s house on Sabbath afternoon to study and pray about the situation before the evening organizational meeting look place.
As the members studied and prayed together on Sabbath afternoon, they became more and more concerned about the situation. Many said they had tried to ask questions at various meetings during Elder Grosboll’s absence, but the pastor seemed to ignore these questions of concern. They related how at some of the meetings when some of them had tried to ask questions, the pastor had simply terminated the meeting. Moreover, they said that the church had never voted to become a company (as, in fact, the minutes verify. The actual motion that was voted upon was: “To proceed with the process of becoming a church.” Some people did indeed understand this to include the possibility of becoming a company first, but others did not.) These members felt that the decision had been pushed upon them.
Now, that very Sabbath afternoon, an hour before the sun was to set, there was to be a business meeting at which time they were to be officially made a company without ever having voted to be such, nor with their questions answered. They decided that before they could in good conscience sign their names to the company charter, some of their questions must be answered. With the conference president scheduled to be at the meeting, they hoped that he could answer these questions.
That evening the conference president, knowing that many had serious concerns, said that no one needed to sign the company charter who had uncertainties about doing so. Thus there was no need to ask any questions, because no one who had questions needed to become a part of the company. Everyone was free to do whatever he or she wanted. (Ever since that time, however, those who did not sign the company charter have been labeled as trouble makers or Grosboll followers.)
As this was a business meeting, however, several raised their hands to speak. When hands were not recognized, one person stood up to ask a question. The pastor asked whether the question was relevant, and thus stymied the questioner. A second person stood and sought to ask a question. When he got the floor and began to speak, the pastor suddenly interrupted him, without warning, and began to pray a lengthy prayer, asking the Lord to send the evil angels away and to “overcome the spirit of Satan.” Finally, when the prayer was over, another individual stood to ask a question and he walked up to the front to be able to speak. When he stepped up to the pulpit, the pastor said: “That is the president’s pulpit tonight, you are not allowed to speak from there.” The questioner then calmly walked over to the side mike, at which point the pastor moved the microphone and stood between the would- be speaker and the microphone. When the questioner finally managed to speak, it was but a simple question for the president.
Finally, someone got a motion on the floor to allow discussion. It easily passed. However, as soon as the first person got up to speak, several people who had previously been asked to do so, in what appeared to be an orchestrated move to block discussion, came up to sign their names to the charter- membership company book, refusing to listen to any comments or questions. (One prominent individual shared later about having been asked to come up right at the first and sign the book, evidently as an influence to get others to sign.) But the discussion continued, with little attempt to answer the questions.
Earlier that day, Elder Grosboll had jotted down some thoughts he wanted to share at the meeting. He talked for nearly an hour, outlining his concerns. It was not a prepared speech, and much of his speech concerned things said earlier by the pastor, the president, and some of the members. More on this speech later.
One of the members who spoke, simply asked the president: “Would you give us the biblical grounds for becoming a company?” The president replied, “There are no biblical grounds for becoming a company. The Bible also does not tell you not to smoke.”
Toward the end of the meeting, Elder Grosboll again took the floor and pled with the president not to divide the church. Turning to the president, he said, in effect: “We want to work together But people have honest questions and convictions. Why can’t we get together in a spirit of prayer and study these things out? Surely the Holy Spirit will reveal His will to us and bring us into harmony and unity.” iThe appeal was ignored.
That night, approximately 40 people signed the company charter. That night the church was divided.
The president said that the company status would not become effective for three more weeks, allowing more time for people to sign and become charter members.
The following night was a regularly scheduled board meeting. A motion was put forth by Elder Grosboll requesting the district pastor, who was on the conference executive committee, to express the following concerns to the Executive Committee:
- That the Three Angels Company he able to have regular elders, elected by the congregation.
- That they have a regular functioning board, with full board authority.
- That the congregation be allowed to admit their own members and care for their own discipline, exclusively. It was also moved:
That this church board, along with the current officers, remain as they were before the company formation, until the Executive Committee votes on the above request, and that after that date, the same church board meet together one more time, in full and regular session, in order to vote on what to do from that point.”
Thus the church could yet decide on what course it wanted to pursue. Both of these motions passed overwhelmingly, but the pastor was against it. The next day the conference president declared the actions of the board meeting null and void. The pastor of the newly formed company stated that only those who had signed the “company book,” as it was called, could remain an active part of the congregation.
Over the next several weeks, systematic visits were made to those who did not sign the book, encouraging them to sign. One person said that she was visited by two different teams on the same night. The visits went for hours, and late into the night. They tried to pressure her into signing the book. They came laden with Spirit of Prophecy quotations on yielding to authority, and other statements they thought would suit their cause. She also received calls at work by those who had signed seeking to pressure her into signing. This was typical of many people’s experience. Another family reports that when the conference- assigned pastor visited them, they were told that someone who didn’t sign the company book was a “Satanist.” Another person who didn’t want to sign was asked by the pastor if he could come over and study about “the Omega of Apostasy” with her. Yet, nothing was ever produced from the writings of inspiration to show that being a company is biblical. Eventually, 80 people either chose or were pressured into signing the book. Some who signed, however, disagreed with these pressure tactics and did not remain active with the company. Some of these were brandnew Adventist.
After the organizational meeting, the president wrote a two- page letter to every pastor of the conference, to every member of the Executive Committee, and to others, condemning Pastor Grosboll’s activities in this meeting. He requested in this letter that the letter be shared with others. There was no one to question the accuracy of the allegations made, however, because neither Elder Grosboll nor any- one associated with him either saw or knew about the letter until many months later, when someone from Washington D. C. got a copy of it from a person in the General Conference and sent it to Elder Grosboll. Other such letters have likewise been called to our attention long after they were written. At least one of these (secret) letters was sent to every conference president of North America.
Principles on Being a “Company”
As the questions began to mount, and the allegations against Elder Grosboll by the conference continued to fly, Elder Grosboll decided to put the thoughts of those opposed to becoming a company down on paper. The paper was titled, “Statement of Principles on Being a Company or Being a Church.” 5 This sixteen page paper began with this statement:
First, let it be understood that each member who does not wish to sign the company charter believes in the Seventh- day Adventist Church and in church organization, including the conference- church structure as our denomination is organized into. There is no desire for independence. Every member desires the Three Angels Seventh- day Adventist Church to be organized as a church under the Kansas- Nebraska Conference of Seventh- day Adventist.
Secondly, we have no desire for division, but seek peace and unity. “By this,” Christ said, “shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13: 35). We are pledged to work toward this unity of Spirit which will bring about the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit. However, true unity is never achieved by compromise.”
The paper then shared that, though we seek unity, we cannot conscientiously agree to becoming a company without certain questions being answered first. It then outlined the reasons why, as follows:
1) The first four and a half pages gave quotations from the Spirit of Prophecy predicting apostasy coming into the church, and warning against the yielding of principle in order to obtain peace.
2) The next three pages gave a historical background to the situation, ending with a listing of the four points that the conference demanded before considering the group to become a church:
These conditions involved four things: 1) Pulpit control, 2) Finances, 3) No church school, 4) the Institute of Ministry. The pulpit control appeared to he the biggest concern.
3) The next section dealt with the biblical principles of the duties of the elders in regards to worship and the pulpit.
4) The next section listed seven concrete aspects of a company that are directly against the principles outlined in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy for church organization. These were as follows:
1) A company cannot have any church elders.
2) The local, lay leader (the equivalent to an elder but without an elder’s status) is chosen by the conference.
3) The local treasurer is chosen by the conference.
4) The nomination of all other church offices, not directly chosen by the conference, is to be presided over by a person of the conference’s choice.
5) No discipline can be administered by a company, but all such matters are taken care of by the conference executive committee.
6) A company has no authoritative board or business meeting. The conference executive committee is the actual board of the group which has authority even over the entire business session of a company. Any decision- making ability of the local group is granted to it as a favor, not as a right.
7) The members of a company do not constitute a part of the constituency of the conference and have no voice or representation in conference activities.
All of these aspects of a company organization are according to The Seventh- day Adventist Church Manual. Certain conferences may make exceptions to one or more of these restrictions as a courtesy or privilege, but a company has none of these privileges by right.
5) The next section gave the clear scriptural principles for each of the seven areas of concern as listed above. It showed from the Bible and The Spirit of Prophecy that each of these organizational principles is contrary to the way God says a congregation should be organized. These principles of organization are condemned by God.
Strange fire has been offered… in restricting the liberty of God’s people, binding them about by your plans and rules, which God has not framed, neither have they come into His mind. All these things are strange fire, unacknowledged by God, and are a continual misrepresentation of His character. Testimonies to Ministers, 357- 358
Do we individually realize our true position, that as God’s hired servants we are not to bargain away our stewardship? . . We are warned not to trust in man nor to make flesh our arm. A curse is pronounced upon all who do this [Jeremiah 17: 51. Ibid., 361- 367
The chapter in Testimonies to Ministers from which this last quotation is taken is entitled, “Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods.” In this chapter she talks about the rule of the Sanhedrin, and the ruling- principle that was coming into our church, that would seek to put man’s principles and rulership above God’s. Here she talks about “the spirit of domination, “ and shows that it is morally wrong both to exercise such power and to voluntarily yield to such power. That is why we have counsel against joining such organizations as labor unions. It was for this reason that many could not conscientiously sign the company charter.
6) The document ended with these words: There is no desire to campaign or coerce our convictions upon others, except to share our beliefs. At this point, but a minority have signed the charter. But even if all but one should, the convictions should still be considered. As the Protestant reformers so boldly stated, “In matters of conscience the majority has no power” (Tile Great Controversy, 201). “The principles contained in this celebrated Protest [of the Princes] … constitute the very essence of Protestantism. Now this Protest opposes two abuses of man in matters of faith: the first is the intrusion of the civil magistrate, and tile second tile arbitrary authority of the church.” Ibid., 203- 204. 6 We desire to live peaceably with all people. We will turn the other cheek and allow ourselves to be taken advantage of. We will pray for those who despitefully use us. We will continue to work for the conversion of souls and to have them baptized into the local Seventh- day Adventist Church, We have made known our convictions, but we will not fight. We will praise the Lord in every trial. But we cannot go against our convictions nor join a movement that is working to divide the church and to fragment the believers in Christ.
. . . Beliefs cannot be legislatetl, but must be developed through thorough prayer and Bible study. . . .
May God help us never to compromise the truth, but to remain loving to one another and loyal to His church. . . . Let us determine that we are going to stand for the truth, but that we are going to maintain the spirit of Jesus. Let us rejoice under affliction. Let us do what is right, leaving the results with God, and developing a character for heaven.”
The members who could not, because of conscience, sign the charter, pledged themselves not to fight or agitate, but simply to go on with their work of winning souls. That is what they did. Even when thousands of dollars given for the Bible Worker fund for the Institute of Ministry workers, and held in trust by the Three Angels Church, and which the conference president pledged would not be touched, was diverted from what it had been pledged for and what the church body had voted to expend it for, no protest from the Institute was heard, except for a concern expressed some months later in a letter to the president. The next week after the Sabbath evening organizational meeting, Elder Grosboll spent over an hour with the conference- appointed pastor, pleading with him not to divide the congregation that God had established. He asked if the whole church might not come together for study and prayer. Surely God would lead them into truth and unity. If those who did not believe in the company concept could be shown from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy that they were wrong, surely they would be willing to change. If the others were shown to be wrong, they should be willing to change. But in any event, there should be love and tolerance for all. All of these pleas and requests were forthrightly refused. In the Concerns and Objections paper, the most unreasonable assumptions and charges are made about the motives of Elder Grosboll in opposing the formation of the company. It states:
It is clear that Elder Grosboll believes that he is fighting against agents of Satan (unconverted ministers, administrators and other members) who are attempting to take over God’s remnant church. . . . For this and other reasons Elder Grosboll felt justified in strongly resisting (in both his preaching and writing), the organization of the Three Angels congregation into a company recognized by the Kansas- Nebraska Conference on May 7, 1988. He believes firmly that this would be yielding to the leadership of unconverted men who are taking over the congregation and would have the power to interfere in the decisions of the local company. Concerns and Objections, 6- 7
How could any fair reading of the facts lead to such a conclusion, when Elder Grosboll had been seeking and desiring the Three Angels congregation to become a church, and when he had asked the conference brethren to be willing to study this issue out with them? The company status involves clear biblical principles, regardless of who the conference officers are. To support the above charge, however, Concerns and Objections quotes a passage from an article of Elder Grosboll’s in the November 1988 Steps to Life News. The passage quoted, however, is primarily from a quotation of Ellen White’s, which reads as follows:
Who knows but that the preachers who are faithful, firm, and true may be the last who shall offer the gospel of peace to our unthankful churches? It may be that the destroyers are already training under the hand of Satan and only wait the departure of a few more standard- bearers to take their places, and with the voice of the false prophet cry, “Peace, peace,” when the Lord hath not spoken peace. . . . When God shall work His strange work on the earth, when holy hands bear the ark no longer, woe will be upon the people. Testimonies, vol. 5, 77
The quoting of this Spirit of Prophecy passage was mentioned twice in the Concerns and Objections paper to prove that Pastor Grosboll is against conference leadership. Is the Spirit of Prophecy to come under trial? Are there some passages that are now approved for quoting, but others that, if quoted, will prove one to be disloyal to the church? Have we come to a time in the church when a minister can have his ordination brought into question for quoting a statement from the published volumes of the Testimonies for the Church? The president has made much of the speech Elder Grosboll made at the time of the formation of the company on May 7. This speech has been castigated because of two illustrations Elder Grosboll used by outlining the techniques and organizational principles of Catholicism and Communism, and warning against adopting the same principles in our organization. Elder Grosboll used these examples only as illustrations of principle. However, he later apologized for using personal illustrations of people or events to show the wrong tendency of the direction they were going, stating that he should have just shared theory and principle. It is reminiscent of Luther before the Diet of Worms where he was called into question for everything he had ever written or said:
In the third class of his books he had attacked individuals who had defended existing evils. Concerning these he freely confessed that he had been more violent than was becoming. He did not claim to be free from fault; but even these books he could not revoke, for such a course would embolden the enemies of truth, and they would then take occasion to crush God’s people with still greater cruelty. The Great Controversy, 158
The above statements, about not adopting similar principles of organization as other organizations use, were made in response to the president’s comments when he admitted that a company has no self- administrative rights, except as granted by the conference. But he said, “Just trust me.”
The point was made, and still stands, that in the Catholic Church, the local church has plenty of rights- as long as they please the hierarchy. But they have no rights by right, only by privilege. The same is true of Communist satellite countries. As long as they do as the Central Communist Party desires, they have plenty of rights. But, as Hungary found out in 1956, and as Czechoslovakia found out in 1968, these rights are only privileges granted as long as they please the central party. They are not privileges by right. Both groups want you to simply “trust them.” But Inspiration warns against all such alliances, whether in labor, government, or church administration. Is there ever a time or place when it is appropriate to use such illustrations? Consider the following vision about the leaders of Battle Creek:
I dreamed that I was in Battle Creek looking out from the side glass at the door and saw a company marching up to the house, two and two. They looked stern and determined. I knew them well and turned to open the parlor door to receive them, but thought I would took again. The scene was changed. The company now presented the appearance of a Catholic procession. One bore in his hand a cross, another a reed. And as they approached, the one carrying a reed, made a circle around the house, saying three times: “This house is proscribed. The goods must be confiscated. They have spoken against our holy order.”… [I] found myself in the midst of a company, some of whom I knew, but I dared not speak a word to them for fear of being betrayed. Testimonies, vol. 1, 578
Is there a danger that we can develop a system that functions like a hierarchy with its inherent evils? Let us give an example of the way the centralization of power can be used to restrict the rights of God’s people. Take the example of the conference executive committee being able to disfellowship members of a company without a trial or vote by their fellow brothers and sisters. It is true that the conference does not often disfellowship anyone. But the very fact that they, and they alone, have the right to do so, is wrong, and contrary to all the counsel of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. The very principle is wrong, whether it is misused or not. And for those who say that that kind of power would never be misused, consider the hundreds of faithful Seventh- day Adventist Church members in Hungary who were disfellowshiped by the conference, apart from the local churches, simply because they voiced their disapproval of the union of church and state and the joining of the ecumenical movement that is uniting the various Christian religions of that country.
The conference president said, “Trust me.” He made it very clear that unless the congregation was willing to become a company, they did not have enough trust for the conference to make them a church. That is a “Catch- 22″ situation. It is like the young women who wants to wait until she is married to have a relationship, but the boyfriend says, “Just trust me! If you don’t trust me enough to have a relationship with me now, you don’t have enough trust for me to marry you.” But if she is willing to marry him, that should be trust enough. And if the congregation is willing and desirous to be a church within the conference, that should be trust enough. No congregation of God’s church should be forced to transgress their convictions in order to show trust.
This principle of central control is a spirit completely contrary to all the teachings of Jesus. Yet this principle has gradually, subtly, become more and more an accepted method of administration among us. For one reason, it is often the easiest way to deal with a problem.
God has given to men talents of influence which belong to Him alone, and no greater dishonor can be done to God than for one finite agent to bring other men’s talents under his absolute control, even though the benefits of the same be used to the advantage of the cause. In such arrangements one man’s mind is ruled by another man’s mind, and the human agency is separated from God, and exposed to temptation. Satan’s methods tend to one end- to make men the slaves of men. Testimonies to Ministers, 360- 361
God calls for cooperation. No one is called to work independently, either conference officer, pastor, or lay person. And yet we are all given capabilities and duties to which we are individually accountable to God.
The abuse of power may have its short term benefits, as noted above, but “It is a curse wherever and by whomsoever it is exercised.” Ibid. “The high- handed power that has been developed, as though position has made men gods,” Ellen White said, “makes me afraid, and ought to cause fear.” Ibid. God designs that the members of His church should learn to be responsible, stalwart workers for Him. He designs that the local members should be responsible for the work in their area. If they are under the guidance of the Lord, each church will work in harmony with every other church, and organization will be a pleasure and a blessing.
We are to be peacemakers, easy to be entreated, and cooperative, yet God holds us responsible for our individual calling and the stewardship He has entrusted into our hands. “Do we individually realize our true position, that as God’s hired servants we are not to bargain away our stewardship? We have an individual accountability before the heavenly universe, to administer the trust committed us of God.” Ibid., 361- 362
No one was easier to be entreated than Jesus. He was the King of Peace. Yet, He would not relinquish His calling for any. He had a divine call. Because He would not surrender His calling and mission, it brought great trouble and opposition. Thus Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matthew 10: 34). During the ministry of Jesus, the great conflict was over authority. The question that both He and John the Baptist were asked was, “By what authority are You doing these thing? And who gave You this authority?” Jesus’ answer was: “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things” (Matthew 21: 23- 27). The scribes and Pharisees “sought to lay hands on Him,” that is to arrest Him, for what was, in their opinion, insubordination Matthew 21: 46).
There are two great dangers, both centered in pride. There is the pride of dominance and control, and there is the pride of independence. Satan displayed both. But of the two, the love of power and control was the great sin of the Jewish church. This, also, has been a great curse in our church, even as early as 1886. We have already looked at some of the counsels of Ellen White following 1888. Here are some counsels given at the General Conference session thirteen years later:
In reference to our conference, it is repeated o’er and o’er and o’er again, that it is the voice of God, and therefore everything must be referred to the conference and have the conference voice in regard to permission or restriction or what shall be and what shall not be done in the various fields.
Now from the light that I have, as it was presented to me in figures: There was a narrow compass here; there within that narrow is a king- like, kingly ruling power. Here the outlets are blocked. And the work all over our field demands an entirely different course of action than we have had. We have heard enough, abundance, about that “everything must go around in the regular way.” . . . To have this conference pass on and close up as the conferences have done, with the same manipulating, with the very same tone, and the same order,- God forbid! God forbid, brethren. . . . This thing has been continued and renewed for the last fifteen years or more [that is at least since 1886], and God calls for a change. . . . Let me tell you that the enemy is getting the victory all the time . . . .Every conference has woven after the same pattern. It is the very same loom that carries it, and finally, why, it will come to naught. Ellen G. White speech at the 1901 General Conference. Spalding- Magan Collection, 163- 164
How wonderful it would have been if the 1901 General Conference had made a turnaround. They did in theory, but did they carry through? A few months later, Ellen White wrote to the new chairman of the General Conference Committee, Elder Daniells:
Pharisaism in the Christian world today is not extinct. The Lord desires to break up the course of precision which has become so firmly established, which has hindered instead of advancing His work. He desires His people to remember that there is a large space over which the light of present truth is to be shed. Divine wisdom must have abundant room in which to work. It is to advance without asking permission or support from those who have taken to themselves a kingly power. . . .
God calls for a revival and a reformation. The “regular lines” have not done the work which God desires to see accomplished. Let revival and reformation make constant changes.
Something has been done in this line, but let not the work stop here. No! Let every yoke be broken. Let men awaken to the realization that they have an individual responsibility.
The present showing is sufficient to prove to all who have the true missionary spirit that the “regular lines” may prove a failure and a snare. God helping His people, the circle of kings who dared to take such great responsibilities shall never again exercise their unsanctified power in the so- called “regular lines.” Too much power has been invested in unrevived, unreformed human agencies. Let not selfishness and covetousness be allowed to outline the work which must be done to fulfill the grand, noble commission which Christ has given to every disciple. He, our Lord and Master has given us an example, in His life, of selfsacrifice, of die way in which we must work to advance the kingdom of God. . . . To each human being God has assigned an individuality and a distinct work. . . .
Christ’s commission is, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Those who are impressed to take up the work in the home field or in regions beyond are to go forward in the name of the Lord. They will succeed if they give evidence that they depend upon God for grace and strength. At the beginning, their work may he very small, hut it will enlarge if they follow the Lord’s plan. God lives, and He will work for the unselfish, self- sacrificing laborer, wherever and whoever he may … .. The Macedonian cry is coming from every quarter. Shall men go to the “regular lines” to see whether they will be permitted to labor, or shall they go out and work as best they can, depending on their own abilities and on the help of the Lord, beginning in a humble way and creating an interest in the truth in places in which nothing has been done to give the warning message?
God grant that the voices which have been so quickly raised to say that all the money invested in the work must go through the appointed channel at Battle Creek, shall not be heard. The people to whom God has given His means are amenable to Him alone. It is their privilege to give direct aid and assistance to . . . .. . . .. And if means can be devised to reduce the expense of publishing and circulating books, let this be done. Ibid., 174- 177
How wonderful it would have been if God’s counsel had been heeded— we would have been in the kingdom long ere this. But, later that same year, she warned: “We may have to remain here in this world because of insubordination many more years.” Evangelism, 696. The fact that we are still here says something.
It should be noted that the quoting of these statements is not done as an attack on any person, nor on the General Conference or any conference. We are all responsible for being in this world too long. It should also be noted that inspired statements must be considered in the context of time and place. In the immediate aftermath of the 1901 General Conference reorganization, Ellen White cautioned people against using these statements and applying them just the same as before the reorganization. She wanted to give the new leadership a chance to prove themselves. But the point is, the same principles of organization and leadership still apply today, and if the conditions be met again, the conclusions remain the same.
Some progress may have been made in 1901. But the progress was not nearly as much as God desired. And the question remains, have we regressed from the progress we made, if we made any? Even as early as 1903, Ellen White began to write about the failure of the 1901 General Conference- not in the actions passed, but in the carrying out of the actions:
One day at noon I was writing of the work that might have been done at the last General Conference if the men in positions of trust had followed the will and way of God. Those who have had greatest light have not walked in the light. Testimonies, vol. 8, 104
In a letter she wrote to Judge Arthur on January 14, 1903, she lamented: The result of the last General Conference (1901) has been the greatest, the most terrible sorrow of my life. No change was made. The spirit that should have been brought into the whole work as the result of that meeting was not brought in because men did not receive the testimonies of the Spirit of God. As they went to their several fields of labor, they did not walk in the light that the Lord had flashed upon their pathways, but carried into their work the wrong principles that had been prevailing in the work at Battle Creek. The Lord has marked every movement made by the leading men in our institutions and conferences. Letter 17, 1903; MR 10: 6, 3- 4
It should not be construed from these statements that Ellen White gave up on the church, but the Lord through her gave the church the only formula by which it can be victorious. We are to have organization, based upon true love for God and for one another, with an attitude of service. But we are not to lord it over one another nor to become their conscience. The Lord is to be allowed to rule in His church.
Because we did not follow the inspired formula for simple, holy, humble organization, many of our institutions at our headquarters in Battle Creek were burned. For those who think that the church made a complete change for the good in 1901, it should be noted that these judgments from God took place after that General Conference. God is still waiting for His character to be more fully manifested in our organizational principles. When we, as a people, reflect His image fully, both in our personal lives and in our relationships to one another (which relationship is what constitutes the government of the church), God will come to claim us as His own.
The spirit of control still prevails in the human heart. In trying to make a congregation of 160 people, such as existed in Wichita, a company, the spirit of control is made official. These same principles also apply to the way many mission territories are organized and run in various parts of the world. In talking to ministers and leaders of the local churches in at least one large mission field in another part of the world, we have found the same abuses of power seemed to be practiced and legitimized (maybe unintentionally) there just as they are in the formation of a local company. [A mission territory is like a conference, except without the ability to be self-organized, much as a company is like a church, except without the ability to be self- organized.]
Moreover, even when the centralization of power is not official, as in the situation of a company, it is often practiced. Many churches, that officially have the full privileges of corporate self- government under the direction of the Holy Spirit and in cooperation with the world- wide fellowship of believers, are nevertheless run and controlled by the conference or mission. These methods of manipulation were among Ellen White’s greatest concerns and the motivation for some of her strongest warnings, such as found in the book Testimonies to Ministers. Here is a sampling:
The Lord has not placed any one of His human agencies under the dictation and control of those who are themselves but erring mortals. … There is a power exercised at Battle Creek that God has not given, and He will judge those who assume this authority. They have somewhat of the same spirit that led Uzzah to lay his hand on the ark. . . . Far less of man’s power and authority should be exercised toward God’s human agencies. Brethren, leave God to rule. . . . No man is a proper judge of another man’s duty. Man is responsible to God, and as finite, erring men take into their hands the jurisdiction of their fellow men, as if the Lord commissioned them to lift up and cast down, all heaven is filled with indignation. . . . The present order of things must change, or the wrath of God will fall upon His instrumentalities that are not working in Christ’s lines. Testimonies to Ministers, 347- 349
God will not vindicate any device whereby man shall in the slightest degree rule or oppress his fellow men. . . . We are warned not to trust in man, nor to make flesh our arm. A curse is pronounced upon all who do this. Ibid., 366- 367
State conferences may depend upon the General Conference for light and knowledge and wisdom; but is it safe for them to do this? Battle Creek is not to be the center of God’s work. God alone can fill this place. When our people in the different places have their special convocations, teach them, for Christ’s sake and for their own soul’s sake, not to make flesh their arm. . . . Is the president of the General Conference to be the god of the people? … The Lord has a controversy with His people over this matter. . . . Just as soon as man is placed where God should be, he loses his purity, his vigor, his confidence in God’s power. Moral confusion results, because his powers become unsanctified and perverted. He feels competent to judge his fellow men, and he strives unlawfully to be a god over them. But there must be no self- exaltation in the work of God. Ibid., 375- 377
Let me entreat our state conferences and our churches to cease putting their dependence upon men and making flesh their arm. . . . Our churches are weak because the members are educated to look to and depend upon human resources. Ibid., 380
Working the Unworked Areas
Several months before the Three Angels Church was made a company, the students of the Institute of Ministry held an evangelistic series in Winfield, Kansas, an unworked town of 10,000 people, 44 miles south of Wichita. At the conclusion of these meetings, there were a number of interests who said they would be willing to come to church if there was one in their area.
The students prayed earnestly about this. They also studied the writings of Ellen White to find what they should do in such a situation. They found such statements as these:
No field is so unpromising as one that has been cultivated just enough to give the weeds a more luxuriant growth. . . . A minister might better not engage in the work unless he can bind it off. . . . For years light has been given upon this point, showing the necessity of following up an interest that has been raised, and in no case leaving it until all have decided that lean toward the truth, and have experienced the conversion necessary for baptism, and united with some church, or formed one themselves. Evangelism, 322, 324
Place after place is to be visited; church after church is to be raised up. Those who take their stand for the truth are to be organized into churches. Ibid., 353
I saw jets of light shining from cities and villages, and from the high places and the low places of the earth. God’s Word was obeyed, and as a result there were memorials for Him in every city and village. His truth was proclaimed throughout the world. Ibid., 699
With the consideration of counsels such as these, and after talking to the pastor of the closest Adventist church to Winfield, the students who held the evangelistic series in Winfield decided to start holding Sabbath services there, which have continued ever since. Between ten and fifteen interests from the town are currently attending these services. Bible studies are continuing and the people are becoming rooted and grounded. The congregation in Winfield, though carrying out all the functions of a church, generally refer to themselves as a “mission.” The Concerns and Objections paper cites the starting of the Winfield congregation as yet another problem with Elder Grosboll’s ministry. It states:
He then started a church in Winfield, Kansas without consulting with either the district pastor or conference leaders. Concerns and Objections, 11
Neither the evangelistic meetings nor the beginning of fellowship meetings on Sabbath morning in Winfield were done without notification of the closest district pastor. Elder Grosboll also personally talked to the conference secretary about holding these meetings and he expressed no concerns. A budget request and the plans for these meetings were also sent to the president. But the president replied only by sending out a letter to the various pastors in the area condemning the holding of the meetings. He also said this action on the part of Pastor Grosboll would provide additional evidence to the Executive Committee of his lack of cooperation. It seemed that every attempt to communicate with the conference was met with a hostile reply.
It is an interesting note that the students who were involved with the Winfield evangelistic meetings and ultimately decided to continue meeting with the interests on Sabbath morning, were very “pro- conference” students (as most of our students are), who sincerely wanted to do everything to please the conference. One of them almost seemed to believe that nothing should be done if the conference is against it. But when it came to the actual salvation of souls, and after studying the inspired counsels, they decided to secure these interests.
It is inconceivable that raising up a new work, where there is no Seventh- day Adventist Church, could be placed in such condemnatory light as the conference is seeking to do. How many churches are being raised up today? This work should be encouraged, not condemned..
Moreover, the organization of churches is a part of the ministry which God commissions his ministers to perform. The same ordination that authorizes a person to baptize also authorizes him to organize churches.
Before being sent forth as missionaries to the heathen world, these apostles [Paul and Barnabas] were solemnly dedicated to God by fasting and prayer and the laying on of hands. Thus they were authorized by the church, not only to teach the truth, but to perform the rite of baptism and to organize churches, being invested with full ecclesiastical authority. The Acts of the Apostles, 161
When the members of the Three Angels group who felt they could not conscientiously sign the company book were told they could no longer be an active part of the group, they began to look for a place of service. Some went to Winfield. Some went to help a new and growing group of believers in Kingman that had been established three years before. Some went to other places. All of these people were, and are, free to serve the Lord where they wish.
It appears that certain persons sought how they might either gain control of the Three Angels group or break it up. When they succeeded and many of the members were scattered, they sought whom they might blame. But who really divided the church? If a church is divided because some members want to follow clear biblical and Spirit of Prophecy principles, and yet are willing to study these issues out and change if they have misinterpreted the inspired Word, what is the cause? And if they are dismissed from the group over these principles of conscience, which no one is willing to study with them to show where they might be wrong— we ask, if this divides a church, who divided it?
If following principle will divide a church, may every church of the land be divided! It is better to have a divided church where souls are following principle, than to have a whole church united in a Laodicean condition. Moreover, the possible consequences of our actions are not to dictate what is right and wrong. We are to act upon principle, leaving the results with God.
We should choose the right because it is right, and leave consequences with God. The Great Controversy, 460
Christ’s ambassadors have nothing to do with consequences. They must perform their duty and leave results with God. Ibid., 460
The greatest want of the world is the want of men- men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall. Education, 57
Sometimes the heavens may seem as about to fall. Let us notice this solemn appeal by the prophet of the Lord:
Plans contrary to truth and righteousness are introduced in a subtle manner on the plea that this must be done, and that must be done, “because it is for the advancement of the cause of God.” But it is the devising of men that leads to oppression, injustice, and wickedness. The cause of God is free from every taint of injustice. It can gain no advantage by robbing the members of the family of God of their individuality or their rights. All such practices are abhorrent to God. … They were determined to bring the individuals to their terms; they would rule or ruin. … The high- handed power that has been developed, as though position has made men gods, makes me afraid, and ought to cause fear. It is a curse wherever and by whomsoever it is exercised. . . . Do we individually realize our true position, that as God’s hired servants we are not to bargain away our stewardship? We have an individual accountability before the heavenly universe, to administer the trust committed us . . . .. . . ..
The spirit of domination is extending to the presidents of our conferences. If a man is sanguine of his own powers and seeks to exercise dominion over his brethren, feeling that he is invested with authority to make his will the ruling power, the best and only safe course is to remove him, lest great harm be done, and he lose his own soul and imperil the souls of others. “All ye are brethren.” This disposition to lord it over God’s heritage will cause a reaction unless these men change their course. Testimonies to Ministers, 359- 362
We appeal to each person who believes and loves the Three Angels’ Messages to put away all differences. Let us work together as brethren, for the finishing of the work, so that Jesus can return soon. Let us not fight one another. Steps to Life, as well as all who ate called and commissioned to work for the Master, cannot relinquish the work nor water down the message God has given them to preach. The reason they have never addressed some of the activities against them is that they want to cooperate with the conference, even if they have been wronged. Let us confess our sins and let bygones be bygones. Let us join hands for the conversion of souls that are perishing. As Ellen White says:
We are to subdue not our brother soldiers but our enemies, that we may build up Christ’s kingdom. We are laborers together with God. Ibid., 296
Conditions for “Acceptable Ministry”
The Concerns and Objections document itself says nothing about any conditions of working with the conference, or even of a possibility or desire on the part of the conference for reconciliation or cooperation. It merely ends with the decision that, “Pastor Grosboll has demonstrated that he is not a true shepherd of the flock and therefore should not represent the Seventhday Adventist Church as an ordained minister.” Nevertheless, at the conclusion of the January 25 meeting, after reading the document, the conference president said that if Steps to Life would submit to the eleven points voted on by the conference as “Guidelines for Acceptable Independent Ministries,” 7 they could yet work together. He outlined which three he wanted Steps to Life to work on first:
- The leaders of the independent ministry are [to be] members in good and regular standing in the local Seventh- day Adventist Church.
- The independent ministry actively encourages its supporters to be faithful in the returning of their tithes and giving of appropriate offerings to the organized Seventh- day Adventist Church and does not knowingly accept tithe from Seventh- day Adventist members. In such cases where they are aware that the contributed funds are tithe, they will counsel the donor to place their tithe in the proper channels of the organized church.
- The independent ministry will have on its guiding board or committee at least some individuals appointed by the Conference Executive Committee who will represent the organized Seventh- day Adventist Church. They may be employees of the church and/ or lay persons who are elected or appointed to the church executive or governing boards or committees at the local conference or other levels of the church structure.
It should be noted that these three items seem to have little to do with the document itself. Moreover, it should also be noted that the Kansas- Nebraska Conference took the eleven points that the North American Division has accepted, 8 but modified them to suit their needs. Since Steps to Life is the only ministry we know of in the Kansas- Nebraska conference to which these points could apply, it would seem that these changes were made with Steps to Life in mind. Yet no one from Steps to Life was ever consulted or dialogued with. These “eleven points” were merely handed down.
Let us examine the three points that the conference president specified as the first (of the eleven points) that he wanted Steps to Life to comply with, as quoted above:
The leaders of Steps to Life are members in good and regular standing. It was stated at the January 25 meeting, however, that unless Pastor Grosboll is regularly attending the South Church, where his membership is, he is not a member in good and regular standing. This is not according to the Manual or any known church policy. It was mentioned by Elder W, another conference president who was in attendance, that he himself did not attend his local church more than about twice a year. But he said that though this was permissible for him, as he was doing the work of the Lord, it was not acceptable for Elder Grosboll.
It should be noted that ministers are encouraged not to continue to attend the church where they formerly pastored. Should Elder Grosboll regularly attend the South Church, could this not be used against him, as this was the church that he pastored less than two years ago? Elder Grosboll is in attendance at a Sabbath service every Sabbath. When he is in the area, he generally attends the Winfield mission.
Because the president spent quite a bit of time on this item, he was finally asked whether he and the local pastor had ever discussed the disfellowshiping of Pastor Grosboll. Both he and the local pastor admitted that they had, though the local pastor said there were no plans for such an action at the present time, nor would he consent to chair a meeting called for that purpose.
Steps to Life does not solicit tithe money. Steps to Life, in their evangelism, teaches that paying tithe is a sacred duty. Usually people pay their tithe into their local conference. But if a person is convicted to channel his or her lithe in a particular manner, whether to the Quiet Hour, Amazing Facts, Weimar, the Voice of Prophecy (all of which accept tithe), or to another conference than their local conference (most of whom accept such tithe), the personnel at Steps to Life encourage people to follow their convictions. We cannot influence people to go against their convictions. Is the conference saying that it, the conference, is the only “storehouse” that is to be entrusted with the Lord’s goods? It is understood that some conferences make this boast.
We simply asked for the scriptural evidence of this. If this can be produced, Steps to Life will gladly comply. A statement from Elder Grosboll should clarify the position of Steps to Life on this point:
Ellen White said that “The tithe should go to those who labor in word and doctrine, be they men or women” (Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 263). “A great mistake is made when the tithe is drawn from the object for which it is to be used— the support of the ministers. There should be today in the field one hundred well qualified laborers where now there is but one” (Testimonies, vol. 9, 249). Today we not only do not have 100 times more workers than when this was written in 1909, but, when figured on per capita of workers per membership in North America, we actually have 40% fewer than we had then. We, at Steps to Life, are convicted that we must do our part to fill this void in the Lord’s vineyard. Thus we have a separate “Bible worker fund,” which is set totally apart from our operating budget, that goes directly into putting Bible workers out into the field to hold evangelistic meetings, give Bible studies, train other Bible workers, and win souls to the kingdom. This not only supports Bible workers here at Steps to Life, but also missionaries elsewhere. If people are convicted to give to this fund, we do not question them first to find out what kind of money it is- that is between them and the Lord. We are carrying on the work of the Lord. Every penny that comes to us is sacred, and is always used for the exact purpose for which the people send it. Our books are annually audited by an independent auditor.
These inspired statements of Ellen White need to be looked at and accepted: I have myself appropriated my tithe to the most needy cases brought to my notice. I have been instructed to do this; and as the money is not withheld from the Lord’s treasury, it is not a matter that should be commented upon; for it will necessitate my making known these matters. . . .
Some cases have been kept before me for years, and I have supplied their needs from the tithe, as God has instructed me to do. And if any person shall say to me, Sister White, will you appropriate my tithe where you know it is most needed, I shall say, Yes, I will; and I have done so. I commend those sisters who have placed their tithe where it is most needed to help to do a work that is being left undone; and if this matter is given publicity, it will create knowledge which would better be left as it is. I do not care to give publicity to this work which the Lord has appointed me to do, and others to do. Spalding-Magan Collection, 215
The Word says, “The laborer is worthy of his hire.” When any such decision as this [to not pay ministers’ wives who were working with their husbands] is made, I will in the name of the Lord, protest. I will feel it in my duty to create a fund from my tithe money, to pay these women who are accomplishing just as essential work as the ministers are doing, and this tithe I will reserve for work in the same line as that of the ministers, hunting for souls, fishing for souls. Ibid., 117
God has not called us to be the conscience for other people, and Steps to Life will not do so. If some, after sincere prayer and the study of the word, feel convicted to send their tithe to a certain place where the Word is being preached, who can forbid them, unless one has clear scriptural reasons for doing so? Let us be careful that we do not become so concerned about paying “tithe of mint and anise and cumin,” that we neglect “the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.” Matthew 23: 23
Is the solution for the conference’s money woes more legislation, or more confidence of the people for their work?
Tithe is to be so liberal that it will sustain the work largely; each one … to act in their capacity in such a way that the confidence of the whole people will be established in them, and that they will not be afraid, but see everything just as light as day. Spalding- Magan Collection, 166 “The Lord desires us to let our light so shine before men that His Holy Spirit may communicate the truth to the honest in he. . . … As we do this work, we shall find that means will flow into our treasuries, and we shall have means with which to carry on a still broader and more far- reaching work. Evangelism, 61- 62
Many of our laymen are burdened and earnestly praying for direction in the proper use of the tithe the Lord has made them stewards of. They witness, Sabbath after Sabbath, preachers who are being supported by the tithe who are preaching the devil’s lie that you cannot quit sinning (see The Desire of Ages, 24). They witness those who seem unconverted, and who have no fruits for their labors. Here are a sampling of statements that many of our sincere laymen, as stewards of the Lord’s goods, have been prayerfully studying and pondering over:
The people are encouraged to center in Battle Creek, and they pay their tithe and give their influence to the building up of a modern Jerusalem that is not after God’s order. Testimonies to Ministers, 254
There are fearful woes for those who preach the truth, but are not sanctified by it, and also for those who consent to receive and maintain the unsanctifled to minister to them in word and doctrine. Testimonies, vol. 1, 261- 262
We wonder if the leaders in Old Jerusalem encouraged people to “pay their tithe and give their influence to the building up of… 101( 1! Jerusalem”? Did they understand themselves to be the only “storehouse” of God’s goods? Did they understand the Bible to mean: “All the tithe is the priests’ in Jerusalem,” rather than “All the tithe is the Lord’s”? Would people, as stewards of their Lord’s goods, have been questioned for giving the Lord’s tithe to the Lord, or to John the Baptist? If the Holy Spirit, through study and prayer, would have impressed a faithful Jew to give his influence and support to John the Baptist or Simeon or some other, but the person chose, because of priestly pressure, to give his influence and support to up-building the Sanhedrin, would he not be held responsible as an unfaithful steward? And would not those priests who tried to force him to go against his convictions be equally guilty?
The conference’s work is to gain the confidence of the people through following the counsels of the Lord and by doing the work Of the Lord. If the Holy Spirit is truly evident in the church, in our schools, in our medical institutions, in our publishing houses and publications, there will be no problem with money.
All we want to do is follow the will of the Lord in every detail, including tithing. What we need, however, is not legislation, but careful Bible study. We stand ready to follow every request from the conference that is based upon clear scriptural principles.
3. Board Representation:
This is one of the points that the Kansas- Nebraska Conference altered from the North American Division’s eleven- point guidelines. The North American Division’s guidelines specify that the board must include, “Some Individuals [plural] who currently represent the organized Seventh- day Adventist Church.” The Kansas- Nebraska guidelines say that the board must include, “individuals [plural] appointed by the Conference Executive Committee who will represent the organized Seventh- day Adventist Church.” Both documents then explain that to be a representative of the “organized” church, one must be either employed by the church, and/ or be a member of the Executive Committee. Both documents, as voted, require a plurality of board members who are thus “representatives” of the conference.
To thus require board representation before a conference will accept or cooperate with (and cease to fight against) a ministry, is totally without biblical principle and would have excluded Christ and His disciples from being accepted by the church, for Jesus had no one from, or appointed by, the Sanhedrin on His board. (Was this the reason the Sanhedrin felt justified in fighting against Him?) What motive or attitude would prompt a leader or corporate board to say that a ministry is unacceptable, regardless of what they are doing or teaching, and regardless of whether they might be called and ordained by the Lord or not, unless they themselves are a part of the ministry in a controlling capacity? Jesus said, “The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet ft shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” Matthew 20: 25- 28). Anyone who demands a position on a board, and is more interested in control than service, thereby disqualifies himself for that very position.
The changes made in the Kansas- Nebraska guidelines, where the conference must actually appoint the board members before a ministry can be acceptable in their eyes, makes their guidelines even more controlling in nature than the ones from the North American Division. Why this change?
After the meeting, one of the local elders who was in attendance at the meeting, stayed behind to talk with the president. The president told him that he himself was the one from the conference who should be on the Steps to Life board. But if Steps to Life is so bad, why does the president want to be on the board? And again, what scriptural principle is involved here. The Bible says, “Can two walk togethe,; unless they are agreed?” Amos 3: 3
Steps to Life, as other special ministries, would be happy to have any faithful Seventh- day Adventist on the board, but they do not choose board members based upon position. They seek, as any nominating committee should, to find those who are most qualified, and who most represent the character of Christ, to fill the board, regardless of position. The decisions of who should be representative on the boards are made according to the Church Manual: “The decisions and votes of the Nominating committee [that chooses the board members] are not to be controlled or influenced by any church, group, or individual. Decisions are reached after prayerful and careful study of all aspects of the matters that come before them pertaining to the administration of the work.” Seventh -day Adventist Church Manual, 131
Again we ask, where is the biblical principle for this mandate for acceptability? May the Lord help us to come back to the Protestant principle of the Bible and the Bible only.
Since the conference had already chosen to not renew the local conference credentials for Pastor Grosboll, why are they now so intent on seeking to try to annul his very ordination to the gospel ministry? This is a most unusual move, especially when there has been no false theology or commandment- breaking alleged against Elder Grosboll. Does the conference realize the seriousness of this kind of action, especially if the Lord has called Elder Grosboll?
Ellen White wrote to Uriah Smith in 1890, saying that he was committing the sin of “Korah, Dathan and Abiram” (The Ellen G White 1888 materials, 599- 605). What was this sin of” Korah, Dathan and Abiram,” and, in the case of Uriah Smith, how did it start? It was the sin of rebellion against God’s leadership, and in the case of Uriah Smith, it had started many years before. Ellen White wrote: “I was warned of this state of things in 1882.” This referred to the time when he, as a leader in the church, sought to undermine one whom he thought was under him but whom the Lord had chosen and who was to be under His control, namely Professor Bell. She asked Elder Smith: “Have you ever made confession to Prof Bell in regard to the position and work done at that time?” Ibid.
Uriah Smith’s apostasy which had begun by fighting Professor Bell, continued at Minneapolis as he continued to fight the ministry of the Holy Spirit which was given to Jones and Waggoner. Smith’s rebellion finally culminated in His fighting against the Spirit of Prophecy. She told him: “Do not labor so hard to do the very work Satan is doing. This work was done in Minneapolis. Satan triumphed.” Ellen White replied with him: “I cannot endure the thought of you being left as were Korah, Dathan and Abiram.” Ibid.
There is evidence that Uriah Smith repented, but in the process, how many hundreds lost their souls? She warned him: “Consider how many joined Korah, Dathan and Abiram. . . .Korah, Dathan and Abiram had done a similar work as you have been doing.” Ibid.
Let us consider the seriousness of the situation. Rebellion starts small, from a heart of selfishness, pride, and envy, and grows into open rebellion against the Lord. The Jewish leaders never believed they could come to the place where they could crucify the Son of God and commit perjury in doing so. As was demonstrated in 1888, we are no more secure from the dangers of pride and self- preservation than were they.
When Pastor Grosboll took a leave of absence from the conference, he supposed that, though the conference did not support him, they would at least be able to work together as brethren. Elder Grosboll has not sought to run down the conference, but rather to develop a working relationship with the conference. Following is the transcript of one of his letters to the president:
August 3, 1988
I was so happy to read about the Revelation seminars you are holding in your home. Our prayers are with you in all your work of soul- winning. The saving of souls is our great burden and desire here in our ministry. In fact, I was getting ready to write to ask you if there are any towns here in Central Kansas that you would especially like us to work and to seek to raise up a church in. If the Lord has impressed you with a particular need, please let us know. We are anxious to cooperate and to work together with you for the up building of the church. One of our goals is to start a new church every year. We solicit your prayers and support for us in this endeavor.
I am concerned, Elder ______, that you seem to put the worst possible construction on every action or motive we have. We want peace and unity. We are again coming to you asking for your cooperation in our work. And yet, our work is not our work, but the Lord’s.
We are very concerned about the last conference letter that went out, which seemed to many to be very divisive. We are a part of the same church, and we are both ordained for the same reason. Your statements were interpreted by many to be a direct attack. The first item of news in a personal newsletter from you to every member of the conference in which you name me, the Institute of Ministry and the 1888 Bible Conference in a most uncomplimentary manner, does appear to be very divisive. We are here to fight the devil and his agents, not each other.
It is true that throughout history the greatest enemies of God’s work have often been the leaders of the church. Thus it was in Jesus’ day, in Martin Luther’s day and in 1888. But let us not have warfare here in Kansas- Nebraska. We are living too close to the end of earth’s history for that. And yet, if you persist in attacking God’s work here, we will have to come to its defense.
Let me share with you an incident that happened just a week ago. One of our 550 Bible students happens to be a backslidden Seventh- day Adventist lady. She has been receiving lessons for some period of time now and has been filling in the questions and growing spiritually. We did not know that her name was still on the church books, but as a result, she received your letter. This threw her into great confusion. She came to our office and one of our staff members talked to her. This letter has caused her to lose a great deal of confidence in the church and the conference. She knows she is learning truth and experiencing a reconversion- so what is she to think of a leader or an organization that is fighting and opposing the very means the Lord has chosen to lead her back to Him again? Our staff member had to spend quite a bit of time trying to re- establish her confidence and faith in the church. She has written me asking me to explain your actions. What should I write to her?
I want to share with you again that our work is totally for the purpose of winning souls to the Lord Jesus Christ and to build up His Seventh- day Adventist Church on earth. I was a conference pastor for twelve years and now I am self- supporting. I feel my calling no less today than at any time in my ministry. I am doing what I am doing simply because I have sought to follow God’s leading in my life and because I have been obedient unto His call.
I have no desire to fight your ministry or anyone else’s. But I must prosecute the work God has ordained me to do. This should not threaten you. Let us join hands together for a finished work. Let us consider these texts:
“Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.,” “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another.” Eph. 4: 3, Gal. 5: 15
Jesus also said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Let us not be divided but united.
This cannot be accomplished by mandate, but by prayer and the unity of the Spirit. Let us pray for one another rather than trying to undermine the other.
As you know, and as you have testified, plenty of things have been done to me since I have been here. I don’t care to itemize them here, for I believe that the Lord works all these things out for good. But there is an enemy seeking to destroy God’s work here— and the best way he can do it is by causing division, jealousy, envy and strife. Let us work to defeat him.
There is another concern I have. As you know, there was a Bible workers’ fund set up and voted by the church for certain Bible workers, of whom I was one. When the church became a company, and many chose not to join the company but to remain members of the Wichita Church South, the board voted to discontinue this fund but to pay out the money as it had been previously disbursed, until the fund was liquidated in about three months. This was a very great concern to many. You yourself promised that this would continue untampered with. But the conference- assigned pastor seems to have determined that this would not be. Somehow he has accomplished his purpose.
I would like to point out that this fund was not the fund of the Three Angels’ Company. It was the fund of everyone that made up the Three Angels’ Church. The company was made a guardian and caretaker of this fund. There was a promise and an agreement that the company would not tamper with this money. This was promised by you, Elder M___, [Elder] P___ and was a voted upon agreement of the board. What has happened is total dishonesty. We can do without the money, but I fear for the souls of those involved in this action. God is still a God of justice. lam asking you, for the well- being of the church, to take a personal interest in seeing that this decision is reversed.
We are trying to develop people’s confidence in the church and its leadership. But how can people feel right about giving their money into an organization that condones this kind of action and that is using God’s sacred tithe money to fight the very work that God is seeking to build up? I am sure that you will work to rectify this wrong.
Yours in Christ for a finished work,
Marshall J. Grosboll
P. S. This quotation was recently sent to me by a physician and church member in Nebraska. As a leader here in the Institute of Ministry, I have found these principles of divine origin to be a blessing in our work. Maybe you will find it to be a blessing too.
Another quotation of significance that is cause for reflection is as follows:
In the 41st to 45th chapters of Isaiah, God very fully reveals His purpose for His people, and these chapters should be prayerfully studied. God does not here instruct His people to turn away from His wisdom and look to finite man for wisdom. . . . Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by Myself the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness and shall not return, That unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength. . . .
I write thus fully, because I have been shown that ministers and people are tempted more and more to trust in finite man for wisdom, and to make flesh their arm. To conference presidents, and men in responsible places, I bear this message: Break the bands and fetters that have been placed upon God ‘5 people. To you the word is spoken, “Break every yoke.” Unless you cease the work of making man amenable to man, unless you become humble in heart, and yourselves learn the way of the Lord as little children, the Lord will divorce you from His work. Testimonies to Ministers, 480- 481 (1907) (emphasis in the original).
One other point I would like to mention just to prevent any misunderstanding- I have always tried to confine my communications to you in private letters or phone calls, but I notice that you have sent your letters many places. Plus, I keep learning of private letters you have sent out, either to individuals or to many people, about me. I merely mention this, as I said, to prevent any misunderstanding on allowing concerned individuals to also know of my communications to you, and I ask each to join with us in prayer as we pull together for a finished work.
|CC: Neal Wilson
C. E. Bradford
O. J. Mills
This was the response to the above letter, dated September 2, 1988: Before there could be discussions with the Conference Administration and Executive Committee, about your desire to start new churches, etc., the Executive Committee will need your response to the criteria outlined in the Guidelines that I am sending you [The 11- point document as voted upon by the Kansas- Nebraska Conference.] … Regarding the question about the Bible Worker Fund, I believe that decisions about this matter are fully within the jurisdic lion of the local congregation. I am concerned that you seem to want the conference administration to be the ‘judge” in this matter whereas I believe this is a local church decision. . . . I am concerned that you chose to disassociate the Institute of Ministry from the Three Angels Company, and that during the entire time that the Three Angels Company associated with the Institute of Ministry, it is my understanding that financial reports of the Institute of Ministry and how funds were being used were not given to the Three Angels treasurer or the Three Angels Congregation. . . . Sincerely yours, G. L. R., president.
Note 1: Most of the finances of Steps to Life went through the Three Angels Congregation until they became independent at the time of the company formation. Steps to Life had no tax number at the time. Five of the local elders of the Three Angels Congregation were on the Steps to Life board. What funds did go directly through Steps to Life were audited, and the annual audited report was ready to present to the Three Angels Congregation at the time of the formation of the company. At about the same time, the conference- assigned pastor sought at one point to cut off the funds contributed to Steps to Life through the church. Thus it appeared to the Steps to Life board that, to protect the work that God had entrusted and ordained Steps to Life to do, they must become independent of the conference- controlled company, and they voted to do so.
Note 2: Steps to Life is not looking for the money that the Three Angels Company kept. But the Bible says, “You shall surely rebuke your neighbor; and not bear sin because of him” (Leviticus 19: 17). We are our brother’s keeper and should be concerned that there be nothing in the church that could prevent the Holy Spirit’s blessing.
Note 3: It is of interest to note that the local conference was sufficient of a judge over a congregation that when the church board wanted to transfer the Bible- Worker fund to the Institute of Ministry before the company was formed, their representative said, “You can’t do that” though both he and Elder R promised that the money would not be tampered with. It is also interesting to note that the only real authority of a company is the Conference Executive Committee. A company has no local authority. Furthermore, if the conference really is sincere about not judging, there would be no need for this response document. If they will not judge their own employees, we simply ask that they will also not judge those who are not under their employment.
It was shortly after this correspondence that the Concerns and Objections document was read by the president to the Conference Executive Committee, apparently as an initial step to take Elder Grosboll’s ordination away.
Yet, in answering “why” the conference is taking this drastic and dangerous step, there might be another answer. Since shortly after Elder Grosboll took a leave of absence, the conference administration has tried to keep track of every speaking appointment he has had. Over the last year, there has hardly been a speaking appointment by Elder Grosboll but that the conference president has called ahead of time and tried to get it canceled. He was able to cancel out an evangelistic series as well as a week- long 11 A. M. camp meeting speaking series for one of the large conferences of North America.
But while some conferences are withdrawing their invitations, more and more laymen are asking him to speak and are not bowing to pressure to withdraw their invitations. At the start of the school year at Loma Linda this year, the La Sierra student body representatives asked Elder Grosboll to have a weekend series for the students. When he arrived, the student representatives pulled him into a back room and said: “Your president has really caused trouble. He has gotten our local conference president involved, as well as the University president, saying that you should be barred from this campus. But we would not yield!” Praise the Lord, for a number of students made decisions on that weekend to start studying their Bibles and the Spirit of Prophecy every day and to seek to live the victorious life. A number of students also committed, or recommitted, themselves to be active witnesses for the Lord.
In another conference to which the laymen had asked Elder Grosboll to speak, they had a similar experience. Their conference president called demanding that Elder Grosboll not be allowed to speak. But when they asked him what Elder Grosboll had done, he did not know. Nevertheless he was not to speak. That weekend Marshall gave a seminar on how to give Bible studies. It is hoped that many people will be in heaven because of that weekend. Praise the Lord for solid laymen who have backbone.
Recently, on a speaking tour outside of North America, the union president for the church he was speaking in called saying he had talked to the conference officials from North America [presumably from the local or union conference] and was informed that Elder Grosboll was a trouble- maker in his home conference, and therefore he could not speak unless he had current credentials (which the president knew had expired). Pastor Grosboll told the elders that under those circumstances it would probably be better if he did not speak and asked if someone else could speak. But the elders of the church voted unanimously to allow Elder Grosboll to speak anyway, and they urged it upon him. Three other churches also asked him to speak that weekend.
In a fourth instance of seeking to block the speaking appointments of Elder Grosboll, both the conference president and the union president have tried repeatedly to get Elder Grosboll off at least one television station.
Why is the president so intent on blocking any speaking appointments by the pastor? Marshall Grosboll has seldom even mentioned the situation in Wichita when on speaking appointments, though it gets difficult to avoid at times when the president calls ahead to try to block appointments. The people in those cases want an explanation. Some people have thought that the conference is afraid that if Elder Grosboll continues his ministry, people may call into question their actions in connection to his being let go from the South Church. Whether that is true or not is not known, but for some reason there is a determined effort to stop his ministry.
The unfortunate thing is the way many administrators seem to be aligning themselves to support each other, whatever the facts. As one division president recently told Elder Grosboll and David Jakstis, the former head elder of the South Church: “It is the nature of our administration for the union president to support the conference president, and for the division president to support the union president.” Is this true justice? Is this the way God designed organization to work?
I commanded your judges, . . . saying, “Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the stranger who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s. Deuteronomy 1: 16, 17
In answering the question “Why?”, the most obvious reason appears to be that the president has not been very successful in blocking Elder Grosboll’s speaking appointments and ministry.
Maybe, if Elder Grosboll is officially “defrocked,” as John Huss was, he will have more success. Maybe he will. Jesus was barred from the churches after about the first six months of His ministry. Wesley was blocked from the churches. And Ellen White says: “If doubts and unbelief are cherished, the faithful ministers will be removed from the people” (Testimonies to Ministers, 410). But let us pray that this will not happen.
Those who call for revival and reformation may be resisted and their characters maligned, yet there remains a rising cry being heard around the world from long- time, faithful Seventh-day Adventist members, as well as those in their first love of the truth: “What is happening to my church?” Many who have given their time, money, influence, and life to the unbuilding of this sacred institution are standing in shocked wonder at the rapid events taking place within this final movement which God established to take the everlasting gospel to the world. They are appalled at the reports of lawsuits, illegal disfellowshipings, the rapid proliferation of intercollegiate sports, increasing worldliness in dress, conversation, amusements, and drama, at the increased authoritarianism manifested from the lowest level to the highest, at the increase of “New Theology” teachings, at the hatred for the straight testimony, political entanglements, and the list goes on. Yes, what has happened? Many are giving up hope in the church and calling it Babylon. But it is not Babylon. Ellen White, in speaking of our church, said, “Everywhere the spirit of darkness in the garb of religion will confront you. If ail that appears to be divine life were such in reality; if all who profess to present the truth to the world were preaching for the truth and not against it, and if they were men of God guided by His Spirit,— then might we something cheering amid the prevailing moral darkness. But the spirit of antichrist is prevailing to such an extent as never before” (Testimonies, vol. 5, 79- 80). That was the condition of the church in 1882. She predicted that it would get worse. Yet the church is not Babylon. God loves it as the apple of His eye. He has not divorced it. “But the days of the purification of the church are hastening on apace. God will have a people pure and true. . . . The signs reveal that the time is near when the Lord will manifest that His fan is hi His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor.” Ibid.
The things we see should not discourage us. But they should call us to prayer as never before. “At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason.” Ibid., 136
Is the church today really in as sad a condition as the Spirit of Prophecy says it is? The church could have reformed since her day; but if it has, why hasn’t Jesus come? Where is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Is this church correctly depicted by God in the Laodicean message, or did He make a false prophecy? Is there a message of warning and hope to be given to the church today by the watchman on the walls of Zion?
Sad to say, the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy counsels that could heal the church are often held in disrepute. Today the Spirit of Prophecy is held in contempt by many in positions of trust. They accept what they want to accept, but too often scoff at what applies to them, especially if it is quoted, even in tenderness and love, by those who are in self- supporting work or special ministries. Many have heard men of influence in the church make sly remarks to discredit various counsels of the Spirit of Prophecy that were brought to their attention. But it is like the ten commandments- you can accept all nine commandments that you agree with, but if you reject the one that goes against your traditions and practices, you have in reality rejected them all. If we merely believe God where 1- le agrees with us, we really haven’t believed Him at all.
Whether they are accepted or rejected, here are some counsels of warning that God has given to us, in love, to help us prepare for the final events of earth’s history and to know how to relate to what is about to come to pass. They are also written to keep us from fulfilling the conditions predicted, if we will hear and obey. Who knows whether God will not give you up to the deceptions you love? Who knows but that the preachers who are faithful, firm, and true may be the last who shall offer the gospel of peace to our unthankful churches? It may be that the destroyers are already training under the hand of Satan and only wait the departure of a few more standard- bearers 10 take their places, and with the voice of the false prophet cry, “Peace, peace,” when the Lord hath not spoken peace. . . . When God shall work His strange work on the earth, when holy hands bear the ark no longer, woe will be upon the people. Ibid., 77
Before looking at the other statements, let us analyze this one. Here it is pointed out that “the preachers who are faithful firm, and true” may be replaced by those who have been trained “under the hand of Satan.” The message of these false shepherds will be politically pleasing. Where are the men of courage and strength in the ministry today who are willing to stand in the breach? Where are the workers “who will not be bought or sold, . . . who do not fear to call sin by its right name, . . . men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall?” See Education, 57. Could there indeed come a time when “holy hands hold the ark no longer,” but rather those who have been trained by Satan to give a smooth message and to fight against the straight testimony will be at the helm of the work? That is exactly what Ellen White warned might happen. [In fact, she says “when” it happens] We have not given any such accusation that these things have indeed taken place. But it behooves us to know what the words of Inspiration say, and to realize that when these predicted events do happen, those fulfilling the prophecies will think they are on the Lord’s side, rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing. As Jesus said, “They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” (John 16: 2).
Could the time be near when “holy hands bear the ark no longer,” and God will work “His strange work” (see Testimonies, vol. 5, 77, quoted above). If so, what is the strange work? Whom will it involve? The “strange work” is the woe of God being poured out first 9 upon the unfaithful Adventist ministry who have been preaching smooth and pleasing sermons when the church is in need of the stirring messages of revival and reformation. The woes of God, of course, were never intended for God’s church or for any within. They were only intended for the Beast and his followers who are at war with God.
In this fearful time, just before Christ is to come the second lime, God’s faithful preachers will have to bear a still more pointed testimony than was borne by John the Baptist. A responsible, important work is before them; and those who speak smooth things, God will not acknowledge as His shepherds. A fearful woe is upon them.” Ibid., vol. 1, 321
This woe upon the unfaithful ministry of the Seventh- day Adventist church, has been predicted over and over again. Our position is more serious than that of the Jewish leaders in John the Baptist’s day, for we have their example.
Ellen White graphically describes the condition of the church in the last days in the following counsel, in which she was shown a “little company,” a “faithful few” concerned Adventists in the midst of a general, Laodicean apostasy:
The leaven of godliness has not entirely lost its power. At the time when the danger and depression of the church are greatest, the little company who are standing in the light will be sighing and crying for the abominations that are done in the land. But more especially will their prayers arise in behalf of the church because its members are doing after the manner of the world.
The earnest prayers of this faithful few will not be in vain. When the Lord comes forth as an avenger, He will also come as a protector of all those who have preserved the faith in its purity and kept themselves unspotted from the world. It is at this time that God has promised to avenge His own elect which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them. The command is “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.” Ezekiel 9: 4 These sighing, crying ones had been holding forth the words of life; they had reproved, counseled, and entreated. Some who had been dishonoring God repented and humbled their hearts before Him. But the glory of the Lord had departed from Israel: although many still continued the forms of religion, His power and presence were lacking.
In the time when His wrath shall go forth in judgments, these humble, devoted followers of Christ will be distinguished from the rest of the world by their soul anguish, which is expressed in lamentation and weeping, reproofs and warnings. While others try to throw a cloak over the existing evil, and excuse the great wickedness everywhere prevalent, those who have a zeal for God’s honor and a love for souls will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any. Their righteous souls are vexed day by day with the unholy works and conversation of the unrighteous. They are powerless to stop the rushing torrent of iniquity, and hence they are filled with grief and alarm. They mourn before God to see religion despised in the very homes of those who have had great light. They lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church. The Spirit of God, which prompts to reproof is trampled underfoot, while the servants of Satan triumph. God is dishonored, the truth made of none effect.
The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God. The Lord commissions His messengers, the men with slaughtering weapons in their hands: “Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.”
Here we see that the church— the Lord’s sanctuary— was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust. They had taken the position that … the Lord . . . is too merciful to visit His people in judgment. Thus “Peace and safety” is the cry from men who will never again lift up their voice like a trumpet to show God’s people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. These dumb dogs that would not bark are the ones who feel the just vengeance of an offended God. Men, maidens, and little children all perish together. Testimonies, vol. 5, 209- 211
Must we fulfill these prophecies? And while they are being fulfilled, must our people be kept in ignorance of these solemn warnings? Few of our people are taught to withstand the evil that is predicted to come into our church. Rather than teaching them to test all things, as the Bible commands, our people are too often taught, either by precept or example, to place implicit trust in human instrumentalities and organizations as long as they are under the control of the “church.” This training will surely prove their ruin. This is the very opposite of the training God would have His people receive at the present time. (see Testimonies to Ministers, 375)
Our greatest desire is to work in harmony with each brother, leader, and laymen for the soon coming of Jesus. But we must be true to the trust administered to us by God. It is time for another revival and reformation. We do not suppose that this will come without conflict. But may we maintain the spirit of Christ that was manifested in both firmness and self- sacrificing love. Like the reformers, we must build upon the Rock Jesus Christ. Pastor Grosboll shares: We stand ready to recant, apologize, change, and confess any practice, saying, or action that is shown to be out of harmony with God’s Word. We are ready to study that Word with prayer and openness with the leaders of this church. It is not time to fight one another, but to draw together in humbleness of soul. But we believe, until shown differently, that God has commissioned us to do the work we are doing. We cannot but be obedient unto that commission. We must have the same convictions and courage, with humility, that the reformers had. Ellen White thus outlines the issues of the Reformation, from which the word “Protestant” was derived:
The Protest denied the right of civil rulers to legislate in matters between the soul and God, and declared with prophets and apostles, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” It rejected also the arbitrary power of the church, and set forth the unerring principle that all human teaching should be in subjection to the oracles of God. The protesters had thrown off the yoke of man’s supremacy, and had exalted Christ as supreme in the church, and His word in the pulpit. The power of conscience was set above the State, and the authority of the Holy Scriptures above the visible church… . The protesters had moreover affirmed their right to freely utter their convictions of truth. They would not only believe and obey, but teach what the Word of God presents, and they denied the right of priest or magistrate to interfere. The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 162- 163
Steps to Life has nearly 900 Bible studies going Out weekly from their office. Those who are trained in the Institute of Ministry as Bible workers are going to the far corners of the earth to give the three angels’ messages. Those in the Steps to Life ministry feel called to this work. They have not entered into it without serious consideration and conviction. And with their training institute and Bible correspondence school, they are also carrying on an active city mission.
In a letter by Ellen White to a conference president who was raising objections to the work of some who, like Steps to Life, were carrying on a city mission, she said,
“Let those who would follow Christ fully come up to the work; even if it be over the heads of ministers and president. . . . Let each member of the church awake. Let each laborer remember that the vineyard he tills is not his own, but belongs to his Lord, who has gone on a long journey and in His absence has commissioned His servants to look after His interests; and let him remember that if he is unfaithful to his trust he must give an account to his Lord when He shall return.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 369- 380
We must give an account of our work to God. If He has commissioned us, and we should fail our trust because of human pressure, would we not be in jeopardy of losing the blessing of the Lord?
And finally, let us remember that, as in the trials of Jesus, Paul, and Martin Luther, the ones being tried are not the only ones being tried. The whole heavenly universe, as well as God’s people on earth, are looking on with intense interest to see the responses and actions of each. May the Lord grant us that fortitude and Christlike forbearance that will stand the test of the heavenly “watcher” Daniel 4: 13).
The truth always involves a cross. Those who will not believe, oppose and deride those who do believe. The fact that its presentation creates a storm of opposition, is no evidence against the truth.” Ellen G. White, Sketches From the Life of Paul, 279
- This document is for the purpose of answering the Concerns and Objections document, not dealing with personalities. Therefore names are generally omitted, or initials used.
- Emphasis in quotations is supplied throughout this document, unless noted otherwise.
- Bible texts, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version.
- Central States Conference also had a church, and a Spanish company was getting started.
- This paper is available from Steps to Life. P. O. Box 782828, Wichita, KS 67278- 2828. Or Call: (800) 843- 8788.
- Read the whole chapter, entitled, “Protest of the Princes,” in The Great Controversy.
- For a copy of these guidelines as voted upon by the Kansas- Nebraska Conference, write to Steps to Life, P. O. Box 782828, Wichita, KS 67278- 2828. Or call, (800) 843- 8788.
- The document on “Acceptable Independent Ministries Guidelines,” originated in the North Pacific Union, seemingly as an attempt to control a/ some special ministry(ies) in their area. These eleven points were later accepted and voted upon by the North American Division. However, no one in the Special Ministries in question was asked or allowed to participate in the composition of these regulatory guidelines. Former General Conference President, Elder Robert Pierson, had urged certain North American Division leaders to dialogue with representatives of the Special Ministries before adopting such a document, but this was not done.
- See the final paragraph from the statement quoted hereafter from Testimonies, vol. 5, 209- 211