Unity upon a false premise

In unity, there is strength.  However, the only unity that will last is that which is built on the truth.  From the moment Lucifer rebelled against God in heaven, there has been a constant conflict between truth and error.  The conflict was spread to this earth when Lucifer who, by then, had become Satan – the Devil – led Eve to doubt God’s word and through Eve led Adam to disobey God’s explicit instruction.  The conflict continues today and will ultimately give rise to a grand unity of Satan, “the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies”, who will be gathered together to make war against Christ and His people (Rev. 19:19; see also Rev. 16:13, 14).  The entire world will turn against the true followers of Christ, as Christ said to His disciples, “ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” (Matt. 24:9).  But Christ will return and destroy the world confederation and deliver His people (Rev. 19:11-21).  Our only safeguard is to know the truth and follow it.

 

The Basis of the WCC

The following is taken from the official website of the World council of Churches:

“The WCC’s 1948 inaugural assembly declared: “The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which accept our Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour”. Soon this formulation gave rise to questions, and requests for a clearer definition of the Christ-centredness of the churches’ common calling, a more explicit expression of the Trinitarian faith and a specific reference to the holy scriptures. The result was the re-formulation, adopted by the Third Assembly (New Delhi 1961), which still stands:

“a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures, and therefore seek to fulfill together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.””

(https://www.oikoumene.org/en/about-us/self-understanding-vision/basis” retrieved July 21, 2019 – the official website of the World Council of Churches).

 

The Episcopal Church

The following is taken from the official website of the Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers:

“The Episcopal Church is one of the 147 founding churches of the World Council of Churches (1948).  The WCC has roots that reach back to the beginning of the modern ecumenical movement and to the conviction, which took hold at several places during the late nineteenth century, that something must be done to heal the divisions which have hampered witness to the Christian faith.

Today there are 349 member churches.  They live in very different political, economic, and social conditions.  Many of them – Anglican, Orthodox, Baptist, Reformed, Lutheran, Methodist, Pentecostal, Old Catholic, etc. – have a long history.  But member churches also include “younger” Pentecostal bodies, independent churches in Africa, and united churches.  The Roman Catholic Church is not a member but it cooperates with the WCC through a Joint Working Group, several programs, and membership in the Commission on Faith and Order, and has delegated observers at major meetings.

Membership is open to any church which is able to accept the WCC “Basis”, provided its signs of ecclesial character meet standards acceptable to two-thirds of the churches already in membership.  The “Basis” declares:  “The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfill together their common calling to the glory of the one God- Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.”

(https://www.edeio.org/world-council-of-churches-wcc.html, retrieved July 21, 2019 – the official website of the Episcopal Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers (EDEIO) website).

 

Seventh-day Adventist Church

The following is taken from the official website of the world Council of Churches:

“The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a denomination of conservative evangelical Christians. The church arose out of the eschatological expectations of the middle nineteenth century (epitomized by the Millerite Movement), but was only formally organized in 1863. The Millerites had set October 22, 1844, for the return of Christ. With the failure of this date, the movement fell into disarray. One of the small Adventist groups adopted the Seventh-day Sabbath, reinterpreted the events of 1844, and became, in due course, the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The roots of Adventism, however, go back much further – to the Reformation and the church of the New Testament.

Seventh-day Adventists accept the Bible as the inspired word of God. In essence, the Bible is their only creed, though they do have a statement of 28 Fundamental Beliefs, which is subject to revision at any General Conference World Session, as new light is received or better language is found, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. These beliefs include the Trinity, believers’ baptism, spiritual gifts, death as an unconscious state until the resurrection, and the New Earth as the home of the redeemed after the millennium. SDAs are creationists and believe that man and woman were made in the image of God as the crowning work of the Biblical creation week. With the entry of sin, God’s plan of salvation was put into effect. In Christ’s life of perfect obedience to God’s will, his suffering, death and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that those who by faith accept the gift of salvation may have eternal life. Since the very beginning, Seventh-day Adventists have been consistent advocates of religious freedom for all, and have taken a lead in its international promotion, including at the UN.

Global mission and evangelism are essential elements of the SDA ethos. The church is intent on sharing the good news of justification, righteousness by faith, salvation through Jesus Christ, and his imminent return. As a result, the SDA Church is probably the most widespread Protestant denomination, with work in over 200 countries. Though cradled in North America, less than 8 percent of her membership today resides there, and there is considerable growth in various parts of the world. Adventists wish to live lives of service to God and humankind. To help achieve this goal the church owns and operates many institutions: over 6,000 schools (from kindergarten to university), 720 hospitals and health-care facilities, publishing houses, and health food factories. Media centres (worldwide satellite TV and radio) have been established in recent decades. Adventists believe in a healthy lifestyle, which includes a good diet (many Adventists are vegetarians) and abstention from harmful drugs, including alcohol and tobacco products. Adventists also promote public health. The church operates the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), which is well-known internationally for its work on behalf of disaster victims and third world development projects.

The SDA church sees herself not as a federation of local or national churches, but as one world church. There is an effective form of representative government. The church’s polity provides for four key organizational levels: 1) the local church, a united body of individual believers, 2) the Conference, a united body of local churches, 3) the Union Conference, the united body of several conferences (a larger territory, often a nation), 4) the General Conference, the worldwide body whose constituent units are the approximately 100 Unions. The General Conference operates through its 13 Divisions (branch offices).

Seventh-day Adventists “recognize those agencies that lift up Christ before men as a part of the divine plan for the evangelization of the world” (General Conference Working Policy, 075). They enter into fellowship with other Christians and practice open communion. They believe that in a certain sense they are a prophetic movement with a time of the end message centering on the “eternal gospel” to give to the world. While they welcome opportunities to dialogue and reach better understanding, they have not formally joined the organized ecumenical movement by becoming members of councils of churches. They do, however, in many cases have observer, consultant, or advisor status. Adventists wish to preserve and protect their unique identity and give life to their God-given evangelistic and service mission.

The office of the general conference is located in Silver Spring, USA. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is comprised of 14 million baptized believers, representing with children a fellowship of some 25 million Adventists.

 

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is not a member of the World Council of Churches.

Websites

(https://www.oikoumene.org/en/church-families/seventh-day-adventist-church, retrieved July 21, 2019 – the official website of the World Council of Churches).

 

The Catholic church

The following is taken from the official website of the World Council of Churches:

“Catholics believe that the church was founded by Jesus Christ as part of the Father’s plan for the salvation of the world. Christ’s proclamation and inauguration of the kingdom of God led to the gathering of disciples. His death, resurrection and sending of the Holy Spirit definitively established the church, with which he promised to remain until the end of time (cf. Matt. 28:20). Jesus entrusted to this community the mission of preaching the gospel and of “making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).

Because the church is, in God’s hands, a means of bringing about the communion of all those who, with the help of God’s grace, would accept the proclamation of the good news, the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) taught that “the Church is in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race”. (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, paragraph 1). This constitution goes on to affirm that the whole community has an active role to play in proclaiming and handing on God’s word, in worshipping and celebrating the sacraments and in serving the mission Jesus entrusted to it……

According to the Vatican’s Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae of 2005, the Catholic Church numbered 1,085,557,000 persons, or 17.2 percent of the world’s population. Of these, 13.2 percent of Catholics live in Africa, 49.8 percent in North and South America; 10.5 percent in Asia, 25.7 percent in Europe and 0.8 percent in Oceania.

 

The Catholic Church has never been a member of the World Council of Churches, but is actively participating in the ecumenical movement in different ways. Learn more

Websites

(https://www.oikoumene.org/en/church-families/the-catholic-church, retrieved July21, 2019 – the official website of the World Council of Churches).

 

The Edict of Thessalonica which defines who is a Catholic Christian

The following is taken from Wikipedia:

“The Edict of Thessalonica (also known as Cunctos populos), issued on 27 February AD 380 by three reigning Roman Emperors…

Theodosius I, Gratian, and Valentinian II on 27 February 380.[1] The edict came after Theodosius had been baptized by the bishop Ascholius of Thessalonica upon suffering a severe illness in Thessalonica.[3]

EMPERORS GRATIAN, VALENTINIAN AND THEODOSIUS AUGUSTI. EDICT TO THE PEOPLE OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
It is our desire that all the various nations which are subject to our Clemency and Moderation, should continue to profess that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful tradition, and which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title of Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since, in our judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give to their conventicles the name of churches. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of the divine condemnation and in the second the punishment of our authority which in accordance with the will of Heaven we shall decide to inflict.
GIVEN IN THESSALONICA ON THE THIRD DAY FROM THE CALENDS OF MARCH, DURING THE FIFTH CONSULATE OF GRATIAN AUGUSTUS AND FIRST OF THEODOSIUS AUGUSTUS[4]

— Codex Theodosianus, xvi.1.2

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edict_of_Thessalonica, retrieved July 21, 2019).

 

The Edict of Thessalonica marked the official definition of who the Catholic Church considered a heretic – namely, one who did not believe in the Trinity.  This was the basis on which persecution was launched on a widespread basis.  It will be observed that as soon as the World Council of Churches adopted as its Basis in 1961, a concept that was in harmony with the definition of Catholic Christian, as defined in the Edict of Thessalonica, within a year, in 1962, the Second Vatican Council was convened, and out of it, the other churches of Christendom were declared to be no longer designated as heretics but rather as separated brethren.

 

Foundation of Seventh-day Adventist Faith

In 1904, Ellen White writes, “For the past 50 years every phase of heresy has been brought to bear upon us… Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayer, study, and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord.” (Special Testimonies, Series B #2, p. 59)

Notice that in 1904, the foundation of faith had been firmly established. “Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid. My husband, Elder Joseph Bates, Father Pierce, Elder Hiram Edson, and others who were keen, noble, and true, were among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844, searched for the truth as for hidden treasure… When they came to the point in their study where they said, ‘We can do nothing more,’ the Spirit of the Lord would come upon me, I would be taken off in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as to how we were to labor and teach effectively. Thus light was given that helped us to understand the scriptures in regard to Christ, His mission, and His priesthood. A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God, was made plain to me, and I gave to others the instruction that the Lord had given me.” (1SM 206.4)

 

At that time the Seventh-day Adventist Church officially had a non-Trinitarian statement of Fundamental Principles as was repeatedly published in the Annual Yearbook of the church.  The first Fundamental Principle as was published in the 1889 Yearbook was: “That there is one God, a personal, spiritual being, the creator of all things, omnipotent, omniscient, and eternal; infinite in wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, truth and mercy; unchangeable, and everywhere present by His representative, the Holy Spirit.  Ps. 139:7”. They did not elaborate further on the identity of the Holy spirit.  The second Fundamental Principle identified Jesus Christ as the Son of God.  This was clearly a non-Trinitarian perspective.

 

The Bible gives further clarification regarding the Holy Spirit, called the Comforter.  The Comforter that is sent is a messenger or representative who ministers under Christ’s instructions – “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7); “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13).

 

Like the angels of God, the Comforter appeared as a flame of fire and enabled miracles to be done – “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them” (Acts 2:2, 3).; “And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.” (Heb. 1:7); “The angels of God are ever passing from earth to heaven, and from heaven to earth. The miracles of Christ for the afflicted and suffering were wrought by the power of God through the ministration of the angels. And it is through Christ, by the ministration of His heavenly messengers, that every blessing comes from God to us.” (White, Ellen G., The Desire of Ages, p. 143).

 

We need to know the difference between the spirit of God that fills us (God’s mind, character and power) and the Comforter who is an agent sent to minister to us.  This will serve as an antidote against the alpha of deadly heresies, which promotes the idea that God is personally inside of people and inside other entities – as opposed to being personally in heaven.  It will also preserve us against the omega of deadly heresies that destroys the identity of God by making God a unity of three rather than a sovereign being who presides over the universe and sent His only begotten Son into the world to save us.

 

The angel of Revelation 18 who brings the latter rain outpouring of God’s power does the same type of work that the Comforter came and did in the outpouring of the early rain of God’s power at Pentecost.  We are told by revelation to Ellen G. White that “Angels were sent to aid the mighty angel from heaven” in the outpouring of the latter rain (White, Ellen G., The Story of Redemption, p. 399). We may similarly understand that other angels worked in support of the mission that was carried out by the Comforter in the early rain outpouring.  We are not expected to worship the angel of Revelation 18; neither are we expected to worship the Comforter.  There is no basis in scripture for anyone to place the Comforter or the angel of Revelation 18 as co-equals with the Most High, who sent His only begotten Son into the world.  The Bible says there is: “One God and Father of all, who is above all” (Eph. 4:6).  This is the person that the Bible refers to as “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:3).  Further, we worship Jesus, the Son of God because God, the Father, commands us to worship His Son (John 5:23; Heb. 1:6) – and no one else.

 

The issue is not whether or not there is a third person and eventually even a fourth, (the angel of Revelation 18).  The issue is the status of the third being, and also the fourth.  There is one Supreme Being, the Father, who is above all, who has given His Only begotten Son the authority to exercise all His power and has commanded us to honour His Son as we honour Him (John 5:23; 1 Cor. 15:24-28). This authority, He has given to none other.”

 

The Seventh-day Adventist Church was not fully accepted by the other churches while it stuck to the Biblical definition of God, as was held by its pioneers.  Up until 1980, the baptismal vow spoke of God as follows: “I believe in God the Father, in his Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit”.  This was changed to say: “Do you believe there is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three coeternal Persons?” Was something wrong with the first formulation? Certainly not, from a Biblical standpoint.  It was generic and did not even deny the Catholic formulation, even though it did not specifically declare it.  But the second formulation goes beyond what the Bible says and includes some element of speculation as there is nowhere in the Bible that defines God as three in one.  But most specifically, it accords with the Catholic definition as declared in the Edict of Thessalonica and as embraced by the World Council of Churches.

 

Will we hold to the truth without wavering or will we do otherwise in order to be accepted by the world confederation that will ultimately turn against God’s faithful people?  The choice is ours.  But all is not lost.  In 2005, the Seventh-day Adventist Church adopted an alternative form of the Baptismal vow that has only three statements.  This allows the pastor preparing the candidate for baptism to avoid binding the candidate to an unscriptural vow.  We must hold fast to the truth especially at this time, as this will be the measure of our loyalty to God.  This wholehearted commitment to God, above institutional commitment, is the essence of the new covenant experience (see article “Religious Liberty and the New Covenant” at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/2018/03/18/religious-liberty-new-covenant/.

 

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

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