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Unity upon the Three Angels’ Messages – Pt 2

Laodicea, not Babylon

The Seventh-day Adventist church is not Babylon. The Seventh-day Adventist church is Laodicea (2SM 66)[1]. The Lord has indicated through His messenger, Ellen G. White that the churches of Christendom which have rejected the Three Angels’ Messages are classified in their corporate capacity, as Babylon (2SM 68; GC 389, 390; TM 61)[2]. With respect to these churches we have been given a message to call people out (Rev. 18:1-4). For Laodicea, however, no such message has been given (2SM 66)[3]. The message to Laodicea is an appeal to repent (Rev. 3:19).

In the case of Babylon there are certain characteristic errors which are described by Inspiration as the “wine” with which Babylon drunks the nations. These errors are the doctrines of: (1) Sunday sacredness (2) Immortality of the soul (3) Eternal torment of the wicked (4) Denial of the pre-existence of Christ prior to His birth in Bethlehem (TM 61; 2SM 68)[4].

So far as end-time prophecy is concerned, Babylon in the first instance is the impure woman of Revelation 17, which we clearly understand to represent the Papacy. This identification is extended to include the so-called daughters of the impure woman, which daughters we understand represent the religious bodies which have imbibed her doctrines and to some measure, have patterned after her, namely the nominally Protestant churches of Christendom which have rejected the Three Angels’ Messages in their corporate capacities (GC 389, 390)[5].

In the second instance, Babylon is an end-time confederation of the Papacy, apostate Protestantism, Spiritualism and the rulers and merchants of the earth (Rev. 16:13,14; 18:3) all of which will join forces to war against Christ, in the form of His faithful Sabbath-keeping people, by enforcing the Mark of the Beast (Rev. 19:19; 13:12-17). This will be a situation (which is currently taking shape) wherein “kings, merchants, rulers and religious teachers are all in corrupt harmony” (2SM 68)[6].

In the case of Laodicea, however, the Three Angels’ Messages and kindred truth which are of relevance and applicability to the present time have been embraced and understood. Laodicea represents “Seventh-day Adventists who have had great light and have not walked in the light” (2SM 66)[7]. Hence, the message to Laodicea is an appeal for repentance, whereas, there is no message to Babylon, but rather, a call for the faithful and chosen children of God who are in her ranks to “Come out of her” (Rev. 18:4).

 

Need for Repentance

Laodicea is guilty of not walking in the light. For this, the only recourse that is acceptable to God is repentance. The repentance that is needed is not only at an individual level since the individual and the church is not affected only by the personal sins of individuals (as in the case of Achan). Both individuals and the church collectively are affected also by corporate sins. Hence, the divinely specified precursor for the church receiving the latter rain is not only individual but corporate repentance, supplication and confession of sins (Joel 2:12-18).

True confession, however, is always of a specific nature and acknowledges particular sins (SC 38)[8].  The church over the years has been guilty of sins which have been of an open and public nature, for which, no public confession has been made, and in some cases involve continuing offense. These sins can be listed. One such sin was the terrible act, by the European Division, and with full knowledge of the General Conference, in endorsing the forced drafting of believers into the armed forces of Europe (World Wars 1 and 2), to bear arms, and particularly so, on the Sabbath; and going further to denounce as fanatics and facilitate and augment the persecution of believers who conscientiously refuse to so break the commandments of God.  Those actions led to the formation and continuation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Reform Movement.  Other groups, such as the Free Seventh-day Adventists have been formed similarly, for other reasons.

For the sake of non-Adventists who might be inclined to scoff on account of such a grievous sin as denouncing and facilitating the persecution of conscientious objectors to secular warfare, it might be well considered that such actions were not unique to Sabbath-keeping Adventists. Most of the churches that existed at the time acted in a similar manner. Of course, this is no excuse or consolation, neither does it lessen the abhorrence of such actions on the part of a people who profess and ought to be a light to the world – God’s fortress in a revolted world.

This example may be considered as having its place in the distant past, but there are others which are more recent.

 

Uncharitable Attitude

It is particularly unfortunate that, over the years, some believers have taken a rather uncharitable attitude to those who have dared to point out any sin, by marginalizing them, denouncing them, accusing them of evil motives and in some cases even persecuting them. Such actions are bad in themselves, but they are particularly disturbing in light of the fact that the divinely stated purpose to be accomplished in the human heart by the gospel is the creation of an enmity for sin and all that savours of unrighteousness (Gen. 3:15). Therefore, anything that would stifle, diminish or suppress an individual’s sense of revulsion to any perceived act of unrighteousness could be a very serious impediment to one’s spirituality.

Unfortunately, the attitude that has been manifested by and within some churches has been to some persons, that type of impediment. This has led them to establish and maintain fellowship groups that are not subject to direct control by church leaders who may unsettle their faith or impede their spiritual development.

Error and sin, whether by teaching or practice is never harmless. Consequently, individuals have, not only a right, but a positive duty to seek an environment that offers upliftment and enrichment of their spiritual experience. Individuals are not obliged (under the gospel) to consistently fellowship in an environment where they are subjected to influences that wear down their spirituality and tend to diminish their revulsion for unrighteousness (CW 47; EW 124, 125, 7SDABC 934, Loma Linda Messages 165)[9].

All persons do not have the same spiritual experience or the same level of spiritual sensitivity to the same things. Hence, an environment that one person would find stifling to his/her spirituality might very well be of some spiritual value to another person, provided the fundamental tenets of present truth are to be found there. Hence one person cannot act as conscience for another as to determine where he/she should fellowship within the framework and setting of an established belief in the Three Angels’ Messages.

Within the progressively falling churches of Babylon where the Three Angels’ Messages have been rejected there can be no safety in seeking fellowship (EW 124, 125)[10]. With respect to such, individuals are admonished “Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul” (Jer. 51:6). For Laodicea, however, the message is: “Repent”. All Laodicean churches do not offer the same influence. Some churches offer a greater backsliding influence than others. One’s safest course is to repent, get back to the old paths and fellowship in an assembly where one can grow spiritually, where the truth is best upheld. In thus working out one’s own salvation with fear and trembling, one is better able to minister to others and in the process, help to strengthen that nucleus where the truth is upheld.

 

“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

 

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

[1] White, Ellen G., Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 66.

[2] White, Ellen G., Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 68; White, Ellen G., The Great Controversy, p. 389; White, Ellen G., Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 61.

[3] White, Ellen G., Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 66.

[4] White, Ellen G., Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 61; White, Ellen G., Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 66.

[5] White, Ellen G., The Great Controversy, p. 389, 390.

[6] White, Ellen G., Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 68.

[7] White, Ellen G., Selected Messages, Vol. 2, p. 66.

[8] White, Ellen G., Steps to Christ, p. 38.

[9] White, Ellen G., Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 47; White, Ellen G., Early Writings, p. 124, 125; White, Ellen G., Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, p. 934; White, Ellen G., Loma Linda Messages, p. 165.

[10] White, Ellen G., Early Writings, p. 124, 125.

Unity upon the Three Angels’ Messages – Pt 1

Unity upon the right premises

This series was born out of a sincere desire to see unity among believers in the Three Angels’ Messages.

After the passing of time in 1844, God raised up a people to do a special work which would prepare His followers to receive the Latter Rain and to hail Christ as their Saviour at His glorious return. It is today, as it has always been, Christ’s desire to see his followers united in heart and spirit upon the solid, immovable platform of truth.

Unity is good, only if the premises on which unity is established is good.  Uniting upon a false premise or uniting to do something that is bad is worse than not uniting at all.  The scriptures record an occasion when Israel was so united that when they shouted, the earth rang again” (1 Sam. 4:5) and “the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.” (1 Sam. 4:7, 8).  But unfortunately, it ended with the Ark being taken away by the Philistines, the shock of the news causing Eli, the High Priest, to fall over and break his neck and a woman in labour, dying in child-birth and crying “Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel” (1 Sam. 4:21).  What was the reason for such a tragedy?  Simply put, God was not with them on that mission!  Yes, they were still God’s people, but He was not with them!  On any mission, we must first ensure that God is with us.

Efforts are being made to unite the Advent people today, and that is good.  The 28 Fundamental Beliefs are being promoted as a doctrinal foundation for unity.  But is this the foundation on which God would have us unite?  Would the pioneers and all faithful Seventh-day Adventists be able to unite on such a foundation?  Or is it a foundation that would exclude some of God’s faithful children?  A faithful believer who got baptized in 1978, pointed out that the Baptismal Vow that he took, had, as the first belief, the following: “I believe in God the Father, in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit”.  That vow came straight from the scriptures – Matt. 28:19, 20.  But now, for his faithful children to be accepted into fellowship, they are required to make the following vow: I believe there is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons.”This new version includes elements that are not explicitly stated in scripture, and thus excludes those who have chosen to go no further than what the scriptures explicitly say.  Was the previous statement not clear enough and scriptural?  Why then change it to exclude some of the faithful?

 

Present state

It is very unfortunate that the present state among those who embrace the special truths for this time is a far cry from the state of unity that is envisioned in Christ’s earnest prayer of John the seventeenth chapter. Numerous groups and factions of varying sizes, all of which claim to be Seventh-day Adventist endeavour to establish legitimacy (and in some cases, exclusive right) for their operations, while at the same time manifesting towards each other, in some cases, a cold indifference, suspicion and virtual hostility, even denouncing each other openly at times.

It is a fact that the coming of the Lord is near, and before He comes, the venom of the Beast and his Image will be unleashed against, not one only, or another of these groups, but against all Sabbath-keeping Adventists. The inspired messenger has repeatedly urged “the little company” to “press together”.

We cannot afford to deny our history at this time, because we have nothing to fear for the future except as we forget how God has led us in the past. Therefore, there is need for a re-focus on the distinctive truths which have brought the Advent people into existence. Otherwise, we run the risk of failing to acknowledge the Divinely established criteria that identifies Seventh-day Adventists as God’s denominated people. We are likely to establish our own criteria for the identification of God’s denominated people and hence continue either to exclusively acknowledge the faction with which we identify ourselves, or wrongfully denounce those who we think have no right to consider themselves as being numbered among God’s denominated people.

 

History and denominational identity

This series outlines some of the more notable aspects of the history of the Advent people. It extracts from Inspiration the parameters which delineate the boundaries of the denominational identity of Seventh-day Adventists. It further notes the primary role that Seventh-day Adventists have been called to fulfill as the controversy between good and evil approaches its culmination, and in view of all the above, makes an earnest appeal for unity.

To the reader, an earnest appeal is made, that we consider the subject that is discussed here prayerfully and with a genuine spirit to establish the truth. We are reminded that:

“There is no excuse for anyone in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed and that all our expositions of Scripture are without error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people, is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error into truth, and truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation.”White, Ellen G., Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 35.

“There are those who oppose everything that is not in accordance with their own ideas, and by so doing, they endanger their eternal interest as verily as did the Jewish nation in their rejection of Christ.”White, Ellen G., Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 35, 36.

“We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and Heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion will be disappointed.”White, Ellen G., Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 37.

Indeed, one might hold opinions on the subjects that are discussed here and feel satisfied with one’s already established perspective. This should not, however, inhibit an open and fair consideration of that which is presented here. One’s experience could be, as was the Apostle Paul’s, of which he testified as follows:

“For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” – Rom. 7:9.

He was satisfied as he was. He felt settled (in whatever it was that he was doing). But when the law came, he saw himself differently.

 

Fuller understanding

The point being made is not that the thoughts presented here are presented as ‘the law’, but simply that, a feeling of being settled does not mean that one’s perspective might not still need some measure of adjustment in order to place it in fuller consistency with the truth. And such an adjustment (if needed) may not necessarily be apparent to the individual prior to his/her considering the perspective being given for him/her to consider. In fact, adjustments might not even bring the individual to the exact perspective that he/she is presented with; it might well be just a stepping stone or even that which triggers a thought that leads to further enlightenment.

If this presentation can help in whatever way to lead to a fuller understanding or more complete acceptance of that which is the truth, then, may God be praised, for there is hardly a greater hope in the heart of this writer in presenting this series. This is particularly so because the truth is the instrument by which the Holy Spirit accomplishes the work of sanctification in the human heart and brings us into closer fellowship with God, according as the Holy Scripture declares: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).

Unfortunately, sometimes, in our state of feeling settled, we close the door to all possibility of seeing anything otherwise. This situation has resulted in a rejection of truth in numerous instances, the consequences of which have been extremely detrimental to both individual and church alike.

The writer’s hope and prayer are that the reader will be uplifted and enlightened through a fair consideration of the subject that is here presented, and that individuals and the church will be guided by the Holy Spirit in arriving at and settling into the truth.

 

“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

 

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

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