In a past study, I brought you an important letter from A.V. Olsen. For many years he was vice-president of the General Conference, dealing with the suggestion on the part of some that the General Conference should pass a resolution repudiating the rejection of the 1888 message. As he pointed out, the General Conference never by any vote rejected the message back there. Therefore, no vote of the General Conference today could rescind an action which was never taken. That’s very clear.
He points out that the essential thing is the attitude you and I take personally. Those men are dead and gone. What the church today does must be a matter of personal acceptance. But we study the things that happened back there because it happens with movements as it does with individuals – God leads His people to a point, and if they don’t take hold of it, then by and by they have to be led around again. It happened with Israel; it happens with each of us personally; it will happen again with this movement. Let us focus what we have studied on this point. If the loud cry was beginning in that message back there, and if there was a failure on the part of some to take hold of that which would have brought that loud cry to its fullness, is it a good thing for you and me to study that so we will see the barriers that have to be broken through, the failures that have to be remedied, and the lessons that have to be learned before we can go on into the fullness of the Loud Cry? That’s the great reason in studying. So, let us see what happened back there.
–Learning From the Past–
I’d like to make this point very plain. Some of the statements that we will read in this study reflect on those who criticized Jones and Waggoner. Some of the statements sound like those who were rejecting the message and the messengers were rejecting the Spirit of God. I say they sound like that – it’s the truth. But because of those statements, do not jump to the conclusion that Jones and Waggoner were fully sanctified men and that they made no mistakes. We have already pointed out there were some things they taught that Sister White didn’t feel free to identify herself with. But in our future studies, I shall have the painful-but-important task of tracing the downfall of those men, and of showing what finally happened to them. I think you all know that they finally found themselves outside of this movement. As we shall see, when we study their lives, there were seeds in their hearts all the way through this experience which finally bore a harvest that put them outside.
That teaches you and me a very important lesson: Even though God may be using us, it shouldn’t give us an over-confidence, and it shouldn’t make us blind to our faults. It should teach us that if God chooses to rebuke those who oppose us, it shouldn’t inflate us or exalt us; neither should it lead us to feel that we’re right in everything. It should lead us to this very important realization: Simply because men finally fail is no reason that God hasn’t used them previously. All of those lessons are important.
In the book Testimonies to Ministers, we will notice some of the attitudes toward Jones and Waggoner. The references we will study cover the period from 1888 up to as late as 1897. During all that time, there were some who appreciated the message of Jones and Waggoner; some definitely opposed it. I am not limiting the period by those dates. I am simply saying that it’s within those dates that we’re studying this afternoon.
“Some have been cultivating hatred against the men whom God has commissioned to bear a special message to the world. They began this satanic work at Minneapolis.” – Testimonies to Ministers, pgs. 79-80
That was in 1888… Now watch.
Afterward, when they saw and felt the demonstration of the Holy Spirit testifying that the message was of God, they hated it the more, because it was a testimony against them. – Ibid, pg. 80
One of the things which will stand out vividly in our study is the great danger of taking a wrong position; it is very hard to change. One of the greatest reasons that certain men did not ever yield year after year to these messages was that they had opposed them in 1888. Just like in the days of Jesus, those who rejected the message of John the Baptist didn’t get much help from Jesus’ messages, did they? And when they started to reject Jesus’ messages, then every time He did something more wonderful, it only made them more enraged. So, it’s a very dangerous thing to reject the message of God.
These opposers began this satanic work at Minneapolis.
They would not humble their hearts to repent, to give God the glory, and vindicate the right. They went on in their own spirit, filled with envy, jealousy, and evil surmisings, as did the Jews. They opened their hearts to the enemy of God and man. Yet these men have been holding positions of trust, and have been molding the work after their own similitude, as far as they possibly could. – Ibid
Some of these men were holding positions of trust, and seeking to mold the work, yet they were opposing the message of righteousness by faith. I think this would be as good a place as any to point out a very important truth. If you forget everything else we review in this study, be sure you remember this: There are those outside this church today (and even inside the church, I’m sorry to say) who would like to create the impression that God’s work of reformation and bringing righteousness is a lay movement. That it begins and is largely carried on by “unheard of” people, and that the leaders reject it. That is a false concept; it is not borne out by the references. We must never think that the issue from 1888-1895 was an issue between leadership at the top on the wrong side and a group carrying the message of righteousness by faith which were in revolt, or working independently of the leadership of the church. That is a false concept entirely, as it relates to those years. Since it is, it would certainly be wrong to apply such a false concept and project it into the future work of the Loud Cry.
Instead, let’s see what really happened. Instead of the line of cleavage between the leadership on one side and laymen on the other being a horizontal line, it was a vertical line. Nothing can be clearer from reading the records. Some leaders were on the right side; some were on the wrong side. Some young ministers were on the right side; some were on the wrong side. Some laymen were on the right side; some were on the wrong side. And once you get that picture, it’s an entirely different approach to this thing than the critics of this movement would like to present. And I repeat, it bears most directly on the issues of the future.
Some of these men who began a satanic work at Minneapolis, and afterward when they saw and felt the demonstration of the Holy Spirit, hated it the more, were holding positions of trust. To further strengthen the idea that there were strong leaders on the right side, remember that Elder Jones and Elder Waggoner were prominent in the messages borne at every General Conference from 1888 on, for years. They were leading speakers at General Conference after General Conference. They traveled extensively between General Conferences. They weren’t going out and holding little meetings on the side in opposition to the church and its leadership. They were speaking in our large churches to great audiences.
Sister White was present with them on many occasions, and added the authority of her message to their message. So let us never get the idea that Jones and Waggoner were too young upstarts off on the outskirts of the movement somewhere, and that the leadership of the church was united against them. That’s not true at all. The references will not bear it out. Some of the leaders doubted and criticized and opposed their work; some upheld it and rejoiced in it. That’s the truthful picture.
The thing we want to note is the great danger that those men were in who did oppose and reject the work of Jones and Waggoner. One of the things that those who opposed the message did was to oppose the messengers. That was a very natural thing to do; it’s an easy thing to do. In The Review and Herald, Sister White wrote:
Some have turned from the message of the righteousness of Christ to criticize the men and their imperfections because they do not speak the message of truth with all the grace and polish desirable…. Christ has registered all the hard, proud, sneering speeches spoken against His servants as against Himself. – Review and Herald, 1890
Jones was not as polished a man as many of our ministers were, so those who were opposing him and his message pointed out his errors. They were errors, but God was using him in spite of those. Another thing that they were opposed to was that Jones and Waggoner spoke so strongly.
Rather than sit in judgment upon men whom God has accepted to do Him service, let the burden of their prayer be, night and day, that the Lord may send forth more laborers into His vineyard. Ministers, do not dishonor your God and grieve His Holy Spirit, by casting reflections on the ways and manners of the men He would choose. God knows the character. He sees the temperament of the men He has chosen. He knows that none but earnest, firm, determined, strong-feeling men will view this work in its vital importance, and will put such firmness and decision into their testimonies that they will make a break against the barriers of Satan. – Testimonies to Ministers, pg. 412
So, even though these men weren’t perfect, and even though they had to be reproved at times, God selected them because they were the best material He could find available. If God is using someone today, and you and I find some defect in the way he presents things, might we, if we’re not careful, use that as a reason for rejecting the work of the Spirit of God? This is a very important lesson, isn’t it?
God gives men counsel and reproof for their good. He has sent His message, telling them what was needed for the time – 1897. Did you accept the message?… You sat still and did nothing. You left the Word of the Lord to fall unheeded to the ground; and now the Lord has taken men who were boys when you were standing at the forefront of the battle, and has given to them the message and the work which you did not take upon you. Will you be stumbling blocks to them? Will you criticize? Will you say, ‘They are getting out of their place’? Yet you did not fill the place they are now called to fill. – Ibid, page 413.
Was there opposition to them because they weren’t quite as old as some of those who were opposing them? Apparently, that’s true. I want to give another statement from the Review and Herald. It fits in with what we have just read. It shows that one of the reasons that certain leaders found it difficult to accept these men is because they weren’t consulted before God used them. That’s a difficult thing for human nature to take, isn’t it?
Those whom God has sent with a message are only men, but what is the character of the message which they bear? Will you dare to turn from, or make light of, the warnings because God did not consult you as to what would be preferred? – Review and Herald, May 27, 1890
In this same Review and Herald, notice again how Sister White links this work with the Loud Cry:
Some have turned from the message of the righteousness of Christ to criticize the men…. The third angel’s message will not be comprehended, the light which will lighten the earth with its glory will be called a false light, by those who refuse to walk in its advancing glory…. We entreat of you who oppose the light of truth, to stand out of the way of God’s people. – Ibid
Notice how Sister White links this with the Loud Cry. She says that the work of the Loud Cry will be called a false light by those who refuse to walk in its advancing glory. This is in harmony with the statement in Testimonies to Ministers, page 300 that some will not discern the work of the Loud Cry and will oppose it.
In Testimonies to Ministers, page 407, Sister White speaks of the controversy waxing stronger. She speaks of planting the standard of Christ’s righteousness in the church. And as this is done, the great controversy will wax stronger and stronger.
* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.