As we continue on with our study from last week, one must inquire: Isn’t it strange that planting the standard of Christ’s righteousness in the church would create any controversy? Do you know why it does? If you study the life of Christ, you see the reason. The very purity of His life, the righteousness of His life, was a rebuke to all sin and all selfishness. That’s why it creates controversy. Mind will be arrayed against mind, plans against plans, principles of heavenly origin against principles of satan.
On page 408, in Testimonies to Ministers, Sister White speaks of those who see no necessity for reform, so “they reject the words of the Lord, and hate him who reproveth at the gate.” On page 409, she speaks of unsanctified ministers who are arraying themselves against God. By their actions they say, concerning Christ, “Not this Man, but Barabbas.”
Isn’t that a striking picture? Our brethren at that time were facing a choice like the people who stood there in Pilot’s judgment hall. Keep in mind that this is all in the setting of the controversy over righteousness by faith in the 1890s. That’s very clear as you read the whole chapter.
After speaking of these unsanctified ministers who oppose this work, Sister White says:
Many will stand in our pulpits with the torch of false prophecy in their hands, kindled from the hellish torch of Satan. If doubts and unbelief are cherished, the faithful ministers will be removed from the people who think they know so much. – Testimonies to Ministers, pgs. 409-410
Back there, and at all times, does God give people a certain amount of choice as to what they listen to? Yes. Those who want a message which will quiet them in world conformity, somewhere along the line God will let them get it. Those who want a message which will stir their hearts to get ready for the latter rain and the loud cry, God will let them get that. And may I add, whether they know it or not, those who are open for a message that leads to extreme and radical and fanatical positions, the Lord will allow them to get that too. The danger is on both sides.
Notice that another criticism concerning Jones and Waggoner is indicated:
“Let no soul complain of the servants of God who have come to them with a heaven-sent message. Do not any longer pick flaws in them, saying, ‘They are too positive; they talk too strongly.’ They may talk strongly; but is it not needed? God will make the ears of the hearers tingle if they will not heed His voice or His message.” – Ibid, pg. 410
Did God want people to get stirred, to get busy, repent, and seek His true righteousness? As I say, I want you to study this whole chapter, for it’s very meaningful in this matter of the Loud Cry as it was beginning back there, and as these lessons bear on the future work ahead of us. On page 77, you will find an interesting application of the parable in Matthew 24.
You remember that Jesus, when He gave the lessons on the Mount of Olives concerning His coming, said there would be some servants who would give the household meat in due season, and there were others who would eat and drink with the drunken and smite and beat their fellow servants. Sister White applies this in 1895 to this very situation.
There are many who have outgrown their advent faith. They are living for the world, and while saying in their hearts, as they desire it shall be, ‘My Lord delayeth His coming,’ they are beating their fellow servants. – Ibid, pg. 77
That men should keep alive the spirit which ran riot at Minneapolis is an offense to God. – Ibid, pg. 76
On page 79 is one of the most fearful warnings in the whole book. Again I say that the reason I want you to study this is because it bears on the future crisis. Sister White quotes what Jesus told the Jews about how they were the children of those who had killed the prophets, and that prophets and wise men and scribes would be sent to them. Some of them they would kill and crucify, and some of them they would scourge in their synagogues. Now watch:
This prophecy was literally fulfilled by the Jews in their treatment of Christ and of the messengers whom God sent to them. Will men in these last days follow the example of those whom Christ condemned?
These terrible predictions they have not as yet carried out to the full; but if God spares their lives, and they nourish the same spirit that marked their course of action both before and after the Minneapolis meeting, they will fill up to the full the deeds of those whom Christ condemned when He was upon the earth. – Ibid, pg. 79
What a warning, dear friends. I want to ask you something: Suppose that the Loud Cry had continued to swell. Suppose that the opposition of the world had burst in all its fury upon the church. Unless they had somewhere along the line repented, what would those who rejected the message of Jones and Waggoner and the message of righteousness by faith have joined with the Protestant and Catholic Church in doing to the men who were giving the true message? They would persecute them, put them in prison, and try to kill them.
My dear friends, as we approach the great crisis, our worst enemies, those hardest to meet, will not be the infidels, the Catholics, or the Methodists. It will be those within the Seventh-day Adventist Church who haven’t accepted fully the message of revival and reformation, and that turn against the work of the Spirit of God in the Latter Rain, and condemn those who bear the Loud Cry. We are told that they will be among our worst enemies. Great Controversy, page 608, paints the picture very vividly.
Oh, think of it. If that is true, I want to ask this question: Do you see then that it’s very dangerous for you and me to take any position without knowing that the Spirit of God witnesses to that position? Do you see that one step can lead to another step, and another and another, just as the Jews did in crucifying Jesus, and as some of those opponents did back there in the 1890s?
I’m going back now to a very important article in the year 1890. It is in a Review and Herald Extra. Before I read a few paragraphs from this, I want you to see what Elder Peas, who has given a great deal of study to the 1888 message, says was the result of this particular article:
“This article created a stir in official circles in Battle Creek. Mrs. White relates in a personal letter that confessions were made by three prominent leaders following the publication of this appeal. These confessions were specific in their application to the Minneapolis conference.” – Review and Herald, December 23, 1890
So, this testimony that came out in The Review and Herald Extra stirred up some folks. Some made confession. It’s in that setting of the controversy over righteousness by faith and the attitude that some were taking toward Jones and Waggoner that these statements will best be understood and appreciated. But keep in mind that all of this is a foreshadowing of the Latter Rain and the Loud Cry work which must reach its fullness before the Lord can come.
The Lord has sent a message to arouse His people to repent and do the first works. But how has His message been received? While some have heeded it, others have cast contempt and reproach on the message and the messenger. Spiritually deadened, humility and childlike simplicity gone, a mechanical form of profession of faith has taken the place of love and devotion. Is this mournful condition of things to continue? The Saviour calls. Listen to His voice. ‘Be zealous and repent.’ The True Witness declares, ‘I know thy works.’ Repent and do the first works. This is the true test, the evidence that the Spirit of God is working in the heart to imbue you with His love. I will come unto thee quickly and will remove thy candlestick out of its place except thou repent. The church is like the unproductive tree, which receiving the dew and the rain and the sunshine should have produced an abundance of fruit, but upon which the divine Searcher discovers nothing but leaves. – Review and Herald, December 23, 1890
What was the church compared to? An unproductive fig tree.
Solemn thought for our churches! Solemn, indeed, for every individual! Marvelous is the patience and forbearance of God; “but except thou repent” it will be exhausted; the churches, our institutions, will go from weakness to weakness, from cold formality to deadness, while they are saying, ‘I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing’. – Ibid
Can an entire local church sink into backsliding and apostasy? Can an entire institution? Has it happened?
“The True Witness says, ‘And knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.’ Will they ever see clearly their condition?” – Ibid
Now comes the paragraph which doubtless more than anything else created this stir in official circles in Battle Creek. And it should have; thank God it did. It should stir our hearts today.
There is to be in the churches a wonderful manifestation of the power of God, but it will not move upon those who have not humbled themselves before the Lord, and opened the door of the heart by confession and repentance. In the manifestation of that power which lightens the earth with the glory of God, they will see only something which in their blindness they think dangerous, something which will arouse their fears, and they will brace themselves to resist it. Because the Lord does not work according to their ideas and expectations, they will oppose the work. “Why,” they say, “should we not know the Spirit of God, when we have been in the work so many years?”—Because they did not respond to the warnings, the entreaties of the messages of God, but persistently said, ‘I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing’. – Ibid
Can you see how that might have stirred some hearts? I’m so glad that the report says that some were stirred. Aren’t you? These later testimonies written in 1895, 1896, and 1897, there would have been no need for them to have been written if all had been stirred by it. Thank God some were. I repeat, the reason we are studying this is because those things that were happening back there in the beginning are experiences that we must face in their fullness in this closing work.
Talent, long experience, will not make men channels of light, unless they place themselves under the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, and are called, and chosen, and prepared by the endowment of the Holy Spirit. When men who handle sacred things will humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, the Lord will lift them up. – Ibid
Thank God some did humble themselves, and received blessings. Others continued to oppose and finally went out in darkness. The lesson is for us. God is giving us today the opportunity to succeed where some succeeded back there, and to succeed where others failed back there. And only as we are willing to have ourselves humbled low in the dust will we be able to appreciate and receive the righteousness of Christ. I wish you would study very carefully the references we have given today, particularly this chapter in Testimonies to Ministers, entitled “God’s Messengers”. It begins on page 404. A number of the references we quoted today are in there. And when you remember that this is dated as late as 1897, you can see what a sad situation it was that year after year called for these messages of the servant of God.
Wouldn’t you think that people believing the Spirit of Prophecy would have accepted it back there in 1888 or 1889 or 1890? We sometimes think if we only had a living prophet today how it would clear up certain situations. But remember what Jesus told the Jews of His day – If they believed not Moses and the prophets, neither would they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.
We have plenty of precious light in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy to deal with our present problems. As we study these things God has given us, it will prepare us for the fullness of the loud cry which is just ahead.
Our heavenly Father, we pray very earnestly that Thou wilt rightly interpret to our hearts the things we have studied today. Help us to see on the one hand the great peril of rejecting God’s message, and on the other hand the great importance of so presenting God’s message that it is acceptable to as many as possible. Help us to learn to overcome every defect, that our presentation of Thy message may be as winsome as
possible, that we may not unnecessarily place a stumbling block in the road of a single soul.
Oh, we pray that in this time of great opportunity and great peril Thou wilt unite Thy church. Forbid that we should in any way be drawn aside, either by worldliness on the one side or the extreme and fanatical elements on the other. Draw us, dear Lord, along that narrow way that leads to the fullness of the blaze of glory of the Loud Cry. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.
* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.