Greetings MOL Family!
This is part 1 of our final survey in our series on the Advent Movement. It is our purpose in this last class session to gather up the different lines that we have been studying over the past several weeks, and focus them upon a given point.
He Knew His Place
Our text tells of Jesus coming to Nazareth, and entering into the synagogue. There was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Isaias; and when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written. He didn’t just pick up anything and read everything. He found the place. Now, what particular place was it? It was the 61st chapter of Isaiah, and He read certain words, and then it says He closed the book (the 20th verse). And the 21st verse, says:
And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. – Luke 4:21
One of the great things that entered into the ministry of Christ was His ability to discern those statements in prophecy that related to Him and His work, and present them to the people. He knew His place on His Father’s great timetable. This is our privilege, dear friends. The world needs today just what it needed back there – a revelation of Christ and a revelation that is based on prophecy, and shows the fulfillment of prophecy.
The Advent Movement Survey
Now, I would like to very deliberately gather up the lines that we have been studying in The Advent Movement Survey. It seems to me that every institution in this movement ought to be able to find the place where it is written, and to say, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
Personally, if the institution I am connected with cannot say that, and cannot help me to see that, then I belong somewhere else. I would hate to live without the inspiration and the thrill that comes from knowing I am in a work that’s appointed of God in prophecy, fulfilling a mission and a commission from God.
It’s possible in God’s great plan for many individuals, many institutions, each to be doing their specific work, each to have the joy of knowing they’re appointed of God, and represent the purpose of God; each one to be doing its specific work and not getting in the way of one another, but cooperating together; each one feeling this is what God has planned to be done. I say that’s possible. That’s what God intends to be demonstrated in this movement.
So, let me make very clear at the beginning of our study, that in focusing the different lines can be understood only, in the light of that great fact. The purpose of this message, this movement, is to develop a people who can pass the test of the judgment. To accomplish that, every part of the message is designed to act a part.
In the setting of that law, that judgment, the Sabbath appears as the great sign and seal of God, the great issue over which the final controversy is to reach its climax. And closely connected with the commandments of God is seen the testimony of Jesus or the Spirit of Prophecy, which is the agency which Heaven has used to bring the magnifying light of the Spirit of God to bear upon the Bible (especially as it relates to the preparation of this people that are to pass the test of the judgment). With that comes the light on the state of the dead, that we may be prepared to meet the onslaughts of satan’s great counterfeit for the Spirit of Prophecy, which is spiritualism.
There you have the great points of our message. I like to think of them as the five S’s – the second coming, the sanctuary, the Sabbath, the Spirit of Prophecy, the state of the dead. During the early years of this message, just before, and during, and immediately after 1844, those great truths were presented and brought together until, during the first decade after the disappointment, those great pillars were all established and settled. We have been walking in the light of those researches, where prayer and study and revelation from Heaven mingled in making clear to the pioneers of this movement the truths of God.
We have been warned again and again against stepping off that platform. We have been told that there would be those who would examine the platform and try to improve it, but we are told that that platform is to stand settled and established. We’ve been warned, of course, that that doesn’t mean that there might not be some new ray of light on some point. But we have been repeatedly told that no new light will in any way unsettle those great pillars. So I say, as those lines of truth focus down upon you and me, they tell us that –first of all– we are Seventh-day Adventists. We believe in the great truths that the pioneers of this message developed, and which are still being heralded by this movement near and far.
The second great line that we studied was the activities occupying largely the second decade of our history (from around 1853 or 1854, on to 1863). What was the great thing that was accomplished during those ten years? Organization. That’s right. The beginning of those 10 years found us without church organization. In fact, among our people in those days, there was a great prejudice against organization. Many of them believed that to organize in any way meant to become Babylon, or part of Babylon.
But through the earnest leadership of James White, and through the divine revelations given through the Spirit of Prophecy, our people were brought into the unity of the faith. And in May of 1863 the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist was organized; made up of a number of state conferences, each with certain simple, clear principles of organization and policies. Thus was laid the foundation of a system of organization which has stood the test of over a hundred and fifty years, and is still being blessed of God. Like anything which fallible men carry on, it has revealed the weaknesses of men. But like every plan which has been blessed by the leadership of God, it reveals the fruits of its Heavenly origin.
The organization of the Seventh-day Adventist church is indeed a wonderful and marvelous organization. As Sister White says, we should thank God for it. And we should remember that, in its great, broad principles, it was given to us from Heaven. What does this mean to you and me? How does that focus upon where we are and what we are doing? It means, dear friends, that we are a part, not only of a message, but of a movement – not a mob, but an army. We are not, and in the very nature of things we cannot be, independent atoms; or may I say, independent molecules, either. No. We are members of His body (Ephesians 5:20).
And He is the head of the body, the church (Colossians 1:18). That church is the object most dear to the heart of God. That church, in its organized capacity, as developed in the second decade of our history as a movement, has been so blessed of God, that it has spread this message around the world.
We should beware of any subtle attempt by critics, either from without or within, to separate the concepts of the message and the movement. There are those who seek to do this. There are those who say, “Yes, we are Seventh-day Adventists. We believe the Third Angel’s Message. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we believe in the organization.”
To us it necessarily means exactly that, my friends. Of necessity, we believe that God has so blended and welded together the message and the movement, the truth and the organization, that we dare not differentiate and say we believe the truth but we reject the organization which brings the truth. Such a separation in thinking is a subtle suggestion of the enemy to confuse minds.
I thank God, dear friends, for the assurance not only that the truth that God gave the pioneers of this message will triumph, but that the church which God helped the pioneers of this message to establish will yet stand forth in all the beauty of apostolic simplicity and purity, and triumph as prophecy has said she will.
It’s interesting to take the book, Early Writings, and consider how these visions were given well over a century ago, and mark how beautifully they met the needs of those pioneer conditions; and then reflect on how “up to the minute” they are in meeting the needs of this hour. That’s the mark of inspiration.
Take this chapter on “Gospel Order,” beginning on page 97. We studied it in one of our classes in this series. And when you read it, I say, it is remarkable how it met the need of that time for organization, and how it meets the need of this time for confirming us in organization.
On the very first page is a warning against those who enter the field without being acknowledged by the church or the brethren generally, and it says that confusion and disunion are the result. How clear that is, friends. And when men today raise the question about this idea or that teaching, this movement or that movement – some thing – and the question is raised, “What is wrong with that teaching?” The first question is not what is wrong with the teaching, my friends. That’s not the first question at all. The first question is, “Where did the movement originate? Where did the teaching come from? Does it lead to union or disunion? Does it lead to confusion or harmony?”
The pioneers of this message, after 10 years of seeing what the results of lack of organization were, saw that no amount of merely teaching truth and exposing error by doctrinal discussion and investigation and study, even with all night sessions, would suffice to meet the need. Organization, thorough organization, was essential. It was necessary for the church to so be organized that it could speak as to who should speak for it. Thus, that message sheds a great deal of light on present needs and present issues:
These self-sent messengers are a curse to the cause. – Early Writings, pg. 99
It is the duty of the church to act and let it be known that these persons are not acknowledged as teachers by the church. This is the only course the church can take in order to be clear in this matter, for the burden lies upon them” Ibid., pg. 100
And my friends, it is both naive, and shall I say, plain silly, to say, “Well, of course, that applies if a brother is teaching error, but it doesn’t apply if he is teaching truth.”
That is equivalent to saying that I am perfectly willing for the policeman to arrest me if I am doing anything wrong. But I am not doing anything wrong. Therefore, I refuse to have him arrest me. That is to say, “I will let the judge try my case, provided I think that I have done something that needs to be tried. But if I think that I have already proved that I do not require any indictment or arrest or arraignment, then I do not acknowledge the authority of the judge to try me.” I repeat, it is both naive and plain silly.
And so, let us beware of any misinterpretation of the Testimonies which would ignore these plain statements given in laying the foundations of the movement, of the organization of this movement. Those rays of light shine on down to our time and shed great light upon the pathway we are traveling, and must continue to travel, until we reach the pearly gates. I trust that every heart can say an intelligent and willing “Amen” to that.
Now, the third great line that I would like to have you notice, in review, is the great light that God gave this message, this movement, this people, this church, on health reform and medical missionary work. That came in the third decade. The first decade was largely concerned with doctrine and prophecies; the second, with organization; the third, the great light on health reform and medical missionary work.
How did the light come on this? Ah, you remember we read it there. Sister White says, “It was at the home of Aaron Hilliard, June 6, 1863 that the great subject of health reform was opened before me in vision.” From the Most Holy Place the light of revelation shown down upon this people, and we were given a broad program of healthful living and ministry to the sick and suffering. It’s a wonderful program, isn’t it?
How did it get into the Advent movement? By revelation. Don’t misunderstand, as we studied, there were those back in those days in other places, in other movements, that were teaching certain things in health reform. But the reason that this people adopted health reform was because Jesus sent His angel from Heaven. That’s why we have it.
Today we may quote from the findings of science concerning the relation of tobacco using to lung cancer and ulcers and coronary attacks. But friends, we, as a people, abandoned tobacco a hundred plus years before science found out the relation of tobacco to lung cancer, or some of these other things. Do you see what I am getting at? Oh, I thank God for the light on health reform and medical missionary work. Don’t you?
And as a part of that great program, a distinctive Seventh-day Adventist institution was formed and established. What was it? A sanitarium. Through inspiration, God has given this people scores and hundreds of pages, yes, thousands, dealing with the work of the sanitarium and medical missionary work. I ask, what is it for, friends? How does it focus? It focuses upon one thing – making ready a people prepared for the Lord.
People can be saved as the thief on the cross was, without necessarily knowing anything about health reform, right? Yes. People can get ready to die without knowing anything about health reform. But if you are going to get ready to live, you need to know how to treat the body, right? So, physiology comes into its place as a part of the thing that you and I are to study. But remember, the great purpose of it is to make ready a people, to get our bodies in shape so our minds will be in shape so that our souls can get in shape for the seal of God.
There are two crosses in that health reform and medical missionary program, as we have seen it. There is a cross of the denial of appetite. The person who likes meat and recognizes that God is calling him to a vegetarian program, has to do what to his appetite? Deny it. But equally so, the person who loves to consume large quantities of these sweets that are putting holes in people’s teeth, what does he have to do to his appetite? He has to deny it. And the person who likes to eat between meals, what does he have to do to his appetite? Deny it. The person who likes to overeat what does he have to do to his appetite? Deny it. Yes, there is a cross in health reform. But, like every cross that the Lord has given us, if we lift it, we find it lifts us. But my point is, we must not deny the cross or evade the cross or hide the cross. Is that cross still in health reform? Yes. That’s why it’s not popular.
What’s that other cross in health reform? Oh, it’s the cross of medical missionary service on a sacrificial basis. In other words, this program of health reform and medical missionary work isn’t just for me, to help me not to get ulcers and high blood pressure and cancer. This health reform medical missionary program is to make me a minister of mercy to the sick, the suffering, the poor, the needy. Right? And to do it in a way that costs me something. In other words, this is a call to you and me to follow the example of Christ, the pattern man, the great medical missionary. He carried on His medical missionary work in a sacrificial way.
That’s the call for this movement. Is that cross still here? And we must not seek to avoid it or evade it. And oh, this comes as a challenge to you and me. Shall we yield to the great pressure of the present hour, to take sacrifice out of the medical missionary program? Shall we?
Why, my dear friends, it’s possible today to be called a medical missionary and know nothing of the self-denial of appetite, and know nothing of the self-sacrifice of the true medical missionary. It’s possible to bear the name without the experience in either one of these crosses. But, as with the gospel, when you take the cross out of the gospel, what’s left isn’t worth much; when you take the cross out of health reform and the medical missionary work, what’s left isn’t worth much, friends.
Join us next week for our final class in this great Advent Movement Survey. Invite a friend that may not be familiar with these blessed truths.