PROPHET OR PRIEST?
One can conduct a fascinating experiment by asking a group of people to close their eyes, raise their right hands, and then point in the direction of north. This always results in a great difference of opinion. How then is the group to determine which way is north? Should the group vote on which direction is north? Should the group carefully plot each hand's direction and determine north by the scientific mean of all the hands (the average midpoint of all the hands)? Or should each one be content with his or her own view of which direction is north?
Would it not be wiser to determine the direction of north by using a compass? True north is not a matter to be debated but to be observed and accepted. North is not determined by the sum of our opinions, nor is its direction open to discussion. Magnetic north simply is. It is a fact that exists outside of our sensory perceptions.
If you and I were sailing our church on the open sea, would it make any difference if we used magnetic north as a reference point or the opinions of our congregation? A philosopher once said, "Either we conform the truth to our desires or we conform our desires to the truth." It is therefore sensible to suggest that conforming to truth despite the protestations of some will result in a safe journey and arrival for our church. Conforming the truth to our desires will produce a voyage which is interminably long because we are always lost, or tragically short because of shipwreck.
The only true north available to us is the guidance given to us by God in His Word. "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12) Only the Word of God can penetrate the outward facades and actions to expose the true motivations and intentions of the heart. Only by letting the Word do its work in our hearts can we be sure that we are following truth rather than our own selfish desires.
Paul warned of a time when human desires would take precedence over truth. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (2 Timothy 4:3,4) Aren't we already at that point? Is not the challenge of this day people with itchy ears, preachers not sure of where north is, and lots of interesting but questionable teaching and philosophy bombarding our ears, eager to take the place of God's Word?
Paul's almost desperate appeal to Timothy is definitely for us today. "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith." (1 Timothy 6:20,21) Perhaps it would be helpful to take a look at how some are defining north today in Adventism.
When Will We Stop Sinning?
A new-to-Adventism belief system has been introduced into the Seventh-day Adventist Church and has now been accepted as truth by many of our members. They are first told that God does not expect them to stop sinning in this earthly life, because He knows that it is impossible. Then they are assured that He will miraculously and instantaneously fix them when Christ returns, so that they will never sin again.
But just how could God take a person who has been sinning throughout life and instantaneously fix that person so that he would never sin again? Only by God removing that person's freedom--his power of choice--and making him a programmed computer. Now if God can solve the problem of sin by such a mechanical method, why did He not do it ages ago, with Lucifer himself?
Where did this theology of salvation come from? Right from the Reformation. It is part of an elaborate theological system developed by the followers of Calvin. Let us look briefly at some parts of this system.
Even the fall of Adam, and through him the fall of the race, was not by chance or accident, but was so ordained in the secret counsels of God. (Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, p. 234)
The inevitability of each person's eternal destiny was a central part of the theology of both Luther and Calvin.
(Calvin) Eternal life is foreordained for some and eternal death for others. (Boettner, p. 15)
(Luther) It was foreordained...who should be condemned. (Boettner, p. 15)
Exactly what does this mean for those who are condemned?
[His decree] extends...from the creation to the judgment, and includes all the activities of saints and angels in heaven and of reprobates and demons in hell. (Boettner, p. 13)
This monster god of Calvi nism creates some people, predestines them to be lost, watches them sin, does not permit them to repent, and then tortures them throughout all eternity for their sins. And all of this is done in perfect fairness to the sinner.
No injustice is done to the non-elect. (Boettner, p. 113)
Some Seventh-day Adventists are presently trying to take a page out of this Calvinist theology and introduce it into the theology of our church. It is the page that teaches that there is no need for us to stop sinning because God will miraculously fix us at Christ's second coming so that we will never sin again.
Theological systems are like chainlink fences. Doctrines do not stand alone. They are connected with other doctrines. To lay hold of a single doctrine and remove it from its system without getting others with it is seldom possible. Do we really want to go back into the morass of predestination and original sin and eternal hellfire to find a theological solution for the problem of ongoing sin in our daily lives?
Liberalism and Legalism
A question was posed on an open forum website. "Which do you think is a bigger problem in the church today: legalism or liberalism?" Could it be that liberalism is just another form of legalism? Someone has suggested that liberals are often just fundamentalists with a different set of beliefs. One simply applies the law "liberally" to allow a certain measure of "Christian freedom," often to see how much one can get away with. Both legalism and liberalism are centered on self in different ways. Legalism and liberalism are both problems in our church and in our own lives. For all practical purposes they are the same thing (although depending in your personality type, you might enjoy one more than the other).
Another indication that liberalism and legalism are the same is the fact that the legalism of one hundred years ago and the liberalism of today are both very uncomfortable with the 1888 message. In 1893, speaking to the General Conference, A. T. Jones quoted Ellen White's warnings to church leaders.
You cannot neglect God's message of warning, you cannot reject them or treat them lightly but at the peril of infinite loss. Caviling, ridicule, and misrepresentation can be indulged in only at the expense of the debasement of your own souls. The use of such weapons does not gain precious victories for you, but rather cheapens the mind, and separates the soul from God....To accuse and criticize those whom God is using, is to accuse and criticize the Lord, who has sent them....Those who have not made thorough work of repentance under the light God has been pleased to give to His people sinse that time, will not see things clearly, and will be ready to call the messages God sends, a delusion....The prejudices and opinions that prevailed at Minneapolis are not dead by any means; the seeds sown there in some hearts are ready to spring into life and bear a like harvest. The tops have been cut down, but the roots have never been eradicated, and they still bear their unholy fruit to poison the judgment, pervert the perceptions, and blind the understanding of those with whom you connect, in regard to the message and the messengers. (Excerpted from the 1893 General Conference Daily Bulletin, pp. 67-70)
In March, 1890, Ellen White faced those who were opposing the 1888 message with these words.
I am afraid of you and I am afraid of your interpretation of any Scripture which has revealed itself in such an un-Christlike spirit as you have manifested....Let your caution be exercised in the line of fear lest you are committing the sin against the Holy Ghost....I am afraid of any application of Scripture that needs such a spirit and bears such fruit as you have manifested. (Letter 83, 1890)
It is all too apparent today that many modern voices are attacking parts of the 1888 message just as they were over one hundred years ago. Whether the voices come from legalism or liberalism, there is great discomfort with the message that came to our church through Jones and Waggoner.
The Heart of the 1888 Message
What is the rock-bottom, foundational idea that permeates the 1888 message? It is something that never crossed the mind of Luther, Calvin, or even the Wesleys. It has never penetrated the consciousness of our Sundaykeeping brothers and sisters today. It is the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary--the ministry of our great High Priest in the Most Holy Apartment.
In very practical terms, the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary is the cleansing of our individual hearts. But exactly what does that mean? Listen to one Adventist writer try to explain this in 1893.
As line upon line His truth is made manifest to us, and step after step we come nearer to God, radical changes and breaking off from old ways is required at the successive steps as at the first. Why does he who professes to know Christ, sometimes tarry for months and years without...any particular joy in the Lord?...You have not walked up so far as the light has already shone....That light reveals sin, and you compromise with it. If you refuse to walk so far as the light has shone, how much better are you than when you refused to take the first step?-- Not a whit, and you need converting over again. A refusal to take the twentieth or hundredth step is just as much rebellion as a refusal to take the first. When no compromise with sin is made, when whatever causes to offend is cut off, and cast from you, though it be so great a sacrifice as your right hand or eye, then your life is a continual triumph in God. The first victory you won when you took the first step, caused rejoicing; the second victory, when you took the second step, caused additional rejoicing; and as you come nearer to the Lord, your light becomes brighter and brighter, your rejoicing more and more....How many among Seventh-day Adventists need converting! Our life should be a perpetual round of conversion. Then the joy and peace of the first love will ever thrill and fill the soul....Your lukewarmness is rebellion, and your sin in refusing to follow on to know the Lord, will hold from you all the benefits and joys of Christ. (RH May 9, 1893)
Many, many Adventists have taken the first steps, and they love the Sabbath and the second coming, but they have gotten stalled at the twentieth or hundredth step, and they wonder why their Christian experience is stagnant. How much we need a perpetual round of conversion. During the same year, another Adventist writer penned these words.
There is no sin, no matter how deeply seated in the physical man, or how long it has been indulged, but what if fully surrendered to Him who has all power in heaven and earth, it can be fully conquered. By keeping our eyes fixed upon Jesus by faith, we can resist every temptation. From all temptations that are too strong for us to bear, He has promised to make a way of escape. It is the mind of God that we live without sin; for if in His strength we can conquer every temptation that He allows to come upon us, and He makes a way of escape for temptations too strong to bear, there can be no reason why we should not become sinless, and live a pure life. It is sin that discourages us, and only sin....Why would God write to us, through His servant, "that ye sin not," if there is no way to be kept from sinning?...But strive as we may, and be as determined as we know how, we are told in Steps to Christ, 64, that "we shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God."...By continually keeping our eyes fixed upon Christ, we can live without sin. By looking away from Him, we will sin. We can look to Him continually....But if we make calculations that we cannot live out the admonition, "that ye sin not," we have already looked away from Christ, made provisions to fulfill the lusts of the flesh, and will sink in despair. (RH March 7, 1893)
Prophet or Priest?
Tension perpetually simmers between the Biblical prophet and the priest. The disquiet between these two callings runs like a turbulent stream through the heart of Scripture. Perhaps the best example of this is seen in the mortal contention between Jeremiah the prophet and his priestly breethren. The prophet, though consistently compassionate, constructive, and responsible, fulfilled God's call to confront what was wrong in Israel, and to challenge the nation with her misdeeds. The priest, on the other hand, was more pastoral, had more institutional authority, and adopted the role of keeping the nation on an even keel. In the ensuing tension, the prophet frequently bore the wrath and reprisal of the priest.
In the early pioneering period of any movement of faith, the prophetic voice is more vocal and respected. As the movement matures, the priestly voice ascends in its influence. Ultimately, however, it can take on a dominance that may all but mute the prophetic voice. The more powerful and established the organization becomes, the less it feels the need for a prophetic voice. One of the reasons for the decline of a movement is that the prophetic voice becomes progressively hushed and devalued in the organization. When the prophet does speak, he or she is considered eccentri c, intrusive, and even destructive to the enterprise.
We have definitely come to this point in Adventism. Today calls for reformation are seen as destructive and divisive. Once again, Jeremiah finds his home in the pit because he dares to challenge the status quo.
Why is it that when someone expresses concern about something in the church that is not in harmony with God's Word, there are often accusations of intolerance by other church members or even the pastor? The answer partly lies in the modern view of tolerance. Everything from culture to clothing, music to movies, divorce to doctrine, even feminism and forbidden sexual orientations must now be tolerated by church members.
Someone once said, "The last virtue of a wicked society is tolerance." Roger Williams found toleration intolerable because it was only one step from intolerance. Today's tolerance is intolerant of anyone who still believes in a Biblical definition of sin. Those who raise their voices in concern or protest against persistent evils among us are no longer tolerated. Accountability to the revealed Word of God is intolerable.
Because of these pressures, faithful souls have succumbed to a conspiracy of silence. Why are we reluctant to speak up? Partly because we fear being labeled intolerant. The result is that compromise goes unchecked, sin goes unconfronted, false teaching is encouraged, and moral standards are at an all-time low. Those with high standards who won't let their children rent the latest movies, eat junk food, watch all the cartoons, or date too early are shunned and ostracized. Those who oppose GraceLink, intercollegiate sports, and drama are ridiculed and scorned.
We must have the same attitude that Jesus had, that spiritual accountability demands that public sins be publicly addressed. Jesus openly reproved sin, while He loved the sinner. Can we do any less and still be faithful stewards?
The highly respected evangelical theologian J. I. Packer was one of those who walked out in protest in June, 2002, when the synod of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster authorized its bishop to produce a service for blessing same-sex unions. In an article explaining the reason for his action, Packer argued that the Westminster decision "falsifies the gospel of Christ, abandons the authority of Scripture, jeopardizes the salvation of fellow human beings, and betrays the church in its God-appointed role as the bastion and bulwark of divine truth." He referred to what he called "the delusion of looking to God--actually asking Him--to sanctify sin by blessing what He condemns. This," he said, "is irresponsible, irreverent, indeed blasphemous."
In this context we would do well to heed God's warning in Psalm 50:16,17. "What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee." Invoking the memory of Martin Luther, Packer quoted Luther's words: "If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point that the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages is where the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point." ("Why I Walked," Christianity Today, January, 2003)
Trailing in the Dust
Unfortunately, most of us have been afraid to make such protests because of a misguided desire to preserve harmony at all costs. As an example of the kind of protest that we should be making in the Seventh-day Adventist Church against soul-destroying false teaching, I would submit the following response to Keavin Hayden's book, Lifestyles of the Remnant, published by the Review and Herald in 2001. (Kevin D. Paulson, available on www.greatcontroversy.org)
After reading Hayden's book, few should doubt that the position one takes on Adventism's current salvation issues carries direct implications for how we deal with lifestyle standards. [He candidly admits] that current lifestyle and worship issues in the denomination are directly impacted by our view of salvation and perfection (pp. 16,24)....He attacks the hope of character perfection in this life as the product of "seducing spirits and doctrines of devils."...He declares [this] doctrine to be the teaching of Antichrist (pp. 18-19,21)....Hayden insists that when Ellen White speaks of salvation by "Christ's righteousness alone," and describes the wedding garment of Jesus' parable (p. 19), that this refers to substitutional righteousness (justification) only, in contrast with sanctification which Hayden denies can ever be perfect here on earth....[He insists] that "because of our carnal state" (even after conversion) "all our righteousness (right doings) are as filthy rags" (p. 19)....
The fact is that nowhere do either Scripture or Ellen White equate sanctification with the filthy rags of self-righteousness! Ellen White affirms..."What is sanctification? It is to give one's self wholly and without reserve--soul, body, and spirit--to God (OHC 212)...."Both our title to heaven and our fitness for it are found in the righteousness of Christ (DA 300). In other words, both justification and sanctification constitute the righteousness of Christ....Never does either the Bible or Ellen White exalt the purity of justification over that of sanctification, nor is either depicted as any more or less the spotless righteousness of Christ than the other.
Hayden attacks the doctrine of Christian perfection as follows: "But if that is possible, then all we need is the Holy Spirit to make us good enough. We really don't need Christ's substitutionary character, do we?...When we by faith accept Him as our substitute, Heaven considers His perfect, infinite character as though it were ours. Heaven accounts us as meeting the perfect, infinite standard of the divine law, even though in our lives we really don't (p. 19)....In Christ's Object Lessons (312) [Ellen White writes]: "When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garments of His righteousness."...
Hayden describes the substitutionary character of Jesus as an "umbrella of eternal grace" which leaves us room to fail and to be more "tolerant" of others' failings (p. 24)....Hayden attacks... "a traditional teaching that has plagued Adventism for years--that God expects us to unite with the power of the Holy Spirit and develop in this life a character that is as absolutely perfect as Christ's (p. 18)...."We must always remember that even those good works that Christ creates in us still fail to meet the infinite standard of the law (pp. 20-21)....He is quite clear that in his view, even when uniting with the Holy Spirit's power, the perfection of Christ remains out of our reach...."It is at the great Second Advent that we shall finally realize our hope of a perfect sinless state (p. 23)....[But EllenWhite states] that "when the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own" (COL 69)...."He came in person to the world to show its inhabitants how to live sinless lives" (Ev 385). "Christ came to this world and lived a life of perfect obedience, that men and women, through His grace, might also live lives of perfect obedience. This is necessary to their salvation" (RH March 15, 1906)...."He came to this world and lived a sinless life, that in His power His people might also live lives of sinlessness" (RH April 1, 1902)...."He who has not sufficient faith in Christ to believe that He can keep him from sinning, has not the faith that will give him an entrance into the kingdom of God" (3SM 360)....
If perfection is impossible in this life, peculiar Adventist lifestyle standards won't be the only casualty. If our Lord's sinless life is beyond the reach of even the sanctified Christian, earrings and hamburgers and contemporary music will be only part of the problem. If this doctrine is accepted, every category of Christian conduct is left vulnerable to the mercurial tides of a presumably unconquerable lower nature. Irritation, lust, temper, family discord, racial hatred, greed of possessions will urge their occasional presence as often--perhaps more so--than our desire to breach the unique taboos of classic Adventism....
If we accept the premise that some sin will always be present in Christian lives, which sins will we be allowed to keep committing?...When we see the marks of abuse on the body of a battered child, or read of the racially-motivated burning of an African-American church, must our outrage be muted by the possibility that such sins might be among those over which the wrongdoer can't gain total victory? The notion that "occasional misdeeds" will ever be the Christian's lot overlooks the reality that most sins, even the very heinous and brutal, are usually committed only occasionally....Every vile deed from inquisition to slavery to industrial brutality has marked the trail of Christian imperfection. And if one kind of sin is excusable because our sinful natures are too strong even for the Holy Spirit, so is every other kind. Hayden speaks favorably of those Christians who "fail to measure up to the standard because we have, with good intentions, tried our best and fallen short" (p. 13). The problem is, the world has watched Christian good intentions for two thousand years, and is sickened by our perpetual falling short....
One is troubled by Hayden's apparent conviction that the key to unity in the church is more the open-ended tolerance of diversity than the unconditional surrender of believers to the written counsel of God....Why is peace with each other through mutual tolerance so much more conspicuous in Hayden's book than the necessity of peace with God through Spirit-led obedience?...
"Those who have too little courage to reprove wrong, or who through indolence or lack of interest make no earnest effort to purify the family or the church of God, are held accountable for the evil that may result from their neglect of duty. We are just as responsible for evils that we might have checked in others through exercise of parental or pastoral authority as if the acts had been our own" (PP 578)...."To speak the Word of God with faithfulness is a work of the greatest importance. But this is an entirely different work from continually censoring, thinking evil, and drawing apart from one another. Judging and reproving are two different things. God has laid upon His servants the work of reproving in love those who err, but He has forbidden and denounced the thoughtless judging so common among professed believers in the truth" (UL 366)....
Repeatedly in his book, Hayden invokes such terms as "religious liberty," "people's rights," and "liberty of conscience" as his plea for greater tolerance in the church regarding lifestyle and worship issues (pp. 27,67,74,77,89,123). In one of the boldest of his many bold statements, Hayden suggests that those in Adventism who seek to uphold standards of diet, dress, music, etc., will in the end join forces with those promoting Sunday laws, since they will supposedly have "nurtured a character that thinks it knows best for everybody else" (p. 123)....Hayden particularly criticizes the practice of conservative Adventist evangelists in asking baptismal candidates to remove jewelry before baptism (pp. 67,70)....Hayden writes, "Just because the Adventist Church may lose its battle over jewelry doesn't mean we have to lose the battle over souls" (p. 74). But he seems not to realize that departing from inspired counsel is to lose the battle over souls!...
At one point Hayden suggests that we baptize people into the church who haven't fully relinquished the use of tobacco, calling this one of the "human-made roadblocks" Adventists have traditionally set up for new members (pp. 50-52)....[But Ellen White states] "We do not take into the church those who use liquor or tobacco. We cannot admit such ones. But we can try to help them to overcome" (Te 166)....
But what should disturb any faithful Adventist is the following comment by Hayden...: "If we continue taking a hard-line, unbending stand regarding less morally defined issues such as jewelry, dictating to our youth what kind of music they are to listen to, and condemning their participation in such activities as dancing and theatergoing, we can expect to continue seeing them leave our church, many of them never to return" (p. 125)....As for Hayden's notion that high standards are likely to drive the youth away and supposedly "handicap our ability to bring new converts into the church" (p. 125), how is it that those religious communities with the highest standards of faith and practice--some of them more severe in certain aspects than conservative Adventism--have been growing in membership during the past twenty years, while those of a liberal, more tolerant bent have steadily declined?...
In...a book titled The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis,...a demon called Screwtape is giving advice to a less-experienced demon on how to ensnare human beings. "The game," said Screwtape, "is to have them all running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood. Get people to crowd to the side of the boat that is already nearly under. When people are lukewarm and apathetic, get them stirred up about the dangers of enthusiasm and emotion. If they are lazy, talk to them about the hypocrisy of the working community. If they are cruel, warn them against the evils of sentimentality...In other words, let them hear loudly and repeatedly the warnings they don't need."
No analogy could better describe the obsession of such as Keavin Hayden with the dangers of legalism, excessive rigidity, and apocalyptic paranoia, in the midst of a church where its most popular preachers and mainline literature constantly hammer at such perceived evils....Neither the world's deepening degeneracy nor its increased impact on the church gets much notice; Hayden still writes in dire tones of "our standard-oriented church" (p. 41)....Even a cursory study of the sacred record shows that worldly conformity has bedeviled God's people far more often than conservative extremism....
Hayden writes, as do others in contemporary Adventism, that the church's present challenge is finding some middle ground between the liberal and conservative alternatives among us (p. 123)....But Inspiration [says]..."Obedience or disobedience is the question to be decided by the whole world. All will be called to choose between the law of God and the laws of men. Here the dividing line will be drawn. There will be but two classes" (DA 763).
We need to ask, Why, in their warnings to the church of the last days, are both Scripture and Ellen White so devoid of the legalism obsession so common in contemporary Adventism?...Never do either Scripture or Ellen White describe the main problem of professed believers at the end of time as one of works-righteousness, excessive attention to standards, or the dry preaching of the law. It is true, as Hayden points out, that Ellen White warns of fanaticism in the church at the end of time (p. 36)....Far more often does she speak of "those who have step by step yielded to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs," the "careless and indifferent," those "not willing to take a bold and unyielding stand for the truth," those who "have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth,...uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit."...
In summary, Hayden's book is a tragic, destructive document, one of the most shameful books ever to be released by an Adventist publishing house. It strikes at the core of our faith with its denial of character perfection through the Spirit's power....We can at least thank Hayden for candidly admitting that denying this key doctrine is directly tied to a more lenient approach to lifestyle issues....All other issues of Christian living--not just unique Adventist ones--are left vulnerable if Christianity is reduced to just another "do the best you can" formula among countless others. Hayden's book is the clearest possible demonstration as to why we see, just now, so many of our cherished standards trailing in the dust.
Courage in Crisis Time
Here is the great danger of many....They wait to see what others will think. If these dissent, that is all that is needed to convince them that the subject under consideration is of no account whatever....[They are] walking by others' light, living on others' experience, feeling as others feel, and acting as others act. They act as though they had not an individuality. Their identity is submerged in others; they are merely shadows of those whom they think about right. Unless these become sensible of their wavering character and correct it, they will all fail of everlasting life; they will be unable to cope with the perils of the last days....Someone must be at their side to inform them whether a foe or a friend is approaching....Neither young nor old are excusable in trusting to another to have an experience for them....Men, women, and youth, God requires you to possess moral courage, steadiness of purpose, fortitude and perseverance, minds that cannot take the assertions of another, but which will investigate for themselves before receiving or rejecting, that will study and weigh evidence, and take it to the Lord in prayer. (2T 129-130)
Those who are joined to worldly ways and indulgences contrary to the physical and moral laws of the Lord, and those who have made agreements with the churches and organizations of Babylon, whether leaders or laity, should be clearly rebuked. "Something besides prayers and tears are needed in a time when reproach and peril are hanging over God's people. The wicked works must be brought to an end." (RH May 17, 1887)
So many have said, "I know God will sort it out some day. I often see things I know are not good; but I go along with it for the sake of my friends who need my love and encouragement." Inspiration has this counsel for "many": "No longer consent to listen without protest to the perversion of truth." (1SM 196)
Maybe your friends would stand for truth if you spoke up and refused to be a part of a wrong course of action. However, we have this conspiracy of silence--this "look the other way" mentality. I am sure there were many who would have gotten on the ark, except they did not want to be different and leave their friends.
How many among us today will perish in the borderland? How many who are so sure they are all right with God will spend the millennium as rotting bones scattered on this earth instead of walking the golden streets? Many are being deceived by what they think are loving, Christian sentiments that really have no higher source for their authority than the prince of darkness himself.
We are in the borderland. May God open the blind eyes, and loose the dumb tongues. We must steer true north, and not guess at the way home.