Seventh-Day Adventists called by God
This small group of faithful Adventists formed the nucleus of what is nowadays “The Seventh-Day Adventist Church”. New light was given to them concerning Christ’s Work in the Sanctuary, Saturday, Health Reform and Organization. A wonderful system Biblical Truth gradually unveiled, a system that supplies each necessity of our time. The central doctrine of the movement was the imminent and visible coming of Christ. All the tests, privations and sacrifices that the pioneers of the Adventist Movement faced were bear endured happily, because they believed firmly that Christ would come very soon. The high spiritual norm maintained by them was achieved thanks to this vivid hope.
The movement grew, prospered and was spread. Properties were bought and the number of members increased. Slowly the movement became church. During these first years the Seventh-Day Adventists were a special, different people and with specific message.
But as the waited coming of Christ was delayed year after year, and new generations replaced the previous ones, the brilliant hope and the urgency of the message began to decay. God through His servant, Sister. E. G. White, sent admonishments and reprehensions to the church that began to resemble more and more to the world. To the point that the messenger of the Lord declared: “The line of demarcation between worldlings and many professed Christians is almost indistinguishable. Many who once were earnest Adventists are conforming to the world–to its practices, its customs, its selfishness. Instead of leading the world to render obedience to God’s law, the church is uniting more and more closely with the world in transgression. Daily the church is becoming converted to the world.” – Testimonies Vol. 8 p. 118
This was just one of a lot of messages sent to the people of God, but the admonishments were unheeded. The message “Christ Our Righteousness” presented in 1888 to the General Conference in Session was not accepted, except for some individually. This negligence of no surrendering to the Holy Spirit led inevitably to an open apostasy when of the obedience to the law of God a test was made. Years after years the warning messages became more specific, until predictions of terrible tests on God’s people began to appear. “Fearful tests and trials await the people of God. The spirit of war is stirring the nations from one end of the earth to the other. But in the midst of the time of trouble that is coming, –a time of trouble such as has not been since there was a nation,–God’s chosen people will stand unmoved.” Testimonies Vol. 9, p. 17. Since 1914 this world has entered in this time of test. Of a political crisis to other, the nations have been and they are still in difficulties. This will continue until the end of the time, and God’s people will be continually proven.
The Church is Proven
The tests and hindrances to confront God’s people would be supplemented with the war, time of test for the nations. God’s people would be proven in its loyalty toward Him and toward His commandments in this time of war.
The Adventist Movement had already confronted this test, at a national level, during the American Civil War (1861-1865) In that time, the faithful ones had to decide what position they would take in this conflict in which were involved the 4th and the 6th commandments. The Movement passed this first test well, under the care of God. Even when the article of James White, published in “The Review and Herald” on August the 12 1862, under the title “The Nation”, pled for the participation in the army in order to help the abolition of slavery, the church took a correct position, after God gave a clear concerning vision to the topic, by Sr. White: “I was shown that God’s people, who are His peculiar treasure, cannot engage in this perplexing war, for it is opposed to every principle of their faith. In the army they cannot obey the truth and at the same time obey the requirements of their officers. There would be a continual violation of conscience. Worldly men are governed by worldly principles. They can appreciate no other. Worldly policy and public opinion comprise the principle of action that governs them and leads them to practice the form of rightdoing. But God’s people cannot be governed by these motives. The words and commands of God, written in the soul, are spirit and life, and there is power in them to bring into subjection and enforce obedience. The ten precepts of Jehovah are the foundation of all righteous and good laws. Those who love God’s commandments will conform to every good law of the land. But if the requirements of the rulers are such as conflict with the laws of God, the only question to be settled is: Shall we obey God, or man?” – Testimonies Vol. 1, p. 361.
The Government offered three choices to the Seventh-Day Adventists in that time of the civil war. They were:
(1) Hospital service,
(2) Care of the freedmen, and
(3) The payment of US$300 commutation money.
The Executive Committee of the Seventh-Day Adventist General Conference addressed a “Statement of Principles” to the governor of Michigan on August 2, 1864 of which we mention the following portion: “The denomination of Christians calling themselves Seventh-Day Adventists, taking the Bible as their rule of faith and practice, are unanimous in their views that its teachings are contrary to the spirit and practice of war; hence, they have ever been conscientiously opposed to bearing arms, If there is any portion of the Bible which we, as a people, can point to more than another is our creed, it is the law of ten commandments, which we regard as the supreme law, and each precept of which we take in its most obvious and literal import. The fourth of these commandments requires cessation from labor on the seventh day of the week; the sixth prohibits the taking of life, neither of which, in our view, could be observed while doing military duty. Our practice has uniformly been consistent with these principles. Hence, our people have not felt free to enlist into the service. In none of our denominational publications have we advocate or encourage the practice of bearing arms; ad, when drafted, rather than violate our principles, we have been content to pay, and assist each other in paying, the $300 commutation money. And while that provision remained of universal application, we did not deem any public expression of our sentiments on this question called for.” – In Time of War, p. 58
During the Civil War this position was called “Non-combatant.” Since then, the meaning of this term has changed a few times. Today Non-combatant means somebody who serves in the army and exercises all the duties except bearing arms. At the beginning, this term meant, the rejection of entering in the army without caring in which capacity. Today we would call this “conscientious objection to anything that pertained to war and the military service”. The pioneers understood in this way this truth and they kept it as showed in the repeated declaration of 1865: “Agreeing, that we recognize the civil government as ordered by God so that order, justice and tranquility can be kept in the country, and so that God’s people can have calm and peaceful lives in well honesty. In conformity with this fact, we recognize the justice of surrendering tribute, honor and reverence to the civil power, like it is ordered in the New Testament. While gladly we surrender to Caesar what the Scriptures show as his, we are compelled to decline all participation in acts of war and bloodshed, as being inconsistent with the duties enjoined upon us by our divine Master toward our enemies and toward The faithful believers that were disfellowshiped of the churches in the different countries of Europe were alone, persecuted and without church. The General Conference Adventist changed its principles to sympathize with the apostasy of the European leaders. Knowing that previously (1865) they had said: “… we are compelled to decline all participation in acts of war and bloodshed, as being inconsistent with the duties enjoined upon us by our divine Master toward our enemies and toward mankind.” (Seventh Adventists and Civil Government p. 11), in 1917, the banner was enlarged – “We request that our religious convictions are recognized by those in authority, and that we may be demanded to serve to our country in those capacities that don’t violate our conscious obedience to the Law of God, like he/she appears in the Decalogue, explained in Christ’s teachings and exemplified in His life.” – Seventh Adventists and Civil Government p. 11. Now, they say that their members are willing to serve to their countries in certain specified capacities. This declaration differs to that of 1865 in which they refused all participation in acts of war.
After the horrors of the war quieted down in 1918, those that had been disfellowshiped of the churches in the different countries, managed to get in contact. In 1919, the reformers, as they called themselves, were organized and dedicated to preach and to keep the original Adventist norms. This didn’t impede them to appeal to the General Conference in America so that they corrected the errors of their apostasy. Meetings were celebrated, one of them in Friedensau, Germany, in 1920, and a petition so that they were listened to was made to the Session of the General Conference in 1922 in San Francisco, California; but all the efforts to correct the terrible error failed. Finally in 1925 the Reform Movement established its Principles of Faith, containing the original doctrines of the Adventists. And in this form the prophecies of the servant of God, who died in 1915 (when her advice and warning were openly tramped and waste), concerning to a reformation were fulfilled. God’s people in this final time is identified in the Scriptures as the remnant church. The same as the 6 churches of Revelation 2 and 3, the last church, Laodicea, has a remnant of faithful overcomers. This is the remnant that keeps the commandments of God and follows the instructions of the Spirit of Prophecy (Revelation 12:17) Their only security is in the divine guide: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20
Liberty to Transgress
The same test was repeated in the II World War, for third time, with the same and even worse results. Nowadays, the defended principle and published by the Adventists all over is: “We grant to each of our members absolute liberty to serve his country, at all times and in all places, in accord with the dictates of his personal conscientious conviction.” Political Declaration of the European Division, Gland Switzerland. And in May 1934, the General Conference confirmed this norm, as well as has made it since then many times – “The Church doesn’t try to dictate individually to its members, but each person should stay in her own convictions” – Seventh-Day Adventists and Civil Government p. 12
As reformers, we protest to this presumption of the Adventist leaders when giving to the people liberty to transgress the law of God. “Were men free to depart from the Lord’s requirements and to set up a standard of duty for themselves, there would be a variety of standards to suit different minds and the government would be taken out of the Lord’s hands. The will of man would be made supreme, and the high and holy will of God– His purpose of love toward His creatures–would be dishonored, disrespected.” – Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 51.
In harmony with the Inspired Word, we should speak against the many transgressions, negligence or open rejection, in different aspects of the precious light that God has given to His people. This protest should not be presented with an attitude of “holier than you”. We are all sinners with urgent necessity of the Righteousness of our Saviour Jesus Christ. But He has granted to His people the present truth to be taken to the world. What will it happen if the Adventist people allows that this precious light dims, falsify or do even extinguish?
Result of the Apostasy
Most of the sincere Adventists agree that a reformation is needed in the church, but they don’t see that such a Reformation takes to a separation. Read the following statement from the Spirit of Prophecy.
“As the light and life of men was rejected by the ecclesiastical authorities in the days of Christ, so it has been rejected in every succeeding generation. Again and again the history of Christ’s withdrawal from Judea has been repeated. When the Reformers preached the word of God, they had no thought of separating themselves from the established church; but the religious leaders would not tolerate the light, and those that bore it were forced to seek another class, who were longing for the truth. In our day few of the professed followers of the Reformers are actuated by their spirit. Few are listening for the voice of God, and ready to accept truth in whatever guise it may be presented. Often those who follow in the steps of the Reformers are forced to turn away from the churches they love, in order to declare the plain teaching of the word of God. And many times those who are seeking for light are by the same teaching obliged to leave the church of their fathers, that they may render obedience.” The Desire of Ages, p. 232
Often the Adventist leaders classify this Reform Movement of 1914 like a misplaced branch or dissidents. But it was in fact, the separation of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church from the firm platform of the Present Truth, and the expulsion of the faithful members what caused the raising of this Reform Movement. And so, the needed and waited reformation within the Adventist Church has occurred. And it remains firm strong in the platform of the Present Truth in the entire world.
Our true interest is for the sincere Adventist that believes in the Three Angels’ Messages and wants to live them. God has a people, a church, where all can rejoice in the pure truth that was given to the Adventists by the Spirit of God.
If you want to know about this Reform Movement, request the Reformation Study Course, an important and well documented course by correspondence on this important topic. It is completely free of charge.