1. WORLD CONDITIONS
Conditions in the world are appalling. You and I know it well. Then why talk about it? There is a very good reason. In denominational language we call these phenomena “signs of the times.” We are living in the time just before Christ’s second coming. There was a time when people said that the Adventists were nothing but a group of pessimists beset by gloomy forebodings. But today almost all churches have joined us in broadcasting Christ’s second coming and the end of the world. This is quite a change. Even the leaders of the political world agree that the future is very dark, and they hold little hope for mankind’s happiness. But those who trust in God have the hope of a better world under the reign of Christ, our Saviour. This makes all the difference in their outlook.
But what perplexes many who wait for the advent of Christ and who are members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the fact that they see grave inconsistencies between what they are taught and what the church actually lives. Many are eagerly waiting for the church to achieve an ever higher Christian experience as we near the end. However, they become disillusioned when they see that, instead of the church converting the world, the world is actually converting the church to its ways. Old fathers and mothers in Israel, particularly, watch with alarm as the church no longer resists the incoming permissiveness and deteriorating modern influences. The line of demarcation between worldlings and Seventh-day Adventists has just about disappeared. Areas in which these inconsistencies are evident are health reform, dress reform, the attitude toward the government, warfare, the ecumenical movement, and the constant seeking for approval from other churches and the world.
3. GOD’S ANSWER
Throughout the testimonies given to the church by the Spirit of prophecy we find many calls for a change, a true reformation. We quote some of them here for your consideration:
“God’s people will not endure the test unless there is a revival and a reformation.” – Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 285.
“Unless there is a decided reformation among the people of God, He will turn His face from them.” – Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 146.
“A revival and a reformation must take place, under the ministration of the Holy Spirit.” – Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 128 (Review and Herald, Feb. 25, 1902).
“The time has come for a through reformation to take place.” – Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 251.
“God calls upon those who are willing to be controlled by the Holy Spirit to lead out in a work of thorough reformation.” – Testimonies to Ministers, p. 514 (General Conference Bulletin, May 19, 1913).
“There is a great necessity for a reformation among the people of God. The present state of the church leads to the inquiry: is this a correct representation of Him who gave His life for us?” – Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 474.
“In visions of the night, representations passed before me of a great reformatory movement among God’s people. . . . There seemed to be a reformation such as we witnessed in 1844.” – Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 126.
4. AREAS OF CONCERN
These seven statements show that a reformation is definitely called for. Now let us study what lines of work must be affected so that there will be a well-rounded reformation.
“As the light of truth is received and followed out, it will work an entire reformation in the life and character of all those who are sanctified through it.” – Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 60.
“True reformation begins with soul cleansing. Our work for the fallen will achieve real success only as the grace of Christ reshapes the character and the soul is brought into living connection with God.” – Ministry of Healing, p. 180.
“We need a thorough reformation in all our churches. The converting power of God must come into the church. Seek the Lord most earnestly, put away your sins, and tarry in Jerusalem till ye be endowed with power from on high.” – Testimonies to Ministers, p. 443.
“A work of reformation is to be carried out in our institutions. Physicians, workers, nurses, are to realize that they are on probation. . . .” – Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 253.
“A revival and a reformation must take place, under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation are two different things. Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices.” – Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 128.
“Should Christ enter our institutions for the education of the youth, He would cleanse them as He cleansed the temple, banishing many things that have a defiling influence.” – Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 25.
“God calls upon every church member to dedicate his life unreservedly to the Lord’s services. He calls for a decided reformation. . . . When they break away from all health-destroying indulgences, they will have a clearer perception of what constitutes true godliness. A wonderful change will be seen in the religious experience. . . .” – Counsels on Health, p. 579.
“Had the ministers taken hold of this work in its various departments in accordance with the light which God has given, there would have been a most decided reformation in eating, drinking, and dressing.” – Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 377.
There are many other areas in which a reformation must be introduced. It is the purpose of this correspondence course to bring into focus Bible and Testimony statements upon these points and to reveal them to the seeker for truth. A reformation was definitely called for by the Spirit of prophecy not only in the personal life but also in the life of the denomination because of neutrality in a time of crisis, worldliness, and sometimes outright apostasy. We shall cover these important points in the following lessons.