Often the question arises, Why a reformation? Why a change? There is a very basic and important reason why a reformation must take place among God’s people. Reformation is contrary to the lukewarm and indifferent spirit of a Laodicean Christian who would rather maintain the status quo. Often a mistaken loyalty toward a church and its organization instead of to principles of the present truth is used by the enemy to resist any reform.
The only reason God ever calls for a reformation is because apostasy has occurred. We can put it very clearly: No apostasy – no reformation! It must be proven conclusively that there is apostasy present; if this can be done, then a reformation is automatically called for. But even in that case, apostasy must have reached a certain level before a reformatory movement has a legitimate right to spring into action.
This fact is proven in the Scriptures. Take, for instance, Elijah, the Old Testament reformer who said: “I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, thrown down Thine altars, and slain Thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” 1 Kings 19:10.
Three basic reasons for his reformatory work are given here by Elijah; namely,
1. Forsaking the covenant (contract).
2. Throwing down (destroying) God’s altars.
3. Slaying God’s prophets (spirit of persecution).
2. THESE THREE CHARACTERISTICS APPLIED
These distinctive characteristics must exist in a church before a call for reformation has any valid authority.
(a) To understand this thought more fully: What is this covenant? Deuteronomy 4:13 says: “And He declared unto you His covenant, which He commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and He wrote them upon two tables of stone.” Thus the Ten Commandments – the law of God – is the covenant that is broken when apostasy occurs.
(b) The second characteristic of apostasy consists of destroying God’s altars and replacing them with damnable idolatry of the world.
(c) The slaying of God’s prophets under this third point indicates the fact that an apostate church is always a persecuting church, like the great Babylon which is “drunken with the blood of the saints.” Rev. 17:6.
(a) The Spirit of prophecy underscores these three points as follows:
“God’s remnant people, standing before the world as reformers, are to show that the law of God (covenant) is the foundation of all enduring reform. . . .” – Prophets and Kings, p. 678.
(b) Concerning the point of throwing down God’s altars and accepting idol worship, we read these words:
“Many are worshiping idols instead of the Lord of heaven and earth. Anything that men love and trust instead of loving the Lord and trusting wholly in Him becomes an idol and is thus registered in the books of heaven.” – Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 250.
(c) Concerning persecution, we read:
“Those who differed from the established doctrines have been imprisoned, put to torture and to death, at the instigation of men who claimed to be acting under the sanction of Christ. But it is the spirit of Satan, not the spirit of Christ, that inspires such acts.” – Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 74.
The more sure word of prophecy in the past predicted many reformations.
Of Christ, the Great Reformer of all times, it was predicted: “. . . He will magnify the law, and make it honourable.” Isa. 42:21.
Of John the Baptist it was said: “Behold, I will send Elijah the prophet. . . .” Mal. 4:5.
And the 16th Century Reformation was predicted in Daniel 11:34: “Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help:. . .”
The Advent Movement carries this divine credential: “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places:. . . and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach (in the law), The restorer of paths to dwell in.” Isa. 58:12.
So we must conclude that a true reformation must carry the authorization of being divinely prophesied. Likewise, if a reformation is called for today, it must be prophesied by the word of God and the Testimonies of God’s Spirit! Let us keep this important fact in mind as we continue studying.
For Further Study:
REQUIREMENTS OF TRUE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS
“. . . The days of purification of the church are hastening on apace. God will have a people pure and true.” – Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 80.
“Every soul is to be tested. Every defect in the character, unless it is overcome by the help of God’s Spirit, will become a sure means of destruction. ” – Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 573.
“If we swerve a single inch from duty, we are in danger of following on in a course of sin that will end in perdition.” – Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 540.
“I saw that none could share the ‘refreshing’ unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action. . . . Let all remember that God is holy and that none but holy beings can ever dwell in His presence.” – Early Writings, p. 71.
“Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them.” – Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 214.
“God’s ideal for His children is higher than the highest thought can reach. ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. ‘” – Desire of Ages, p. 311.
“Those who come up to every point, and stand every test, and overcome, be the price what it may, have heeded the counsel of the True Witness, and they will receive the latter rain, and thus be fitted for translation.” – Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 187.
“Oh, how many flatter themselves that they have goodness and righteousness, when the true light of God reveals that all their lives they have only lived to please themselves! Their whole conduct is abhorred of God. . .
“How sad and fearful the mistakes that many are making! They are building on the sand, but flatter themselves that they are riveted to the eternal Rock.” – Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 475.
“Those who would be saints in heaven, must first be saints on earth.” – Review and Herald, August 18, 1890.