Sabbath, August 16, 2014
“From the light that the Lord has been pleased to give me, I know that He is not pleased with many things which have taken place in reference to the workers. God has not laid every particular open to me, but warnings have come that in many things decided reformation is needed.” –Counsels on Health, p. 312.
References to reformation
1. What does “reformation” generally refer to?
Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
Malachi 3:7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
Hosea 6:1 Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
“ ‘… Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein.’ Jeremiah 6:16.
“Let none seek to tear away the foundations of our faith–the foundations that were laid at the beginning of our work, by prayerful study of the Word and by revelation. Upon these foundations we have been building for more than fifty years
“We have wandered away from the old landmarks. Let us return. If the Lord be God, serve Him; if Baal, serve him. Which side will you be on?” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 137.
“Reformation signifies a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. Reformation will not bring forth the good fruit of righteousness unless it is connected with the revival of the Spirit. Revival and reformation are to do their appointed work, and in doing this work they must blend.” –(Review and Herald, February 25, 1902) Christian Service, p. 42.
Putting God first
2. What do the first two commandments teach? Of what do we sometimes make a god?
Exodus 20:3-5 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.
“Jehovah, the eternal, self-existent, uncreated One, Himself the Source and Sustainer of all, is alone entitled to supreme reverence and worship. Man is forbidden to give to any other object the first place in his affections or his service. Whatever we cherish that tends to lessen our love for God or to interfere with the service due Him, of that do we make a god….
“The attempt to represent the Eternal One by material objects would lower man’s conception of God.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 305, 306.
3. Who expects man to pay him homage and worship him?
Matthew 4:8, 9 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
“After the gospel has been proclaimed in the world for nearly two thousand years, Satan still presents to men and women the same scene that he presented to Christ. In a wonderful manner he causes the kingdoms of the world in their glory to pass before them. These he promises to all who will fall down and worship him. Thus he seeks to bring men under his dominion.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 14.
No compromise with darkness
4. What is it impossible for anyone to do? Why?
Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
“Between the worldly man and the one who is faithfully serving God, there is a great gulf fixed. Upon the most momentous subjects–God and truth and eternity–their thoughts and sympathies and feelings are not in harmony. One class is ripening as wheat for the garner of God, the other as tares for the fires of destruction. How can there be unity of purpose or action between them?” –Selected Messages, book 2, p. 127.
5. Therefore, with whom can we not come into agreement?
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
“Some are constantly leaning to the world. Their views and feelings harmonize much better with the spirit of the world than with that of Christ’s self-denying followers. It is perfectly natural for them to prefer the company of those whose spirit will best agree with their own. And such have quite too much influence among God’s people. They take part with them, and have a name among them, and are a text for unbelievers and the weak and unconsecrated ones in the church. These persons of two minds will ever have objections to the plain, pointed testimony which reproves individual wrongs. In this refining time these persons will either be wholly converted, and sanctified by obeying the truth, or they will be left with the world, where they belong, to receive their reward with them.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 288.
6. Is there a danger for God’s people to fall away from the truth? How?
Hebrews 3:12; 12:25 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God…. 12:25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven.
“Let us be careful not to neglect the danger signals and the warnings given in His word. Unless heed is given to these warnings, and defects of character are overcome, these defects will overcome those who possess them, and they will fall into error, apostasy, and open sin. The mind that is not elevated to the highest standard will in time lose its power to retain that which it had once gained. ‘Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.’ ” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 537.
7. How can churches, collectively speaking, fall away from the truth?
Isaiah 1:4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.
“Not only is Satan leading the world captive, but his deceptions are leavening the professed churches of our Lord Jesus Christ. The great apostasy will develop into darkness deep as midnight. To God’s people it will be a night of trial, a night of weeping, a night of persecution for the truth’s sake.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 717.
“I am filled with sadness when I think of our condition as a people. The Lord has not closed heaven to us, but our own course of continual backsliding has separated us from God. Pride, covetousness, and love of the world have lived in the heart without fear of banishment or condemnation. Grievous and presumptuous sins have dwelt among us. And yet the general opinion is that the church is flourishing, and that peace and spiritual prosperity are in all her borders. The church has turned back from following Christ her leader, and is steadily retreating toward Egypt. Yet few are alarmed or astonished at their want of spiritual power. Doubt and even disbelief of the testimonies of the Spirit of God is leavening our churches everywhere. Satan would have it thus.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 217.
Caution against lukewarmness and backsliding
8. What is the nature of apostasy in the last days? How has that been manifested among Adventists?
Revelation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
“You know not the time of your visitation. The great sin of the Jews was that of neglecting and rejecting present opportunities. As Jesus views the state of His professed followers today, He sees base ingratitude, hollow formalism, hypocritical insincerity, Pharisaical pride and apostasy….
“You are following the same path as did ancient Israel. There is the same falling away from your holy calling as God’s peculiar people.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 72, 75, 76.
“Unless the church, which is now being leavened with her own backsliding, shall repent and be converted, she will eat of the fruit of her own doing, until she shall abhor herself. When she resists the evil and chooses the good, when she seeks God with all humility and reaches her high calling in Christ, standing on the platform of eternal truth and by faith laying hold upon the attainments prepared for her, she will be healed. She will appear in her God-given simplicity and purity, separate from earthly entanglements, showing that the truth has made her free indeed. Then her members will indeed be the chosen of God, His representatives.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pp. 250, 251.
9. Why is the danger of apostasy also present for Reformers today?
Romans 2:21-23 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? 22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? 23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
1 Corinthians 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
“Only obedience to the requirements of Heaven will keep man from apostasy. God has bestowed upon man great light and many blessings; but unless this light and these blessings are accepted, they are no security against disobedience and apostasy….
“Till the conflict is ended, there will be those who will depart from God.
“… Not one moment can we be secure except as we rely upon God, the life hidden with Christ. Watchfulness and prayer are the safeguards of purity.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 83, 84.
“Never can we safely put confidence in self or feel, this side of heaven, that we are secure against temptation. Those who accept the Saviour, however sincere their conversion, should never be taught to say or to feel that they are saved. This is misleading. Every one should be taught to cherish hope and faith; but even when we give ourselves to Christ and know that He accepts us, we are not beyond the reach of temptation. God’s word declares, ‘Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried.’ Daniel 12:10. Only he who endures the trial will receive the crown of life. James 1:12.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 155.
10. What false wisdom often leads to apostasy?
1 Corinthians 1:20, 21 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
2 Peter 1:16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
“The apostasy prevailing today is similar to that which in the prophet’s day overspread Israel. In the exaltation of the human above the divine, in the praise of popular leaders, in the worship of mammon, and in the placing of the teachings of science above the truths of revelation, multitudes today are following after Baal…. It is publicly taught that we have reached a time when human reason should be exalted above the teachings of the Word.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 170.
“No matter who you are or what your life has been, you can be saved only in God’s appointed way. You must repent; you must fall helpless on the Rock, Christ Jesus. You must feel your need of a physician and of the one only remedy for sin, the blood of Christ. This remedy can be secured only by repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Here the work is yet to be begun by many who profess to be Christians…. The blood of Christ will avail for none but those who feel their need of its cleansing power.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 218, 219.