Reading No. 4–Tuesday, December 9, 2008

by Raquel Orce, U.S.A.

Every Adventist believer has heard or read about the general conference session that took place in Minneapolis in 1888 and can appreciate the historical importance of this event. In this reading we would like to consider in detail the doctrinal significance of that meeting and the reasons for its importance in relation to the present truth so that we may understand the work that God wanted do at that conference and that He still wants to perform with His people and the whole world in our days.

The Mission of The Advent Movement

The Advent Movement was called into existence by God, because He had a well determined purpose for it. Besides preparing a people for the Lord’s coming, it was necessary to present to the world some aspects of the truth that were not so clear within the different denominations, as, for example, the doctrine about the state of the dead, and the validity of God’s law and the observance of the Sabbath day, that were like lost pearls under the heap of rubble of human theories.

Therefore, from the beginning and for many decades, the Seventh-day Adventists presented to the world the solemn message of the Lord’s soon coming and showed the need for the restoration of the true worship of God, that includes faith in Jesus’ redeeming work and the obedience to His holy commandments. (Revelation 14:12). Nevertheless, as time went by, they insisted so much on the subject of the law that the message became one-sided and many lost sight of the light of justification by faith. Referring to the years before 1888, the Spirit of Prophecy often laments this situation.

The Doctrine of Justification by Faith Lost Sight of

“… The great Center of attraction, Jesus Christ, must not be left out of the third angel’s message. By many who have been engaged in the work for this time, Christ has been made secondary, and theories and arguments have had the first place.” –The Review and Harald, March 20, 1894.

“Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 92.

“The doctrine of justification by faith has been lost sight of by many who have professed to believe the third angel’s message.” –Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 360.

“The exceeding great and precious promises given us in the Holy Scriptures have been lost sight of to a great extent, just as the enemy of all righteousness designed that they should be.” –Ibid., p. 372.

“As a people we have preached the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa that had neither dew nor rain. We must preach Christ in the law, and there will be sap and nourishment in the preaching that will be as food to the famishing flock of God.” –The Review and Herald, March 11. 1890.

“The message of the gospel of His grace was to be given to the church in clear and distinct lines, that the world should no longer say that Seventh-day Adventists talk the law, the law, but do not teach or believe Christ.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 92.

A Most Precious Message

Considering the situation, the need to present and accept the message of Christ our Righteousness was ever more urgent. That is the reason why the Lord inspired two brethren to bring the message to the General Conference in Minneapolis, about which we read:

“The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. … It is the third angel’s message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure.” –Ibid., pp. 91, 92.

“Messages bearing the divine credentials have been sent to God’s people; the glory, the majesty, the righteousness of Christ, full of goodness and truth, have been presented; the fullness of the Godhead in Jesus Christ has been set forth among us with beauty and loveliness, to charm all whose hearts were not closed with prejudice. We know that God has wrought among us. We have seen souls turn from sin to righteousness. We have seen faith revived in the hearts of the contrite ones.” –The Review and Herald, May 27, 1890.

“When the sinner believes that Christ is his personal Saviour, then according to His unfailing promises, God pardons his sin and justifies him freely. The repentant soul realizes that his justification comes because Christ, as his Substitute and Surety, has died for him, is his atonement and righteousness.” –Faith and Works, p. 101.

It is the Third Angel’s Message

Christ our Righteousness is not only a message from God, but it is actually the heart of the third angel’s message. That is what God’s Word says referring to the characteristics of the remnant: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12) These are topics that the Spirit of Prophecy often emphasizes.

“The present message–justification by faith–is a message from God; it bears the divine credentials, for its fruit is unto holiness.” –Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 359.

“Religion means the abiding of Christ in the heart, and where he is, the soul goes on in spiritual activity, ever growing in grace, ever going on to perfection.” –The Review and Herald, May 24, 1892.

“Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third angel’s message, and I have answered, ‘It is the third angel’s message in verity.’” –Ibid., April 1, 1890.

In the above quotations, the servant of the Lord presents the fundamental issues that God wanted to point out in 1888 and that had a vital importance for that time as well as for eternity. Below, we present a list of the main doctrinal subjects:
• Justification by faith.
• Christ’s righteousness manifested in obedience to the commandments of God.
• The third angel’s message.
• The outpouring of the Spirit.

Jesus had to be presented to the world in a clear, uplifted and saving way since, “Of all professing Christians, Seventh-day Adventists should be foremost in uplifting Christ before the world. The proclamation of the third angel’s message calls for the presentation of the Sabbath truth. This truth, with others included in the message, is to be proclaimed; but the great center of attraction, Christ Jesus, must not be left out.” –Gospel Workers, p. 156.

Once the meaning of the message of 1888 is understood, one can see the importance of presenting Christ as the center of the message in relation to the proclamation of the third angel. This simultaneously includes the truth about the Sabbath and a number of other truths related to it which are presented in Revelation 14:9-12, where reference is made to “the beast” (Roman Catholicism); “his image” (apostate Protestantism); “the mark of the beast” (the false day of rest—Sunday), and the end of God’s patience. These fundamental truths in Adventism place us in the time and circumstances that will help us to understand and apply God’s work in Minneapolis.

A Rejected Message

Considering the loss of light they had experienced and the spiritual condition of the Adventist people in 1888, one would expect that this message would have been accepted with much joy and praise, both by the delegates to the conference and by the leaders of the movement. Actually, if it had been accepted, this wonderful message would have been the solution to their different problems; but, unfortunately, it was not the case. The voice of God that spoke in Minneapolis was not headed, but criticized and rejected by a great number of workers and leaders. An oppressive and wicked spirit was revealed. Some testimonies speak about this very painfully:

“The spirit and influence of the ministers generally who have come to this meeting is to discard light.” –Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, p. 364.

“In Minneapolis God gave precious gems of truth to His people in new settings. This light from heaven by some was rejected with all the stubbornness the Jews manifested in rejecting Christ.” –Ibid., vol. 11, p. 243.

“That men should keep alive the spirit which ran riot at Minneapolis is an offence to God. All heaven is indignant at the spirit that for years has been revealed in our publishing institution at Battle Creek. Unrighteousness is practiced that God will not tolerate. He will visit for these things. A voice has been heard pointing out the errors and, in the name of the Lord, pleading for a decided change. But who have followed the instruction given? Who have humbled their hearts to put from them every vestige of their wicked, oppressive spirit? I have been greatly burdened to set these matters before the people as they are. I know they will see them. I know that those who read this matter will be convicted.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 76.

“An unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions, and to accept this truth, lay at the foundation of a large share of the opposition manifested at Minneapolis against the Lord’s message through Brethren {E.J.} Waggoner and {A.T.} Jones. By exciting that opposition Satan succeeded in shutting away from our people, in a great measure, the special power of the Holy Spirit that God longed to impart to them. The enemy prevented them from obtaining that efficiency which might have been theirs in carrying the truth to the world, as the apostles proclaimed it after the day of Pentecost. The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted, and by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world.” –Selected Messages, Book 1, pp. 234, 235.

An Urgent Need

In Minneapolis, some accepted the message sent by God and others accepted it later on. Jesus’ righteousness is the gift for which He sacrificed His life (Isaiah 53:10, 11); it is not an option that we may choose or not, according to our liking. Without it we remain dirty, dressed in filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) and we have no access to heaven. “The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven, the second is our fitness for heaven.” Messages to Young People, p. 35.

In one of His wonderful parables, as Jesus talks about the wedding gown, He tells us very clearly that without this gift we are not able to participate in the great final feast. “So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (Matthew 22:10-13). May each one of us be found wearing Jesus’ pure and holy wedding gown.

The Message and the Latter Rain

“Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” Hosea 6:3. If the message Christ our Righteousness is truly believed and lived each day, it is a great power for the faithful soul and for the church. Emphasized in Minneapolis in 1888, this wonderful message must grow and will be the test of fitness to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, just as it is described in the following quotation:

“The third angel’s message is swelling into a loud cry, and you must not feel at liberty to neglect the present duty, and still entertain the idea that at some future time you will be the recipients of great blessing, when without any effort on your part a wonderful revival will take place. Today you are to give yourselves to God, that He may make of you vessels unto honor, and meet for His service. Today you are to give yourself to God, that you may be emptied of self, emptied of envy, jealousy, evil surmising, strife, everything that shall be dishonoring to God. Today you are to have your vessel purified that it may be ready for the heavenly dew, ready for the showers of the latter rain; for the latter rain will come, and the blessing of God will fill every soul that is purified from every defilement. It is our work today to yield our souls to Christ, that we may be fitted for the time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord–fitted for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.–The Review and Herald, March 22, 1892.” –Selected Messages, Book 1, pp. 190, 191.

Dear brothers and sisters in the whole world, we have wonderful promises, prophesies to be fulfilled and great blessings that will be poured out upon all those who are dressed in the royal garments of Jesus’ righteousness. Through these people, a great work will be done to enlighten the world. Do you want to be one of these blessed ones? Jesus wants you to be one of them. May the Lord help us so that we all may receive this gift and be men and women of faith dressed in the garments of “fine linen, clean and white” when He shall appear in the clouds of heaven and receive us in His holy kingdom.

“When the sinner believes that Christ is his personal Saviour, then according to His unfailing promises, God pardons his sin and justifies him freely. The repentant soul realizes that his justification comes because Christ, as his Substitute and Surety, has died for him, is his atonement and righteousness.”
–Faith and Works, p. 101.