Implications For The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Light of Recent Ecumenical Movements

This is the third article in a series about recent developments in the Ecumenical movement particularly between the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church, as well as between the Catholic Church and the Charismatic churches. 

Part One

Part Two

In the first article, I discussed the recent news (that at the writing of this article is just over 2 years old).  In the second article, I discussed how the Charismatic experience— which is clearly a counterfeit manifestation of the “Holy Spirit”—and is in fact the manifestation of the “Unholy Spirit”.  In this article I will discuss the implications of these events on my life and your life as Seventh-Day Adventists. 

First of all, do you think that these issues will affect in any way, shape, or form, my life as a Seventh-Day Adventist?  Are we seeing any of these same “mantras” being brought within the Adventist Church?  Review the clip of Tony Palmer representing Pope Francis to the Charismatic Evangelical group of ministers led by Kenneth Copeland.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtXiOzp43Yw

Then look at the following clip.  Go down on the writing portion of the page until you find a video clip of Mark Witas’ discussion of doctrine.  Then ask yourself, “Am I hearing similar concepts?” 

Mark did give some good ideas.  Certainly, if Adventist Doctrine is not centered in the love of Jesus Christ, it is worthless.  I agree that Jesus, and righteousness by faith is central to the 3rd angel’s message.  But I also get the idea that to him, doctrine is the “D word” to use his own words.  He also asks if the Sabbath has become our Messiah?!!!!!?  Excuse me!! What is he really trying to say?  Do you find anything in that 4.5 minute presentation disturbing, or at least questionable?  (This is in no way a personal attack on Mark, it is the ideas that are being presented that I am reacting to.)

Let’s not get on our spiritual high horse and think that all of our problems will come from outside the church.

“We have far more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world. Unbelievers have a right to expect that those who profess to be keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, will do more than any other class to promote and honor, by their consistent lives, by their godly example and their active influence, the cause which they represent. But how often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greatest obstacle to its advancement! The unbelief indulged, the doubts expressed, the darkness cherished, encourage the presence of evil angels, and open the way for the accomplishment of Satan's devices.”—Selected Messages 1:122 (1887).

 What about the issue of “being slain in the Spirit” that is happening with regularity within the charismatic community?  Remember from the last article where I quoted from Early Writings Page 43 which said that being slain in the spirit was due to demonic activity?  I would call to your attention the entire passage of Early Writings page 43 and 44 and read it for yourself.  It is earth shattering in its implications for you and me personally. 

Satan is now using every device in this sealing time to keep the minds of God’s people from the present truth and to cause them to waver. I saw a covering that God was drawing over His people to protect them in the time of trouble; and every soul that was decided on the truth and was pure in heart was to be covered with the covering of the Almighty. {EW 43.2}  ……..

I saw that Satan was at work in these ways to distract, deceive, and draw away God’s people, just now in this sealing time. I saw some who were not standing stiffly for present truth. Their knees were trembling, and their feet sliding, because they were not firmly planted on the truth, and the covering of Almighty God could not be drawn over them while they were thus trembling {EW 44.1}.

Did you get it?  While we are seeing people being “slain in the spirit” it is a sign to us personally that we are in the sealing time!!!  This means that the sealing time is going on today!  Is that not a solemn thought?  Are you actively seeking to be sealed into God’s truth?  Are you making that the focus of your life today?  Are you standing firmly for truth so that God can draw His covering over you?  Are not these earth-shattering conclusions?!!! 

I know that we like to flatter ourselves by saying that we are members of God’s Remnant Church, but that will do us just as much good today as it did the Jewish leaders in the time of Christ to say that they were children of Abraham.  Look at the warning that we have been given on this subject. 

“We profess to have more truth than other denominations; yet if this does not lead to greater consecration, to purer, holier lives, it would be better for us never to have seen the light of truth than to profess to accept it and not be sanctified through it”  (5T p. 260).   

Ouch!!!

So we are to be sealed into God’s truth.  Just what constitutes this sealing? 

“Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads—it is not any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved” {Ms173-1902.25}    

The intellectual part is the easy part, it entails only several hundred hours of Bible study to come to understand what the truth and the message is.  The difficult part is the spiritual part.  How am I to be settled into the truth spiritually? 

It seems to me that this involves an acceptance of the truth emotionally and a commitment to Him who is the truth.  But there is also in this passage something that engenders hope.   “Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads.” 

Notice that the verb here is in the passive form.  This means that I do not have to seal myself, I am sealed by God!  Not only does it give hope, it also indicates that I must be cooperating with God to allow Him to seal me. 

I saw a covering that God was drawing over His people to protect them in the time of trouble; and every soul that was decided on the truth and was pure in heart was to be covered with the covering of the Almighty. {EW 43.2}   

Here we have really the same recipe in different words.  Decided on the truth, that is the intellectual part, and pure in heart, that is the spiritual part.  And again, we see that it is God drawing a covering over those who are standing firmly for the truth and are pure in heart.

So, the most important and urgent question is, “How do I get this purity of heart?”  

“All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.” {DA 668.3}   

As a physician, the term “consent” has a special meaning to me. 

Spiritual Consent Form

Any patient, before I can treat him, must sign a consent for treatment, otherwise I cannot treat him.  Therefore, I have prepared for myself a formal consent for heart treatment based on this passage.  I have signed and dated and timed it, just like what is required in medicine, but I also daily read it over and renew it.  I have never had so much trouble in my life before I did this, than I have had since that date.  It seems that God is using these troubles to mold my character, and also the devil is angry that I am trying to yield myself to God on a daily basis and is trying to interfere.  But I am not the same person that I was when I began this process more than a decade ago.  I am still no saint, and I would never be bold enough to claim that it has “worked” for me, but what seems to be changing my life can also change yours.  The process is as exciting as watching grass grow! 

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I often feel disappointed that it is not happening faster. Yet on the other hand, I also suspect that God in His infinite wisdom has deemed that if the process were to be carried out any faster, the forces applied would be too great for me and I would snap!  The good news is that sanctification is a journey and not a destination!   Will it in the very last days become a destination?  Possibly!?  But that means that God will do a creative act in our lives if we have faithfully been on the journey with Him.  I leave all of that in His hands.

Upon what point will the final test be brought?  (Every good SDA should be able to answer this question.)

“The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty, for it is the point of truth especially controverted. When the final test shall be brought to bear upon men, then the line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those who serve Him not. While the observance of the false sabbath in compliance with the law of the state, contrary to the fourth commandment, will be an avowal of allegiance to a power that is in opposition to God, the keeping of the true Sabbath, in obedience to God’s law, is an evidence of loyalty to the Creator. While one class, by accepting the sign of submission to earthly powers, receive the mark of the beast, the other, choosing the token of allegiance to divine authority, receive the seal of God.” {GC 605.2}

“Sure”, you might say, “that’s old news, we know that those in Babylon will receive the mark of the Beast.”  But is that really the whole truth? What will make the difference for those of us who are already members of the SDA Church? 

“As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel’s message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition.” {GC 608.2}

Have you put 2+2 together here?  There will only be two classes of people in the end, those who receive the seal of God, and those who receive the mark of the Beast. 

And for those who are already within the SDA Church, what decides which seal or mark they will receive?  It is completely dependent on whether or not they have been “sanctified through obedience to the truth”. 

  The same is true for those who are now in Babylon.  The message of the Angel of Revelation 18 is, “come out of her my people… God has a people in Babylon and he has a people within the SDA church and all of His people will receive the Seal of God, and those who are not His people, no matter which denomination in which they presently find themselves, will receive the Mark of the Beast.

Within our church, we have recently seen the issue of the Ordination of Women dividing us and distracting us from these most important topics.  I am not saying that we should have no concern as to whether the decision taken in the General Conference Session in 2015 should be followed or not.  It should be, as this is the way that God guides his church.  What I am saying is that it is a divisive issue that will divide and distract us as a people from the only two issues of importance for us as individuals within the SDA church. They are:

1. Am I asking God to seal me into his truth daily? 

2. What can I do to further the gospel of the 3 angel’s messages to a dying world?

Recently, a prominent member of our church has set a date within the next 2-3 years for the close of probation. This has caused quite a stir within the church. I assume that this has been done for the purpose of showing us the urgency of our situation. 

I am not going to set such a date as I do not believe such date setting to be Biblical.  But on the other hand, I am going to set a “date” for you to demonstrate to you the urgency of the situation, and it is biblical: “now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2 ). 

I have no biblical or Spirit of Prophecy reference which indicates on what day probation will close.  But the concept of the sealing is clearly Biblical (Revelation 7 and 14) and I have presented to you clear evidence from the Spirit of Prophecy that it is happening now and has been going on at the very least for about 2 decades! 

This means that the winds of strife have for some time been ready to usher in the time of trouble which we envision from the prophecies takes place just before, or after the close of probation.  Only by the grace of God are these forces of destruction being artificially detained for the sole purpose of our (yours and my) salvation.  

On the other hand, it does not take a rocket scientist to discern that forces are already set up for the destruction of this planet.  How long the sealing time will last, we are not told in years.  But we are told that it lasts only long enough so that God’s people are sealed. “Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads—” she then defines the sealing as we saw, but she then says that the shaking will immediately take place.

As I read Revelation 7, it does not appear to me that such a time is really extended.  The only logical conclusion is that we are urgently running out of time.  So today is the day upon which we must begin to focus our lives and to seek the sealing of God’s truth into our hearts and minds.  Not two or three years from now, or in the next decade, there is not a moment to lose!  We must begin now to stand stiffly for the truth and have our loins gird about with truth.  If we do not do this today, we run the risk of eternal loss!  If we do not start on that journey today, when the final test does come, we will not be prepared to pass it. 

Summary

Brothers and sisters, this is your “wake up call”! Today we are in the sealing time!  Probation will close shortly for the whole world, but as in the vision of Ezekiel 9, it will close first at the house of God and it will start with the Elders that stand before the altar.  This means that the more light that you have been given, the sooner you will be called to make your final decision for or against God.  Those who are not making a decided decision for God, are by default making a decision against Him.  May God help us and strengthen us to take firm hold of his strength and allow Him to write His law in our hearts and seal us into His truth today!

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Dr. Nelson graduated from Medical school at Loma Linda University.  He is Certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology and the American Board of Pain Medicine.  He lives with his lovely wife, Becky in the Dayton, Ohio area.