Every informed Seventh-day Adventist knows that there are serious divisions in our church. There’s contention over women’s ordination and organizational authority, LGBTQI, abortion, music, interpretation of prophecy, the gospel, and the last generation. These are just some of the most prominent issues. It seems that love and unity are not doing so well among some of God’s “remnant” people.
And there’s another point of conflict. It seems rather obvious that the devil is desperately trying to divert God’s people from the great gospel commission.
It Was All Foretold
Where is God in all of this? Is He still in control? Of course, we know that He has not been taken by surprise. The Laodicean message of Revelation 3 given by Jesus Himself says that there would be spiritual pride and blindness in the church of the last days. Proverbs 13:10 says that “Only by pride cometh contention.” There is the root cause, pride and self. No surprise there.
Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13 indicates that the church could not possibly have perfect unity until the harvest when the separating is finished. In fact, Ellen White warned that, “Divisions will come into the church. Two parties will be developed. The wheat and tares grow up together for the harvest.” (Last Day Events, p. 172)
How Will This Play Out?
We are told that many will leave the church before Jesus comes,
“As trials thicken around us, both separation and unity will be seen in our ranks. Some who are now ready to take up weapons of warfare will in times of real peril make it manifest that they have not built upon the solid rock; they will yield to temptation. Those who have had great light and precious privileges but have not improved them will under one pretext or another, go out from us” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 400).
This easily applies to both, so-called liberals or conservatives, and anyone in between. None of us can take comfort in how right we believe we are.
It may be shocking to see who goes out!
“Many a star that we have admired for its brilliance will then go out in darkness” (Prophets and Kings, p. 188) “Frequent will be the apostasies of men who have occupied responsible positions.” “Ministers and doctors may depart from the faith as the Word declares they will.” (Last Day Events, p. 179).
“The history of the rebellion of Dathan and Abiram is being repeated, and will be repeated till the close of time.”
“The Lord is soon to come. There must be a refining, winnowing process in every church, for there are among us wicked men who do not love the truth or honor God.” (Ibid., p. 173)
What leads to all these prominent men falling from the faith? They see the certainty of the mark of the beast crisis of Revelation 13 is right before them.
“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. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side” (The Great Controversy, p. 608).
We Will All Be Tested
“The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us. Those who have step by step yielded to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will not find it a hard matter to yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death. The contest is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. In this time the gold will be separated from the dross in the church” (Testimonies for the Church vol. 5, p. 81).
How Bad Will It Get?
“The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out—the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place” (Last Day Events, p. 180).
Why will it appear that the church is about to fall? The church as we know it today will be changed significantly since it will become illegal, and with many in responsible positions abandoning their faith, the church organizational structure may seem to vanish. On top of that, we are told that the majority of Seventh-day Adventist church members will fall away.
“The great proportion of those who now appear to be genuine and true will prove to be base metal...when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few—this will be our test” (Testimonies for the Church vol. 5, p. 136).
What Hope Is There for Us?
We usually focus on the lukewarm condition when we consider the Laodicean message of Revelation 3; however, “There is hope for our churches if they will heed the message given to the Laodiceans” (Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 966).
“The testimony of the True Witness…must work deep repentance; all who truly receive it will obey it and be purified” (Early Writings, p. 270). The promise to the Laodiceans is, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne” (Revelation 3:21).
We must believe how much God loves His church, His people, us,
“Enfeebled and defective as it may appear, the church is the one object upon which God bestows in a special sense His supreme regard. It is the theater of His grace, in which He delights to reveal His power to transform hearts” (Acts of the Apostles, p. 11-12).
And if He loves His church won’t He be with His faithful ones every step of the way?
“For He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5).
God Will Set Everything in Order
“There is no need to doubt, to be fearful that the work will not succeed. God is at the head of the work, and He will set everything in order. If matters need adjusting at the head of the work God will attend to that, and work to right every wrong. Let us have faith that God is going to carry the noble ship which bears the people of God safely into port (Last Day Events, p. 52).
The Church Finishes in a Final Blaze of God’s Glory
We must be ready to work with God to warn the world. Instead of being fearful, the faithful will seize the opportunity.
“When the storm of persecution really breaks upon us…then will the message of the third angel swell to a loud cry, and the whole earth will be lightened with the glory of the Lord” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 401).
“The members of the church militant who have proved faithful will become the church
triumphant” (Evangelism, p. 707).
Plan to be a part of that triumphant group in the end. What do you say?