Study for the Month of July 2012
THE SARDIS STAGE OF THE CHURCH
The Church During the Reformation
Time Period: 1798 to 1833 or 1517 to1755
Whole Gospel Ministries
Let us now return to our continuing study of the seven churches of Revelation, the focus being the church in the Sardis condition, the fifth in a series of seven of church history.
And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,
‘These things says He that has the seven Spirits of God and have the seven stars. I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Rev. 3:1.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF SARDIS
The “Footnotes” of the E. G. White Exhaustive Commentary on Revelation, volume 2, p. 569 says that Sardis was:
“The first important city on the highway south of Thyatira. Like Thyatira, Sardis enjoyed a favorable commercial location. Strabo, the ancient geographer, speaks of it as a ‘great city’. . . .although in John’s day it did not rival Ephesus or Pergamum in importance. . . .The meaning of the name is uncertain; some suggest ‘song of joy,’ or ‘that which remains,’ or ‘something new.’”
Dr. John D. Davis provides even more detailed information, as follows:
“Sardis. A city, first of the Maeonians and then of the Lydians, situated at the foot of Mount Tmolus, on the eastern bank of the river Pactolus, in the midst of a fertile region, about 50 miles east of Smyrna. The acropolis crowned a hill, 950 feet high, a spur of the mountain. The Lydian town lay at its foot on the west, between the acropolis and the river; but the Romans eventually built to the north of the acropolis. In 546 B.C. Cyrus the great wrested the city from Croesus, the rich Lydian king, and it became the seat of the Persian satrap. The Athenians burned it in 499 B.C., and thereby brought on the Persian invasions of Greece in the reigns of Darius and Xerxes. In 334 B.C. it surrendered to Alexander the Great, after his victory at the Granicus. In 214 B.C. it was taken by Antiochus the Great, but he lost it on being defeated by the Romans at Magnesia in 190 B.C. The Romans annexed it to the kingdom of Pergamos; but when in 129 B.C. they erected the province of Asia, Sardis fell within its bounds. In A.D. 17 when it was destroyed by an earthquake, the emperor Tiberius remitted the taxes of the citizens and rebuilt the city (Ant.xiv. 10, 24), and a Christian community early grew up there (Rev. 1:11; 3: 1, 4). Sardis (now called Sert-Kalessi), is a miserable hamlet; but on the site of the Lydian town are the remains of a magnificent temple of Artemis, built in the 4th century B.C. to replace an older structure; and a temple of Zeus, said to stand above the foundations of Croessus’ palace. Immediately outside the temple of Artemis, at the eastern end, the walls of a Christian church are still standing, which were erected before the 4th century, A.D.” – John Davis, PhD., D.D., LL.D., A Dictionary of the Bible, Fourth Revised Edition, Westminster Press, PA, 1942, p. 682.
Who is Artemis? Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 5th edition, 1942, says she was “a goddess, most typically the virgin huntress, goddess of wild nature, who is associated with the moon, as her twin brother Apollo, is with the sun;–by the Romans identified with Diana.”
The Church in the Sardis Condition
1517 to 1755 A.D. (about 238 years)
“The Hypocritical Church”
E. G. White laid down a very important point regarding Revelation chapter three whose obvious intent is to prevent a misapplication of its messages, whether in the preteristic, futuristic, or spiritualistic senses. It applies especially to the church of God today, the Christian mainstream in general, and the commandment-keeping remnant church of prophecy in particular. She wrote (emphasis mine):
“To the church of the present day this message is sent. I call upon our church members to read the whole of the third chapter of Revelation, and to make an application of it. The message to the church of the Laodiceans applies especially to the church of God today. It is a message to professing Christians who have become so much like the world that no difference can be seen [verses 14-18 quoted].”- Review & Herald, Aug. 20, 1903.
The following points must be carefully observed throughout the study Revelation chapter three that addresses the last three churches with specific messages:
The combined messages to Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea are particularly applicable to “the church of the present day,” meaning, in the broadest sense, all the churches and denominations who profess to be Christian. The Bible was written for everyone regardless of nationality, creed, skin, religion, or denomination. More importantly, the messages and prophecies of Revelation were written specifically for the Christian church–in contradistinction to the Jewish church of that former dispensation—as she evolved through the centuries since her birth after Pentecost, down to the close of earth’s probation.
However, by the very nature of the great controversy over the law of God, particularly the Biblical Sabbath, a closer consideration of this overarching issue easily reveals why the members of the remnant church of prophecy—the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the world-wide corporate “keepers of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus”—are called upon to read, study, and understand the messages of chapter three in particular. This is especially true of the shaking message called “the straight testimony to the Laodiceans” (Rev. 3:14-17), which is the strongest possible divine rebuke contained in strongly-worded counsels, reproofs, and warnings to all Seventh-day Adventists, leaders and members alike.
Unfortunately, however, though to be expected, these strong reproofs and
warnings have been erroneously interpreted by some as condemnations and
denunciations, contradicting Jesus himself, here introduced as the “faithful and
True Witness,” who says of those in the spiritual lukewarm condition, “For as
many as I love I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent” (Rev.
3:19). Christ’s militant-yet-defective remnant church, so soon to enter and
Engage in the stupendous climax of the church’s long conflict with Satan and his
agencies on earth, is the object of His supreme regard. She is both His bride and
spiritual army on earth. He prepares her for this final, fiery ordeal in two ways (a)
by rebuking the backslidings of her members and (b) chastening them through
the terrible shaking followed by the final fiery, yet necessary sifting processes—an
important topic that demands serious an exhaustive study later.
“The seven Spirits of God.” – “Seven Spirits share in the greetings to the seven churches (Rev. 1:4). Christ Himself dictated the seven letters (1:9), yet these “letters” were what the Spirit said (see ch. 2:7). Later John in vision is shown seven Spirits before the throne (4:5) and that “the Lamb’s seven eyes were the seven spirits” (5:6). Thus the seven Spirits represent the seven-fold, or complete operation of (a) the Holy Spirit (2) the Spirit of Christ (3) the Spirit of God—all one and the same Spirit in the third Person of the Godhead, and in the fullness of His power—the Person in which God the Father and Christ have been working in, and through His churches in the age between His resurrection and His second coming. (John 14:16-18, 26; 16: 7-13; Acts1-18, etc.).
“The seven stars.” – See explanation of who these “stars” are in our previous studies on the churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, and Thyatira.
“You have a name that you are alive. . .” – Name here is the Greek onoma, meaning, “authority, character,” but more specifically “reputation,” as the context clearly indicates. Thus, “hypocrisy characterized this church.” It was not what it appeared or pretended or professed to be. This refers particularly to that period of time in the experience of the churches of the Protestant Reformation. Professedly, they had discovered what it meant “to live by faith in Jesus Christ”—that precious doctrine of justification by faith championed by Martin Luther and John Calvin. This Biblical doctrine quickly exposed the gross error of “salvation by works”—penance, flagellation, indulgences, masses, pilgrimages, endless repetition of memorized prayers to dead people such as Mary and all the “canonized” saints, etc., taught for centuries by the Roman Catholic Church.
By these multiple errors springing from their two main apostate doctrines of (a) the immortality of the soul and (b) Sunday sacredness (the man-made sabbath), the “Mother of Harlots” church gained virtually unlimited control over the consciences and souls of their spiritually-blind votaries, enriched their church coffers, built and embellished their imposing churches and cathedrals throughout the world.
But eventually the Protestant Reformation itself lapsed into a state resembling, in certain ways, that of the organization from which the early reformers and their followers had “come out from” (see 2 Tim. 3:5). “Their name—Protestant—implied opposition to the abuses, errors, and formalism of the Roman Catholic Church, and the name Reformation implied that none of these faults they exposed, were to be found within the Protestant fold.” And yet, as this prophecy sadly foretold, as corroborated by the chronicles of the church’s history, such became their condition.
“But are dead.” – “This bitter comment begins a message that consists mostly of reproof. The sin of hypocrisy called forth Jesus’ most scathing denunciations against the religious leaders of His day (see Matt. 23:13-33). Now, to the hypocritical church of Sardis, the glorified Christ sends His most unqualified rebuke. Rather than being “quickened,” or made alive in Christ (see Eph. 2:5; Col. 2:13; Gal. 2:20), as this church claimed to be, in reality it was “dead” (cf. 2 Tim. 3:5). As applied to the Sardis period of the church, the message may be considered in terms of the church towards the close of the Reformation period and may be dated 1517 to 1755 [about 238 years].” [See our previous study notes on Rev. chapter 2].”–Footnotes,” E.G. White Exhaustive Commentary on Revelation, vol. 2, pp. 569-70.
“Some decades after the beginning of the Reformation the new churches experienced a period of violent doctrinal controversy. Eventually, differences of opinion were settled by definitive creeds that tended to discourage the search for additional truth. By a similar process the Roman Catholic Church, in the early centuries of its history, had crystallized much of its theology. Protected by the power and the prestige of the State, and ensconced within the shelter of rigid creedal confessions, the national churches of the Protestant world generally came to content themselves with the form of godliness without its power [see 2 Tim. 3:5].
“Another important feature that contributed to apathy towards spiritual things was the rise of rationalism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Under the impact of scientific discovery, many scholars came to believe that natural law was sufficient to account for the workings of the universe. Often they concluded that God’s chief function in relation to this world is only that of the first cause, and that since His initial act of creation, the world has functioned more or less independent of Him. Thinking men who found the avenues of independent theological thought closed to them by the rigid formulas of Protestant orthodoxy turned, in some instances, to the new philosophical rationalism. Although rationalism produced much high idealism and commendable thinking in such fields as political science and humanitarianism, its presuppositions when applied to religion went far to encourage spiritual coldness that characterized much of Protestantism in the centuries following the Reformation.” –Ibid, p. 570.
Creed comes from the Latin credo, “I believe, at the beginning of the Apostles,’ the Nicene or the Athanasian belief 1. Ecclesiastical: A brief, authoritative formula of religious belief, specifically the Apostles,’ the Nicene or the Athanasian Creed. The Creed usually means the Apostles’ Creed. 2. Any formula or confession of religious faith; sometimes a summary of principles or opinions professed or adhered to.” – Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Fifth Edition, 1942. The “Apostles’ Creed” is a widely used creed formerly ascribed to the Twelve Apostles, beginning with “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker (Creator) of heaven and earth: and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord.”
“The Nicene or Athanasian Creed refers to the confessional formulated and decreed by the First Council of Nicaea, held A.D. 325. An expanded form of the foregoing was read at the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451 as the creed of the Council of Constantinople, hence called also Niceno-Constantinopolitan (or Constantinopolitan’s Creed). The latter, the form now in use in the Western Church [Catholic and Protestant, and Evangelicals as well], is identical with preceding, except for one extra clause inserted at a church council in A.D. 589. Nicaea, or Nice, an ancient city of Asia Minor.”
The dates when these church Councils were held, and the Creeds that were formulated and decreed, are significant. The First Council of Nicea was convened in 325 A.D., barely 4 years after Constantine issued the First Sunday law decree on March 7, 321 A.D. It was during this church council that Constantine, the pagan Christian emperor, with the assistance of Pope Sylvester, and Eusebius, venerated church historian, was dictating upon the bishops on what they were to say and do. The best known and most influential of the church “fathers,” however, was Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.) “Today both Catholics and Protestants look to him as an authority. Catholics like his emphasis on the church as a visible institution, his doctrine of purgatory, and emphasis on sacraments.”
The Council of Chalcedon, held one hundred twenty-six years later in 451 A.D. was at the time when the faithful church was suffering persecution during the reign of imperial, pagan Rome, specifically under the apostate Eastern Church after the fall of the Western Roman Empire under the first four of the seven “trumpets” of Revelation (see Rev. 8:1-13).
NOTE: The first four trumpets deal with the breaking up of Western Rome in the hands of hordes of barbarians from Northern Asia, the Goths, the Vandals of North Africa, and the Huns led by Attila. The last three trumpets are “woe trumpets” (Rev. 8:13), that deal with the overthrow of the Eastern Roman Empire, beginning with rise of Mohammedanism, with the consequent of the ravages of the Saracens, and then the Turks. (see Rev. 9:1-21; 11:14). The finishing of the works, or the third angel’s message, which would be finished under the seventh trumpet, began in 1844 A.D. (This will be a specific topic we will be focusing on in a future series).
The Church Council held in 589 A.D. was definitely a council of the apostate Roman Catholic Church, for it was convened barely 51 years after the papacy was fully ensconced in power by “uprooting” the three Aryan nations, who bitterly resisted the Bishop of Rome through the subterfuge of emperor Justinian in 538 A.D. (See our previous study of the church in Thyatira). The papal church ruled the world for 1,260 years.
The Seven Church Councils
The latest edition of “Halley’s Bible Handbook with the NIV,” pp. 983-4, (Zondervan Publishing), says that there were seven church councils, as follows (all emphasis mine):
“Several of these church fathers [Crysostom, Theodore, Eusebius, Jerome, Ambrose, and Eusebius] participated in a series of seven church councils (also called ecumenical councils because they involved the whole church) held between A.D. 325 and 787 to define basic church Christian doctrines. They were attended by bishops and convened by emperors [church and state combined], which meant that after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in A.D. 476 most of the participants were from the Eastern church. The statements issued by the first four councils are still unanimously accepted by the Christian churches even today.
“Augustine was the primary figure at the council of Ephesus (431). It was convened to deal with the so-called Pelagian controversy, which revolved around the question as to how human beings are saved. Pelagius, a British theologian, held that each person is created free and has the power to choose good or evil because he or she is a separate creation and therefore uncontaminated by Adam’s sin. Thus individuals can attain salvation by choice and effort. Pelagius’ opponent was Augustine, who argued that all persons are born sinful by nature and therefore cannot choose freely between good and evil, so salvation must come by grace on God’s part. The Council of Ephesus adopted Augustine’s view, and although the question has continued to come up many times since, the decision stands as orthodox Christian doctrine.
“The other important councils were Nicaea (325), which declared Jesus Christ to be deity along with the Father; Constantinople (381) which upheld the deity of the Holy Spirit; and Chalcedon (451), which affirmed the two natures of Christ, divine and human, in one person.”
Diligent students of God’s Word know that the Bible clearly teaches that:
Each person is born a free moral agent (if this is what Pelagius meant by “created free”) and thus has the power of choice, a precious gospel truth taught from Genesis to Revelation. The God-given will is the governing power in the nature of man in both sinless and sinful natures, rendering him truly free to choose obey or disobey God’s word and His law and enjoy or suffer the consequences of such choices. God’s command to Adam and Eve in their sinless, unfallen state was “not to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Their choice to disobey, with its terrible results that passed on to all mankind since then, clearly teaches this truth.
Everyone born since Adam are not automatically condemned as guilty because of Adam’s sin; but all suffer its consequences and results. It is only when they repeat it that they come under the guilt and condemnation of their act, as Paul clearly teaches in Rom. 6: 12-19. It was by Adam’s transgression that “sin entered into the world.” What passed on to all men was death, not the sin of Adam and Eve, neither sin itself, defined in the Bible as “the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). Man became mortal, subject to death and decay. This is called “the wages of sin,” the “way of all men.” But those who die in Christ sleep in their graves, for Christ, the second Adam gained the perfect victory over the very same grounds wherein the first Adam fell. This is called the “first death,” to which the “first resurrection” applies (Rev. 20: 5, 6).
The “effort” portion of those who will be saved (if this is what Pelagius meant) is that which Jesus himself taught in answer to the question, “Lord, are there few that are saved?” And He said to them: ‘Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13: 23, 24; Matt. 7: 13, 14). Paul taught this same truth, as well as did all the patriarchs, prophets, disciples, and apostles. He said, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do His good pleasure.” Phil. 2:12, 13.
Augustine’s anti-Pelagian position that “all persons are born sinful by nature” is Biblically sound. The conclusion he draws, however, that “therefore they cannot choose freely between good and evil,” is dead wrong. Sinful nature is synonymous with fallen nature—the condition of every son and daughter of the first Adam, after the fall. Jesus, Creator of heaven and earth, in the ultimate condescension and sacrifice, incarnated into our fallen human nature four thousand years after the fall. That is why “He was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin” (Heb.4:15, 16; cf. 2: 14-18). Having sinful nature is not the same as committing sin, for sin is not nature; it is an act. See James 1: 12-15. Having the tendency, propensity, or inclination to sin, is not sin itself, unless one loses faith and yields to the temptation.
If the revered Augustine’s “learned opinion” was right, then Adam and Eve, originally created in the perfect image and likeness of God, should have never committed sin, prompting God to banish them from Eden lest they partake of the fruit of the tree of life and eternally perpetuate sin. This is the reason why there is no such thing as an “immortal sinner” which exposes that monstrous doctrine of “eternal torment” as one of the “doctrines of devils” that Apostle Paul warned Timothy about. See 1 Tim. 4:1.
Augustine’s conclusion that “salvation must come by grace on God’s part” is only partially right for it obviously excludes our part—of yielding our will. It was totally wrong based on his twisting and turning train of argument. This is how the fork-tongued serpent, Satan in disguise, beguiled Eve in her sinless nature. He mixed error with truth couched in “beautiful language” and in a musical voice.
Apostle Paul taught that the “grace which brings salvation” (Titus 2:11) is greater, and more powerful than sin. “For where sin abound, grace much more abounds.” Rom. 5:20. Sin comes from Satan, grace from God. One cannot serve two masters; he is either a slave of sin or a servant of righteousness. (See Romans chapter 6). Grace (the Greek charis)–“the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life,” is the P.O.W.E.R. of God freely given to those who seek it with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength in their struggle against Satan, sin, and temptation. And this amazing grace is freely imparted by the Holy Spirit, not purchased by any human “works” independent of the Holy Spirit and based on the law of man, as the Roman Catholic Church has taught for centuries.
If as early as the Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431, Augustine’s unscriptural view was adopted as the Church’s creed, and “stands as an orthodox Christian doctrine since then,” then modern-day Christianity has been walking in darkness and teaching error rendered “official” by Church councils and creeds since then. Nothing can be plainer than that!
The fact is the controversy between Pelagius and Augustine was but a showcase of the continuing struggle between truth and error, light and darkness, the latter being embraced by the vast majority (Isa. 60:2; John 3: 19; 12: 45, etc). This love for darkness and hatred of light will reach its climax, “as in the days of Noah,” and bring on earth’s close of probation (Matt. 24: 37-39; Luke 17:28-30; cf. Gen. 3:5-7, 11-13, 17; 7: 4, 22, 23).
Consider the conscience-pricking yet enlightening and heart-warming truths regarding these enormous issues—the will and the nature of man–in the following quotes from the inspired Pen. Anyone diligently searching for truth in his heart and is truly “seeking for glory, honor, and immortality (Rom. 2:7) will find them full of Biblical truth that sets us free from the chains of darkness and error (emphasis, and verses provided, mine):
THE WILL IS THE DECIDING POWER IN MAN
“[Rom. 12: 2 quoted]. There is nothing that can keep you away from God than a rebellious will. The will is the governing power in the nature of man. If the will is set right, all the rest of the being will come under its sway. The will is not the taste or inclination, but it is the choice, the deciding power, the kingly power, which works in the children of men unto obedience to God or disobedience.
You will be in constant peril until you understand the true force of the will. You may believe and promise all things, but your promises and your faith are of no account until you put your will on the right side. If you will fight the fight of faith [1 Tim. 6:12; cf. 2 Tim. 4:7] with your will power, there is no doubt that you will conquer.
Your part is to put your will on the side of Christ. When you wield your will to His, He immediately takes possession of you, and works in you to will and to do His good pleasure [Phil. 2: 12, 13]. Your [sinful] nature is brought under the control of His Spirit. Even your thoughts are subject to Him [2 Cor. 10:5; 1 Cor. 9: 27]. If you cannot control your impulses, your emotions, as you may desire, you can control the will, and thus and entire change will be wrought in your life. When you yield up your will to Christ, your life is hid with Christ in God [Col. 3:3]. It is allied to the power which is above all principalities and powers [Eph. 6:12; Col. 1:16; 2:15]. You will have strength from God that holds you fast in His strength; and a new life, even the life of faith, is possible to you. . . .Do not feel that you cannot; but say, ‘I can, I will.’ And God has pledged His Holy Spirit to help you in every decided effort.”- My Life Today, p. 318.
CHRIST’S VICTORY WAS AS COMPLETE AS ADAM’S FAILURE
“[Rom. 5:19 quoted]. Christ is called the second Adam [or “last Adam” 1 Cor.15: 45]. In purity and holiness, connected with God and beloved of God, He began where the first Adam began. Willingly He passed where the first Adam fell, and redeemed Adam’s failure.
But the first Adam was in every way more favorably situated than was Christ [contrast the Garden of Eden with the Wilderness of Temptation]. The wonderful provisions made for man in Eden was made by a God who loved him. Everything in nature was pure and undefiled. . . .Not a shadow interposed between Adam and Eve and their Creator. They knew God as their beneficent Father, and in all things their will was conformed to the will of God. . . .
But Satan came to dwellers in Eden and insinuated doubts of God’s wisdom. He accused Him, their heavenly Father and Sovereign [of the universe], of selfishness, because, to test their loyalty, He had prohibited them from eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. . .
Christ was tempted by Satan in a hundredfold severer manner than was Adam, and under circumstances in every way more trying. The deceiver presented himself as an angel of light, but Christ withstood his temptations. He redeemed Adam’s disgraceful fall, and saved the world. . . .
In His human nature He maintained the purity of His divine character. He lived the law of God, and honored it in a world of transgression, revealing to the heavenly universe, to Satan, and to all the fallen sons and daughters of Adam that through His grace humanity can keep the law of God. He came to impart His own divine nature, His own image, to the repentant, believing soul.
Christ’s victory was as complete as had been Adam’s failure. So we may resist temptation, and force Satan to depart from us.”- Ibid, p. 323.
Still on the topic of Creeds, I urgently recommend further readings on what the inspired pen says about this topic central to our study of the Sardis church under the following sub-topics:
· Creeds are built by men from speculations and pleasing fables -Patriarchs & Prophets, p.124.
· The repugnant doctrine of eternal torment is found in many of Christendom’s creeds-Great Controversy, p. 535.
· True Christianity is not a creed -Testimonies to Ministers, p. 421.
· True religion does not consist in creeds -Acts of the Apostles, p. 451; James 1:27.
· To Seventh-day Adventists, the Bible alone is to be their creed -Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 416.
· The widely conflicting creeds of Christianity are fittingly represented by the term, “Babylon.”- Patriarchs & Prophets, p. 124; Great Controversy, p. 383.
· These creeds were shattered to atoms by the advent message- Ibid, p. 379).
· Christ made no distinction between creeds or religions -Ministry of Healing, p. 25.
· The Jews clung to their creeds when truth awaited their acceptance -Desire of Ages, p. 242).
· Many people dare not accept anything contrary to their creeds- Great Controversy, p. 596.
· Many Protestants [even to this very moment] are bound by creeds -Ibid.
· Creeds of ecclesiastical councils, not evidence for or against any point of religious faith-Ibid, p. 595.
· Persons trusting in creeds feel no need to be taught of God [or by the Holy Spirit]- Ibid, p. 456.
· Subscribing to a creed is no substitute for [true] conversion -Evangelism, p. 291.
· Vigilant and individual effort accomplishes more for Christ than creeds -Christian Service, p. 12.
Rationalism is defined as: “1. The practice of guiding one’s opinions and actions solely by what is considered reasonable. 2. Philosophically: The theory that reason is a source of knowledge in itself, superior to and independent of sense perceptions. 3. Theologically: Explanation according to reason of what appears supernatural.” – Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Fifth Edition, 1942.
The mind is the spiritual battleground where Christ and Satan are contending for the supremacy over the soul. The mind that is not fully and willingly yielded to the control of the Holy Spirit is under the control of Satan. The reasoning powers of such minds, seeking to “explain what is supernatural” is spiritualistic–the antithesis of the spiritual mind. Why? Rationalism makes human reasoning the criterion for religion, and sets aside the Scriptures as plenary. See GC 193.
While still a youthful student in Geneva, L. Gaussen, ignorant of Biblical truth and inclined to skepticism of rationalism which pervaded Europe in the late 18th century into the 19th century, became interested in the study of prophecy. This was to forever change the direction of his life and works, thus helping to preserve and propagate the testing truth of the Second advent. He wisely began his work with children, reached their parents, and then countless prominent men later. Notice:–
“The light shone also in France and Switzerland. At Geneva, where Farel and Calvin had spread the truths of the Reformation, Gaussen preached the message of the second advent. . . .After reading Rollin’s ‘Ancient History,’ his attention was called to the second chapter of Daniel, and he was struck with the wonderful exactness with which the prophecy had been fulfilled, as seen in the historian’s record. Here was a testimony to the inspiration of the Scriptures, which served as an anchor to him amid the perils of the later years. He could not rest satisfied with the teachings of rationalism, and in studying the Bible and searching for clearer light he was, after a time led to a positive faith.
As he pursued the investigation of the prophecies, he arrived at the belief that the coming of the Lord was at hand. Impressed with the solemnity and importance of this great truth, he desired to bring it before the people; but the popular belief that the prophecies of Daniel are mysteries and cannot be understood, was a serious obstacle in his way. He finally determined—as Farel had done before him in evangelizing Geneva—to begin with the children, through whom he hoped to interest the parents. . . .
The effort was successful. As he addressed the children, older persons came to listen. The galleries of his church were filled with attentive hearers. Among them were men of rank and learning, strangers and foreigners visiting Geneva; and thus the message was carried to other parts.
Encouraged by this success, Gaussen published his lessons, with the hope of promoting the study of the prophetic books in the churches of the French-speaking people. . . .
Though one of the most distinguished and beloved of preachers in the French language, Gaussen was after a time suspended from the ministry, his principal offense being that instead of the church’s catechism, a tame and rationalistic manual, almost destitute of positive faith, he had used the Bible in giving instructions to the youth. He afterward became a teacher in a theological school, while on Sunday he continued his work as catechist, addressing the children, and instructing them in the Scriptures.”- Great Controversy, pp. 364. 365, 366.
NOTE: On L. Gaussen’s book entitled “Theopneustia: The Plenary Inspiration of Scriptures,” published 1854, see Still Waters Revival Books (www. swrb.com). The introduction on this site regarding Gaussen’s book states: “L. Gaussen, ‘Theopneustia,’ borrowed from Paul, carries with it the idea of divine or verbal inspiration and thus this book defends the Bible as God’s Word (dealing with many evasions and objections to this foundational doctrine of Christianity. Gordon Clark once commented that this book contains examples of early presuppositional works, 365 pages.”
Martin Luther fought against error and the enemies of truth with the Scriptures in three
major fronts: (a) the Papacy or Romanism–the control of the state by the church (b) rationalism–an extension of intellectualism that makes a god of human reason (c) fanaticism–the latter exemplified by Munzer and his followers. Even Luther himself could not discern at the outset whether Munzer was an ally or an enemy —until its true nature unfolded later, resulting in premature and unnecessary bloodshed.
Those who have unfortunately been mesmerized and victimized by certain extreme notions of “separationism,” should realize before it’s too late that these three isms, alongside with sin, self, and Satan are the real enemies of God’s remnant church—not their weaker brethren or the faulty institutions led by an all-too-human leadership who are “subject to like passions as we are” as Elijah was (James 5:17).
By looking to Jesus as our Commander-in-chief and putting on the whole armor of God, all seventh-day Sabbath-keepers are to unite in heart and mind and heart as an army of diverse backgrounds, even as the first twelve disciples were, to spiritually contend against these enemies in their magnified, more sophisticated, diverse, and deadlier end-time stages. Satan’s work is to divide and conquer and he does it by sowing seeds of discontent, criticism, gossip, and fault-finding among the people who are so soon to be the objects of universal hatred and persecution!
If we don’t learn to unite now in these times of peace and prosperity and set aside our self-magnified differences, in answer to the Lord’s last prayer for all His followers recorded in John 17, God in His love and wisdom will allow the most extreme alternative left which He used in the past—persecution—which will come in His appointed time and manner. Fanaticism hastens premature persecution and causes the loss of many innocent lives. On the other hand, persecution in God’s appointed way and time results in souls saved and in the magnification of His law and vindication of His character.
“[Rev. 12: 17 quoted]. “The Sabbath is a test to this generation. In obeying the fourth commandment in spirit and truth, men will obey all the precepts of the Decalogue. To fulfill this commandment one must love God supremely, and exercise love toward all creatures that He had made. The time is coming when God’s people will feel the hand of persecution because they keep holy the seventh day. . . .The man of sin [the papacy], who thought to change times and laws, and who has always oppressed the people of God, will cause laws to be made enforcing the observance of the first day of the week. But God’s people are to stand firm for Him.” – Faith I live By, p. 291.
Although in and of themselves (Romanism, rationalism and fanaticism) were opposing elements, they were one in shunting aside the Bible and exalting human wisdom as the source of religious truth and knowledge. Note the following:–
“Fearlessly did Luther defend the gospel from that attacks which came from every quarter. The word of God proved itself a weapon mighty in every conflict. With that Word he warred against the usurped authority of the pope, and the rationalistic philosophy of the schoolmen, while he stood firm as a rock against fanaticism that sought to ally itself with the Reformation. Each of these opposing elements was in its own way setting aside the Holy Scriptures, and exalting human wisdom as the source of religious truth and knowledge. Rationalism idolizes reason, and make this the criterion of religion. Romanism, claiming for her sovereign pontiff an inspiration descended from an unbroken line from the apostles, and unchangeable through all time, gives ample opportunity for every species of extravagance and corruption to be concealed under the sanctity of the apostolic commission. The inspiration claimed by Munzer and his associates proceeded from no higher source than the vagaries of the imagination, and its influence was subversive of all authority, human or divine” [the essence of fanaticism]. True Christianity receives the word of God as the great treasure-house of inspired truth, and the test of all inspiration.” – Great Controversy, p. 193.
Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Rev. 3:2.
“Survival may be thought of as the keynote of the Sardis period of church history.”
Concerning watchfulness as a Christian duty, see Matt. 24: 42; cf. Matt. 25:13.
“Strengthen the things which remain.” – In the message to the church at Sardis two parties are represented—those who have a name to live but are dead; and those who are striving to overcome. Study this message, found in the third chapter of Revelation. [Rev. 3:1-3 quoted]. Who are meant by those ready to die? And what has made them thus? The explanation is given, ‘I have not found your works perfect before God [verses 3-5 quoted].” – E.G. W. Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 959.
“The admonition of the True Witness to the Sardis church is: [Rev3: 1-3 quoted]. The sin especially charged to this church is that they have not strengthened the things that remain, that are ready to die. Does this warning apply to us? Let us individually examine our hearts in the light of God’s Word, and let our first work be to set our hearts in order by the help of Christ. God has done His part of the work for the salvation of men, and now He calls for the co-operation of the church. [What is God’s part?]. There are:  the blood of Christ,  the Word of truth,  the Holy Spirit, on one hand, and there are the perishing souls on the other. Every follower of Christ has a part to act to bring men to accept the blessings heaven has provided. Let us closely examine ourselves and see if we have done our work. Let us question our motives and every action of our lives.” – Testimonies, vol. 5, p.610.
“Even in degenerate Protestantism there were certain things worth laboring to preserve. Much, but not all, had been lost. The spiritual life of Protestantism was dying, but the system was not yet dead.” – “Footnotes,” E.G. White Exhaustive Commentary on Revelation, vol. 2, p. 575.
“I have not found your works perfect.” – “The ardor of Protestantism during its early years gave promise of a pressing forward toward perfection in understanding revealed truth and applying it to the life. But as the years went by, zeal and piety waned, and the church wearied of the effort to reach that it had set out to attain.”- Ibid.
“Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.’ This is our work. They are many ready to die spiritually, and the Lord calls upon us to strengthen them. God’s people are to be firmly united in the bonds of Christian fellowship, and are to be strengthened in the faith by speaking often to one another about the precious truths entrusted to them. Never are they to spend their time in accusing and condemning one another.”- Review & Herald, Aug. 10, 1905.
“Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch,
I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know
what hour I will come upon thee.” Rev. 3:3.
“Hast received.” – “The form of the Greek verb implies not only that the church at Sardis had received the truth but that she sill had it—not all had been lost. That there still was hope is further indicated by the injunction ‘hold fast,’ which in the Greek mean to ‘continue to hold fast.’ Some Christians at Sardis had not backslidden, a fact stated more clearly in verse 4.”- “Footnotes,” E.G. White Comprehensive Commentary on Revelation, vol. 2, p. 579.
“Hold fast and repent.” – Repent here is the Greek metanoeo- the very word John the Baptist used, saying, “Repent ye for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matt. 3:2. This is the same urgent message proclaimed by the third angel of Revelation 14— “Repent, for Christ is coming soon, bringing His eternal rewards with Him as determined by the pre-advent or investigative judgment—the most solemn period of earth history—the very time in which our final generation has been living in since 1844 (Dan. 8:14)! And yet how few, like the Jewish nation, “know their time of visitation”! (See Luke 19:44; cf. Hos. 9:7; Micah 7:4; 1 Pet. 2:12).
“We are now living in the great day of atonement. In the typical service, while the high priest was making the atonement for Israel, all were require to afflict their souls by repentance for sin and humiliation before the Lord, lest they be cut off from among the people. In like manner, all who would have their names retained in the book of life should now, in the few remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin and true repentance. There must be deep, faithful searching of the heart. The light, frivolous spirit indulged by so many professed Christians must be put away. There is earnest warfare before all who would subdue the evil tendencies that strive for the mastery. The work of preparation is an individual work. We are not saved in groups. The purity and devotion of one will not offset the want of these qualities in another. Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet He will examine the cases of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth. Everyone must be tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing [Eph. 5: 26,27].” – Great Controversy, pp. 489-90.
“Hold fast.” This does not mean, Hold fast to your sins, but hold fast to the comfort, the faith, the hope, that God has given you in His word. Never be discouraged. A discouraged man can do nothing. . . . . We are to ‘hold fast’ and live up to all the light we receive from heaven. Why? Because God wants us to grasp the eternal truth, and act as His helping hand by communicating the light to those who are not acquainted with His love for them.. . .”- Sons & Daughters, p. 351.
“And repent.” The life we live is to be of continual repentance and humility. We need to repent constantly, that we may be constantly victorious. When we have true humility we have [true] victory. The enemy can never take out of the hand of Christ the one who is simply trusting in His promises. If the soul is trusting and working obediently, the mind is susceptible to divine impressions, and the light of God shines in, enlightening and understanding. What privileges we have in Christ Jesus!”- Ibid.
“I will come on thee as a thief.” – Compare this with Matt. 24:43, where the reference is to the Second coming of Jesus. This warning includes not only the second advent itself but a more immediate divine visitation (cf. Rev. 2:5). Either coming would be unexpected to those who fail to repent and watch.
“The advent of Christ will surprise the false teachers. They are saying, ‘Peace and safety.’ Like the priests and teachers before the fall of Jerusalem, they look for the church to enjoy earthly prosperity and glory. The signs of the times they interpret as foreshadowing this. But what saith the word of Inspiration? ‘Sudden destruction cometh upon them.’ 1 Thess. 5:3. Upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth, upon all who make this world their home, the day of God will come as a snare. It will come to them as a prowling thief.” – Desire of Ages, p. 635.
“Unless we ourselves do our duty to those around us, the day of God will come upon us as a thief. Confusion fills the world and a great terror is soon to come upon human beings. The end is very near. We who know the truth should be preparing for what is soon to break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise.”- Review & Herald, Nov. 22, 1906.
“The world full of rioting, full of godless pleasure, is asleep, asleep in carnal security, putting afar off the coming of the Lord, laughing at warnings, calling those who try to arouse their attention, almost fanatics, enthusiasts, not level-headed. The lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God are taken unawares. This is the proud boast that is made, ‘All things remain as they were from the beginning. Tomorrow shall be as this day, only much more abundant’ [see Isa. 56:12]. We will go deeper into pleasure loving. But, said Christ, ‘Behold I come as a thief.’ When the scorner, the rejecter of truth has become presumptuous, when the routine of work in the various money-making lines is being carried on without regard to principle, when the student is fully engaged in ambitious aims to obtain knowledge of everything but the Bible, Christ comes as a thief. The warning has been given [Matt. 24; 42, 43 quoted]. Every hour that passes is one hour less for you to make preparation of character for this great event.” – Manuscript 7a, 1896.
Thou hast a few names even in Sardis
which have not defiled their garments;
they shall walk with Me in white for they are worthy. Rev. 3: 4.
“Names.” – That is, persons (see on Acts 1:15). – Exhaustive E.G. White Commentary on Revelation, vol. 2., p. 581.
“Defiled their garments.” – A figure for moral defilement, into which most of the church at Sardis had fallen. See on Matt. 22: 11; cf. Rev. 16:15; cf. on Isa. 63:6.”- Ibid.
“In white.”- In contrast with those who have fallen morally, so defiling their ‘garments,’ those who have been true are represented as worthy to wear ‘white.’ That this is a symbol of their purity is indicated both by the succeeding remark, ‘for they are worthy,’ and by the use of the same symbol in ch. 7:13, 14. The latter makes clear that such righteousness is not their own, but the result of washing their robes white in the blood of the Lamb. They have received the righteousness of Christ. White garments are also characteristic of the inhabitants of heaven (see Dan. 7:9; Rev. 4:4; 6:11; 19:14), and thus, for the saints, figurative of their ‘spiritual body’ (1 Cor. 15: 40-44; cf. vs. 51-54).” – Ibid.
“The church of Sardis is represented as having in it a few faithful ones among that many who had become, as it were, careless and insensible of their obligations to God. . . Who is so favored as to be numbered among these few in Sardis? Are you? Am I? Who are among this number? Is it not best for us to inquire into this matter, in order that we may learn to whom the Lord refers when He says that a few have not stained their white robes of character.” – Manuscript 81, 1900.
“The church is the bride of Christ., and her members are to yoke up with their leader. God warns us not to defile our garments.” – Letter 123 1/2, 1898.
NOTE: Here we have a clear distinction between the church, as a corporate body, being the bride of Christ, and her individual members. God Himself will purify His bride-church through means of His own appointment and direction. These include the shaking caused by rising up against the straight testimony, and the sifting of trials, tribulation, and persecution. He even allows false teachings and apostasies to come to test His people. – “Apostasies have occurred and the Lord has permitted matters of this nature to develop in the past in order to show how easily His people will be misled when they depend upon the words of men instead of searching the Scriptures for themselves, as did the noble Bereans, to see if these things are so. And the Lord has permitted things of this kind to occur that warnings may be given that such things will take place.” – Notebook Leaflets, p. 5.
“They shall walk with Me in white for they are worthy.” – What to “walk with Christ in white” is explained in the following quotes.
“It is right to love beauty and to desire it; but God desire us to love and seek first the highest beauty, that which is imperishable. No outward adorning can compare in value or loveliness with that ‘meek and quiet spirit’ the ‘fine linen, white and clean’ (Rev. 19:14), which all the holy ones of earth will wear. This apparel will make them beautiful and beloved here, and will hereafter be their badge of admission to the palace of the King. ‘They shall walk with me in white for they are worthy.’ Rev. 3;4.”- Acts of the Apostles, pp. 523-4. This is the divine badge of admission to the palace of the King in heaven. Only those who have it can enter there!
“As we view Christ by the eye of faith, we see the necessity of becoming pure in thought and holy in character. Christ invites us to draw near to Him, and promises that he will draw near to us. Looking upon Him, we behold the invisible God, who clothed His divinity with humanity in order that through humanity He might shed forth a subdued a softened glory, so that our eyes may be enable to rest upon Him, and our souls not extinguished by His undimmed splendor. We behold God through Christ, our Creator and Redeemer. It is our privilege to contemplate Jesus by faith, and see Him standing between humanity and the eternal throne. He is our Advocate, presenting our prayers and offerings as spiritual sacrifices to God. Jesus is the great and sinless propitiation, and through His merit, God and men may hold converse together. Christ has carried His humanity into eternity. He stands before God as the representative of our race. When we are clothed with the wedding garment of His righteousness, we become one with Him, and He says of us, ‘They shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy.’ His saints will behold Him in His glory, with no deeming veil between.”- Youth’s Instructor, Oct. 28, 1897/ E.G. W. Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 925.
“If the rush of work is allowed to drive us from our purpose of seeking the Lord daily, we shall make the greatest mistakes; we shall incur losses, for the Lord is not with us; we have closed the door so that He cannot find access to our souls. But if we pray even when our hands are employed, the Savior’s ear is opened to our petitions. If we are determined not to be separated from the Source of our Strength, Jesus will be just as determined to be at our right hand to help us, that we may not be put to shame before our enemies. The grace of Christ can accomplish for us that which all our efforts will fail to do. Those who love and fear God may be surrounded by a multitude of cares, and yet not falter or make crooked paths for their feet. God takes care of you in the place where it is you duty to be. But be sure, as often as possible, to go where prayer is wont to be made. The Savior says, [Rev. 3;4 quoted]. These souls overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. Amid the moral pollution that prevailed on every hand, they held fast their integrity. And why? They were partakers of the divine nature, and thus they escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust [2 Pet. 1:4]. They became rich in faith, heirs to an inheritance of more value than the gold of Ophir. Only a life of constant dependence upon the Savior is a life of holiness.” – Counsels on Health, p. 424.
“Those who take Christ at His word, and surrender their souls to His keeping, their lives to His ordering, will find peace and quietude. Nothing of the world can make them sad when Jesus makes them glad by His presence. In perfect acquiescence there is perfect rest. The Lord says, ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee; because he trustesth in Thee.’ Isa. 26:3. Our lives may seem a tangle; but as we submit our lives to the wise Master-worker, He will bring out the pattern of life and character that will be to His own glory. And that character which expresses the glory—character—of Christ, will be received into the Paradise of God. A renovated race shall walk with Him in white, for they are worthy.
As through Jesus we enter into rest, heaven begins here. We respond to His invitation, Come, learn of Me, and in thus coming we begin the life eternal. Heaven is a ceaseless approaching to God through Christ. The longer we are in the heaven of bliss, the more and still more of glory will be opened to us; and the more we know of God, the more intense will be our happiness. As we walk with God in this life, we may be filled with His love, satisfied with His presence. All that human nature can bear, we may receive here. But what is this compared to the hereafter? [Rev. 7: 15-17 quoted].”- Desire of Ages, pp. 331-2.
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not blot out his name from the book of life, but will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. Rev. 2: 5.
“He that overcometh.” – Overcometh is the Greek nikao, meaning, “to subdue, conquer, prevail, get or obtain the victory.” Overcoming is the victory in Christ!
“The expression, ‘He that overcometh,’ indicates that there is something for every one of us to overcome. The overcomer is to be clothed with the white raiment of Christ’s righteousness, and of him it is written, ‘I will not blot out his name from the book of life. . . .O what a privilege it is to be an overcomer, and to have our names presented to the Father by the Savior himself! And when, as overcomers, we shall be ‘clothed in white raiment,’ the Lord will acknowledge our faithfulness as verily as in the days of the early Christian church He acknowledged the ‘few names even in Sardis’ who had ‘not defiled their garments;’ and we shall walk with Him in white, for through His atoning sacrifice we shall be accounted worthy.”- Review & Herald, July 9, 1908.
“It means much to be an overcomer. The besetments of the enemy and all his evil agencies must be firmly resisted. Every moment we must be on guard. Not for one instant are we to lose sight of Christ, and of His power to save in the hour of trial. Our hand must be placed in His, that we may be upheld in the power of His might. If you are to sit at Christ’s table, and feast on the provisions He has furnished at the marriage supper of the Lamb, you must have a special garment, called the wedding garment, which is the white robe of Christ’s righteousness. Everyone who has on this robe is entitled to enter the city of God. . . . The spotless robe of Christ’s righteousness is placed upon the tried, tempted, yet faithful children of God. . . They have resisted the wiles of the deceiver; they have not been turned from their loyalty by the dragon’s roar. Now they are eternally secure from the tempter’s devices. . . .The remnant are not only pardoned and accepted, but honored.” – Sons & Daughters, pp. 368
“Let no one say, ‘I cannot overcome the defects of character;’ for if this is your decision, then you cannot have eternal life. The impossibility is all in your will. If you will not, that constitutes the can not. The real difficulty is the corruption of an unsanctified heart, and an unwillingness to submit to the will of God. When there is a determined purpose born in your heart to overcome, you will have a disposition to overcome, and will cultivate those traits of character that are desirable, and will engage with the conflict with steady persevering effort. You will exercise a ceaseless watchfulness over your defects of character; and will cultivate right practices in little things. The difficulty of overcoming will be lessened in proportion as the heart is sanctified by the grace of Christ. Earnest, persevering effort will place you on vantage ground of victory; for he who strives to overcome in and through the grace of Christ, will have divine enlightenment, and will understand how great truths can be brought into little things, and religion can be carried into the little as well as into the larger concerns of life.”- Youth’s Instructor, Sept. 7, 1893.
“White raiment.”- Raiment here is the Greek himation meaning, “dress (inner or outer); apparel, cloak, clothes, garment, robe, vesture.” It is a symbol of character, and “thoughts and feelings combined make up the moral character” (5T 310).
“Notwithstanding the defects of the people of God, Christ does not turn away from the objects of His care. He has the power to change their raiment. He removes the filthy garments, He places upon the repenting, believing ones His own robe of righteousness, and writes pardon against their names on the records of heaven. He confesses them as His before the heavenly universe. Satan their adversary is shown to be an accuser and deceiver. God will do justice for His own elect.” – Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 169-70.
“By the wedding garment in the parable is represented the pure, spotless character which Christ’s true followers will possess. To the church it is given ‘that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white,’ ‘not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.’ Eph. 5:27. The fine linen, says the Scriptures, ‘is the righteousness of the saints.’ Rev. 19:8. It is the righteousness of Christ, His own unblemished character, that through faith is imparted to will who receive Him as their personal Savior [from sin]. The white robe of innocence was worn by our first parents when they were placed by God in holy Eden. They lived in perfect conformity to the will of God. All the strength of their affections was given to their heavenly Father. A beautiful soft light, the light of God, enshrouded the holy pair. This robe of light was a symbol of their spiritual garment of heavenly innocence. Had they remained true to God it would have ever have continued to enshroud them. But when sin entered, they severed their connection with God, and the light that encircled them departed. Naked and ashamed, they tried to supply the place of the heavenly garments by sewing together the fig leaves for a covering. . . . Only the covering which Christ Himself has provided can make us meet to appear in God’s presence. This covering, the robe of His own righteousness, Christ will put upon every repenting, believing soul. ‘I counsel thee,’ He says, ‘to buy of Me. . . .white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear.’ Rev. 3: 18.” – Ibid, pp. 310-12.
“But Christ was obedient to every requirement of the law. He said of Himself, ‘I delight to do Thy will, O My God; yea, Thy law is within My heart.’ Ps. 40:8. When on earth, He said to His disciples, ‘I have kept My Father’s commandments.’ John 15:10. By His perfect obedience He has made it possible fro every human being to obey God’s commandments. [How?] When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garments of His righteousness. Then as the Lord looks upon us He sees, not the fig-leaf garment, not the nakedness and deformity of sin, but His own robe of righteousness, which is perfect obedience to the law of Jehovah.” – Ibid.
“I will not blot out.” – “See on Acts 3:19. The figurative phrase ‘not blot out’ assures the repentant sinner that his sins have been forgiven, and warns the unrepentant that his name will be removed from the book of life. His very identity as a person will cease to exist; he will no longer have a place among created beings. (Compare to GC 490 above).”
“Oh, how precious is that ‘not’!—‘I will not blot out his name’. . . When the gates of the city of God swing back on their glittering hinges, and the nations who have kept the truth shall enter in, Christ will be there to welcome us, to call us blessed of the Father, because we have overcome. He will welcome us before the Father, and before His angels. As we enter the kingdom of God, there to spend eternity, the trials and difficulties and the perplexities that we have had here will sink into insignificance. Our life will measure with the life of God. [See Eph. 3: 14-21; 4:13].”- E.G. White, General Conference Bulletin, Apr. 6, 1903.
“All who are partakers of this great salvation wrought out by Jesus Christ are under obligation to work as laborers together with God. In the heavenly courts the roll is called, on which every name is registered, and the heavenly agencies respond to the call. The service given by every human being upon earth is there recorded. If any are negligent, it is recorded; if diligent, the same is record; if idlers, the fact stands against their names. In all the great mass of humanity, not one is lost sight of. Then let every one be ready to answer the call, saying, ‘Here Lord, ready for action.’ The world has claims upon you. If you fail to shine as lights in the world, some will rise in the judgment, and charge upon you the blood of their souls. It will be seen that you were agents in the hands of the enemy of God and man to mislead and deceive by your profession of Christianity. You did not lead souls to piety and devotion. You had a name to live, but were spiritually dead. You had not the vitalizing influence of the Spirit of God, which is abundantly provided for all who, in faith, make demands upon it.” (Review & Herald, Aug. 16, 1898).
“When we become children of God, our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, and they remain there until the time of investigative judgment. Then the name of every individual will be called, and his record examined, by Him who declares, ‘I know thy works.’ If in that day it shall appear that all our wicked deeds have not been fully repented of, our names will be blotted out from the book of life, and our sins will stand against us.” (Signs of the Times, Aug. 6, 1885).
“The book here referred o is the book of records in heaven, in which every name is inscribed, and acts of all, their sins, and obedience, are faithfully written. When individuals commit sins which are too grievous for the Lord to pardon, their names are erased from the books, and they are devoted to destruction. (Ibid, May 27, 1880).”- E.G. W. Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 960.
“Those that overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, will be the favored ones who shall receive the seal of the living God. Those whose hands are not [spiritually] clean, whose hearts are not pure, will not have the seal of the living God. Those who are planning sin [the transgression of the law of God ] and acting it will be passed by. Only those who, in their attitude before God, are filling the position of those who are repenting and confessing their sins in [this] great antitypical Day of Atonement, will be recognized and marked as worthy of God’s protection. The names of those who are steadfastly looking and waiting and watching for the appearing of their Savior—more earnestly and wishfully than they who wait for the morning—will be numbered among those who are sealed. Those who, while having all the light of truth flashing upon their souls, should have works corresponding to their avowed faith; but are allured by sin, setting up idols in their hearts, corrupting their souls before God, and polluting those who unite with them in sin, will have their names blotted out of the book of life, and be left in midnight darkness, having no oil in their vessels with their lamps. [Mal. 4;2 quoted]‘’—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 445.
“I will confess his name.” – Confess here is the Greek exomolegeo, meaning, to acknowledge; to agree fully; confess, profess, promise.
See Job 22:29; Isa. 57:15; Matt. 18: 3, 4. “The names of some will be blotted of the book of life. Whose shall it be? Let us each examine ourselves carefully to see if we are in the faith; let us be diligent to make sure work for eternity. Jesus says that He will confess the name of the overcomer before His Father, and before the holy angels. If we would have our names honored before the heavenly host in the day of God, we must obtain the white raiment now. We must clothe ourselves with humility as with a garment. Every step heavenward must be a step of humility.”- Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of Seventh-day Adventists, p. 139.
See Matt. 10: 32, 33; Luke 12: 8, 9. “[Rev. 3:11 quoted]. Decisions may be made in a moment that fixes one’s condition forever. . . .But remember, it would take the work of a lifetime to recover what a moment of yielding to temptation and thoughtlessness throw away. . . .By a momentary act of will you may place yourself in the power of Satan, but it will require more than a momentary act of will to break his fetters and reach fro a higher, holier life. The purpose may be formed, the work begun, but its accomplishment will require toil, time, and perseverance, patience, and sacrifice. The man [or woman] who deliberately wanders from God in the full blaze of light will find, when he wishes to set his face to return, that briars and thorns have grownup in his path, and he must n0t be surprised or discouraged is he is compelled to travel long with torn and bleeding feet. The most fearful and most to be dreaded evidence of man’s fall from a better state is the fact that it so much to get back. The way of return may be gained only by hard fighting, inch by inch, every hour. . . .Those who win heaven will put forth their noblest efforts and will labor with all long-suffering, that they may reap the fruit of toil. There is a hand that will open wide the gates of Paradise to those who have stood the test of temptation and kept a good conscience by giving up the world, its honors, its applause, for the love of Christ, thus confessing Him before men and waiting with all patience for Him to confess them, before His Father and the Holy angels.”– My Life Today, p. 322.
“He that hath an ear, let him hear
what the Spirit saith to the churches.” Rev. 3:6.
See 1 John 2:015-17; 2 Cor. 6: 14-18; 7:1. “Those who are ever pressing a little closer to the world, and becoming more like them in feelings, in plans, in ideas, have left a space between them and the Savior, and Satan has pressed his way into this space, and low, worldly-tainted, selfish plans become interwoven in their experience. God’s voice is addressing this class, which are not few: ‘He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.’ It is of consequence that you hear attentively and obey. Come into close relationship with Christ. [On the other hand] keep your souls in constant contact with the world, and its customs will become your customs, its practices will become your practices, if you place yourselves where you will see and hear and feel and act as they do.”- Review & Herald, June 7, 1887.
See Phil. 3:10. “Christ calls upon us to hear His words, that we may know Him. ‘He that hath an ear, let him hear.’ We are not to hear as did those of whom the apostles said, ‘The Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it’ [Heb. 4:2]. Those who hear savingly are those who hear in faith, and who give earnest heed to the things which they have heard, lest at any time they should let them slip” [Heb. 2:1].”- Signs of the Times, Jan. 27, 2898.
“The truth and glory of God are inseparable; it is impossible for us, with the Bible within our reach, to honor God by erroneous opinions. Many claim that it matters not what one believes, if his life is only right. But the life is molded by the faith. If light and truth is within our reach, and we neglect to improve the privilege of hearing and seeing it, we virtually reject it; we are choosing darkness rather than light. ‘There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.’ Prov. 16:25. Ignorance is no excuse for error or sin, when there is every opportunity to know the will of God. A man traveling, and comes to a place where there are several roads, and a guide-board indicating where each one leads. If he disregards the guide-board, and takes whichever road seems to him to be right, he may ever be so sincere, but will in all probability find himself on the wrong road.” – Great Controversy, pp. 597-8.
To be continued next month.