Chapter 14: ~ “FINALLY BRETHREN”

I would like to spend the majority of this final chapter examining two points. #1: The importance of this subject in the over-all scheme of things. And, #2: The importance of perfect obedience.

Point #1—The importance of this subject

I want to begin with two quotes, that when considered together cannot fail to raise some very serious questions:

“The shaking must soon take place to purify the church.”  {2 Spiritual Gifts 284}

“The mighty shaking has commenced and will go on.”  {Early Writings 50}

It has been over a hundred years since those words were written. Multitudes from all walks of life are praying and working and waiting for the church to be purified. Multitudes are doing their best to live by these words:

“Mark this point with care: Those who receive the pure mark of truth, wrought in them by the power of the Holy Ghost, represented by a mark by the man in linen, are those “that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done” in the church.”  {3 Testimonies 267}

And multitudes, with greater and greater perplexity:

“Cry with a loud voice, saying, How long O Lord.”  {Revelation 6:9, 10}

To all there comes back one all-important answer:

“Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.”  {Christ’s Object Lessons 69}

The doctrinal truths that we as Seventh-day Adventists have been given are precious and indispensable. (Though many are doing their best to dispense with them.) They are truths that we must do all in our power to make known to the world. They are truths, the reception or rejection of which will determine the destiny of souls. But they are truths that will prove themselves absolutely powerless to solve our problems if not combined with knowing Christ and possessing His character:

“Christ, his character and work, is the center and circumference of all truth, he is the chain upon which the jewels of doctrine are linked. In him is found the complete system of truth…The business of every Christian is to study the character of Christ.”  {Review & Herald, August 15, 1893}

“Though I have the [Spirit] of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge…and have not [Christ], I am nothing.”  {1 Corinthians 13:2}

“To know God and Christ—this is eternal life. Incorporated with the life, this knowledge fits us for heaven. And all other knowledge, however high or broad, unless charged with it, is valueless in God’s sight.”  {1 Sermons and Talks 334}

If we understand and are able to explain with perfect clearness the Sabbath, the State of the Dead, the Sanctuary, and every other great truth that God has made known to this people, but fail to bear a likeness to Christ in character, we will one day hear those saddest of all words:

“Depart from Me, I never knew you.”  {Matthew 7:23}

And, as disturbing a thought as it may be, it is entirely possible to practice health reform, dress reform, and every other reform that is found in the Spirit of Prophecy (all of which are as indispensable as our doctrines), and yet still, because we do not truly have Christ formed within, be found in that awful condition described in those words of Christ Himself:

“Ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”  {Matthew 23:27, 28}

Undoubtedly, there are an almost endless number of important Spirit of Prophecy quotes; but there are two that demand to be exalted just now:

“The humanity of the Son of God is everything to us. It is the golden chain that binds our souls to Christ, and through Christ to God. This is to be our study.”  {1 Selected Messages 244}

“One question will be all absorbing—Who shall approach the nearest to the likeness of Christ?”  {General Conference Daily Bulletin, February 6, 1893}

There is another factor in this whole question that we cannot afford to be unmindful of—Satan:

“Notwithstanding the infinite power and majesty of God and Christ, angels became disaffected. The insinuations of Satan took effect, and they really came to believe that the Father and the Son were their enemies and that Satan was their benefactor. Satan has the same power and the same control over minds now, only it has increased a hundredfold by exercise and experience.”  {3 Testimonies 328}

“[Lucifer] sought to gain control of heavenly beings, to draw them away from their Creator, and to win their homage to himself. Therefore he misrepresented God…With his own evil characteristics he sought to invest the loving Creator. Thus he deceived angels. Thus he deceived men.”  {Desire of Ages 21, 22}

Satan is pursuing a similar course today, only this time it is the Son instead of the Father that he is misrepresenting; and he is having just as much success as he did thousands of years ago. I have seen “the man Christ Jesus,” the One of whom we have read was “Infinite Purity,” the One who said of Himself, “he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father,” portrayed as not only being “drawn away of His own lust,” and “drawn away of His own evil desires,” but having to battle inwardly with such traits as pride, selfishness, and unholy ambition. This is no less than a perfect fulfillment of those words:

“With his own evil characteristics he sought to invest the loving Creator.”  {Desire of Ages 22}

Let me finish this section by saying that after a great deal of prayer (and much struggle) it seemed clear to me that it would be best not to mention any names. I cannot help but be convinced that naming names would do more harm than it would good. I will only repeat what I said in chapter one: very few people seem to realize just how serious and just how wide-spread this problem actually is.

Point #2—The importance of perfect obedience

Perfect obedience is a teaching that for the majority of old-fashioned, conservative Seventh-day Adventists is neither new nor questionable; which only makes failure to live up to it infinitely more serious. Failure on this point will make it impossible for us to ever reproduce the character of Christ. And it is failure on this point that is ultimately behind so many other problems.

As is the case with so many subjects, we are once again brought back to a statement I made earlier: “this question of the exact place that God designs the Spirit of Prophecy to occupy in the life (and heart) of every true Seventh-day Adventist.”

Once again I ask you to consider what God has done in giving to us the writings of Ellen White:

“One stood by my side and said: ‘God has raised you up and has given you words to speak to the people and to reach hearts as He has given to no other one.’”  {2 Testimonies 607}

Try to realize that if the words she was given to speak to us do not reach our hearts to the point where we long for entire conformity to the will of God then there is very little left that He can do:

“I saw that the judgments of the Almighty were speedily coming, and I begged of the angel to speak in his language to the people. Said he, “All the thunders and lightnings of Mount Sinai would not move those who will not be moved by the plain truths of the Word of God, neither would an angel’s message awake them.”  {Early Writings 50}

In a few minutes I will be sharing some very “plain truths” on the subject of perfect obedience. I pray that they will “reach hearts” as never before. But before doing that I would like to lay some groundwork.

Since the heart is such an essential element in “reaching hearts,” I would like to share two quotes concerning it. The first is a portion of a quote I used earlier. Please, do not allow its shortness and simplicity to cause you to underestimate its importance. The second quote is probably one of the most important quotes in this entire book:

“All true obedience comes from the heart.”  {Desire of Ages 668}

“Men will never be truly temperate until the grace of Christ is an abiding principle in the heart. All the pledges in the world will not make you or your wife health reformers. No mere restriction of your diet will cure your diseased appetite. Brother and Sister ——- will not practice temperance in all things until their hearts are transformed by the grace of God.
“…The plan of beginning outside and trying to work inward has always failed, and always will fail. God’s plan with you is to begin at the very seat of all difficulties, the heart…”  {Counsels on Diet and Foods 35}

That last sentence, and I re-quote it because it deserves to be re-quoted, “God’s plan with you (and me) is to begin at the very seat of all difficulties, the heart…”, contains one of the greatest truths in all the Christian religion. Please, stop for a minute, and pray that God will magnify this truth to you as never before, and pray that you will realize as never before that your very salvation (not to mention all those whom God may design to reach through you) will be determined by how you react to this one truth.

Next I want to share two extremely solemn quotes that once again make unmistakably clear the importance of the Testimonies:

“Perilous times are before us. Everyone who has a knowledge of the truth should awake and place himself, body, soul, and spirit, under the discipline of God. The enemy is on our track. We must be wide awake, on our guard against him. We must put on the whole armor of God. We must follow the directions given through the spirit of prophecy. We must love and obey the truth for this time. This will save us from accepting strong delusions. God has spoken to us through His word. He has spoken to us through the testimonies to the church and through the books that have helped to make plain our present duty and the position that we should now occupy. The warnings that have been given, line upon line, precept upon precept, should be heeded. If we disregard them, what excuse can we offer?”  {8 Testimonies 298}

“Testimonies of warning have been repeated. I inquire: Who have heeded them? Who have been zealous in repenting of their sins and idolatry, and have been earnestly pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus?…I have waited anxiously, hoping that God would put His Spirit upon some and use them as instruments of righteousness to awaken and set in order His church. I have almost despaired as I have seen, year after year, a greater departure from that simplicity which God has shown me should characterize the life of His followers. There has been less and less interest in, and devotion to, the cause of God. I ask: Wherein have those who profess confidence in the Testimonies sought to live according to the light given in them? Wherein have they regarded the warnings given? Wherein have they heeded the instructions they have received?”  {5 Testimonies 662, 663}

Those last two quotes, as solemn as they are, are very general; yet we read earlier, “Your testimony is to come down to the minutiae of life.” {5T 667} So now I would like to look at a few quotes that address one specific subject. As we look at these quotes I pray more than anything that God will impress upon your hearts the reality that the specific subject that I am about to look at is just one in a multitude of subjects in which her testimony is to come down to the minutiae of life; and that every word, concerning every subject, is “the solemn testimony upon which [our] destiny hangs” (EW 270); and that every word is “but the breathing of unutterable love.” (SC 35) Please, as you read these quotes, pray that God will help you to correctly apply this principle of her writings coming down to the minutiae of life to whatever area of your own life that it might need to be applied to.

I will begin by repeating a portion of one of those more general quotes:

“I have waited anxiously… I have almost despaired… I ask: Wherein have those who profess confidence in the Testimonies sought to live according to the light given in them?”  {5 Testimonies 663}

“Many who profess to believe the Testimonies live in neglect of the light given. The dress reform is treated by some with great indifference and by others with contempt, because there is a cross attached to it. For this cross I thank God. It is just what we need to distinguish and separate God’s commandment-keeping people from the world. The dress reform answers to us as did the ribbon of blue to ancient Israel.”  {3 Testimonies 171}

“Not one in twenty of the sisters who profess to believe the Testimonies has taken the first step in the dress reform.”  {1 Testimonies 465}

“Do not, my sisters, trifle longer with your own souls and with God… Obedience to fashion is pervading our Seventh-day Adventist churches and is doing more than any other power to separate our people from God.”  {4 Testimonies 647}

I would like to point out one more thing before sharing those quotes on perfect obedience. To me it is crucial. We are told:

“Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”  {Matthew 4:4}

“All His words are spirit and life. Accepted and obeyed, they will give peace and happiness and assurance forever.”  {Review & Herald, April 12, 1892}

“God has declared that man’s only means of safety is entire obedience to all His words.”  {Conflict and Courage, chapter 14}

As you read through these quotes you will see phrases such as: “perfect and entire obedience,” “exact obedience,” “unswerving obedience,” “any known sin,” “a known sin,” etc. Please, pray as never before that you will truly understand that every single word means exactly what it says:

“The law of God will be satisfied with nothing short of perfection, of perfect and entire obedience to all its claims. To come halfway to its requirements, and not render perfect and thorough obedience, will avail nothing.”  {1 Testimonies 416}

“Never, till exemplified in the sacrifice of Christ, were the justice and the love of God more strikingly displayed than in His dealings with Moses. God shut Moses out of Canaan, to teach a lesson which should never be forgotten—that He requires exact obedience.”  {Patriarchs and Prophets 479}

“The law demands perfect, unswerving obedience…Men are weighed in the balance and found wanting when they are living in the practice of any known sin…Let no one deceive his own soul in this matter.”  {Testimonies to Ministers 440, 441}

“Let none deceive themselves with the belief that they can become holy while willfully violating one of God’s requirements. The commission of a known sin silences the witnessing voice of the Spirit and separates the soul from God.”  {Great Controversy 472}

“He who willfully breaks one commandment, does not, in spirit and truth, keep any of them… It is not the greatness of the act of disobedience that constitutes sin, but the fact of variance from God’s expressed will in the least particular… Not by one word, not by many words, but by every word that God has spoken, shall man live. We cannot disregard one word, however trifling it may seem to us, and be safe. There is not a commandment of the law that is not for the good and happiness of man, both in this life and in the life to come. In obedience to God’s law, man is surrounded as with a hedge and kept from the evil. He who breaks down this divinely erected barrier at one point has destroyed its power to protect him; for he has opened a way by which the enemy can enter to waste and ruin.
“By venturing to disregard the will of God upon one point, our first parents opened the floodgates of woe upon the world. And every individual who follows their example will reap a similar result. The love of God underlies every precept of His law, and he who departs from the commandment is working his own unhappiness and ruin.”  {Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing 51, 52}

“We cannot overestimate the value of simple faith and unquestioning obedience. It is by following in the path of obedience in simple faith that the character obtains perfection.”  {4 Bible Commentary 1137}

“One safeguard removed from conscience, the indulgence of one evil habit, a single neglect of the high claims of duty, may be the beginning of a course of deception that will pass you into the ranks of those who are serving Satan, while you are all the time professing to love God and His cause.”  {5 Testimonies 398}


Theological discussions will go on till the end of time; and they certainly have a place and a purpose. But theological discussions are not what we need most to come to a knowledge of the truth:

“If we ever know the truth, it will be because we practice it.”  {Counsels to Parents and Teachers 97}

In closing, Inspiration tells us:

“O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.”  {Psalms 119:97}

“Fill the whole heart with the words of God. They are the living water, quenching your burning thirst. They are the living bread from heaven…It is what we meditate upon that will give tone and strength to our spiritual nature.”  {Steps to Christ 88}

“There is life in God’s word…He who by faith receives the word is receiving the very life and character of God.”  {Christ’s Object Lessons 38}

Please, more than anything else: cultivate loving God. This begins and centers in cultivating a love for every single word He has spoken to us.

“The man who cherishes the most of Christ’s love in the soul, who reflects the Saviour’s image most perfectly, is in the sight of God the truest, most noble, most honorable man upon the earth.”  {5 Testimonies 235}





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