Surely the time has come for every Seventh-day Adventist to learn about the sins of Laodicea -its worldliness, pride, etc.-and to join those who will cry out against this nauseating mixture of flesh and spirit. Ministers and members must be willing to risk criticism in order to preach the Laodicean message. There are a thousand more pleasant subjects, but the hour is too late to substitute smooth things. Neither do the sleeping saints need any more soothing messages. This is the hour for an awakening.
If you think John the Baptist was too strong and direct in his preaching, you may rise up against the kind of messages God is leading men to proclaim today. Was John too blunt when he called the king into question for being unlawfully married? If so, we must be more blunt. Consider this statement:
“In this fearful time, just before Christ is to come the second time, God’s faithful preachers will have to bear a still more pointed testimony than was borne by John the Baptist. A responsible, important work is before them; and those who speak smooth things, God will not acknowledge as His shepherds. A fearful woe is upon them.” Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 321.
Will the religious leaders of today feel any better about being corrected than those in John’s day? Surely we can expect the same outrage to be expressed by those who are settled in the comfortable, self-righteous mold of Laodicea. How dare anyone charge the true church with wrong-doing or apostasy!
“Anciently, when Elijah was sent with a message from God to the people, they did not heed the warning. They thought him unnecessarily severe. They even thought that he must have lost his senses because he denounced them, the favored people of God, as sinners and their crimes as so aggravated that the judgments of God would awaken against them. Satan and his host have ever been arrayed against those who bear the message of warning and who reprove sins. The unconsecrated will also be united with the adversary of souls to make the work of God’s faithful servants as hard as possible.” Testimonies, Vol. 3, p. 261.
In these days of separation and testing, the spirit of fear must not mold the ministry of responsible pastors and leaders. It is no kindness to comfort those who are asleep in Zion. We may be inclined, like Eli, to be very gentle and loving, but don’t ever forget how that lack of firmness led to Eli’s rejection. Much good can be said about the man, but he was too fearful of taking a strong, uncompromising, public stand against sin.
“Eli was gentle, loving, and kind, and had a true interest in the service of God and the prosperity of His cause. He was a man who had power in prayer. He never rose up in rebellion against the words of God. But he was wanting; he did not have firmness of character to reprove sin and execute justice against the sinner so that God could depend upon him to keep Israel pure. He did not add to his faith the courage and power to say No at the right time and in the right place. Sin is sin; righteousness is righteousness. The trumpet note of warning must be sounded. We are living in a fearfully wicked age. The worship of God will become corrupted unless there are wide-awake men at every post of duty.” Testimonies, Vol. 4, p. 517.
Will God hold many sweet, gentle pastors responsible for sins they find no heart to expose and rebuke?
“If wrongs are apparent among His people, and if the servants of God pass on indifferent to them, they virtually sustain and justify the sinner, and are alike guilty and will just as surely receive the displeasure of God; for they will be made responsible for the sins of the guilty.” Testimonies, Vol. 3, pp. 265, 266.
“If the leaders of the church neglect to diligently search out the sins which bring the displeasure of God upon the body, they become responsible for these sins.” Testimonies, Vol. 3, p. 269.
“Those who have too little courage to reprove wrong, or who through indolence or lack of interest make no earnest effort to purify the family or the church of God, are held accountable for the evil that may result from their neglect of duty. We are just as responsible for evils that we might have checked in others by exercise of parental or pastoral authority as if the acts had been our own.” Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 578.
In anticipation of his last-ditch effort to make God’s special remnant lose confidence in the law, would it not be logical for Satan to infiltrate the church with uncommitted pastors as well as unconverted members? When viewed in the context of the age-long warfare, it is easy to see how he would attempt such a long-range tactical ploy.
Because we live literally in the final stages of this tremendous drawn-out drama, we become grandstand spectators of Satan’s total strategy. Right now he is pulling together all the lines of influence which he has manipulated to weaken the commandment keepers. We see a converging of many circumstances which could not be understood until now, because they appeared only as distressing side issues. Suddenly we see that they were all tied together and were being masterminded by the great adversary himself.
Look once more at the amazing order which the jigsaw puzzle begins to reveal. The isolated developments within the church are seen to be small portions of a giant pattern which is now approaching completion. It all makes sense in the light of Satan’s ultimate objectives. What better plan could he have devised than to dilute the spiritual standards slowly by worldly wedges of compromise that grew bigger and bigger. At the same time, Satan exploited the fears of many against fanaticism and legalism, causing a radical swing toward grace-only, the finished work of the cross, and a down-play of sanctification. Some ministers were caught up in the trend, and were conditioned to accept new members for baptism without the fruits of full obedience. Under the influence of these unconverted ones, and a worldly-oriented membership, the church was not prepared to cope with the explosive impact of the “new theology,” especially since it filtered through the weekly sermons of numerous young advocates of the divergent views.
My heart goes out to the hundreds of faithful Adventists who have written me about their efforts to stem the relentless tide of apostasy. They recognize the “snipping away” of one cherished principle after another, and are seeking support in their lonely work of trying to hold the line. My counsel is always the same. Stay in the church, and especially stay close to the Lord Jesus in prayer and Bible study. Be sure that you stand on sound, historic truth, and DON’T COMPROMISE!
What is the real solution to the problems we face in the church today? The corporate answer, of course, is the shaking, but the personal solution is a very deep, spiritual relationship with Christ. None of us can ever imagine the nature of the full-blown opposition program of Satan against the saints. He will literally throw everything in his arsenal of evil at those who stand in his way. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken.
The large cities will be centers of violence and dangers. There will be no safe place there for Sabbath-keepers. We have received warning after warning to leave the great metropolitan areas and secure small places in the country. Money and property will become a snare and threat to those who waited too long to put them into the work of God. The real deceitfulness of riches will be exposed when millions of Adventist dollars are swept away in the approaching economic collapse.
For those who have placed their lives and possessions upon the altar, there will be no fear of the final events. By daily heartsearching prayer and Bible study, they have prepared themselves for the maelstrom of Armageddon. When the great controversy rises to its final stages, each person becomes the subject of a raging battle between Christ and Satan. There will be security only for those who have prepared in advance. The ones who have developed a conciliatory attitude toward the world cannot meet the test.
God’s call to Laodicea is to repent and lay hold of faith, love, the righteousness of Christ, and the Holy Spirit. There is hope and promise for every soul who will cooperate with the agencies God provides for our sanctification. Like Daniel of old, we must be faithful in little things before we are prepared to face the death sentence. By developing unswerving loyalty in every circumstance, the soul is fortified, and victory is assured.
How is it with you today? Are you waiting for more signs that the end is upon us? Ask yourself what work of grace still needs to be done in your life in preparation for Christ’s coming. If you are not spending at least an hour a day in study and prayer, how do you justify your neglect? We find time for what we really want to do. Satan’s favorite deception is to create a false security in those who have only a nominal experience.
Seek the Lord now while He may be found. Adjust your daily program to reserve choice prayer and study time in the early morning or evening. By consistent and deliberate decisions to make God first in your life, an amazing discipline of spirit will result.
“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 garment of His righteousness.” Christ’s Object lessons, p. 312.
What an exciting possibility! The habitual yielding of the entire being to God results in an actual union with Him. When we hunger for that experience more than for anything else in the world, we shall receive it. And the desire grows as we spend time in His presence.
The fragrance of such a relationship will fill any life with joy unspeakable. As you give priority, quality time for feeding on God’s Word, there will be spiritual revival also-just as surely as growth follows the rain.
“If we keep the Lord ever before us, allowing our hearts to go out in thanksgiving and praise to Him, we shall have continual freshness in our religious life. Our prayers will take the form of a conversation with God as we would talk with a friend. He will speak His mysteries to us personally. Often there will come to us a sweet joyful sense of the presence of Jesus. Often our hearts will burn within us as He draws nigh to commune with us as He did with Enoch.” Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 129.