I am very happy that we have this last opportunity to study God's Word together. One of these days, if you and I are in some dungeon or in some cave somewhere, we are going to look back to today with pleasure, aren't we?
If you have your Bible, I would like to invite you to open to Isaiah 52. It says, "Awake, awake! Put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city! For the uncircumcised and the unclean shall no longer come to you."
We are living, friends, in this time. It is time to wake up and to realize what is going on. It is time, if you are ever going to do it, friend, to put on the beautiful garments. That is what we have been studying about today. Remember garments in the Bible represent what? Character. To put on your beautiful garments means to put on the wedding garment--the garment of Christ's character. That means to become sanctified. Did you know that a Christ-like character is the most wonderful thing that God can give you? I can read that to you; I have it right here in a statement, but it is the most wonderful thing that God can give to you.
Let's think about that for just a moment. What do you think is the most wonderful thing that God can give to you? Well, with other elders of the church, I have gone and anointed people that had incurable diseases and I know that God heals people because I have seen God heal people. I haven't seen God, but I have seen Him heal people that had incurable diseases. And it is wonderful.
I love to see God work miracles. God wants to heal us from all of our diseases, but friends, the most wonderful thing that God can do for you is to give you the gift of sanctification, these beautiful garments. Because if you get this, you are going to have eternal life. You can get healed from cancer and still not have eternal life. Have you ever thought about that? You can be healed of all physical kinds of diseases and still not have eternal life. But if you have this, you are going to have eternal life.
The beautiful garments and those garments, we saw, have to do with everything in life. Salvation is complete for the body, the mind, the thoughts, the feelings, the words, everything. Part of sanctification, when we are changed in spirit, we are to learn to speak sanctified words. I want to spend a few minutes talking about this with you. When you open your mouth, every time you open your mouth and speak, those words that you speak, they are either holy or unholy. Is that right? And what kind of words should they be?
First of all, of course, they should be true. Speech is so important that two of the ten commandments deal specifically with speech, the third commandment and the ninth commandment. That is how important speech is. So, of course, if you are going to keep the ninth commandment, everything we say should be true. We should never, ever, tell our children fairy tales that are not true. That is breaking the ninth commandment. We should never, ever, read to our children a fictitious story. That is breaking the ninth commandment. We or our children should never, ever, be involved in any kind of dramatic production. That is breaking the ninth commandment. It was all right for Martin Luther to be Martin Luther, but it is not all right for me to pretend to be Martin Luther and act on a stage like I am Martin Luther. That is breaking the ninth commandment. That is what is wrong with drama. Some people can't figure out what is wrong with it. Just read the ninth commandment; it is pretending to be something that you are not. I was very interested to hear what Rick and Gwen Shorter said last weekend. We were speaking together in the Washington, D.C. area about this because they used to be involved in dramatic and musical productions and they were telling the effect this has on the character of the actors. They actually become like the character they are portraying. They are acting out a lie that has an effect on their own character. So, of course, if our words are going to be sanctified, they should be true.
However, let me ask you this question. Is it possible sometimes to say something is true, but it is not kind? Paul has quite a bit to say about that. Let's look briefly at just one passage of Scripture.
There is more than one Scripture that we can look at, but we will look at Ephesians 4:29 and onward. It says, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, (that is a big word that means to build up or to help) that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness. . ."
Okay, there is one qualification that we want out of our speech if we are going to speak in a sanctified way. "wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ, also forgave you." That is part of the beautiful garments. That is the way we are to speak.
Now, there is a time to scream and yell. If a house is burning down and one of your loved ones is in it, it is time to yell and get them out! And that is the kindest thing you could do. The kindest thing that Elijah could do was to pray for judgments to come on Israel and the kindest thing he could do was to talk straight and plain and rebuke them. That was the kindest thing that could be done. That is the way that most souls would be saved. Ellen White says that sometimes God has to speak to us authoritatively to cut away the sin from our life. That is the kindest thing that can be done.
But what if God did nothing but just rebuke you all the time? You know what would happen to you and me? We would get discouraged. Do you suppose that could happen to our children? Do any of you have children who make so many mistakes that if you rebuked them for every one, they would get discouraged? We need to remember that. God does not do that to us. In fact, one of the most astonishing things to me, about God, is how patient He has been with me and how slow I have been to learn. That He has not given up on me when I have been so slow, is one of the most astonishing things to me. So what should I learn from that? Well, what about somebody else and I may be one or two steps ahead on the ladder than where they are at. What should I do? Beat them over the head because they just are not making fast enough progress? I say in my soul, "Oh, Lord, help me, help me to have the same kind of long-suffering and patience with other people that are not where I am at, that You have had with me for years and years."
That is part of the beautiful garments that God wants us to put on. With our children it is appropriate to yell and scream if the house is burning down, but hopefully the house is not going to be burning down every day. Your children, your wife or your husband, how do they feel when they hear your voice?
Now there are some people, who find it hard not to envy. The tenth commandment says not to envy, we are not to covet. Sometimes it is very difficult not to covet when you see somebody that has something that you wish you had and you do not have it. Ever since I was a child, I found out that I have, naturally, a gruff voice so I have to work constantly and ask the Lord to work a miracle in my life so that my voice will not sound harsh and gruff. Part of becoming sanctified is learning how to speak so that your wife, your husband or your children as soon as they hear your voice, there is just a little joy that springs up in their mind, in their spirit, at the sound of your voice, because it is cheerful and sweet and loving. Please pray for me that I will develop that kind of a voice. I need lots of help.
That is part of sanctification, to develop a Christ-like voice. Do you know, friends, that when Jesus was here and He was preaching (He was speaking to the people in public) He often sat down and you will notice that if you study the gospels carefully, He sat down when He taught. He stood when He preached, but He sat down when He taught. His voice, (Don't you want to hear Jesus' voice? If you are faithful, one of these days soon, you are going to get to talk to Him and listen to His voice and it is going to thrill your soul for eternity.) when the children heard His voice, they were so attracted to Him that they would come up to Him and they would sit on His lap. Ellen White describes one of these experiences where the children came up to Him and He would put His arms around them. One of the gospels also describes this. Jesus was a kind of a person that the little children felt perfectly comfortable in His presence and it was because of the sound of His voice. They would sit on His lap and He would put His arms around them and while He was talking to the people, sometimes the children would go to sleep. They felt perfectly secure. Would you like to have a voice like that?
I am praying to have a voice like that. I do not claim to have a voice like that, but I would like to have one like that. I want my voice to be transformed.
Sanctification has to do with the way we speak. Let me read to you an interesting statement from the Spirit of Prophecy about sanctified speech. Now, please do not get discouraged. This is one of the statements I have found when I talk about speech that is very easy for others (people don't know that it is very easy for me, too,) to get discouraged. You have to have faith when you read this and say, "Lord, I believe that if You told me this, that by Your grace this can happen in my life." I want to tell you, what I am about to read to you right now, when it happens in your life, your home is going to be just like heaven. A large part of the way it is in people's homes is the kind of speech that is there. In just a few moments in the morning, we can speak and we can make our family sad for the rest of the day. Is that true? That is true. But when we speak, if we are sanctified, when we speak other people ought to have joy springing up in their spirit and their mind when they hear our voice. This is part of the beautiful garments.
Now listen to this, this is what God wants to do for you. When this happens in the husband's speech and in the wife's speech, they are going to have a little heaven in their home. That is why Ellen White says our homes should be a little heaven to go to heaven in.
This is from Signs of the Times, February 18, 1903, "Fathers and mothers, whether you are in your home or elsewhere, it is never right for you to speak one disrespectful word to each other." How do you like that? I should "never", now if I am a Christian I shouldn't joke anyway, but of all things, I should never say something funny at my wife's expense. I should never, ever, do anything like that. I should never speak one disrespectful word of my wife. My children should never, ever, hear that. "Oh," somebody says, "you don't know my wife! She has this list of faults." Listen, your children should not hear about that from you. You can pray about it all you want and that will be appropriate, but your children should not hear of those things. They should not hear one disrespectful word about our spouse from us. "If you are harassed, say firmly to yourself, 'This is from Satan. He wants me to echo his words, to communicate his spirit; but this I will not do. Determine to speak in love.' "
Notice what we were talking about this morning. You have to fight, that is the fight. You are determined and say, "I am not going to speak the way the devil wants me to speak. I'm going to speak with love in my heart." She says, "To cultivate patience, kindness, long-suffering, courtesy, and delicacy in dealing with one another." Did you notice all those things we are to cultivate as we deal with one another? I will read that list again. "patience, kindness, long-suffering, courtesy, and delicacy in dealing with one another."
"Well," somebody says, "why should I do that?" She answers that question. Here is the answer why we should practice all of these virtues as we speak with one another. Here is why. "Because you are Christians; because you are preparing for the society of the heavenly angels, for a home in the kingdom of glory where no harsh, unkind, impatient words are ever spoken." Isn't that exciting? I have tried to imagine it in my mind. When you go to heaven for the rest of eternity you are never, ever, going to hear one impatient word again. Not even from yourself or you won't be going there. Isn't that exciting! Very soon, friends, if we are faithful, you are never, ever, going to speak, you are never going to hear one harsh word, ever! She says not one, "harsh, unkind, impatient" word is ever spoken in heaven. Isn't that exciting? You are never going to have to hear anything like that in heaven. Of course, that is why it is heaven.
Let me ask you this question. If you could be taken to heaven tonight, with all of your habits of speech, could you speak the way you normally speak and feel at home in heaven? Well, if we are going to feel at home in heaven, do you think we ought to get used to speaking the way they speak in heaven? God has given to each one of us a place to practice and that place to practice is called home.
Ellen White says that if you are a Christian at home you will be a Christian everywhere else. So, if you learn to speak right to your husband, your wife, your children or other members of your family, if you learn to speak right there, you do not need to worry about what will happen at the office, you will be able to do it at the office if you can do it at home. The home is the place where we learn. Listen, friends, you have to experiment with this. Everybody I know that is experimenting with this is excited with the results. It transforms the home. When we overcome, by the grace of God, speaking impatient, harsh, unkind words to the members of our family, it absolutely changes the home; it makes it just like heaven.
That is what it means to put on the beautiful garments. Sanctification involves our speech. It says, "Remember, it is Satan who prompts men and women to speak unkindly." Say, should we remember that? If I am tempted to speak unkindly, who is tempting me to do that? The devil. He is trying to block me so I will not be ready for heaven. He knows how they speak up there. He used to live up there. He knows how they talk up there and he is trying to get me to speak in the wrong way so I will not be ready to go. He is trying to get you the same way.
She says, "Sanctify your talent of speech. Words are a precious gift, capable of doing much good, of accomplishing a great work for the Master. Every thought, every word, is recorded in the books of heaven. Guard well your thoughts and words, that in the judgment you may not be ashamed to meet your record."
Well, that wasn't what I was going to speak on tonight, but I thought that was so important that we needed to talk about that for just a few minutes. Because, friends, if you will start experimenting with this, by the grace of the Lord, and you really pray about it and say, "Lord, help me that every word I speak will be sanctified" it will change your home and you will be able to make people in your family happy and they will be just really happy as soon as you walk in the door. Because they will not be scared that you are going to say something impatient; and they won't be frightened that you are going to say something harsh; and they will not be fearful that you will say something unkind, because you are not using any of those kinds of words anymore.
We should be very careful if we are parents, that if we have to rebuke our children for anything, that we also give them much love and kindness so that if we have to rebuke them on occasion, as almost all of us that are parents have to do, that they do not become discouraged. Even rebuke should be given in a calm, patient spirit and not too much. I am astonished, when I look at my past life, and I see how slowly God administered rebukes to me on things that I needed to change in my life. I am astonished at how patient the Lord has been with me. Do not try to correct every single fault your child has in one week. They will get discouraged. They won't be able to take it. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom and grace to deal with one thing at a time and be very patient and kind and give them much love and tenderness so that they will not get discouraged when you have to rebuke them.
I want to talk tonight for a few minutes, about the subject of unity and there is much to say about this subject. And so in trying to limit my remarks, I decided to approach it from a negative point of view. Now, this is proper. If you read the parables of Jesus you will find that some of the parables of Jesus are given from a negative point of view. Sometimes that is a very quick way to learn some things.
I want to address all of my remarks with this question. The question is simply this, it is a negative question; why do we not have more unity in Adventism today? Now there are many answers to this question, but I am going to try to address, very briefly, some of the principle reasons. Very close to the top of the list, in my opinion, is this one. I will read to you from the book The Upward Look, 265, it says, "There is before the church the dawn of a bright, glorious day, if she will put on the robe of Christ's righteousness, withdrawing from all alliance with the world. The members of the church need now to confess their backsliding, and press together."
She then talks about our differences of opinion. Do we have differences of opinion? Oh, there are all kinds of differences of opinion. Notice what she says about this, "My brethren and sisters, allow nothing to come in that will separate you from one another and from God. Talk not of differences of opinion, but unite in the love of the truth as it is in Jesus." Notice she says if we "will put on the robe of Christ's righteousness" and "confess their [your] backsliding".
Now confession requires humility and somehow, I want to state this as gently as I know how because I am just a human being in need of repentance and confession myself, and I praise the Lord very sincerely when I say this to you, that by His grace, I may always be humble enough to repent or confess anything that the Holy Spirit brings to my attention that I need to confess and repent of. But, friends, one of the greatest reasons that we do not have the unity that we need is because of a lack of repentance and confession. I must tell you that I have been very frustrated on this subject now for a matter of years.
I first became alarmed at what was happening over 20 years ago when I was a pastor in the Seventh-day Adventist church. I saw that leaders in our work were not willing to repent and confess when a mistake was made. I started to become concerned, "What is happening to us?" And let me tell you, in the last 20 or 25 years, it hasn't gotten any better that I can see. If we are not willing to repent and confess when we have made a mistake, we are never going to have unity; we just are not going to have it. This is one of the leading causes for the lack of unity today. It is not the only cause, but it is one of the leading causes.
Sometimes we get mail or telephone calls, (we have been raised in a public relations generation) and people think that the way to get unity is to get together and have meetings and talk. Let me tell you, friends, if there are things between us that have been said or done that are wrong, it is not going to do any good to get together and talk and have meetings unless we repent and confess. We might as well quit playing games. I have had people write to me wanting to get together and talk and I have said "no". There is no need to talk. There has been wrong done, you know it and I know it, and if you can point out anything to me that I should repent and confess, please do it. If you want me to point something to you, and you ask me to, I will point it out. Unless we are willing to repent and confess there is no need to get together and talk when there is sin in the camp; there is no need to get together and talk. Repentance and confession have to come first, and until that happens, friends, no number of meetings, no amount of anything, is going to bring unity among us.
I want to tell you, a few years ago, there was a youth pastor in the church I was attending. This was a conference church. He got up and preached a sermon (I don't think it made him very popular) talking about the problems of the young people in this church. He said there was poison in the pot. He was talking about the experience of Elisha. Remember, when they made that bowl of soup for the men and they took the gourds and there was poison in it? He was talking about our young people and he said there was poison in the pot. Well, what are we going to do about it? Are we just going to go on and talk, or is it time to repent and confess? You see, friends, if there is sin, if I have said or done something that is wrong to anybody, it is not going to help me to be saved one iota to get together and talk if I do not repent and confess.
Now, I preach whole sermons just on the subject of confession wherever I go. Some people think the thing I get into the most trouble about is because of who and what the church is, but that is not actually so. The thing that gets me in the most trouble of all everywhere I go, is when I preach on confession. Did you know that? Almost anywhere I go, when I preach on confession, I get in trouble because I believe just what the Bible says. And the Bible says, "Whoever covers his sin shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy."
Now I want to ask you a question. When I am going and giving Bible studies to somebody who has never been a Seventh-day Adventist I just read him these texts out of the Bible, Proverbs 28:13 that I just quoted, 1 John 1:9, and James 5:16. I read them these texts and people who have never been Seventh-day Adventists before and have no Christian background at all, read these texts and they can understand what they mean. And they go and do it.
Here is a man that we baptized, oh I suppose it has been about a year and a half now, he came to our evangelistic meetings and after that I gave him Bible studies. We did not baptize him for almost a year after he came to the meetings. He had been keeping the Sabbath and coming to church, but do you know why he was not baptized? He had things to make right. He told me when we studied about these things he did not know what to do. I preached a sermon one time and he came to church, this was after our evangelistic meetings, and I preached a sermon and the name of the sermon was, "Confession, When?" Did you know that every single one of us is going to confess? There is no question that you are going to confess. The only question is when? That is very clear in the Spirit of Prophecy. We are either going to confess now or at the end of the millennium. It is just that simple. That is Biblical, 1 Timothy 5:24, 25 and the Spirit of Prophecy confirms it. That man heard that sermon and he told me, "I went home and I couldn't sleep." You see, the last three employers he had had for the last twenty years, he had stolen things from them. His present employer, his past employer and the employer before that. Not only that, he had stolen things from all kinds of people. He told me later when I was in his home, and this was after he had made most everything right, he said, "You see that vase over there?" There was a beautiful vase sitting on the shelf. He said, (I think it was when he was in high school) "I had a date with this girl and I went to her house to pick her up and I was sitting in the parlor waiting for her to come out and I saw this beautiful vase that her mother had and it was so pretty I just took it. There it is." Now he is trying to figure out how to even make contact with these people and find out where they are after 20 or 25 years, how do you find their phone number or address; how do you even run them down? It was a period of months making things right. He had to go to his three different employers, the one he is presently employed with. Some of the things he returned, others he didn't even know the exact amount of these different things he had taken, but he estimated how much he thought and gave them a check.
Finally, we encouraged him and prayed with him and told him that if he chose to do what was right, the Lord would save him. If you should die in a car accident before you get baptized but you are in the process of making everything right, the Lord will save you just as much as the thief on the cross. We encouraged him to go and make things right and we would support and help him and that the Lord would help him. And He did! In fact, he did not lose his job. He was given a different place to work where he could keep the Sabbath. He made everything right and was baptized.
But now, I want to ask you another question. Listen, I just told you an experience that happened to a man that we baptized and how it took him months to get ready to be baptized because he had to make things right. Now here is the question. Do you think that the same rules that apply to a person who is not baptized yet, should that also apply to somebody like me that is a preacher? Do you think the same rules should apply? Or should I not have to do it since I would really be embarrassed since I am supposed to be a holy person and preaching the gospel. It would be very embarrassing for me to have to confess things to people. So, should I not have to do it? You know that seems to be the way people think from their actions. Let me tell you, friends, Adventist ministers have to confess just as much as Adventist people and all of us have to be willing to repent and confess anything and everything that comes to our attention that we have done wrong. And if we can't, we are too proud to be saved and we will not be saved.
I have struggled in mind as I wondered, "Lord, how? How can I help God's people to understand that the rules are the same for everybody?" I was preaching on this subject one time down in Florida and let me tell you, I told you I get into trouble preaching about this more than any other thing. I had a lady come up to me and she was just angry. In fact, I have never seen her since. She told me, "If I have to confess everything I've done, I won't have it all confessed when Jesus comes again." She stomped off. Another man came up and he was angry, too, he says, "Look, do you realize that if I confess everything I've done, I'll go to jail?" I was standing there thinking how I was supposed to respond to these people. They were so angry at me. What should I say? I thought, "No, I have to be careful. I can't deny the truth or I will have to answer to the Lord in the day of Judgment." So I said something like this, "Well, you know, I didn't make the rules." That is true. "I did not make the rules. I am not the one who told you that you have to confess. That is what the Bible said. So if you decide that you shouldn't have to do it, you'll have to talk that over with the Lord. Not with me, all I can do is read to you what it says."
I had a lady come up to me and she was really upset after I preached about this subject at another place, and she said, "I have to talk to you alone." I'm not in the habit of talking to ladies all alone, but I thought I would go out here and talk to her on the porch. So we went out on the porch of the place where I was speaking, by ourselves on the porch, and she says to me, "If I confess what I have done, my husband will leave me." I thought, "Oh, no. What am I going to do?" Of course, now, it is supposed to be my fault because I am the one who told them about these things. I said in my mind, "Lord, what shall I say?" Right then the answer came to me and I said to her, "You're going to confess to your husband. You can either confess now or you can confess at the end of the millennium. You can take your pick. I didn't make the rules. You can take your pick."
"Oh," some people say, "you're so hardhearted. Don't you realize it would be better if people didn't have to know those things?" Friends, I am sorry, but I did not make the rules. I am not the one who told you that you had to confess. The Lord said that. You have to talk that over with Him if you want an indulgence so that you will not have to confess and get it from Him. I cannot give it to you. And some way, friends, if my Bible is true, if we are going to be saved, if you are going to be saved and if I am going to be saved, we are all going to have to be humble enough to repent and confess anything that we have said or done that is wrong. And it does not matter, I cannot say, "Well, I am the leader of a ministry so I can't." I cannot say that. That makes it more important for me to confess, not less. I cannot say, "I'm a minister so. . ." It would be a bad example if people knew that I said that. Listen, if I am a minister, that makes it more important for me to confess, than less.
Oh, friends, when I think about this, very often I understand what Paul is talking about when he says, "Not very many that are wise. Not very many that are mighty. " You see, people that are ministers, people that are physicians, people that are wealthy, people that are leaders, people that have high positions, they are the people that are the hardest tempted not to confess their sins because they would be too embarrassed for people to know that they have done such an awful thing. But, friends, the rules are the same for everybody. The rules are the same for everybody because the Bible says that God is no respecter of persons.
Friends, when we all decide that we are all going to repent and confess anything than the Holy Spirit brings to our mind what we have done wrong. I don't know about you, but I am a parent. I have a boy and a girl. I have had to confess to my own children and I have had to confess to my wife. I just have to do it because I have made mistakes; I have said and done things that were not right and so I had to confess them and make them right.
Now I do not know what your past is or what your life is, and I am not trying to delve into anybody's personal life, do not misunderstand, your personal life is your business and I am not trying to find out anything about anybody, I am just preaching and telling you according to the Word of God.
Friends, if the Holy Spirit impresses you that there is something in your life that you need to repent of and confess to somebody, you better do it. Because when probation is closed, as we talked about last night, it is going to be too late then. Ellen White wrote about that time and said that there are going to be people and they are not going to be embarrassed to have the whole world learn about their sins. She says they are going to be on the housetops confessing their sins to everybody, but, she says, it is going to be too late.
Do you suppose that could happen to some Seventh-day Adventists? Even Seventh-day Adventist leaders? Is that possible? Oh, friends, it is possible. Now, please friend, please realize that the devil's agents are constantly accusing God's ministers of criticizing. Have you noticed that? So I suppose someone could accuse me of criticizing for this. They will just have to if they want to. I have to tell you this to have a clear conscience because I do not want you to go to the day of Judgment and not realize what is involved and wake up too late and realize that it really was necessary to confess your sins if you wanted to be saved. There are no different rules for preachers or leaders or physicians or the wealthy or the high and the mighty or whoever it is. There are no different rules for different classes of people; the rules are the same for everybody.
By the way, if somebody comes to me and points out something in my life for which I need to repent and confess, that person has done me a great favor by helping me to get something straightened out in my life. In the 1840's, Ellen White said they would not allow sin in one of their brothers or sisters. If they saw somebody saying or doing something wrong they would go and talk to them because they did not want them to be lost.
I want to tell you, friends, we are a lot closer to the close of probation now than in the 1840's and it is time for us to investigate our own souls and say, "Lord, is there anything in me that needs to come out so that I can have the wedding garment on? Anything that I need to repent of? Anything that I need to confess?" That will bring us a giant step closer to coming into unity of spirit with each other.
I have covered one thing and I have ten things written down. We are only going to cover one more. The whole list, if you want all the different things that we need to study in order to come into unity, they are listed in Ephesians 4. Ephesians 4 tells us what we need to do in order to come into unity. It is one of the great chapters in the Bible that explains how unity comes, how it happens, and what we must do to cooperate with the Holy Spirit.
The second one I am not going to develop. We developed the first one because I thought that was the thing that was the most critical that we need to understand. The second one, I am just going to mention and then we are going to quit and we are not going to develop the subject. You can develop it yourself. But this is also an essential to Christian unity. It is in Ephesians 4:3, you notice that he talks about the unity of the Spirit that we are to endeavor to keep. And then in verse 4 he says, "There is one body." And of course, that one body is the church. I have whole sermons in which I talk about this one subject, so obviously, I am not going to cover very much in the next three or four minutes. But I want to talk for just two or three minutes at least about church organization. I want to tell you something, friends, there are a lot of Seventh-day Adventists that have false expectations that are never going to be fulfilled if things keep going on the way they are going now.
I am not a prophet, so I am not going to predict; but we are never going to have unity in Adventism until we get back to New Testament church organization. Now like I told you, I have two sermons on that topic and to preach them fully takes about an hour and a half apiece. Obviously, we are not going to get into very much detail on church organization. It is not because I don't have the material and it is not because I don't have it with me. We just do not have time. But let me just mention one thing, New Testament church organization is not hierarchal. Jesus forbids hierarchal church government in Matthew 20:25-28. I am not going to explain it, you can study it out.
Ellen White does not have one good word to say about hierarchies. The Jews developed a hierarchal church organization in Christ's day. Jesus worked to tear it down because it was not Biblical and it was not of God. And the New Testament church was not hierarchal, and we will never, ever, in a thousand years, have unity if we develop a hierarchal church government, it will never happen. If we wanted to have a hierarchal church government and if that was the way to unity, we should have had unity a thousand years ago already. The Roman Catholic church has that type of church government. God's people will never have unity until we get back to New Testament church organization-- and that is not hierarchal.
You better not get involved in hierarchalism or you not only will not come into unity, you will end up losing your soul. Hierarchies are of the devil. This is not new light. From Steps to Life, we have been preaching it for years. My brother, Marshall, preached a whole sermon against hierarchies at the Hope International camp meeting just a few years ago. It is not new light; it is not something new. The Lord has given us the information in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy and if we neglect that and go our own way, we will lose our own souls. The devil is the one who started these hierarchal governments. Everything that the devil does is hierarchal in organization; and nothing that God does is hierarchal in organization. Nothing! God will not have anything to do with it. That is the devil's way of working. God and the devil do not work in cooperation together. We are never going to have unity through hierarchicalism. The only people who are ever going to have unity, friends, are people who get back to New Testament church organization and that is what we are trying to do. If you want to be in unity and harmony with God's people, that is the only way you are ever going to get it. You are never going to get it by trying to come into unity or harmony with hierarchies. It will not happen.
But there is going to be a group of people who will have unity and harmony at the end. I want to be part of it, don't you? If you want to be part of that group that God is going to draw together in unity and harmony, I want to invite you to kneel with me and let's pray.