The devil has three brigades. The
first brigade is the persecutors.
Whenever God’s work is becoming prominent anywhere, at anytime, and the people
are learning what the truth is and turning away from error, Satan’s first
brigade comes on with persecution.
If that does not work, he brings in his second brigade, which
is the dividers.
They come in among the people of God and try to divide them one from another,
and thus destroy them.
Satan’s third brigade is even more subtle. We read about it
in Selected Messages, Book 2, 19. “If Satan sees that the Lord is
blessing His people and preparing them to discern his delusions, he will work
with his master power to bring in fanaticism
on the one hand and cold formalism on the other, that he may gather in a
harvest of souls. Now is our time to watch unceasingly.” [All emphasis
When does the devil bring in fanaticism? Whenever
God is blessing His people. And certainly He is blessing the historic
Adventist movement today. If you could go with me, in a time machine, back to the fall of
the year 1977
when I moved to Loma Linda, California, and first became aware of the
problems that were ravishing the church, you would not believe how lonely I
felt. I was like a fence post in the middle of a field, standing all by myself,
so far as I knew. Soon, however, I discovered that there were others who were
standing for the truth and they too were being put through the fire.
Yes, the devil has tried his first brigade on us. Many have
been persecuted, pushed out of their churches and put through kangaroo court
proceedings of various kinds. But the devil’s first brigade has not succeeded
in destroying us. The devil tried to scare us, but he found that historic
Adventists do not scare easily. And so tremendous things have been tried: false
accusations, false articles, false books (books that are full of false
accusations of one kind or another), but it did not work.
Meanwhile our work was growing more and more and more. Books, magazines, television programs, radio programs, campmeetings and revival meetings all over the world.
And so the devil had to fall back on his second brigade, the dividers. And
these he has sent with full force, and all too often we have allowed divisions
to come among us.
When people ask me about these divisions, I remind them of
the Reformation. Those strong-minded men who became reformers had a difficult
time getting along all the time, also. There are painful moments in our
experience as we read that there were in their experience.
For example, when Martin Luther went
to Zurich, Switzerland, to discuss the
Lord’s Supper with Zwingli. Poor, dear Brother Martin, went up
to the desk, which was a large table between them, and took a piece of chalk
and wrote, “This is My body.” Then he backed off and he said, “It does not say
‘Represents it!’ It says, ‘This IS My body.’”
Poor Brother Martin, have you never read where Jesus said, “I
am the vine”? He did not say, I represent the vine.
Have you never read where Jesus said, “I am the way”? He did not say, I represent the way and so on down the line. That was the
way Jesus talked. But there is the problem, you see. It takes a very
strong-minded man to lead a ministry, to take all of the opposition, to take
all of the guff, and that kind of man is not easily persuaded on any point.
Bring in the Third Brigade!
So we must bear in mind that although division has hurt us,
and we must learn to get along if we all plan to be in heaven together, there
is something that is even more serious than division.
That is the devil’s third brigade. And I must tell you that the third brigade could stop us. The
fanatics could kill this movement, because they almost killed the Reformation.
Let me show you.
“In every age Satan has sought to impair the efforts of God’s
servants by introducing into the church a spirit of fanaticism.” Acts of the Apostles, 348.
In The Great
Controversy, in the chapter entitled “The Progress of Reform in Germany,” Sister White tells a particular
story about Martin Luther that well illustrates the question we are
At this time, Luther had made his stand before the Emperor
and the Diet, and the Elector had put him in the castle at Wartburg, high in
the mountains, to keep him safe from the death decree that had been issued
against his life. He was there for about a year, and during that year two
things were happening. The progress of the cause was going forward because
various men had stepped in to fill Luther’s position. At the same time, Satan
was looking on and realized that his first brigade, the persecution by the
Emperor and the Pope, had not been successful. There had been much division and
it had been very painful, but it was not stopping the work and so he said, “It
is time to call my third brigade. Let us send in the fanatics.” And the fanatics
gathered on all sides. They even invaded Wittenburg.
People with strange ideas about this and strange ideas about that, apparently
all very deeply convinced that they had the truth. But, friend, sincerity does
not help if you do not have the truth.
Luther, hearing the news at Wartburg, decided that
persecution or no persecution, death threat or no death threat, he was going to
return. And so he went back to Wittenburg. We are
told that after much effort he was able to stem the tide of fanaticism.
“But Satan was not idle. He now attempted what he has
attempted in every other reformatory movement to deceive and destroy the people
by palming off on them a counterfeit in place of the true work.…From the
professed friends of the Reformation had arisen its worst enemies. [Worse than the Emperor; and even worse than the Pope.] They
brought the Reformation to the verge of ruin.” The Great Controversy, 186, 187.
This is my authority for telling you that if this historic
movement is ever stopped, it will not be stopped by persecution, it will not be
stopped by division, but it could be stopped by the fanatics who are hitting us
unmercifully on every side. Ellen White goes on to say that it was nothing but
the firm rock-like stand of Luther that saved the Reformation: “Fearlessly did
Luther defend the gospel from the attacks which came from every quarter. He
stood firm as a rock against the fanaticism that sought to ally itself with the
Reformation.” Ibid., 193.
It was the same in the early Advent movement. After the
movement of William Miller, which was remarkably free of fanaticism, when the
Bible conferences were going on for the next four or five years, and the
message we lovingly describe as “the truth” was being studied out, Ellen White
was called to her work. She tells us herself that her very first work was to
fight off the fanatics. Although she was little more than a youth, her first
work was to travel in Maine, then Vermont, and much later into Wisconsin and meet people with their wild
ideas. Probably they were very earnest people. Only in a few rare cases does
she accuse anyone of insincerity, but oh, the nonsense they wanted to get into
Sister White knew what it was like to fight fanaticism. She
knew the intensity of the battle and she knew something else. She knew it was
going to be acted on all over again in the final days of the movement! Here are
just some of the warnings she gives about fanaticism.
“Fanaticism will appear in the very midst of us.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 16.
“Every phase of fanaticism and erroneous theories claiming to
be the truth will be brought in among the remnant people of God.” Ibid., 14.
“Fanaticism will come in as it always has when God works.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 5,
“Every conceivable, fanciful and deceptive doctrine will be
presented by men who think that they have the truth.” Selected Messages,
“In the last days it will be like it was in 1844 as far as fanaticism is concerned.” The Review and Herald, January
“Fanaticism once started and left unchecked is as hard to
quench as a fire which has obtained hold of a building.” Mind, Character and Personality, 43.
“I was instructed that fanaticism similar to that which we
were called to meet after the passing of time in 1844 would come in among us
again in the closing days of the message. And then we must meet this evil just
as decidedly now as when we met it in our early experience.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 221.
Are you a little surprised to read an article such as this from
the pen of Ralph Larson, the gentle, kind old man? Well, I want to be gentle
and I want to be kind, but I am going to be fair! Fanaticism could destroy us
and I am going to take a stand against it. Sister White said fanaticism is like
fire in a building. It is harder to quench when the whole building is in flames
than when the fire is first ignited. And so, today, it is past time that we
take a stand against fanaticism in our midst. We must call heresy by its right
name and we must call fanaticism by its right name.
The Basis of All Fanaticism
Fanaticism has many different names, but they all have
something in common which runs like a thread through them. We read in Selected Messages, Book 2, 14: “The devisings
of men’s minds will invent tests that are no tests at all. That when the true
test shall be made prominent, it shall be considered on a par with the man-made
tests that have been of no value.”
“God will send us direct and practical tests, to teach us, if
we will be taught, the benefits of faith. He has no use for man-made tests. The
tests that He has given are sufficient.” The
Pacific Union Recorder, October 20,
“Satan will lead men to manufacture false tests and thus seek
to obscure the value of and make of non-effect the message of truth.” The Review and Herald, May
What is the real test we should be focusing on today? “The
commandment of God that has been almost universally made void is the testing
truth for this time.” Ibid.
After referring to the Sabbath, Sister White stated: “This is
the Lord’s test. Let us not descend from it to man-made tests.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 3,
“‘Ye shall not add to the word nor diminish from it.’ The
Lord guarded against the adding of man-made tests which would bring in
confusion.” Letters to
Sanitarium Workers in Southern
“There will be brought in a vast amount of man-made tests
that have not the least bearing upon the word given us of God to prepare a
people to stand with the whole equipment of the heavenly armor on without
leaving one piece.” Manuscript Releases,
vol. 7, 91.
Examples of Man-Made Tests
What are the man-made tests that historic Adventists are
being faced with today? The following is just a partial list.
The Feast Days
We are being called to tests on the Feast Days. We are being
told today that if we do not keep the Passover, Pentecost, Feast of Tabernacles
and so on we are going to be lost. Strange as it may seem, this is unsettling
and troubling to good sincere people because it is wrapped in packages of
sophistry that appears to be very convincing. (Sophistry is that which appears
to be logical but it is not logical.)
It is not easy to know how to relate to someone who comes to
you, apparently with great earnestness and with great sincerity and zeal and
assures you most solemnly that two plus two, properly understood, equals
seventy-five. Let me explain. A certain brother put out information calling on
everyone to keep the feast days. When I published an article in Land Marks in which I called attention to
some of the errors with these type of teachings, he
responded with an open letter. I’ll reproduce just a few lines from his letter
here, so that you may evaluate the logic of his conclusions for yourself.
Here are his words. “We are all familiar with the story of
Moses and Pharaoh. Most of us have thought, until recently, that the Feast of
the Passover was given to the Jews at that time. However, Abraham kept the
feast four hundred thirty years before Moses.”
What! Abraham kept the Passover? How could a man, who claims
to believe the Spirit of Prophecy, send out a letter of this type and even sign
his name to it?
Look carefully at these inspired quotations which so clearly
tell us when the Passover was instituted. “The observance of the Passover began
with the birth of the Hebrew nation on the last night of their bondage in Egypt. The Hebrews went out from Egypt an independent nation.” The Desire of Ages, 76.
“On that night so
terrible to the Egyptians and so glorious to the people of God was the solemn
ordinance of the Passover instituted.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1,
“The Jews had been strictly enjoined to celebrate the
Passover. This had been instituted at the time of their deliverance from Egypt.” The Review and Herald, November 4,
Now do you understand what I mean when someone solemnly
assures you that two plus two equals seventy-five? How do you deal with that
kind of a mind? I sent him the quotations that I have just listed and, so far,
he has not responded. So, that was just one example of how we are being
challenged to face a test about the Feast Days.
The Name of God
We are being called to face a test about the name/names of
God. There are at least three variations on the name of God being endorsed and
embraced by certain groups among us today. And all of them assure us that if we
do not pronounce it their way, we will all go to hell. There is no hope
whatever for our salvation if we do not say it right and they say it three
Beloved, if I may say so, of all the strange stuff, this is
the most weird that we have ever come across. The Jewish people stopped
pronouncing the name of God at least five hundred years before Christ. And the
orthodox Jew, today, will not pronounce the name of God. He will refer to the
deity saying “Hashem” which means “The Name.” He will
not pronounce the sacred name. It has not been pronounced for probably
twenty-five hundred years. Yet there are people coming among us today who say,
“We know exactly how that name should be pronounced and if you do not say it
like we say it, you are going to hell.”
Dear hearts, what happens to the human mind? They will with
great triumph, pull out a verse from the Psalms which says “My name is Yaw” and
place that under your nose. David, who wrote that, put down the Y or J and he
put down the H, but he did not put the A in there. There were no vowels in the
Hebrew alphabet. They had only consonants.
How did they get along? Well, they got along just like you
and I do with abbreviations. When you see Mt. Lassen, does anyone have to tell you what
it means? It means Mount Lassen, of course. However, if you had
never learned that, as a child, you could look at Mt. for a thousand years and
never know it said Mount.
The Hebrew alphabet was entirely like that and that is the
way they read all of their words. About seven to eight hundred years after
Christ, they finally decided to invent some vowels and put them underneath the
letters so that you could follow along if you did not know from memory.
So, just think, if there has been no
one around for twenty-five hundred years to speak the name and tell you how it
sounds and if the people who wrote the name did not even have vowels, how can
someone come along in our time and say, “I know! You say it like I say it or
you are going to hell.” Dear people, what goes on in the human mind? And what
is surprising is that this is troubling our people.
Another man-made test deals with the Godhead. Is the Holy
Spirit God? Most people do not argue about whether the Father is God, but they
argue about whether the Spirit is God. Here are just a few lines from the
Spirit of Prophecy. “The Spirit being God knoweth the
mind of God;” “The three powers of the Godhead;” “The Spirit in all the
fullness of the Godhead;” “The Third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit;”
“The three powers of the Godhead, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, 36; Review
and Herald, July 18, 1907; Evangelism,
615; Australian Union Conference Record, October
There are also those who are trying to chip away at the
divinity of Christ. Consider this strong rebuke: “That doctrine that denies the
absolute Godhead of Jesus Christ denies also the Godhead of the Father.” Signs of the Times, June
Dual Application of Prophecy
Then we have a lot of “dual application of time prophecies.”
When people approach me and say, “Would you not be interested in learning about
a dual application of this prophecy?” I say, “No thanks, give me the tenth
application. That is where my interest lies. Give me the fifteenth, the
twentieth, the thirtieth, the fortieth, the fiftieth, the hundred and fiftieth,
that is where my interest lies.”
Am I bewildering you? If an historic time prophecy can be
re-applied, can it be re-applied twice or again and again and again? I do not
know why not. So tell me about the twentieth one, that is where I want to plug
Then to a lesser degree, there are smaller items such as
kneeling in prayer. I want to believe that these folk who come in and challenge
us when we do not kneel for a benediction are sincere, dedicated, earnest,
consecrated people, but I have a little trouble over this point. Almost
invariably, when they detect that you are not buying their reasoning, they get
furiously angry with you and are ready to denounce you as a false minister, a
false prophet, a child of Satan, etc. It just makes me wonder, is this the spirit of Christ?
I have to share with you the bitter pill. There have been,
and there are now, many thousands of earnest, sincere, dedicated, historic
Seventh-day Adventists who in view of all the warnings that we have about
error, have found it necessary to worship separately in little groups here and
there. Inevitably, there come in among them people professing to be just like
they are and, of course, they embrace them. They take them right in and pretty
soon they start telling them, “You will surely be lost if you do not keep the
Passover.” Or, “You will surely be lost if you do not pronounce the name of God
right.” Or, “You will surely be lost if you think there are three divine beings
who have the fullness of the Godhead, when Jesus and the Holy Spirit were not
really God,” and so forth and so on down the list. They point out irrelevant
texts and pile them around the issue, until, by their confused logic, they have convinced some that they are speaking the
Dear friend, as we have read, God has no use for man-made
tests. The Sabbath is the test that we are all going to be called upon to pass.
All man-made tests will divert the mind from the great and important doctrines
that constitute present truth. Let us not descend from the Sabbath to man-made
tests. The truth is pure; the truth is wonderful. The tests of God are like
they ought to be. They do not need to be improved upon.
We know that the truth will prevail,
the only problem is that we must hold fast to it. This message is going to go
through. The only question is whether I will go through with it. And that is
what we all need to be thinking about day-by-day. Let us accept the test of God
and let us reject all man-made tests.
Watch out for the devil’s