LandMarks Magazine  
   

November 2004 Table of Contents

 
 

Spiritualism, Part I
By Mike Baugher

One thing I have found, as I travel, is that God’s people are the same the world over.  They all have a great desire to hasten the day of Jesus’ return.  I think this has always been the desire of Seventh-day Adventists.  As Adventists came out of the period of the Great Disappointment in 1844, it was a time of struggle for them.  With the Millerite movement, there had been a great number of believers looking for the near return of Jesus that was to culminate October 22, 1844.  When that day came and Jesus did not return, disappointment took place and thousands fell away.  It got to where there were only about 300 believers out of tens of thousands across the land and many more thousands around the world. 

James and Ellen White felt the burden to try to gather these believers into some form of unity, because it was not that they were wrong that Jesus was coming; it was the fact that they did not understand the circumstances and the time frame.  So the movement began to build, until today there are many Adventists all around the world that are looking forward to Jesus’ Second Coming.  We never want to lose sight of that; we want to always have the focus of Jesus ever in our hearts and in our minds, because that is what is going to see us through the times that are yet ahead of us. 

The name Seventh-day Adventist declares two facts about our beliefs.  First, we observe the seventh day as the day of rest that God outlined in the fourth commandment of Scripture.  Second, the other part of the name, Adventist, means that we believe in the Second Coming of Jesus.  The interesting part about this is that we have concentrated in these areas almost to the neglect of what has been revealed to us concerning the great controversy between Christ and Satan.  We believe in preaching about the Second Coming of Jesus; we believe in preaching about the Sabbath-Sunday issue and how it focuses on the papacy.  But, somehow, we do not really understand, as we should, about the great controversy.  Indeed, we have a message that is to unfold the work of Satan in this world as well as proclaim the Sabbath and the truth about the Second Coming of Jesus. 

Ellen White has written a book entitled The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan.  We have a tendency to read certain portions of the last chapters of this book that deal with what is going to transpire relative to the Sunday law and those kinds of things.  We neglect to see the connecting theme that goes all through the book that is centering upon the struggles between Christ and Satan for the souls of men and women in this world. 

If we are going to make it through these last days, we must have a better understanding of the great controversy—not just an understanding of the Second Coming, as wonderful and as beautiful as that is; not only an understanding of the Sabbath-Sunday issue, as important as that is; but an understanding of how the devil is attempting to make shipwreck of the Seventh-day Adventist faith.  If you do not think that the devil is trying to make shipwreck of the Seventh-day Adventist faith, then you are not fully aware of what is going on in the world today.  He is doing everything he can to make shipwreck of our faith.

An Express Warning

The last letters we can chronologically put in the perspective of the writings of the apostle Paul are 1 and 11 Timothy.  Timothy was a young preacher who was to carry on when the apostle Paul was no longer able to minister because of the sacrifice of his life in Rome, so Paul wrote some very specific counsel to Timothy.

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”  Timothy 4:1.  As we study this text, we want to see if we can identify what it is that Paul is really saying.  Often we have a tendency to read a text and, because we have a certain bias of the word or the words that are found there, we do not really dig much deeper, thinking that the meaning is self-evident.  Look at this text a little more deeply. 

Paul says, “the Spirit.”  Who is the Spirit referred to here?  It is the Holy Spirit.  For what time frame is the Holy Spirit giving this information?  It says, “the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times . . . .”  When are those times?  They are now.  If Jesus would have come in the year a.d. 700, this text would have applied then.  “Latter times” always applies to just before Jesus’ return.  So if we really believe the prophecies, if we really believe the times in which we are living, Jesus is coming very, very soon. 

Some Shall Depart

This text, I believe, applies specifically to the time in which we are living.  The Spirit said that in the latter times a warning needs to go out.  “Some shall depart from the faith.” 

In the last ten years, we have seen a lot of things taking place in historic Adventism.  We have seen a lot of things taking place in the mainstream denomination of Seventh-day Adventists.  We have seen some, much to my disappointment, who have left the faith.  Now let me tell you that anytime you see a person leave the faith, it is not just happenstance.  It is through the direct working of seducing spirits.  This is what causes those kinds of things to take place. 

The devil is not just seated in an office somewhere in a large building, answering the phone once in awhile.  He is out, the Bible says, “as a roaring lion.”  (1 Peter 5:8.)  He is on the track of every person who is trying to be faithful to the precepts of Scripture and inspiration. 

Paul says that there are going to be some who are going to depart from the faith.  They “depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”  I want to emphasize that something like that happens through the process of seducing spirits.  This is why we need to constantly be on guard.  The only way that we are going to be able to know is through Inspiration.  That is the knowledge that we must have to make it through to the time when Jesus comes. 

Persuade to Disobedience

Look at the word seduce.  Many times, when we hear this word, we have a tendency to use the application of the second definition in Webster’s dictionary—“to entice to unchastity.”  That is usually what comes to our minds, but that is not the first meaning of the word, according to Webster.  The first meaning is “to persuade to disobedience or to disloyalty.”  That is how it is used in this text.  That is how the devil works.  The whole purpose of seducing spirits is to get people off the track into disobedience and into disloyalty.  This is what they are determined to do. 

The Bible says that the Spirit of God—that Person of the Godhead that was given after Jesus returned to heaven—is to guide us into all truth.  He is to be our Comforter; He is to be our Helper in all things. 

The first verse of 1 Timothy 4 says that, in the last days, the devil is going to work in such a way as to do his utmost to persuade to disobedience and to disloyalty.  I have been in ministry for over 30 years, and I have to confess that I have not always preached the great controversy as it centers in this text—the devil doing everything he can to persuade to disloyalty and to disobedience.  I have come to understand more fully in these last few years that this, indeed, is a reality and that we need to forewarn God’s people, because I believe to be forewarned is to be forearmed. 

Speaketh Expressly

Look even deeper into this text, because we have to receive the impact of what is being said here before it really registers with us as to what is taking place.  Paul could have written, “Well, you know, just kind of be aware, people, that in the last days the devil is really going to work.”  But he chose some very specific words.  He says that “the Spirit speaks expressly.”  That needs to grab our attention.  He is not just talking in small talk.  He is trying to get a point across.  “The Spirit speaketh expressly.” 

According to Webster, expressly means “to set forth, to make clear the meaning of; directly and distinctly stated, explicit, exact, precise.”  The second definition says that “it is the dispatch conveyed by a special messenger.” 

Do you ever receive an express package?  The delivery person usually comes to the door and knocks on the door to deliver an express package.  In reality, this is what the Holy Spirit is doing.  He is knocking on the door, and He says, “I have an express message for you.  I am speaking expressly.”

If you think that I am repeating myself, I am, because I need to get the message across.  Seducing spirits are going to do their utmost to persuade us to disobedience.  They will try to draw us away from the doctrines of God to the doctrines of devils.  The Spirit gives some very explicit warning to this end. 

Every Wind

It may be that you, who are not sitting behind a desk at Steps to Life, find this strange.  But many of the phone calls I receive day after day consist of people wanting Steps to Life to endorse some strange doctrine.  A large amount of my time is spent responding to people who send in manuscripts, full-published books, cassette tapes, and videos.  They say, “Please review these things, and then let us know if you can give some endorsement to them.” 

I can tell you that every wind of doctrine is blowing.  They are blowing, because the devil has his helpers out across the land in every way causing those winds to blow.  But those winds are not yet blowing fully.  They are giving little gusts here and there, but they are not blowing in full. 

I count it a very serious responsibility on my part to review the things sent to Steps to Life.  I read everything, and I try to match it with Inspiration.  Sometimes that can be very, very difficult.  The reason that it is difficult is because the track of truth lies very close to the track of error.  The most successful deception is when there is a great amount of truth coupled with a little bit of error.  The Spirit gives some very explicit instruction. 

We know that God’s true church and Satan’s counterfeit church have been growing side by side for some 6,000 years.  The angels are holding the winds so that they do not blow.  Once the angels release those winds, the doctrines of devils are going to go out, and the people from all corners of the earth will be gathered into one of two camps—either in the camp of God or in the camp of the devil. 

Two Camps

That is why we urgently work to convey God’s truths to the people, so they will be so grounded that they will not be taken in by the devil’s deceptions.  There are two camps—one with truth and love as the impelling force and the other built upon lies and deceit, one upholding God’s government and His Law and the other rebelling against it with a malignant hatred. 

Good angels have been sent to Adam and all of his descendents to enlighten, to counsel, and to plead with them to look by faith to their Creator and their Redeemer.  Satan’s angels have been sent to ensnare these offspring of Adam with innumerable schemes, so they will despise or neglect or ignore the salvation that is made possible by Jesus Christ.  In all of this, God spreads out the issues of the great controversy between Christ and Satan in such a way that every individual is to be enlightened so he can choose whom he is going to serve. 

If we read this text carefully, we can see that it is a challenge for us to know what is going on and what is going to take place.  If we are going to make it through to the end, we are going to have to know what the issues are.  Ellen White makes it very plain that this deals with spiritualism.  (See Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary,  vol. 7, 951, 952.)

More than Masquerades

I would like to suggest to you  that spiritualism is more involved than evil angels masquerading as dead people.  It is much more profound than that.  It has to do with everything that is devil-inspired.  If, indeed, this is the case, then we need to have a firm basis for every decision we make.  We need to know with exactness what is going to take place in this area of deception, because this is how God’s Holy Spirit has spoken to us.  He has spoken to us expressly to get the point across. 

What this text is saying to us is that this is very serious business.  It is not something with which to toy.  It is not something that we can ignore.  The devil has been playing and practicing this game of deception for thousands of years in an effort to try to persuade to disloyalty and to disobedience.  That is his whole plan and purpose.  We need to have some inside information so we do not get caught up in what the devil is trying to promote.  If any-one does get caught up in it, it is because they have not paid clear attention to the counsel God has given. 

It is a disappointment to me to hear that the Adventist Book Centers are not carrying Ellen White’s books as they should, because there is no longer a call for them.  Supply and demand is what is important.  That is the business world.  But we are not in a setting where business is to go on as usual.  We are here to spread a message.

A Little Con Game

It is easy to be deceived, if we do not have the right information at our fingertips or if we are innocent to circumstances or if we are naive about various issues.  A number of years ago, a carnival came to town and set up shop right across the street from where my wife and I lived.  We, at that time, were not Christians.  Neither of us had been brought up in a Christian home.  We were not wicked people, but we did not have a Christian background.  So, when the carnival came to town, I went over to it. 

I wanted to see all the lights and all the things that were going on.  There were many people there.  My attention, as I walked through the various booths that were set up, was drawn to one booth that was a con-type gambling game.  I will not go into all the details of it, but I got drawn into gambling.  The interesting part was that it started out with a dime.  Ten cents.  Before I knew what was happening, I had $300 sunk into that game. 

Forty years ago, $300 was like $1,500 today.  Minimum wage back then was $1 per hour.  Can you imagine being drawn into some-thing like that?  I had taken that money out of our monthly budget, and I lost it.  I lost every dime of it.  The whole month was yet ahead of me.  Do you know what I had to do?  I had to go down to the bank and borrow $300, because we did not have any reserve.  We were just newly wed.  It took me a year to pay back that $300 loan. 

Heed the Warning

The interesting thing was that, having lost my money in such a quick, slick con game, I was determined that I was not going to let someone else lose their money in the same way.  It was a deception.  I knew it was a deception.  So I decided that I was going to stand right by that booth and, as people came along, I would tell them what kind of a game it was.  I will never forget one lady who came by.  She was a waitress, working for $1 an hour, and older than I.  She had her whole paycheck with her, which, for a 40-hour week, was a grand total of $32 after taxes.  She stood and watched this con artist pour the  balls into the little pans that had numbers on the bottoms of them, and as she watched, she was getting into her purse to fish out a dime.  I told her, “This is a con game.  I just lost $300 here.  Do not let him take your money.”  I warned her, “Listen to me.”  I warned her expressly, “Do not get involved in this kind of con game.”  Do you know what?  She listened to me and walked on down the fairway.  The fellow running the booth called me every conceivable name, but I was determined that I was going to stand there and not let other people get drawn into that con game. 

Little did I know that down the fairway and around the corner was another booth exactly like the one where I had taken my stand.  It was not too long before I heard a woman’s voice cry, “Oooooooooh!  You have taken all of my money.”  I could hear it clear across the fairway.  So I walked down there, and who do you suppose was there?  The very woman whom I had expressly warned.   She was crying and weeping that they had taken her whole paycheck.  Her whole paycheck for that week was gone.  She was raising such a ruckus that a short, fat man came out of a nearby trailer.  He tried to talk to this lady, but she would not listen.  She was out of control.  Finally he reached into his wallet and pulled out a wad of bills.  He handed her $32, and told her that it was time for her to leave the grounds.  It was really quite pathetic.

I am convinced that there will be many people in the last days who will be just like this woman.  They have been given a clear warning, but they have decided, for whatever reason, that they do not want to give heed to the warning.  Their hearts have never truly been converted.  They may listen to the warning and pass by one of the devil’s traps, only to later disregard the warning.  That seems, to a great extent, to be the lot of humanity, but it does not have to be that way—not when the Spirit has given express warning.  We need to pay attention.  We need to heed the warning. 

Two Great Errors

“Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions.  While the former lays the foundation of spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with Rome.”  The Great Controversy, 588.  I do not know which one is worse.  They are both bad news—two great errors that will bring people under deception. 

The driving force of Seventh-day Adventists is to get the messages of warning to the world.  Not everyone is going to listen, but Jesus says, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness.”  Matthew 24:14.  He does not say the whole world is going to respond, but the message has to be given for a witness. 

This is one of the reasons Steps to Life is on Internet radio, because it has the potential of reaching the entire world.  This is why we have a television program.  This is why we send out containers of literature.  It is in an effort to try to get this witness, this warning, out to the world.

To be continued . . .

Pastor Mike Baugher is Associate Speaker for Steps to Life.  He may be contacted by e-mail at: mikebaugher@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

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