Who Can Contain God? When Probation Closes for the Church
Two Camps of Belief?
It has been stated that there are two camps of belief among historic Seventh-day Adventists today.
The first group calls the church Babylon, because of the terrible apostasy within its ranks, and calls people to separate from it and remove their membership.
The second group recognizes the apostasy in the conference church, but believes that it is still Godís" one and only true church", and that it is not Babylon until it teaches the immortality of the soul and Sunday worship. They believe the structured church will be rejuvenated by faithful preachers, and that the Latter Rain will fall only upon those in the structured church who have been sighing and crying at the abominations done therein.
There is a Third Group
In reality, the largest group of all has been excluded. In essence, it is very similar to the second group. This group also recognizes the ever-expanding evil in the church, but it does not call the church Babylon nor tell people to remove their membership, despite some of these dear folks being disfellowshipped for exposing error and standing for truth. However, this group does not believe that Godís Latter Rain will be restricted to the faithful few in the conference structure. They believe that God can work with whomever He sees fit, both in the structure, and out of the structure. They believe that God did not give any unconditional promises. The Jewish structure of old was never given an unconditional promise by God, whereby it could do as it pleased.
This is clearly seen by the fact that Christ raised up an independent church from among the common people before probation had expired on the structured conference church in Jerusalem. (See Acts 2.) He did not, however, call the doomed and disobedient structured church Babylon. This clearly shows that for a period of time, before the destruction of the structured church, there was a God-ordained overlapping of these two groups. Both groups were considered to be part of the church, for it would be a brave man who said that Christís little independent ministry was not part of the church, even though He was holding unauthorized campmeetings, speaking strongly against the ordained leadership, preaching the truth, and collecting tithe money.
Did God Make a Mistake?
The church leaders had the fatally narrow idea that God could only work through them and their structured church organization, because their probation had not expired. The next fatal step was to conclude that Christís independent ministry was outside their structure and, hence, of Satan. The final step was to kill Christ and members of His new independent ministry, in Godís name. Could Christ, who was disfellowshipped from the structured church, be used of God to further the gospel truth? Did God make a mistake by missing the structured church (whose probation had not expired) and giving the Former Rain to an independent ministry critical of the conference church?
Could this have a type and anti-type warning for Godís end-time church? "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." 1 Corinthians 10:11.
Is the present conference church repeating the history of old Israel? "I have been shown that the spirit of the world is fast leavening the church. You are following the same path as did ancient Israel." Testimonies, vol. 5, 75, 76.
In Testimonies, vol. 1, 129, the angel said that we are worse than old Israel.
"The trials of the children of Israel, and their attitude just before the first coming of Christ, have been presented before me again and again to illustrate the position of the people of God in their experience before the Second Coming of Christ." Selected Messages, Book 1, 406.
"Satan is working that the history of the Jewish nation may be repeated.Ö" Ibid., Book 2, 111.
"Internal corruption will bring the denunciations of God upon this people as it did upon Jerusalem." Ibid., 378.
Christ Had an Independent Ministry
Some conservative Adventists think they can turn the church around by their faithful preaching, but Jesusóthe greatest preacher of all timeócould not turn the church structure around in His day through His independent ministry. He could only save the ones in the structured church who would listen to Him. The prophet said we likewise, will not stop the flood of iniquity which is entering the structured church. "Are we hoping to see the whole church revived? That time will never come." Ibid., Book 1, 122. The prophet also saw that the great apostasy in the church would wax more and more till the coming of the Lord. (See The Upward Look, 352.)
"Before the final visitation of Godís judgments upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times." The Great Controversy, 464.
God Takes the Reins
Just as God took the reins into His own hands, because of the apostasy in Christís time, He is also taking the reins today, because of apostasy in the church.
"The Lord will work in this last work in a manner very much out of the common order of things, and in a way that will be contrary to any human planning.ÖGod will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reins in His own hands." Testimonies to Ministers, 300.
In Christís time there was the structured church, which was controlled by an apostate leadership, and there was Christís independent ministry of the common people, which received the Former Rain. (See Mark 12:37.)
There were two parties in the church in Christís time, and there are also two parties in the church today. (See Selected Messages, Book 2, 114.)
Today, we have the new system of intellectual philosophy controlled by an apostate church leadership, which is bitterly opposing the Righteousness by Faith messageóa prerequisite for those who would prepare for the Latter Rain. Nothing will be allowed to stand in this new systemís way, but storm and tempest will sweep away the structured church, just as it did in 70 ad. (See Ibid., Book 1, 204, 205.)
"Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at His word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for My nameís sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed." Isaiah 66:5.
Sighing and Crying Ones
We see that this new system would cast out the saints who are sighing and crying at the abominations in the conference church.
In apostolic times, the common people, who believed in Christ and attended His independent ministry meetings, were cast out of the structured church. The common people will be used again: "Words will come from the lips of the unlearned with such convincing power and wisdom that conversions will be made to the truth. Thousands will be converted under their testimony. Why should the illiterate man have this power, which the learned man has not? The illiterate one, through faith in Christ, has come into the atmosphere of pure, clear truth, while the learned man has turned away from the truth." Maranatha, 252.
We all know that we must sigh and cry at the abominations in the church structure. Many have done this and been assaulted and disfellowshipped for their loyalty to God. God is greatly displeased when we knowingly go and listen to error (See Early Writings, 124). We only have to admonish them twice (see Titus 3:10), and then move on to areas where the gospel has not been preached, just as Jesus did. Parts of the world might be considerably different than others, so we cannot make a sweeping statement restricting God and the giving of His Latter Rain.
The Stigma of John the Baptist
In the South Pacific it is nearly impossible to get the leaders of the conference church to preach the Righteousness by Faith message. (See Gospel Workers, 301.) They are now attacking those who do preach Godís message. It is a big call to sweepingly state that these saints, who have been thrown out of the structured church for preaching Godís truth, cannot receive the Latter Rain. There are miracles happening all over the world among Seventh-day Adventists. It is another big call to play God and state that the miracles happening among conference Seventh-day Adventists are of God, and those happening among independent ministries are of Satan. That is the only conclusion you can come to, if you believe the Latter Rain will only fall on the conference church.
John the Baptist had an independent ministry outside of the church structure. The church members went to see him in the wilderness. It is just as difficult and humiliating for conference church members today to come to an independent ministry to receive the light of God.
Testimonies, vol. 5, 208Ė216 has been used to support the case that only those who remain in the conference church will receive the Latter Rain. If you read on just one more page, however, you will see that the prophet said, in essence, that the Holy Spirit had left the church.
In another attempt to prove the Latter Rain only comes upon the remaining saints in the conference church, the type and anti-type are used. In the type, the manifestation of both good and evil took place in the structured church in Jerusalem, so one could conclude that in the end time the manifestation of both good and evil would also take place only in the conference Seventh-day Adventist church. All those with a basic biblical knowledge know that while the evil manifested itself through the conference church at Jerusalem, the good was manifested through Christís independent ministry, which He started because of the apostasy in the structured church. As the anti-type to this interesting scenario, the evil would have to be manifested through the apostate conference church, and the good would have to be manifested through the independent ministries, as God takes the reins into His own hands to again bypass heresy. Will acceptance of wrong theology on this point prepare me to follow the church leaders of old, who ended up speaking evil of good and good of evil? (See Isaiah 5:20.)
Just Who Will Receive the Latter Rain?
When the Former Rain missed the disobedient structured church and fell upon the obedient followers in Christís independent ministry, great miracles were wrought all over the known world, because no one could contain God.
Miracles are also taking place today in many parts of the world, among those who have never heard of the General Conference in Silver Spring, Maryland.
In China, it was recently reported that two men had a vision from God. They preached, and two thousand precious souls were baptized. "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams." Acts 2:17.
A geologist friend of mine, who at that time kept the Sabbath, discovered a primitive native tribe in the jungle of South America. They were keeping the Sabbath day holy. They had found it for themselves in an old Bible, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They also had never heard of the structured Seventh-day Adventist Church.
In the jungles of New Guinea, the saints are being bashed, stoned, and disfellowshipped by the unbelieving brethren in the structured Seventh-day Adventist Church. Angels have appeared to some of these poor, persecuted saints. Hundreds are responding to their preaching of the Righteousness by Faith message and are joining the independent churches. "The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them." Psalm 34:7.
"Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My nameís sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another." Matthew 24:9, 10.
"There are persons in the church who are not converted.ÖWe have far more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world. Unbelievers have a right to expect that those who profess to be keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, will do more than any other class to promote and honor, by their consistent lives, by their godly example and their active influence, the cause which they represent. But how often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greatest obstacle to its advancement! The unbelief indulged, the doubts expressed, the darkness cherished, encourage the presence of evil angels, and open the way for the accomplishment of Satanís devices." Selected Messages, Book 1, 122.
In the Pacific Islands, some of the people, who do not understand Greek or Hebrew, are having wonderful dreams and visions which lead them to the independent ministries, where they are nourished by the Righteousness by Faith message. Some believe that this is a fulfillment of Acts 2:17.
Repeating the Sin of Old Israel
In conclusion, the apostate Jewish church tried to restrict the movings of God to their narrow thinking and, consequently, spoke evil of the work God was doing through His Sonís independent ministry, which received the Former Rain. Today, those who fail to learn from the past will try to restrict Godís Latter Rain to the conference church alone, and will likewise speak evil of the Holy Spiritís workings, as it falls outside the conference structure. They are in danger of repeating the sin of old Israel, who attributed the wonderful workings of God to Satan because things did not happen just as they thought they should happen.
(See Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 106.) It was this crime which sealed their fate.
(See Patriarchs and Prophets, 405.)
If, as some believe, the Latter Rain will only fall on the conference church structure, then they restrict the love of God and make Him an arbitrary judge by having Him withhold the Latter Rain from the saints who have been disfellowshipped from the structure for trying to stop the flood of wickedness. Also, they must take the next logical step and believe that the miracles taking place outside the structured church can only be of Satan.
If we believe, however, the church is as the prophet said it was, then we can believe God can give the Latter Rain to whom He sees fit, as He did with the Former Rain.
"The Lord Jesus will always have a chosen people to serve Him. When the Jewish people rejected Christ, the Prince of life, He took from them the kingdom of God and gave it unto the Gentiles. God will continue to work on this principle with every branch of His work. When a church proves unfaithful to the Word of the Lord, whatever their position may be, however high and sacred their calling, the Lord can no longer work with them. Others are then chosen to bear important responsibilities." Upward Look, 131.
"The Lord does not ask permission of those in responsible positions when He wishes to use certain ones as His agents for the promulgation of truth." Review and Herald, July 23, 1895.
May all the honest saints, either in the structure or in the independent ministries, prepare for the Latter Rain, for God is no respecter of persons. Who can contain Him?
December 2001 Table of Contents