The Sacred Duty of Disobedience
to the Seventh-day Adventist faith are required to sort out their
thoughts about authority and obedience quite early in their experience.
When the challenge came to me, I was a teenager working on Friday
nights. I had learned about the Sabbath truth and was feeling the
conviction of the Holy Spirit. But I was under the authority of
the owner of the plywood factory where I worked, and friends warned
me that I would be fired if I did not work on Friday nights. On
the other hand, God had commanded Sabbath observance. What should
I do? I had to think it through carefully. I finally came to the
conclusion that I had a sacred duty to disobey the factory owner
and to obey God.
other converts to our faith have had similar experiences. They have
been brought to the realization that, strange as it may seem, under
certain circumstances disobedience can be a duty, even a sacred
duty. For many, the challenge came, as it did to me, at the very
beginning of their Christian life. And for many the experience has
been repeated quite frequently as they have made their way through
life. Soldiers have had to disobey their officers; students have
had to disobey their principals and teachers; citizens have had
to disobey government officials, and members of some churches have
had to disobey their church leaders in order to obey God. This has
led to the formulation of clear concepts of authority in the minds
of most Seventh-day Adventists. When forced to make a choice between
obeying God or man, they unhesitatingly choose to obey God. They
consider that, under such circumstances, they have a sacred duty
of disobedience to man.
It would be
well if such choices were forced upon us only outside of the church,
but the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy make it clear that it can
happen within the church. In Acts 5:17–20 we find the record of
a situation in which church leaders commanded the apostles to not
preach any more about Christ and imprisoned them, but an angel opened
the prison doors and ordered them to go back to the temple and continue
preaching. Thus, they had a sacred duty of disobedience to church
inspired comments on this situation are most instructive. She writes:
"’The angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and
brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple
to the people all the words of this life.’ We see here that the
men in authority are not always to be obeyed, even though they
may profess to be teachers of Bible doctrine.…Because those who
were once the depositaries of truth became unfaithful to their
sacred trust, the Lord chose others who would receive the bright
beams of the Sun of Righteousness, and would advocate truths that
were not in accordance with the ideas of the religious leaders."
Testimonies to Ministers, 69, 70.
An even more
startling passage is found on page 81: "But unless the truth
is enthroned in the heart, and a thorough transition takes place
from darkness to light, those who handle sacred responsibilities
are ministers of darkness, blind leaders of the blind."
This is appalling.
We can hardly imagine such a horrifying situation. What could be
the cause of such a condition? Look again at the first quotation
above. A careful reading of this entire chapter in Testimonies
to Ministers will reveal that the issue is truth, sacred
truth. The word "truth" is used over and over in the chapter.
Church leaders have an obligation to the truth of the Bible. This
is a sacred trust. If they become unfaithful to this sacred trust
by ignoring or rejecting the truth of the Bible, they become ministers
of darkness in their handling of sacred responsibilities. What
then of those who nevertheless obey them? On page 91 where there
are three usages of the word "truth" we find this warning:
"I call upon God’s people to open their eyes. When you
sanction or carry out the decisions of men who, as you know, are
not in harmony with truth and righteousness, you weaken your own
faith and lose your relish for communion with God." Ibid.
There is, then,
such a thing as a sacred duty of disobedience even within the
church. This grim reality forces us to look at our leaders,
as our prophet admonishes us to do, with open eyes. The history
of Israel places a tragic example before us: "The Jews perished
as a nation because they were drawn from the truth of the Bible
by their rulers, priests, and elders. Had they heeded
the lessons of Jesus, and searched the Scriptures for themselves,
they would not have perished." Ibid., 109.
They were drawn
from the truths of the Bible by their church leaders. Obviously
there is nothing about high position that guarantees spiritual authority.
Church authority is grounded in Scripture and is limited by Scripture.
In order for the church and its leaders to speak with "duly
constituted church authority," they must say about sin what
God says about it in His Holy Word. "She [the church] must
say about sin what God says about it." The Desire of Ages,
If church leaders
reject the Scriptural definitions of sin and advance their own human
opinions as "duly constituted church authority," they
betray their sacred trust, they blaspheme God, and they become ministers
of darkness. We then have a sacred duty to disobey them.
The Sin of
Christians Suing Christians
No sin that
is mentioned in the Bible is defined more clearly, or denounced
more emphatically, than the sin of Christians suing Christians in
worldly courts. "Dare any of you, having a matter against another,
go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not
know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall
be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that
pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining
to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among
you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?
But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.
Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you. because ye go
to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do
ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?" 1 Corinthians
To this unmistakably
clear admonition from the Apostle Paul must be added the equally
clear and emphatic warning from Ellen White: "Those who justify
their course of action in going to law, and that with their brethren
in the church, are acting out the spirit that developed the rebellion
in heaven." A Message to our Physicians, 5. We must
understand this to be the spirit of Satan.
between brethren are a reproach to the cause of truth. Christians
who go to law with one another expose the church to the ridicule
of her enemies and cause the powers of darkness to triumph. They
are wounding Christ afresh and putting Him to open shame."
Acts of the Apostles, 306.
written largely in regard to Christians who believe the truth placing
their cases in courts of law to obtain redress. In doing this, they
are biting and devouring one another in every sense of the world.
‘to be consumed one of another.’ They cast aside the inspired counsel
God has given, and in the face of the message He gives they do the
very thing He has told them not to do. Such men may as well stop
praying to God, for He will not hear their prayers. They insult
Jehovah, and He will leave them to become the subjects of Satan
until they shall see their folly and seek the Lord by confession
of their sins." Selected Messages, Book 3, 302.
Read that paragraph
again, and then prepare yourself for a shock. "Why," you
are probably asking, "are these grim warnings being published
to our readers?"
dear reader, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is
now launching a series of lawsuits against Seventh-day Adventists.
Why are these
Seventh-day Adventists being sued? For the "crime" of
correctly identifying themselves as Seventh-day Adventists. The
first successful suit was against Pastor John Marik and his congregation
in Hawaii. Now they have succeeded again with Pastor Rafael Perez
and his congregation in Florida. Though the case was won by the
General Conference in a Federal court, it is now being appealed,
and the final outcome is uncertain. Meanwhile, many other suits
are in preparation, in a demonstration of total contempt for both
the Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy.
with some variations, is as follows:
of true Seventh-day Adventists is found whose members are worshipping
separately, in a home or some suitable place in an effort to
protect themselves from the false doctrines that are being taught
in many Seventh-day Adventist churches today.
is ordered to stop using the name "Seventh-day Adventist."
do not obey this order, they are disfellowshipped on the charge
of failing to obey "duly constituted church authority."
is announced that a group of non-Adventists has been
found using our church name. It is claimed that it is all right
to sue them, since they are "non-Adventists."
But are they
really non-Adventists? Most emphatically not! They are believing,
teaching, and practicing the true Seventh-day Adventist faith, with
no corruptions from Liberalism, Calvinism or Modernism. This fact
is carefully obscured by the misrepresentations that they are troublemakers
and rebels who are "refusing to submit to duly constituted
church authority." Their appeals to church leaders to consider
the theological problems with which they are concerned are ignored.
confronted with a choice between submitting to the threat of a lawsuit
conducted in total contempt of both the Scriptures and the Spirit
of Prophecy, they consider it their sacred duty to disobey men in
order that they may obey God. They hold that authority, which is
exercised in contempt of Scripture, cannot be "duly constituted."
Under these circumstances they believe that there is a sacred duty
of disobedience to man and obedience to God.
One Day Closer
as these apostate prosecutions (persecutions) may be, they should
not discourage us. We have been clearly forewarned. God’s special
messenger, Ellen White, has written that in the last days our worst
enemies will be those who once shared our faith.
storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the
Third Angel’s Message, but have not been sanctified through obedience
to the truth, abandon their position, and join the ranks of the
opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit,
they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when
the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular
side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the
truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls. They become
the most bitter enemies of their former brethren." The Faith
I Live By, 336.
it is to know that our heavenly Father is not surprised or shaken
by all of this, as we may be. He knew all about it and gave us an
abundance of advance information to bolster our courage. When we
see these things happening, we need not panic nor be discouraged.
We can remind ourselves that the prophecies must be fulfilled, and
say with Jesus: "And when these things begin to come to pass,
then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth
nigh." Luke 21:28.
November 2000 Table of Contents