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Friday: Further Thought ~ A City Called Confusion — 17 Comments

  1. Seventh-day Adventists paint a picture of the end-time where we have a significant role in the unfolding of events. We back that up with our interpretation of prophecy. And we have a worldview that stretches from the beginning of time to the end of time. Our view of that timeline is fairly rigid and that worries me a little bit.

    I am reminded that the Jews also had a fairly rigid view of their history, both past and future. However, in spite of their perception of the role they had and were to play in that history, their interpretation proved wrong and ultimately they ended up rejecting the new picture that Jesus provided them with.

    We like to protect our view of future events with statements about inspiration (as did the Jews with their view of the Messiah) and disparage those who offer an alternative dcriptions. We need to remind ourselves that the Seventh-day Adventist Church was founded when early Adventists realised that they had made a mistake. And through personal and combined Bible study, the Seventh-day Adventist church formed with a vision of Gospel mission and purpose.

    The takeaway lesson from this experience was not that they got it right, but that they were prepared to work together toward a better understanding. We have become somewhat complacent, resting on their efforts and codifying our beliefs into 28 fundamentals. (There were only 14 when I was baptised in 1961, so I am probably only half Seventh-day Adventist!{wry grin})

    Many of our ideas about the detail of how end-time events would unfold were developed in the late 1800s and were interpreted with the socio-political situation of the time in mind. Some of those ideas look quite dated in the 21st century. The socio-political landscape has changed considerably. Maybe we need to do a rethink.

    Whenever I think of end-time events and the roadmap from here to the end, I remind myself that the parables about the second coming of Jesus emphasise the unexpectedness of his return. Jesus spoke about the bridegroom coming at midnight - a metaphor for the unexpected. The big picture message is to be ready and to be occupied.

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    • Thank you Maurice for some valuable perspective.
      I believe that God used the Advent movement in the 19th Century to awaken and deepen a sense of Jesus’ return and draw attention to the Everlasting Gospel with its promise of forgiveness and life-changing power. The message was a clarion call to us to BE ready, not to be ready to get ready when we see certain events in the World around us.
      I can remember many discussions among students and professors trying to define and map out a precise timeline of last day events.
      Sadly, there was often quite vigorous “doctrinal dogfighting “ around whose charts were “correct” with the implications that all other views were heresy.
      Looking back, a number of these dogmatic viewpoints tended to result in flurry of temporary fear driven “revivals” which faded as they were devoid of the primary driver of loving commitment Jesus letting Him shine out so that others could feel secure in His promises.
      Let us keep focus on the big picture, as you have again reminded us.

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    • Maurice, Thank you for your comments. We need to watch a pray that we interpret these passages correctly. I find accuracy of the prophecy of the Mark of the Beast quite stunning. It is highly likely that one present day technology fits this description perfectly and and John writing nearly 2000 years ago, wrote about it. Biometrics. Soon we will not be able to conduct commerce without a finger print or an eye scan. These "marks" will be, in the next few years, the only way to conduct business.

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      • Hi, Jim. Our pioneers handed down to us that the mark of the beast is Sunday sacredness. We can corrupt this message into self-righteous legalism, but we don't have to. We can make it all about Jesus -- His Ten Commandments being a transcript of His character -- and our connection with, and loyalty to Him.

        It seems to me that making the mark of the beast into something else -- such as a computer in Belgium, facial recognition technology, or a vaccine -- takes the focus entirely off of Jesus, and attempts to place us in a position to save ourselves by our cleverness in knowing what to avoid.

        So, what are some ways in which we have taken the truth that we have inherited from our pioneers, and corrupted it? I'm afraid that we have often given people the impression that, if they will become Seventh-day Adventists and observe the Sabbath on the right day of the week, then they will have avoided the mark of the beast. Yet, we know very well that what is to transpire in the world will try men's souls. Will power, firmness of decision, and church affiliation will prove insufficient. Knowing Jesus and His word (the Bible), and total dependence on Him and His righteousness, can alone get us through.

        It seems to me that, as a people, we have become so complacent that we think we can even endorse Sunday observance in a certain part of the world (in certain South Pacific island countries), as long as we think we have a sufficient rationale, and we'll be fine, because we still have the theory of the truth. But the Scriptures call for us to practise the truth as it is in Jesus. Would Jesus ever have led us to compromise our witness in that way, and content ourselves that at least we have (supposedly) got it right? Did Jesus suffer and die only for us?

        What I'm saying is that we need, not a new theory of what the issue will be in the final crisis, but a new, humble attitude as to what kind of people we need to be as lowly, loving, obedient followers of Jesus.

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        • You are so right, RC. Jesus Himself said that if will lift Him up, He will draw All. Jesus also advised that we keep our Eyes on Him, and He will give us peace, knowledge of what our salvation means-He asks us to love Him with all our mind, strength, heart just as He loves us with All His mind, body, and soul. John 3:16 comes to mind. Let us turn our eyes to behold Jesus, and by beholding, we will become changed.
          Jesus is The Draw

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    • I think you are on to something, Maurice. When it comes to the overall picture of what lies ahead, I have no doubt that our pioneers did indeed get it right. With the spirit of prophecy manifest among them, it would have been hard for them to get it wrong. That said, complacency and a subtle pride, ambition, and self-importance could indeed lead us to corrupt the message, and to a certain extent, we doubtless have.

      May God help us to search our own hearts.

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  2. 1. What does the Tower of Babel have to do with modern spiritual Babylon? What are the similarities between the two?

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    • Is there a connection between the Tower of Babel in spiritual Babylon, and church authority? What are the limits of church authority?

      A couple of reasons the original Tower of Babel was built was as a monument to human-created unity … a "look at what we can do when we band together, we can tower above anything God has created and everyone will worship our name". There was also a defiance of the authority of the Word of God. God said there would be no more universal destroying flood, so there was no need for humans to reinterpret that promise. It was clear, straight from God's mouth.

      Is the Adventist church now building a monument to human-created unity … a "look at what we can do when we band together, we can tower above anything God has created (the mysterious wooing of His Spirit) and everyone will worship our name". Why are so many Adventist evangelists and leaders lifting "the Movement" and church politics up above God Himself and what He is doing in hearts? Jesus tells us what His mark is on His disciples: "By THIS will all men know you're my disciples, that you have love for one another" (Jn. 13:35) Does demanding that a new or returning believer pledge to current church doctrines ("truth must be filtered through us")... rather than encouraging members to pledge allegiance only to God Himself and to His never-changing Word straight from the Bible,... lift up a denomination above what the Holy Spirit is doing in reaching down to hearts….. especially if a church demands that a baptismal vow be recited exactly as church leaders dictate or else refuse baptism? (Yes, this is still my experience.)

      We know that God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33), so if there is repeated confusion and splits within a church or denomination could it be that God is using that confusion to disperse sincere Christians away from the prideful Tower of Doctrinal Worship and Tower of Leadership Worship? When a church has been given truths from God's Word (as I believe the Adventist Church has), is there a temptation to believe that the church is rich and in need of nothing, that Adventist interpreters are infallible, no riches of new truth possible, just like Laodicea? Is Adventism at risk of bowing to leadership rather than giving God, only, the preeminence (Col. 1:18)? Could the Latter Rain and the true unity that comes from the Holy Spirit be held back until there are gathered together in mighty number, humble, sincere, soft teachable hearts for God's Spirit to fall upon and grow within? What is the line to draw between submitting to church leadership (1 Cor. 16:15-18; 1 Thess. 5:12-13; Heb. 13:7,17) and refusing to bow to anyone but God, the great Teacher? Jesus gave us direction in Mark 10:42-45.

      Does this Ellen White quote sound like something current leadership would say:

      Although we have in trust the grandest and most important truth ever presented to the world, we are only babes, as far as understanding truth in all its bearings is concerned. Christ is the great Teacher, and that which He revealed to John, we are to tax our minds to understand and clearly to define. We are facing the most important issues that men have ever been called upon to meet. The theme of greatest importance is the Third Angel's Message, embracing the messages of the First and Second angels…[....]We shall have to study earnestly, prayerfully, in order to understand these grand truths." Letter 97, 1902; Counsels to Writers and Editors 29.

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      • Dear Ester – I carefully read your comment and want to support you in the questions you raised and to possibly examine to whom one’s ultimate allegiance is pledged! Keep ringing the bell!

        There is something I call ‘the people factor’. No matter how well laid out plans or instructions might be, it depends on the people who apply them to make things work as intended. It is easy to apply 'authority' when in the role of a caretaker; example – the priests assigned to uphold rules regarding temple worship. To maintain self-imposed, proper boundaries holding this authority is another thing.

        Claiming to hold a special ‘authority’ within/under the concept of our Christian Faith, using man to scrutinize adherence to the Word of God, cannot be done within the Christian community. We are standing before God our Judge as individuals whose relationship with God cannot be judged by man. We witness this usurpation of authority in the worship-system in the Roman Catholic organization and others.

        There is and always will be only one spiritual authority – the Authority of Jesus Christ in whom we have our being. It is He who molds us inwardly and outwardly into His Image in His good time. In the meantime, our responsibility is one of humility; humbly acknowledging our place gifted to us.

        We all came from a far off place, having been strangers to the kingdom of God. But now we are its citizens, following the command which embodies all the commandments and the prophets who foretold about living in this kingdom by faith – to love God with all our heart and being, and to love our fellow man as we have been loved – Mark12:30-31. .

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        • Thank you so much , Brigitte! It’s hard work to keep ringing the bell. And frustrating that lesson after lesson produced by the Adventist conference supports exactly what I’m saying. Mark Finley wrote, “If Christ is secondary and some religious leader occupies first place in our thinking, we are on the road to Babylon .” Amen!

          I long to worship in person on Sabbath with people who share and support my commitment to a total dependence on Christ alone for salvation, ….who defer to His Word alone…. I long to worship where no religious leaders say that the church is like political parties, and I must say, and do exactly as they tell me to in saying baptismal vows (yes, that’s what I was told… and that if I didn’t like it, I could go to a Sunday church or start my own church. ) Each week I’m told that I am loved by various members, but they know I’m not allowed to hold any church office, to teach or share my testimony, to join the body, to participate with any roles (except in a pinch when there’s no piano player). It’s a constant thorn.

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          • We are never going to have a perfect church and we are always going to have to deal with personality clashes, individual whims, and congregational politics. I have seen congregations spit over things as trivial as furnishings. Not to mention the wars over order of services, music and so on. It is no secret that even on doctrinal topics, there is often a spectrum of views. And when it comes to church discipline, I have seen both the best and worst of actions taken, all in the name of the Lord.

            It helps when we understand where other members of the congregation are coming from in their own spiritual journey. I like to say to myself, how can I expect a perfect congregation when it is made up of members like me? I also remind myself of how Jesus handled opposition and misunderstanding. He set the standard for us.

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  3. The future of humanity may reach its climax with the loss of freedom, the exact first Law given to humans by God. That's because evil is against goodness, evil is against the perfect order, evil is against happiness, and evil enslaves people while love frees! Today, it seems that all has become ambiguous, and it doesn't matter if it is right or left, but it is bold and fights for control! Amidst this Great Controversy, the only way to escape this fierce match is to surrender all to the unique name that means love, Grace from God, which is Jesus.

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  4. Jesus said, Be ready, for the hour of My return is at an hour you don't expect. Matthew 24:44. It goes along with our discussions of the importance of a daily relationship with Christ. Now I am not saying if you miss a day here and there, rather have a consistency over all relation. The day here and there that I miss that is a set aside time spent, I am still thinking, talking and/or singing to myself on the way to work about His wondrous love for me and my family, and for others I come in contact with.

    I will sing of my Redeemer
    and his wondrous love to me;
    on the cruel cross he suffered,
    from the curse to set me free.
    Sing, O sing of my Redeemer!
    With his blood he purchased me;
    on the cross he sealed my pardon,
    paid the debt, and made me free. By Philip Bliss.
    1 John 2:2.
    Psalms 28:7.

    Don't forget to tell of this wondrous story.
    1 Peter 4:7-8.

    Now that is what being ready is all about.

    Now I do believe 28 beliefs is good to define our reflection of Christ and of our Church. I cannot see going back and plucking out 14 to let 14 suffice, so we don't get complacent. The point I get is, don't get complacent which ever we have, 14 or 28; rather look at the 28 as equipping ourselves to be accountable of our belief. 1 Peter 3:15.

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  5. I appreciate sister White’s simple description of spiritual Babylon as any entity that teaches we can be saved either “by our merits”(works) or “in our sins”. Great Controversy p. 572

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  6. It seems to me, growing up in the late 50’s and into the 60’s, the focus was always on could we withstand the persecution? Would we be able to quote the correct Bible text to our persecutors? As an adult well into my 60’s, I can now see that what this boils down to is Whom will I worship? To be able to answer that question, I have to know my choices, and there are only two. God or Satan. If I am going to worship God, then He is where my focus should be. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says it perfectly. If I want to be like Jesus, I’d better get to know him.

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  7. Can anyone testify to knowing a ‘religious body’ which is pure? I can not! I think the call to ‘come out of Babylon’ means to reject the ways of the world, because they are based on anti-Christ values. They manifest their source, and the life of the individuals who live accordingly show whom they give their allegiance to. All organizations established by this anti-Christ system of 'idol worship' in all its forms, will be called upon to re-affirm their allegiance, and their followers will be required to chose which side they stand on.

    'Idol worship', rebellion against the Most High, starts with the rejection of the Creator and His established system of Justice, Grace, and Mercy. Many will realize that they have been misinformed, but are too weak to take a stand. They neglected to keep the Holy Spirit's oil in their lamp; now they do not have the strength to separate from the system which lured them in by promoting safety and prosperity. No one and nothing is to be left unchallenged.

    God provides man with the capacity to live a goodly life without man's governing system of laws and order. He has offered man a Superior Order, placing it into our heart and mind, our conscience, equipping us to live according to His standards and laws which contain true life; they never change and are of the highest, spiritual quality.

    Anti-Christ claims for his system to be equal or higher, but it leads to death. I believe the power of deception to distinguish which system is based on God’s Word will be so strong, that – if it were possible – even the elect would be deceived – Matt.24:24. I have gained a new urgency for needing to draw nearer to God and know Him in Christ Jesus; by His Spirit we will discern truth from error, always praying that our faith remains strong.

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