The Return of the True Remnant
Taken from the book "Enemy at the Gate," Chapter 9
By Joe Crews
SOME who read this book may feel offended, because I have identified some of the physical and spiritual enemies which assail the Seventh-day Adventist Church today. Others will feel that I should have said much more and said it more strongly. It is by no means a comprehensive study of all the dangers we face. Many other issues could have been considered, but my chief concern has been to expose the deadly compromises our people are making by the way they respond to the physical senses. As a movement and as individuals, we have gradually lost the adversarial relationship with the world which once distinguished us as "an holy nation, a peculiar people."
Make no mistake about it, the true remnant church will turn back to the historic, biblical doctrines and standards which have always been our hallmark. It will be a bitter and traumatic experience on the part of the church. A great number will be too proud to confess their complicity in condoning the apostasy, and will be shaken out. Others will be so comfortable in their new proximity to the world that they will have no relish to return. A majority will leave the church and join the ranks of the enemy. It will seem as though the church might fall, but it does not. Instead, the decimated "little company" will draw so close to Christ, in experience and doctrine, that the latter rain falls upon them. Under the anointing of God, this purified remnant will go forth to give the "loud cry." God will raise up many of the common people and make them powerful spokesmen for the truth. They will be qualified by no educational institutions of men, but by the unction of the Spirit. (The Great Controversy, p. 606.)
Oh, how much better it will be in that day to have held the true faith without wavering. Those who are now approving the worldly bent will find it hard to retrace the painful steps of compromise which now seem so easy to take. Most will not be able to humble themselves and repent of their part in the defection. It will be too embarrassing to embrace that which they had for so long publicly scorned as fanatical and legalistic. And even when they see thousands responding to the pure message, like the Jews of old, they will only be more furious at those whom they have labeled as divisive troublemakers.
Somehow, if this book can open our eyes just a little bit to see the clearly predicted pattern described by the inspired writings, it might cause some to help hold the fast-disappearing line of principle now.
Those who accept the small changes that are being made because they want to be in harmony with the majority, ignoring recognized Bible principles, are doing something terribly damaging to their consciences.
"It is transgression in the little things that first leads the soul away from God." Review and Herald, Vol. 4, p. 233.
"In the day of judgment, many will be shut out of the City of God by sins which they supposed to be unworthy of notice." Signs of the Times Articles, Vol. 3, p. 348.
"The sins which man is disposed to look on as small may be the very ones which God accounts as great crimes." Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 337.
The sobering truth is that this church is being sifted righ t now over issues that may seem small and inco nsequential in preparation for the Sabbath test which will involve one of the Ten Commandments. Daniel and his friends faced the very same thing in Babylon. Had they failed to stand firmly against the relatively minor matter of eating the king's food, they would not have been prepared for the major confrontation over bowing down to the image. The moral law test came after they been fortified by victory in areas of lesser importance. Some might even call them "gray areas." Certainly it would have been easy for Daniel to convince himself that conformity to cultural requirements at the king's table was more important than being so rigidly legalistic about eating one meal. But he did not make the mistake of adjusting his conscience to accommodate a little deviation from recognized principle.
Many in the remnant church today are making that mistake. Like Daniel, they are being urged to change their practices in certain areas to save themselves unnecessary conflict with worldly associates or social demands. But unlike Daniel, thousands of Seventh-day Adventists are yielding life-long convictions, and equivocating on practices that were never in question before. Couples are putting rings on their fingers because of "what people might think." Families are serving coffee to their guests, and providing TV sets for Sabbath viewing by week-end visitors. Movie attendance is becoming commonplace, and alcohol is gradually gaining popularity in certain Adventist communities. Dozens of tragic illustrations could be given of shifting standards among God's professed people. I have wept to see friends suddenly reverse their previous strong stance against worldly compromise in order to harmonize with a more popular majority view.
What does it all mean? Where is it leading? The sifting will soon turn into the shaking. The little issues will turn into the great Sabbath test, and the majority will give up the faith altogether. Is it possible to know now who will be among that large group of apostates? Yes, you can know this very moment where you will stand when the mark is enforced. It has been revealed to us in these words: "Those who have yielded step by step to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will then yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death." Prophets and Kings, p. 188.
Are you willing to apply this inspired revelation to your own life and experience? What about your current lifestyle? Have convictions changed or practices been altered? If so, ask yourself why those alterations were made, and in which direction they are leading you. Do they fall into the pattern of "yielding step by step to worldly demands"? Were they made to conform more carefully with God's Word? Or did you adjust certain aspects of your behavior in order to be less "peculiar" to those around you?
By such seemingly innocuous tests, the character of every Seventh-day Adventist is gradually settling into an irreversible mold. The opportunity to turn back and make long-term changes is slowly closing up to those who have had great light. Soon it will be too late to redeem the wasted years.
Now, in the times of refreshing, let us grasp the promises of God and claim the mind of Christ. The enemy is at the gate, but we can keep him there on the outside as we allow the abiding Holy Spirit to guard well the avenues of the soul.
We have had much to say about the necessity of holding the world at bay through the power of a sanctified mind. Now let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter as far as victory over the world is concerned. How can it be conquered in all of its highly-charged, emotional appeal? Let this statement of Paul be the true focus of all we have tried to present in this book. If we miss this, we miss it all. "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Galatians 6:14.
What is the substance of this verse? How only can the love for worldly things be put to death in my nature? Paul says it is through the cross. There can be no focus upon human strength or effort. Victory over the sins of the flesh will come only as a result of what Jesus accomplished in our behalf on the cross. Evidently, there is a special provision in the atonement which enables us to overcome the world and its sinful pleasures.
Does the cross help us die to the world by providing justification only? All of us certainly need forgiveness for yielding to the evil enticements of this world system in the past. Or is there much more involved in the cross than cleansing from guilt and condemnation? Specifically, how does it take away our attachments to the world, so that we become dead to its appeal? Paul tells us in the clearest possible language that our death to the world is made possible through the cross. It is not because of any strength we have in fighting the enemy. Even our faith in the cross is not the source of victory. It is the vehicle to connect us with the source, but His death as the Saviour of the world is the real secret. That is what qualified Him to be our Substitute for sin and our Saviour from sin. This is where the mind of Christ is both obtained and maintained. Let us take a look at the amazing and significant meaning of those events of the cross.
The answers we are looking for lie hidden in the ethics of the atonement. Some people challenge the viability of the entire plan of salvation because it violates one of the basic laws of human government.
How could it ever be right for an innocent person to bear the punishment of a guilty person who is consequently declared to be righteous and uncondemned? No legal system in the world would uphold such a principle. What defense can be offered for a plan which allows the one who is offended to bear the penalty of the one who offends?
There is an answer to these questions which should satisfy the most skeptical mind. Everything revolves around the principle of substitution. A moment of thought will reveal that the germ of forgiveness is rooted in an act of substitution. Justice demands an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Whatever the offender does must be visited back upon him in equal measure. If a man gives a blow, he must receive a blow, etc.
But suppose the one who is wronged decides to forgive the offender. In that case the penalty which could legally be exacted is canceled, and the guilty one is not required to suffer the equivalent of the wrong done. In fact, the one who suffered the blow, agrees to accept the pain and the loss instead of the guilty one in order that the offender can go free of the punishment. In this case, the forgiven actually substitutes himself to bear the consequences which could legally be required of the offender.
If I forgive a debt, I agree to suffer the loss in order to relieve the debtor from paying the amount. If I forgive a blow, I consent to accept the pain in order to relieve the guilty from suffering an equal blow.
Suppose for a moment that a murdered man, from his grave, could forgive the man who killed him. He would, in effect, be consenting to his own death in order for the murderer to be spared from death. This brings us very close to the heart of the atonement.
In order to forgive us, Jesus had to suffer the legal consequences of our sins so that we would not have to bear them. "The wages of sin is death." Romans 3:23. Only by substituting Himself for us in accepting that death, could He be qualified to forgive us. The Bible says, "Without shedding of blood is no remission." Hebrews 9:22. Remission means forgiveness. Therefore, His death on the cross provided ethical authority for Him to grant us forgiveness.
Although some are appealed to by the ethics of this transaction, most of us will see it as a tremendous indescribable demonstration of selfless love. None who have experienced the joy of His forgiveness will question the method by which it was made possible.
Now consider another vindication of His propitiatory atonement for us. He had an absolute right to be our substitute because He shared our fallen human nature. When He lived a perfect life of obedience and carried our sinful nature to the cross, we were corporately with Him in that experience. This is why Paul writes: "I am crucified with Christ." Galatians 2:20. "Like as Christ was raised up from the dead, by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Romans 6:4.
Our identification with Him in His sinless living and atoning death is made possible only because of His incarnate involvement with our nature. Had He carried any other flesh than fallen sinful flesh to that cross, He could not have "condemned sin in the flesh." Romans 8:4. Only someone in my family with my nature, could represent me, or stand in as my substitute. It would have been only a pretend situation for Him to impute His victory to me, if His victory was obtained in some alien nature impossible for me ever to experience or reproduce. Had He carried any other flesh than sinful flesh to the cross IT WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN MINE, because mine is sinful. Therefore I could not have been "crucified with Him."
The only way any of us could die with Him and be resurrected with Him is through His substitutionary role in our behalf. And that was made possible solely by sharing that aspect of our nature that produced the sins requiring atonement on the cross-our fallen, sinful nature.
Thus we see that the true secret of living with Christ is to die with Christ. "For he that is dead is freed from sin." Romans 6:7. Faith in the cross, with its forgiving, cleansing merits, produces the new spiritual life which triumphs over the flesh and sin.
Any effort on our part to fulfil the requirements of the law are doomed to failure unless they are centered in the cross. It was that glorious objective act of sacrifice and love which brings justification, the new birth, and sanctification to every one who believes. Jesus, the object of our faith, who "is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." I Corinthians 1:30, 31.
So, even though we rejoice in the victory, we glory only in the cross by which "the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." To allow any element in our human response, including the thrill of victory, to diminish our recognition of His all-sufficient, atoning work on the cross, would be a tragic mistake. In every prayer and in every testimony, we need to acknowledge gratefully that the world is crucified to us only because of what He did in our behalf. We have learned that there can be no forgiveness of our sins without His substitutionary death for us on the cross. This provides justification for all. Further, we have discovered that sanctification is possible only because He overcame sin in our flesh, with our fallen nature, so that He could reproduce that life of victory in our own human experience. Thus, everything we could possibly boast about is His work and not ours. "God forbid that we should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." Will you not gladly receive Him as your Substitute, your Forgiveness, and your Victory?
"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." I Corinthians 15:57.
"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." II Corinthians 9:15.
THANKS BE TO GOD!
THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD
The Church and the World walked far apart
On the changing shore of Time;
The world was singing a giddy song,
And the Church a hymn sublime.
"Come, give me your hand," cried the merry World,
"And walk with me this way;"
But the good Church hid her snowy hands,
And solemnly answered, "Nay;
I will not give you my hand at all,
And I will not walk with you;
Your way is the way to endless death;
Your words are all untrue."
"Nay, walk with me but a little space,"
Said the World with a kindly air;
"The road I walk is a pleasant road,
And the sun shines always there.
Your path is thorny, and rough, and rude,
And mine is broad and plain;
My road is paved with flowers and dews
And yours with tears and pain.
The sky above me is always blue;
No want, no toil, I know:
The sky above you is always dark,
Your lot is a lot of woe.
My path, you see, is a broad, fair one
And my gate is high and wide;
There is room enough for you and for me
To travel side by side."
Half shyly the Church approached the World,
And gave him her hand of snow;
The old World quick grasped it and walked along,
Saying in accents low;
"Your dress is too simple to please my taste;
I will give you pearls to wear,
Rich velvets and silks for your graceful form,
And diamonds to deck your hair."
The Church looked down at her plain white robes
And then at the dazzling World,
And blushed as she saw his handsome lip
With a smile contemptuous curled..
"I will change my dress for a costlier one,"
Said the Church with a smile of grace:
Then the pure white garments drifted away,
And the World gave in their place
Beautiful silks and shining satins,
And roses and gems and pearls,
And over her forehead her bright hair fell,
Crisped in a thousand curls.
"Your house is too plain," said the proud old World;
"I'll build you one like mine,-
Carpets of Brussels, and curtains of lace
And furniture ever so fine."
So he built her a costly and beautiful house,
Splendid it was to behold;
Her sons and her beautiful daughters dwelt there,
Gleaming in purple and gold;
And fairs and shows in the halls were held,
And the World and his children were there;
And laughter and music and feasts were heard
In the place that was meant for prayer.
She had cushioned pews for the rich and great
To sit in their pomp and pride;
While the poor folk, clad in their shabby suits, Sat meekly down outside.
The Angel of Mercy flew over the Church,
And whispered, "I know thy sin:"
Then the Church looked back with a sigh and longed
To gather her children in;
But some were off at the midnight ball,
And some were off at the play,
And some were drinking in gay saloons,
So she quietly went her way.
Then the sly World gallantly said to her:
"Your children mean no harm,
Merely indulging in innocent sports;"
So she leaned on his proffered arm
And smiled and chatted and gathered flowers
As she walked along with the World;
While millions and millions of sorrowing souls
To eternal death were hurled.
"Your preachers are all too old and plain,"
Said the World to the Church with a sneer
"They frighten my children with dreadful tales,
Which I like not for them to hear.
They talk of brimstone and fire and pain
And the night of an endless death;
They talk of a place which may only be
Mentioned with bated breath.
I will send you some of the better stamp,-
Brilliant and gay and fast,-
Who will tell them that people may live as they choose
And go to heaven at last.
The Father is merciful, great and good,
Tender and true and kind;
Do you think he would take one child to heaven,
And leave the other behind?"
So he filled her house with gay divines,-
Gifted and great and learned,-
And the plain old men that preached the cross
Were out of her pulpits turned.
"You give too much to the poor," said the world,
"Far more than you ought to do;
If the poor need shelter and food and clothes,
Why need it trouble you?
Go, take your money and buy rich robes,
And horses and carriages fine,
And pearls and jewels and dainty foods,
And the rarest and costliest wine!
My children, they dote on all such things;
And if you their love would win,
You must do as they do and walk in the ways
That they are walking in."
Then the Church held tightly the strings of her purse
And gracefully lowered her head,
And whispered, "I've given too much away;
I'll do, sir, as you have said."
So the poor were turned from her door in scorn,
And she drew her robes aside
As the widows went weeping on their way;
With all their needs denied,
And the sons of the world and the sons of the church
Walked closely hand and heart,
And only the Master who knoweth all
Could tell the two apart.
Then the Church sat down at her ease, and said,
"I am rich, and with goods increased;
I have need of nothing, and naught to do
But to laugh and dance and feast."
And the sly World heard her and laughed up his sleeve,
And mockingly said aside;
"The Church is fallen, the beautiful Church
And her shame is her boast and pride."
The angel drew near to the mercy-seat,
And whispered in sighs her name,
And the saints their anthems of rapture hushed,
And covered their heads with shame.
Then a voice came down through the hush of heaven
From Him who sat on the throne:
"I know thy works, and how thou has said,
'I am rich,' and hast not known
That thou art naked, and poor, and blind,
And wretched before my face.
Unless thou repent I will cast thee out
And blot thy name from its place.
I counsel thee to buy of Me
The gold that will make you rich;
And anoint your eyes with the heavenly salve
To discern your Maker's wish."
Then the awakened Church with deep regret
From her worldly course returned;
She opened her heart to the knock of Christ
As His love in her bosom burned.
And gave her robes and forgave her sins,
And together they sat and supped;
His proffered throne He shared with her
For whom He had suffered much.
O Church of Christ, hear the Spirit's voice
As He calls through the world today.
Would that every church throughout the realm
Would turn from the world away.
The world will be lost in eternal night,
But the penitent saved for aye.
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