Chapter 3 – “So Many Warnings”
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Chapter 3

“…SO MANY WARNINGS”

 I need to quickly go through a few basic truths:

#1—Mankind was created perfect.
#2—Through sin he became anything but perfect.
#3—“It was [Christ’s] mission to bring to men complete restoration.”  {Ministry of Healing 17}

Unlike Calvinists, Seventh-Day Adventists believe that in this mission to bring to men complete restoration there is a:

“…divine principle of co-operation, without which no true success can be attained.”  {Prophets and Kings 487}

“In everything that tends to the sustenance of man is seen the concurrence of divine and human effort…Thus it is in spiritual things, in the formation of the character, and in every line of Christian work. We have a part to act, but we must have the power of divinity to unite with us, or our efforts will be in vain.”  {Christ’s Object Lessons 82}

“No one, not even God, can carry us to heaven unless we make the necessary effort on our part.”  {5 Testimonies 345}

God does His part and we must do our part. In this chapter I want to look at one particular aspect of this.

One major part in God’s work to save mankind, second only to the gift of Jesus Christ Himself, is His giving to us the Bible. It is of supreme importance in God’s plan to save us; and as such we should value it accordingly. Unquestionably, one of its most important and fundamental passages is 2 Timothy 3:16, 17:

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  {2 Timothy 3:16, 17}

It is worthy of our utmost consideration that two of the first three things stated as the means through which the man of God may be made perfect are reproof and correction. The New Living Bible expresses it in these words:

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.”  {2 Timothy 3:16, 17 NLT}

This is an element of the plan of salvation, the importance of which, and the necessity of which, we cannot afford to underestimate or reject. Unfortunately, this is precisely what the vast majority of God’s professed people have always been prone to do.

There have ever been two groups among God’s professed people. (I say that in a very general sense.) The first, and by far the larger group, are those described in the book of Isaiah:

“They say to the prophets, “Don’t give us any more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things. Prophesy things we want to hear even if they aren’t true.”  {Isaiah 30:10 NIrV}

 Group number two, that very small remnant, are those who say with Jeremiah:

 “O Lord, correct me.”  {Jeremiah 10:24}

 Before going on, I think it is important that I try to show that many people fall somewhere between group one and group two. They hear and accept some of God’s corrections, but reject others; which eventually, and inevitably, will result in their being “left behind”:

 “AN IMPRESSIVE DREAM”

 “While at Battle Creek in August, 1868, I dreamed of being with a large body of people…As we journeyed, the road seemed to ascend…As we journeyed on, the road grew narrower and steeper…As we progressed, the path still continued to grow narrow…As the path grew more narrow…The path finally became so narrow…

“We then thought of those who had not accustomed themselves to privations and hardships. Where were such now? They were not in the company. At every change some were left behind, and those only remained who had accustomed themselves to endure hardships. The privations of the way only made these more eager to press on to the end.”  {2 Testimonies 594, 595}

 “At every change some were left behind,” which tells us many traveled for some distance and some length of time on the ever narrowing road, making the necessary changes and giving up whatever it was that God revealed needed to be given up; but at some point, for some reason, they said with those disciples of Christ in John chapter six, “now you’re asking too much,” and like them, they “walked with Him no more.” (verses 60, 66) A horribly sad and solemn warning indeed!

Two more particulars of this dream deserve to be emphasized before going on. The first is the fact that from beginning to end the path grew narrower and narrower. Is the path we are traveling on growing narrower and narrower? If not, then we need to do some real heart searching. We should strive to keep ever in our minds these words of Him who has traveled the path before us:

 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and only a few ever find it.”  {Matthew 7:13, 14 KJV, NLT}

 “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”  {Luke 13:24}

 The second point that needs to be emphasized is brought out in these two sentences:

 #1—“Those who had not accustomed themselves to privations and hardships…were left behind.”
#2—“Those only remained who had accustomed themselves to endure hardships.”  

 Now, back to where I was–the place of reproof and correction in God’s plan for our salvation; which brings me to the title of this chapter: “…so many warnings.” These, as you probably already realize, are the last three words of a quote from the Spirit of Prophecy. Do you know what the rest of the quote says? Before telling you, let me say a few words. Philippians 2:5 tells us: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” I hope we would all agree that if anyone had the mind of Christ, Ellen White did. We need to seek with all our heart for that kind of experience; and when we have it, we will then say with her:

 “I have been looking over the Testimonies given for Sabbathkeepers and I am astonished at the mercy of God and His care for His people in giving them so many warnings.”  {5 Testimonies 662}

 When our hearts are truly right with God, and we see things as they really are, we will know and understand that God’s warnings, as well as His reproofs and corrections, are just as much a part of His love, and just as much a part of His plan for our salvation as anything else He has said or done; and for us the words will become more and more true, “…the wise, when rebuked will love you all the more.” {Prov. 9:8 NLT} This does not come naturally, nor does it come easily. But come it must if we are to truly walk that ever narrowing path.

 In chapter two I cited this quote:

 “As the end draws near and the work of giving the last warning to the world extends, it becomes more important for those who accept present truth to have a clear understanding of the nature and influence of the Testimonies, which God in His providence has linked with the work of the third angel’s message from its very rise.”  {5 Testimonies 654}

 I fear that most of us don’t “have a clear (enough) understanding” of just how large (and important) a part of the Testimonies consists of warnings, reproofs, and corrections. Along with that, I fear that most of us don’t “have a clear (enough) understanding” of just how true it is, that “the destiny of [every one of us] hangs” {EW 270} on how we receive these warnings, reproofs, and corrections.

I believe the quotes that I am about to share with you are not only just as blessed, and just as wonderful, as her most inspiring descriptions of the love of God, but in this one sense are even more needful: they bring to light her work as “a reprover of His people,” which is such a tremendous aid in our effort to accomplish this—“unless you clear away the rubbish that keeps the Lord Jesus out, He cannot possibly enter.”  {This Day With God 74}

 “There are some in these last days who will cry: ‘Speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.’ But this is not my work. God has set me as a reprover of His people…I have not chosen this unpleasant labor for myself. It is not a work which will bring to me the favor or praise of men. It is a work which but few will appreciate.”  {5 Testimonies 679}

 “My work has been to speak plainly of the faults and errors of God’s people…I have been shown that it is not mine to choose my work, but humbly to obey the will of God. The errors and wrongdoings in the lives of professed Christians are recorded for the instruction of those who are liable to fall into the same temptations. The experience of one serves as a beacon light to warn others off the rocks of danger.

“Thus are revealed the snares and devices of Satan, the importance of perfecting Christian character, and the means by which this result may be obtained. Thus God indicates what is necessary to secure His blessing. There is a disposition on the part of many to let rebellious feelings arise if their peculiar sins are reproved. The spirit of this generation is: “Speak unto us smooth things.” But the spirit of prophecy speaks only the truth.”  {4 Testimonies 13}

 “I was shown that God has laid upon my husband and me a special work, to bear a plain testimony to His people, and to cry aloud and spare not, to show the people their transgressions and the house of Israel their sins…[Many] think that the labors of Brother and Sister White would be acceptable if they were not continually condemning wrong and reproving sin. I was shown that God has laid this work upon us.”  {3 Testimonies 258-261}

 “I have tried in the fear of God to set before His people their danger and their sins, and have endeavored, to the best of my feeble powers, to arouse them. I have stated startling things, which, if they had believed, would have caused them distress and terror, and led them to zeal in repenting of their sins and iniquities. I have stated before them that, from what was shown me, but a small number of those now professing to believe the truth would eventually be saved—not because they could not be saved, but because they would not be saved in God’s own appointed way. The way marked out by our divine Lord is too narrow and the gate too strait to admit them while grasping the world or while cherishing selfishness or sin of any kind. There is no room for these things; and yet there are but few who will consent to part with them, that they may pass the narrow way and enter the strait gate.”  {2 Testimonies 445, 446}

 “Let none entertain the thought that I regret or take back any plain testimony I have borne to individuals or to the people. If I have erred anywhere, it is in not rebuking sin more decidedly and firmly.”  {5 Testimonies 677}

 I need to go just a little bit farther before bringing this chapter to a close.

In the midst of those quotes, as well as throughout all the Testimonies, are statements like these:

“…from what was shown me, but a small number of those now professing to believe the truth would eventually be saved…there are but few who will consent to…”  {2 Testimonies 446}

 “It is not a work which will bring to me the favor or praise of men. It is a work which but few will appreciate.”  {5 Testimonies 679}

 Because it was a work which but few appreciated, the life of Ellen White was at times made very hard and very sad:

 “Painful though it has been to me, I have faithfully set before the offenders their faults and the means of remedying them.”  {5 Testimonies 661}

 “I seldom weep, but now I find my eyes blinded with tears; they are falling upon my paper as I write. It may be that erelong all prophesyings among us will be at an end, and the voice which has stirred the people may no longer disturb their carnal slumbers.”  {5 Testimonies 77}

 Almost a hundred years ago that voice which had stirred God’s people for so many years was laid to rest. Today the name of Ellen White is held sacred among Seventh-day Adventists; and rightly so. But Jesus spoke a very solemn and unwelcome truth to those who professed to be God’s people in His day; and it is a truth that we cannot pretend does not have an application today:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous. And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.”   {Matthew 23:29, 30}

 Every one of us need to closely “examine ourselves to see if we (truly) be in the faith.” {2 Cor.13:5} and “walk in the light and encourage others to follow our example.” {Great Controvery 598}

I would like to finish this chapter with two wonderfully encouraging quotes; one from the Spirit of Prophesy, the other from the Bible:

 “Jesus with solemn tenderness explained the purpose of the husbandman. The pruning will cause pain, but it is the Father who applies the knife.”  {Desire of Ages 677}

 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.”  {Revelation 3:19}