“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” — Matthew 7:17-20
The current Adult Sabbath School Lesson No. 8 focused on discernment as the safeguard of revival. It rightly identified that a revival of true godliness is in strict accord with God’s Word and not a result of a fancy flight of feeling or simply an “experience”. True revival must bring about the fruits of obedience to God’s commands and reformation of our habits and practices. We are also counseled to avoid the ditches of formalism and fanaticism to which all can agree. It was also pointed out on Wednesday’s lesson that miracles and signs are no proof of genuine revival. The class discussion tended to focus on some of the counterfeit revivals that have taken place in the past, such as discussed in the Great Controversy Chapter 27 entitled “Modern Revivals”. Examples from our current day where also easy to identify. However what seemed to be lacking was an effort to address the question if the present revival and reformation called for by the current church leadership, spearheaded by president Ted Wilson is led by the Holy Spirit, or by the efforts of man.
Ever since Elder Wilson first became president of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 2010 he has passionately called for revival and reformation. Now over three years latter we should be able to discern whether this is a revival of true godliness or a counterfeit based on signs and wonders. This is a difficult question to address unless we can judge the fruits of this effort. Just such an opportunity arose when by providence we were able to attend a Special World Church Convocation in Montrose, Colorado whose purpose was announced . . .
On August 17 the Crossroads Victory Church will host a special Sabbath convocation from 9 am to 3:30 pm. Elder Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist world church, will give the Sabbath sermon and Elder Bob Lemon and Elder G.T. Ng, treasurer and secretary of the world church respectively, will present reports from around the world.
A large portion of the day was spent giving reports from the various church leaders from the local on up to the world level on the progress of the work. A notable emphasis was placed on the numbers of baptisms and the amount of tithe money brought in over the past year. The General Conference Secretary, Elder Ng seemed to boast of the nearly 18 million church membership (17.8 million to be exact) which would number and estimated 25-28 million including children. Thus he came to the remarkable conclusion the church is bringing in about 1 million baptisms per year which amounts to around 3,000 baptisms per day almost the same as the first Pentecost! No time frame was given. Without saying so directly I believe Elder Ng wanted the congregation to somehow believe that this present call for revival and reformation in the church over the past three years must be the second Pentecost led by the Holy Spirit, just as was the first Pentecost. But is it in accordance to God’s Word? He did not mention that the 3,000 baptisms that took place during the first Pentecost where in one location, not all over the world. Are these just signs and wonders lacking a firm foundation in prophecy? What about the vision in Daniel two that shows a stone (the 144,000) cut out of the mountain (the SDA church) which then becomes a great mountain that fills the whole earth? Are our church leaders teaching these truths found in God’s Word?
In afternoon Elder Lemon, the General Conference Treasurer gave a presentation about tithes which seemed to go on and on talking about the need for more money to carry forth the work and then telling stories of how people sold their businesses and gave millions of dollars to the Conference. It was an almost unbearable amount of discussion about church business on the Sabbath day in which many people began to leave. During the question and answer period some very engaging questions were asked. One gentleman asked about the forbidden practice of plate passing on the Sabbath day in the sanctuary (Mark 11:15-19) and when did this custom begin in the church since the pioneers first collected tithe and offerings on the first day of the week in harmony with Paul’s counsel in 1 Corinthians 16:2 (see: Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 714, Adventist Home, p. 385). Elder Lemon was unable to answer and referred to the director of the Church Archives & Statistics, Dr. Trimm who was also present but did not offer an answer. Another sister asked a question about the use of the second tithe found in Deuteronomy 26:12 to which no satisfactory answer was given. No one made reference to the Spirit of Prophecy discussion about the use of second tithe in Patriarchs and Prophets chapter 51 as God’s care for the poor, a practice long neglected in the church.
As all of the church leaders including the president and all of the vice presidents were in attendance in this special convocation one must conclude that they were all in agreement with the information presented by the church secretary and treasurer. Did any stand up and object to this unbiblical practices and call for revival and reformation back to the word of God? Not one stood up. It seems by weight of evidence that the fruit of the current call of revival and reformation is led of man and not of the Holy Spirit as it does not call God’s people back to His Word in regard to the practice of plate passing and desecrating the worship service, in proper use of second tithe, and the boosting of miracles of increasing church membership without the true fruits of conversion and repentance. One can safely conclude that the current order of things in not along the lines of the revival and reformation that took place in the days of king Hezekiah. Nor is it harmony with the type of revival and reformation brought about about the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. Perhaps is it high time for God’s people not to despise prophesyings and heed the call for true revival and reformation coming from His two last day prophets and found in the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy and the Shepherd’s Rod rather than appeals of man.