In a simplistic way, the answer to the question posed in the title of this post is both yes and no. Let us explain why.
In one sense the great message brought to the 1888 General Conference Session held at Minneapolis by Elders Jones and Waggoner is essential to our salvation as it proclaims the righteousness of Christ, that salvation comes only through the merits of Jesus Christ alone.
“There is salvation for you, but only through the merits of Jesus Christ. . . . Neglect this great salvation, kept before you for years, despise this glorious offer of justification through the blood of Christ and sanctification through the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit, and there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation.” — Testimonies to Ministers, p. 97
It is important to recognize that Elders Jones and Waggoner saw and preached the ultimate results of the preaching of the gospel in its purity. That God would reproduce His character fully in fallen man by replacing the righteousness of man, which is unrighteousness, with the righteousness of Christ. As a result there will be a people who walk this earth in the last days who will be perfect, living without sin. This is an essential foundational truth that cannot be gainsayed. However, as privileged as Elders Jones and Waggoner were to be able to preach this message, they did not have a full understanding of exactly how God was going to bring about this work of righteousness in His church due to resistance by the church leaders. As a consequence, they were not given the full light to understand the following:
- Who, as a group, are to be the one’s who actually fulfill this promise to fully reflect the character of Christ in the final days and walk this earth without sin?
- How it is that God will actually bring about such reality within the Seventh-day Adventist which currently is mixed with wheat and a flood of unconverted tares?
Despite the efforts of modern revisionist S.D.A. authors and scholars on the subject of the 1888 message starting around around 1930 up to the present day, the Seventh-day Adventist church has never accepted, nor fully understood, this most precious message because, if we had as a people, the gospel would have been closed in a few short years and none of us would be here! This is one blaring inconsistency that the church is not able to reconcile except for efforts to rewrite our history and make it appear that the church today understands righteousness by faith and appropriates the savings merits of Christ to their soul. However, an increasing number of folks as more serious students of the Word and our history as a people realize this is simply cannot be so. A reading of the four volume 1888 Message series by Ellen White, “Christ Our Righteousness” by A. G. Daniels (first published in 1923 by this eyewitness to the events that took place during the Minneapolis meetings), and the more recent volume “1888 Re-Examined” by Elders Short and Wieland will confirm this and should be read by all serious minded S.D.A.’s. Although these books garner a fair understanding of the essence of the 1888 message and why it is so important for God’s people today, they do not provide for us an answer as to how God is actually going to make this all happen in a church today which has turned its back on Christ and steadily retreating towards Egypt (5T 217). Turning back to the 1888 message alone will not solve this dilemma either.
To address this apparent paradox with complete satisfaction one must search outside of these sources alone and determine that which is firmly rooted in scripture and confirmed by historical evidence. What is this message that holds such vital truths for our soul salvation, a message that was predicted by A. T. Jones himself will return to the church and make plainly known how God is going to perfect the work of righteousness in His beloved church? In his own words, Elder Jones stated in 1893:
“There will be things to come that will be more surprising that that was to those at Minneapolis,–more surprising than anything we have yet seen. And, brethren, we will be required to receive and preach that truth. But unless you and I have every fiber of that spirit rooted out of our hearts, we will treat that message and the messenger by whom it is sent, as God had declared we have treated this other (1888) message.” — General Conference Bulliten 1893, p. 185 (by A. T. Jones.)
So where are these things found in the Bible you may wonder? The fourth chapter of Ezekiel holds one major clue and a valuable history lesson embedded in the 430 year day for a year time prophecy that predicted right on time that the message would return in 1930 after a 40 year wilderness of spiritual wandering of which nearly all S.D.A.’s have no understanding whatsoever (for a previous post on this prophecy, please click here). It is within this prophecy that the S.D.A. church is seen to be the last in a series of steps commencing with Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation and ending in a purified church triumphant comprised of the numbered 144,000 living saints from the modern Israel (the S.D.A. church) and the vast unnumbered Great Multitude coming from the fallen churches of the world. Furthermore, there is an amazing prophetic vision revealed in a study of the temples, type and antitype that also provide us a more clear understanding of the 1888 message in our history and the means by which God intends to bring this most precious message to fruition (for a prior post on this important study, please click here).
Below we would like to answer the two questions asked at the beginning of this post, but we encourage each and every reader of this post fully delve into the explanation and history behind these claims and investigate the evidences for themselves by asking the Holy Spirit to guide, lead, and direct them unto all Truth for the soul saved may be your own.
Question No. 1: Who, as a group, are to be the one’s who actually fulfill this promise to fully reflect the character of Christ in the final days and walk this earth without sin.
Answer: 144,000 living saints from the SDA church are going to be the ones who are going to be saved by the merits of Christ.
Question No. 2: How it is that God will actually bring about such reality within the Seventh-day Adventist which currently is mixed with wheat and a flood of unconverted tares.
Answer: In order to bring about this work of purification God will send holy angels from heaven to effect the separation of wheat and tares in the midst as plainly decreed in the ninth chapter of Ezekiel.
Conclusion: The call by certain concerned S.D.A’s that the church must return back to the 1888 message in order for us to be saved out of our Laodicean slumber can be seen to be limited or incomplete because it does not include the advanced understanding of the judgment of the living which details the particular means by which God is to purify His beloved church and set forth a 144,000 guileless servants of God who will proclaim the Loud Cry with power and force and call a Great Multitude out of the fallen churches constituting Babylon. In summary we can look at it in the following simple time chart.
- 1830: The first angel’s message of Revelation 14 announcing the soon coming judgment is commenced by Elder William Miller.
- 1844: The message of the second angel of Revelation 14 announcing the fall of Babylon is first preached by Charles Fitch.
- 1847: The message of the third angel identifying the mark of the beast is first published by Elder Joseph Bates and shared by him and Elder James White to the little flock scattered after the great disappointment of October 22, 1844.
- 1888: The message of Christ and His righteousness is preached by Elders Jones and Waggoner in Minneapolis, but is rejected by the church leaders.
- 1890: Despite the endorsement by Ellen White and the continued labors of Jones, Waggoner, and Sister White, a most of the S.D.A. laity fail to appropriate the merits of Christ in order to be fit to preach the Lord Cry and close the gospel in a few short years. As a result of unbelief the church enters a 40 year wilderness of spiritual wandering.
- 1930: The sealing message of the forth angel of Rev. 18 returns to the S.D.A. church give power and force to the three angels messages when they will be repeated during the Lord Cry by the 144,000 (EW 277). Sadly, this message was and still is despised by the church leaders, just as was the 1888 message.
- Yet to come: The judgment of the living will begin with the S.D.A church as manifest in Ezekiel chapter nine and will present 144,000 guileless servants of God who will proclaim the Loud Cry and call God’s people from the fallen churches constituting Babylon into His purified kingdom church that will be called by a new name (Isa. 62:2).
By advocating a return back to the 1888 message without understanding how God has lead His people forward through an unrolling of the prophetic scroll revealing more light for His people, most especially the soon coming judgment of the living, is perilous indeed. This added light known as the Shepherd’s Rod message has been in the church since 1930 and is the eyesalve needed to save the church from its Laodicean slumber. Come, taste, and see for yourself that the Lord is so good to His people, unworthy though we are.