On the prophetic horizon for many Seventh-day Adventists (S.D.A.’s) the next big event will be the enforcement of the national Sunday law. Coupled with this event is the colossal misconception that these laws will cause unconsecrated members of the church to depart and this will result in the separation between faithful and the unfaithful in the ranks. This misguided belief is repeated over and over as if it is a firm pillar of our faith as typified in the recent article by pastor Steven Wolberg where he summarizes recent news events to confirm this line of thinking. Below is a partial quote within this article that makes use of a popular passage from the Great Controversy to affirm their position.
“As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel’s message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position, and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side (The Great Controversy, 608, emphasis added).
Dear reader, we Seventh-day Adventists will soon have much more to think about than debating women’s ordination and Emerging Church inroads. “The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us” (5T, 81). If we have been drifting from Jesus, compromising with the world, or revealing the devil’s pride instead of God’s character of love, we’ll be blown away. “In the mighty sifting soon to take place we shall be better able to measure the strength of Israel. The signs reveal that the time is near when the Lord will manifest that His fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor” (5T, 79). Will we stand “the test,” or be purged out? May God help us!”
Who Purifies the Church, God or Satan?
By making the argument that the coming storm created by the Sunday Law and its enforcement will somehow separate the faithful from the unfaithful in the SDA church creates a major contradiction with the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Let us bring this to view in the following way. Ask yourself the question who is the author of the Sunday law? Of course we know this is the devil, Satan himself. Then ask yourself who is it that purifies God’s church, God or Satan? The answer to this question is also obvious as God and Satan never work together in partnership (see: Matt. 6:24; 1 Cor. 6:14-17; 1 Cor.10:20, 21). It should now be apparent that the application of the statement in GC 608 to the purification or separation within the S.D.A. church is incorrect. We need to search more throughly to determine that it is God who purifies His church and the means by which He goes about doing this act of judgment along with the proper time frame by asking . . .
How is God’s Church to be Purified Anyway?
What is remarkable is that those S.D.A.’s who profess to believe in the writings of Ellen White somehow tend to overlook the following clear cut statements from the pen of inspiration that make certain that the purification of the church will be carried out by God through the agency of His holy angels and is not associated in any manner with the pope or the Sunday law.
“Finite man is likely to misjudge character, but God does not leave the work of judgment and pronouncing upon character to those who are not fitted for it. We are not to say what constitutes the wheat, and what the tares. The time of the harvest will fully determine the character of the two classes specified under the figure of the tares and the wheat. The work of separation is given to the angels of God, and not committed into the hands of any man. — Testimonies to Ministers, p. 47.2
“I then saw the third angel. Said my accompanying angel, “Fearful is his work. Awful is his mission. He is the angel that is to select the wheat from the tares, and seal, or bind, the wheat for the heavenly garner. These things should engross the whole mind, the whole attention.” — Early Writings, p. 118.1
“God has promised that where the shepherds are not true He will take charge of the flock Himself. God has never made the flock wholly dependent upon human instrumentalities. But the days of purification of the church are hastening on apace. God will have a people pure and true. In the mighty sifting soon to take place we shall be better able to measure the strength of Israel. The signs reveal that the time is near when the Lord will manifest that His fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor.” — Testimonies Vol. 5, p. 79.4
“God’s love for His church is infinite. His care over His heritage is unceasing. He suffers no affliction to come upon the church but such as is essential for her purification, her present and eternal good. He will purify His church even as He purified the temple at the beginning and close of His ministry on earth.” — Testimonies Vol. 9, p. 228
“Many, I saw, were flattering themselves that they were good Christians, who have not a single ray of light from Jesus. They know not what it is to be renewed by the grace of God. They have no living experience for themselves in the things of God. And I saw that the Lord was whetting His sword in heaven to cut them down. Oh, that every lukewarm professor could realize the clean work that God is about to make among His professed people!” — Testimonies Vol. 1, p. 190
“The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God. The Lord commissions His messengers, the men with slaughtering weapons in their hands: “Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.”
Here we see that the church–the Lord’s sanctuary–was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust. They had taken the position that we need not look for miracles and the marked manifestation of God’s power as in former days. Times have changed. These words strengthen their unbelief, and they say: The Lord will not do good, neither will He do evil. He is too merciful to visit His people in judgment. Thus “Peace and safety” is the cry from men who will never again lift up their voice like a trumpet to show God’s people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. These dumb dogs that would not bark are the ones who feel the just vengeance of an offended God. Men, maidens, and little children all perish together.” — Testimonies Vol. 5, p. 211
How Do We Understand GC 608?
Now having established that God alone will purify His church as described in detail in the ninth chapter of Ezekiel, how do we understand the experience described in GC p. 608? In order to place this passage in its proper context it is important to recognize that the entire chapter from which this passage is taken, entitled “The Final Warning” is applicable to the period of the Loud Cry and the experience of the Great Multitude of Rev. 7:9 who will be called out from Babylon into God’s purified kingdom church by the 144,000. These particulars are not well understood in basic S.D.A. doctrine because they are revealed in the added light coming from the Shepherd’s Rod message which entails the judgment for the living and the sealing of, not only a 144,000 living saints from the S.D.A. church, but, in addition, a Great Multitude from the fallen churches of the world. This two-fold harvest is presented in more detail from the studies on Revelation 7 and Daniel 2 which are found at the following links. Please take your time to prayerfully investigate for yourself. “Quench not the Spirit,. Despise not prophesyings, prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thess. 5:19-21).
Study on the Sealing of Two Groups of Saints in Revelation 7
Study on the Stone That Comes from a Mountain in Daniel 2
“Many of the rulers are those whom Satan controls; but… God has His agents, even among the rulers. And some of them will yet be converted to the truth….A few of God’s agents will have power to bear down a great mass of evil. Thus the work will go on until the third message has done its work, and at the loud cry of the third angel, these agents will have an opportunity to receive the truth, and some of them will be converted, and endure with the saints through the time of trouble.” — Testimonies Vol. 1, p. 203