An Even Greater Cloud of Witnesses
The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is referred to as the faith chapter in the Bible. It begins in Hebrews 11:1 by saying, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The chapter tells of how notable persons lived their faith throughout history before the time of Christ. It traces the preservation of the knowledge of salvation in the lives of Abel, then Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sara, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthae, David, Samuel and then speaks of many other unnamed faithful servants of God. These faithful, Godly men and women, at times, were wandering vagabonds, slaves, and prisoners. They were tempted, suffered persecution, and put to death for doing nothing but good. They all lived in faith looking forward to the time when the Saviour would redeem sinners, yet they did not live to see the fulfillment of the promise. They saw it only through the eye of faith. Chapter 11 concludes with these words:
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
In verse 40, Paul was speaking about those alive in his day. The Second Coming would be far into the future, but for each succeeding generation, the promise of salvation has been the same. As we read further, Hebrews 12 issues a stirring challenge for us today.
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Paul, nearly 2,000 years ago, spoke of “so great a cloud of witnesses.” Today, however, we have an even greater “cloud of witnesses.” In addition to the witnesses found in the Old Testament which were known by Paul, we now have more witnesses from the New Testament plus the witnesses throughout Christian history until today. We have nearly 2000 more years of history of faithful witnesses—witnesses who were true to duty in following God’s instructions and faithful to the mission of Christ to save lost sinners. We have the example of Christ, His disciples, the apostles, and those who remained faithful through the long years of the dark ages; the Waldenses, the reformers, the Millerites, the early Adventist pioneers and more.
Additionally, we have the gift of a modern prophet, Ellen White. Her writings serve to draw our attention back to scripture where we find the correct methods of laboring for God—methods given by Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the apostles. Her writings bring clarity to these issues so that it can never be said that we have any excuse for not following God’s specific instructions.
Revelation 14:13 tells us, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” This verse speaks of those deceased, faithful workers who fought hard to establish the message of truth in unentered fields. Their works follow them through what they have written. Ellen White said in Counsels to Writers and Editors, page 28, “God has given me light regarding our periodicals. What is it?—He has said that the dead are to speak. How?—Their works shall follow them. We are to repeat the words of the pioneers in our work, who knew what it cost to search for the truth as for hidden treasure, and who labored to lay the foundation of our work. They moved forward step by step under the influence of the Spirit of God. One by one these pioneers are passing away. The word given me is, Let that which these men have written in the past be reproduced.”1 Some of those words of the faithful, deceased warriors have been reproduced in this book. Their examples of how to work cannot be set aside. Their methods were Biblical.
We have true Biblical doctrines and know how to present them. We have the Biblical health message and know how to present it as well. We have all that and more to offer a dying planet. We have also been given specific instructions in the Bible, and Ellen White’s writings regarding the heaven approved methods needed to hasten our Lord’s return. We have been warned through the writings of Ellen White, that keeping the ministers at work for the existing churches will not hasten but delay the Second Coming of Christ. We have been told that keeping the ministers working for church members who know the truth will not strengthen but weaken the church and its members. 2 Chronicles 20:20 says, “Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” The Bible warns us in Ephesians 4:30, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” The gift of prophecy is a spiritual gift given by the Spirit. The gift of prophecy was manifested in Ellen White, and her writings to the church are the result of that gift. Is it possible that we could even be grieving the Holy Spirit by failing to follow the counsels in her writings, which instruct us to return to the Biblical methods we must use in spreading the Three Angels’ Messages?
In these final days of earth’s history, I appeal to you today – let us all repent and go forward to offer salvation to a dying, lost world. Let’s bring the Three Angels’ Messages “unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.”2 Let there be no territory in any division, union, conference, field, or mission that remains unassigned year after year after year. To allow this situation to continue, would mean that we have no strategic plan to reach lost souls who live in the many unentered areas. That would be contrary to everything in the plan of salvation and would further delay the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Let the lay members release the ministers so they will be free to serve as ministers of the gospel to those who are perishing in darkness. Let the administrators have faith in the Biblical definition of the minister’s role and promote it because it is right. Let the ministers readily accept the change of their role and learn how to work in a much more productive way because it is God’s chosen way. Let them trust the faithfulness of God to bless their ministry and their families. Let the elders and other leaders of the local churches rise and accept the responsibilities that the Holy Spirit has given to them in managing the affairs of existing churches. Let every lay member do all in his power to spread the glad tidings of the Three Angels Messages to all with whom he associates. Let us all place the mission of God as the highest priority of our lives. Then one day soon, and very soon, we can look up and say, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” Isaiah 25:9.
In closing, I bring you the words of John the Revelator, a prisoner on the Isle of Patmos for serving God, whose works do follow him. He closes the last book of the Bible with these words in Revelation 22:20–21, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”