How do our ways compare with God’s ways?
How do we, as Seventh-day Adventists, compare our current model of ministry with the model used by the early Christian church in the days of the apostles? How does the labor of a minister now, compare with that of the apostle Paul, who is the example of what a minister should be? Are Adventist ministers today, doing the same kind of work that early Adventist ministers did in the 1800s? Even though we have correct doctrine, could the methods of ministry we use today, actually hinder the proclamation of the Three Angels’ Messages to the entire earth? Could we be delaying the return of Christ instead of hastening His return?
Question: Is it even possible for us to hasten or delay the coming of Christ?
Ellen White wrote in The Desire of Ages, (published in 1898) page 633, – “God ‘hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world.’ Acts 17:31. Christ tells us when that day shall be ushered in. He does not say that all the world will be converted, but that ‘this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.’ By giving the gospel to the world it is in our power to hasten our Lord’s return. We are not only to look for but to hasten the coming of the day of God. 2 Peter 3:12, margin. Had the church of Christ done her appointed work as the Lord ordained, the whole world would before this have been warned, and the Lord Jesus would have come to our earth in power and great glory.”1
If the church of Christ had done its work in the way the Lord ordained, Jesus would have returned before 1898. More than a century has passed since 1898. What is it that we have not been doing that the Lord instructed us to do? How have we failed? In the book, Education, Ellen White describes the world as a “lazar house.” A “lazar house” was a house for lepers to live in and receive treatment. Leprosy was one of the most dreaded diseases known to man, and “lazar houses” were places filled with unbearable misery. She writes of God’s pity and desire to put the misery to an end. On page 264 she wrote, “His Spirit ‘maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.’ As the ‘whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together.’ (Romans 8:26, 22), the heart of the infinite Father is pained in sympathy. Our world is a vast lazar house, a scene of misery that we dare not allow even our thoughts to dwell upon. Did we realize it as it is, the burden would be too terrible. Yet God feels it all. In order to destroy sin and its results He gave His best Beloved, and He has put it in our power, through co-operation with Him, to bring this scene of misery to an end. “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14.” 2
How soon after 1844 could Christ have come if “the church of Christ done her appointed work as the Lord ordained”3 In 1884, precisely 40 years after 1844, the following message from Ellen White was published in the book, Spirit of Prophecy, Volume 4, pages 291-292. It was reprinted later in Great Controversy, pages 457-458.
“The history of ancient Israel is a striking illustration of the past experience of the Adventist body. God led his people in the Advent movement, even as he led the children of Israel from Egypt. In the great disappointment their faith was tested as was that of the Hebrews at the Red Sea. Had they still trusted to the guiding hand that had been with them in their past experience, they would have seen of the salvation of God. If all who had labored unitedly in the work in 1844 had received the third angel’s message, and proclaimed it in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord would have wrought mightily with their efforts. A flood of light would have been shed upon the world. Years ago the inhabitants of the earth would have been warned, the closing work completed, and Christ would have come for the redemption of his people.
“It was not the will of God that Israel should wander forty years in the wilderness; he desired to lead them directly to the land of Canaan, and establish them there, a holy, happy people. But ‘they could not enter in because of unbelief.’ [Hebrews 3:19.] Because of their backsliding and apostasy, they perished in the desert, and others were raised up to enter the promised land. In like manner, it was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be so long delayed, and his people should remain so many years in this world of sin and sorrow. But unbelief separated them from God. As they refused to do the work which he had appointed them, others were raised up to proclaim the message. In mercy to the world, Jesus delays his coming, that sinners may have an opportunity to hear the warning, and find in him a shelter before the wrath of God shall be poured out.”4
“Years ago the inhabitants of the earth would have been warned, the closing work completed, and Christ would have come for the redemption of his people.”5EGW – printed in 1884
Here is a sobering statement from Ellen White in Christ’s Object Lessons,pages 373 and 374, “Every year millions upon millions of human souls are passing into eternity unwarned and unsaved. From hour to hour in our varied life opportunities to reach and save souls are opened to us. These opportunities are continually coming and going. God desires us to make the most of them. Days, weeks, and months are passing; we have one day, one week, one month less in which to do our work. A few more years at the longest, and the voice which we cannot refuse to answer will be heard saying, ‘Give an account of thy stewardship.’”6
Here is something profound from Ellen White in Letter 110, written in 1902, more than 100 years ago. “As a people, we claim to be giving the third angel’s message to the world . . . What a pity it is that the proclamation of the third angel’s message has not yet begun in many fields! For years the Lord has kept before His people the necessity of entering new fields. O that God would work! O that He would bring to life and energize the dead, dry bones of the house of Israel, by breathing the Holy Spirit upon His people!”7
This book has been written to help us understand:
- The reason for the delay of Christ’s return since 1844
- How we have failed to follow Christ’s instructions to the church
- What we need to do, to repent and hasten the coming of Jesus
- How to follow God’s specific directions, to reach every part of the world with the Three Angels’ Messages more rapidly than we ever dreamed.
Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
May God help us to repent, make the much-needed changes, hasten the return of Jesus, and still be alive when He returns.
Questions for Consideration
- How does my church compare to the church of the apostles?
- Where might my church’s performance be lacking?
- How can we help our congregation to become more like the congregations that the apostles founded and loved?
- Ellen White, The Desire of Ages: (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1898) 633.
- Ellen White, Education: (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1903) 263-264.
- Ellen White, The Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 4: (Battle Creek, MI: Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association, 1884) 291–292.
- Ellen White, Christ’s Object Lessons: (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1900) 373-374.
- Ellen White, Letter 110-1902, (July 7, 1902), paragraphs 12 and 13.