HOW TO MEET THIS COMING CRISIS
By: Elder Lawrence Nelson
This sermon is part of a series entitled Spiritualism
There can be no doubt that the end time of this world is right upon us as you have listened to the four previous tapes concerning this masterpiece of Satanic deception. I quote from Great Controversy p. 371, "Though no man knoweth the day nor the hour of His coming, we are instructed and required to know when it is near." And then Ellen White gives this warning, "We are further taught that to disregard His warning, and refuse or neglect to know when His advent is near, will be as fatal for us as it was for those who lived in the days of Noah not to know when the flood was coming."
O how we should praise God for giving to us the foreknowledge of Satan's masterpiece so we may fully know what to expect. With our eyes opened by the Holy Spirit we can see how quickly our blessed Savior may come. Our reaction should be,"What must we do now that we might have full assurance that we are ready?"
Will you join with me in prayer, seeking for further light as to what God expects us to do today in preparing for this coming crisis? Oh loving Father which art in heaven, we see ourselves surrounded by Satan's spiritism which is preparing the world for a New World Order in which we will be faced with a time of trouble such as never was. We plead for Thy Holy Spirit to guide us in this study as to how we can be safely placed within Thy hands – protected and fill with divine power to meet the enemy and to give the Loud Cry. We ask these blessing in the name of Jesus, Amen.
Now let us first open the Holy Scriptures, and I am reading God's instruction for this needed preparation. I am reading from Joel chapter 2, "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand....Therefore also now, saith the Lord, Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.
"Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people....Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God; for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month....And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit."
It is very evident by this scripture what we must do by the gravity and the urgency expressed in this command. I like the way Ellen White puts this before us. I am quoting from Great Controversy p. 464, "Before the final visitation of God's judgments upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times." What an eye opener! This is important! And she adds in Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 121, "A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work." So you can see if we will follow this counsel such a revival will result in a reformation. Let me tell you, beloved, both are needed to meet this coming crisis.
Listen to this quote: "A revival and a reformation must take place, under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation are two different things. (Are you listening carefully? "Revival and reformation are two different things…") A revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of the mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. Reformation will not bring forth the good fruit of righteousness unless it is connected with the revival of the Spirit. Revival and reformation are to do their appointed work, and in doing this work they must blend." Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 128.
So we can see the importance of this blending of a revival and a reformation. This is revealed to us in the parable of the ten virgins. You remember, five of them were wise and five were foolish as you read in Matthew 25:2. Why were the foolish virgins foolish? The pen of Inspiration answers in Review and Herald, September 17, 1895, "The foolish virgins do not represent those who are hypocritical. They had a regard for the truth, they advocated the truth, they…go with them, having lamps, which represent a knowledge of the truth. When there was a revival in the church, their feelings were stirred." Ah, but now notice this, "But they failed to have oil in their vessels." Why? "Because they did not bring the principles of godliness into their daily life and character."
Now, nothing could be more clearly stated. A reformation therefore, must be experienced following a revival. And I'm sure that each of us listening want to be among those wise virgins for we are told, "Those who earnestly search the Scriptures with much prayer, who rely upon God with firm faith, who obey His commandments, will be among those who are represented as wise virgins." Review and Herald, September 17, 1895.
So, there are but two choices before each of us. We may respond to God's call now for a spiritual revival which will produce a spiritual reformation in us, or we can sit back and do nothing and like the five foolish virgins be shaken out of God's true church. Anyone can see that this is the determining issue of life and death before each of us.
Let us spend a few moments to consider what actually takes place in a revival of primitive godliness. First of all we can learn much by defining the meaning of the word "revival." Its origin comes to us from two Latin deviations. The "re-" means "back or again" and the "vivo" means "I live once again." This helps us to understand what the Spirit of Prophecy means when it states, "There will be among the people of God such a revival (that is of "living once again") of primitive godliness." The next word, "primitive" comes from the Latin word "premetosis" which means "initial or original." This helps us understand the meaning of, "a revival of true godliness or of apostolic godliness."
But in seeking such an experience we must also comprehend the meaning of the word "godliness." This word is divided into two parts, "God" and "liness" which literally reflects a close connection with God. In other words, to become like Him in character. This is the godliness obtained by the wise virgins and this is in keeping with the Spirit of Prophecy. I read it again, "Those who earnestly search the scriptures with much prayer, and who rely upon God with firm faith, and who obey His commandments will be among those who are represented as the wise virgins."
And what are the attributes to be found in God's character which the five virgins will experience? In reading Testimonies to Ministers p. 362, "The Lord passed before him (that was Moses) and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abounding in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.' The goodness, mercy and love of God were proclaimed by Christ to Moses. This was God's character."
In other words, godliness is reflecting the character of Jesus Christ; His life, His righteousness, His Spirit, His love which must become a part of our lives. This is what Paul was trying to teach in Ephesians 3:19, "That ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." Or as Ellen White said in the book Education p.18, "Godliness--God-likeness--is the goal to be reached." It is thus that we become complete in Christ. As we seek for such an experience we must keep in mind how Christ works within us to produce such an experience within us.
In the book Acts of the Apostles p. 284 are these words, "The sap of the vine, ascending from the root, is defused to the branches, sustaining growth and producing blossoms and fruit. So the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Savior, pervades the soul, renews the motives and affections, and brings even the thoughts into obedience to the will of God, enabling the receiver to bear the precious fruit of holy deeds." Isn't that a beautiful illustration? And how simple it makes it. This is godly character building.
In the book Education p. 225 we find the most important work ever entrusted to human beings. "Never before was its diligent study so important as now. Never was any previous generation called to meet issues so momentous." So you can see the connection between a revival of true and primitive godliness and character building. Think of this – the apostles spent three and a half years with Jesus. They constantly beheld His life of righteousness. By beholding they became changed. Thus they possessed Christ's godliness.
Now of course you and I have never been able to personally daily see with our eyes the living Christ as did His disciples, but we have the depository of His every act as revealed in the Holy Scripture covering 6000 years. No other generation has such knowledge. And then in addition God has given to us the Spirit of Prophecy. The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:11, "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." And what a model the apostles have set before us. They were given the task of preaching the message to the whole world in one generation, but they were taught to wait and prepare for the power of the early rain.
Likewise we have a great task to perform in giving the Loud Cry amid laws that bring untold hardship, because we can neither buy nor sell, and eventually face a death sentence. So we are counseled to prepare by experiencing a revival and a reformation of primitive godliness; bringing into our experience that like that of the apostles of "one accord" and a readiness for the Latter Rain. Once again, let us consider this preparation of the apostles. I'm reading from Acts of the Apostles p. 37, "These days of preparation were days of deep heart searching. The disciples felt their spiritual need and cried to the Lord for the holy unction that was to fit them for the work of soul saving. They did not ask for a blessing for themselves merely. (The disciples prayed with intense earnestness for a fitness to meet men, and in their daily intercourse to speak words that would lead sinners to Christ.) They were weighed with a burden of the salvation of souls. They realized that the gospel was to be carried to the world, and they claimed the power that Christ had promised."
Never forget for a moment that when you and I come face to face with the satanic power of spiritualism, as we have discovered in this series of his devilish plans for us, we can meet God's conditions for receiving the Latter Rain. And praise the Lord, He is ready if we are ready, to give us the power to meet, resist, and remain faithful, and to receive a crown of eternal life.
In 2 Chronicles 7:14 I read, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." One of the conditions we must experience as a people is to reexamine the place that the law of God must have in our teachings. And I trust that you will listen carefully to this.
In the Great Controversy p. 478 we read, "It is only as the law of God is restored to its rightful position that there can be a revival of primitive faith and godliness among His professed people." You know, I must repeat that: "It is only as the law of God is restored to its rightful position that there can be a revival of primitive faith and godliness among His professed people."
It's no wonder that Satan today is putting forth every effort to destroy the preaching of God's law within our church today. You'll have to admit, seldom do you ever hear a sermon on God's holy law. Even the word "obedience" is seldom mentioned, for the emphasis today is on love and unity which is exactly the same message that is being preached in the churches of Babylon. Thus Satan hopes to derail a revival and a return to primitive faith and godliness.
Now since the law of God must be restored to its rightful place, what, and how, can this be done? The answer is found in Our High Calling p. 141, "We hear so many who are deceived by the enemy constantly claiming, 'I am saved', but…they show such contempt of God's rule of righteousness that we know that they…know nothing of saving grace. The heart is not in harmony with the law of God, but is at enmity with that law. Thus was the great rebel in heaven. Will the Lord take men and women to heaven that have no respect for the law of His universe? What is to bring the sinner to the knowledge of his sins unless he knows what sin is…as found in 1 John 3:4? 'Sin is the transgression of the law.' The sinner must be made to feel that he is a transgressor. Christ dying upon the cross of Calvary is drawing his attention. Why did Christ die? Because it was the only means for man to be saved….He took upon Himself our sins that He might impute His righteousness to all that believe in Him….
"The goodness and the love of God leads the sinner to repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ….Yet there is no saving quality in the law to pardon the transgression of the law, and his case seems hopeless. But the law draws him to Christ. (Did you notice those words? "The law draws him to Christ…") However deep are his sins of transgression, the blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse him from all sin. The law and the gospel go hand in hand. The one is the complement of the other. The law without faith in the gospel of Christ cannot save the transgressor of the law. The gospel without the law is inefficient and powerless. The law and the gospel are a perfect whole."
The gospel does not undermine the importance of the law of God or removes it, but effectively gives power to keep it. In between the gospel and the law of God there is no tension, but harmony and cooperation. The pen of Inspiration says, "No man can rightly present the law of God without the gospel, or the gospel without the law. The law is the gospel embodied and the gospel is the law unfolded. The law is the root, the gospel is the fragrant blossoms and fruit which it bears." Christ Object Lessons p. 128.
If we emphasize only the gospel or the law then we lose the proper understanding of both the gospel and the law. For when a train is derailed it comes off both rails at the same time. The same with us. We need to understand the relationship between the gospel and the law and their role in our Christian spiritual life. God through His servant said, "The law sends men to Christ, (that's the gospel) and Christ points them back to the law." Review and Herald, September 27, 1881.
Now you may ask, "What is the gospel?" "The gospel of Christ is the good news of grace, or favor, by which man may be released from the condemnation of sin and enabled to render obedience to the law of God." Review and Herald, September 27, 1881. This is in keeping with Paul's explanation in 1 Corinthians 15: 1-4, "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel...For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures."
And then there is more. The gospel, and I'm quoting from Fundamentals of Education p. 199, includes "the tidings that Christ can forgive sin, renew the nature, can clothe the soul,…bring the sinner to His right mind, and teach him and fit him (that is sanctify)." So what then is the basis of our salvation? The answer is – the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary's cross; His atoning sacrifice; His blood shed for our sins. This is the basis of our salvation.
In Desire of Ages p. 25 are those marvelous words, "Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His."
This profound truth must be the center of our spiritual life. In the book Acts of the Apostles p. 209, 210 I read, "Without the cross, man could have no union with the Father. On it depends our every hope. From it shines the light of the Saviour's love, and when at the foot of the cross the sinner looks up to the One who died to save him, he may rejoice with fullness of joy, for his sins are pardoned. Kneeling in faith at the cross, he has reached the highest place to which man can attain."
In Testimonies for the Church, Volume 8, p. 320 we read, "Let the cross of Christ be made the science of all education, the center of all teaching and all study. Let it be brought into the daily experience in practical life. So will the Saviour become to the youth a daily companion and friend. Every thought will be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. With the Apostle Paul they will be able to say, 'God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.' Galatians 6:14."
This is why the sanctuary service rested on the sacrifice of animals which symbolized Christ's death on the cross. What was the aim of this sacrificial system? In the earthly sanctuary, the aim was to sensitize the participants to the infinite love, mercy and justice of God, and to the sinfulness of sin, and to instruct in the way of salvation. In gaining a sense of the high cost of their redemption the Jews were to alienate themselves from sin and draw closer to their Savior.
It is exactly the same with us. In the Holy Scriptures we read, "And thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21. And so it is very, very clear that Jesus came into the world to save sinners not in their sins but from their sins. And how does Jesus save sinners from their sins? In Signs of the Times, October 14,1897 Ellen White says, "That He (Christ) might restore to man the original mind…which he lost in Eden through Satan's alluring temptation, that man might realize that it is for his present and eternal good to obey the requirements of God. Disobedience is not in accordance with the nature which God gave to man in Eden."
The restoring of the original mind to man is the New Birth experience. It enables a man to be obedient to the requirements of the law of God. God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel and said, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh. Why? I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes (that's the law), and ye shall keep my judgements, and do them. Ezekiel 36: 26,27.
Thus it is that God gives a new heart and a new mind and gives us enabling power to walk in obedience to His law that we may reflect the lovely character of Jesus in our lives. Testimonies for the Church, Volume 5, p. 310 tell us, "The thoughts and feelings combined make up the moral character." And Solomon adds in Proverbs 23:7, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
So we can clearly visualize the importance of having our thoughts and feelings always pure and holy. The Apostle Paul urges Christians, "To bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5. Since the law of God is the revelation of His will, a transcript of His character, (and we find this in Patriarchs and Prophets p. 52) this means that when we are obeying the ten moral commandments we are reflecting the character of God.
Thus far we may summarize that the gospel is the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary's cross; His atoning sacrifice for our sins. This is a revelation of God's great and infinite love for humanity and through the power of the gospel Jesus is restoring the original mind in man through the New Birth or justification experience. Jesus Christ is also restoring the image of God in man and the living relationship of fellowship and friendship with Him in the sanctification process.
After the restoration of the original mind in us, Jesus, as the gospel dwells within, empowering us to obedience of God's law. Thus we reflect the character of Jesus Christ and are filled with the fruit of the spirit. This is the life of the Christian. Note how beautifully Ellen White expresses this great truth. "The salvation of the soul, through faith in Christ, is the ground and pillar of truth. Those who exercise true faith in Christ make it manifest by holiness of character, by obedience to the law of God." Review and Herald, September 17, 1895. Thus we can clearly see the conditions for a revival of primitive godliness among us.
I have one more question: "Do you think that the Lord plans to wait until everyone in the church has adequately fulfilled the conditions for the last great revival?" - The Spirit of Prophecy answers, "Are we hoping to see the whole church revived? That time will never come." Now you ask, "Why?" I'm still quoting, "There are persons in the church who are not converted, and who will not unite in earnest, prevailing prayer. We must enter upon the work individually. We must pray more, and talk less. Iniquity abounds, and the people must be taught to not be satisfied with a form of godliness without the spirit and power. If we are intent upon searching our own hearts, putting away our sins, and correcting our evil tendencies, our soul will not be lifted up unto vanity; we shall be distrustful of ourselves, having an abiding sense that our sufficiency is of God." Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 122.
But don't overlook the fact that there will be a great movement of revival and reformation in God's church in the very end time. Life Sketches p. 425 says, "I have been deeply impressed by scenes which have recently passed before me in the night season. There seemed to be a great movement--a work of revival--going forward in many places. Our people were moving into line, responding to God's call. My brethren, the Lord is speaking to us. Shall we not heed His voice?"
When will this great movement occur in the church? Great Controversy p. 464 tells us, "Before the final visitation of God's judgements upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and the power of God will be poured out upon His children."
We, as God's end-time people, have now come to the time for the last great revival and reformation which must take place in our church. This will prepare us to receive the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the latter rain which will enable us to finish God's work in our time. "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." Zechariah 4:6.
O beloved, only by a personal revival and reformation of primitive godliness within our life will we be able to meet successfully the devil's masterpiece of spiritualism. So let us praise God that He has revealed to us how to meet this coming crisis.
Will you join me in pleading for this experience? Let us pray. Loving Father, as Satan's masterpiece of spiritualism gathers the whole world against us may we be prepared for this coming crisis because we have responded to God's call for a revival of primitive godliness. May the mighty, convicting power of God reveal to each of us what is needed in our personal lives to participate in this coming revival and reformation. Thank you, Lord, for such help and assurance that in Thy name we shall be ready to face every Satanic delusion, and we ask these blessings in Jesus name, Amen.