The Testimonies Rejected, Part 1

As we saw from the outset of our study, the defining characteristic of God’s remnant people is obedience. The remnant will obey the commandments of God. They will also obey the testimony of Jesus Christ, or the inspired messages of the prophets. Specifically, the testimony of Jesus Christ as manifested among the remnant, in the last-day church is the Spirit of Prophecy writings which God gave through His messenger, Ellen G. White.

From this point forward, we will delve deeply into the writings of Ellen White, to see what God has said about how these writings apply to our lives in the twenty-first century, and then to learn some of the specific instructions God has given us regarding the choices we make from day to day.

The same God who spoke through the biblical prophets speaks to us today through the Spirit of Prophecy. “In ancient times God spoke to men by the mouth of prophets and apostles. In these days He speaks to them by the testimonies of His Spirit. There was never a time when God instructed His people more earnestly than He instructs them now concerning His will and the course that He would have them pursue.” (4T 147, 148)

Yet it seems to be a common belief, whether spoken or unspoken, that the Spirit of Prophecy writings have less than full applicability to our day. Yet God’s inspired messages are quite to the contrary: “The instruction that was given in the early days of the message is to be held as safe instruction to follow in these its closing days….If we study carefully the second chapter of Hebrews, we shall learn how important it is that we hold steadfastly to every principle of truth that has been given.” (1SM 41)

Far from the idea that the Spirit of Prophecy teachings need not be so strictly in our day as one hundred years ago, “I have been shown that the principles that were given us in the early days of the message are as important and should be regarded just as conscientiously today as they were then.” (9T 158)

And because the Lord knew that the messages of the Spirit of Prophecy would be given less than their due attention in time to come, “The Lord calls for a renewal of the straight testimony borne in years past.” (8T 297)

The Lord had a reason for giving Seventh-day Adventists the special messages in the Spirit of Prophecy. The Bible contains all of the information we need in order to be saved, yet because so many neglect to obey the teachings of the Scriptures, God sent a prophet to call us back to strict obedience to His Word. “The word of God abounds in general principles for the formation of correct habits of living, and the testimonies, general and personal, have been calculated to call their attention more especially to these principles.” (4T 323)

In fact, if Seventh-day Adventists had been careful to obey the Bible’s teachings, God would not have given the Testimonies. Their very presence among us should serve as a reminder that as a people, we have tended to disobedience. “If you had made God’s word your study, with a desire to reach the Bible standard and attain to Christian perfection, you would not have needed the Testimonies. It is because you have neglected to acquaint yourselves with God’s inspired Book that He has sought to reach you by simple, direct testimonies, calling your attention to the words of inspiration which you had neglected to obey, and urging you to fashion your lives in accordance with its pure and elevated teachings.

“The Lord designs to warn you, to reprove, to counsel, through the testimonies given, and to impress your minds with the importance of the truth of His word. The written testimonies are not to give new light, but to impress vividly upon the heart the truths of inspiration already revealed…. Additional truth is not brought out; but God has through the Testimonies simplified the great truths already given and in His own chosen way brought them before the people to awaken and impress the mind with them, that all may be left without excuse.” (5T 664, 665)

“If the people who now profess to be God’s peculiar treasure would obey His requirements, as specified in His word, special testimonies would not be given to awaken them to their duty and impress upon them their sinfulness and their fearful danger in neglecting to obey the word of God.” (5T 667)

The condition of many of us who hold the Testimonies in our hands is a serious one. It is not merely small aberrations from Bible principles that God seeks to correct, or minor misunderstandings of obscure teachings. Rather, some are “living in direct opposition to [the Bible’s] plainest teachings. In mercy, God gave the Testimonies as a last resort to try to awaken them from their dangerous course.

“The word of God is sufficient to enlighten the most beclouded mind and may be understood by those who have any desire to understand it. But notwithstanding all this, some who profess to make the word of God their study are found living in direct opposition to its plainest teachings. Then, to leave men and women without excuse, God gives plain and pointed testimonies, bringing them back to the word that they have neglected to follow. Yet those who serve their own lusts turn from all this light….” (2T 454, 455)

Advertisements

The Obedient Remnant

In Revelation, we learn about a group of people who will be faithful to God when all others have fallen away. The last of the faithful, they are called the remnant. They are given some important identifying marks, by which we can know what kind of people they are, and even more importantly, how we can make certain that we are among them.

“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. The two great characteristics of the remnant are that they keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. At the very center of their existence as God’s chosen people, as those whom Satan most chooses to target, is their obedience to God.

“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads….These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth….And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Revelation 14:1-5.

In John’s portrayal of the 144,000, the final generation of that faithful remnant who will live to see Jesus come and experience translation to heaven, we see a central characteristic of this group, again, is obedience: they “follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.” Further, “they are without fault.” Not a partial obedience is here portrayed, but full obedience. This is full obedience to all the commands of God.

“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. The saints, the faithful remnant of God, are identified by their strict obedience to God’s commandments. “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14. The gates of the Holy City will be opened only for those who have obeyed God’s commandments. Disobedience, sin, cannot enter there.

The whole law, and the writings of the prophets, said Jesus, hang on two great principles: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” and, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40. Thus, in fulfilling from the heart “the commandments of God,” the saints of Revelation 14:12 have come to love the Lord with all their hearts. They have come to love their neighbors as themselves. Every command given us by God leads us toward these two great goals.

As Jesus pointed out, not only do the Ten Commandments lead us to love God with all the heart and our neighbor as ourselves, but so do “the prophets.” Thus, in order to come up fully to the point God has for them, the remnant must obey not only “commandments of God,” but also “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. And “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10. It is the gift of prophecy, the inspired messages given by God to His church through the voice of His divinely inspired chosen messengers. As Seventh-day Adventists, we believe that Ellen White was entrusted with the gift of prophecy, one of the spiritual gifts which is needed for the church to come to perfection.

“And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-15.

God’s commands are given in His Law and in the messages He inspired prophets to write. Both are equally inspired. Both are equally authoritative. Both will be gladly obeyed by the remnant.

Especially in the writings of Ellen White, God has given us many directions which, if followed, will lead us to love God with all of the heart, and our neighbor as ourselves. These directions are often specific in nature. The remnant, as the last faithful ones, must come up to every point of God’s will. In addition to this, the fact that we live in the most demoralized period of earth’s history means that our perceptions of right and wrong are likely to be clouded by the influence of the culture in which we live. Thus, God has seen fit to leave no important principle to our own judgment, but rather to make very clear what He requires of us.

In seeking to come up to every point of God’s will, we must rely on His directions for that work. It is not up to our judgment to decide what pleases Him or does not please Him. It is not for us to decide what actions or practices would keep us from loving Him with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength. Only through His inspired writings can we arrive at an understanding of the way He wants us to live so that He will truly be the Lord of our lives.

None need err. None need wonder what is sin or what is righteousness, or with what actions and practices we can be admitted to heaven. He has shown us His will in regard to our use of time and money, our care of our health, our family life and the raising of our children, our dress and appearance, the food with which we fill our minds, our leisure enjoyments, and our interactions with those around us.

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” 1 Peter 2:9. As we continue our study, we will be considering the specific directions we have been blessed with, which will lead us to become that holy, peculiar people, obedient to God in all things.

The Fruit of Revival: A Visible Transformation

“The fruits of such revivals were seen in souls who shrank not at self-denial and sacrifice…. Men beheld a transformation in the lives of those who had professed the name of Jesus….

“This is the result of the work of the Spirit of God. There is no evidence of genuine repentance unless it works reformation. If he restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, confess his sins, and love God and his fellow men, the sinner may be sure that he has found peace with God.” Great Controversy 462, 463.

The real test of the genuineness of a revival is whether it is accompanied by reformation. And what is reformation? It is a visible transformation. “These souls brought forth fruit meet for repentance…. The things they once hated they now loved, and the things they once loved they hated. The proud and self-assertive became meek and lowly of heart. The vain and supercilious became serious and unobtrusive. The profane became reverent, the drunken sober, and the profligate pure.” Ibid. 461, 462.

Specifically the sins of pride, putting oneself forward, vanity, shallowness, and impurity are mentioned. While drunkenness and profanity may not be frequently visible among church members, the world has been deluged by an avalanche of pride, vanity, and shallowness, sins which are pervading the church as well.

“The vain fashions of the world were laid aside. Christians sought not the ‘outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but . . . the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.’” (Ibid. 462) Pride, vanity, and shallowness in the heart are revealed in fashionable attire and a person’s choice to decorate him- or herself, rather than pointing the admiration of others to Jesus. All these things will be given up when there is true revival.

Another important aspect of this visible transformation of character is making earnest efforts to make right our wrongs toward others. One experiencing true revival will “restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, confess his sins, and love God and his fellow men” (Ibid. 463) Have we taken something that was not ours, acted dishonestly, hurt another person, or borrowed something and failed to return it? Difficult though it may at first appear to deal with these past sins, God is able to give us wisdom and grace sufficient to deal with each one. May we not allow anything to remain between us and a full surrender to Him!

True revival will bring forth reformation. Any revival that leads one to feel that they are now closer to God, but allows them to feel comfortable while continuing to live in disobedience to God, is not true revival. The Holy Spirit is the source of all true revival, and His fruits are “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” (Galatians 5:22, 23) These fruits will be present, and visible to others, in the truly converted life.

Any call for revival that aims to lead the people to true revival, not a counterfeit, then, must explicitly call for reformation. And there must be a specific delineation of what reformation encompasses, on both the individual and the church levels. In weeks to come, by God’s grace, I will continue to write on those topics. In a time when we have so largely fallen away from God’s paradigm for the life of the remnant—those who “follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth”—there is no excuse for vagueness regarding the details of living a reformed life. (Revelation 14:4)

If we faithfully give a call to true reformation, will it be pleasant and comfortable to all to hear? No. In fact, giving the warnings which will help men and women to be saved for eternity may cost someone his friends, his position, and possibly even his job. Looking back on those sacrifices from inside the walls of the New Jerusalem, however, we will have no doubt that heaven was cheap enough.

All non-Bible quotations are from Ellen G. White.

The Latter Rain and the Shaking

Last time, we discussed the preparation needed before we can receive the Latter Rain. We also looked at the following startling quotation:

“When we have entire, wholehearted consecration to the service of Christ, God will recognize the fact by an outpouring of His Spirit without measure; but this will not be while the largest portion of the church are not laborers together with God. God cannot pour out His Spirit when selfishness and self-indulgence are so manifest….” Counsels on Stewardship 52.

According to this statement, the Latter Rain cannot be poured out while the majority of the church are not consecrated to God. Clearly there is a need of large-scale revival. Yet the following statement raises questions again.

“Are we hoping to see the whole church revived? That time will never come.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 122.
So when will the Latter Rain happen? God wants to pour it upon a wholehearted, consecrated church, yet there will never come a time when the whole church will be revived.

The answer lies in the fact that there will be a great shaking in God’s church. This shaking will cause those who do not love God’s truth and righteousness to be shaken out of God’s church.

“See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven…. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” Hebrews 12:25-27.

It is God’s true children who remain within His church, while those who are unconsecrated are the ones who leave. “And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.” Isaiah 4:3, 4.

It will be a very small remnant of those who profess to hold the Seventh-day Adventist faith, who are finally seen to truly love it with all of their hearts. “Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” Isaiah 1:9.

Indeed, Sister White verifies that only a minority of church members are truly in a saved condition. “It is a solemn statement that I make to the church, that not one in twenty whose names are registered upon the church books are prepared to close their earthly history, and would be as verily without God and without hope in the world as the common sinner.” Christian Service 41. Accordingly, the shaking time will reveal that many who professed to be Seventh-day Adventists are not deeply loyal at heart, and they will forsake their former faith. Then will be left behind a small remnant who really love God and keep His commandments.

“I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans…. Some will not bear this straight testimony. They will rise up against it, and this is what will cause a shaking among God’s people….

“Some had been shaken out and left by the way. The careless and indifferent, who did not join with those who prized victory and salvation enough to perseveringly plead and agonize for it, did not obtain it, and they were left behind in darkness….

“I heard those clothed with the armor speak forth the truth with great power. It had effect…. I asked what had made this great change. An angel answered, ‘It is the latter rain, the refreshing from the presence of the Lord, the loud cry of the third angel.’” Early Writings 270, 271

In this vision, Ellen White was shown a company of people who remained faithful during the shaking, and then received the Latter Rain, which enabled them to speak the truth with power and win many souls to Christ. The whole church was not revived, because some chose to be left behind in darkness rather than make the necessary effort to agonize and plead for victory over all sin. Yet the Latter Rain was able to fall because the church had been purified from these “careless and indifferent” ones. Thus the church was no longer cumbered down with “the largest portion of the church” not being laborers together with God.

All non-Bible quotations are from Ellen G. White.

Are Revival and the Latter Rain Equivalent?

Revival is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Latter Rain, too, is a wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit. So are the two terms interchangeable? Is it the same thing to pray for revival, as it is to pray for the Latter Rain?

First, let us know for certain what revival is. “Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life…, a resurrection from the spiritual death.” Review and Herald, Feb. 25, 1902. Revival is resurrection from spiritual death. Will this be the work of the Latter Rain, to bring people from being dead in trespasses and sins to being alive in Christ?

No. In fact, the Latter Rain will not have the effect of converting unconverted church members, because unless we are already converted, we will not receive it.

“Only those who are living up to the light they have will receive greater light. Unless we are daily advancing in the exemplification of the active Christian virtues, we shall not recognize the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. It may be falling on hearts all around us, but we shall not discern or receive it.” TM 507.

In order to receive the Latter Rain we will need to be advancing, growing, in Christian character. We will also need to be living up to the light we have.

This is very serious. If we are not converted, if we are neglecting to obey things that we know to be right, or if we have slipped back into worldly patterns and comforted our consciences that the Lord does not really expect us to take literally the counsels of the Testimonies, we will not receive the Latter Rain. What is more, we will not even realize that it is being poured out and that we are missing the experience.

There is only one quotation I have found in the Spirit of Prophecy which uses the words revival and latter rain together. It is found in several books.

“…you must not feel at liberty to neglect the present duty, and still entertain the idea that at some future time you will be the recipients of great blessing, when without any effort on your part a wonderful revival will take place. Today you are to give yourselves to God, that He may make of you vessels unto honor, and meet for His service. Today you are to give yourself to God, that you may be emptied of self, emptied of envy, jealousy, evil surmising, strife, everything that shall be dishonoring to God. Today you are to have your vessel purified that it may be ready for the heavenly dew, ready for the showers of the latter rain; for the latter rain will come, and the blessing of God will fill every soul that is purified from every defilement. It is our work today to yield our souls to Christ, that we may be fitted for the time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord—fitted for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, pp. 190, 191.

The Latter Rain will come to everyone who is already purified from every defilement, who has already yielded the soul to Christ. Then that person will be “ready for the heavenly dew,” “fitted for the time of refreshing,” “fitted for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Thus the Latter Rain does not purify us. It does not empty us of self, strife, and all that is displeasing to God. That is the work of revival, of conversion, which we are to experience now.

“Before the work is closed up and the sealing of God’s people is finished, we shall receive the outpouring of the Spirit of God…. The present is a fitting-up time for heaven when we must walk in full obedience to all the commands of God.” Ibid. 111.

We should earnestly pray and work for revival, that the church and individuals may live in full obedience to all the commands of God. While we, as a church, are countenancing and allowing so much that is contrary to God’s Word, the Latter Rain cannot be poured out.

“The great outpouring of the Spirit of God, which lightens the whole earth with His glory, will not come until we have an enlightened people, that know by experience what it means to be laborers together with God. When we have entire, wholehearted consecration to the service of Christ, God will recognize the fact by an outpouring of His Spirit without measure; but this will not be while the largest portion of the church are not laborers together with God. God cannot pour out His Spirit when selfishness and self-indulgence are so manifest….” Counsels on Stewardship 52.

This is serious counsel. We should encourage our people to pray and work for revival, but we should be careful not to present it in such a way as to confuse revival with the Latter Rain. The two are not the same. The second cannot come when the first has not yet done its work. It is true that the Holy Spirit was poured out on the apostles when they were “all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1), but readiness to receive the Latter Rain involves much more than unitedly desiring the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in power for evangelism. It requires us to be walking in unity of truth—not pluralistic doctrine. It requires us to be walking in unity of obedience—not a wide spectrum of standards and lifestyles.

If church members are living openly contrary to God’s commands, if the churches are sanctioning practices not in harmony with the Testimonies, if our people are allowed to remain with a fuzzy understanding of what it really means to have victory over sin, if some are teaching one thing and some another, and we then encourage the people to pray for the Latter Rain, we are setting them up for disappointment. We need now leaders who will not be afraid to lovingly point out our sins, so we will see our need for revival. Then, and only then, will God “recognize the fact by an outpouring of His Spirit” in power for witnessing.

All non-Bible quotations are by Ellen White.

Revival and Repentance

True revival is the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, and He is only able to do this work when we fully open the door to Him, when we give up every last vestige of resistance. We cannot cling to our sins and at the same time accept the work of the Holy Spirit. There can be no true revival without repentance.

“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. There must be earnest effort to obtain the blessing of the Lord, not because God is not willing to bestow His blessing upon us, but because we are unprepared to receive it…. But it is our work, by confession, humiliation, repentance, and earnest prayer, to fulfill the conditions upon which God has promised to grant us His blessing.” Selected Messages, volume 1, page 121.

Praying for revival, alone, is not enough. It can only come when we are prepared to receive it. And this preparation consists of “confession, humiliation, repentance, and earnest prayer.” While praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is essential, we must not neglect to emphasize the importance of the other three. If we do not yet realize our deep sinfulness, our apostasy, our rebellion against God, how will we be able to come to Him in full surrender? We will not even realize that we have very much that we need to surrender. We may feel that we can cling to many of our old ways and still experience the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Let the church arise, and repent of her backslidings before God. Let the watchmen awake, and give the trumpet a certain sound. It is a definite warning that we have to proclaim. God commands His servants, ‘Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins’ (Isa. 58:1). The attention of the people must be gained; unless this can be done, all effort is useless….

“The Spirit of God can never come in until [the church] prepares the way. There should be earnest searching of heart….There should be…a deep humiliation of soul.”Ibid. page 126.

The church needs to repent of her backsliding. There need to be calls to repentance. How important that these messages be given in love! As Daniel prayed, including himself in his confession ofJudah’s apostasy, “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets….” Daniel 9:5, 6.

Why will all efforts be useless unless the attention of the people is gained? Because if the trumpet is not given a certain sound, if the warnings given are not definite, if the people are not shown their sins, they will not know that they have anything standing between them and God. While it is needed to emphasize grave forms of apostasy and error, all of us need to be encouraged to look into our lives for the seemingly “little” sins that we tend to excuse. Our resistance in these “minor” areas could keep the Holy Spirit from working the miracle of revival in our lives. We may think that our prayers were unavailing and that somehow God was unwilling to give us the blessing, while the real cause lies with ourselves.

“Repentance is the first step that must be taken by all who would return to God…. We must individually humble our souls before God and put away our idols. When we have done all that we can do, the Lord will manifest to us His salvation.”  PP 590

“Repent, repent, repent was the message rung out by John the Baptist in the wilderness. Christ’s message to the people was ‘Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish’ (Luke 13:5). And the apostles were commanded to preach everywhere that men should repent.

“The Lord desires His servants today to preach the old gospel doctrine, sorrow for sin, repentance, and confession.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, page 19.

All true efforts working toward revival must emphasize the importance of repentance. Repentance is not a step pleasant to the carnal heart. We must first understand, clearly, our sins and their gravity. We cannot rest with a foggy conception of what we are doing, personally and as a people, that is sin. Those whom God leads to make the needed calls for repentance must risk seriously “stepping on toes,” and know that those who do not desire revival will be offended. Yet repenting of and forsaking our sins opens the way for the Holy Spirit to come in to thoroughly cleanse us, and make us a holy temple for His indwelling. May we each ask God to give us the gift of repentance, and may we never forget that repentance is the first step toward true revival.

All quotations not from the Bible  are by Ellen G. White.

Counterfeit Revival

First, we are promised that true revival will come, and it will be a revival of primitive godliness.

“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. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children.” The Great Controversy, page 464. This primitive godliness is found individually, as a person surrenders the heart fully to the working of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit then transforms the character by bearing His fruits in the life instead of the works of the flesh.

While this revival is an individual experience, we are promised that there will be a time in the last days when it will occur “among the people of the Lord” and of such a magnitude “as has not been witnessed since apostolic times.” Obviously, it will be experienced by a group of people, not simply one individual here and there.

Yet in addition to this experience of true revival in the church, we are also forewarned that there will be a counterfeit.

“The enemy of souls desires to hinder this work; and before the time for such a movement shall come, he will endeavor to prevent it by introducing a counterfeit. In those churches which he can bring under his deceptive power he will make it appear that God’s special blessing is poured out; there will be manifest what is thought to be great religious interest. Multitudes will exult that God is working marvelously for them, when the work is that of another spirit.” Ibid.

No doubt this deceptive revival will find acceptance in the mainline Christian churches, but could it also affect any Seventh-day Adventist churches? It would appear so, for the next sentence states: “Under a religious guise, Satan will seek to extend his influence over the Christian world.” Ibid. Satan will seek to spread his version of revival to every Christian church. Thus the only hope of safety, even for Seventh-day Adventist congregations, will be to hold onto Bible truth and thus make sure that we are not among “those churches which he can bring under his deceptive power.”

We can be thankful that God has given us specific descriptions of what a true revival movement in the church will—and will not—look like, so that we do not need to be taken in by the false.

Speaking of false revival, “There is an emotional excitement, a mingling of the true with the false, that is well adapted to mislead.” Ibid.  A true revival is the work of the Holy Spirit. It will not encourage continuance in sin. Nor will it quietly overlook ongoing sin and error.

“Yet none need be deceived. In the light of God’s word it is not difficult to determine the nature of these movements. Wherever men neglect the testimony of the Bible, turning away from those plain, soul-testing truths which require self-denial and renunciation of the world, there we may be sure that God’s blessing is not bestowed. And by the rule which Christ Himself has given, ‘Ye shall know them by their fruits’ (Matthew 7:16), it is evident that these movements are not the work of the Spirit of God.” Ibid. pages 464, 465.

The Holy Spirit will always inspire a revival that leads men and women to the Bible. Never will a revival that proceeds from Him be compatible with continuance in disobedience of God’s Word. The fruits will be seen, and we are to judge those fruits. They will include self-denial and renunciation of the world. If those who are experiencing the revival do not feel a need to leave off the vain customs, fashions, materialism, movies, entertainments, and pleasures of the world, it has not worked a transformation after God’s order and is not the work of the Holy Spirit.

“A wrong conception of the character, the perpetuity, and the obligation of the divine law has led to errors in relation to conversion and sanctification, and has resulted in lowering the standard of piety in the church. Here is to be found the secret of the lack of the Spirit and power of God in the revivals of our time.” Ibid. page 465.

A true revival will sweep away subtle errors regarding the necessity of obedience to God’s Law, the necessity of sanctification to our salvation, and the victorious experience to be had by every truly converted person. A true revival will never leave the people uncertain as to how fully it is possible to overcome sin, or what actions are, and are not, in harmony with God’s Law.

Is it possible for some people in the church to be experiencing true revival under the working of the Holy Spirit, while others sitting next to them in the church are at the same time experiencing a counterfeit revival? Yes. This is why we need to know what true revival is, so that we may not be self-deceived, thinking we are experiencing the outpouring of the Holy Spirit when we are not. We also need to present the need for revival to others in such a way that they will be led to the true experience, and will not be deceived by a false revival.

In the last days, there will be both true and false revival. What shall we do if we encounter a revival that does not bear the marks of the Holy Spirit’s working? We should pray and do all in our power to experience the true. The Holy Spirit will never lead us to brood over the shortcomings of others, when we ourselves are unconverted. Then, when we have fully surrendered to the Holy Spirit’s working, let us prayerfully go to work for others, to help them also experience the power of God that leads to primitive godliness.

All quotations are by Ellen G. White.