Why a Soon Second Coming?

Why should we believe that the Second Coming is soon? Could it not just as easily be a long way off? Why did God give His people the message that His coming would be soon, and yet it has taken so many years? Should we just settle down to a “regular” life, deciding that we cannot be sure whether He is coming soon or not?

There has been a delay. Yet God has revealed the reason for the delay, and it lies not with Him, but with His people.

Ellen White wrote: “I saw that the time for Jesus to be in the most holy place was nearly finished, and that time can last but a very little longer.” Early Writings 58. This was published in 1851.

Years later, Sister White commented on this statement. “It is true that time has continued longer than we expected in the early days of this message. Our Saviour did not appear as soon as we hoped. But has the word of the Lord failed? Never! It should be remembered that the promises and threatenings of God are alike conditional.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 67.

Here is the key. In 1851, God intended for time to last “but a very little longer.” Yet this plan was conditional, and the conditions were not met; therefore His coming was delayed.

“God had committed to His people a work to be accomplished on earth. The third angel’s message was to be given, the minds of believers were to be directed to the heavenly sanctuary, where Christ had entered to make atonement for His people. The Sabbath reform was to be carried forward. The breach in the law of God must be made up. The message must be proclaimed with a loud voice, that all the inhabitants of earth might receive the warning. The people of God must purify their souls through obedience to the truth, and be prepared to stand without fault before Him at His coming.

“Had Adventists, after the great disappointment in 1844, held fast their faith, and followed on unitedly in the opening providence of God, receiving the message of the third angel and in the power of the Holy Spirit proclaiming it to the world, they would have seen the salvation of God, the Lord would have wrought mightily with their efforts, the work would have been completed, and Christ would have come ere this to receive His people to their reward.” Ibid. 67, 68.

This explanation was written in 1883. Jesus would thus have come before 1883, if He could have. The statement in First Selected Messages goes on to explain that after the Great Disappointment, early Adventists were divided over the teaching of the Sabbath, and it was rejected by the majority. Thus the work that God had given them was not done.

“It was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be thus delayed….

“For forty years did unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion shut out ancient Israel from the land of Canaan. The same sins have delayed the entrance of modern Israel into the heavenly Canaan. In neither case were the promises of God at fault. It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among the Lord’s professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years.” Ibid. 68, 69.

So our tarrying time in this world can be compared to the forty years of wilderness wandering of the Israelites. Only, unlike them, we have wandered for considerably more than forty years. Think about it. Considering that the Israelites’ rejection of God’s leadership at the border of Canaan cost them a forty-year delay, and that we have been in the world 174 years since the Great Disappointment in 1844, and 168 years since 1851, our failure must be significant.

The fault was not only with the early Adventists who rejected the Sabbath truth, for we are told, “We may have to remain here in this world because of insubordination many more years, as did the children of Israel, but for Christ’s sake, His people should not add sin to sin by charging God with the consequence of their own wrong course of action.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, 277, 278. This was written in 1901.

Thus, our own course is part of the reason for the delay. And the specific sins cited are unbelief, worldliness, unconsecration, and strife.

“Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.” Christ’s Object Lessons 69. We indeed have a part to play in hastening His coming. It is for us to cooperate in allowing Jesus to remove sin from our lives. And yes, He can do it. He is waiting for us to allow Him to do it.

While God has in mercy waited patiently for His backsliding people, giving them more time and opportunities to turn to Him, He will not wait forever. In this brief study we have seen that the time for His coming is long overdue, that Jesus would have come decades ago. We are living on borrowed time, and we cannot settle down into a comfortable state of “business as usual,” assuming the Jesus’ coming could very easily be a great way off. It is time to get ready, and the very act of getting ready will hasten His coming. Remember, He is waiting for His character to be reproduced in His people. He is waiting for us.

“But,” you may think, “I cannot see anyone in the government talking about a Sunday law, and it would surely take a very long time for such a thing to be agitated and finally enforced.” Not really. While the agitation of a Sunday law is a topic for another study, let us say here that one of the signs of the end is that it will not seem to be coming! In fact, to those who are not watching, it will come “as a thief.”

“For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3. So before sudden destruction comes upon the world, it will be a time when men are predicting peace and safety.

Jesus even said that when He comes it will be a time such as people think He is not coming. “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 24:44.

Yet not all will be lulled to sleep by the time of apparent peace and safety, for they realize that Jesus predicted the unexpected nature of final events. “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6.

Sister White corroborates the idea that final events will come as a surprise, and a very great one at that. “Transgression has almost reached its limit. Confusion fills the world, and a great terror is soon to come upon human beings. The end is very near. We who know the truth should be preparing for what is soon to break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 28.

For something to be an overwhelming surprise it must be unexpected to say the least.

So, let us realize that final events will be unexpected, especially to those who are spiritually asleep. The fact that we may not see things progressing in a neat, orderly way should not rock us into security that this world is likely to continue many more years.

We live in a time of apparent peace and safety. Most of us are not facing war, famine, epidemics, unrest and rioting on our doorstep, or economic collapse. So many have become comfortable in this world. Years ago, perhaps, they looked forward to Jesus’ coming, but now they have slipped into a “regular” life, making money, buying things, decorating their homes, taking vacations, and absorbing themselves in hobbies. To them, it doesn’t “look” like anything is happening soon. “Some are looking too far off for the coming of the Lord. Time has continued a few years longer than they expected; therefore they think it may continue a few years more, and in this way their minds are being led from present truth, out after the world. In these things I saw great danger; for if the mind is filled with other things, present truth is shut out, and there is no place in our foreheads for the seal of the living God.” Early Writings 58.

Paul said, “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5:6. Those who are watching can see that indeed events are lining up so that when the time is right, the needed factors can fall into place to create a Sunday law crisis.

I wish to mention one important point here. Currently there has been a rise of time-setting in our church. Time-setting is contrary to Inspiration, for God said through His messenger, “There will always be false and fanatical movements made by persons in the church who claim to be led of God –those who will run before they are sent, and will give day and date for the occurrence of unfulfilled prophecy. The enemy is pleased to have them do this, for their successive failures and leading into false lines cause confusion and unbelief.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 84.

Time-setting is not of God and will lead to loss of faith in God’s true message as these false messages are seen not to come true. Yet, while we must eschew the error of time setting, we cannot fail to give the message so needed now: Jesus is coming soon. Wake up, and let us get ready before it is too late!

All non-Bible quotations are by Ellen White.

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Preparation for the Last Days

It is now 2019. We are still in this world. Is Jesus soon to come? Might preparations be underway for His return to take place soon? If so, what should we be doing to make sure we are ready for that event? Is it up to us to decide, or has a definite course of action been revealed to us?

It has. We are not just another denomination. We Seventh-day Adventists are a movement directly raised up by God to be His remnant in the last days of earth’s history. Our mission statement is to proclaim the three angels’ messages to the world: that the hour of his judgment is come, that Babylon (churches who have rejected truth) is fallen, and that we must not receive the mark of the beast (Sunday worship) but must keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. How do we know this? We must study our history. Read The Great Controversy, chapters 17-24, in search of a deep understanding of the beginnings of the Adventist movement.

After the Great Disappointment, God revealed that although Adventists had been mistaken in their belief that Jesus would return on October 22, 1844, they had not been mistaken in the understanding that the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 had ended that day. “Thus those who followed in the light of the prophetic word saw that, instead of coming to the earth at the termination of the 2300 days in 1844, Christ then entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary to perform the closing work of atonement preparatory to His coming.” Great Controversy, 422.

Why is this important to us? Is it merely a doctrinal technicality for the interest of theologians? No. The knowledge of what began in 1844, if we have access to that knowledge, has a direct bearing upon whether or not we are saved.

“It is those who by faith follow Jesus in the great work of the atonement who receive the benefits of His mediation in their behalf, while those who reject the light which brings to view this work of ministration are not benefited thereby. The Jews who rejected the light given at Christ’s first advent, and refused to believe on Him as the Saviour of the world, could not receive pardon through Him….

“The condition of the unbelieving Jews illustrates the condition of the careless and unbelieving among professed Christians, who are willingly ignorant of the work of our merciful High Priest.” Great Controversy, 430.

So why does our acceptance of the light on 1844 and the sanctuary affect our salvation? Because if we reject light, we turn away from Jesus. We may want to be saved in our own way, but we do not accept the one way that He has made for our salvation. What is that way?

The earthly sanctuary service was an illustration of the plan of salvation. “As in the typical [earthly] service there was a work of atonement at the close of the year, so before Christ’s work for the redemption of men is completed there is a work of atonement for the removal of sin from the sanctuary. This is the service which began when the 2300 days ended. At that time, as foretold by Daniel the prophet, our High Priest entered the most holy, to perform the last division of His solemn work–to cleanse the sanctuary.

“As anciently the sins of the people were by faith placed upon the sin offering and through its blood transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary, so in the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary. And as the typical cleansing of the earthly was accomplished by the removal of the sins by which it had been polluted, so the actual cleansing of the heavenly is to be accomplished by the removal, or blotting out, of the sins which are there recorded. But before this can be accomplished, there must be an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement. The cleansing of the sanctuary therefore involves a work of investigation–a work of judgment.” Great Controversy, 421, 422.

So the work that began at the end of the 2300 days was a work of examination to determine who, because of their repentance and faith in Christ, are entitled to an eternal inheritance. Those who are found to be, will have their sins blotted out. This is a work performed by Jesus, but is there anything for us to be doing during this momentous time?

“In the typical service, when the high priest entered the most holy place, all Israel were required to gather about the sanctuary and in the most solemn manner humble their souls before God, that they might receive the pardon of their sins and not be cut off from the congregation. How much more essential in this antitypical Day of Atonement [the actual Day of Atonement symbolized by the earthly one] that we understand the work of our High Priest and know what duties are required of us.” Great Controversy, 430, 431.

Yes, in answer to the question, there is something for us to be doing. We are not idle waiters during the time that Christ is deciding each case for eternal salvation or loss. First, we are to appreciate the work He is doing in the sanctuary. Second, we are to humble our souls before God, seeking pardon and cleansing from all sin. Thirdly, we are to “know what duties are required of us.”

The work of Christ in setting apart those who will receive salvation during this time is known as “the sealing.” Study Testimonies for the Church, volume 5, chapter 24, “The Seal of God,” for a deeper understanding. This chapter is amazingly pointed, and is just what we need to wake us up in this crucial hour.

“Our own course of action will determine whether we shall receive the seal of the living God or be cut down by the destroying weapons. Already a few drops of God’s wrath have fallen upon the earth; but when the seven last plagues shall be poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation, then it will be forever too late to repent and find shelter….

“Not all who profess to keep the Sabbath will be sealed. There are many even among those who teach the truth to others who will not receive the seal of God in their foreheads. They had the light of truth, they knew their Master’s will, they understood every point of our faith, but they had not corresponding works. These who were so familiar with prophecy and the treasures of divine wisdom should have acted their faith. They should have commanded their households after them, that by a well-ordered family they might present to the world the influence of the truth upon the human heart….

“Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement….

“It is now that we must keep ourselves and our children unspotted from the world. It is now that we must wash our robes of character and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. It is now that we must overcome pride, passion, and spiritual slothfulness. It is now that we must awake and make determined effort for symmetry of character.

“What are you doing, brethren, in the great work of preparation? Those who are uniting with the world are receiving the worldly mold and preparing for the mark of the beast. Those who are distrustful of self, who are humbling themselves before God and purifying their souls by obeying the truth these are receiving the heavenly mold and preparing for the seal of God in their foreheads. When the decree goes forth and the stamp is impressed, their character will remain pure and spotless for eternity.

“Now is the time to prepare. The seal of God will never be placed upon the forehead of an impure man or woman. It will never be placed upon the forehead of the ambitious, world-loving man or woman. It will never be placed upon the forehead of men or women of false tongues or deceitful hearts. All who receive the seal must be without spot before God–candidates for heaven. Go forward, my brethren and sisters. I can only write briefly upon these points at this time, merely calling your attention to the necessity of preparation. Search the Scriptures for yourselves, that you may understand the fearful solemnity of the present hour.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 212-216.

Please study the preceding statement carefully. God is looking for cleansed characters. There is work involved—work that we must do—in cleansing the soul of every defilement, of keeping ourselves unspotted by the world. It is common to hear today that we cannot overcome sin, and that we should be content to continue in a life of transgression, but this teaching flies in the face of what we have just read about the essential preparation to receive the seal of God. This false teaching is a device of Satan to rob many of their eternal inheritance. It is true, we cannot purify our hearts ourselves, or overcome sin in our own strength, but Jesus is able to do this for us. Jude 24 says, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” Notice, He is able to keep us from sinning and to help us become faultless. Yet we must cooperate. We need to stop hanging on to our sins and allow Jesus to give us the victory over them, even if it is painful.

We now see that the sealing time is a time when much earnest work must be accomplished, in order that we may be ready to receive the seal of God. Much study is needed so that we may not be ignorant of the changes we need to make. “Said the angel, ‘Deny self; ye must step fast.’ Some of us have had time to get the truth and to advance step by step, and every step we have taken has given us strength to take the next. But now time is almost finished, and what we have been years learning, they will have to learn in a few months. They will also have much to unlearn and much to learn again.” Early Writings, 67.

It may be natural to feel, “Where should I start?” The very first step in preparation is to make a full surrender to Jesus as Lord of our life. Without this, any further steps will be human effort and will lead to failure. The book Steps to Christ will be a great help in learning how to allow Christ to take control of your life. This does not come naturally to us; we naturally want to retain control. This is something we must unlearn.

As a vital part of preparation, we must establish our full faith upon the inspiration of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Refuse to listen to any voice encouraging less than full confidence in the veracity of the Scriptures or Spirit of Prophecy. If you are uncertain about the ministry of Ellen White, I would refer you to Testimonies for the Church volume 5, chapter 82, “The Nature and Influence of the ‘Testimonies.’”

We cannot now afford to be undecided regarding how the Spirit of Prophecy writings, inspired by God, apply to our lives. God did not give them to us, as some would now believe, that we may pick and choose which parts are applicable to us.

Sister White did not understand her writings to be of limited authority. Rather, God showed her that she was the Lord’s messenger. “I have had no claims to make, only that I am instructed that I am the Lord’s messenger; that He called me in my youth to be His messenger, to receive His word, and to give a clear and decided message in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 32.

We must have no hesitancy today in saying that we believe that Ellen White was called to be the messenger of the Lord, and that the messages He sent through her are inspired and authoritative. They are not of limited authority, as some would have us believe, but they can be trusted as as source of truth because they come from our Heavenly Father. “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.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 147, 148.

The messenger of the Lord was not shown that the messages God gave her were simply good counsel, to be accepted or ignored at will. Nor was she shown that these messages were only partly inspired but liable to error. There is no such middle ground. “God is either teaching His church, reproving their wrongs and strengthening their faith, or He is not. This work is of God, or it is not. God does nothing in partnership with Satan. My work for the past thirty years bears the stamp of God or the stamp of the enemy. There is no halfway work in the matter. The Testimonies are of the Spirit of God, or of the devil.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 230.

There is no halfway work in the matter. If the Spirit of Prophecy writings are inspired of God, dare we ignore them? Dare we consider them fine devotional reading, but not applicable to the practical details of our lives?

“Testimonies of warning have been repeated. I inquire: Who have heeded them? Who have been zealous in repenting of their sins and idolatry, and have been earnestly pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus? Who have shown the inward work of God, leading to self-denial and humble self-sacrifice? Who that have been warned have so separated themselves from the world, from its affections and lusts, that they have shown a daily growth in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? Whom do we find among the active ones, that feel the burden for the church? Whom do we see that God is especially using, working by and through them to elevate the standard, and to bring the church up to it, that they may prove the Lord and see if He will not pour them out a blessing?

“I have waited anxiously, hoping that God would put His Spirit upon some and use them as instruments of righteousness to awaken and set in order His church. I have almost despaired as I have seen, year after year, a greater departure from that simplicity which God has shown me should characterize the life of His followers. There has been less and less interest in, and devotion to, the cause of God. I ask: Wherein have those who profess confidence in the Testimonies sought to live according to the light given in them? Wherein have they regarded the warnings given? Wherein have they heeded the instructions they have received?” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 483, 484.

Loss of full confidence in the messages of the Spirit of Prophecy is the beginning of a slippery slope. “It is Satan’s plan to weaken the faith of God’s people in the Testimonies. Next follows skepticism in regard to the vital points of our faith, the pillars of our position, then doubt as to the Holy Scriptures, and then the downward march to perdition. When the Testimonies, which were once believed, are doubted and given up, Satan knows the deceived ones will not stop at this; and he redoubles his efforts till he launches them into open rebellion, which becomes incurable and ends in destruction.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 211. “If you lose confidence in the Testimonies you will drift away from Bible truth.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 674.

With our faith firmly planted upon the reliability of the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy, we can go forward to discover what God has revealed in these inspired sources that is necessary for our preparation. Let us begin to pray and study Inspiration in a search for the truths God has given us for our time. We need to understand these for ourselves.

“There are many precious truths contained in the Word of God, but it is ‘present truth’ that the flock needs now. I have seen the danger of the messengers running off from the important points of present truth, to dwell upon subjects that are not calculated to unite the flock and sanctify the soul. Satan will here take every possible advantage to injure the cause.

“But such subjects as the sanctuary, in connection with the 2300 days, the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, are perfectly calculated to explain the past Advent movement and show what our present position is, establish the faith of the doubting, and give certainty to the glorious future. These, I have frequently seen, were the principal subjects on which the messengers should dwell.” Early Writings, 63.

“The passing of the time in 1844 was a period of great events, opening to our astonished eyes the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having decided relation to God’s people upon the earth, [also] the first and second angels’ messages and the third, unfurling the banner on which was inscribed, ‘The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’ One of the landmarks under this message was the temple of God, seen by His truth-loving people in heaven, and the ark containing the law of God. The light of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment flashed its strong rays in the pathway of the transgressors of God’s law. The nonimmortality of the wicked is an old landmark. I can call to mind nothing more that can come under the head of the old landmarks.” Counsels to Writers and Editors, 30, 31.

While there are many precious truths which we can and should study, we must not neglect “the important points of present truth.” The Great Controversy is highly recommended in understanding the truth for this time. I would also highly recommend Early Writings.

There are many directions God has given in Inspiration which have a direct bearing on our practical lives—how we use our time and money, how we treat our bodies, what we feed our minds upon, and yes, even how we present our appearance. Let us make a brief introduction to these.

But before commencing, remember that whatever God has asked us to change in our lives is for our best good. I understand that it can be a painful and emotional decision to give up things we love and are used to, when we learn that these things are separating us from Jesus. But I urge you not to quickly brush off these revelations, with the idea that “Surely there’s nothing wrong with that,” or “Everyone else does it,” or “I know that was disapproved of in Ellen White’s day, but now no one sees anything wrong with it, so that counsel must not apply to us.” It is important to consider the context, setting, and related counsels. However, ignoring God’s directions is another matter. We cannot judge by what “seems acceptable” in today’s culture. Remember, we are living in the days just before Jesus’ coming. This time has not been prophesied to be one of morality and high standards. What the world thinks is appropriate or not is a meaningless criterion for the serious Christian preparing to receive the seal of God.

It is also true that reformations made in the life, if not carried out in the strength of Jesus out of deep love for Him and desire to please Him, are empty. However, let us not twist this until we believe that a true Christian has no need for practical reformation of the life. “There is no evidence of genuine repentance unless it works reformation.” Steps to Christ, 59.

God has given much specific counsel regarding our health. If we are to carry out the first angel’s message, instructing us to “fear God and given glory to Him,” we must heed the command: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31. A clouded mind housed in an enfeebled body will be hindered in its ability to understand truth. Remember, the Holy Spirit speaks to us through the brain, which is an organ of the physical body. As the Creator, God knows best how to preserve health, so His directions should be taken seriously. The compilation Counsels on Diet and Foods will be very helpful in answering questions regarding what we should eat.

What are we filling the mind with? This is a serious question. Television watching is a passive activity in which television producers are allowed to select one’s mental diet. With habitual watching, much that is shallow, worldly, and sinful desensitizes the viewer to its sinfulness. Novel reading should also be put out of our lives.

“Do not spend your time reading magazines and novels. Read your Bible. You have many temptations to meet and overcome. You have a great truth to proclaim. Only by a constant study of the word of God can you gain the strength needed for this work. Put novel-reading out of your lives. Let not the novels appear upon your table or in your bookcase. You have none too much time in which to gain an understanding of what saith the Scriptures.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 6, 282.

What about movies and dramatized theatrical performances? “Among the most dangerous resorts for pleasure is the theater. Instead of being a school of morality and virtue, as is so often claimed, it is the very hotbed of immorality. Vicious habits and sinful propensities are strengthened and confirmed by these entertainments. Low songs, lewd gestures, expressions, and attitudes, deprave the imagination and debase the morals. Every youth who habitually attends such exhibitions will be corrupted in principle. There is no influence in our land more powerful to poison the imagination, to destroy religious impressions, and to blunt the relish for the tranquil pleasures and sober realities of life than theatrical amusements. The love for these scenes increases with every indulgence, as the desire for intoxicating drinks strengthens with its use. The only safe course is to shun the theater, the circus, and every other questionable place of amusement.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 652.

“The blessing of God would not be invoked upon the hour spent at the theater or in the dance. No Christian would wish to meet death in such a place. No one would wish to be found there when Christ shall come.” Messages to Young People, 398.

In this modern day we no longer need to travel to the theater to partake of theatrical amusements. They are available at home, and now, with the addiction to Netflix, they pervade our society. If we are truly preparing to soon rise up in the clouds with Jesus, should we be enjoying the very same shows that godless, worldly people love? How can this be? Especially when the story lines are filled with immorality, inappropriate behavior, bad language, and general secular godlessness, should we really have any interest in these things? Yes, the decision to cut free may be an emotional one. Dramatized movies have a way of spiriting us away from reality when we are stressed, thus providing a welcome respite. Can you give that up? Yes, you can. In fact, you cannot afford not to. You need your mind clear to understand present truth for this time.

Lastly, let us briefly consider our personal appearance. We make choices in this area each time we buy clothing, and each time we dress and fix ourselves up for the day. Are these choices really consequential? Yes, they are. In fact, the Lord’s messenger was inspired to provide extensive warnings on this subject. Gradually and quietly, most of these instructions have fallen into disuse, but it is time that we dig through the rubbish of culture and peer pressure, and take an honest look at what God has written.

As Jesus is going over the records in the heavenly sanctuary, determining who through repentance and faith is entitled to the merits of Christ’s atonement, we do not want Him to see written next to our names a continued failure to follow His loving directions. Friends, it is now the Day of Atonement. It is a time to “afflict our souls” in humble obedience, not to decorate or show off our bodies. Does it seem to be too great a sacrifice to give up a style of dress that brings honor to self rather than to God? Please consider the following vision of Sister White.

“The glory and majesty of God were made to pass before me. Said the angel: ‘He is terrible in His majesty, yet ye realize it not; terrible in His anger, yet ye offend Him daily. “Strive to enter in at the strait gate;” “for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”’ These roads are distinct, separate, in opposite directions. One leads to eternal life, the other to eternal death. I saw the distinction between these roads, also the distinction between the companies traveling them. The roads are opposite; one is broad and smooth, the other narrow and rugged. So the parties that travel them are opposite in character, in life, in dress, and in conversation.

“Those who travel in the narrow way are talking of the joy and happiness they will have at the end of the journey. Their countenances are often sad, yet often beam with holy, sacred joy. They do not dress like the company in the broad road, nor talk like them, nor act like them. A pattern has been given them. A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief opened that road for them, and traveled it Himself. His followers see His footsteps, and are comforted and cheered. He went through safely; so can they, if they follow in His footsteps.

“In the broad road all are occupied with their persons, their dress, and the pleasures in the way. They indulge freely in hilarity and glee, and think not of their journey’s end, of the certain destruction at the end of the path. Every day they approach nearer their destruction; yet they madly rush on faster and faster. Oh, how dreadful this looked to me!”

As the vision continues, Sister White notices an unusual group of people. While they are walking in the broad road, they believe they are actually traveling in the narrow way.

“I saw many traveling in this broad road who had the words written upon them: ‘Dead to the world. The end of all things is at hand. Be ye also ready.’ They looked just like all the vain ones around them, except a shade of sadness which I noticed upon their countenances. Their conversation was just like that of the gay, thoughtless ones around them; but they would occasionally point with great satisfaction to the letters on their garments, calling for the others to have the same upon theirs. They were in the broad way, yet they professed to be of the number who were traveling the narrow way. Those around them would say: ‘There is no distinction between us. We are alike; we dress, and talk, and act alike.’” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 127, 128.

Notice: The group traveling in the narrow way “do not dress like the company in the broad road.” Yet there is that third group—the ones who thought they were in the narrow way, while they were really in the broad. “They looked just like all the vain ones around them.” Think of it. What does this mean for you, for the kind of clothes you buy and wear? Should there be a distinction between you and the surrounding culture? There should be.

It may be easy to feel like saying with the disciples: “This is an hard saying. Who can bear it?” But listen.

“Oh, the pride that was shown me of God’s professed people. It has increased every year, until it is now impossible to designate professed Advent Sabbath-keepers from all the world around them. Much, I saw, was expended for ribbons and laces for the bonnets, collars, …and other needless articles to decorate the body, while Jesus, the King of glory, who gave his life to redeem them, wore a crown of thorns. This was the way their Master’s sacred head was decorated. He was ‘a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.’ ‘He was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.’ And the very ones that profess to be washed by the blood of Jesus, can dress up, and decorate their poor, mortal bodies, yet dare to profess to be the followers of the holy, self-denying, humble Pattern. Oh, I wish that all could see this in the light that God sees it, and showed it to me. It seemed too much for me to bear, to feel the anguish of soul that I felt as I beheld it. ‘God’s people,’ said the angel, ‘are peculiar; such he is purifying unto himself.’ I saw that the outside appearance was an index to the heart. When hung with ribbons, collars, and needless things, it plainly shows that all this is in the heart, and unless that such persons are cleansed from their sins, they can never see God, for the pure in heart alone will see him.

“I saw that the axe must be laid at the root of the tree. Such pride should not be suffered in the church. It is these things that separate God from his people, that shuts the ark away from them. Israel has been asleep to the pride, and fashions, and conformity to the world, in their very midst. They advance every month in pride, covetousness, selfishness, and love of the world. When the truth affects the heart, it will cause a death to the world, and the ribbons, laces, and collars will be laid aside, and if dead, the laugh, the jeer, and scorn of unbelievers, will not move them. They will feel an anxious desire to be separate from the world, like their Master. They will not imitate its pride, fashions, or customs. The noble object will be ever before them, to glorify God, and gain the immortal inheritance. This prospect will swallow up all besides of an earthly nature. God will have a separate and distinct people from the world. And if any have a desire to imitate the fashions of the world, that they do not immediately subdue, just so soon God ceases to acknowledge them as his children. They are the children of the world, and darkness. They want to be as much like the world as possible, and those that profess to have put on Christ, by thus doing put him off, and show that they are strangers to grace, strangers to the meek and lowly Jesus. If they had acquainted themselves with him, they would walk worthy of him.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4, 21-23.

Dress and appearance is a difficult subject to address because our choices in this area are so very public. Choices of what to watch, listen to, and eat are often made and carried out in private, yet our choice of dress and style is apparent to all. Thus, speaking the truth on the subject, even if done lovingly, may be thought of as finger pointing. Should we thus avoid this subject all together? Did the Lord inspire His prophet to avoid it? If not, it indicates that this is a subject we need to face, one which—if we do not face it—could easily cause many of us to miss out on our eternal home. True love for souls requires that it be addressed.

If you would like to know for yourself what God has told us regarding our dress, I would encourage you to study the Testimonies for the Church. These books, inspired specifically for the guidance of Seventh-day Adventists in the last days, give us a needed understanding not only about dress but about many other subjects that God has seen fit to reveal. I encourage you to read them through. Especially read Testimonies, volume 1, chapter 83, “Reform in Dress,” and volume 4, chapter 62, “Simplicity in Dress.”

Yet some may ask, “What is the significance of this focus on standards? Even if we are weak in our lifestyle choices, as long as we make sure we make the right choice when the Sunday Law comes, we should be OK, right?” Indeed, it may be hard for us to imagine ourselves making any other choice than the right one when the Sunday law comes. Yet we are told that the choices we make today are determining the choice we will make then.

“The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us. Those who have step by step yielded to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will not find it a hard matter to yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death. The contest is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. In this time the gold will be separated from the dross in the church. True godliness will be clearly distinguished from the appearance and tinsel of it. Many a star that we have admired for its brilliancy will then go out in darkness. Chaff like a cloud will be borne away on the wind, even from places where we see only floors of rich wheat. All who assume the ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ’s righteousness, will appear in the shame of their own nakedness.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 81.

The contest is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. We face those contests every day. What will you choose—what God has said or what others around you are doing? I leave you with this thought:

“We are now living in the great day of atonement. In the typical service, while the high priest was making the atonement for Israel, all were required to afflict their souls by repentance of sin and humiliation before the Lord, lest they be cut off from among the people. In like manner, all who would have their names retained in the book of life should now, in the few remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin and true repentance. There must be deep, faithful searching of heart. The light, frivolous spirit indulged by so many professed Christians must be put away. There is earnest warfare before all who would subdue the evil tendencies that strive for the mastery. The work of preparation is an individual work. We are not saved in groups. The purity and devotion of one will not offset the want of these qualities in another. Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet He will examine the case of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth. Everyone must be tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.

“Solemn are the scenes connected with the closing work of the atonement. Momentous are the interests involved therein. The judgment is now passing in the sanctuary above. For many years this work has been in progress. Soon–none know how soon–it will pass to the cases of the living. In the awful presence of God our lives are to come up in review. At this time above all others it behooves every soul to heed the Saviour’s admonition: ‘Watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.’ Mark 13:33.” Great Controversy, 489, 490.

All quotations from books cited are by Ellen White.

The Testimonies Rejected

As we saw in the previous post, 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.

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.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pages 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.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 41.

Far from the idea that the Spirit of Prophecy teachings need not be so strictly followed 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.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, 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.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 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.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4,  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.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 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.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 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….” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 454, 455.

All quotations are by Ellen White.

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 “the 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.

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, pages 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 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, page 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, pages 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 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.” Testimonies to Ministers, 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 on the church as a whole.

“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.