Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Approaching Storm's Problem

These are some thoughts about the current wave of messages regarding the economic crisis the world is in. It is typified by well meaning, heart-in-the-right-place messages by many well know and lesser known speakers. These types of messages are gaining popularity today. I've found these messages thought provoking, and yet there is a serious problem with these messages!

Many people are trying to get out of the cities. Many people are getting more serious about their spiritual lives. Many are selling property and possessions to forward God's work. Many people are responding positively to these messages. Might one honestly question, "What more proof could you need that these messages are from God?"

We just need to remember that It has always been the case that Satan either motivates us to do the wrong thing for the "right" reason, or the right thing for the "wrong" reason. Even doing the right thing for the wrong reason is not the same as doing the right thing—especially when it comes to our spiritual lives.

If my motivation for getting my act together spiritually is because I think time is really short, then I am merely getting ready for selfish reasons—and that is a serious problem for me. The motivation, the reason we do it—is critical. The Pharisees had mastered the art of doing the right thing for the wrong reason, and Christ did not spare them for their selfishness.

Think about this for a minute: Suppose that we are heading into the final crisis and that Christ is coming in a few months. Even the nearness of Christ's coming is not a reason to get serious about being a Christian!

The reason to get our act together spiritually is because living for Christ is the best way in good times and bad—and we must do this today, even if He's not coming for two-hundred years! Following the Lord's counsel in diet, and where we live, and how we relate to each other is truly the most incredible way to live. Now. Today!

"One brother said to me, 'Sister White, do you think the Lord will come in ten years?' I replied, 'What difference does it make to you whether He shall come in two, four, or ten years?' 'Why,' said he, 'I think I would do differently in some things than I now do if I knew the Lord was to come in ten years.' 'What would you do?' said I. 'Why,' said he, 'I would sell my property and begin to search the Word of God and try to warn the people and get them to prepare for His coming, and I would plead with God that I might be ready to meet Him.' 'Then,' said I, 'if you knew that the Lord was not coming for twenty years would you live differently?'

"Said he, 'I think I would.' 'Then,' said I, 'you know your Master's will, and it is your duty to do just as though you knew that He was coming in twenty years.' Well, now, how selfish was that expression that he would live a different life if he knew his Lord was to come in ten years. Why, Enoch walked with God 300 years, and this is a lesson for us, that we shall walk with God every day. We are not safe unless we are waiting and watching; we must have an eye single to God's glory." {2SAT 28.2}

Economy Crash Guarantees Second Coming?

Could the global economy crash this year and Christ not return for 10 or 20 years? Absolutely! Of course! It did in 1929. Is our memory so short? And as the global economy crashed, a great many Seventh-day Adventists were sure that the second coming was at hand. Those were hard, hard times. Unlike anything that has happened since. But it's been 80 years. 80 years! The fact that our economy is doing poorly is not a proof that Christ's coming is at hand.

Nor is it a reason to get our act together as Christians. It would be far better to say, "I have been cowardly too long. I have been lazy too long. I have been uncommitted too long. And from this day forward I will live like Enoch—regardless of when Christ's coming is."

If my reason to get my act together is because I only have two years left—even if my reason is because I only have two months left—I have problem: No one can guarantee me that I personally actually have two months! My probation could very well close with my death today. Yours could.

No one is saying that Christ will come tomorrow. It's still months out. At least. But if I die—my probation is closed today. Christ very well may be coming tomorrow in that sense—as far as I'm concerned.

A failing economy, a coming crisis, is no reason to do what Christ has said we must do. If that is my motivation for serving Christ, I've got the same problem as many of the Millerites 1844. It became apparent that many of them had not gotten ready because they really loved Christ, but because they did not want to be lost. And when the time passed, they "united with those who had despised the heavenly message, and they turned upon the disappointed ones in ridicule," showing their lack of true sincerity. {1SG 152.1} What's my motivation—is it any better?

Here's the crux of the matter: "It is not the fear of punishment, or the hope of everlasting reward, that leads the disciples of Christ to follow Him. They behold the Saviour's matchless love, revealed throughout His pilgrimage on earth, from the manger of Bethlehem to Calvary's cross, and the sight of Him attracts, it softens and subdues the soul. Love awakens in the heart of the beholders. They hear His voice, and they follow Him." {DA 480.3} We don't need a time of crisis to do that!

Get Ready Now!

I have a very, very serious question you need to ask yourself: Since when is the soon coming of Christ a reason to get ready? But isn't that what we've always been taught? No. Not at all. The reason to wake up—the reason to begin living by faith—is because I love Christ and no longer want to hurt Him by my continual rebellion and backsliding. Every day we sin we crucify to ourselves "the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." (Heb 6:6).

Why do people exist? Why are they born? "To honor God, and bless their fellow-men." This is the message we are to be giving: "Let them see the tender love which the Father in heaven has manifested toward them, and the high destiny for which the discipline of this life is to prepare them,--the dignity and honor to which they are called, even to become the sons of God,-- and thousands would turn with contempt and loathing from the low and selfish aims and the frivolous pleasures that have hitherto engrossed them. They would learn to hate sin, and to shun it, not merely from hope of reward or fear of punishment, but from a sense of its inherent baseness,--because it would be a degrading of their God-given powers, a stain upon their God-like manhood." {CE 69.3}

All Backwards

The problem is that the signs given of Christ's coming have all already been fulfilled. There have been wars, rumors of wars, nation has risen against nation, the stars have fallen, the moon has been blood, the great earthquake. All these things have been documented in the Great Controversy and we know that to be true.

As far as I know, a financial crash of the US economy or the world economy has not been predicted as a sign of Christ's coming. Except in this way which shows we've got it completely backwards:

"When our nation, in its legislative councils, shall enact laws to bind the consciences of men in regard to their religious privileges, enforcing Sunday observance, and bringing oppressive power to bear against those who keep the seventh-day Sabbath, the law of God will, to all intents and purposes, be made void in our land, and national apostasy will be followed by national ruin." {LDE 133.5}

When will national ruin take place? After national apostasy. Which national apostasy? Enforcing Sunday observance.

Does that mean we're living in times of peace and safety, and that everything will be OK? Definitely not! What it means is that there is a very good chance that this will prove to be yet another Y2K or even great depression.

But if it's not a direct sign of the second coming, then why are we spending our time on it as Christians? Shouldn't we let the world deal with worldly issues? Indeed, the response I see is people missing the point: People's attention is being drawn to commercial financial sites like and checking out their banks! Messages and e-mails and conversations on this topic include worldly financial reports, links to secular articles, and references to conspiratorial statements by unnamed government officials. From a practical side we need to be careful with our money. If we have money to invest we should do that wisely. Just as in all our business decisions.

But beyond personal stewardship, isn't the economy, currency, and investment markets something for the analysts on Wall Street to talk about? Is that not something for the business channels on TV to discuss?

Is it the place of the church to be discussing money and financial and currency matters? And if our attention is being drawn to our money and the state of our banks, that is that much less attention we are giving to our own characters and the state of our hearts.

The problem here is that the last thing we need today is to have our poor, weak minds focused on this world any more than they are.

Even more troubling.

These kinds of messages have two very dire, and predictable results:

1. Hardening of hearts.
2. Fanaticism.

Whether it's a prediction that Y2K will be the beginning of the end, or "Christ will come before the year 2000", or any other number of things—they all have the same result:

"I understand that Brother [E. P.] Daniels has, as it were, set time, stating that the Lord will come within five years. . . . We want not to move the people's passions to get up a stir, where feelings are moved and principle does not control. I feel that we need to be guarded on every side, because Satan is at work to do his uttermost to insinuate his arts and devices that shall be a power to do harm. Anything that will make a stir, create an excitement on a wrong basis, is to be dreaded, for the reaction will surely come." {LDE 35.1}

"Because the times repeatedly set have passed, the world is in a more decided state of unbelief than before in regard to the near advent of Christ. They look upon the failures of the time-setters with disgust, and because men have been so deceived, they turn from the truth substantiated by the Word of God that the end of all things is at hand." {LDE 34.3}

We do not have to predict the hour, day, or even month to be time-setting as far as God is concerned. Then too we have the problem with fanaticism. It is growing! It is here! No bones about it—it's a startling thought that the US economy could collapse in the coming months. And yet we are told what will be the sure result of startling messages:

"Some time ago Elder __ got out some very startling notices regarding the destruction of New York. I wrote immediately to the ones in charge of the work there, saying that it was not wise to publish such notices, that thus an excitement might be aroused which would result in a fanatical movement, hurting the cause of God. It is enough to present the truth of the Word of God to the people. Startling notices are detrimental to the progress of His work." {Ev 387.3}

A Confused Message.

The message of the nearness of Christ's soon coming has been morphed! It once was a call to work the fields and win as many souls to Christ before it was too late. Today it's become a call to get me, myself, and I ready, and that is wrong. I need to be ready today—even if Christ is not coming for 100 years.

The nearness of Christ's soon coming is to motivate me to save as many of my fellow men as possible--and do it with double the energy I have been!

Christ died to save me from holding grudges, from sensuality, pride, and selfishness. And when I remember that the very sin I am contemplating doing: that is the one He died to save me from, right now—when I think about that, I will have victory. If I ask, all power will be given me to overcome that sin, and the choice will be mine as to whether I'll obey God or sin.

If my choice is made today, if I am living where God wants me to, if I am doing what He wants me to do with my life—I can have peace, even in troublous times.

Thousands of years ago, God told us, "Today if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart." Isn't it time we did that? Let's make our choice today and we will not be dismayed nor excited by the approaching storms, but will press on through to the Kingdom!

Tony Evert

Please see also related topic: Persecution's Paradox
And End Time Charity by Eugene Prewitt,


Marijke said...

I really appreciated the perspective that this article gave on the situation. I want to be ready for the Lord's return; whenever that might be!!!

L. David Harris said...

Thanks, sir. I appreciate your perspective. Brilliant! I would only add one thing: It is our privilege to yield our motives to God. When we do, He will purify them. We cannot. Some have made a religion of purifying their motives and doing things for the "right" reasons, instead of applying what you so eloquently here described. In truth, as the prophet said, "Our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?" And yet it is appropriate to examine ones self moment-by-moment. So, what do we do in light of the coming crises, in cooperation with all you've rightly outlined here? Yield! Yes, we work out our salvation with fear and trembling. But we must not attempt this out of sequence. The prophet continues, "It is God that works in us BOTH to will and to do His good pleasure." We "submit ourselves therefore unto God," then we can "resist the devil and he will flee."

Thanks so much for the balanced appraisal, sir. It was refreshing. Keep looking up!


SaMonna Watts said...

On point and on time!

Robert Edwards said...

Thank you. I needed this article. On point and on time. After recently learning of our possible financial doom, the Illuminati, Masons, John Todd and more, we realized that God is still in control no matter what the enemy is doing(or not) and that Daniel did exist in captivity anyway, all to Gods glory!
Thanks for helping us put this all in a true Biblical perspective that honors "His Will" and that leads us to repentance because He first loved us and NOT because of a growing panic. Thanks for helping me keep it all properly in focus!

Ronald Monestime said...

Hello Tony Evert,

I was led to this post here from your very biblical comments and counsel on the forum in regards to David Gate’s spurious motivation basis. Indeed your statements were in harmony with what is advised in the Bible and SOP. I have addressed David Gates’ ministry from predominantly a substantive level, where the factualness, and also Biblicalness of the statements and views that he has used as the platform for his ‘Imminent Collapse and Doom’ message are challenged. And indeed, upon close scrutiny, most of the key things that he used to justify such “startling messages” are proven to be factually false and ultimately baseless, especially Biblically speaking (including the SOP). See my blog post for more on this:

God Bless!
NJK Project

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