Monday, September 29, 2008

Faith in Times of Peace

"Satan claimed that it was impossible for human beings to keep God's law. In order to prove the falsity of this claim, Christ left His high command, took upon Himself the nature of man, and came to the earth to stand at the head of the fallen race, in order to show that humanity could withstand the temptations of Satan." "When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own."  {PCP 24.5, COL 69.1}

One aspect of Christ's character that we seem to have forgotten about was that

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,

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Understanding Legalism

Legalism is not salvation. No one wants to be a "legalist". And you probably realize that if I am a legalist, I am lost—I need to find my salvation in Christ, not in the law.

What most people don't realize is that nearly every Christian is a legalist! (What?!) This is because there are at least three different kinds of legalism. Many of the most vocal against legalism have merely traded one type of legalism from another. Have you?

If you are a Christian, there's a very good chance you are a legalist. We mainly think of legalism as "salvation is gained through good works"—but that's merely one type of legalism. And in reality, that concept tends to be not so popular today. The other two types of legalism are far more widespread!

Three Types of Legalism:

  • Type I: Salvation by good works: Under the Law

  • Type II: Salvation by legal transactions: Salvation That Doesn't Save.

  • Type III: Salvation by the death of … The Law: Wrong Savior!

It doesn't matter which trap of legalism I have fallen for: if I am a legalist, I am lost and need Christ.

As you look at these three types of legalism, ask yourself, have I fallen for any of these? Have my friends fallen for any of these? Have I lost sight of my true Savior and the real salvation He offers? If there's any doubt, refocus your attention on Christ and the genuine salvation that He is offering!

Legalism Type II: Salvation That Doesn’t Save

Legalism is a cheap substitute for salvation. No one wants to be a "legalist" because legalism doesn't save. But in the process of trying to avoid legalism, many Christians have become legalists—just a different flavor!

We all know that generally, legalism is saying that "salvation is gained through good works". And yet that concept is only one kind of legalism. There are at least three kinds of legalism. And some of the strongest and most vocal critics of one type of legalism have fallen for one of the other kinds.

Legalism Type II: Legal Salvation

Here's how this type of legalism works: A person says that salvation is a series of legal transactions: some happening centuries ago, and others light years away up in Heaven. Salvation is entirely a legal transaction where the sins on my books of record are legally transferred to Christ.

This is legalism not because one is depending on the law for salvation, but because one is "legally" saved by Christ, not "literally" saved by Christ.

The difference is huge! Rewriting jots or erasing tittles in a Heavenly book in another galaxy does not deal with my bondage and slavery here on earth. "Sin is death." When I am overcome by temptation I am in bondage: "Of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage." 2 Peter 2:19.

Being in bondage to sin is a terrible thing, and Christ came, not to merely provide a legal way to escape sin's penalty: He came to "save His people from their sins." Matthew 1:21.

Sin is something we need to be saved from! Sin is bondage. Sin is slavery. And Jesus said, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." Is bondage freedom? Hardly! Have you been saved—have you been freed? John 8:36.

Captivity and Bondage

Suppose you committed a crime in the United States and for your crime you were banished to a remote island. Shortly after you arrived, you an evil king captured you and you were made a slave in a hot, smelly dungeon.

Every day was weary, painful drudgery and bondage in murky darkness. But one day, kind man slipped in and said, "I am here to save you. I am from the embassy in the United States, and the president has just signed a law pardoning you and making you free!"

Then he smiles at you and disappears, leaving you standing there in the gloom. And in walks the evil king and he gives you a beating for not working fast enough.

Does that legal transaction in a far away country actually benefit you? Surely you must say it does! But it did nothing to save you from your captivity—it hasn't really saved you.

The Bible teaches that if I yield to temptation, I'm not free. I am a captive—a servant of sin. "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" Romans 6:16.

Here's the problem with this type of legalism: "saved" people have not been saved from sin: They are in literal reality still sinners (i.e. still sinning). And because of this, they are still in bondage.

If my salvation consists merely in a legal transaction—if it does not actually save me from sin—then I am a legalist as surely as the one who tries to gain salvation without Christ by keeping the law.

What Then?

We know that Satan will be bound and then destroyed, so we won't be tempted by him in Heaven. But yielding to Satan's temptations is only one of the ways we sin: A person is also "tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed." James 1:14 NKJV.

Even though Satan will be gone, I will still have my own desires in Heaven. Adjusting the words in a book, and performing legal transactions does nothing about those desires. What if I have not learned to yield those desires to God? What if God ask me to do one thing, but I want to do something else? If my salvation was anything less than a transformed life, I might very quickly find myself a sinner in Heaven—and that cannot happen.

If all my life I have lived in bondage to sin—if on a regular basis I know what God wants but I choose to do something else (either because I can't obey or I won't obey Him)—what will happen to me when He returns to take us to Heaven?

Even if I could have been forgiven for every sin up to that moment, if I am still in bondage to sin—I am still in bondage! God isn't going to make me into a robot the moment I enter Heaven: He is not going to take away the freedom of choice that allowed me to disobey Him on earth.

This is why salvation must be both legal and literal. It must also save me from sin's bondage—from sinning. If I only have the legal part, I am a legalist and am missing a critical component of my salvation!

True Freedom

Christ's salvation is full, it is complete. It is deliverance from sin in every way: From sin's legal condemnation, from sin and temptation's literal power over me, and in the end from this sin-cursed world! "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." Hebrews 13:20.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Persecution’s Paradox

Listen (Presented at Inchelium, WA 8/30/2008)


God's church has always had problems, and you should not be surprised if you discovered problems in the church today. People say unwise things. Individually among us we can find worldliness, bitterness, vendettas, spiritual laziness, selfishness, pride.

In every church: If you look for problems, they are there. God's people have always had problems.

For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey. Isaiah 59:12-15

Doesn't this apply to us as a church today?

There are problems in the church. But my point is not to look at the problems in the church today. It's enough to say that you and I have probably noticed that there are problems. We can see that our church today is not yet the pure triumphant church that will be taken home at Christ's return. (Praise God if it was!)

But instead we see worldliness, a lack of seriousness, and a focus on the here and now rather than the future, eternal life. And if the truth be told, most of us see these same things in our own lives. We wish they weren't there, but how many of us let the daily busyness of life take away from our spiritual growth?


What will the church be like—the church that Christ will take to heaven?

In Revelation 14, we see a description of the 144,000. Notice the character of this church:

3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.

We do not want problems—what do we need instead? Purity. Purity is what characterizes the church when Christ returns.

1 John 3:2: Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

The characteristic of God's people who are alive when He returns is that they are like Him. And if we have this hope to see Him when He appears, what should we do?

Verse 3: And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

We can see problems around us in the church. We can see problems in our own lives. What is it that God is calling His church to? Purity. You and I need to be purifying ourselves.

Our Relationship to Impurity

God is coming for a pure, triumphant church. But I am not in a church that is pure: Instead I find problems—even serious problems. What should we do when we find ourselves, not in a pure church, but in a church with problems?

The answer, sadly, that many people give is to part: to part company with those who have the problems—to part with the church that is impure and try and create a new, pure organization.

That is a mistake. That is dangerous.

God has not called us to part company with His people—even though there are problems. If you were thinking of separating, if you have friends who are contemplating starting something new, please know that that idea is wrong, and it is a mistake.

How do we know? What did we just read in Revelation 14? Let's look back at the character of those who are translated.

Verse 3: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.

What is that song?

Revelation 15:3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.

The Song of the Lamb

There is an entire universe of pure, perfect churches. And yet to which of God's churches did the Lamb go? To ours. To our impure church. This fallen planet is where God sent His dear Son. And for what purpose?

Mark 10:45: For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

That is the song of the Lamb. His way was not to part with the problem church. He didn't say—"I can't get a blessing from going to planet Earth." He came. And He came for what purpose? Not to be ministered unto, but to minister. And to what? Give His life.

That is the song of the Lamb. That is what you and I are called to do.

The Song of Moses

And what about the song of Moses? In Exodus 32 we find the story of God's church at Sinai. This was not the story of a pure church. It was surely God's church. But it had terrible problems.

Here in Exodus 32, Moses is up on the Mount Sinai, doing what? Receiving the 10-commandments law. Solidifying Israel's covenant with God. Taking the words of Israel before the Holy God: "All that the Lord has spoken we will do."

And what was happening in the camp? While Moses was up making this covenant with the Lord, the people grew restless, and wanted a heathen festival complete with an idol.

And here we see what Aaron—the leader of God's church—essentially the general conference president—did:

Exodus 32:4: And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!"

What blasphemy! What open rebellion! To say that this idol, this golden calf, is who delivered them out of Israel. Think about it, whatever you could imagine you might hear our current president could have said or done—wouldn't it pale into nothingness in comparison?!

Verse 6: Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

What did God think of all this? Do you suppose He was pleased? You know, He was hurt to his core. The leaders of His church led out in apostasy of the worst kind, and the people went along with it and embraced it.

7 And the LORD said to Moses, "Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.

8 "They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, 'This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!'"

9 And the LORD said to Moses, "I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people!

10 "Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation."

What if God said this to you today? What if God Himself came to you and said: "I have seen the Adventist church, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! Now therefore get yourself away from it that My wrath may burn hot against it."?

If God came to you and said: "I will make of you a new, pure church." If God asked you to part with the SDA church—and to start a new church what would you do? God's commanding it, right?!

What can you say?

What did Moses say?

Exodus 32:11: Then Moses pleaded with the LORD his God, and said: "LORD, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?"

Verse 13: "Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, 'I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'"

And again verses 31-32: Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, "Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written."

The same thing happened in Numbers 14 and again in Numbers 16. Three times, over a period of about twenty years, God offered Moses the position of fathering a new, righteous nation, to replace the wicked one that He would destroy.

But what was really going on with these offers?

Signs of the Times, May 13, 1880 says: God saw that the children of Israel … were continually disposed to rebel … and grieve him by their continual rebellion. He proposed to Moses to consume them, and make of {Moses} a great nation. Here the Lord proved Moses.

What was God doing when He commanded Moses to separate? He was "proving" Him.

He would test the perseverance, faithfulness and love of Moses, for such an erring and ungrateful people. {ibid}

This offer was a test of Moses' perseverance. And today, when God's people lack purity, when there are problems, what do we need? Perseverance.
Perseverance, Faithfulness, and love for such and erring and ungrateful people.

Moses would not consent to have Israel destroyed. He showed by his intercessions with God that he valued the prosperity of God's chosen people more highly than a great name. {ibid}

What is the song of Moses? It is, when God's church has problems—when you feel inclined or even feel called to part with the church: you persevere. You stay. You intercede. You persevere to bring purity back to God's church. You stay not to be ministered unto, but to minister.

That is the song of Moses. That is the song of the Lamb. That is the song of the 144,000.

It is a song of perseverance and love. Perseverance with the problems. This is the song of those who will be part of the pure church that Christ will return for.

Past Pure Churches

What does this have to do with Persecution's Paradox? It is this: There will be a pure triumphant church.

We know that there have been pure churches in the past. Some examples of pure churches in the past are the apostolic/early Christian church; the Waldensees; the early churches of the reformation; the Millerites in the months leading up to 1844.

In every age there have been witnesses for God—men who cherished faith in Christ as the only mediator between God and man, who held the Bible as the only rule of life.

The Waldenses were some of these witnesses. They lived in the rugged alps of Northern Italy. And during the dark ages—during the time when Satan had nearly extinguished light of truth—globally—the Waldenses kept the faith.

They were a pure church.

Pure, simple, and fervent was the piety of these followers of Christ. The principles of truth they valued above houses and lands, friends, kindred, even life itself. These principles they earnestly sought to impress upon the hearts of the young. From earliest childhood the youth were instructed in the Scriptures and taught to regard sacredly the claims of the law of God. Copies of the Bible were rare; therefore its precious words were committed to memory. Many were able to repeat large portions of both the Old and the New Testament . In their purity and simplicity, they resembled the church of apostolic times. They held the Bible as the only supreme, infallible authority. Their pastors, followed the example of their Master, who "came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." {From GC 66-69}

They were a pure church.

They were also a persecuted church. Again and again were their fertile lands were laid waste, their homes and their simple churches were destroyed. Where there had once been flourishing fields the papal armies left a desert. Where there had once been the simple homes of an innocent and industrious people, nothing remained but rubble.

They were pursued across the mountains, they were hunted down in the valleys. And yet, even their enemies declared them to be a peaceable, quiet, pious people. Their grand offense was that they would not worship God according to the will of the pope. For that crime, every humiliation, insult, and torture that men or devils could invent was heaped upon them. {Ibid. Adapted}

Throughout the years of persecution they remained steadfast. And the times of greatest persecution, were the times of greatest purity for the Waldensian church.

Logical Conclusion

And there's a trend that's easy to see as we look back over history: Persecution of the church leads to purity of the church. Persecuted churches are pure churches.

So, today we see problems, and we long for a pure church. We think back to the times when the church was pure: The early Christian church; the church in the Waldensian valleys; the church in the early days of the reformation; the Millerite church.

What did all these have in common? The pure churches of the past were all persecuted churches.

And looking in Revelation 7, what do we find about the pure church at the end of the world?

Revelation 7:14: These are they which came out of great tribulation.

Now, one could put two and two together and say that: if the past and future pure churches are persecuted churches, therefore to be pure, a church must be persecuted.

This is true. Persecution purifies a church.

The next logical conclusion would be: If I and those around me in the church today, if we are going to be pure, we need persecution. In other words, when persecution comes, it will give us the energy and motivation, or whatever, to get our acts together.

However this second conclusion is dangerous. It is false.


Persecution does not perfect the person. Persecution purifies the church, not the individuals.

Why is that? Isn't the church a collection of people? If persecution makes a pure church, wouldn't persecution logically make pure people?

Only if we don't think about what persecution actually does: The reality is that persecution purifies by purging.

If you have car that has air in the brake system (which by the way can cause enormous problems), what do you do about the air in the brake lines? You purge the system—you bleed the brakes to get the air out. From the dictionary: To purge means To remove whatever is impure or undesirable.

Persecution purges. Persecution purges the church by removing the people who are impure or undesirable. Persecution of the church as a body, does not change the hearts of the individual members. It merely shakes out those who are not already pure. The purpose of persecution is to remove those who are dross and leave those who are true.

Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 81 says: 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.

This is talking about the time of persecution. And what is happening during this time?

In this time the gold will be separated from the dross in the church. {ibid}

What is being separated? The people who are dross are being separated from the church—leaving behind those who are gold.

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.
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.

Persecution purifies the church by sifting out the dross—by taking away the chaff. If the entire church was dross, then all would be sifted out. Only those who are already pure will remain.

Therefore, persecution does not purify the person, it only purifies the church body.

Saved By Persecution?!

The truth is that we are not saved by persecution—we are saved by Christ. And Christ available to us today!

Satan has made the argument that Christ is not enough—that humans cannot be saved through Him alone. If you and I are relying on some catastrophe to boost us into heaven, what is it that saved us?

Hebrews 11:32: And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

Here we have a listing of those who have suffered persecution.

33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

A persecuted, but pure church!

36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:

37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

Think about this! What if Satan brought forth the argument that, "These people relied on the persecution to give them energy to overcome."

"God's people have never been pure in a time of peace. And they cannot. They will not." Wouldn't that be a fair argument?

If we cannot be true in a time of peace, then we have not stood the test.

40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

We must stand the test on every point. We must stand when we are ridiculed. We must stand when we are hungry. We must stand when we are weary. We must stand when we are delayed. We must stand when we are persecuted. And we must stand in times of peace.

God's faithful people throughout the ages, are relying on us to stand the test, so that Christ can return to take us home. If the only time you or I will be serious is when times are hard, then you and I have failed to be true Christians.

First Pure, then Persecuted

There is, in fact, a principle that we see throughout history:

Churches are first persecuted, then pure.
But, as individuals we are pure first, then persecuted.

2 Timothy 3:12: Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

It does not say, all who suffer persecution shall be godly in Christ Jesus. That's backwards! It says those who have become pure and godly, shall be persecuted.

John 15:19: If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Don't we see it? If we are not pure, then why would the world persecute us? We are first pure, then persecuted.


But don't trials purify us? Ahh. Yes. But when we're speaking of persecution, we're not talking about trials to us as individuals. We're talking about persecution of the church as a body: The persecution of the church as a whole, removes those who individually are not pure.

And persecution of the church as a whole is coming, soon!

As individuals, it is not persecution that purifies us. It is trials that purify us.

James chapter 1 says: Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him…. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience … that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

And the good news is that we have trials—today! We don't need to wait for some big persecution of our church to come to get ready. We've got what we need already!

Think about it: Do you have trials?

Could it be that the sun always shines when you need sun?

The car always go when you say go.

Your friends adore you.

You children obey you.

Your parents give you everything you want.

You have money in the bank.

And Satan is too busy to bother you?

We don't need to wait for something like persecution to come along and purify us, because we have trials.

And the reality is: if persecution comes—woe on us if we are not pure already! What will the persecution do to us as individuals when it comes? It will separate out the dross and the chaff.

The Waldensian people were pure first, then persecuted. Quite a few of the people of the Waldensian churches lived pure, godly, holy lives long before the persecutions started. It was the fact that they were pure that brought the persecution. And that persecution separated out the dross and the chaff until the entire church—not just some of the members—was pure!

The people of the early Christian church lived holy lives. If Peter and the disciples had just gone back to their nets—if they had quietly attended the synagogue each Sabbath—if they had taken up their old ways of cursing at their nets and swearing in the market place, they would never have been persecuted as followers of Christ.

It was their purity that led to persecution.

Prepare Now.

There are problems in the church. Parting with our church would be wrong. We need to persevere—and work to bring back purity.

Persecution will purify the church, but it does not purify me. If I cannot be pure in a time of peace, then I have failed. Persecution purifies by purging out people who are not already pure. And for us today, the last thing most of us need is a time of persecution. It would be the end of us.

We need to prepare. Today.

When the persecution comes, it's too late to begin the work of purifying.

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. In this time the gold will be separated from the dross in the church. {5T 81}

We must prepare today!

Jeremiah 12:5: If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?

When the wind starts blowing, and the rain starts falling or the snow begins blowing: it's too late to start building your house.

Are you preparing now? We are told, "Get ready! Get ready! Get ready!" Now.

Now, while we're in a land of peace. Now, while our trials are merely footmen. Prepare now.

God is telling us:

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation…. To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 2 Corinthians 6:2. Hebrews 4:7.

Don't wait for some calamity. Don't save your energy for when you hear that persecution is coming shortly!

Don't even think that when persecution and times of difficulty will come along that they will give you that boost you need to get you ready for Christ's return. Persecution will give you a boost alright—a boost right out of God's church—unless, you are already clinging tightly to Christ—unless you have been already been purifying yourself.

Today, in the land of peace, wherein you trust, don't be weary. Run with the footmen—the little trials. Put away bitterness, vendettas, spiritual laziness, selfishness, Pride. Be serious today.

Join me in taking hold of Christ today. Cultivate faith, trust, and perseverance. Make use of this time of peace to become pure. And when persecution comes, you will stand! You will be part of the church triumphant!

Will You?

Today, let's persevere and be serious. This week let's press earnestly with the work of getting ready. Let's prepare for persecution. We don't want to be purged. Instead, let's "do it": let's purify our hearts. Let's intercede for the problems around us. And learn the song of Moses and the Lamb!

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. . . To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Will you?