Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Ezra and Nehemiah
Lesson 3: God's Call
Our lesson theme is on "God's Call," discovering and fulfilling God's purpose for our lives, individually and corporately as a church. Let's give this some consideration in terms of how it relates to the 1888 message.
There are those who say that Ellen White never called for denominational repentance of the church or its leaders--not even once. Whether she did or not, it is the Lord Jesus Christ who calls for it.
What are we to do with Ellen White's repeated statements that the 1888 message was rejected? Should all these statements be ignored? If Seventh-day Adventists accept the record found in The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials (the following abstracts are taken from this source), how can they escape the truth that the message was rejected? The fact there was rejection led to her persistent calls to consider the path that they were on, repent, turn around, accept the message.
Clearly and repeatedly her counsels are directed to "leading brethren," "men in high positions of trust." "Leading brethren" in that day amounted to the General Conference. The tone of these many pleas is serious in the extreme. Every call to heed God's voice is based upon the need for repentance. Terrible judgment-day expressions are used such as: "Men in responsible positions have manifested the very attributes of Satan" (p. 1525). Solemn calls are the norm of her letters containing the overtone of repentance:
"The false ideas that were largely developed at Minneapolis have not been entirely uprooted from some minds. Those who have not made thorough work of repentance under the light God has been pleased to give to his people since that time, will not see clearly, and will be ready to call the messages God sends a delusion" (p. 1010).
But the counsel for repentance was not just in letters to individuals. There are serious compelling words calling the entire church to repentance. This is clear in her written message read to the General Conference assembled in Battle Creek, March 12, 1890:
"In the fear and love of God I tell those before whom I stand to-day that there is increased light for us, and that great blessings come with the reception of this light. And when I see my brethren stirred with anger against God's messages and messengers, I think of similar scenes in the life of Christ. ... The leaders of the people to-day pursue the same course of action that the Jews pursued. ...
"The Lord has been calling his people. In a most marked manner he has revealed his divine presence. But the message and the messengers have not been received but despised. ...
"In rejecting the message given at Minneapolis, men committed sin. They have committed far greater sin by retaining for years the same hatred against God's messengers, by rejecting the truth that the Holy Spirit has been urging home" (pp. 906, 907, 911, 913, 914).
Could any call for repentance be more specific? How could the church be more included than in a call made at a General Conference session?
Similar pleas for repentance went to the church through the Review:
"Since the time of the Minneapolis meeting, I have seen the state of the Laodicean Church as never before. I have heard the rebuke of God spoken to those who feel so well satisfied, who know not their spiritual destitution. ...
"Those who resist the messages of God through his humble servant, think they are at variance with Sister White, because her ideas are not in harmony with theirs; but this variance is not with Sister White, but with the Lord, who has given her work to do." (p. 695; RH 8-26-90).
Can anyone deny that this is a call to repentance given to the church as a whole through the Review?
The average reader must conclude that these do seem to be "authoritative calls from Ellen White." Over the next decade these calls were repeatedly made with reference to Minneapolis and the terrible loss God's people sustained. Indeed, the very message of 1888 has a built-in call for repentance. No one can be "misled" to heed this call (p. 152).
And so--Who calls for repentance? The Lord Jesus is the One standing at the door making the call to "the angel of the church of the Laodiceans, ... be zealous therefore, and repent" (Rev. 3:14, 19).
--Paul E. Penno
Pastor Paul Penno's video of this lesson is on the Internet at:
"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at: http://1888message.org/sst.htm