Explaining the Gospel
by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira
Out of the great disappointment of 1844, God raised the Advent movement, namely the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.”
So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but ‘in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.’” I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.”
His purpose in doing this was not to add another denomination to the large list of those already existing. Rather, I believe God raised up the Advent movement to restore, proclaim, and demonstrate the power of the full and pure gospel, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Matthew 24:14:
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
The fulfillment of this prophecy is spelled out in the Three Angels Messages of Revelation 14:6-12, a unique Seventh-day Adventist message.
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth — to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” A second angel followed and said, “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great,’ which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.”
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.
This is how Ellen G. White described our divine mission:
“As Christ’s ambassadors, they [God’s people] are to search the Scriptures, to seek the truths that have been hidden beneath the rubbish of errors. And every ray of light received is to be communicated to others. One interest will prevail, one subject will swallow up every other, Christ Our Righteousness.” (Review and Herald, Extra, December 23, 1890.)
The above statement was made in the context of the 1888 message of justification by faith, “the third angel’s message in verity” (Review and Herald, April 1, 1890). This “most precious message” (Testimonies to Ministers, 91) was sent by God to liberate Adventists from a subtle form of legalism (saved by grace plus keeping the law), similar to the Galatian problem. In the May 27, 1976, Adventist Review, a group of church leaders, quoting Ellen G. White, admitted that the 1888 message was “the beginning of the latter rain and the loud cry.” They also confessed: “It is clear that the fullness of the marvelous blessing God wanted to bestow upon the church was not received at that time nor subsequently.” Had this message been fully received and proclaimed to the world, it would have lightened the earth with God’s glory, culminating in the second advent.
Prior to 1888, the pioneers of the Adventist church were preoccupied with preaching the law, in their attempts to counteract the teachings of dispensationalism — a teaching which had done away with the law. This law emphasis was greatly responsible for the legalism in which early Adventists were trapped. Because of this emphasis, the glorious truth of justification by faith was lost sight of, and, therefore, excluded from the main thrust of the church’s teachings.
For example, from August 17 to December 19, 1874, Uriah Smith published a series of articles in the Review and Herald under the heading “Leading Doctrines of the Review.” No mention was made of justification by faith. Three years later, in 1877, James White and Uriah Smith conducted The Bible Institute to train ministers for the work of evangelism. Again, there was no mention of justification by faith. The following year, 1878, Uriah published a book entitled Synopsis of Present Truth. In all of the 336 pages of this book, no mention was made of justification by faith, but there was much about the law. No wonder Ellen G. White warned the church, “We have preached the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa that had neither dew nor rain” (Review and Herald, March 3, 1890).
In trying to correct this problem, Ellen G. White made the following statement to the ministers gathered at a workers meeting in Battle Creek:
“The danger has been presented to me again and again of entertaining, as a people, false ideas of justification by faith. I have been shown for years that Satan would work in a special manner to confuse the mind on this point. The law of God has been largely dwelt upon and has been presented to congregations, almost as destitute of the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His relation to the law as was the offering of Cain. I have been shown that many have been kept from the faith because of the mixed, confused ideas of salvation, because the ministers have worked in a wrong manner to reach hearts. The point that has been urged upon my mind for years is the imputed righteousness of Christ. I have wondered that this matter was not made the subject of discourses in our churches throughout the land, when the matter has been kept so constantly urged upon me, and I have made it the subject of nearly every discourse and talk that I have given to the people.” (Manuscript 36, 1890. Now published in Faith and Works, 18).
Sad to say, many Seventh-day Adventists still have mixed, confused ideas of salvation, even to this day. As a result, many of God’s people are practicing a legalistic type of religion with no assurance of salvation. Robbed of the peace and joy of salvation, they are living the Christian life out of fear of punishment or desire for reward. “Such religion,” says The Spirit of Prophecy, “is worth nothing.” (See Steps to Christ, 44).
In order to fulfill our “Global Mission,” it is imperative that we restore the everlasting gospel in all its fullness, beauty, and power — the good news of salvation that will bring joy, peace, and victory to God’s people. Unless we do so, we will never be able to “finish the work.” After more than a century and a half, God is still waiting patiently to lighten this earth with His glory through the remnant. How much longer are we going to keep Him waiting?
The intent of this study is, therefore, to define and explain the everlasting gospel, the truth as it is in Jesus Christ. In so doing, it is also the purpose of this writer to restore that “most precious message” that God brought to the Adventist church over a century ago.