Will you explain how certain markedly spiritual leaders and writers, such as Moody and Murray, who never accepted this message though they knew of its existence, have done such wonderful service for God and give evidence of clear acceptance and fellowship with Christ?
Any answer offered must at best be only suggestive, for only God holds the knowledge of all the facts and factors. He alone " knoweth them that are His." 2 Tim. 2:19. But perhaps the following may aid in answering this natural and legitimate inquiry:
That Christ has " other sheep " which are " not of this fold," is His own plain declaration in John 10: 16. This principle has been operative through the ages, including this last generation. Again, and in the very phraseology of the advent message, God denominates some as " My people," who are still in the churches designated as " Babylon." Collectively " fallen," it is evident that individuals are owned by Him in other communions. Naturally, as time goes on, the separating process will progress until when probation closes these will have been gathered out, and there will be but " one fold, and one Shepherd."
Second, we do not know the nature of the contacts made by these individuals with this message through its local representatives. They may have been such as did not give a true picture of God's designed truth. Perhaps they saw only caricatures instead. From the first, God designed this movement to be the climax of all spiritual and doctrinal truth. Founded by men coming from various communions, it was a struggle toward the light. It was a gradual unfolding and development.
Unfortunately, our history has been spotted with cold doctrinarianism and hard legalism, both enunciated and lived by some through our denominational experience. Such is the clear evidence of our early documents. The reason is obvious. Growing up under the pitiless fire of critics of every persuasion, it is not surprising that emphasis on doctrine and prophecy assumed the ascendancy almost to the point of exclusion of certain spiritual truths and provisions.
But in due time, as God's will and message were studied further, God in His mercy sent a succession of direct messages to correct this tendency, and to perfect a people for His own possession who would repudiate all the errors introduced by the great apostasy. Many within our ranks had lost sight of Christ, and were depending upon human obedience instead of divine grace. Seeking to meet antinomianism, some went to the other extreme. They ardently preached the law, but failed to preach Christ in the law. As a result, the lives of such were cold and loveless, and lacked much that God designed and desired for them.
It is a sobering, humbling thought that we have been so slow in accepting God's ideal proffered from the inception of this movement. But it is most encouraging that in recent years there is such a widespread interest in the acceptance of these fuller provisions of grace that are to accompany the closing triumph of this blessed message.
In substantiation of these facts, read the witness and solemn charges of the Spirit of prophecy assembled in the book, " Christ Our Righteousness," by Elder A. G. Daniells. In the later 80's and early 90's this movement faced one of the greatest crises of its history to that time. The clash was between formalism and true spiritual life, the letter and the spirit, law and grace. It came into the open, and strong men were on both sides of the issue. Though the counsel of the Spirit of prophecy was thrown fully with those who were seeking to put Christ and His righteousness back into their rightful place, there was much opposition, and many were not persuaded. And this spirit has not entirely passed.
Surely, if the contacts of those outstanding " outside " spiritual leaders with this message were with such sincere but mistaken members of this movement, who has the temerity to claim that failure to accept a partially distorted truth is equivalent to rejecting the full, balanced " truth as it is in Jesus "? Once having the clear light and experimental joy of righteousness by faith, which is divinely declared to be " the third angel's message in verity" (Review and Herald, April 1, 1890), they would instinctively recognize departures and perversions of the provisions of grace, and this would have a marked bearing upon their attitude toward accepting our distinctive doctrines. Possibly it was necessary for God to use them outside His organized movement to stress certain neglected truths for that period.
As time draws to its fateful close, the spiritual will gain the ascendancy, not in conflict with the impregnable doctrinal foundations, but surcharging all with a divine balance and power. The development of apostasy in other bodies will force separations until there shall be indeed but one fold and one Shepherd. We need to keep in sympathetic touch with sincere Fundamentalists, for it is our conviction that a multitude of them will yet believe.
We reiterate our profound belief that this is God's message and God's movement, His last spiritual and reformatory work among men, which will culminate in a company to be translated at Christ's appearing, now so near. There will be none at the last outside the " one fold " whom God will recognize as His own. But such a condition has not obtained in the past, and it is not fully true today. But throughout our history we have limited God, as it were, by our misconceptions, our slow understanding and following of His will. This sobering fact constitutes a clarion challenge for harmonizing balance between doctrinal truth and spiritual fellowship with Christ.
L. E. F.