The first part of the first angel's message reads: "Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come." We can truthfully say that we have been faithful in giving this message. Ever since 1844 we have been preaching the judgment-hour message, and hundreds of thousands have been thrilled with the announcement that the hour of God's judgment is come. As far as the Sabbath truth has been heralded, so far has the message of the hour of God's judgment gone. Wherever Adventists have proclaimed their message, wherever a church has been established, all the members of the church and the community have been informed that the hour of judgment is come, and that the end is near. While much more might have been done, we believe that we are safe in saying that wherever Seventh-day Adventists have gone, the truth of the judgment hour has gone.
The second part of the message reads: "Worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." Have we been as faithful in proclaiming this truth as we have been in announcing the hour of God's judgment? To this, the answer must be a qualified one; for in one respect we have been faithful, and in another respect we have come short of what the Lord would have us do. Let us consider this.
We have generally linked this second part of the message with the Sabbath truth. The God who made the heaven and the earth is the same God that made the Sabbath. In fact, the Sabbath commandment specifically mentions God as the One who in six days "made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day." Ex. 20:11. We are not out of place when we link the message of Revelation with the Sabbath commandment. They belong together, and we have proclaimed the truth of the Sabbath as far as we have sounded the message of the hour of the judgment. In this we can also claim faithfulness.
Both the message in Revelation and the Sabbath commandment in Exodus call attention to the creation of heaven and earth, the record of which is found in the first chapter of the Bible. The first angel's message of Revelation exhorts us to worship the God of the first chapter of Genesis, and the Sabbath commandment of Exodus does the same. It is not enough, however, to link Revelation 14 with Exodus 20. This is good as far as it goes ; but both of these are dependent upon Genesis and must be linked with it. We must not omit the creation ; for the One who made heaven and earth is the One we are to worship, and He is also the One who made the Sabbath.
The moment we touch Genesis, and especially the account in the first chapter, we are in the midst of a great controversy. History records the fact that up until the past century there was little doubt in regard to the authenticity of the creation record, so far as the Christian church was concerned. Evolution had not as yet made its inroads, and while there were those even then who doubted the literality of the account of creation, not much was said about it, and the ordinary church member accepted the plain statements of Scripture as the authorized and orthodox view.
Evolution Satan's Masterpiece of Deception
In 1844 Charles Darwin was thirty-five years old, and Thomas Huxley nineteen. They were the men who were chiefly instrumental in formulating the doctrine of evolution that was intended by the evil one to pervert and destroy the work of God. But by that time God also had men upon whom He was depending. Already the message of the judgment hour was being given, and a church was soon to be established that would accept the challenge of the world's great men in regard to their pseudoscientific theories which attempted to discredit the creation account in Genesis.
Satan well knew that could the creation record be overthrown, not only would the Sabbath truth be obscured, but God Himself would be transformed, in the popular mind, from a personal God to an impersonal force: and the story of the cross, together with the divinity of the Lord, would become part and parcel of outworn creeds. If evolution is true, there can of course be no "fall" in the Bible sense of the word. Sin is then only a passing phase, and a divine Saviour becomes unnecessary.
Evolution is Satan's great masterpiece for the deception of the world, destroying, as it does, faith in a personal God, in Jesus Christ as a Saviour, and in the Bible as the revealed will of God. Under the guise of science, evolution undermines religion, receives the support of the state for the promulgation of its doctrines, and controls and poisons the sources of education. Its success must be considered phenomenal, for in less than a century it has converted practically the entire Christian church to its views, has gained control of the public-school system, and changed the entire program of education.
It was God's plan that His people should proclaim a message that would be an antidote for the insidious theories of Satan, as revealed in the teaching of organic evolution. It cannot be said that we have been so successful in this as God would have us be. Much of our work in this phase has been negative. We have confined ourselves to a general denial of the assertions of scientists, and have not made the serious attempt that we should to marshal facts gleaned from nature to support the creation account of Genesis. Our colleges for years gave scant attention to the biological sciences, and in some cases grossly neglected them. We practically left this field for our opponents, and they were not slow to take advantage of the situation. Yet biology is one of the fields that should yield rich results for the establishment of faith.
Meeting Challenge of Modern Goliaths
Our opponents have stolen a march on us while we have been asleep, and we are not so prepared as we should be to summon nature to our aid. We have neglected the field of biological science. Today we are far behind. Too much of our work is defensive. We trust it will not be long till we can take the field, and meet the challenge of the modern Goliaths who have boastfully defied the God of Israel. It is doubtless with some such combat in mind that the messenger of the Lord long ago wrote:
It does not seem possible to us now that any should have to stand alone; but if God has ever spoken by me, the time will come when we shall be brought before councils and before thousands for His name's sake, and each will have to give the reason of his faith. Then will come the severest criticism upon every position that has been taken for the truth. We need, then, to study the word of God, that we may know why we believe the doctrines we advacate."—Review and Herald, Dec. z8, 1888.
When Mrs. White uses such an expression as "If God has ever spoken by me," we may be sure it is because she is deeply impressed with the importance of what she is about to say. What is the issue which she wishes to impress upon us ? That the time will come when we will have to stand alone before "councils and before thousands," and will have to give a reason for the faith we hold. At that time "will come the severest criticism upon every position that has been taken for the truth." We are therefore counseled "to study the word of God, that we may know why we believe the doctrines we advocate." We may expect then that, before long, men will have to stand alone before councils and multitudes to give a reason for their faith. This is not simply a meeting for the preaching of the truth, but a trial for the examination of our doctrines. This becomes clear from another statement, contained in one of the longest sentences Mrs. White ever wrote.
"When the human agents shall exercise their faculties to acquire knowledge, to become deep-thinking men ; when they, as the greatest witnesses for God and the truth, shall have won in the field of investigation of vital doctrines concerning the Salvation of the soul, that glory may he given to the God of heaven as supreme, then even judges and kings will be brought to acknowledge, in the courts of justice, in parliaments and councils, that the God who made the heavens and the earth is the only true and living God, the author of Christianity, the author of all truth, who instituted the seventh-day Sabbath when the foundations of the earth were laid, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted together for joy. All nature will bear testimony as designed for the illustration of the word of God."—"Fundamentals of Christian Education," pp. 374, 375.
This brings to view an "investigation of vital doctrines" that will take place "in the courts of justice, in parliaments and councils," where we will have to appear as "the greatest witnesses for God and the truth." If we by that time have "become deep-thinking men," we will win in this investigation, and the result will be that "even judges and kings will be brought to acknowledge . . . that the God who made the heavens and the earth is the only true and living God, . . . who instituted the seventh-day Sabbath." To this is added the significant statement that "all nature will bear testimony as designed for the illustration of the word of God."
This quotation tells several interesting things. It brings to view an investigation of the truth not unlike the Scopes trial in Tennessee. In such an investigation we will be called as "the greatest witnesses for God and the truth." If we have made proper preparation, we will win in this contest, and "even judges and kings" will be convinced of the truth we preach. The controversy will be about creation and the Sabbath. As a result, men "will be brought to acknowledge . . . that the God who made the heavens and the earth is the only true and living God, . . . who instituted the seventh-day Sabbath." The question to be settled concerns the God who made the heavens and the earth. It will be found that the One who created is also the One who instituted the Sabbath. In this question of creation, nature will be made to "bear testimony as designed for the illustration of the word of God."
It cannot be said that Bryan and his supporters won a great victory in the Scopes trial. Rather, it may be classed as a defeat. Great was the rejoicing of evolutionists at the discomfiture of the proponents of Fundamentalism, and Darrow was hailed as the champion of modern science who had routed believers in the Biblical account of creation, and completely demolished all their arguments. We cannot believe that God will permit the enemies of truth permanently to triumph. While we do not, from our viewpoint, accept Bryan as a real Fundamentalist, it is nevertheless true that he was so considered by the world, and that his defeat was considered a defeat for Fundamentalism and the Bible. The impression was left on many minds that the Bible believer in creation stands on untenable ground, and that scientific evidence is against a literal six-day creation. Geology, and especially biology, was made to bear testimony against the Bible account of the creation of the earth.
"Deep Thinking" Imperative
We believe that this trend of thought must and will be changed. And we believe that the quotations cited tell how it will be accomplished. There will again be an investigation of vital truths. It may start in a court of justice, but it will extend to councils and parliaments. God's people will be called as witnesses for Him and the truth, and they will stand before thousands. The question will concern the Sabbath and creation, and the men who are called as witnesses will have done some "deep thinking." They will have studied not merely what we believe, but "why we believe the doctrines we advocate." They will be acquainted with nature and nature's laws, with geology and biology, and will cause nature to bear testimony to the truths of the word of God. Having made the necessary preparation by study and prayer and contemplation, they are ready to stand intelligently for God and the truth when they are called.
This prophetic portrayal of what will come to the people of God ought to be a mighty incentive to our scientific men and the ministry to get ready for what is before them. We will not be able to stand unless we do some real thinking, unless we become acquainted with the facts of creation, both Biblical and scientific, and have become, in the words of the quotation cited, really "deep-thinking men." We need not flatter ourselves that when the contest comes, we will win easily, for there is definite and grave danger of defeat. Note this alarming statement, also from the pen of Mrs. White:
"Every position of our faith will be searched into, and if we are not thorough Bible students, established, strengthened, settled, the wisdom of the world's great men will be too much for us. The world is busy, anxious, and devoted. All are in pursuit of some course that God has no part in. Evil is eagerly followed as though it were righteousness, error as though it were truth, and sin as though it were holiness. Darkness is thickening, covering the earth, and gross darkness the people, and shall God's peculiar people at such a time as this be asleep ? Shall those who hold the truth be silent, as if paralyzed ?"—Ellen G. White Letter 63, 1886.
Thus is definitely stated the danger that the world's great men may be too much for us. What a calamity if we should ever have an opportunity such as the Scopes trial afforded, and fail ! And there is danger that we may. We are not ready. Our scientists are not ready, our Bible expositors are not ready. We have not given the attention to this matter that we should. Some trust that we will be given in that day what we are to say, but seem to forget that God never endorses or energizes a lazy mind. Note this :
"It was shown to me that on the part of the ministers in all our conferences, there is a neglect to study the Scriptures, to search for the truth. If their minds were properly disciplined, and were stored with the precious lessons of Christ, then at any time and in any emergency, they could draw from the treasure house of knowledge things both old and new, to feed the church of God, giving to every man his portion of meat in due season. If Christ is abiding in the soul, He will be as a living fountain, 'a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.' "—"Special Testimonies to Ministers," No. 1, p. 7.
This statement is rather comprehensive. We are here told that there is a possibility of the minister's being ever ready, "at any time and in any emergency," to speak the right word. This, however, is predicated on the fact that his mind has been 'properly disciplined," and is "stored" with whatever is needed. We are not to wait until the emergency arises, and then suddenly attempt to do what should have been done long ago. The time to prepare is now, not later.
"Many a lad of today, growing up as did Daniel in his Judean home, studying God's word and His works, and learning the lessons of faithful service, will yet stand in legislative assemblies, in halls of justice, or in royal courts, as a witness for the King of kings. Multitudes will be called to a wider ministry."—"Education," p. 262.
Those who were lads when this was written have now "grown up." But not many have been getting ready for what is before us. Daniel studied, we are told, not merely God's word but "God's works." He studied nature, and such sciences as were available at the time. Some who are now grown, who have done the same, will have the experience of Daniel. The time is overdue, and we are not yet ready.
We appeal to our men of science to furnish us with the evidence, the facts, incontrovertible and unassailable, rightly related and constituting a connected whole, which will establish the truth of revelation. Too long have the great men of science taunted the host of Israel, and we have retreated before the onslaught, even to the point where we looked with misgiving on the teaching of certain sciences in our colleges. But thank God, that time is past. We are emerging, but we need men of vision, courage, wisdom, and exact knowledge, to show us the way. We need men who will do more than merely teach classes. We need men who have a vision of our need, and who can furnish the denomination and the ministry with the facts required.
In the contest before us, the Spirit of prophecy makes it clear that "all nature will bear testimony as designed for the illustration of the word of God." Nature was not designed to bear testimony to evolution, as it has been made to do. It was designed to bear testimony to the truth of God's word. What a field is here open to the right man or men to make nature bear such testimony ! Whoever will undertake this work will not only serve the church and the cause of truth, but his name will be written large in the annals of human history.
We have done a little in the correlation indicated, but only a little. We have touched geology and archeology to some extent, but the biological sciences have been sadly neglected. When we attack evolution, we are attacking a scientific theory. But God has not left us-without witness. All nature was designed to-teach the truth of revelation. Let us cease being on the defensive. Let us take the offensive. Our message demands it. It calls upon us to proclaim to the world that the God who made the heavens and the earth, is the God of the Sabbath and the God to be worshiped. We have no choice. Our message is chosen for us by God. We are called upon to give it.
God will furnish the evidence we need in nature, but we are to search for it. That is our task. I hope to live to see the day when God's people shall have the opportunity to redeem the defeat suffered in Tennessee. But if we are to win, if the great men of this world are not to be too much for us, we will have to do a work that has not as yet been done. And we have no time to lose.
But what can we do? What can the ministry do? Perhaps very little; perhaps not so little. We must not leave this task td the scientists alone. As Bible teachers, as ministers, we must do what we can. We may not be scientists, but it is trusted we have good sense—sense to know when to speak, and when not to speak; sense not to depend upon ridicule or cheap jokes to win an argument or attract listeners; sense to refrain from speaking on subjects on which we are not well informed; sense to confer with men of science in our own schools before we launch too far into any scientific argument.
We can do more than be merely negative. Though a minister may not be scientifically trained, he can gather many facts that may be used judiciously. He can constantly be urging upon others—young men and teachers—the great field before them in scientific work. He may even in a small way become acquainted with certain fields of science, if he is wide-awake to the opportunities before him. He may find "tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones." Above all, he will study his Bible, beginning with the first chapter of Genesis. When he gets into a tight place he will stick closely to the wording of the Bible account. He will do as Christ did, and at times turn the question upon the questioner, asking, "How readest Thou?" With heavenly wisdom he will unassumingly go at his work, trusting to the God of heaven for the needed help. We are but a small army, but with the help of the Lord, we may yet turn the haughty scientists' victorious march into a rout.
When we consider the work that is implied in the message of the first angel, we find that we have not as yet done the work that we should do. We have not mastered the first chapter of the Bible. The issue is coming to a climax. We were not an integral part of the trial in Tennessee. God in His mercy spared us and gave us time to prepare for the next ordeal. Are we ready should the opportunity come tomorrow ? In our study of the Book of books, let us not forget the chapter which God caused to be the first one in the Bible.