He says we are full of "works." When it comes to good works, well organized, we get high marks in the religious world. But the Lord goes on to say we are spiritually "lukewarm" and oblivious to this state of affairs. We are actively spinning our wheels, yet not going anywhere in our spiritual growth. We are comfortably warm, smug in the fact that we have the truth at this moment in history when the truth must "have us." Is it not time to stop looking at ourselves in comfortable satisfaction, and take a good hard look at God's picture of us? We think we are "rich," "need nothing," but He says we are "wretched, . . and blind, and naked" —and He ought to know.
We ministers are busy! We can preach the doctrines with clarity and strength. But what of the flesh to clothe this doctrinal skeleton? "We are very much wanting in Bible humility, patience, faith, love, self-denial, watchfulness, and the spirit of sacrifice."—Ibid., p. 253. It is here that we are lukewarm. Yet the solution is clear, and simply stated: "Buy of me . . ." I shall not dwell so much on the "gold," that gold of faith and love in a world of doubt, hate, and lawlessness. Neither will I spend much time on the "white raiment," His robe of righteousness to cover our nakedness. But let us consider that third purchase, that "eyesalve."
"This eyesalve is the true spiritual discernment that is so wanting among us."—The SDA Bible Commentary, Ellen G. White Comments, on Rev. 3:18, p. 965. The big question is, Do we ministers today really see? In this time of preparation do our sermons lead our people to see their need of revival and reformation? Do we really see that the proof of our ministry will show in the spiritual growth of our hearers? If not, our ministry is wanting, and the Lord has something definite to say to us! If I "harbor pride, self-esteem, love for the supremacy, . . . murmuring, discontent, . . . evil-speaking, lying, deception," I have not Christ abiding in my heart (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 441).
This insidious, blinding, granddaddy of all sins is pride. Ellen G. White specifically warns ministers of its danger. I won't be disfellowshiped for it—now, but my name will be erased from the books above—then! Is it any wonder she continues, "You may have good intentions, good impulses, can speak the truth understandingly, but you are not fit for the kingdom of heaven."—Ibid. (Italics supplied.) Yet, I am blind to my own condition at the very time I am called upon to prepare a people for translation. No wonder God is nauseated!
What Must I See?
The signs of the end in the world around are so clear and numerous that we need not discuss them at this time. But what of the signs within the church? Not only is this church the "object of His supreme regard," but it is also the object of Satan's most insidious attacks. His wrath has been long known to the Bible student. It is here, within, that we face our greatest danger. Yet it is here, within, that we have a most fascinating sign of the end.
The remnant are to be commandment keepers. We teach that through an indwelling Christ there is power to take a law-breaking sinner and transform him into a law-keeping saint. Hence the emphasis on the commandments, which clearly define sin. Were this all, we could be accepted into several other Sabbath-keeping communions. But there is a second basic characteristic of the remnant that makes the evil one even more angry. They are those who also "hold fast [adhere] to the testimony of Jesus" (Rev. 12: 17, Weymouth).
Since it is "eyesalve"—clearer spiritual discernment—that we need, and since the "testimony of Jesus . . . the spirit of prophecy" (Rev. 19:10) is a gift given to the remnant for this purpose, no wonder the evil one is making war on it! It is here that he seems to unleash his most vicious yet insidious attacks. Of this we were warned.
The very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God. . . . Satan will work ingeniously, in different ways and through different agencies, to unsettle the confidence of God's remnant people in the true testimony.—Selected Messages, book 1, p. 48.
This gift, one of the characteristics to be found in "the remnant," has in a large measure made us as a church what we are today. It is because of this that this movement is more than just another church. It came upon the scene at a precise time, with a specific message, for the world—judgment time "has come."
Some years ago when I was holding meetings in a large city in up-State New York, the past general president of the Seventh Day Baptists was among those who attended. We became good friends. One day this good man said to me, "Brother Folkenberg, I have often wondered why it is that you people who received the Sabbath truth from us have grown to girdle the globe, while we who were strong at that time have slowly diminished in numbers."
I answered that we were good friends, and that since my answer might offend him, I would prefer not to answer. He insisted, so I said, "You have been with me through this series of prophetic lectures. In the twelfth chapter of Revelation, you will remember, we found that His church in the last days would have not one but two outstanding characteristics. Not only will its members be a commandment-keeping people but they will be guided by the prophetic gift. This movement came into being at a specific time to give a special message. To guide and direct us in this endeavor, God raised up this prophetic gift in our midst, as He said He would. It is this direction that has brought us to the place we are today. You good folk did not accept such guidance. Our history records that in direct proportion to the way we listened and followed, there was growth and progress."
He looked at me for a time, then quietly said, almost to himself, "Could this be the reason why?" May I quickly add, The answer is a resounding Yes! This is "eye-salve." We desperately need more, not less of it. "Very adroitly some have been working to make of none effect the Testimonies of warning and reproof that have stood the test for half a century. At the same time, they deny any such thing."—Special Testimonies, Series B. No. 7, p. 31. The prophetic gift has kept us from many a grave mistake during the formative years of this denomination. It gave us the genius of our organization. It has warned and admonished as some have risen within with insidious doctrine which some would accept as truth. And attacks upon this gift today are one of the last deceptions of Satan. I must see these for what they are, attacks upon God's last church.
It has given us a head start in the areas in which we have been called to labor, whether it was scientific, diet, treatment of the sick, yes, even research. In the field of education it is a blueprint for the harmonious development of the whole man. It made us first. It made us the head. As the educational world conjectured, surmised, and proposed theories subject to change as new minds came on the scene, we had a foundation of true education, sound and unchangeable. We remain at the head as long as we build here. An example would be the discovery of the causative factors in cancer. We knew that a germ or virus was involved in this complicated malady long before scientists of the world discovered this phenomena. We had a head start, a springboard, but did we believe it enough to begin research at that point? Here is real "eyesalve" in a world that is blind and groping.
Today calls for preachers anointed with this heavenly salve who will see the insidious changes that are creeping in and will fight this subtle disbelief. The church today is in peril. It needs "red tainted" preachers—whose teaching is tainted with the red books.
Our colleges and educational institutions need "red tainted" teachers, who have found that these red books are even more relevant now than ever before. We need "red tainted" scientists who see in the red books a springboard that gives them a head start in scientific investigation. So it has been in the field of nutrition, healthful living, psychology, and education. So it will be in the problems of the age of the earth and evolution. Let us come of age, buy again the gold of faith in these messages, and apply this eyesalve. Let us not be satisfied with the dross of the modern education that is subject to constant change as each new theory is advanced—and discarded. Let us "adhere to the testimony" even when it would appear that God's revelations are not relevant today. Relevant is a word glibly spoken by the scientific world around. Yet what is truly relevant is that this world is entering its last death throes.
The time has come to let the Holy Spirit make this fact relevant in our ministry. Nothing can take its place. No Spirit—no power! And this is the selfsame Spirit that inspired the servant of the Lord to give us council relevant to this very hour. Since our point of reference is the soon return of our Lord, I ask you, is your preaching truly relevant to the needs of sinful man? If it is, reformation will be seen in the lives of ourselves and our members. No longer will ours be a lukewarm church, but one on fire for God. The spirit of the mission field will grip us all. This can never be a reality when we ignore or doubt the testimonies of Jesus. His remnant are those that "adhere" to them. I repeat, "The very last deception of Satan will be . . . to unsettle the confidence of God's remnant people in the true testimony." Not only is this another sign of the times, but it is a warning to be accepted. It is a solemn responsibility to be a worker in the cause of God. Do we measure up?