Repentance, Revival, Reformation

THE call for revival is of God. The need is a revival of true godliness. This must have lived within the church, or there could be no revival. Is it not imperative then, before repentance can do its work, that we search for and find what hinders our experiencing the outpouring of the latter rain?

THE call for revival is of God. The need is a revival of true godliness. This must have lived within the church, or there could be no revival. Is it not imperative then, before repentance can do its work, that we search for and find what hinders our experiencing the outpouring of the latter rain?

There can be and must be a withdrawal from conformity to the world, a shunning of all appearance of evil, so that no occasion shall be given for gainsayers. . . . When the way is prepared for the Spirit of God, the blessing will come. Satan can no more hinder a shower of blessing from descending upon God's people than he can close the windows of heaven that rain cannot come upon the earth. Selected Messages, book 1, p. 124. (Italics supplied.)

God expects us to prepare the way for the working of the Holy Spirit in our midst. Revival and reformation have never come to God's work in the past without repentance. But can a people repent if they see no reason for doing so? We believe that our present dilemma is the direct result of failing to believe the instructions given us through the Spirit of Prophecy writings and our unwillingness to carry them out. There seem to be four areas of deliberate departure from these instructions as we shall point out in brief.

Dress Reform

First, an actual rebellion against dress reform (1880-1885). Because the third an gel's message was so direct in character, the Lord knew that we needed to be bound in close unity of purpose.

To protect the people of God from the corrupting influence of the world, as well as to promote physical and moral health, the dress reform was introduced among us. Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 634.

This was not only for the ladies, for the testimony continues:

God has been testing His people. He allowed the testimony concerning dress to become silent, that our sisters might follow their own inclination and thus develop the real pride existing in their hearts. Ibid., p. 639. (Italics supplied.)

Fashion is deteriorating the intellect and eating out the spirituality of our people. Obedience to fashion is pervading our Seventh-day Adventist churches and is doing more than any other power to separate our people from God. Ibid., p. 647.

We need to restudy this whole story recorded in these pages, for the basic principle involved is the same as moved Israel to demand a king, "that we also may be like all the nations" (1 Sam. 8:20).

Can there be a revival so long as we are unwilling to conform to the purposes of the Lord? It is not only in dress that we demand to be like the world about us. We need to see that we have turned away from the plain paths where the Lord has directed us to walk. We must become willing to take up the cross of being different from the world if we are to meet with Heaven's approval. This is the test we face today.

Health Reform

Second, near the turn of the century came a disregard of and indifference to health reform. Many of our leaders refused to promote a God-sent plan to eliminate meat eating among the ministry. Says the servant of the Lord:

There has been a continual backsliding in health reform, and as a result God is dishonored by a great lack of spirituality. . . . When they [SDA people] break away from all health-destroying indulgences, they will have a clearer perception of what constitutes true godliness. A wonderful change will be seen in the religious experience. Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 33, 34. (Italics supplied.)

The purpose of this reform was to free us from disease and to increase the capacity to understand the things of the kingdom. It encompassed more than just meat eating.

The Lord . . . designed to bring His people into a position where they would be separate from the world in spirit and practice. . . . All who are partakers of the divine nature will escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. It is impossible for those who indulge the appetite to attain to Christian perfection. Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 399, 400.

Would not the carrying out of such a program today help to hasten a revival among Seventh-day Adventists now, even as the Lord purposed that it should then?


Third, between 1930 and 1940 we find the denomination in a titanic struggle over accreditation with the worldly schools. Should we seek it or not, was the burning question in the minds of teachers, ministers, physicians, and laymen. This very same question had also plagued Israel under Solomon.

The discipline and training that God appointed for Israel would cause them, in all their ways of life, to differ from the people of other nations. This peculiarity, which should have been regarded as a special privilege and blessing, was to them unwelcome. The simplicity and self-restraint essential to the highest development they sought to exchange for the pomp and self-indulgence of heathen peoples. To be "like all the nations" was their ambition. God's plan of education was set aside, His authority disowned. . . . With us, as with Israel of old, success in education depends on fidelity in carrying out the Creator's plan. Education, pp. 49, 50. (Italics supplied.)

Much more might be set forth on this matter, but surely anyone believing the messages of Ellen G. White to have been inspired of God, cannot relate them with much of what may be seen and heard in SDA schools today. May it not be possible that through neglecting to follow what has been written, we are actually influencing our youth to be like the world in seeking another door into the kingdom of heaven?

Medical Work

Fourth, the greatest evidence of our unbelief is to be seen in the elimination of the sanitarium. We have even eliminated the name in many cases. In doing this we have lost the meaning of that work that must characterize much of the effort of those who receive the latter rain, namely medical missionary work. So much has been written of the sanitarium work and medical missionary work that it is impossible to select one or two references that would deal adequately with the matter. One cannot prayerfully study the counsel regarding this work without concluding that God designed them specifically for the completion of the proclamation of the third angel's message in power. We seem to have lost the comprehension of the apostolic truth of righteousness by faith. In fact this truth is the essence of God's last message of mercy to a dying world. Please read and study carefully these few quotations:

Christ is no longer in this world in person, to go through our cities and towns and villages, healing the sick; but He has commissioned us to carry forward the medical missionary work that He began. Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 168.

Combined with the work of healing there must be an imparting of knowledge of how to resist temptations. ELLEN G. WHITE, in Review and Herald, Dec. 5, 1907, p. 17.

Our sanitariums are to be schools in which instruction shall be given in medical missionary lines. Medical Ministry, p. 325.

Before our first sanitarium was established, the Lord opened the plan before me. . . . The light given me was that a sanitarium should be established, and that in it drug medication should be discarded, and simple, rational methods of treatment employed for the healing of disease. In this institution people were to be taught how to dress, breathe, and eat properly how to prevent sickness by proper habits of living. . . . The medical missionary work is to be the third angel's message as the right hand to the body. To be indifferent in regard to the medical missionary work is to dis honor God. ---Letter 79, 1905.

Our success in any religious effort depends upon our simplicity in Christ Jesus." Letter 56, 1894. God designed that the institution [sanitarium] which He should establish should stand forth as a beacon of light, of warning and reproof. He would prove to the world that an institution conducted on religious principles, as an asylum for the sick, could be sustained without sacrificing its peculiar, holy character; that it could be kept free from the objectionable features found in other health institutions. It was to be an instrumentality for bringing about great reforms. Tesimonies, vol. 6, p. 223.

This whole chapter in volume 6 should be studied carefully. These institutions were to have been established all over the world. No large sanitariums were intended (see Testimonies,, vol. 8, p. 204).

Outmaneuvered by the Adversary

To the careful student of Biblical history and of the course the Seventh-day Adventist movement has taken, it seems that the Lord has allowed us to have our own way that we might realize that man's ways are not best. Still it would seem that maybe the Lord has even prospered us as much as possible. That we have failed is a stark-naked fact. After some 126 years of effort there are more people in the world that have not heard the message of salvation than when we began to proclaim the third angel's message. We have about settled down to being just another denomination. In view of the fact that we have so sharply digressed from the simple instructions set before us to carry out, it seems to us that what we have thought to be a future event set forth in this prediction "the very last deception of Satan will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God" (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 48) has already been accomplished in large part at least. We have been outmaneuvered by our wiley adversary while thinking that we were carrying out the instructions of the Lord.

Some may think we are too critical, but God says that this whole people are critical, for as a church we are "neither cold nor hot." We are completely indifferent, and someone has said that "the most destructive criticism is indifference." Ancient Israel never strayed more willfully than have we, and we have had a great advantage over them. Now will we turn and seek the Lord for forgiveness, or press on in darkness? Do we really want a revival a revival of true godliness our greatest and most urgent need? It will come only in answer to prayer, but should we ask for repentance or revival?

God will give us repentance if we are willing to confess our waywardness. This has been the way revival has come about in the past, and it will come again when we prepare our hearts to receive it. But before we ask, would it not be wise to consider that reformation must follow revival? They must blend together in doing what we need done for us.

God calls for a spiritual revival and a spiritual reformation. Unless this takes place, those who are lukewarm will continue to grow more abhorrent to the Lord, until He will refuse to acknowledge them as His children.

A revival and a reformation must take place, under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation are two different things. Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a re organization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. Reformation will not bring forth the good fruit of righteousness unless it is connected with the revival of the Spirit. Revival and reformation are to do their appointed work, and in doing this work they must blend. Ibid., p. 128. (Italics supplied.)

Example of Ezra and Nehemiah

When Israel was walking in darkness, Ezra and Nehemiah faithfully pointed out what was wrong. They joined with the people in confession and repentance and the Lord heard them. It took courage then, and it will take courage now. Since the corporate body has gone astray, will it not require a corporate movement of confession, reorganization, change of ideas and theories, habits and practices?

To our ministry is given the privilege of standing as watchmen on the walls of Zion proclaiming the coming of Jesus. To us as laymen is granted the opportunity of supporting and helping in this work. Today the world is embroiled in the great est confusion ever known. Strong men quail at the prospects looming before them. Just at a time when freedom of conscience, the rule of law, equality of races, and the brotherhood of man are being emphasized as signs of man's emerging maturity, the ugly heads of lawlessness, intolerance, persecution, and despotism are eerily coming into focus. "We who know the truth should be preparing for what is soon to break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise." Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 28.

May we each realize leaders and lay men alike that where there is no realization of our need, there can be no repentance; no repentance, there can be no revival; no revival, there will be no reformation; no reformation, there will be no place among the redeemed for those who might have known the time of their visitation.

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November 1970

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