sermon: Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen (Part Five)
Martin G. Collins
Given 09-Mar-19; 72 minutes
In our physical lives we tend to reach for the future. But in our spiritual lives we must reach for the future without neglecting to reflect on the past. Nevertheless, we must beware of those who want to change established spiritual truths and righteous standards. In Proverbs 24 wise King Solomon writes:
Proverbs 24:21-22 My son, fear the Lord and the king; do not associate with those given to change; for their calamity will rise suddenly, and who knows the ruin those two [that is the Lord and the king] can bring?
Those given to change can also be called restless spirits. Human nature tends to get bored and frustrated with things that are not made easier or seem mundane. Changes in life can be stimulating but also unsettling. And when it comes to changes in God's truth and standards, unless solidly backed by God's inspired written Word, changes made will syncretize doctrine and erode standards.
Jesus Christ's command is that we must be responsibly diligent, to be watchful, guard the truth, and strengthen the wholesome things that remain. In His admonition to the church in Sardis Jesus says:
Revelation 3:2-3 "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you."
So we must resist the influences that try to change God's truth and those unchangeable doctrines, statues, and spiritual principles that stabilizes during the turbulent changes of life we absolutely need. We must hold fast and protect what we have and that has been biblically established. Abraham, who appreciated the new experiences to which God exposed him, knew what was changeable and what was not. He moved to a new land, encountered powerful kings like Abimelech and Pharaoh. He nearly lost a son, and throughout it all, Abraham walked before God.
Is there anything in Abraham's background that reveals him as part of a chain rather than completely forging a new path for himself? Amazingly, his father, Terah, was the first person in Scripture to name a son after his own father. Nahor sired Terah and Terah sired Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Not only did Terah respect the connection between the past and the future when he named his son, but he impulsively took his family on an unprecedented journey, heading toward a destination he had never seen—Canaan. They did not make it all the way but a generation later, following in his father's footsteps, Abraham did.
So why did Terah try to reach Canaan? It was known in ancient times that Canaan had especially close connections with God, and it was where Jerusalem would be established, and it would become the land of his people. Terah, perhaps, and in ways he did not even understand himself, wanted connection with God, and his son Abraham carried out that desire. We know God inspired that. God begins before He even works with us, setting things up. Terah gave a springboard to Abraham by recognizing the value of the past and the spiritual wealth that had been forgotten over the generations since Adam.
In matters of the body we look toward tomorrow. Food production, medicals procedures, transport, and other similar concerns are all better today than they were last year. But in matters of the heart and mind we look toward yesterday first, then today and tomorrow. Here in Colossians 2 we see that Paul carries out that pattern.
Colossians 2:6-8 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord [already done and it is continuing], so walk in Him [that is in the present and the future], rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving [And as we abound in it, as we walk in it, we continue into the future.]. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
Let that burn into your minds because the church throughout church history from the time of Christ, has forgotten that over and over and over again.
We have been looking back at our church history from the time of Christ in the sermon series. In my last sermon we got us far as the 16th century, the 1500s. In AD 1586 through 1587, as I mentioned in my last sermon, the conviction and execution of Mary, the Catholic Queen of Scots, for conspiracy, removed for the last time the threat to Protestant Britain a renewal of Catholic domination by way of the throne. And there were other Catholic monarchs later, but they had no opportunity to restore Catholic power, and the people absolutely would not allow it.
In the following year, as the supposed invincible Spanish Armada approached Britain to attack, it was utterly overwhelmed by a great storm at sea. Not only was England enabled to remain politically free, she was encouraged to stay non-Catholic, which enabled her to throw off the bonds and chains of the Catholic Church. The magnitude of this defeat made Europe's strongest Catholic power second rate, an Israelite Britain was now supreme and in the political and moral climate of a freedom-loving Protestant Britain, God's work could again to develop.
And from here begins the story of the Church of England and America. Will and Ariel Durant, authors of The Story of Civilization, stated, "We Americans are the best informed people on earth as to the events of the last 24 hours. We are not the best informed as to the events of the last 60 centuries." Is that not even more true today than ever? It is an Israelite trait that we have forgotten our identity as a people. The descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel have forgotten the way of life God gave them through Moses, and this Israelite trait of the forgetfulness of God's truth, is also seen in the history of the church of God. Time after time, this characteristic of forgetting is shown by those called by God to be among the firstfruits of His Kingdom.
So far in this sermon series showing that many are called, but few are chosen, we have seen some of the spiritual problems of the early church congregations in chapters two and three of the book of Revelation of Jesus Christ. You remember that Ephesus lacked diligence in love for the doctrine of Christ, and Smyrna was sorely tested in their appreciation for the doctrine of Christ. Pergamos compromised the doctrine of Christ, and Thyatira was guilty of spiritual adultery; many stayed within the Catholic Church undervaluing the holiness of the doctrine of Christ.
Now, as we look at the history of the church of God from the 16th century, we will see that the church forgot much of the doctrine of Christ. Those called were only to grow to a certain point and were unable to go over the wall that prevented them from making substantial spiritual growth. The church's general characteristics throughout history are similar to the early church in Sardis.
Please turn with me to Revelation 3. They did not prove all things and search the Scriptures daily with the help of the Holy Spirit, and the result was that they produced few works and imperfect works. They were alive but on life support, and so their faith became fruitless. Faith without works is a dead faith, and that was what they were faced with in their deterioration. Jesus Christ verified that the church in Sardis allowed God's truth to dissolve and be forgotten
Revelation 3:1-2 "And to the angel of the church and Sardis write, 'These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: "I know your works that, you have a name that you were alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God."
Jesus Christ said the outstanding characteristic of the Sardis church was that they had a name that indicated that they were alive from a physical point of view; they existed in the view of the world. However, according to the inspired original Greek, they were as if dead. Their witness was too little or of no benefit. Christ exhorted the people of Sardis to get busy. In the original Greek it reads, "Become watchful, or wake up." They were to strengthen the things which remain. That is, the doctrine they already had but had neglected by not living as a true witness and teaching it to others.
There was much that was lacking in the doctrine and practice they received from those who preceded them. They did not diligently teach their children. Proper organization and biblically based teaching in the church was not strong enough to be effective. Of all the seven churches, Christ had the least to say to Sardis and since there were only a few who had truly come out of the world. Let us continue in Revelation 3.
Revelation 3:3-4 "Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy."
So there were a few faithful brethren in that church there in Sardis in Asia Minor that still continued to teach their children and also to be a good witness. But the majority of the church was lackadaisical and spiritually headed toward death, or as if dead. A few faithful saints had not defiled themselves because they resisted the enticements of the world, and many other weak members were more of the world than of the church.
Only a few people who were associated with the church had kept themselves free spiritually from the prevailing corruption. They were like people clothed in white, walking amid the defiled, yet keeping their clothing from getting soiled by sin. That was the faithful. The Sardis attitude affected many professing Christians down through history, not just that one specific time period, and especially during the beginning period in about AD 15 8515.
I would like to say do not worry about the dates. Do not try to remember them. I am just giving them as a point of reference so you know where in history we are. That is not my focus. Besides that, in history class, even though I love history, I did terrible with dates. They just can confuse the issue, so just take them as a reference point.
So God's church began to revive, unlike the previous revivals in Asia Minor and Europe, this revival began in England. Chamber's Encyclopedia, under the article "Sabbath," states that, "In the reign of Elizabeth I, whose reign lasted from 1558 to 1603, many conscientious and independent thinkers advocated the seventh day Sabbath. Most of them, although they saw the truth about the Sabbath, were not truly converted in heart and mind. [Did not truly see the spiritual meaning of it.] They merely understood the theology of it intellectually."
At the beginning of the 17th century, a great disputation about the Sabbath arose. They would argue for the Sabbath, but they would not sincerely surrender to God in obedience and repentance. They would do their own things on the Sabbath, they would find their own pleasures. They would even occasionally work. Sabbath keepers were very well known, and books were published urging the keeping of the seventh day Sabbath—Saturday Sabbath.
One of those not satisfied with the Puritan Sunday observance was a very verbal minister named John Traske. Traske also understood the truth concerning unclean meat, and he ordained four evangelists in about AD 1616. Remember the King James Bible was instituted, or commissioned, I guess is the word, to be written in about 1611, so I think that is when they started it. And it was in AD 1616 that these four evangelists were ordained, whose labors resulted in the conversion of many people.
About 150 years later, Robert Cox's analysis, published in 1865 titled, Literature of the Sabbath Question, Volume One, page 157, tells us that because of these things, Traske was censured in the Star Court Chamber, the Star Chamber. That was an English court of law, which sat at the Royal Palace of Westminster. Anyway, Traske was denounced, humiliated, publicly whipped, and then imprisoned for teaching the Sabbath. Three years later, having written and published a recantation, which was a more of a brief or a silly essay, he obtained his release. He acquiesed. He gave in and afterwards relapsed, not into the same but other opinions rather humorous than hurtful. His wife died, having been confined for about 15 years for holding fast to the Sabbath. So his wife remained faithful, but he did not. So sad for him.
Another who shared Traske's belief in keeping the Sabbath was Theophilus Brabourne, a former Puritan minister in Norfolk, England, where many AnaBaptists from Holland had migrated. He published books in 1628 and 1632 advocating the true Sabbath. Now Cox, who wrote that analysis that I just mentioned, said of Theophilus, "He may be regarded as the founder in England of the sect at first known as Sabbatarians but now calling themselves Seventh Day Baptists." Cox continues, "This sect arose in Germany in the 16th century."
Cox was referring to those who the world loosely called AnaBaptists. Later, official pressure was brought to bear on Theophilus. Cox wrote that Theophilus, "Became a convert, conforming himself quietly, though temporarily, to the Church of England. His followers, however, did not all accompany him back to Orthodoxy." So, he as their minister, went back to the Church of England, which is Sunday-keeping church, but his parishioners, or the layman, stayed faithful to the Sabbath. I think we saw that in Worldwide quite often actually—sadly.
About this time, Philip Tandy, a minister of the Church of England in northern England, saw the truth concerning the Sabbath and the true mode of baptism and abandoned the Church of England. Edward B. Underhill stated in his book, In Confessions of Faith and Other Public Documents, that another book in defense of the Sabbath was written by James Oxford and published about 1642. His enemies called him an AnaBaptist. At this time, those who called themselves the Church of God were commonly and falsely called AnaBaptists. Many others throughout the 1600s and 1700s also wrote and published works expounding and defending biblical truth, especially the commandment to keep God's Sabbath.
God's called were beginning to use His gift of the printing press, though still not with the zeal needed to do a visible work. Not much is known of the congregations and local members of the true church during the first decades of the 1600s. For the most part, God's people had to stay very low key because it was still illegal for them to hold Sabbath services for worship and preaching.
According to another book written in 1910, The Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America, page 78, by Albert N. Rogers, everything was not easy for God's people. At least two ministers were martyred for preaching and conducting religious services outside the nationally organized church. Keep in mind this is during the 17th century that it is talking about. We know that one of the London Sabbath keeping churches goes back at least to the time of Traske in 1628 and the four evangelists whom he ordained. Positive evidence is extant for the existence of several other Sabbath keeping congregations in the 1650s. By AD 1668 in England, there were at least nine congregations besides numerous scattered brethren of God's church in other places.
Edward Stennett was one of the English ministers. Robert Cox, who wrote much later, 100 years later or so as I mentioned, wrote in his Literature of the Sabbath Question, page 267, "So wrote the famous Seventh Day minister Edward Stennett to Rhode Island members not yet organized into a local church. Stennett addressed the Rhode Island members as the remnant in Rhode Island who keep the commandments of God and the testimonies of Jesus Christ." The Stennett family, which provided ministers for the Church of God in England for four generations, is one example of the fact that Jesus Christ often works through families.
God used a similar approach with Abraham's family. God began working with Abraham and continued down through later generations with Isaac and Jacob, and God inspired Jacob to command his family, as a physical religious unit, to put away their foreign gods and to accompany him to Bethel, where Jacob set up an altar.
Genesis 18:17-19 And the Lord said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him."
The covenants of God with the patriarchs are stories of blessings to families and descendants, generation after generation. And the channel was long. God promises Abraham that his offspring will be as numerous as the dust of the earth and that from the generations of his offspring will come great nations and kings. And Jacob's descendants were to be as the sand of the sea. Turn over to Exodus 20. This is a scripture you are very familiar with. In fact, you have it memorized. Choosing to work in this large way through generations of families, God carries out His work through the smallest details of conception and birth. Each divinely ordered detail joins the larger flow of events that God shapes into human history, which moves along from one generation to the next. In the second of the Ten Commandments, God explains His dealings with people in the same generational terms.
Exodus 20:5-6 "You shall not bow down to them [that is idols] nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments."
There is the difference between an unsuccessful family and a successful family. God worked through Abraham's family, as He promised, through the generations to King David, and through more generations to Jesus Christ and in Jesus, the channel narrowed to one brilliant point and then burst forward into a wide stream. Psalm 22:27 pictures the huge multitude of people. "All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you." God is interested in families, and He raises up families to do His work. And it is our job as parents to continue to teach that.
This picture of all the families of the nation's worshipping Christ is the glorious end toward which all of the generations are moving. God sees families as an important unit for working out His purpose, and Christ also used more than one member of several other families to proclaim His Word throughout history.
Among them in about AD 1675 as we progress through history, were the brothers Francis and Thomas Bampfield. Both wrote and published books on the Sabbath, creation, the law of God, and other doctrines. Duggar and Dodd quoted in their book, which I believe was written in the early 20th century, on page 241, from Francis Bampfield's book, that the name of the church is the Church of God. Now He is the great living, eternal, loving, merciful God and many other descriptive terms that can be applied to that. Francis Bampfield was driven from his Church of England pastorate in Devonshire by the 1662 Act of Conformity and much of his remaining life was spent in various jails. He raised up a small Sabbath keeping congregation within the walls of Dorchester Jail and when released, he began to hold meetings in London in his own rented house, much like the apostle Paul did in Acts 28.
Acts 28:30-31 Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the Kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.
Then Francis Bampfield organized a congregation that continued for over 100 years. Shortly after being seized again, he died in prison. Then Edward Stennett became pastor of the church (that same one that I mentioned earlier). Remember, Christ exhorted His people in Sardis during the apostle John's time to not forget the way they received His church, do not forget the way or how they received His truth through the help of His Holy Spirit.
Revelation 3:3 "Remember therefore how you have received and heard, hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you."
So they were told to remember how they had received the truth, not only that they did, and they received it from Jesus Christ, who used the prophets and the apostles to guard and teach the truth, even unto death, to preserve it. They did not receive the truth from those who had fallen away from it or who had perverted it, as the Jews and Gnostics had done.
Now the same held true much later in the 17th century, except it was the Catholics and the Protestants.
Even through fear of persecution in England, and later also in America, many of the called of God continued to fellowship with those who had fallen away—their mistake—and even with some of the churches of this world.
There was one minister in Worldwide who we attended with in Baltimore. He left the Worldwide Church of God, and one of things I heard not too long after that was that he was attending the Baptist church on the corner. He had been raised Catholic, so he was the one confused person.
In most cases, it pulled people out of the church because of the cancerous bitterness of those who leave the fellowship, spreading it to others. So everyone beware. Someone who has left the church, and is bitter, avoid them like the plague because you will be affected by it. We all think we are strong enough, but spirits and moods do affect us.
They proved that many are called, but few are chosen by the ease at which they committed spiritually adultery with mainstream, pseudo-Christianity. And so it was in all the history of God's church. Many thousands were introduced to God's way of life through Scripture, and many of those promoted it to others, but most never took it to heart, internalizing it as a way of life that is worth dying for. So, we all must beware and take that caution very seriously.
Some of you here very likely—if the numbers hold true as they have for 2,000 years—will not be with the church of God in the years to come. That should be one of the most sobering things that we hear today. I do not know who they are; only God knows the heart. But we just know by statistics that that is the case. And that is one of the reasons I am giving this series—to show you how it has happened continuously in every century.
So God's Word was consistently passed along down through the ages, many times by God calling and raising up unconverted "stones" to help the physical promotion of God's truth, as was done with the printed Bible. Most were hearers only, though, and the apostle James gives an apt description of the difference between a doer and a hearer only. In a sense, a doer and a hearer only is the same difference as a called and chosen person and one who is called who does not follow the call.
James 1:21-25 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror, for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
Many of the successors of the Waldensians (you recall that from previous sermons), later became Puritans (you are familiar with that term) within the established Church of England. Others outside that church had become Baptists. To their own demise many of the ministers did not guard the truth and maintain fellowship with the church, but they did go ahead and maintain fellowship with the Protestants.
Now, back in the first century of the church of God, the apostle Paul gave instruction to the young pastor Titus about the responsibility of the ministry. Titus faced the unenviable assignment of setting in order the church at Crete, which is in disarray and horrible shape, and Paul directs him to appoint elders, men of proven spiritual character in their home and jobs to oversee the work of the church. But elders are not the only individuals in the church who were required to excel spiritually. Men and women, young and old, each have their vital functions to fulfill in the church if they are to be living examples of the doctrine they profess. And parents have an undeniable responsibility to teach their children.
Titus 1:7-9 For a bishop [or minister, elder, or pastor] must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.
As a parent, think of these as a court requirement for you as well, each and every one of us. As a single person, look at this. This is what you are shooting for—this list. This is what Jesus Christ warned the church in Sardis not to neglect. He was concerned about the inevitable result of this relationship with the world that some of His people and ministers maintained. And they allowed and even encouraged the circulation of false doctrine among the called of God, causing more to fall away.
Jesus commanded through the apostle John that the church in Sardis must repent. They had tolerated sin and false teachers within their midst, and the apostle Paul gave a similar warning before John warned the church in Sardis. Here is Paul's similar warning.
II Corinthians 6:14-17 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people." Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you."
Sadly, the greater churches of God are still making the same mistakes they have down through history. Protestantism is still creeping in. Well, it used to creep in. It is no longer creeping in, it is flooding into the churches of God. The church in Sardis had frequent and prolonged fellowship with unconverted Sunday keepers, and they would listen to false teachers instead of separating themselves from such an anti-Christ influence. A close social or personal relationship with someone of contrary beliefs to God's truth often leads to compromise and tolerance of sin in one's own life.
I am not saying it is wrong for you go to family dinners and things like that, I mean, they are your family. I am just saying that if your best friends are in the world and not in the church, then there is something really wrong with your life. So you have to be very careful at how close you get to people in the world. We all develop friendships with people in the world, and that is fine. But we have to keep them at arm's length because they will pull us down.
A lesson in history is that tolerance is the device used to turn free people into slaves. Because when a society, or especially a church, tolerates the flagrant sin of others, that is adultery, sexual immorality, homosexuality, pedophilia, transgenderism, and many other perversions that people think up and are becoming legal today in this sick world, the unashamed sin puts the society or church under subjection to it. Are the people of the world slaves to this? They surely are. They are being made slaves under these things. Tolerance of sin moves those God calls from the liberty of the truth of God to the slavery of sin, if we are not careful.
Now you would think that at some point following the repetitious behavior of tolerating sin, false teachers, and false doctrines within the physical church, that Christians would learn from the bad examples of Christians before them, not to tolerate the false teaching of different doctrinal opinions within their midst. Nor would they have invited ministers of other religions to preach to them. But it still happens. There is an example I was going to use here, but I am going to save it for my next sermon that shows that was done in Worldwide.
History shows that God's called out ones throughout the church's history wave the banner of false emotional love and tolerance for those of false doctoral opinions. They make the foolish mistake of equating love with tolerance and even mercy and tolerance. They are not the same thing.
In Romans 13:10, the apostle Paul defines love as, "Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law [God's law]. In I John 5:3, the apostle defines love as, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome."
They are not slavery. They are freedom. Mercy and tolerance are not the same thing, either. Basically, mercy is compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm. Basically, tolerance is the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with. So we have to be very careful that we do not confuse tolerance with mercy or love-mercy-tolerance together.
The Christians of many centuries, including the 17th century, did not realize that condoning false teachings by listening to them did harm to both the believer and the unconverted. And this prideful attitude was one of the primary reasons that the church in Sardis is called dead. They were dead partly because they did not watch out for Satan's infestation of false teachers and guard against it.
In I Corinthians 5:1, the apostle Paul made it very clear that condoning evil in the church is not showing love by protecting the brethren. The inevitable result of such practice is expressed when Paul chastises the church in Corinth for tolerating flagrant sin in their midst. He says, "It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you." He says in verse 2, "you are puffed up. . . . and you should have been mourning over it." He also says you should "deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh," he who was flagrantly sinning like that. Verse 6, "your glorifying is not good. . . . a little leaven leavens the whole lump. . . therefore purge out the old leaven."
So this treatment of sin is a common misconception of the Protestants. In their tolerant attitudes they show themselves guilty of the very thing the apostle John cautioned us of in I John 2:15, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." Tolerance of sin is a way of loving the things of the world, and Christ warns Sardis in Revelation 3:3 that their ways would eventually leave them completely unprepared for His coming.
Consider, for example, the 17th century history of the congregation founded by Francis Bampfield that I mentioned before—a faithful minister. According to the book, The Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America, page 65, "For many years another separate Seventh Day congregation also met in the same hall. One church met in the morning, the other in the afternoon. Through the years and several changes of meeting place, the two congregations continued to use the same hall wherever they went. They mainly differed on the question of Calvinism." What is Calvinism?
Calvinism was a prominent Protestant theological belief system that began in the 16th century. It is basically the theological system of John Calvin and his followers, marked by a strong emphasis on the sovereignty of God and especially how it relates to the doctrine of predestination. In about AD 1619 the Calvinists produced the five articles of the Synod of Dort. Almost sounds like something out of the Lord of the Rings. Among other things, it proposed that Christ died exclusively for the chosen ones.
Now, generally, the Calvinists believed that God chose specific people to save and no one else had an opportunity for salvation and that once chosen, a person was permanently saved. We know this as the false Protestant doctrine of once saved, always saved. Did Calvin have influence on the Protestant church? He certainly did. Today, Calvinism is the origin of the Reformed and Presbyterian churches. I mention this false belief because its influence on Christianity in the 17th and 18th centuries was substantial enough to become an established doctrine in mainstream Christianity.
Now, because of a lack of qualified ministers within the congregations of the churches of God, services were often conducted by the ministers of other churches, and during one period four different Baptist ministers preached to the afternoon congregation. Similar instances seemed to have occurred in the morning church as well. Gradually, the two congregations merged. By this time, the leaven of error was firmly entrenched in the church of God. According to the book, The Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America, page 42, tells that later this combined congregation merged again, this time with the so-called Millyard Church, significantly in the Millyard Church building. Also there had been separate morning and afternoon services with separate ministers since 1754 and Millyard Church records of that very year contain the earliest extant mention in England of a group known as A Congregation of Protestants, dissenting from the Church of England, commonly called Seventh Day Baptists.
That there were two separate groups of seventh day churches in England during this time is also indicated by the fact that ministers were often required to be re-ordained to come from one Sabbath keeping congregation to another. You see, one congregation was Protestant, and the other was a seventh day true church of God.
According to a book by Joseph Belcher published in 1865 titled, Religious Denominations in the United States, by the late 1700s, these people had so adopted Protestant viewpoints that they began to elect their ministers instead of relying on Jesus Christ to select them. Some of these ministers, even Seventh Day believers themselves, had for a long time pastored what were called first day congregations on Sunday, as well as congregations of the church of God on the Sabbath. So they were double-timing it on the weekends.
Now, just very quickly, I will mention that a ex-Worldwide minister came into the front lobby here and wanted to know about the church, and I told him, and he says, "Well, I've been pastoring a Sunday keeping church down the road here," and he said, "I was wondering if I could preach to your congregation." And I said, Well, we're seventh day Sabbath keepers." He goes, Ah that doesn't matter. I can preach on Saturday or Sunday." I said, Well, we have nothing in common. You can't preach here," and never saw him again. I felt sorry for him because he was just a pitiful man. He looked like he had lost everything. So, there are ministers that do that.
The natural result was a complete negligence of properly feeding the flock of God. They did little or nothing to promulgate God's truth. We can see why Christ call such a Sardis type attitude dead. The church's tolerance of this spiritual adultery made any of their efforts to promote God's truth dead and in vain. James 2:20, 26 says, "But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? . . . For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." Unfaithfulness to God and His written Word produces bad works and spiritual death.
So the church, during the 17th and 18th centuries, needed God's Holy Spirit to strengthen them. But through their pursuit of their own form of religion, they lost most or all of this gift of God, and error continued to weaken them. According to A History of the Sabbath, pages to 233 and 234, by J. N. Andrews, "With the 18th century its zeal [that is, the church's zeal] vanished." And the cause was their willingness to remain in fellowship with false churches.
Because of the political power of the Church of England, there were never very many Sabbath keepers in England. By about 1800 they had become almost extinct again, since no seventh day. pastor could be found in Europe or England. The three remaining English congregations imported an American, and he led them to limited prosperity again, but no longer as the church of God. They now call themselves Seventh Day Baptists. But before these early congregations were completely swallowed up in the Seventh Day Baptist denomination, Jesus Christ, caused His true church of God to be established in America.
In the middle of the 17th century in America, local congregations of God's church began to be established. Remember, by this time there were no organized seventh day church's any longer in England, other than what may have been pastored by that American.
In 1664 Steven Mumford was sent from the Bell Lane Church of God in London, England, to Newport, Rhode Island, and for a while, he associated with the members of a Sunday Baptist church and in time persuaded several of them to embrace his views of the Sabbath. After seven years a seventh day congregation off seven members was was raised up from these people, and they identified it as part of the church of God. The church of God in Rhode Island became the mother church in America, and it grew slowly for about 30 years, and then in 1708 the enlarged and geographically widespread Newport congregation was officially separated into two congregations. The Westerly and the Hopkinton congregation retained the original records, being recognized as the leading or headquarters location.
The reasons for this transfer is very interesting. Previous to this time, the Westerly or Hopkinton site had become the regular meeting place for a yearly meeting of members from all over the East Coast at that time. It was at such a meeting on September 28th on the Gregorian calendar that the decision was made to establish a new congregation. Details are lacking, but it is significant that this date falls during the Feast of Tabernacles of that year. According to the book, Seventh Day Baptists in Europe in America, the earliest of these annual meetings had been held in late May of 1684. Other annual meeting dates consistently fell either in the fall holy day season or near Pentecost. None of these meetings came at Christmas, Easter, or even in midsummer. It appears that God's people were, at least in part, attempting to follow the pattern of the holy days He had ordained.
In the meantime, several other congregations of Sabbath keepers reformed, mostly of new converts and immigrants from England. And though they recognize their relationship to the mother church in Rhode Island, distance made it necessary for the brethren in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania to gather in annual meetings in their own areas. And these assemblies often sent greetings to each other by letters and delegates. At these times, according to the Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America, "The Sabbath, with its general communion, was indeed a high day."
Now there were only a few people during the 17th century who were truly dedicated Sabbath, holy day, and commandment-keeping Christians. It was not until much later that the majority accepted the Protestant idea that God's holy days were done away. It has always been just a few, just a remnant to continue on after the main group goes into apostasy. It happens over and over and over again and has for almost 2,000 years.
Then, in the 18th century in America, we find the establishment of more seventh day congregations. Many other Sabbath keeping congregations were continuously being formed, but disappointingly, many of the people of these congregations had not become converted nor acquired the habit of prayer and Bible study. Many did no personal Bible study of their own. They had merely accepted the doctrinal argument of the Sabbath. Among them were some individuals who had crept in unnoticed just as they had in Jude's day for the specific purpose of drawing away converts to their own style of religion.
Jude 3-4 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain man have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
One of these deceitful ministers was an evangelist who is very important historically in connection with the future development of the Seventh Day Baptist denomination in America. William Davis had studied at Oxford University to become a clergyman of the Church of England. However, he changed his mind and became a Quaker instead. Migrating to Pennsylvania, he soon fell into disagreement with other Quakers. He then switched to the Baptists. Soon after, he accepted the Sabbath and founded the seventh day church near Philadelphia. In 1706 Davis began attending the Newport, Rhode Island church of God and applied for membership. He was turned down because he held wrong doctrines.
Four years later, he tried again, but this time at Westerly and was accepted, subject to approval by the annual meeting. Approval was finally granted, though some still objected. In 1713 he was authorized to preach and to baptize. But he had not become a true member of God's church. As his fruits were exposed, he was in trouble with the church and was in and out of fellowship for the rest of his life. He twice moved to Pennsylvania and back, lived in Connecticut for a while, and finally died among a settlement of his followers and their children in New Jersey. To the end, he maintained the rightness of his own views and argued with God's Word. First I am going to go to I Timothy 6 and then I will read part of a letter of William Davis. Paul wrote to Timothy about this very thing. It inevitably happens repeatedly.
I Timothy 6:3-5 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words [There is a dead giveaway, if somebody is that way all the time.], from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
Now listen to part of the letter that Davis wrote defending himself and accusing the truth.
Now all this enmity against me among Seventh Day men arose against me, originally from a noted seventh day man and soul sleeper [Soul Sleeper is the nickname for God's people] in this country, who above 20 years ago opposed me about my Christ and the Trinity. Who having poisoned several other seventh day men with the mortal and an atheistic notion and set them against me. He secretly conveyed this drench [that his accusation] against me over the Westerly to the persons before named who complying with him in their judgment [that is doctrines] in the Socinian and anti-trinitarian error, drank it greedily down before I came along. [emphasis added]
So you can see that even his letter shows that everything was about him and he was claiming that those who did not believe in a Trinity were dumb. He knew better. You should believe in the Trinity and so on. Notice, he continually accuses his opponents of being against me at the same time tacitly admitting it was really his false doctrines that they were against. Doctrines which were totally at variance with the truth the church had long held before he even came along.
According to Corliss Fitz Randolph's, A History of the Seventh Day Baptists in West Virginia, "In later years, many of William Davis' descendants and followers could be found in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. And this was how it came to be that as early 1776 some Sabbath keepers began to take part in war, and believed in a trinity and an immortal soul."
As we move into the 19th century in America, over the next 100 years, these and other Protestant doctrines were prevalent in the Sabbath keeping congregations. Many began to try to organize, so that at first, seven or eight, and later most of the congregations united to form a denomination and this group officially adopted the name Seventh Day Baptists in 1818.
Prior to this the church of God had in England been going by that name, but now, as they went into apostasy, they formed this denomination with many churches, a large organization. So ten or twelve congregations in the Pennsylvania to Rhode Island area alone would not affiliate with this denomination of men. The ten to twelve congregations said, "No, we don't want any part of it." And even as late is 1828, only 16 to 20 congregations were being represented at the Seventh Day Baptist Conference meetings, while they spoke disparagingly of other fanatical and unworthy Sabbath keepers, meaning God's people. As always, the few had refused to go along with false doctrine and had remained faithful to the Word of God rather than the tradition of men. And that is what constantly crept in—the tradition of men, the teachings of men, the philosophies off men. As always, the few had refused to go along.
Mark 7:8-9, 13 "For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do." He said to them, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. . . . making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do."
About a generation later, a great movement, the Adventist Movement, began among the Sunday keeping churches. Basing their hope on William Miller's false interpretation of Daniel's prophesy of the 2300 days found in Daniel 8:14, many began to expect the return of Jesus Christ to earth in the year 1844 and it became known as Adventist from the term advent, meaning coming or arrival.
When Adventists expectations for 1844 proved to be an illusion, the Adventists split into several different groups according to their various doctrinal backgrounds. The most important group refused to admit that they had been wrong about the date, so they accepted the idea that God's throne in heaven had needed cleansing at the time! If any place does not need cleansing it is God's throne.
A Seventh Day Baptist woman in New Hampshire called the Sabbath to the attention of some of these Adventists. But it was not until about two years after their great disappointment that the seventh day was widely publicized among them, and the group then accepted the Sabbath, the seventh day Sabbath. But they did not join the Seventh Day Baptists. Instead, they began to assemble with the remnant of the true church of God with whom they had come in contact, and this is shown by the fact that they gave up their former belief in the Trinity and an immortal soul. They began to call themselves by the biblical name the Church of God, and their first songbook was dedicated to the church of God, and some of them were active in publishing a periodical in the name of the "Church of God."
Nevertheless, those Adventists were never spiritually a part of the church of God. They had only associated themselves with God's church for a while. Later, most of them began following a woman whom some considered of prophetess.
In 1854 the Adventists began to set a price on and to sell the religious literature, even though Christ tells His true ministers to freely give. And then in 1860, they rejected the name the Church of God and officially adopted the name of Seventh Day Adventists. As before, a few faithful members, but only the few of the church of God, did not go along. Some of the Adventist-type doctrines were prophesied for the latter times by Paul in I Timothy 4, where he especially mentions forbidding the eating of meats, which the Adventists require.
I Timothy 4:1-3 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrine of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscious seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods [the King James translates foods as meats] which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
Every one of the points prophesied here was not necessarily fulfilled at the same time, or in a single group of misled people. But each of these points has been fulfilled in one group or another that departed from the truth in the last few centuries. The error of their sin is that they allowed themselves to be deceived with the doctrines of demons.
The early history of this Adventist movement shows the kind of spirit behind it. In its early days, the supernatural power of demons was manifest. For example, according to Ellen G. White's The Great Controversy, page 366, "In Norway and Sweden, children were encouraged to preach and spread the church's doctrines." Children, some of them were no more than six or eight years old, and these children were too young to have been able to experience true conversion. This sounds similar to the Catholic beliefs, such as the children of Fatima, who received the false prophetic vision.
Notice how one of those deluded, misused Adventist children later described his experiences. "Preached? Yes, I had to preach. I had no devising in the matter. A power came upon me and I uttered what I was compelled by that power to utter." Another, who was 15 years old when these events occurred, said, "As soon as we were seized by this heavenly power, we began to speak to the people, and to proclaim with a loud voice that the judgment hour had come." These examples are found in Emma Howe Cooper's book, The Great Advent Movement, pages 22-23. God's Spirit leads, but it does not force anyone to do anything. Paul was inspired to write in Romans 8:14, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God."
Mark 9:20-21 Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. And often he [the demon] has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You could do anything, have compassion on us and help us."
The power that seizes and completely controls the human being is demonic.
So you see there how the demons react when they are in people and how they influence people to do things that they do not want to do. Well, they have to be willing in order for that to happen or allowed by God to do that, as in a child. There are demons that just travel through families. They continue from generation to generation. At least that is what experience seems to point to.
The Seventh Day Adventist Movement has its origins in doctrines and beliefs that God's Word goes as far as to say are demonic. The Seventh Day Adventist Church is not a true church of God. It has deceived many. Many have thought it was. They are Trinitarian and Protestant in their philosophy and tradition. Colossians 2:8 once again. "Beware, lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." I mention this because many people have fallen for this deception, that is, of the Seventh Day Adventists. But they are not a branch of God's church.
When the Adventist organized themselves as a denomination in 1860, only a few, mostly in the states of Ohio, Iowa, and Missouri did not go along. The printing plant and the magazine formerly published in the name of the Church of God, were taken over by the Adventists. But in 1861 a group of the faithful began the publication of a new monthly paper called "The Remnant of Israel," later changed to "The Sabbath Advocate," and finally, "The Bible Advocate." Soon, these people were heavily influenced by the Protestants around them. So they again began to organize themselves into a general conference and various state conferences. They even had a college in Salem, West Virginia, which I have visited.
Certain faithful families provided the church of God a fragile continuity. These came to be located mainly in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Oregon. Some of them retain knowledge of God's holy days and the identity of modern Israel. During the same period, church of God ministers began missionary work in Mexico, Chile, and Argentina, the Philippines, and other places. During those last 70 years, from 1861, only a few individuals really repented and strengthened the truth that was slipping from their midst. Most of their ministers, instead of submitting themselves to be used by God, tried to carry on a work by their own human power.
Please turn with me for a final scripture to Hebrews 12. By early in the 20th century, many were only seeking an income for themselves. They were not diligently seeking to serve God. These ministers had rejected God's authority and government, having lost the knowledge of how God governs His church and they absorbed the Protestant idea of democracy, applying it to church government with its accompanying divisions and controversies and self orientation. The result of rejecting Christ's direction was increasing doctoral deviation and a lack of true conversion among the members. The apostle Paul, likely author of the book of Hebrews, warned of the consequences of refusing to carefully listen to and diligently regard Jesus Christ's instructions about the will of God.
Hebrews 12:25-28 (AMP) So see to it that you do not reject at Him [Jesus Christ] or refuse to listen to and heed Him Who is speaking [to you now]. For if they [the Israelites] did not escape when they refused to listen and heed Him Who warned and divinely instructed them [here] on earth [revealing with heavenly warnings his will], how much less shall we escape if we reject and turn our backs on Him Who cautions and admonishes [us] from heaven? Then [at Mount Sinai] His voice shook the earth, but now He has given a promise: Yet once more I will shake and make tremble not only the earth, but also the [starry] heavens. Now this expression, Yet once more, indicates the final removal and transformation of all [that can be] shaken—that is, of that which has been created—in order that what cannot be shaken may remain and continue. Let us therefore, receiving a kingdom that is firm and stable and cannot be shaken, offer to God pleasing service and acceptable worship, with modesty and pious care and godly fear and awe.
That is the attitude we should have while we are sitting here and praising Him and worshipping Him—in modesty, pious care, godly fear, and awe. The phrase "What cannot be shaken" refers to eternal godly principles of truth, of law, of righteousness, and these are not changed or modified by time, circumstances, tradition of men, or human laws. Physical things cannot limit them. Human reasoning cannot abolish them. Malachi 3:6 quotes God as saying, "I, the Lord, do not change." Many of the called refused to heed God's Word, and they turned their backs on the Lord, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Sadly, by the beginning of the 20th century, only a few remain faithful to God's truth. These were the faithful converted ones who carefully submitted to and diligently carried out Jesus' instructions regarding God's will. Nevertheless, those few converted ones were the apple of God's eye.