Larger font
Smaller font

The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

 - Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font

    VI. Prophecy Adds Depth and Meaning to Doctrine

    The old-fashioned stereoscope of bygone days was a fascinating instrument to youthful eyes. It enabled the viewer to see objects not merely on one plane but in three dimensions. It gave a realistic sense of depth, distance, and perspective. It made the figures and features in the foreground stand out in bold and impressive relief, while those in the background were relegated to their subordinate place in the distance. And this was accomplished by means of the factor of the third dimension.PFF4 1164.4

    In a similar way Bible prophecy might well be likened, as it were, to a divine stereoscope, through which the reverent student is enabled to see great Bible truths in new and luminous perspective. Basic doctrines, as well as the foundational provisions of redemption, are invested with new meaning, as inspired prediction and historical fulfillment bring them into new and vivid relationship. It was obviously this perspective, provided by Bible prophecy, that came to distinguish the emphasis of the Sabbatarian Adventists from that of the many other religious groups with whom they shared most of the great evangelical truths of the Word in common, but who had largely lost their interest in prophecy. Possibly more than with any other religious body, Bible prophecy may be said to be the foundational platform of the Seventh-day Adventist faith.” 6Their standard book of counsels to ministers declares: “Ministers should present the sure word of prophecy as the foundation of the faith of Seventh-day Adventists.” (E. G. White, Gospel Workers, 148.)PFF4 1164.5

    It is this prophetic angle and perspective, the Sabbatarian Adventists hold, that gives added depth and meaning to all great teachings of the Word. To them, prophecy draws back the curtain from the panorama of the ages, showing that the distant corners and obscure backgrounds of the stage of human action, as well as its luminous center, are touched by the divine rays of God’s foreknowledge and beneficent revelation. Let us note specific examples.PFF4 1165.1


    The central heart of all Christianity-salvation and righteousness solely through Jesus Christ-becomes radiant with new meaning and attraction, they saw, when the prophetic aspect of every phase of Christ’s matchless provision is understood. This includes the time and circumstances and the developments and fulfillments of His first advent and earthly sojourn, climaxing in His vicarious atoning death, literal resurrection, and triumphant ascension. Similarly with His subsequent ministry as heavenly High Priest for man, spanning the great interval between the first and second advents. And entry upon the final phase of that priestly ministry, in the antitypical Day of Atonement, then leads on inexorably to the closing events of that ministry, and Christ’s personal return in power and glory to redeem His own, to terminate the tragic reign of sin and destroy its evil author.PFF4 1165.2

    All this is an integral part of Bible prophecy. So prophecy, the Adventists earnestly assured us, is the key that unlocks the mysteries both of time and eternity. It is God’s chosen means of revealing His master plan of the ages, and its grand finale. It affords the only satisfying philosophy of history to be found, for those wishing to think things through. And it indicates God’s way out of the tragic morass of sin, crime, pollution, war, hatred, intrigue, and ruin, otherwise destined to destroy the human race. It is the one ray of hope.PFF4 1165.3


    The sinless life and atoning death of Christ are vastly more significant, said the Adventists, when seen in the light of prophetic fulfillment. And this embraces not only the Old Testament predictions of the great events of that life, fulfilling the prophetic portrayals of the Messiah, the Redeemer, the Suffering Servant, and the prophecy of the 70 weeks, which point out the time of His death, but also the prophetic types of the sanctuary services-Christ our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7) dying for our sins on the very day of the slaying of the Passover lamb, and rising on the stipulated day of the wave sheaf, as “the first fruits of them that slept.” And beyond that, after His ascension and the acceptance of His all-sufficient sacrifice by the Father, then His entry upon His high priestly ministry, which was signalized by the outpouring of the Spirit when the day of Pentecost was “fully come” (Acts 2:1), precisely on the fiftieth day. Thus understood, they held Christ’s life to be invested with a significance and a grandeur not otherwise seen.PFF4 1166.1


    To the Seventh-day Adventist the same prophetic types of the sanctuary service also threw light on the judgment-as they regarded the cleansing of the sanctuary to involve the climactic phase of Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary above, foreshadowed by the great prophetic period of the 2300 years, beginning synchronously with the 70 weeks allotted to the Jews and culminating historically in the great sacrifice on Calvary. Most Christians believe in and teach a coming judgment hour for all mankind. In the sixteenth century Luther and Melanchthon looked forward to that great day as some three or four hundred years beyond their time. And thousands of religious leaders of all faiths in the early nineteenth century believed it to be drawing near. Yet the churches generally, and mankind at large, then had but a hazy concept concerning it.PFF4 1166.2

    Thus the judgment took on a deeper meaning in the light of God’s master plan of the ages, first revealed through the predictive types of the Old Testament and then wrought out through the tremendous redemptive realities of the New, in connection with Christ’s sacrifice and priesthood. Thus in the light of prophecy every redemptive truth assumed a fuller significance and took on new beauty and depth of meaning.PFF4 1167.1


    The Sabbath, as already noted, had been observed for two centuries or more by the Seventh Day Baptists, by whom it was brought to the attention of those who became the Seventh-day Adventists. The prophesied change, effected by the apostate Little Horn power of Daniel 7, had been recognized and declared. But the other prophetic angles were lacking, the emphasis being principally on the immutability of the law of God. The Sabbathkeeping Adventists, however, seeing it in the broader perspective of the several Bible prophecies involved, rallied to it as a banner of loyalty to God in the last-day climax of prophetic fulfillment.PFF4 1167.2

    Moreover, its place, not only in the midst of the “commandments of God” but just as verily in “the faith of Jesus, “made it an energizing principle of life. It became an integral part of the provision of “righteousness by faith.” 7This was s “it is the third angers message of justification by faith that “it is the third angel’s massage in verity.” (E. G. White “Repentance the Gift of God,” The Review and Herald, April 1, 1890, p. 193.) imparted to the Christian through the enabling power of Christ. Thus the increased prophetic emphasis invested the Adventist presentation of the Sabbath with far more power and appeal than the earlier form of exposition. The previous concept had been more of a doctrine for mental assent, while the latter became aliving, determining principle of life.PFF4 1167.3


    Fundamentalists generally accept at face value the statement that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), as do many other evangelicals. And many, even of those who espouse the evolutionary hypothesis, attempt to reconcile their theory, in one way or another, with the postulate of the creatorship of God. While to Seventh-day Adventists the question of creationism included belief in the fidelity and literality of the Biblical record, and its sound and ample scientific support, these were but part of the weight of evidence.PFF4 1168.1

    Here also the prophetic angle gave added significance to their emphasis. It is the active worship of God as the Creator, the Adventists said, that constitutes a vital factor in their preaching mandate for these days. This, they believed, is written into the very heart of the prophetic commission of Revelation 14:6, 7—the call to “worship him that made heaven, and earth.” To them the prophetic aspect of this message added significance to the truth of God as Creator and heightened the contrast between the Sabbath as the divinely designated memorial of His creative power (Exodus 20:8-11) and any man-made substitute therefor.PFF4 1168.2

    Furthermore, they saw in the very words of those who belittle belief in God’s direct creatorship, as well as in the second advent of Christ, a fulfillment of those prophecies of latter-day unbelief, for many of those who question “the promise of his coming” doubt it on the grounds of unitormitarianism—“all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation,” because they disbelieve the declaration of the Scripture that the antediluvian world perished by a deluge. (2 Peter 3:3-7.)PFF4 1168.3

    But that was not all. While the Adventists insisted that the earth of today bears undeniable geological witness to the ancient Flood catastrophe asserted in Scripture, they likewise held that all mankind must have brought before them the clear prophetic corollary that the present earth is kept in store, reserved unto the fires of the approaching “day of God,” at which time this sin-scarred earth will be burned with fire. Then all sin and sinners will be destroyed. And following these cleansing flames, the same prophecy declares there will come forth the new earth forevermore, the work of the same creative power. That was the prophetic message of hope they claimed to have for the world on this point.PFF4 1168.4


    The Sabbatarian Adventists held to conditional immortality and the unconscious sleep of the dead, understanding immortality to be a gift, bestowed through Christ, by means of the appointed resurrection of the sleeping saints and the translation of the living righteous; this to take place at the approaching second advent. This concept, shared in common with certain smaller Christiangroups, and with many individuals in various religious bodies, was commonly looked upon as an oddity, if not indeed a heresy. But to the Adventist the postulate of innate immortality was considered an integral part of the great “falling away” from the primitive faith, predicted in prophecy (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4), which has seriously affected nearly all Christian doctrine-including the Sabbath, sanctuary, atonement, priesthood of Christ, the nature of man, and punishment of the wicked, as well as baptism, the Lord’s supper, and many kindred beliefs.PFF4 1169.1

    So, in heralding what they held to be the true nature of man, with life only in Christ, the Adventists did so from the prophetic as well as the doctrinal angle. And that again is the “third dimension.” The great perversion concerning the true nature of man-brought into Christendom through Catholicism, along with other beliefs derived from heathendom—they contended, has furnished the basis for saint worship, purgatory, and limbo, some of which have been retained in varying degrees by Protestants. But the Adventists held that the recovery and restoration of apostolic truth correct all these perversions, as well as prove a safeguard against those recent, modern simulations of the “spirits of the dead,” foreseen by Paul and John as deceiving the world in connection with the last great crisis.PFF4 1169.2


    The Seventh-day Adventists maintained that Christians should earnestly cherish and study Bible prophecy, that they should use it as intended of God, fostering its understanding and ever walking in the light of its counsels. They felt that it had been a beacon light calling men and women from apostasy through the ages. Thus, it was prophecy that sustained the early Christian martyrs as they recognized God’s controlling hand over the nations, despite Rome’s cruel role in the affairs of men. It was prophecy that nerved the Waldenses to withstand Rome and lit the flaming torch of Wyclif in Britain and the Hussites in Bohemia. It was prophecy that was invoked by Luther when he defied Rome, as he declared the identity of Antichrist in irreconcilable conflict and contrast to the Christ of Scripture. And the Adventists believed it would enlighten the multitude of God’s children still entangled in the subtleties of modern apostasy.PFF4 1169.3

    Saints and Sinners await the descent of their lord from heaven. The righteous dead emerge from their Tombs and cities Topple in ruins at cataclysmic end of the age
    Page 1171
    PFF4 1171

    And the most marked guidance of prophecy, they believed, would yet be experienced just before the world’s final crisis. Prophecy, they held, shows where mankind has come from, just where he is in the inexorable stream of time, and where under God he is going. It is the luminous torch in the hands of faithful heralds of the everlasting gospel that will enlighten man in his final march toward the kingdom of God.PFF4 1171.1

    Larger font
    Smaller font