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From Here to Forever

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    First Departures From The Gospel

    How did the church first depart from the simplicity of the gospel? By conforming to paganism, to facilitate acceptance of Christianity by the heathen. “Toward the latter end of the second century most of the churches assumed a new form. ... As the old disciples retired to their graves, their children, along with new converts, ... came forward and new-modeled the cause.” “A pagan flood, flowing into the church, carried with it its customs, practices, and idols.”6Robert Robinson. Ecclesiastical Researches (ed. 1792), ch. 6, par. 17, p. 51. The Christian religion secured the favor and support of secular rulers. It was nominally accepted by multitudes. But many “remained in substance pagans, especially worshiping in secret their idols.”7Gavazzi, Lectures (ed. 1854), p. 278.HF 239.3

    Has not the same process been repeated in nearly every church calling itself Protestant? As the founders who possessed the true spirit of reform pass away, their descendants “new-model the cause.” Blindly refusing to accept any truth in advance of what their fathers saw, the children of the reformers depart from their example of self-denial and renunciation of the world.HF 239.4

    Alas, how widely have popular churches departed from the Bible standard! Said John Wesley, speaking of money: “Do not waste any part of so precious a talent, ... by superfluous or expensive apparel, or by needless ornaments. Waste no part of it in curiously adorning your houses; in superfluous or expensive furniture; in costly pictures, painting, gilding. ... So long as thou art ‘clothed in purple and fine linen,’ and farest ‘sumptuously every day,’ no doubt many will applaud thy elegance of taste, thy generosity and hospitality. But rather be content with the honor that cometh from God.”8,Wesley Works, Sermon 50, “The Use of Money.‘HF 239.5

    Rulers, politicians, lawyers, doctors, merchants, join the church as a means of advancing their worldly interests. The religious bodies, reenforced by the wealth of these baptized worldlings, make a still higher bid for popularity. Splendid, extravagant churches are erected. A high salary is paid for a talented minister to entertain the people. His sermons must be smooth and pleasing for fashionable ears. Thus fashionable sins are concealed under a pretense of godliness.HF 240.1

    A writer in the New York Independent speaks thus concerning Methodism as it is: “The line of separation between the godly and the irreligious fades out into a kind of penumbra, and zealous men on both sides are toiling to obliterate all difference between their modes of action and enjoyment.”HF 240.2

    In this tide of pleasure-seeking, self-sacrifice for Christ's sake is almost wholly lost. “If funds are wanted now, ... nobody must be called on to give. Oh, no! have a fair, tableau, mock trial, antiquarian supper, or something to eat—anything to amuse the people.”HF 240.3

    Robert Atkins draws a picture of spiritual declension in England: “Apostasy, apostasy, apostasy, is engraven on the very front of every church; and did they know it, and did they feel it, there might be hope; but, alas! they cry, ”We are rich, and increased in goods, and stand in need of nothing.’”9Second Advent Library, tract No. 39.HF 240.4

    The great sin charged against Babylon is that she “made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” This cup represents false doctrines that she has accepted as the result of her friendship with the world. In turn she exerts a corrupting influence upon the world by teaching doctrines opposed to the plain statements of the Bible.HF 240.5

    Were it not that the world is intoxicated with the wine of Babylon, multitudes would be convicted and converted by the plain truths of the Word of God. But religious faith appears so confused and discordant that people know not what to believe. The sin of the world's impenitence lies at the door of the church.HF 241.1

    The message of the second angel did not reach its complete fulfillment in 1844. The churches then experienced a moral fall in their refusal of the light of the advent message, but that fall was not complete. As they have continued to reject the special truths for this time they have fallen lower and lower. Not yet, however, can it be said that “Babylon is fallen, ... because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Protestant churches are included in the solemn denunciation of the second angel. But the work of apostasy has not yet reached its culmination.HF 241.2

    Before the coming of the Lord, Satan will work “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness;” and they that “receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,” will be left to receive “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11. Not until the union of the church with the world shall be fully accomplished will the fall of Babylon be complete. The change is progressive and the perfect fulfillment of Revelation 14:8 is yet future.HF 241.3

    Notwithstanding the spiritual darkness in the churches which constitute Babylon, the great body of Christ's true followers are still to be found in their communion. Many have never seen the special truths for this time. Not a few long for clearer light. They look in vain for the image of Christ in the churches with which they are connected.HF 241.4

    Revelation 18 points to the time when the people of God still in Babylon will be called upon to separate from her communion. This message, the last ever given to the world, will accomplish its work. The light of truth will shine upon all whose hearts are open to receive it, and all the children of the Lord in Babylon will heed the call: “Come out of her, my people.” Revelation 18:4.HF 241.5

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