Archive for November, 2013

“My house shall be called a House of Prayer”

November 30, 2013

Catholic church praying

I remember as a kid, being brought up in the Catholic church, the peaceful quiet times I spent in the church–praying. The above picture brought back memories of those times.  I also remember the church doors being open many times during the week, both day and night. Today, as I look back upon the customs of our friends , the Catholics, I wonder who it is that has the real  light concerning this ” house of prayer” injunction. We as  SDA  claim to be those obeying the  Lord’s Commandments and teaching His prophecies but are we lacking in an overlooked  declaration of the Lord concerning the purpose of His house? Let us look into this most important aspect of His house of prayer.

As we  come together each and every Sabbath into the house of the Lord we in fact walk into His house of prayer. In Scripture  we read,  “I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices, because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”(Isaiah 56:7)

And our Lord specifically said, “He said to them, the Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!” (Matt 21:13).

Recently a church friend had stopped by for a bible study and she had mentioned how the Catholic church keeps it’s church doors opened for “prayer” and she wondered why we aren’t. This got me thinking –what’s going on with our own church in this regard?

As SDA we come together every Sabbath to study and worship in His house. We have services for roughly 3 to 3 and a half hours each Sabbath. But what about praying in His house? To a large extent it doesn’t exist! This is the sad fact. At no time throughout the whole week do we ever have our church doors open to allow us to enter to silently pray to our Lord.

Is this not a gross oversight to us as Seventh Day Adventists?

Ellen White explains, “”Bible religion is not made up of theological systems, creeds, theories, and tradition, for then it would not remain a mystery. The worldly would understand it through their own natural abilities. But religion, Bible religion, has a practical, saving energy, elements proceeding wholly from God—a personal experience of God’s power transforming the entire man.” (Manuscript Releases Volume Sixteen, page 236.)

And what could be one of best “personal experiences” than to be in God’s house praying? A while back a close friend of mine had been involved in a personal and emotional experience with her parents. She was left distraught one morning and wanted to drive down to the local church (SDA) to go inside and pray. She was to find out that no such possibility existed. Nothing was open.

We understand that today with the increase in crime and homelessness, the church is vulnerable to some mischief if it were to be left unguarded. However, is not our church able to open at least a few hours during the week for those who would want to be in His house to pray? If our Lord said that His house is a house of prayer, then would it not be a great and special thing to pray in His house to Him?

In the days of old His house was a true sanctuary and the believers felt His presence and were likely to be there even into the night. “Behold, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, who by night stand in the house of the LORD! Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD!” (Psalms 134:1-2)

Then we see that even in Jesus’ day there were some who stayed in the temple praying. ” Then  she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer.” (Luke 2:37) As SDA we often criticize the Jews of old as being wrong in many aspects but we certainly have much to learn from them in the — house of prayer custom.

Today during our services we have a short and formal “garden of prayer”. It’s usually 3 to 5 or 6 minutes. And we listen to someone else pray rather than spending quality time praying to the Lord and King ourselves. But are these few formal minutes  a fulfillment of being His house of prayer? Far from it!

We are woefully in need of revival and reformation in SO MANY areas and this house of prayer issue is right up there near the top in importance. This is something that should be looked into and changed. Our worship has become a timed scaled model of cold formalism.

In reviewing information for this week’s post I happen to come across a fellow church goer’s personal testimony as to the rigid and cold services he found. Although he belongs to a different church and religion, look at how similar his experiences are to what we see in the SDA.

In explaining why he quit the church, he says—

“I often found the worship services to be very structured and rigid, and therefore predictable. Here’s a typical Sunday worship service at OWC:

  • The choir sings
  • Opening prayer
  • The choir sings again
  • The congregation sings
  • The scripture passage is read
  • The choir sings again
  • The sermon is preached
  • Closing prayer
  • Congregation sings again
  • Tithes and offering
  • Benediction (always by a pastor)
  • Lord’s Supper (once a month only!)
  • After each service, people typically gather into their own little circle of friends (ie., “cliques”).
  • After socializing, most people either go home; have lunch with their friends; or go to Sunday school, and… that’s about it!

Notice how there is:

  • no time for group prayer
  • no time for sharing
  • no time for getting to know one another
  • no time for spontaneity and for the Holy Spirit to take part in the service
  • no time to hear testimonies or sermons by people in the congregation (mostly)

In other words, there is no time for true fellowship. This lack of involvement by people in the congregation also serves to deprive them of using their gifts and talents, thereby denying them their share in the priesthood (according to the NT, all believers share in the priesthood 1 Peter 2:9).”

____________________________________________________

This should awake us to the fact that as SDA, and claiming to be the “remnant” people of God, are we really showing the world we are? What difference do we see in our worship service  as opposed to the Sunday keepers above? From the description above , we see little except the day of service. Both them and us leave out true quality prayer before, during,  or after service. We seem to forget that the Holy Spirit is alive and should be allowed to “move” the people during the service, just like the early Christian church.  The people should be allowed to pray in His house without distractions.

One of the most practical ways we could change this error, is to open the church from say, 8 am to 9 am for early morning prayer. Then those who value the privilege of being in His house to pray–can do so.

In closing we have the promise that soon “all” things will be restored and that even our true worship and prayer in His house will be brought back to its beauty, glory,  and holiness. LET US PRAY FOR THIS.

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The Tithe Truth Revisited (Part 2 of 2)

November 23, 2013

weight scales-2

In continuing our second part of the post, we shall now look at the  references in support of not paying tithes on the Sabbath and particularly in the sanctuary on the Sabbath. At the end, we’ll weigh it out in a final summary.

k) 2 Kings 12:9-10

 “Jehoiada the priest took a chest and bored a hole in its lid. He placed it beside the altar, on the right side as one enters the temple of the LORD. The priests who guarded the entrance put into the chest all the money that was brought to the temple of the LORD.Whenever the chest became full, the court secretary and the high priest counted the money that had been brought to the LORD’s Temple and put it into bags, and told the money that was found in the house of the Lord.”

Comment – As far as we know, this is the first Scripture that gives account as to how the money was collected (“a chest” with a bored hole in lid). This supports the conclusion that no collections were taken, rather this chest container suggests a depository for “free-will” offerings. Prior to this verse in 2 Kings 12:4 we find further evidence of free-will offerings, “..and all the money that a man purposes in his heart to bring into the house of the Lord.” No support for Sabbath collections nor sanctuary collections.

No points for Sabbath collections. Point against sanctuary tithe collection.

 L) 2 Chronicles 24:8-11

 “At the king’s command, a chest was made and placed outside, at the gate of the temple of the LORD. A proclamation was then issued in Judah and Jerusalem that they should bring to the LORD the collection that Moses the servant of God had required of Israel in the wilderness.All the officials and all the people brought their contributions gladly, dropping them into the chest until it was full.

Whenever the chest was brought in by the Levites to the king’s officials and they saw that there was a large amount of money, the royal secretary and the officer of the chief priest would come and empty the chest and carry it back to its place. They did this regularly and collected a great amount of money.”

Comment – This supports the collections being received outside of the sanctuary. No support for Sabbath collections as it is inconclusive. We should note that back in those days the Temple was frequently open for prayer and such and that the chest was there most any day of the week for someone to come and donate.

No points for Sabbath collection. Point against sanctuary tithe collections.

m) Nehemiah 12:44

On that day men were appointed to be in charge of the storerooms for the offerings, the first part of the harvest, and the tithes. They were responsible to collect from the fields outside the towns the portions required by the Law for the priests and Levites. For all the people of Judah took joy in the priests and Levites and their work.”

Comment – We see that “storerooms” was where the money was kept for the tithes. The collection occurred from going to the “fields outside the towns”. Logically we can deduct no collections came from within the sanctuary. No proof for Sabbath day collections as well.

No points for Sabbath collection. Point against sanctuary tithe collections.

n) Mark 11:15-16 –

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.”

Comment – This statement is quite strong and emphatic. The Temple courts were not to have merchandising within it. Which would be similar to our churches having books, cd’s and other merchandise for sale in the foyer before, during or after service. Further, Jesus put a restriction on its practice — “would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple”. One can clearly deduct that if this was not allowed in the “Temple courts” how much more was it not allowed within the Temple itself?

Today in the “temple”, during services we sometimes see the asking for subscriptions, asking for donations for services (such as church improvements) and other monetary church “business”. Also the promoting of merchandise (Dvd’s Cd’s books, etc.) within the sanctuary as well as elaborate requesting of funds and raising financial goals. Clearly this is condemned by the King Himself. No evidence this was Sabbath or not.

No points for Sabbath collection. Point against sanctuary collections.

o) 1 Cor. 16:2

Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.”

Comment –  We see that Paul clearly implies that no collections are to occur on the Sabbath or in the sanctuary. This also shows that because the “Christians” being the minority and off-shoot sect, they had a new and different way of collecting donations or tithes, apart from the wide tradition of Jewish temple collections.

The traditional storehouse (Jewish Temple) was no longer the place where the Christians paid their tithes because it no longer had God’s present Truth. Further evidence of this can be found in Acts 4:34-35. “For all…brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the Apostles feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.”

Point against Sabbath collection. Point against sanctuary tithe collections.

p) Desire of Ages, p.614

…He commended the widow who brought her offering for God’s treasury. Man’s abuse of the gift could not turn God’s blessing from the giver.

Jesus was in the court where were the treasure chests, and He watched those who came to deposit their gifts. Many of the rich brought large sums, which they presented with great ostentation. Jesus looked upon them sadly, but made no comment on their liberal offerings. Presently His countenance lighted as He saw a poor widow approach hesitatingly, as though fearful of being observed.

As the rich and haughty swept by, to deposit their offerings, she shrank back as if hardly daring to venture farther. And yet she longed to do something, little though it might be, for the cause she loved. She looked at the gift in her hand. It was very small in comparison with the gifts of those around her, yet it was her all.”

Comment – We see evidence that the place for the money collection was in “the courts” not in the sanctuary. We don’t have enough evidence to say whether it was collected on Sabbath or other day.

No points for Sabbath collections. Point against sanctuary tithe collections.

RH, Aug.29, 1878

We solemnly promise, before God and to each other, to conscientiously pay to the Systematic Benevolence Treasurer a tithe of all our income, to be paid on the first Sunday of each one of the four quarters of the year; namely, the first Sunday in January, the first Sunday in April, the first Sunday in July, and the first Sunday in October.”

 Comment – This is very clear as to the day of paying tithes. This was an agreement made by the SDA founders  and sent to the conference churches as the adopted practice and rule.

 Point against Sabbath collection. Point against sanctuary tithe collections.

 r) Adventist Review 3-94

 “After the plan of paying tithes was presented to the believers, Maud was usually one of the first in line when the collector came by on Sunday mornings.”

 Comment – Obvious statement supporting both Sunday collection and no sanctuary collection.

 Point against Sabbath collection. Point against sanctuary tithe collection.

 s) RH, Feb.4 1902

 “The directions given by the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul in regard to gifts, present a principle that applies also to tithing: “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” Parents and children are here included.

Not only the rich, but the poor, are addressed. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart [through the candid consideration of God’s prescribed plan], so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” The gifts are to be made in consideration of the great goodness of God to us.

And what more appropriate time could be chosen for setting aside the tithe and presenting our offerings to God. On the Sabbath we have thought about His goodness. We have beheld His work in creation as an evidence in His power of redemption. Our hearts are filled with thankfulness of His great love. And now, before a toil of a week begins, we return to Him His own, and with it an offering to testify our gratitude.”

Comment- EGW uses Paul’s specific day “first day of the week” Sunday as the day to set aside tithes and offerings. She then says it’s the day for “presenting our offerings to God.” In the comment “before the toil of a week begins we return to Him His own..”, some  could interpret it to mean sometime Saturday “Sabbath” yet if one uses this interpretation, then we must cancel out her previous statement of presenting our offerings on Sunday “first day of the week”.

She cannot be saying Sunday and then saying Saturday as well as it would be contradictory, pointless and make no sense. We should concede that the “before the toil of a week begins” comment is referring to either Saturday evening or most likely Sunday. Logically it would be the latter.

Point against Sabbath collections. Point against sanctuary tithe collections.

t. Jezreel Letter, no.3, p.1-3

Truth challenges you, Elders, to point out wherein the Bible teaches either by word or by example that the Sabbath and the church were made for raising goals, for auctioning, for selling literature and for taking subscriptions. The Bible does not teach or recommend even a plate collection (a custom which Rome originated) in Sabbath services, much less merchandising in the presence of God. All the Bible recommends is a container for free will offering placed somewhere in the church premises. It was into such “a treasury” that the widow, while entering the temple, placed her two mites.”

 Comment – Obvious is the point about the practice of collections in the sanctuary as not Biblical (Roman custom). The specific point is made that the Bible “recommends” a container for free-will offering, not the requesting for tithes and passing around the collection hat, plate, box or bag. Although it mentions, “the Bible does not teach or recommend even a plate collection IN Sabbath services”, it’s inconclusive on “day” of paying tithes, or if a free-will deposit could be made somewhere else on church grounds.

 No points for or against Sabbath collection. Point against sanctuary tithe collections.

 u.Jezreel Letter, no.9, p.8

Look and see what a difference there is between God’s method for supporting His work, and the Roman system that is now carried on by the church: plate-passing, high-powered speeches, Big Day, Book Day, high pressuring, campaigning, selling, auctioneering, Harvest Ingathering, birthday offerings, Christmas-tree hangings, baby weighings, Dorcas sales, investment funds, and what not! As none of these squeezings are Biblical, and as all of them are Pagan in origin and condemned by the Scriptures, they could not possibly be considered freewill offerings. Search and see.

Instead of Sabbath-keeping the day is devoted to money raising, and instead of a house of worship, the church is turned into a den of thieves –disgusting to observers, and most discouraging for a member to invite a friend or a neighbor to a church service. Is there any wonder that God does not now bring many into the church (“Testimonies,” Vol. 6, p. 371)?

It was this sort of thing that aroused Luther to action as he saw the priests living in luxury by exploiting the people’s conscience and by making the poor poorer. True worship and God’s plan for supporting the work must now be restored.If there is any revival and reformation needed in any line it is certainly needed in this line, and no one is excused from having a part in it if he but takes to heart the Word of God and if he refuses to comply with the afore mentioned abominations.

Comment – The emphasis is placed on the point that the collections(plate passing) of tithes is from the “Roman system” and not Biblical. Later this act is called an “abomination”. But there is no real statement, one way or the other as to the “day” for paying tithes.

One could argue that by the statement, “could not possibly be considered free will offerings”, that if the “free will offerings” were brought in on the Sabbath outside the sanctuary it would be acceptable.

No point for or against Sabbath collections. Inconclusive. Point against sanctuary tithe collections.

  Summary  

In reviewing the whole report we can see the historical practice of the Biblical fathers as clearly having no temple collections on the Sabbath. What we find is that perhaps there was a practice of bringing the tithes to the services on Sabbath but they were placed into a collection box or chest. This was a “free-will” offering, brought in,  as opposed to today’s  requestings by church leaders on the Sabbath and then collected in sanctuary.

So we see strong evidence, a very weight-full position, that the practice of tithe collections were very different from what is the tradition practiced today with our SDA church. The custom of Sabbath collection within the sanctuary has no basis  in the Lord’s Scriptures. Additionally,  plate passing, bag passing, hat passing, box passing within His sanctuary has not one iota of evidence from Scripture.

Next, in reviewing our SDA church history we find some points that should be noted. First, the corporate body came together in 1859 and established its first “Systematic Benevolence” plan of paying tithes as a church body. A general outline that was to be the practice. And in 1878 it was re-confirmed with slight changes.

However in about 1885 we see that the church leaders had changed their stance on Sabbath collections as noted in the General Conference 1885 meeting. We can speculate that there were practical reasons for this change. The homes and abodes back then were often spaced far apart from one another. And as the mode of transport was the horse buggy this took quite a time consuming task to go to the many members. Plus some no doubt were out and about during the collectors visit. So after the many years of struggle in keeping this plan, it appears for logistics reasons an adjustment had to be made.

But of importance is Ellen White’s last known statement on our subject. In 1907 she said, “Let our people avoid the passing of the contribution boxes, even if it becomes a much more difficult matter than it now is to raise money for foreign missionary work.

It would be well if our brethren and sisters would consider the advisability of laying by during the week their offerings for missionary work. As they call to mind the blessings and mercies that god is affording them, let them put a thank offering in an envelope. These envelopes could be presented on the Sabbath, when it could be stated for what purpose they are intended…

The sacredness of the Sabbath could be in no way violated by such gifts, and the results would be for good… My brethren and sisters, try this method. Let there be no collections taken on the Sabbath, but let praise and thank offerings be made.”

In concluding our SDA history of tithe collection we see that circumstances caused division in customs. But it shows that though their appeared Sabbath collections, the issue of collection within the sanctuary is not as clear. The evidence is very weak for it. And often clearly against it, both in the “for” and “against” references. To summarize, we see that Sabbath collection occurred within our early history of SDA church, but sanctuary collection remains a clouded and much more weak issue.

As many of us are aware, and as we’ve shown through out our many posts, the Elijah message is God’s final message to us as the SDA church, individually and corporately. So logically if we are to believe in His messenger, we must put the final weight of balance of this issue in what was said by His “Elijah”. The purpose of Elijah was to “restore” all things, meaning an understanding of the rights and wrongs of our practices, doctrines and faith.

And this issue, surely the Lord knew would come up in a contentious and public way. The Elijah prophet did not skirt his duty in this regard he delivered the final words on this subject, clear and unmistakable. He said, “If there is any revival and reformation needed in any line it is certainly needed in this line..”

In closing, our all-seeing Lord has made  “outs” for us. But it’s only good if we take it. Today we have the efficient mail system, where we can mail in our tithes. We also have the church website, where often they have a “donate” button to click and send it in electronically. May the Lord guide you to do the right thing in this matter. As the Elijah calls this an “abomination” do we snub the Lord’s last pleading word to us? God forbid!

Note – As we hope that you are blessed by this study, it should be remembered that just as important as the day/practice of paying tithes,  the true “storehouse” issue is restored by Elijah as well. For this study see — https://godsloveandlaw.com/2012/09/22/offerings-and-tithes-part-1-of-2/

The Tithe Truth Revisited (Part 1 of 2)

November 16, 2013

tithe paying old testament

A few weeks back we did a post called, ‘The SDA’s Original “Systematic Benevolence” (listed under tithes and offerings). We posted on the original plan adopted by the SDA in 1859. As the Lord so often does, and as we continue on the path for truth, we are revealed more and more of His word and truth as we search. The “Spirit of Truth” is guiding, if we take the humble position that sometimes we can be corrected.

Recently I received an email from a brother of mine, and fellow SDA member. He pointed out that the position taken in the post was not entirely correct. He backed in up with references from the Spirit of Prophecy.  We began a series of email exchanges and looked deeper into the issue.

Many times we are so convinced of a point that we will try to sustain our position, even against some clear evidence against it. Such was my case. We had made the point that the SDA practice within the church since 1859 through 1915, EGW’s death, was that collection of tithes did not occur, for the most part,  on the Sabbath within our churches.

But as I  viewed  more and more of the references my brother showed me, it started me thinking that I should look much deeper into the subject. It was a case where I was believing that our founders made a tithe plan and thus they would keep their word and practice  come what may. I assumed wrongly. And there was reasons for this change , which in hindsight, was quite logical and practical.

I found these two quotes that are quite applicable here.”We cannot hold that a position once taken, an idea once advocated, is not, under any circumstances, to be relinquished. There is but One who is infallible–He who is the way, the truth, and the life.” (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 105)

“Do not read the word in the light of former opinions; but, with a mind free from prejudice, search it carefully and prayerfully. If, as you read, conviction comes, and you see that your cherished opinions are not in harmony with the word, do not try to make the word fit these opinionsMake your opinions fit the word. Do not allow what you have believed or practiced in the past to control your understanding. . . .Find out what is written, and then plant your feet on the eternal Rock.” (Messages To Young People p 260)

The main basic point has not changed–that our Lord does not want Sabbath collection of tithes, in the sanctuary. The truth of this situation has been restored by the Elijah prophet, this we are sure and we must abide. It does appear that it was acceptable to have a “collection box” placed somewhere on the church (temple) grounds, and that the people could give a free-will offering before entering the temple.

Some may ask– “Why is this important? What’s the big deal if we pay our tithes on the Sabbath and in the sanctuary?” It’s because  if we find out that this is an abomination before the Lord, we cannot be sealed in the forehead. This, I would say is worth looking into! Remember that only those who turn away from the sins in the church and “sigh and cry” about them will be sealed–no others. This point is confirmed by all three divine writings, Scripture (Ezek. 9, EGW- Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p.267, and the Elijah message- Shepherd’s Rod vol. 1 and 2)

So I embarked on a study which took several days and hours and sent it to the brother. What I’d like to do is show this study now. It is a more complete picture of what the historical evidence showed in tithe collection within our SDA church and our fore-fathers in the Bible.

                       The Tithe Report                

Contents

1 Scripture Promises                              

2 Purpose of Study                                    

3 Ellen White’s Study Counsel                  

4 Applying the Rules                                 

5 Positions taken                                      

6 References used                                   

7 References discussed                         

Summary                                              

Conclusion                                               

1 – Scripture Promises                                   

The Lord promises us two promises that are particular to our present study. 1) He shall guide us into all Truth (John 16:13) 2) If we do His will, we shall know what is correct doctrine (John 7:17).

Let us pray first and foremost for His guidance and our desire to know Truth above anything else. If we find It, let us rejoice and not be ashamed if we have side-stepped It or ignored It. The Lord said “I am the way, the Truth, and the life..”(John 14:16) (From here on I will capitalize the word Truth as it means Jesus)

We have the solemn warning that if we do not love the Truth (Jesus) we shall not make it to the promised land. “He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the Truth that would save them.” (2 Thes. 2:10)

2 – Purpose of this study

As mentioned above we have as our foremost goal and desire in this study to know what is the Truth of tithe paying. Specifically three areas of tithe paying. 1) What day is proper to pay the tithes per the inspired writings? 2) Should the tithes be paid in the sanctuary on Sabbath? 3) Should the tithes be paid on Sabbath in a location apart from the sanctuary?

3 –Ellen White’s study counsel 

a) “Every man who bears the message of Truth to our churches must do his duty by warning, educating, rebuking. Any neglect of duty which is robbery toward God means a curse upon the delinquent.” (Special Test. For Ministers and workers, no.7, p.22)

b) “Those who desire to doubt will have plenty of room. God does not propose to remove all occasion for unbelief. He gives evidence, which must be carefully investigated with a humble mind and teachable spirit, and all should decide from the weight of evidence. (Test. Vol.3, p.255)

c) “The unbelief that demands perfect knowledge will never yield to the evidence that God is pleased to give. He requires of His people faith that rests upon the weight of evidence, not upon perfect knowledge.” (Test. Vol. 3, p.258)

d)“The evidence given one day, if rejected, may never be repeated.” (Ibid, p.258)

e) “Men, women, and youth, God requires you possess moral courage, steadiness of purpose, fortitude and perseverance, minds that cannot take the assertions of another, but which will investigate for themselves before receiving or rejecting, that will study and weigh evidence, and take it to the Lord in prayer.” (Test. Vol. 2, p.130)

f)“The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority—not one nor all of these should be regard as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord” in it’s support.” (Great Controversy. p.595)

g) Error could not stand alone, and soon would become extinct, if it did not fashion itself like a parasite upon the tree of truth. The traditions of men, like floating germs, attach themselves to the truth of God, and men regard them as part of the truth.. And as traditions pass on from age to age, they acquire a power over the human mind. But age does not make error truth.”—Letter 43, 1895, cited in SDABC, vol. 5, p. 1094.

h) “If you had made God’s word your study, with a desire to reach the Bible standard and attain to Christian perfection, you would not have needed the Testimonies. It is because you have neglected to acquaint yourselves with God’s inspired Book that He has sought to reach you by simple, direct testimonies, calling your attention to the words of inspiration which you had neglected to obey, and urging you to fashion your lives in accordance with its pure and elevated teachings.’”(Test. vol. 5, p.665)

4 – Applying the above rules to our study

From the above inspired counsel we gain at least 3 important guidelines to come to a clear conception of what is Truth in our matter. 1) We must carefully gather the evidence for and against, then weigh the total matter. Then accept the position in favor of the weight full position. 2) The “Bible standard” is what Ellen White counseled us to obtain. Her writings are to be judged against the Bible, not vice-versa. 3) The Truth is not to be judged and followed by how many are siding with a certain precept or doctrine. Traditions are not always an indication that the doctrine or precept is Truth.

Evidence of Truth shows that in history, the Truth stands with the few, our Lord being the perfect example (Thousands against – few for Him). Although a tradition is carried among His people, this is not proof the precept or doctrine is true and from God. The Lord Himself scolded the Jews for the many man-made traditions they had and yet the majority of people sided with the leaders and were convinced the Lord was wrong, yet they were wrong.

5Positions Taken

Some take the position that the tradition within the SDA church of collecting tithes within the sanctuary in Sabbath services on Sabbath is acceptable to God. The support of this position comes from Ellen White quotes and because it is our current tradition. 

Others take the position that this tradition is not from God’s historical plan, not Biblical, and is not acceptable to Him. The practice has been man-made. Or more precisely, was created by the adversary and is without Scriptural basis.This support comes from Scripture and the Elijah message. 

6 – References used

For                                Against

a. RH, March 2, 1905      k. 2 Kings, 12:9-10

b. RH, Nov.1, 1898          L. 2 Chronicles, 24:8-11

c. Ah, p.482-483             m. Nehemiah, 12:44

d. PH, 0929                    n. Mark 11:15-16

e. PH, 129, p.2               o. 1 Cor. 16:2

f. 4 Bio, Ch. 10, p.105     p. Desire of Ages, p.614

g. 1912 letter from         q. RH, Aug.29, 1878

W.C. White   

h. Sabbath School Worker,  r. Adventist Review, 3-94

April 1885  

I. 1916 letter from W.C. White    s. RH, Feb.4, 1902

j. EGW, Manuscript 176, 1907

(Some believe that Mal. 4:5 is a prophecy fulfilled within the SDA church, and included are Victor Houteff applicable quotes.)

t.Jezreel Letter, no.3, p.1-3

u.Jezreel Letter, no.9, p.8

7 – References discussed

We will show each reference and then breakdown the clear points made therein by a comment section below each. Then we’ll add or subtract that reference either for or against the positions taken.

a) RH, March 2, 1905    “Elder W.W. Simpson had been holding tent-meetings in the heart of the city of Los Angeles during a large part of the summer and the large tent, then standing on Grand Avenue and Seventh street, was being use by the church for their Sabbath meeting. Soon after our arrival, letters were sent to our people in the neighboring churches, suggesting that a general meeting be held at the Los Angeles on Sabbath and Sunday. In response to this, two or three hundred brethren and sisters came in from surrounding towns and these, with the believers in the city, filled the large tent on Sabbath morning. The Lord helped me to speak to this congregation of over thousand of souls, all of whom seemed much interested. At the close of my discourse, a collection amounting to seventy-five dollars was taken up for the work among colored people of the Southern States.”

Comment- This quote can be seen as inconclusive because it says she speaks, but it does not say it was Sabbath or Sunday, as the event covered both days. But one can make the argument that after saying the tent was filled on Sabbath morning she spoke. The collection occurred after whatever day she spoke, this is sure.

Further it is noted that this was not in a “sanctuary” setting per se. It was a “tent” gathering, similar to a traveling road show in those days. If we believed that these tent meetings held the sanctuary, it would be similar to saying one of Doug Batchelor’s or Mark Finley’s travelling bible seminar meetings held within an auditorium,  in a city,  was where one of the Lord’s sanctuaries was.

Point for Sabbath collection based on a further reference (I). No points for sanctuary tithe collections.

b) RH November 1, 1898 Par 2    There was a large attendance at our meetings on SABBATH June 4. Besides the families of the Avondale church, there were about forty present from Dora Creek, making a congregation, old and young, of over two hundred. The weather was excellent, and about thirty took their dinner under the large gum-trees near the church. This was the last Sabbath of the week of prayer, and the time appointed for the bringing in of the annual offerings for missions.”

“During the week, envelopes had been distributed, in which the gifts to the missions might be enclosed: and on the envelope was a place for the name of the giver, and for the reference to a Scripture text expressing the thought accompanying the gift. A Similar provision was made for gifts to the school.”
                                                                  Comment- This quote appears to confirm a Sabbath collection. However there is not the slightest indication that the collection occurred within His sanctuary. There does present an argument that the collection was held outside. Perhaps in a park like setting “under the gum-trees near the church” after dinner, or under a tent as the meetings were so often held. This is speculative.

Point for Sabbath collection, no points for within His sanctuary.

c) Ah p.482-483     A tree laden with offerings is not Sinful.–Let not the parents take the position that an evergreen placed in the church for the amusement of the Sabbath school scholars is a sin, for it may be made a great blessing. Keep before their minds benevolent objects”

Provide Innocent Enjoyment for the Day -Will you not arise, my Christian brethren and sisters, and gird yourselves for duty in the fear of God, so arranging this matter that it shall not be dry and uninteresting, but full of innocent enjoyment that shall bear the signet of Heaven? — “(All) should bestow their gifts and offerings proportionate to the means with which God has entrusted them. Let there be recorded in the heavenly books such a Christmas as has never yet been seen because of the donations which shall be given for the sustaining of the work of God and the up building of His kingdom.”

Comment – In the top paragraph it is seen that obviously there can be “offerings” placed upon the tree. However in that paragraph there is no evidence that the offerings were placed there on Sabbath, Sunday or any other day.

Additionally in this quote we see that it appears that the tree where the offerings are placed isn’t specified as to what location of the church the tree is located. “In the church” can mean sanctuary, foyer, adjacent room, or?. One can only speculate. Bottom paragraph gives no indication on the specific day or if in sanctuary to ‘bestow their gifts”.

No points for Sabbath collection. Inconclusive. No points for sanctuary tithe collections

d) PH 0929     The Sabbath meeting will be like meat in due season; for all will bring precious offerings to the Lord.”

Comment – This appears conclusive that a collection will occur at the Sabbath meeting”. However no evidence as to collecting within the sanctuary. Speculative.

Point for Sabbath collection. No points for sanctuary tithe collections.

e) PH 129 p.2      ….”Urge the members to make the subject a matter of family study and prayer during the week, and then bring their gifts the following Sabbath. The dedication of the gift be a season of prayer will bring a blessing to the church. We pray that this may be more than an ordinary collection. This gift would be a beautiful one -large in proportion to the need.

Comment – This appears conclusive that a Sabbath collection will happen “the following Sabbath”. Are they to “bring their gifts” to be deposited or will a collection take place? We don’t know. No indication it’ll be collected in sanctuary.

Point for Sabbath collection. No points for tithe collection in sanctuary. Inconclusive.

f) 4 Bio, Ch 10, p.105     “It was thought, as the brethren counseled together, that the time had come when Mrs. White could return to Australia, by way Auckland. But just then a telegram came informing them that the missionary brigantine Pitcairn (A hundred-foot sailing vessel built in 1890 for use as a missionary ship in the south pacific, PAID FOR BY SABBATH SCHOOL OFFERINGS.”)

Comment – This appears to confirm Sabbath collections had previously occurred, hence the “paid for” comment. No indication offerings were collected in the sanctuary, foyer, adjacent building, court-yard

Point for Sabbath collections. No points for collections in sanctuary.

g) 1912 Letter from W. C. White     The question of proper Sabbath observance is one about which Mother has often spoken. She has often appealed to our people to make the Sabbath a day of worship, devotion and communion with God, and to sacredly guard it from secular business. Also during the years she has often pointed out that bringing of gifts to the Lord is a very important part of worship, and as a part of worship is proper for the Sabbath.” (EGW Estate, March 20, 1957 file)

Comment – This is evidence of support from EGW that approves “gifts” brought to the worship service. As the gifts are not specific, we can assume that money is included. One cannot conclude if the gifts are brought in and deposited or collected within the sanctuary, foyer, at entrance, or wherever. Speculative.

Point for Sabbath collections. No points for collection within the sanctuary.

h) Sabbath School Worker, April 1885

Question – “Why is it right or proper to take up collections for the Sabbath-school on the Sabbath more than for any other branch of the work?”

Answer – “We do not believe it to be appropriate to pass around the hat in the ordinary way of taking up a collection. There are quieter ways of better accomplishing the desired result. In the supply department is noticed a cloth-lined envelope, the use of which seems to us to be the simplest plan yet proposed.

The scholars bring their contributions, and at the appropriate time place them in the envelope, the contents of which is not counted by the teacher till after the Sabbath.

For some schools that might desire to be even more quiet in this work, we have secured small envelopes for individual scholars. During the week the scholar can put his contribution in the small envelope, and then when he comes to the school it can be dropped into the larger one. We rather like this way ourselves.”

Comment – We gleam some specific information in this SDA advisory publication in 1885. The first is that they say it is not “appropriate to pass around the hat” during the Sabbath school collections. The comment about the hat passing does suggest that there was a practice (we don’t know the extent) of sanctuary hat passing for tithes in some of the churches. 

But they advise completing the donation in the envelope and then it can be “dropped” into a larger container, which would assume this would not be in the sanctuary. Also it’s noted that the contents are “not counted” until after the Sabbath. A practice that is ignored today within the SDA church. We find three specific counsels on tithing concerning Sabbath school within this reference.

Point for Sabbath collections. No points for sanctuary tithe collections.

I) 1916 Letter from W. C. White    Dear Brother, … She has never taken the position, so far as I understand, that there shall be no collections on the Holy Sabbath. On the other hand, she herself has called for funds for various missionary enterprises, on that day; and it is a matter of common knowledge that she has ofttimes published in the Review and in other periodicals, stirring appeals to our people to make donations on certain occasions, often on Sabbath days, for missions, and for other worthy missionary enterprises, including the Colored work in the South; the Orphans; the religious Liberty Work; our Educational work; the relief of Skodsburk Sanitarium and of the Christiania publishing house, etc, etc.—all Sabbath collections. She has on Sabbath days called for gifts to help establish the work in Portland, Maine.

.I understand that scriptural teaching has been written on by several. I am enclosing one herewith, which you may keep.”

During the General Conference held Nov. 18 to Dec.6, 1885 (as reported in the year-book for 1886), the committee on Resolutions presented the following report, which was accepted:

9. RESOLVED? That we hereby indorse the standing rule of our Sabbath-school Associations in regard to taking offerings on the Sabbath, for the following reasons: (1) It trains our young to the habit of giving. (2) If appropriated, nor merely for school expenses, but, as is now being done in some places, in part for missionary work, it cultivates a missionary spirit in the children. (3) It is in harmony with the Lord’s will as expressed in the law, when more offerings were made on the Sabbath than any other day.*** (4) it is in harmony with the light given us as a people. And–

10. RESOLVED? That the same principles apply to the subject of donations on the fourth Sabbath of the month, which day is devoted to the missionary work; and we recommend that they be so taken.”

Comment – Confirmation that shows EGW supported Sabbath collections. Appears to be a Conference guideline as well in 1885. No mention is made as to the place of collections. The sanctuary, the foyer, the connected buildings, drop box at entrance, or any other various locations cannot be excluded as the collection spot. Speculative. Note— the ? after the RESOLVED is original and can’t be readily explained.

*** – This statement is speculative and needs clarification and support from Scripture. A sacrificial offering, grain offering or fruit offering would be quite different from a gold, silver or copper offering (ie. Money). We cannot find any evidence of such money “offerings” being made within the sanctuary on Sabbath in the Old or New Testament.

Point for Sabbath collections. No points for sanctuary tithe collections.

j) EGW Manuscript 176, 1907

Question – Should we take up Collections on the Sabbath?

The question has been brought before me, Shall we take up collections on the Sabbath? The occurrence which brought up this question was that of taking up a collection to purchase an organ for the church. I replied that I would not advise this being done.

When collections are taken on the Sabbath for foreign missionary work, it is that the gospel may be given to those who are in darkness. This is genuine missionary work, and often these collections could not be taken up so fully at any other time. To gather these offerings could not be called transgression of the Sabbath.

But if this is to open that way for taking up of contributions for such purposes as buying of instruments of music, then I would advise that it be discontinued… Let our people avoid the passing of the contribution boxes, even if it becomes a much more difficult matter than it now is to raise money for foreign missionary work.

It would be well if our brethren and sisters would consider the advisability of laying by during the week their offerings for missionary work. As they call to mind the blessings and mercies that god is affording them, let them put a thank offering in an envelope. These envelopes could be presented on the Sabbath, when it could be stated for what purpose they are intended…

The sacredness of the Sabbath could be in no way violated by such gifts, and the results would be for good… My brethren and sisters, try this method. Let there be no collections taken on the Sabbath, but let praise and thank offerings be made.”—EGW

Comment – This is one of the last statements written from EGW on our subject. It contains specific advise. Emphasis is placed on the purpose of a collection being important. The goal raising collections seem not supported by EGW. Then we see that additional emphasis is placed on “free-will” offerings as opposed for the requested collections as this statement confirms, “Let our people avoid the passing of the collections boxes..” and “let there be no collections taken on the Sabbath, but let praise and thank offering be made.”

The weight of her statement appears to advise laying aside “during the week” the offerings and presenting them on Sabbath as “thank offerings”, rather than be asked as a corporate body to put in a collection box that is passed around.”

Point for Sabbath collections. Point against sanctuary tithe collections.

This concludes our references “for” Sabbath collections. Next week we will be looking at the references “against” the subject. Then a summary of the subject.

Who was Victor T. Houteff ? (Part 3 of 3)

November 9, 2013

victor-houteff

In our last segment of this 3 part post, we’ll cover some experiences that took place at the camp. Although it first started out as a camp, it grew into nearly a well-built miniature city. Along with several buildings, farming, gardens and other scenic beauty graced the large grounds. But more important than the landscape was the purpose for the camp. Victor developed a sophisticated printing shop to handle the large mailing campaign.

Mt. Carmel miracles and experiences .

Victor and his wife had their living quarters above the printing shop. One night Victor was at rest in the above quarters when he noticed a silence that wasn’t usual.  The printing shop was usually running almost 24/7. The tracts and other literature were printed continually. He was “about his Fathers business”.

So he went down there in his pajamas to inquire what was going on. The workman explained that the machines had apparently broken down and that he couldn’t figure out what was wrong. After hearing this matter, Victor told the man to go on home, he’d take care of it.

The next day the man showed up for work and the machines were back up and working just fine. What happened? One thing was sure, Victor had no mechanical experience.  The only thing that seems possible  is that Victor had prayed that night in the machine room. And the prayer was answered. God’s work could not be stopped.

The next gives light on Victor’s conscientious effort to not let his work be idolized. One day he went up in the chapel to give his usual sermon. As he was speaking, he began to get choked up. Tears began to flow. He felt something deeply and couldn’t control his emotions. This was not normal for him. As the people felt the emotional moment , someone stood up and in an effort to comfort him,  said that he was  a special man and that he was doing a great work for God.

Suddenly Victor’s emotions changed. He looked at the man sternly and said “Don’t you ever call it “my work”, it’s God’s , He’s the one who desires all the credit. Worship Jesus.” The people understood. They knew that he didn’t want even the appearance of any idolization of him or his work. Perhaps he sensed that some at the camp were in need of being reminded of Who it was that was running the show.

We must remember that the Lord had bestowed upon this man the ability to “interpret” Scripture, just as EGW prophesied about the Elijah to come in Testimonies to Ministers, p.475. As such through him came revelations of new light such as the pre-millennial kingdom, the church purification, the hidden prophecies of Isaiah, Daniel, Hosea, Zechariah, Ezekiel and others. So some had viewed him as almost a genius prophet. Victor never denied his work as Elijah but he also never rang his own bell and directly said “I’m the Elijah prophet”. Just like Ellen White also never said “I am a prophetess”.

So from this we see that although gifted he, in no way,  wanted any glory or self-exaltation.

Next we’ll look at the miracle of the kitchen fire and the water dam. Sister Bonnie  Smith, who is now 83 explains–

“The Lord preserved this shack by a miracle one early morning.  Some dish towels that had been left hanging over the stove the night before to dry caught fire when the wood stove was started for the cook to prepare breakfast.  

The roof had been repaired many times with tar so it quickly became one big blaze. (The camp had just bought a 6 door refrigerator and a Holbert bread mixer, they had saved for years to be able to buy these.)  A bucket brigade was begun but it was quickly realized that there was nothing that man could do to stop the fire from burning.  So Brother Houteff said, “Let us kneel down on these rocks and ask God to save our kitchen.”  When we open our eyes after the prayer the fire was out, there was nothing left but smoke.  That was just one of our miracles.”

In April of 1943 the dam almost broke.  The City of Waco sent out 300 CC men to sandbag the breaking area.  They would not go out on the dam because of the danger.  So we fed them and sent them back. 

After they were gone, Brother Houteff, called all the heads of families to gather by the dam. They knelt in the mud to ask God’s protection while they sandbagged the breaking area.

When the prayer was over Brother Houteff said the 
dam would not break, that it was safe to sandbag the area.  They did so for about 36 hours without stopping. 

Our Miracle!!! Our miracle is seen here in this picture.

dambreaks

You will notice all the water being held back by the soft dirt with no rocks visible to hold back that large body of water.  God understood our lack of knowledge and blessed our efforts in making the dam.”

Sister Bonnie Smith is one of only a few people alive today who lived on the camp. She still abides in the message and can recall very clearly the happenings that occurred back in the day.

Next we had the “children’s revolt” story. Back in the late 40’s and early 50’s the big fashionable thing going around the US was the roller skating rinks. Soon some of the kids who lived on the grounds became anxious to have their own rink on the sprawling property. They nudged their parents and later a meeting took place.

Victor and the parents, along with the kids, all had a meeting about what the kids thought was a necessity. Victor let the people speak ,and from sister Bonnie’s account–  he got an ear full! Patiently listening, he took in what they had to say. Victor then coolly said that there was to be no such thing allowed on the property and that any one who wishes, could be free to leave.

He could not allow worldly amusement fashions because the whole purpose, he felt, was to raise the children up to  be a God-fearing peculiar people, not a partaker of worldly passions and amusements. In this he was closely connected with Ellen White. There was farming, building, teaching, studying, learning, and chores that would take up the time. Walking, hiking, woodwork,  gardening and such could satisfy the physical needs.

But after the confrontation, apparently a sizable group of parents and kids decided they couldn’t live without their pleasures and left the camp. But Victor held his ground and knew that as God’s messenger, no distractions could be allowed, as it would surely be seeds that would sprout into further “retreating towards Egypt”, as Ellen would say.

Last days of the camp

Victor lived to be almost 70 years old. He died on Feb. 5, 1955. 27 days shy of the 70th year. As he worked all the way up to his final days, he had a wife named Florence who was his help mate for about 18 years. By all accounts she was a loving supportive wife who also doubled as his secretary. At least that was the image.

Vth marriage

We all remember that sad, sad story of one of the closet people who knew Jesus as He walked this earth–Judas. Although he professed to know the Lord and learn from him, he secretly harbored unrighteous thoughts and deeds. He was a thief in their midst. At the end he fell from grace and betrayed the One he professed to love and follow.

The Victor- Florence story ended similar to that story,  ending in a betrayal. We don’t know what went wrong but as soon as Victor died, she moved to take over. She even called a board meeting the very NEXT DAY after he died. She discussed among other things HER  Future compensation! The body was not even  cold yet and there she was holding a business meeting the next day.

You see the devils, led by Satan, were all over this situation. Once Victor died it was their chance for disruption. And there certainly came much disruption soon . And the leader was none other than –Florence Houteff. The man who was supposed to take over was E. T. Wilson, but their meeting excluded him and Florence got her buddies to elect her as the leader of the camp.

Soon she and her cronies began to publish some symbolic news codes. The mixed some of Victors “un-published” sermon addresses with some of their own messages. Victor had made some of his sermon addresses unpublished and kept them, as the story goes,   in a file cabinet. No one has ever produced evidence why Victor did not publish them. Although 98 sermon addresses were published, others were not, by his own decision.  Some believe that he was divinely held back.

Regardless, Florence took it upon herself to begin publishing the private addresses. Today, there is a mixed view of these symbolic code news items. They are often referred as the “new codes”.  Some claim  that they are divinely inspired just as the published ones are, others claim that Victor held them back for a reason and one shouldn’t second guess that decision and leave them alone. And should be viewed as “historical” writings as opposed to authoritative divine instructions as the published ones are.

But the BIG blow that came was when Florence and gang made their own prophecy predictions and announced them in the newsletters (sym. codes). They predicted that Ezekiel 9 would occur in April  1959. One thousand people migrated to the camp near the predicted time. The day came and went. Nothing happened! Soon the people were disillusioned. Many soon left the movement and it became the prophesied “Knock out blow” that Victor himself said would happen.

Later in 1963 Florence quit the faith and denounced her husband’s work and even Ellen White! She moved away and disbanded the camp. Thus the end of the camp came to a sad end. Yet the Lord was not done. Even as the apostles were shattered at their King’s death, the movement soon gained life and grew. So too is the story of the work that Victor Houteff started.

“.. if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”(Acts 5:38-39)

Today we are witnessing a growing interest world-wide.  In fact, the message seems to be spreading faster outside the United States. The message is being put forth out on many fronts. The electronic forums include websites such as Davidian organization websites, Facebook, Blogs, YouTube videos,  Elijah message websites, and other outlets are offering the people a chance to study the message on their own.

Ellen White gives counsel–

“.. beware of rejecting that which is truth. The great danger with our people has been that of depending upon men and making flesh their arm. Those who have not been in the habit of searching the Bible for themselves, or weighing evidence, have confidence in the leading men and accept the decisions they make; and thus many will reject the very messages God sends to His people, if these leading brethren do not accept them.” (Testimonies to Ministers, p.106-107)

We’ve taken a look at some of the experiences of the camp and Victor’s life. Let’s now look at the main core beliefs that were expounded by him.

Core beliefs  

1) The fulfillment of Malachi 4:5.

In His tract called “1950 General Conference Special” Victor lays the case for a prophet to come to the SDA church after Ellen White. Just as EGW never directly said she was a prophetess, so too did Victor not say it directly. Yet upon reading this tract, there is no other conclusion to come to, but that he knew that his role was that of the end-time fulfillment of Mal. 4:5.  (http://www.shepherds-rod.org/Misc/GCS.html

2) Judgment for the living.

He drew from both the Scriptures and Ellen White (Spirit of Prophecy) that there was to be a church purification prior to the Loud Cry. He showed that the Old Testament writers had a large amount of writings showing this end time purification. Tract 3 is called “The Judgment and the Harvest”. It goes into the specifics of this church judgment. http://www.shepherds-rod.org/Tracts/trac003.html

3) Pre-millennial Kingdom

His hallmark teachings are the writings on the pre-mill. kingdom. There are quite a few OT verses that speak of promises given to His people of a kingdom to be set up in the last days. What he was able to do is to lay out all of these writings into a big picture of how it will all take place. http://www.shepherds-rod.org/Tracts/trac008.html

Obviously the above is just the main general teachings, but there is much more, such as instructions in health reform, dress reform and worship (temple) reform. For example,  to view the health reform see the tract called, ” The Entering Wedge”.http://www.shepherds-rod.org/Misc/EW.htm

In closing, if one is to believe in the Lord’s final prophetic prophet application, then one must also conclude that the job of this Elijah is to “restore” all things. Meaning that all the important things we are to know and obey are to be delivered by this Elijah prophet. The teachings are to “straighten us out” in any understanding, idea, or doctrines we have held onto- hence the restoring. The most important point that he propounded was that the message of Elijah held within it the vital –sealing message, the one that,  if obeyed would get the believer sealed in their forehead.

We have only to investigate the subject under prayerful submission to know what is –truth, because He promised us –“However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He shall guide you into all truth..” (John  16:13)

(We’d like to thank sister Bonnie Smith and brother Don Adair, both living former members of the camp. They were the sources of the camp experiences. For a site that covers almost all of his work click here  http://www.shepherds-rod.org/srinx.html  )

                                    

Who was Victor T. Houteff ? (Part 2 of 3)

November 2, 2013

Administration building --WacoMt. Carmel’s main Administration building

(Note- due to the large amount of information concerning our subject matter, we’ve had to make this into a 3 part post)

Before we go into his next phase (Mt. Carmel years) we want briefly explain what transpired about 4 years after the first Shepherd’s Rod publication had been published and sent to some SDA members in the United States. As we’ve mentioned there was quite a controversy building once the writings were circulated. Many converts to the message were spreading the publications and as such the high level Conference leaders were forced to do something about it. The catalyst was when a South Carolina Conference leader by the name of E. T. Wilson embraced the teachings propounded by Victor Houteff.

So now a statement had to be made, no longer could the uproar be ignored. If the leaders remained quiet it seemed a far- reaching revival and reformation would be the certain result. A situation that would cause a change in structure and acceptance of some new prophetic beliefs.  So they held as a unit that the SDA church had Ellen White as it’s last prophet and could not seriously consider that another prophet could come to the church. She was the one and only messenger of God sent to the church. And the claim that Victor Houteff was the Elijah prophet prophesied in Malachi 4:5 and Testimonies to Ministers p.476-476 could not be studied, perceived or allowed.

So soon a plan was hatched that a committee of 12 SDA leaders and Mr. Houteff would have to meet so that something could appear to have taken place to address the laity concerns, and that they could say either, “Yes we believe in Victor Houteff’s teachings” or “No we don’t believe in them”. The leaders and Victor Houteff  in early in 1934 agreed to a formal 7 day meeting. Mr. Houteff’s teachings and prophecy explanations were finally, after 4 years, to be heard.

While we can’t go into all that transpired up to, during, and after the historical meeting in this post, we can simply say that the meeting became a fiasco. The prepared agreed terms were changed by the committee during the actual meeting and Victor Houteff was cut off on the first day of the 7 day meeting. At this exact same time there was another SDA leadership meeting across country in Washington D.C. unbeknownst to Victor.  The whole fiasco is written about in brother Erik Bell’s “Secret Tribunals of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.” (see here for report http://mtccamp.org/)

He explains what was concurrently happening , “In the meantime the denominational leaders in Washington, D.C. had received inquiries about Mr. Houteff’s teachings.  They had received copies of his writings, some of which had been mailed to them by him, and those who examined them were convinced that they contained error.  The matter was presented to the General Conference Committee on February 19, 1934, the same day on which Mr. Houteff was given the hearing on the West Coast.  After discussing the matter, the General Conference Committee took this action: ‘Voted that W.A. Spicer, F.M. Wilcox and W.H. Branson be a committee to prepare material for a leaflet counteracting the false teaching of the Shepherd’s Rod.'”-(History p.14)

It is hardly believable, but in the Conference’s own words, they state that long before the committee of twelve rendered their decision, in fact before Bro. Houteff made his presentation on the West Coast, they condemned and sentenced the brother and his teachings.  It is impossible to publish a more damaging, self-incriminating confession than this!  If this cannot awaken the reader to the fact that the church had absolutely no intentions to deal with the Rod fairly, then may God have mercy on your soul!”   (See full discussion on the meeting at   http://mtccamp.org/ )

In commenting soon after the hearing, E. T. Wilson said,  “Present truth has enraged the conference men and they are unable to cope with the situation in a fair fight, so they are threatening to close the West Union Church. But because the conference men are not thought well of there, they have chosen the local elder and a lay preacher to handle the situation on the coming Sabbath, and this promises a good interesting time.” — July 3, 1934.

The Outcome Of The West Union Church Meeting

   “We had a good day Sabbath at West Union where the Busch family lives, and there was a signal victory for the truth at the eleven o’clock hour for the business to be attended was left in the hands of the lay preacher and the local church elder. The conference had submitted the following proposition to the church: They would send the church a tent to be used for evangelist work in the community, provided the church would vote to bar E.T. Wilson and Dr. Stokes from the pulpit.

It was a beautiful sight to see the elder in tears, and in broken words say that he could not put such a movement or proposition to the church stating that he had never investigated `The Shepherd’s Rod,’ and that Elder Wilson and the doctor were his friends, and men of God so far as he knew, and that he had never heard them teach anything but the truth.

“All this time the preacher’s little wife was weeping, but not with broken heart, but for joy, and the entire church was in tears as well as the visitors of whom there were about thirteen, who are ardent believers in the reformatory message of “The Shepherd’s Rod.” One of the ladies said that it was an insult to their intelligence to submit such a proposition as that submitted by the conference. It certainly was.” — July 10, 1934. (Symbolic Code, Vol. 1, no.1, p.1)

 (Signed) E.T. Wilson.

We wanted to lay the above foundation to set the stage as to how the SDA leaders were dealing with this situation. So it was reasonable for Victor and the brethren to get into a peaceful setting where they could “go to work” publishing the work Victor felt God had inspired him to do. As he and many of the believers were dis-fellowhipped, they needed a gound base from which to establish headquarters. That was to be a property Victor called, “Mt. Carmel” located in Waco, Texas. A large country property with 189 acres that would be build up over 20 years and from where thousands upon thousands of books , tracts, charts and other literature was published and sent around the world.

Mt. Carmel

MT. Carmel years  –  The years in this rural area were to be the productive years of his work. Victor explains the reason for moving.

“… He has given us one of His beautiful lakeside hills adjacent to Waco, Texas, a city of about 60,000, yet far enough from it to be away from the world and its evil environment — about 5 miles from the center of the city, and about 2 1/2 miles from the city limits. There lies 189 acres of land for our “camp…The many letters of encouragement received during the past several weeks, most of which indicated that you were praying earnestly that the Lord would guide His servants in wisdom and counsel while seeking a central location for headquarters from which to operate the work of proclaiming the message to the church, have been greatly appreciated by all and especially by those who have been spying but the land, as it were, and we are happy indeed to bring to you a good report and a few grapes from this trip and, in the language of the faithful ones of old, we can say, “We are well able?” to take the city, but we know this can be done only as we do as those two warriors of old did, namely “follow the Lord fully.”

  “It has been evident for some time that it would soon be necessary to seek a more central location for the office in order to serve the whole field efficiently, so those at headquarters have been praying very earnestly over this matter for many months, and as they kept on praying for light, the Lord finally indicated definitely that beautiful Southern California was no longer to remain the center of His work for the “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” but an eastward course was to be seen in the stream from that “fountain” which is to swell Into the great river of Ezekiel’s prophecy, and plans were soon formulated whereby a thorough search could be made In the territory indicated by the Lord where the future headquarters were to be found.”(Symbolic Code, Vol. 1, no. 10, p.2-3)

From this rural “camp” Victor and his brethren soon built many buildings and farmland. Below is the first building built in 1935,  known as the “kitchen”.

Mt. carmel kitchen As the years went by the property was improved and as can be seen from the top picture, the work culminated in the well designed  Administration main building. Below is the inspiring “11th hour” ground floor clock built in the foyer of the office within the administration building.

11th hour clock (main building)Below are pictures of the  Chapel (inside and outside). Notice one of the symbolic charts hanging up on front wall.

chapelchapel outsideAs they completed their camp, the writings continued to go forward. Victor continued to do work on his voluminous publications. He compiled works such as Shepherd’s Rod, vol. 1 and 2, Symbolic Code news publications  (which contained many updates, letters, reports, and teachings), 2 volumes of Timely Greeting sermon addresses totaling 98 sermons, small booklets known as “Tracts”, 1 to 15, with an additional 8 miscellaneous Tracts,  9 Jezreel Letters in small booklet form addressed to the church leaders, the Answerer,  which compiled 5 volumes of Q and A from the SDA brethren (over many years), and 25  prophetic symbolic “Charts”.

But perhaps most fascinating is the Charts. The details and the prophetic symbols are exact in design and often have Biblical references clarifying the symbols. Below are some of the charts. The below charts cover Daniel 8, Noah flood type and anti-type, Hosea prophecy chapter 1 and 2, the Temples type and anti-type, the Ceremonial Harvest.

dan_8 (1)

flood

Hosea%201,2

temples_type

The%20Ceremonial%20HarvestTake a look at the 25 charts. To view them closer click here (click to enlarge) http://www.shepherds-rod-message.org/charts/

We certainly know that the world is rapidly winding down, the nations are getting restless, the middle east is a fireball ready to explode. We also know that before the end the Lord promised us one last prophet- “Elijah”  before the great and dreadful day. Concerning this we can look at 3 choices. Let us briefly analyze them.

1) We can claim as some in the SDA do, that Ellen White fulfilled the role of Elijah.

This postilion comes with a controversy that must be prayerfully considered. In Test. to Ministers , p.475 and 1 Selected messages, p.412, Ellen White describes the Elijah to come as a “he”. One must assume that she was calling herself a he in order to believe she was predicting herself as Elijah. Further we must cancel the Lord’s historical precedent, in that He never called a male prophet by a female name. We’d have to conclude that “Elijah” is meant as “Ellen”.

2) We can claim there is no real latter-day fulfillment of this prophecy. The Lord was talking about John the baptist as fulfilling the prophecy.

Our founding fathers said this concerning that, “But was the prophecy wholly fulfilled in John the Baptist? We answerNo; for it is more intimately connected with the great day of the Lord than was the mission of John, His work had exclusive references to the first advent; but the prophecy must relate more especially to the second advent, which is the crowning event of the ushering in of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”-“Review and Herald,” February 23, 1864

3) We can claim the only man within  our SDA church history to claim the fulfillment of the Malachi 4:5 prophecy and then  produce the writings to back it up — Victor T. Houteff .

In regard to this last option we quote  two EGW quotes.

“Men, women, and youth, God requires you to possess moral courage, steadiness of purpose, fortitude and perseverance, minds that cannot take the assertions of another, but which will investigate for themselves before receiving or rejecting, that will study and weigh evidence, and take it to the Lord in prayer. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (Test. vol. 2, p.130)

“It is the first and highest duty of every rational being to learn from the Scriptures what is truth, and then to walk in the light and encourage others to follow his example. We should day by day study the Bible diligently, weighing every thought and comparing scripture with scripture. With divine help we are to form our opinions for ourselves as we are to answer for ourselves before God.” (GC p.598)

Next week we’ll finish with the different stories ,signs,  and wonders that occurred at the camp. We’ll conclude with  Victor  Houteff’s core message and the writings that caused a “shaking” among His remnant church (and still so today).

(Many thanks to sister Dara for providing the Mt. Carmel pictures) For more original Mt Carmel pictures click here http://www.shepherds-rod.org/photo/page1.htm )


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