WCAS Principles of Action #8
Principle #8: Participants embrace the conviction that God is in control, and choose not to be intimidated by factions opposing truth in the Church.
For some, if not many, in our Seventh-day Adventist church family, the conviction that God is in control may have felt challenged lately. The following lyrics, “God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own” speak to my convictions. So does the following: “…in the word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, behind, above, and through all the play and counter play of human interests and power and passions, the agencies of the all-merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will” (Education, p. 173). These words are in harmony with Isaiah 46:9-11 which in part reads as follows:
"…God…declares the end from the beginning…”
“saying, My counsel shall stand….”
“Indeed I have spoken it;”
“I will also bring it to pass.”
“I have purposed it;”
“I will also do it.”
Further, and always to my amazement and wonder, the sovereignty of God as set forth here in Isaiah, finds its specific demonstrations in many New Testament passages. Consider the one in Acts 4:27-28, where we find words voiced by Peter and John and company after these apostles had been threatened by the Jewish authorities not to speak of Jesus anymore before being released:
“For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purposes determined before to be done.” (Note: Caiaphas had no idea that he was fulfilling prophecy--John 11:49-52; Compare Revelation 17:17 “For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose….”).
With these remarkable words in mind—words that speak of God being in control, exercising His Sovereign will while respecting each of our free wills, observe the following statement:
“Men of all characters, righteous and unrighteous, will stand in their various positions in God’s plan. With the characters they have formed, they will act their part in the fulfillment of history. In a crisis, just at the right moment, they will stand in the places they have prepared themselves to fill. Believers and unbelievers will fall into line as witnesses to confirm truth that they themselves do not comprehend.” Review and Herald, 6/12/1900
These words are greatly reassuring; God knows the future—He knows the needs, necessities and emergencies that await us. He has already made provision to help us meet them. Since He knows the dangers that will beset our feet as we travel the road towards His kingdom, He enables us, as individuals and us as His church, either to avoid them or meet them successfully.
As prophesied, in the unfolding crisis and shaking that is upon us, the question before all of us is ‘when it is all said and done, what place will you have prepared yourself to fill in acting your part in the fulfillment of prophecy?
As we have seen, God is in control. But does that mean He maps out our life experience, even in the church, and determines our destiny? Absolutely not. While God is all-knowing, His sovereignty takes into account each person’s free will. Regarding factions in the church, just look at the internal challenges Jesus set forth in His seven-fold prophecy detailing the experience of the church across the centuries from Ephesus—the Apostolic phase, to Laodicea—the judgment hour phase that culminates with Jesus’ return (Revelation 2 and 3).
It should not be surprising to find explicit counsel in the New Testament that speaks to today’s need in relating to those in the church who hold positions which are not in compliance with the Church Manual and General Conference Working Policies.* The Apostle Paul’s counsel in Philippians 1:27, 28 and Romans 16:17-19 provide specific instruction for faithful believers who might be intimidated by factions opposing truth in the Church. These texts read respectively as follows:
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear omen to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.”
“I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine* which you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded. For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I would have you wise as to what is good and guileless as to what is evil.”
These words are very encouraging for those of us who otherwise might be concerned or discouraged over current realities. Further, these words make it clear that faithful Christians are not to stand by helplessly in matters vital to the health and integrity of the Body of Christ—the Church. Lay-led World Church Affirmation Sabbath represents a concerted effort on the part of growing numbers of our members to be used of God to aid the faithful from the local to the global in their readiness to proclaim the Loud Cry in preparation for Jesus’ return.
*Church organization is a biblically based doctrine of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (Church Manual, chapter 4).