Transcribed from the presentation at WCAS event in Newport, WA on March 19, 2022

Also available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-WUPayajwE&t=3490s

 

Introduction

Good afternoon, and Happy Sabbath!

Not too long from now, it will be primarily up to the laity to spread the last message of mercy to the world. So, it is my privilege, as a lay person, that this opportunity was given to me to share with you what I have learned. The title assigned to me today is “What really happened around 1888.”

The latter rain and the loud cry message

The loud cry message is the last warning of mercy to the world, which lightens up the whole earth.

And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.  

And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.  Revelation 18:1, 2 

 

The message of Christ’s righteousness is to sound from one end of the earth to the other to prepare the way of the Lord. This is the glory of God, which closes the work of the third angel. {6T 19.1}

 

The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life and character they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them. {COL 415.5}

 

The loud cry message is the glory that lightens up the whole earth, which is the character of Christ reflected perfectly in our life.

 

The loud cry is closely connected with the latter rain. The latter rain, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit seals the Christ-like character in us that is to be developed under the former rain. The latter rain gives power, to the loud cry of the third angel.

 

At that time [referring to the time when the national Sunday law is legislated] the “latter rain,” or refreshing from the presence of the Lord, will come, to give power to the loud voice of the third angel, and prepare the saints to stand in the period when the seven last plagues shall be poured out. {EW 85.3}

 

The latter rain and the loud cry are inseparable. One causes the other.

 

Opposing Views on 1888 Minneapolis General Conference

 

Minneapolis General Conference of 1888 is one of the most significant historical events     of our church, but, at the same time, it is one of the most controversial subjects.

 

Transcription of the presentations at the General Conference was not instituted until 1891. What was exactly said by Jones and Waggoner at that conference is not recorded anywhere, which allows some speculations as to what they might have said.

 

There are two schools of thought. 

 

The first school claims that 1888 was a victory, that the loud cry came and was accepted by the church, and it has been preached ever since then. They also claim the latter rain never started, and therefore we simply have to wait for it. The second school claims that 1888 was a disappointment, that the loud cry came accompanied by the latter rain, but they were rejected by the church. 

 

The first school claims that Jones and Waggoner’s message which is endorsed by EG White is limited only to what they preached at the 1888 General Conference, which, they claim, was different from what they preached before and after 1888. Further, they claim that what they preached in1888 was that of the forensic justification, that our salvation is complete with declared righteousness only.     They can make these claims, because there is no definite record of what they actually said at the conference. The 2nd school claims that the message of righteousness by faith preached by Jones and Waggoner was the distinctive Biblical truths given to the last remnant church of God, in the context of the great controversy, especially with the understanding of the cleansing of the sanctuary which prepares the final generation to stand before God.   

 

The 1st school claims that there is no need for the church to repent, and that we only need to wait for God to send us the latter rain. The 2nd school claims that we need to repent for the church’s failure in 1888, wake up from our Laodicean stupor, and earnestly seek God to send us the loud cry and the latter rain again. The 1st school claims that 2nd school is calling the church Babylon. You can see that these are 2 diametrically opposing interpretations on what might happened around 1888.

 

We have a number of published sermons by Jones and Waggoner from those years, some are in book forms, and others in the journals such as the ST. And their recorded message is quite consistent before and after 1888. There is no logical reason to think that they preached something different only at the 1888 General Conference.

 

Besides, we have numerous documented comments made by EG White regarding what transpired in those years. There is nothing in her writings to indicate that Jones and Waggoner preached anything different in 1888     compared to before and after 1888.

 

My presentation this afternoon traces mainly the comments of EG White, and we will let HER tell us what really happened around 1888.

 

1888 Message

 

Regarding the message that Jones and Waggoner preached around 1888,     this is what EG White wrote in 1895, found in Testimonies to Ministers 91.2.

 

The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. It is the third angel’s message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure. {TM 91.2}

 

So, we have a positive statement here by EG White     that the righteousness by faith message of Jones and Waggoner was the beginning of the loud cry message of the third angel, accompanied by the latter rain which would usher in the last events, shortly followed by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Why is it then that there is so much debate and confusion regarding the message that was preached by Jones and Waggoner around 1888? The only reason is that this is the message that Satan desperately tries to prevent people from hearing.

 

Leading Up To 1888

 

Leading up to 1888, there were repeated calls to prepare for the last events that were soon to come.

 

    1879

We are now upon the very borders of the eternal world, 4T 306

1881

The end of all things is at hand. 5T 16

I have been shown that we are standing upon the threshold of the eternal world. 5T 18

1885

Now we are standing upon the very verge of the eternal world. 5T 460

Eternity stretches before us. The curtain is about to be lifted. 5T 464

 

Then the loud cry of the third angel had begun around 1888.

 

The time of test is just upon us, for the loud cry of the third angel has already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer. This is the beginning of the light of the angel whose glory shall fill the whole earth.                              {RH November 22, 1892}

 

But, the church failed to receive the message. What is the reason why the church failed to receive the message?

 

A contentious spirit was brewing among the brethren leading up to 1888. The issue was primarily over the law of Galatians 3, even though there were some other contentious issues, such as the human nature of Christ, which is closely connected to the righteousness by faith message, and exactly which tribes were represented by the 10 horns in Daniel 7.

 

Wherefore then [serveth] the law? It was added because of transgressions, Galatians 3:19

 

What is this law that was added?

 

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:24

 

What is this law that was our schoolmaster?

 

When the brethren came into the Adventist belief, they all believed the law of Galatians 3 to represent the moral law. Later, when the Sabbath truth was discovered, the brethren realized that the evangelical Christians claimed that we are no longer under obligation to keep the 4th commandment, because the moral law has been abolished. The brethren switched their view and concluded that the law of Galatians 3 represented the ceremonial law, rather than the moral law.

 

In 1854, however, JH Waggoner, the father of EJ Waggoner, published a pamphlet proclaiming that the law of Galatians 3 was the moral law, contrary to the view held by the brethren. EG White wrote to JH Waggoner warning that the difference represented by his position was not to be pressed to the front. For some reason, this letter has never been discovered. The brethren, however, interpreted the EG White’s warning to mean that she settled the issue that the law of Galatians 3 was the ceremonial law.

 

30 years later, Jones and Waggoner arrived at the scene. They were young men in their 30’s. 

They were both teaching at Healdsburg College, in Northern California while pastoring local churches. After JH Waggoner left for Europe in 1886, they became chief editors of the Signs of the Times.

 

In the summer of 1884, EJ Waggoner published ten articles in the Signs of the Tiems about the relation between the law and the gospel. In one of the articles (September 11, 1884), he said the law of Galatians 3 was the moral law. 

 

The brethren became alarmed. George Butler, or, 

GI Butler, the President of the General Conference,     and Uriah Smith, the editor of River and Herald, were the two most outspoken. These two published a series of rebuttal articles in Review and Herald. So, there was a competition going between them with Jones and Waggoner expressing their view in the Signs of the Times, while Butler and Smith were expressing their view in the Review and Herald.

 

GI Butler wrote a letter to EG White in June of 1886 who was in Switzerland at that time. EG White responded immediately, but her letter never arrived, for some unknown reason. Butler wrote to her few more times, urging her to settle the matter, as she did 30 years before.

 

In the meantime, there was a General Conference of 1886, while EG White was in Switzerland. 

GI Butler distributed an 85 page pamphlet with a long title, “The law in the book of Galatians: is it the moral law, or does it refer to that system of laws peculiarly Jewish?” In this pamphlet, he expressed his view that the law of Galatians 3 was the ceremonial law, which was the view generally held by the brethren as well.

 

After the General Conference of 1886, EJ Waggoner wrote a 71 page rebuttal against GI Butler’s view, titled “The Gospel in the Book of Galatians.” It was not circulated, however, until much later because of the letter he received from EG White shortly afterwards.

 

EG White finally wrote a letter to Jones and Waggoner on February 18, 1887, and sent  copies to Butler and Smith. Her main message was to repress the differences and not to make them prominent.

 

Especially at this time should everything like differences be repressed…… Even if you are fully convinced that your ideas of doctrines are sound, you do not show wisdom that that difference should be made apparent. {1888 21.3}

 

Jones and Waggoner each wrote back to EG White apologizing for causing a division, and promised not to agitate the issue. On the other hand, GI Butler’s reaction was quite different. He rejoiced thinking that EG White had finally sided with himself and Uriah Smith on this issue. 

But, his rejoicing did not last very long. He and Uriah Smith received another letter from EG White only a couple of weeks later dated April 5, 1887.

 

I am troubled; for the life of me I cannot remember that which I have been shown in reference to the two laws. I cannot remember what the caution and warning referred to were that were given to Elder [J. H.] Waggoner. It may be that it was a caution not to make his ideas prominent at that time, for there was great danger of disunion. {1888 32.2 }

Now, I do not wish the letters that I have sent to you should be used in a way that you will take it for granted that your ideas are all correct and Dr. Waggoner’s and Elder Jones’s are all wrong. {1888 32.3 }

And then when this is followed by a pamphlet published of your own views, be assured I cannot feel that you are just right at this point to do this unless you give the same liberty to Dr. Waggoner. {1888 32.4 } 

I  believe now that nothing can be done but open discussion. You circulated your pamphlet; now it is only fair that Dr. Waggoner should have just as fair a chance as you have had. I think the whole thing is not in God’s order. But, brethren, we must have no unfairness. {1888 35.2}      

 

Just prior to the General Conference of 1888, EG White had what she called “an impressive dream.”

 

I was shown the attitude of some of the ministers, yourself in particular, at that meeting [she was referring to 1886 General Conferenrce], and I can say with you, my brother, it was a terrible conference.” {1888 92.2}  

He [the guide in her dream] stretched out his arms toward Dr. Waggoner, and to you, Elder Butler, and said in substance as follows: “Neither have all the light upon the law, neither position is perfect.” {1888 93.2 }

 

Later, in 1900, EG White revealed that a definite light was given to her regarding the law of Galatians 3.

 

I am asked concerning the law in Galatians. What law is the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ? I answer: Both the ceremonial and the moral code of Ten Commandments.                                {Ms 87, 1900, par. 1}

 

Back in 1884, GI Butler wrote a series of articles in Review and Herald, saying, there are degrees of inspiration in the Scripture, that some passages in Scripture are more inspired than others. Now, after receiving this letter from EG White saying neither side is right, this same GI Butler decided he could not trust everything that EG White says – that some of her words must not be inspired.

 

1888 General Conference

 

Now comes the General Conference of 1888, which began on October 17. GI Butler was absent as he had been ill for months. Later, he blamed his illness on the letter he received from EG White in April of 1887. He sent telegrams to his trusted brethren, telling them to stand by the landmarks, and to hold the fort.

 

For the morning devotional time EJ Waggoner was asked to give a series of presentations on righteousness by faith and the law of Galatians. During his presentations, EG White was noted to repeat loud “Amen” over and over, saying, “There is much light here.” The brethren became quite alarmed that EG White was siding with Jones and Waggoner. There were joking, jesting, and even heckling, during his presentations.

 

While EJ Waggoner was speaking on October 23, Robert Kilgore, the President of the Southern Union Conference, stood up and made a motion that the discussion on righteousness by faith by Waggoner be stopped until the President of the General Conference, GI Butler, was able to attend. EG White, who happened to be on the platform, objected to the motion. Next morning at the Morning Talk, EG White said the following.

 

Had Brother Kilgore been walking closely with God he never would have walked onto the ground as he did yesterday and made the statement he did in regard to the investigation that is going on. {1888 151.4} 

And then to take the position that because Elder Butler was not here that that subject should not be taken up. I know this is not of God and I shall not feel free until I have told you. {1888 151.5}

I want to tell you, my brethren, that it is not right to fasten ourselves upon the ideas of any one man. {1888 151.7} 

 

Also, an attempt was made to pass a resolution at that General Conference that “nothing be taught in our school at Battle Creek contrary to what has been taught in the past, or approved by the General Conference Committee.” It was not voted on because EG White objected to it. Later, EG White wrote about her objection to this proposed resolution.

 

I stated that I was a stock holder and I could not let the resolution pass, that there was to be special light for God’s people as they neared the closing scenes of this earth’s history. Another angel was to come from heaven with a message and the whole earth was to be lightened with his glory. It would be impossible for us to state just how this additional light would come. It might come in a very unexpected manner, in a way that would not agree with the ideas that many have conceived. It is not at all unlikely, or contrary to the ways and works of God to send light to His people in unexpected ways. Would it be right that every avenue should be closed in our school so that the students could not have the benefit of this light? the resolution was not called for.  {1888 239.1} Letter 22a, 1889

 

This is EG White’s assessment as to what really happened around 1888.   

 

An unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions, and to accept this truth, lay at the foundation of a large share of the opposition manifested at Minneapolis against the Lord’s message through Brethren [E.J.] Waggoner and [A.T.] Jones. By exciting that opposition Satan succeeded in shutting away from our people, in a great measure, the special power of the Holy Spirit that God longed to impart to them. The enemy prevented them from obtaining that efficiency which might have been theirs in carrying the truth to the world, as the apostles proclaimed it after the day of Pentecost. The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted, and by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world.   {1MR 130.2} {1SM 234.6} {1888 1575.2 }

 

The loud cry began to be proclaimed accompanied by the latter rain, but, the brethren were not ready to receive it, because of the preconceived opinions, and sharp contentions among them because of the pride and reliance on a few men in authority.

 

The third angel’s message culminates in Revelation 14:12.

 

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:12

 

As a people, we have preached the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa that had neither dew nor rain. We must preach Christ in the law, and there will be sap and nourishment in the preaching that will be as food to the famishing flock of God.                             {RH March 11, 1890, par. 13 }

 

It is the faith of Jesus, the kind of faith that Jesus lived by, the faith that works by love, where we become one with Christ, the law Giver, even as Christ was one with the Father by the total surrender of His will to His Father, that enables us to keep the commandments.

 

In 1888, the brethren rejected the message of the righteousness by faith because of their legalistic view     of the third angel’s message.    They thought Jones and Waggoner’s message was too liberal

 

Now, some of the modern church historians attack their message from the opposite side, claiming that their view was too legalistic, because their message before and after 1888 extends to the victory over sin. This is why they claim that Jones and Waggoner’s message that EG White endorsed as the loud cry message is only limited to what they preached at the 1888 General Conference, which, they claim, is different from what they preached before and after 1888.

 

The spirit of prophecy is clear that, had the people received the message in 1888, Christ would have come shortly after it.

 

Had the purpose of God been carried out by His people in giving to the world the message of mercy, Christ would, ere this, have come to the earth, and the saints would have received their welcome into the city of God. {6T 449.4} 1900

 

We may have to remain here in this world, because of insubordination, many more years, as did the children of Israel, but for Christ’s sake, His people should not add sin to sin. {Letter 184, 1901}

   

I have been instructed that the terrible experience at the Minneapolis Conference is one of the saddest chapters in the history of the believers in present truth. {Lt 179, 1902, par. 28}

 

Exodus and the Advent Movement

 

The 1888 Minneapolis General Conference was the Kadesh-barnea experience for the modern spiritual Israel. Speaking of the Exodus experience, Paul tells us,

 

Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 1 Corinthians 10:11

 

After the apostasy at Kadesh-barnea, the ancient Israel wandered in the wilderness for many years around mount Seir. Then the call came from the LORD.

 

And the LORD spake unto me, saying, ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward. Deuteronomy 2:3

 

At the borders of Jordan there was a shaking. Some 23,000 perished there. After they crossed Jordan, they were instructed to be circumcised, which the LORD had not allowed during the wilderness wandering. Circumcision is the seal of the righteousness by faith.

 

And he [Abraham] received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which [he had yet] being uncircumcised: Romans 4:11

 

As soon as they received the righteousness by faith, they gained a miraculous victory over Jericho. The victory was won by the the power of the LORD alone, but the people demonstrated their faith in His promise by obeying His command to compass about the city seven days.   

 

It was the Captain of the Lord’s host who vanquished the enemies of His people; and He would have done the same thirty-eight years before had Israel trusted in Him . {PP 435.1}

 

In spite of their repeated failures, God did not forsake them or cast them off, nor start a new movement. Likewise, in spite of the modern spiritual Israel wandering in the wilderness for many years in Laodicean luke-warmness, the Lord loves His remnant church above all people, and He will not forsake her nor start a new movement.

 

Enfeebled and defective as it may appear, the church is the one object upon which God bestows in a special sense His supreme regard. It is the theater of His grace, in which He delights to reveal His power to transform hearts.  {AA 12.1}

 

Our church militant is “enfeebled and defective,” needing constant rebuke and counsel. Church is not infallible by any means. But Christ continues to be the head of His church, until she finally becomes the church triumphant. Repenting for the failures of our beloved church is NOT calling the church Babylon. Jesus says,

   

    As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:19-21)

 

This is a special call to us, the Laodiceans. “Ye have compassed this mountain long enough, turn ye northward.” This is a call for us to come into a genuine love relationship with Christ, that we may be one with Him, and let His righteousness shine through in our life, and reveal to the whole earth and whole universe what the grace of God has done for us. Jesus is waiting at the door.


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