Our Ever Present Danger
By Thomas Akens
. . . In reviewing our past history, having travelled
over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise
God! As I see what God has wrought, I am filled with astonishment and
with confidence in Christ as Leader. We have nothing to fear for the
future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and
his teaching in our past history. . . . (General Conference Daily
Bulletin, January 29, 1893, par. 8).
first spoken before the assembly of the General Conference of
Seventh-day Adventists 111 years ago, should be echoed from house to
house and from pulpit to pulpit across our land as never before. They
are but an echo of the words of Moses recorded in Deuteronomy so many
centuries ago to the children of Israel before they crossed the river
Jordan into the promised land – a warning not to forget. Like
Moses, Sister White spoke to the second generation of young
Seventh-day Adventists to point them back to the Lord’s leading
in the work of organization, and admonished them to know for
themselves the peculiar truths committed to their trust. It serves us
now as a solemn warning of our ever present danger, expressed in that
little word, forget.
The pages of
both sacred and secular history reveal that forgetfulness or neglect
has ever been one of man’s most dangerous foes. Yet
forgetfulness is nothing of itself. It is not so much the forgetting
that is the real danger, but the object of that forgetfulness –
it’s what we forget.
What were the
Seventh-day Adventists people and their leaders being admonished not
to forget? Answer, “the way the Lord has led us, and his
teaching in our past history.” No greater danger for us to fear
today, but that we should forget these two things. Yet we need not
fear; for the solution to the danger has already been given us –
We must actively call to mind the very things of which we are warned
not to forget. We must familiarize ourselves intellectually and
experientially with the Lord’s leading among us as a people,
and his teaching in our past history. These two things should be so
indelibly engraved upon the mind of every Seventh-day Adventist and
Christian alike, that neither raging storms of error nor the subtle
underminings of doubt can sweep them away. They are the divinely
appointed safeguards of our faith.
I invite you,
dear reader, to join me as we take a brief look at the significance
of these words.
Let us first
note carefully the two things of which we are admonished not to
1. The way the
Lord has led us
2. His teaching
in our past history
In this issue we
will take a brief look at the first point – the way the Lord
has led us.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are
your ways my ways, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8)
What are the
Lord’s ways? As I have studied the Bible over the course of my
Christian life, I have come to the conclusion that there are three
divinely appointed ways by which the Lord leads his people:
1. His word or
law (written & audible – the rule or standard)
2. His spirit
(the Lord’s abiding presence in third person)
providence (history – the record of the Lord’s dealings
among men and their dealings with him)
together make up the way the Lord has led us.
I heard a true
story once which serves to illustrate the way or manner by which the
Lord leads his people.
The story was
told of a port city whose coastal waters were so treacherous to
navigate that many a sailor had been lost trying to make it safely to
harbor. The people of that city then decided that a means must be
devised in order to guide the vessels safely into harbor. It was then
determined that three beacon-lights were to be set atop towers, and
each one to be positioned at a specified location. These were to
serve as guide posts to those who would navigate her waters. However,
it was only when these three lights were perfectly aligned, and
appeared as one light to the captain of the ship that the vessel
could be safely brought to port. With this system in place, sailors
were then able to safely enter harbor. If, however, one failed to
maintain these lights in perfect alignment, he, his vessel, and all
aboard would soon be dashed upon the treacherous shoals which lurked
unseen beneath the surface of the waters.
It is in this
same way that the Lord has ordained for his people a means of
navigating their vessels safely into the harbor of eternal life. It
is the divinely ordained safeguard upon which not only our temporal,
but our eternal life depends. He has positioned three great lights –
his word, his spirit, and his providence – to act as divine
lights to his pilgrim people, and as it was in the story, so it is
with God’s people: unless we maintain these three lights in
perfect harmony, and their light shines to us as one, our vessel will
be dashed against the shoals of sin.
Thus the Lord
has ordained that any one of these lights by themselves is not a safe
guide for men to follow, but they must all be brought together in
perfect harmony. Herein lies our only safety as Christians. Here too
is to be found the reason for many a life shipwrecked on the shoals
asks one, “Are not all of these sufficient in themselves?”
To which I answer, Yes, each of these three is sufficient in, of, and
for itself; yet I am sure that we too would all agree that the reason
of their individual insufficiency is not with the three lights
themselves. There is no fault with any of these, they are all perfect
in and of themselves. Yet they were not created for themselves, but
for man; and man is a free creature; free to think and to act of his
own accord. Here then is the reason for their insufficiency. So long
as man remained in perfect innocence and harmony with God in Eden
there could be no danger of his being misled. Yet one sin changed all
that. Sin did not and could not in any way change that which is truth
and right, but it most certainly did change man. God has not changed,
and so his word, providence, and spirit are and will always be the
same, but not so with man. He has changed. His moral fabric has been
corrupted by his willful act of disobedience, and this change was not
for the better.
Thus it was no
longer safe for man to guide himself. His ways must be brought back
into harmony with those of his Maker.
But the question
still remains, “Why three lights? Why not just one?”
“One witness shall not rise up against a man for
any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the
mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the
matter be established.” ― Deuteronomy 19:15
As the Lord has
by his wisdom ordained that one man’s witness shall not suffice
to either condemn or justify a man, but only at the testimony of two
or more witnesses whose testimony agree, so the Lord has chosen to
lead his people by the light of these three infallible proofs.
Why only three?
Because they each answer to one of the three things in which man is
prone to err: 1. Men’s word: We are prone to look to men and
follow their word rather than a “thus saith the Lord”. 2.
Our spirit: We are liable to follow the dictates of our own spirit
and call it the “Lord’s leading”. 3. Our history:
We are habituated to forget the lessons of God’s providence in
Thus it is that
the Lord has ordained that these three lights (his word, his spirit,
and his providence) when brought together in perfect unity, are the
only safe guide to his people.
where does your vessel stand just now in relation to these three
Do you know and
follow the Lord’s word to you?
Are you filled
with and led by the spirit of Christ?
studied, learned, and applied his divine lessons from the book of
reconciled the testimony of these three heavenly witnesses into one?
Is your life and teaching thus aligned with that of heaven? If not,
then won’t you come before him now in humble prayer, and commit
yourself to his divinely appointed way?
In our next
issue we will take a closer look at the second point which we must
not forget. Till then may the Lord bless and keep you in his way.
Our Ever Present Danger - Part 1
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on These Things - Our Seventh Day Adventist Calling
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an association of Sabbath-keeping groups, which through web &
tele-conferencing provides means for study, fellowship, and jointly
organized missionary projects.
Seventh Day Home Church
P.O. Box 262, Laconia, NH 03246,
Phone: 530 708-2381
Chief Editor: David Sims
Assistant Editor: Thomas Akens
Proof-reader: Alice Fredrick
Layout: Thomas Akens