Four years ago the writer was separated from the ministry of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, and from fellowship in that body, because of convictions entertained regarding the mediatorial work of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary.
When asked by the brethren what my future plans would be, I replied that I would go aside and labor with my bands and earn my bread, and that of my family, with the sweat of my face, and see how my convictions would stand the test of stress and storm, of toil and time. I told them that I would not then become aggressive, but as my friends and acquaintances in the denomination should ask the reason of the hope that is within me, I would try to give it in meekness and fear.
Besides, it seemed but fair to give the brethren time to carefully examine my position and refute it from the Word if they were able. This I did in response to their pleas that, while I had given the subject much study, they had not had time to carefully consider it.
I have failed to respond to all the calls of my brethren and sisters for copies of my manuscript, as my time and strength have been largely taken up in providing food, clothing and shelter for my family. When the crisis came, it found me in the position of most of the earlier ministers of the denomination, without means for the care of my family. But this will not excuse my failure to answer the calls for copies of my position. If I had always sought first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, "all these things" would have been added, as in many cases they were: and I hereby testify to the faithfulness of God and the kindness of his children in this matter.
I have felt condemned when friends, anxious to possess copies of the manuscript, have gone to the expense of time and means to make copies for themselves, and it is for this reason that the matter now appears in print.
Yes, dear, reader, it is possible for me to be in error in these things, but it would be feigned humility to appear not to believe them with all my heart; for I do believe them, and have shown my faith by sacrificing for them all that the human heart holds dear, save life itself.
Now let the reader follow the noble Bereans in searching the Scriptures to see whether these things are so, and if they are found to be in harmony with the Word, believe them; if not, reject them, and then like one who is his brother's keeper, attempt to show the writer where his convictions of truth contradict the plain "thus saith the Lord."
To the timid soul, whose love of peace and unity leads him to fear the consequences that may follow an investigation of the subject, let me say there is something more blessed than church conformity, and that is the stately, triumphant, onward march of truth; something more to be desired than stagnant peace, and that is a Jerusalem Council, a Diet of Spires, or a Minneapolis Conference, from whose "No small dissentions and disputations," truth, less shackled, bounds onward toward the perfect day.
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." Matt. 10:34,35.
The reader is urged to read the following quotation from the pen of Mrs. E. G. White (Test. 33, pp.234-236), as presenting the writer's convictions on this important subject.
"Peter exhorts his brethren to 'grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.' When the people of God are growing in grace they will be constantly obtaining a clearer understanding of his Word. They will discern new light and beauty in its sacred truths. This has be true in the history of the church in all ages, and thus it will continue to the end. But as real spiritual life declines, it has ever been the tendency to cease to advance in the knowledge of the truth. Men rest satisfied with the light already received from God's Word and discourage any further investigation of the scriptures. They become conservative and seek to avoid discussion.
"The fact that there is no controversy or agitation among God's people, should not be regarded as conclusive evidence that they are holding fast to sound doctrine. There is reason to fear that they may not be clearly discriminating between truth and error. When no new questions are started by investigation, when no difference of opinion arises which will set men to searching the Bible for themselves, to make sure that they have the truth there will be many now, as in ancient times who will hold to tradition and worship they know not what.
"I have been shown that many who profess to have a knowledge of present truth, know not what they believe. They do not understand the evidences of their faith... When the time of trial shall come, there are men now preaching to others, who will find, upon examining the positions they hold, that there are many things for which they can give no satisfactory reason. Until thus tested they know not their great ignorance. And there many in the church who take it for granted that they understand what they believe, but, until controversy arises they do not know their own weakness. When separated from those of like faith, and compelled to stand singly and alone to explain their belief they will be surprised to see how confused are their ideas of what they had accepted as truth. Certain it is that there has been among us a departure from the living God, and a turning to men, putting human in the place of divine wisdom.
"God will arouse his people; if other means fail, heresies will come in among them which will sift them, separating the chaff from the wheat. The Lord calls upon all who believe his word to awake out of sleep. Precious light has come appropriate for this time. This light should lead us to a diligent study of the Scriptures and a most critical examination of the positions which we hold . . . God would have all the bearings and positions of truth thoroughly and perseveringly searched, with prayer and fasting. Believers are not to rest in suppositions and ill defined ideas of what constitutes truth. Their faith must be founded on the Word of God."
Your brother in Christ, A.F. BALLENGER.