In the timeless struggle between the church and the world, a growing crisis in the last days promises to leave many church members unprepared for the soon coming of Jesus. While the final Laodicean church suffers a barrage of divisive attacks from the outside world, a more sinister deception and cunning temptation has reared within the church, between those who have genuine Biblical faith and those who mimic this lifestyle through their reliance upon the mere religious culture of Adventism.
TWO TWINS, TWO DIRECTIONS
This division is not a new one, and we need only go back to the Genesis account where we find two twins, Jacob and Esau, who could not be more illustrative of the issue. It should be noted that both were raised in the faith (church) by their parents. In addition, they both knew truth, and had a knowledge of God. It is from this point that the similarities of these twins radically diverge. When Esau sold his birthright for a temporary, earthly indulgence, he quickly cast off the restraints of his religious upbringing and gave in to the temptation of his fleshly nature. Consequently, Esau's decision detrimentally influenced the course of his life. His twin brother Jacob, however, found a life altering power through a new birth experience, from his faith and submission to God at Bethel.
Both started out with the same spiritual foundation, so what made the difference? Though from childhood Esau was immersed in the faith of his father's, but he did not seek transformation of heart and character, preferring rather to embrace the culture of his faith. He sought the blessing of God and the benefits of the culture, simply for earthly gain. As one minister duly noted, "Being born in the truth is not the same as being true." How accurate for many today as well!
Jesus also rebuked this superficial mimicry of true faith. In the gospel of John, we read His words, "...you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life…” (NASB, John 6:26,27). They followed Jesus to have their stomachs filled with bread rather than their heart filled with His Spirit and presence. They ate from His hand but not from His heart. Religious culture wishes to sit at Jesus’ feet but only to be fed conveniently in this life without any discomfort of preparation for the next. Biblical faith, however, will seek the spiritual bread even at the expense of earthly bread.
LIVING ABOVE THE WORLD, NOT COMFORTABLY IN IT
Herein lies the heart of the problem for many Adventists today. Those who profess Christ within Adventism, but do not testify by bearing fruit of a changed heart, only admit that they are the product of a nice culture rather than divine grace. They may appear to drink of the water of life, and yet be as destitute as the hills of Gilboa. A life enriched by Adventist culture without living faith cannot live above the world, but only comfortably in it. Therefore, without an entire surrender of the will, they do not experience genuine conversion. And without this, they do not come to Christ or practice self denial to lead others to Him.
The 25th chapter of Matthew prophetically describes the distinct division that exists among God’s people right before He comes. A contemporary view of the parable and its application would describe Adventists who have secluded themselves from the world, understanding truth, yet still enjoying the world’s pleasures and benefits. We call these people cultural Adventists. They want deliverance from evil but not from sin. Consequently, they seek their own kingdom rather than His.
True Adventism, by contrast, seeks not only escape from the consequence of sin, but more importantly through surrender to Jesus, seeks and receives freedom from the very root of sin. As a result, the new heart actively seeks to advance the kingdom of God through sharing its faith under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This new heart is filled with the power of grace because it is in constant surrender to the leadership of Christ. In addition, true Biblical faith views God’s commandments and counsel not merely as church rules but as grace from the heart of Christ for an abundant life. It joyfully accepts the plain, straight truth of the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy, recognizing that it is out of infinite love and the strong delusion of sin that God gives such straightforward instruction. Anything short of this experience is a sure indicator that one is only culturally Adventist, and not a transformed Adventist.
ADVENTIST CULTURE MUST BE DRIVEN BY TRUE ADVENTIST FAITH
This distinction being made, it should be noted that there is nothing objectionable about Biblical Adventist culture, as long as it is driven by true Adventist faith. The two can exist together with hope of eternal life, but the former cannot save without the latter and will only result in eternal loss. Adventist culture alone will not meet the requirement in the judgment when we stand before God. We must each seek God personally with all our heart while He is seeking us with all of His. We must be truly born again through living faith in Christ.
Remedy for the problem of cultural Adventism
To live each moment saturated with faith, not simply parroting the culture we know so well is the sure remedy for Laodiceanism in Adventism today. It is of paramount importance to revive our first love. Sadly, for many who are baptized members in the church already, there is the need to discover it for the first time.
Are you experiencing true Adventist faith or merely a cultural experience? Are you content to be comfortable in the world or do you want to live above the world? Your answer today is of eternal life and death significance. Choose faith. Choose life. Though we live on the edge of the final prophetic crisis, there is rich hope for any who look to Him today in earnest, heartfelt faith.