Introduction: Overview of 1888

By John Thiel, Walking in the Light of 1888 Conference, Introduction, mp3

Scripture reading: Jeremiah 33:14 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. 15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this [is the name] wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.

1888 was a long time ago. What was so special about what happened in 1888? It is Inspiration that will tell us what was so special. We are told under inspiration just exactly what was the light that was so special in that year.

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. {TM 91.2}

In 1888 two men who had studied deeply into the precious realities of Jesus Christ presented something that rocked the Adventist church at that time. And when I say rocked, it wasn’t always positive. We will touch on a few things that were very negative and that rocked the church at that time and have ever since. But right there at that time, there came this beautiful message that had to do with the words of Jeremiah 33, where it says of Christ that, He will be called, The Lord our righteousness. We are told something very interesting in reference to that time in that message:

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. {7BC 984.6}

Under inspiration we are told here that in consequence of the message that was given back there, the time of test was right on its heels. It’s just upon us, she said, because there, under that message, the loud cry of the third angel had already begun. This is something that all Adventists have been looking forward to, always future. Always looking for the loud cry of the third angel; and I still hear people saying today, The loud cry is yet future. But according to this inspirational word, it has already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ in the 1888 message. What are we looking forward to? Are we expecting a time of test in the future, or is the time of test already upon us, according to this, if that message back there in 1888 had commenced something that people today are still looking forward to in the future?

The following statement comes from an article by A. T. Jones, where he actually quotes Sister White; but that statement of hers cannot be found anywhere else today:

“In 1888 in the General Conference held at Minneapolis, Minnesota, the angel of Rev. 18 came down to do his work.” —Taking Up a Reproach, A.T. Jones quoting Ellen G. White.

Let us see what Inspiration is here trying to tell us.

Revelation 18:1 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. 2 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. … 4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

So according to Inspiration, there in 1888, in the General Conference where all the people came together in the Advent faith, the Revelation 18 angel was doing his work. Now in the following, Sister White is writing to certain of the leaders of that time, and notice what she says. She is talking about Elder Butler who was then the General Conference president, and Elder Smith, and she says:

Elder Butler and some others who have acted a prominent part in the cause have really been standing in the way of others, and have retarded the work. If Elder Smith was standing in the clear light, he would give the trumpet a certain sound in perfect harmony with the angel of Revelation 18, who is to lighten the earth with his glory. Now is the time when we may look for just such a message as has been coming to us. {1888 1140.2} 

There she is talking to leading men who, as this work was coming, should have taken hold of it, but were retarding it. And she says, Now is the time when we may look for just such a message as has been coming to us.

Think you, my brother, if the Lord has raised up men to give to the world a message to the people to prepare them to stand in the great day of God, that any one could by their influence stop the work and close the mouth of the messengers? No; if every human agent should hold his peace, a voice would be put into the stones, and they would cry out. The message would go in greater and still greater power. And shall such men as Elder Smith, Elder Butler, and yourself [the man she is writing to], be left behind in the special message and work for this time to carry the people forward and upward to a higher, holier state of spirituality? {1888 1140.3} 

She is writing about these two men who were giving the message—Waggoner and Jones— and the leaders were being left behind.

Is the work that has been going on since the Minneapolis meeting of God? If not, it is of another spirit. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” I know that the Lord is in this work, and no one can silence the messenger whom God sends, or repress the message. The Lord will be heard through his human agencies. {1888 1141.1} 

They are pretty strong words. And as I have myself been occupied with this subject for many years now, I am bleeding at heart as I see that beautiful message being hindered by all sorts of complicated theological interferences. There in 1888 the light of that angel of Revelation 18 was started, and we are now seeking to revive it in our understanding so that we might walk in that light. Remember, Revelation 18 says an angel came having great power, and the earth was lightened with his glory. Sister White also says elsewhere that the work of this angel would come in at the right time to join in the last great work of the third angel’s message as it swells to a loud cry (Early Writings, p. 277). I ask you the question, with everything we have seen thus far: If this light commenced back there and has been swelling since 1888, which is 122 years ago, how relevant is this conference? and what a pity there are not more people here. It makes you wonder, Why are there so few that really become startled to think that there is a message to do with 1888? Can you see where we actually are in living experience? How few are left since 1888 that are still taking this message with relish in their heart.

The Relevance of This Subject

Hosea 10:12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for [it is] time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.”

If back there in 1888 the Lord came to rain righteousness upon His people and the leaders were actually blocking it, but Sister White says it did do its work, and it did come, then what we are doing here is making sure that we aren’t left behind, because so many seem to be left behind. What are we to do as we are gathered here? This is the specific message for us now:

Hosea 10:12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy;

What are we to do with our heart?

Hosea 10:12 …break up your fallow ground:

Have you become a little hardened so that the heart needs to be softened for the real benefit to come in? The problem that exists today is what Ellen White wrote, that we have become gospel-hardened Christians. It’s a weird statement. How can you become gospel-hardened? It is a little bit like a path that was soft ground, and you keep on walking over it and walking over it and walking over it, and eventually it becomes hard. Our hearts have heard the gospel and heard it and heard it and heard it, and after a while you say, I’ve heard all that before, and it doesn’t do anything anymore. But there is something in the gospel that came in 1888, namely that the message was to bring more prominently Jesus Christ. So obviously there was something missing in the people’s hearts. Here, then, is the call: Break up your fallow ground; the Lord wants to rain righteousness on us.

The followings words are another very important thought for us at this time:

Psalm 119:123 Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness. 124 Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes. 125 I [am] thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies. 126 [It is] time for [thee], LORD, to work: [for] they have made void thy law.

Look around you today; has the world improved in its appreciation of the laws of God? If you would look honestly in any direction, you will see that it is exactly what it says here. They have made void thy law; and it is time for Thee, Lord, to work. That is a very broad field, because when the Lord starts working, those who have made void the law are going to be in dire straits. But as we are surrounded by an atmosphere of negligence, of gospel-hardened Christianity, is it true that you are longing and yearning for something that really satisfies your inmost hunger? There are many people out there that are searching for this, but they don’t know what they are looking for.

They are looking for happiness, they are looking for something inside that is going to satisfy them, but it keeps on evading them. They can’t get hold of anything that is really materially secure and sound. The true Christian knows where to look; he says, Mine eyes fail for Thy salvation, and for the word of Thy righteousness. Give me understanding, that I may know Thy testimonies. We have heard them; we have gone over gospel truths many times, and we have all, I’m sure, been listening to many different messages. But still there is that yearning for something that is going to open the floodgates of understanding and is going to thrill the soul with something more that the soul is still hungering for. So it is time. Today, it is time for us to open our hearts to a light that has been shining for a long time

Now with such scriptures as we have just been considering burning within, and our hearts’ cry is, “Lord, yes, indeed; these words are my yearning, my hungering;” we come to a statement in reference to this angel, and see where we stand in the light of what was given in 1888 to where we are now:

The work will grow deeper and become more earnest to the very close of time. {2SM 114.1}

From the time the work of this angel started in 1888, the work would grow deeper. So it started back in 1888, and as we are yearning and hungering, we are told here that it is actually getting more intense. And how close to the end do you think we are? I am sure we can see we are right on the very brink. Where should this message have taken us already?

More Intense, More Earnest

And all who are laborers together with God will contend most earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. They will not be turned from the present message, which is already lightening the earth with its glory. {Ibid.}

I want to tell you that this is my experience, and it has gotten me into a lot of trouble, just like it gave Waggoner and Jones a lot of trouble. And poor Waggoner and Jones were thrown into such trouble that they nearly lost their way. It is profound to read their messages and to see them slipping into the difficulties that they slipped into. Now I want to tell you, as you take hold of this message as it reads here, that “all who are labourers together with God will contend most earnestly once delivered to the saints. They will not be turned from the present message, which is already lightening the earth with its glory.” I was very thrilled when it was strongly suggested that at this conference we should delve into this subject, because this is the subject of my existence. I exist as a preacher in God’s word because of this subject. And it is wonderful for me to see that there are people that want to stand together with me. We must not be turned, no matter the circumstances, and they are very severe, as we are seeing.

Psalm 119:123 Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness. 

What are we meant to be doing in the light of this? Sow to yourselves in righteousnessSeek the Lord, till He rain righteousness upon you. Righteousness … what is that? It is sinless perfection. And people don’t even dare to say those words anymore today. But it says here that He will rain righteousness. It is going to fall upon God’s people. The reason why people don’t like the thought of righteousness being sinless perfection is because it seems so hard. “We can’t get there. It’s so hard for us to be righteous.” But this is righteousness by faith. The Lord our righteousness, He will fall upon us. What does that mean? This is what we are here to explore. May God help us to develop that intensity of purpose that is here being appealed to. If the latter rain, the Holy Spirit, has been poured upon God’s people in 1888, and there was the commencement of this outpouring, why do we not see it today?

[The Holy Spirit] may be falling on hearts all around us, but we shall not discern or receive it. {TM 507.1} 

I’ve always been yearning for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as I grew up in my early youth, and I came across this statement and it really frightened me. It really explains why we have been so long in experiencing the fulfilment of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit—because maybe It has already been falling on hearts all around us and we’ve missed out. Are there people who have received the Holy Spirit in this great outpouring and we have not discerned or received it? Is such a thing possible? Can the Holy Spirit be falling upon us at this conference and some of us are just standing around, saying, “Duh, what’s the matter? Nothing’s happened here”? It’s a reality; I have seen it. I have experienced profound power of God’s Holy Spirit, and yet people go out afterwards and talk as though nothing happened. And I sometimes scratch my head and think, “Am I dreaming? Am I the only one who is actually experiencing something here?” Because when you experience the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, it subdues you; it shuts your mouth. There is no room for pride, no room for venting ourselves; there is nothing like that.

When He rains upon us His righteousness, you and I shrivel into insignificance. You don’t feel righteous at all when He rains righteousness upon you, because it’s His righteousness, not yours. And if His righteousness falls upon you, you have nothing to be proud about. But we like to feel some kind of internal uplifting about ourselves. The whole world has been geared to think that way. Just ask the counsellors; they counsel and tell people, You have to feel good about ourselves. And if you don’t feel good about yourself, then there is no purpose for living. It’s back to front. When we don’t feel good about ourselves, we will then see the glory and the beauty of God’s love. Because when we see what we really are like, and we see His lovingkindness toward me, such a decrepit sinner, I break into amazement; as we were singing in our special song, I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus, the Nazarene. Why am I so amazed? Because a sinner like me is being loved by God, and what He has done to come close to a sinner like me, I hope that at this conference every one of us will discern that.

So we must avoid this terrible danger of the Holy Spirit falling upon hearts all around us and we not discerning or receiving it. May it never be said of us. To live up to the light, is to live up to the light that you have now, and then to grow and develop greater appreciation. Because the light that we have never goes dim; it grows brighter and brighter, as it says in Proverbs 4, unto the perfect day. That’s the path of the just. The purpose of this conference is that we will walk in the light of 1888, because that is that great light, that bright light of the angel of Revelation 18.

What Is That Light?

Let us expound further in our introduction so that we can enter intelligently and anticipatingly into the future studies we will be spending together. This is the light of 1888:

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

This is a very provocative scripture, if you think about it. God commanded the light to shine out of darkness. Go right back to creation: the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the waters. It was black; and out of that blackness came light. God can do that. He can bring light out of darkness. If you look at the light spectrum, what is blackness? Absorption of light. Blackness is when light is absorbed into itself. What God does is He reverses the cycle and shines it back out.

Our Heart is Black

If you carefully study, blackness is absorption. It’s like the black holes in space; they say they suck everything in. That is why they called them black holes. That is what blackness is. It absorbs light; it doesn’t take it out. What is hotter in the sunlight, a black car or a white car? A black car. Why black? Because it takes the light in, it takes the heat in. A white car reflects it. So God, who brings light out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts.  That is why it is provocative. What is our heart? Black, darkness. If you are very honest with yourself, you’ll have to admit that, yes, there is a lot of darkness in there. But we don’t have to become disturbed about that because Jesus Christ has come right up close. Jesus Christ has come right into the darkness. This is what this message is all about. Jesus, that perfect God, became a little child in human form and became us and experienced our darkness. And so in our darkness the light can shine out—the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus. This blackened heart can actually discover that Jesus is very close to the blackest heart. And that is a discovery that rocks every mind, if it looks, if it will let it happen.

Let us read a profound little statement from the book The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfection, by A. T. Jones:

Thus, “in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren. . . . For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted.”

Whether temptation be from within or from without, He is the perfect shield against it all; and so saves to the uttermost all who come unto God by Him.

God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, Christ taking our nature as our nature is in its sinfulness and degeneracy, and God dwelling constantly with Him and in Him in that nature–in this God has demonstrated to all people forever that there is no soul in this world so laden with sins or so lost that God will not gladly dwell with him and in him to save him from it all and to lead him in the way of the righteousness of God.

And so certainly is his name Emmanuel, which is, “God with us.” {1905 ATJ, CWCP 44.1-4}

Jesus Came in the Likeness of Sinful Flesh

In our dark hearts He dwelt. Jesus came in the likeness of our sinful flesh. Your heart is the centre of your being, where are situated the impulses of your flesh. The impulses of your affections and emotions is your heart. Christ takes our nature as our nature is in its sinfulness and degeneracy, and God dwelling constantly in Him and with that nature. Can you see the connection with the words of 2 Corinthians? In the face of Jesus in the darkness the light comes forth. That is how close He comes to us—in our darkness. God is right there in the darkness with me in Jesus Christ, because He came down and became one of us.

And in this, seeing Jesus came in the sinful flesh, and the divine nature was right there in that dark sinful flesh,

…in this God has demonstrated to all people forever that there is no soul in this world so laden with sins or so lost that God will not gladly dwell with him and in him to save him from it all and to lead him in the way of the righteousness of God. {Ibid., 44.3}

This is something to get our head around and to open our hearts to. We want to comprehend what has been written here in this book. In the following scripture the apostle is writing to the believers who are sinners and who need to be saved, and he says:

2 Corinthians 3:3 [Forasmuch as ye are] manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.

We who are sinners are invited to let Jesus be imprinted in our hearts. Surrounded as we are with all this sinful flesh, surrounded with all these emotions, these temptations from within and from without, Jesus came right into that body, and God was in Jesus in that body, and He wants to be just so close to us. This was the purpose of the 1888 message—to bring Christ more prominently.

The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. {TM 91.2}

Can you see the language? What a great mercy! To sinners, decrepit, dark, black sinners, God has shown great mercy by presenting this message.

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; {Ibid.}

And what does justification mean? Just as if you had not sinned.

It invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. {Ibid.}

Where is the human agent helpless? When you want to do righteousness, you are helpless. Have you tried to be righteous? Have you tried with all your heart to be the kind of person that God wants you to be? How helpless do you feel? Yes, indeed. So He came to dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent.

This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. 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. {Ibid.}

This statement that I have just read now is to be explored so that the Saviour will become more prominent to us, so that we may know what it means to have obedience to all the commandments of God because it is a manifestation of the righteousness of God that He gives us. And it is needed so that our eyes might be directed to His divine person and His merits, to help us helpless beings, and then so that His Spirit may be poured out in a large measure as this message is portrayed, because this is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain.

As we prepare our hearts and minds for this subject, be very devoted and consecrated to explore these things, because it is not a theory that we are going to be looking at. We are not just here to defend the theory or to read a subject. We are here for what is written in this scripture:

2 Corinthians 3:6 …not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

This is what we are here to do. We are not here to get into a discussion on a theological, philosophical subject. It is to be the living truth, not just a letter written.

If the eye is single, if it is directed heavenward, the light of heaven will fill the soul, and earthly things will appear insignificant and uninviting. {AG 251.4} 

This is the reality. What I used to enjoy in the world is completely uninviting to me today. It’s insignificant. And as I sometimes hear other people palavering about all those wonderful things that they do, I think to myself, What’s so special about that? I have something much better if only they would want that. It is insignificant when the heart is directed heavenward.

The purpose of the heart will be changed, and the admonition of Jesus will be heeded. . . . Your thoughts will be fixed upon the great rewards of eternity. All your plans will be made in reference to the future, immortal life. . . . Bible religion will be woven into your daily life. {Ibid.

Some who profess to have true religion sadly neglect the guide-book given by God to point the way to heaven. They may read the Bible, but merely reading God’s Word, as one would read words traced by a human pen, will give only a superficial knowledge. {AG 251.5} 

Reading the Bible, that holy Book, as a man writing on a page, will only give you superficial knowledge. So we are not here for superficial knowledge. We are here so that that Word which is light from heaven will fill my soul, so that my thoughts will be fixed on greater things than this world.

All your plans will be made in reference to the future, immortal life. . . . Bible religion will be woven into your daily life. {AG 251.4} 

That is what we need to discover. This conference is dedicated to the outpouring of that Spirit that was being offered to the believers in the General Conference of 1888, and then thereafter in 1893, and in 1895. And I will read later on through some profound statements by A. T. Jones out of the 1895 General Conference; profound thoughts that are hardly ever echoed today.

The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit that we want to experience together is Deuteronomy 32. This is the Holy Spirit; this is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; not merely words:

Deuteronomy 32:1 Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. 2 My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: 3 Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. 4 [He is] the Rock, his work [is] perfect: for all his ways [are] judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right [is] he.

Who is speaking? This is the Holy Spirit speaking. He says, My doctrine shall drop as the rain. It’s no man’s doctrine. It wasn’t Moses who said that his doctrine would fall as the rain. It was the One who was inspiring Moses who spoke these words. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the outpouring of His doctrine, His living doctrine, so that we who are as grass, and as the tender herb, will absorb that rain, that Holy Spirit, and He will give us the righteousness that is in God. May the Lord help us to receive it and not be among those who do not discern nor receive it.

Amen.

Posted on April 1, 2010, in *Walking in the Light of 1888 (Conference), 1888 Message and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. This is wonderful! Have you read the book “Return of the Latter Rain” by Ron Duffield? Fantastic!

    Like

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