Our Heritage

By John Thiel, mp3

Scripture reading: Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where [is] the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

Jesus prayed that His followers might be one; but we are not to sacrifice the truth in order to secure this union, for we are to be sanctified through the truth. Here is the foundation of all true peace. Human wisdom would change all this, pronouncing this basis too narrow. Men would try to effect unity through concession to popular opinion, through compromise with the world, a sacrifice of vital godliness. But truth is God’s basis for the unity of His people. {OHC 329.3}
Unity. You can hear it today. People are constantly trying to manipulate unity. They talk about compromising the vital godliness in truth so that they can be in unity. It says very emphatically that the foundation of true unity in the realms of God’s kingdom is the truth, and we must establish ourselves upon truth so that this can indeed produce the unity that is needed.
In the time in which we live just now, we are surrounded by so many variations of error mingled with truth so that the person who is yearning to hear the true voice of truth as Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life, the person who is seeking to actually hear the real Jesus as He really means to communicate truth, is faced with a bewildering experience.

Our heritage. The word “heritage” is used when you have gained something which has been prepared beforehand by those who were before you. If parents have left to their children a certain established security, the children call that the heritage that they have gained from their parents. When you don’t have a heritage in today’s society, you become confused. people want to have some inheritance that is their security.

Indeed, we need a security. Have you ever been lost? Especially when you travel in others countries, you can easily be lost. Everything is unfamiliar. Unfamiliar surroundings, no old well-known faces around you anymore, like a lost lamb. A lamb recognises its mother’s voice. Have you ever seen a lamb that has lost its mother? It goes around bleating and listening, bleating and listening; and when suddenly it can hear the familiar voice of its mother, it goes running with joyful bleatings back to its mother. But if that voice isn’t there, it is totally confused. I had a personal experience as a child, I wanted to go to work with my father, and he had already gone and I caught a bus. I travelled in this bus, and somehow, strangely, the conductor didn’t realise that I was in there without anybody caring for me. The bus got to the end of its line, and I was the only one left on the bus. The conductor said, Where are you going? I said, I’m going to my daddy’s work. Well, where is that? I was lost. This man had to deliver me to some authorities. I was completely lost, it was terrible. I was taken to this orphanage and somehow the message got to my parents until finally they came to pick me up. It was so lovely to find my parents again.

Children of God in these last days are in a similar situation. I’ll never forget the words that were written on a paper of Avondale College, “Will the real Jesus please stand up?” They were in a confused state between the concerned brethren and the teachers in the college.

In the following scripture we identify the problem in which we are situated where the plight of the human modern time is expressed:

Isaiah 8:13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and [let] him [be] your fear, and [let] him [be] your dread. 14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.

Many are in that position. They have been lost, they have stumbled, they have fallen, they have been snared.

Isaiah 8:22 And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and [they shall be] driven to darkness.

A lamb totally lost in the dark, that doesn’t know who is who and can’t find its mother. This is the predicament in which modern Christianity finds itself. And how comforting it is for such a people to finally discover what is written in Isaiah chapter 58. This is the bleating lamb:

Isaiah 58:9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I [am]. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; 10 And [if] thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness [be] as the noon day: 11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. 12 And [they that shall be] of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

To hear the Lord and to know that, “Ah, now we have found the voice of God, we have found the people that are called of Him. The people that raise up the foundations of many generations.” Those who have already established the foundations will be recognised, and we will be able to find our way back to security.

The restorer of paths to dwell in, the repairer of the breach, the raiser up of the foundations of many generations. Are you lost? Do you want to find your way?

Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways [plural], and see, and ask for the old paths, where [is] the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

Rest and peace can be found. Where? In our heritage! In the old paths that have been established. The good way that has been secured already. It’s just been lost in this modern world. We are called upon to stand in the ways. There are many ways, aren’t there? So many different ways. He says, Stand in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths. In this modern age when the lamb is crying, when the soul is yearning for security, it is pointed out to us where our heritage is; the old paths. God’s people who are living now have a most advantageous position of any other time. There are many examples beforehand to glean from. There are many people of the past who have clearly been identified as God’s people and from whom they can learn.
This is where God’s people today who take up their salvation in Jesus Christ have come to:

Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn,

God is saying to be introduced to the gospel of Jesus Christ in today’s circumstances, you’ve got to recognise what you attach yourself to. Go to the heavenly Jerusalem as the headquarters of your church, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn. What church do you belong to today? Aren’t there so many denominations and companies? Stand ye in the ways, and ask for the old paths. Nothing new, nothing contorted from human imaginations. Exactly as it was held in the past, our heritage that has been established and left to us. We are to be part of the general assembly and church of the firstborn. We are seeking to find our heritage, the old familiar faces that have stood and given us lessons both in what they taught and in what their experience revealed. Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, the general assembly and church of the firstborn; the twelve apostles with their early church, the Waldenses, the Huguenots, Colombo in Ireland, the Reformers and the Pioneers of the three angels’ messages.

The church is God’s fortress, His city of refuge, which He holds in a revolted world. Any betrayal of the church is treachery to Him who has bought mankind with the blood of His only-begotten Son. {AA 11.2}

Notice which church the Spirit of Prophecy is talking about here. Because many people in the mainline churches say, This is talking about us! What is this talking about?

From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth. In every age the Lord has had His watchmen, who have borne a faithful testimony to the generation in which they lived. These sentinels gave the message of warning; and when they were called to lay off their armor, others took up the work. God brought these witnesses into covenant relation with Himself, uniting the church on earth with the church in heaven. He has sent forth His angels to minister to His church, and the gates of hell have not been able to prevail against His people. {AA 11.2}

In today’s circumstances I have often had to wonder, Where is that church?

Through centuries of persecution, conflict, and darkness, God has sustained His church. Not one cloud has fallen upon it that He has not prepared for; not one opposing force has risen to counterwork His work, that He has not foreseen. All has taken place as He predicted. {AA 11.3}

You can study the detail of what God has predicted right through to the very end, and the church that we are looking at, our heritage, are the faithful people who have given the right message in the right time.

You and I are approaching a refreshment of the subject that has brought us into an experience. Because we have been every one of us tossed about a lot, and we have established ourselves over the years upon a platform that used to be very clear to us, a very clear platform of what the doctrines and teachings of God’s people were in the past. The old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), restoring the old paths (Isaiah 58:12), this is to be our mind occupation in regards to finding the right answer in this confusing time.

Here is the call for us:

Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

The old ways, that which has already been delivered to the saints. We don’t have to raise up new ideas. It’s the old paths. There’s no new thing under the sun, the Scriptures says. As something arises in these modern ages, it’s just a repeat of the past. We are called upon to establish ourselves on that which has been firmly placed as the faith that we are to fight for, our heritage, that faith, that doctrine.

Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let [them] slip.
The things that have been clearly brought to our attention from those who have gone before us. What we have heard from them; we should give earnest heed to these things lest at any time we should let them slip.

Hebrews 2:2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; 3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard [him];

Our affiliation with God’s church is clearly qualified here. It is to focus upon those who have already shown us the way. The children and new converts of the early Christian church new-modelled the cause (See Great Controversy, p. 385). And in every succeeding generation this had happened again and again. We now come up to the point in time where we have had clear understanding as to the truth for these last days and the younger generations have meddled around with that which has already been established.

We today are to be old-fashioned in our beliefs. There’s nothing new. It’s already been established. Sadly during the Dark Ages pure truth was scattered. But God preserved it among the faithful. That which was confused was gradually rebuilt again by the Reformers such as Martin Luther, John Wesley and coming right up to 1833 as they all stood there in their different Protestant churches. The Lutherans, the Methodists, the Baptists and the Congregationalists, there commenced a revival to these churches. The expectation of Jesus’ return was being proclaimed. From that date onwards through to 1905, a series of doctrines were brought together from the old paths so that all that had been destroyed and scattered by the Dark Ages could be reestablished as a foundation.

God had seen to it that the truths that had been established were firmly settled as a new foundation because it had fallen apart. That is what is written in Isaiah, restoring the old paths. This was their catchphrase at that time. They were builders of the old paths and repairers of the breach.

In the future, deception of every kind is to arise, and we want solid ground for our feet. We want solid pillars for the building. Not one pin is to be removed from that which the Lord has established. The enemy will bring in false theories, such as the doctrine that there is no sanctuary. This is one of the points on which there will be a departing from the faith. Where shall we find safety unless it be in the truths that the Lord has been giving for the last fifty years?– Review and Herald, May 25, 1905. {CW 53.2}

That statement was made in 1905 in the Review and Herald. In the last fifty years starting from 1905, there is our security. There is our heritage. As you hear all the different winds of doctrine and you see the changing minds of people that have once stood for something and have now been told that it’s not true, and have drifted away, the reality is that they have drifted away from what we had already understood was uniting us. It is the truth that unites us. What united us when we first came from our different backgrounds? It was the truth of the foundation that had been laid. We who still want to stay on that foundation have found ourselves losing hold of certain people. But we look around in these circles of Adventism and it’s all over the place. Different doctrines, pins, have been pulled out from what the pioneers had established over the period of those fifty years, and this has brought confusion to the people.

I saw a company who stood well guarded and firm, giving no countenance to those who would unsettle the established faith of the body. {CW 53.1}

Giving no countenance to those who would unsettle, just to unsettle, the established faith of the body. They didn’t even look in that direction. They put their face like a flint in the right direction. She saw such a company.

God looked upon them with approbation. I was shown three steps,–the first, second, and third angels’ messages. Said my accompanying angel, “Woe to him who shall move a block or stir a pin of these messages. The true understanding of these messages is of vital importance. The destiny of souls hangs upon the manner in which they are received.” I was again brought down through these messages, and saw how dearly the people of God had purchased their experience. It had been obtained through much suffering and severe conflict. God had led them along step by step, until He had placed them upon a solid, immovable platform. –Early Writings, pp. 258, 259. (1858.) {CW 53.1}

This is our heritage. A security, a perfect comfort for the child that has lost its parents and was able to put his head upon the womb of his mother once again; a lamb that was bleating for the voice of its mother, and finally heard it and ran.

How was it that they were established? Through much conflict, through much difficulty that they were battling through. The Lord had led them to establish this platform of purity of truth through all these conflicting experiences and now God’s people are there in a state of confusion as a lamb that is crying out and then they think they have heard the right voice and they come there and get rebuffed.

They come somewhere else and again rebuffed. I have watched little lambs doing that. They think they’ve heard the right voice and they come over to one sheep and she butts and somewhere else and that one butts as well, until the right one is found. This is the predicament that people are finding themselves in today. They trip from one to the other and to the other. But do we recognise the platform of truth where we can be secure and hear the voice of the Shepherd and know our heavenly Father? It is the truths that were established. Sister White sounds the warning and says that we have nothing to fear but this:

In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what the Lord 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. {LS 196.2}

Here is the warning. It’s been experience of my years, from childhood, youth, through to adulthood, to have seen the confused state of Adventists circles who have fallen for this dreadful thing to fear, to forget the way by which the truth had become established, to forget the way the Lord had led them and to forget the teachings that had once been held so firmly. This confused state of teachings and standards and of things that have been forgotten in the teaching of our past history, is rampant around us. Like that little child that had been lost, like the lamb bleating, there is no unity in truth in the majority of Christian circles. They have unity, they amalgamate together in organisation, but the unity is on false foundations.

Men would try to effect unity through concession to popular opinion, through compromise with the world, a sacrifice of vital godliness. But truth is God’s basis for the unity of His people. {OHC 329.3}

We have been shaken in Adventism for more than a hundred years. The very subject of the nature of Christ is just one of those pillars that have been shaken in the minds of the people. And because it has been shaken, people were not able to look to that beautiful subject for the perfect practical understanding of Jesus our Saviour. There are people today who want confidence and comfort; they are looking to be cradled in the security of those faces and those old paths. If you and I want that, we have qualifications from inspiration that give us precious assurance.

There are persons ready to catch up every new idea. The prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation are misinterpreted. These persons do not consider that the truth has been set forth at the appointed time by the very men whom God was leading to do this special work. {2SM 111.2}

Step by step God had been leading them.

These men followed on step by step in the very fulfillment of prophecy, and those who have not had a personal experience in this work, are to take the Word of God and believe on “their word” who have been led by the Lord in the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. {2SM 111.2}

Can you hear the modern reactions to this? “What? We have to take their word? I have my own independent way of thinking, I’m not going pushed around by any other individual.” Can you hear this modern thinking? And how many times do we come into that category when we will not do as we are told? We are to take the Word of God and believe on their word who have been led by the Lord in the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. Why? Because Satan has succeeded in confusing the minds of the people. We are to trust those whose minds were not confused. When a mind has been confused it can’t depend on its own sensitivities anymore. We have to rely upon somebody else to bring us back to again. The people that are to bring us back are those who have gone before us.

If we search the Scriptures to confirm the truth God has given His servants for the world, we shall be found proclaiming the first, second, and third angels’ messages. {2SM 111.2}

The particular quote goes on to talk about the erroneous work of different people who have taken their own mind exercises and used scriptures to conclude in error. That’s where modern Adventism has ended up. Some are bold enough to even say that the pioneers were wrong, or, the pioneers taught something different because they didn’t know. You come across these kind of bold expressions, when according to the word of God, these pioneers that Sister White identifies are not in error. Under inspiration Sister White gives us clear indication on whose words among the pioneers are good and correct presentations which we can believe. One of those presentations is spoken of here:

The record of the experience through which the people of God passed in the early history of our work must be republished. Many of those who have since come into the truth are ignorant of the way in which the Lord wrought. The experience of William Miller and his associates, of Captain Joseph Bates, and of other pioneers in the advent message, should be kept before our people. Elder Loughborough’s book should receive attention. Our leading men should see what can be done for the circulation of this book. {CW 145.2}

Do you know what book she is talking about? The Great Second Advent Movement. It is evident then from this statement that J. N. Loughborough was identified in the writing of this book as being what the people need to understand in regards to how the Lord had led them step by step.

The book Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith has been clearly identified by the Spirit of Prophecy, and Sister White says the interest of the people in this book must continue until the close of probation.

In The Desire of Ages, Patriarchs and Prophets, The Great Controversy, and in Daniel and the Revelation, there is precious instruction. These books must be regarded as of special importance, and every effort should be made to get them before the people.–Letter 229, 1903. {CM 123.2}

Patriarchs and Prophets, Daniel and the Revelation , and The Great Controversy are needed now as never before. They should be widely circulated because the truths they emphasize will open many blind eyes.–CM 123 (1905). {LDE 89.5}

As long as probation continues there will be opportunity for the canvasser to work.–6T 478 (1900). {LDE 90.1}

The light given was that Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation, Great Controversy, and Patriarchs and Prophets would make their way. They contained the very message the people must have, the special light God had given His people. The angels of God would prepare the way for these books in the hearts of the people.–Lt 43, 1899. {PM 206.2}

Here we have under inspiration clear pointers. Do you not rejoice with me that we have the old way, the old faces, after a period of bewilderment, confusion, and wanderings? What a joy it is for me in the predicament I find myself in, and in which we together as a little company here find ourselves in, to be able to say, Oh, we are alright, to cast ourselves on the chest of our father and mother and bask in safety.

How I love fellowship with Haskell, with Loughborough, with Uriah Smith, with Bates, with the Whites, and with those today living who also do the same thing, the truth unites us and it warms our hearts. We are part of God’s church. We are not claiming that we are the church; we are resting upon the church that God has established, our heritage. Right back through the ages to John the apostle, look at the way he expressed the fellowship that we can enjoy.

1 John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

You and I are privileged to walk with those who have gone before us, to walk with the saints in the light. We are privileged to be a part of a company that Sister White saw.

I saw a company who stood well guarded and firm, giving no countenance to those who would unsettle the established faith of the body. God looked upon them with approbation. {EW 258.3}

Our heritage. Are we part of that company? We are a little company here, and other brethren in others places of Australia. We are part of a little company, but is this the company that Sister White saw? No, we are just individual companies part of that company. We are to be part of the company that was established, where we have nothing to fear but to remember how the Lord has led us and the teaching that His company had established. There we have our security, our heritage. Our security is not in the people. Our security is Jesus amongst that people. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. His church has always been a small company. If we stand today on the same platform of those people, then the truth will give us a sense of belonging, the truth that they stood on, and we will be united by the truth that they were united by. We will be totally united with them.

It is my prayer that God refresh us at this time after the upheavals that we have been through. You know the experience we’ve all had, each one of us in a different way. But having to find our way through the morass of human interferences, human suggestions, and failures and sins, just because people make mistakes and sin, that’s not the reason to separate one from another, because we are wanting to stay on that platform, and to repent and confess our sins, and continue with it. That is where we will find our security, in that which has been established. We can find our way back again and again, and although we may fall many times, we will rise again under this beautiful truth.

God grant this to us is my prayer.


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Posted on 15/11/2014, in Divine Service Sermons, Restoring Old Paths, The Pioneers and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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