Spring 2011: Aids to Maintaining Faith in the Advent Movement
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Summary: Excerpted from the book Behold, He Cometh published in 1938 by Review & Herald.

When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth (Luke 18:8)?

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until that day dawn, and the Daystar arise in your hearts (2 Peter 1:19).

In our day, when the devil is seeking to break down our faith in the Advent movement, what course should we allow to ensure the maintenance of our faith? We offer five brief suggestions:

1. We should keep fresh in our minds the history of the movement.

In reading the story of the children of Israel, we are repeatedly impressed with the fact that God desired them to remember all the way that He had led them.

Their appalling outbursts of rebellion in the wilderness and their departures from God later on in Canaan were generally the result of a loss of faith in God’s leadership. This, in turn, was the result of their forgetting what God had done on their behalf at former times. The Lord commanded the Israelites to erect various memorials, that when their children asked, “What mean these stones?” their parents might recount to them the experiences of the past.

The Bible presents to us the doctrine of faith as resting not simply on the immediate conviction of the individual soul, apart from all things else, but as depending in a very real way on the demonstrations that God has given in former times of His care for His children. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews, that notable chapter on faith, is followed immediately by an appeal to those who know of what God did for the worthies of old, and who are thus “compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses,” to press on unflatteringly in the way.

We do well to refresh our mind regarding the signal evidences of God’s guiding hand in the early years of this Advent movement. Only recently we were reading again the life of William Miller, and the experiences of 1844. Our own soul was refreshed as we received a renewed conviction that God led in that mighty spiritual awakening. Then, as we follow on from 1844, and witness the forming of a compact and growing movement, protected in its tender years from extremes of fanaticism and directed along paths that have led to a worldwide field of endeavor, there comes over us the renewed conviction that God has been leading this movement from the beginning.

2. But it is not sufficient that we should simply keep bright in our minds God’s leading hand in the early days of this Advent movement. We need also to keep closely in touch with the very present evidences of God’s guiding.

We are not connected with something static, but with a movement, something that is enlarging and spreading its borders constantly. The miracles of grace, the evidences of a directing Providence, and the proofs of divine intervention that repeatedly present themselves in connection with our far-flung mission work, reveal that God is leading this movement today as surely as when it began.

The one who has been tempted to lose faith because time lingers will be led to a new and stronger faith, for he will see in the harvest of souls in benighted lands a new meaning to the words of Peter regarding the Lord’s promise to return: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

The one who is tempted to give up everything because he sees about him those who are hypocritical and who do not live out the truth will find in these reports of mission advance the best antidote for this temptation to desert. He will be impressed anew that the faithlessness of some member in his local church cannot minimize the courageous faith of some far convert from heathenism who endures great dangers and hardships in following his new-found faith.

3. But there is something even more stimulating to our faith than the reading of the heartening reports from far mission fields. We can provide a demonstration in our own community that the power of God attends this message.

There is no better antidote for that listlessness and waning interest that so quickly changes to complete loss of faith in the movement than to engage in soulsaving work for God.

We may hear someone else say that there is a power that attends the preaching of the prophecies, and the other distinctive truths from God’s holy Word. But what each of us needs is the proof of that in experiences we ourselves have. There is no substitute for this. In spiritual matters, even more than in material, we learn best in the school of experience. No theory regarding the divine source of our message and its transforming effect upon men’s lives can compare with the conviction that takes hold upon us as we witness a life transformed through the message we have been instrumental in presenting.

The church member who is busy in such work for the Lord, and who sees men turning from evil habits with rejoicing to walk in the ways of right, will have little time for the attacks of those who would instill doubts concerning God’s leadership of this movement.

4. We should keep in close touch with world events in relation to fulfilling prophecy.

It is not sufficient simply to read our daily newspaper or the weekly news magazines, as those of the world read them. Instead, we should scan the news of changing events and trends in our world always with a consciousness that the news we read may have a bearing upon the prophecies for these last days.

In order to have this prophetic outlook on the news of the day, we must find time to read something else besides the news. Too often in our busy life we seem to find little time for reading other than the newspaper. What we need to make sure of is that we are also constantly reading the prophetically interpreted news, such as is found in abundance in our denominational literature, both books and periodicals.

We have found some Adventist homes—we like to think there are few— in which the members of the household say they do not have time to read our denominational literature. Yet those same homes almost invariably subscribe to a bulky daily newspaper, and often to some worldly magazines.

The question is not necessarily whether such reading matter is good or bad, for we may grant that there is much worth-while information to be obtained from these sources. The question is, rather, Should we devote our few available reading hours to perusing this secular literature, to the virtual exclusion of our own truth-filled journals and books? On the answer to this question hinges in no small degree the spiritual fervor and faith of certain church members.

5. Last, but certainly not least, is that we talk with others in the Church of what God has done for us as a result of our following the light.

We are busy people, but generally we find a little time to visit with others. Yet how often the social hour is completely filled with a discussion of things that have no possible relationship to our spiritual living. There is certainly no sin in discussing the weather, or business, or crop conditions, or a variety of similar subjects. But it is a pity to deprive our souls of the spiritual strength that comes from even a brief exchange of thoughts and experiences in the spiritual realm.

Much is said of the need of gaining greater boldness in Jesus Christ, to proclaim Him to the world. But sometimes it seems that we need a measure of this boldness in order to speak out naturally and freely about spiritual matters, even to those of the household of faith. It is a good thing at times simply to talk of the goodness of God when you meet some brother along the wayside, or have a word across the fence, or call on him for a few moments in a social way.

Greater reality and depth is given to our own spiritual understanding when we make audible in conversation with others our hopes and our desires in the Christian way. Almost invariably such expressions by us result in similar ones by those to whom we speak.

This in turn adds strength to our Christian living. For who of us has not noted at times the new impetus to godly living that we have received from the words of faith and fervor expressed by some other soul? Perhaps it has been but a simple confession of calm faith in God under some trying experience.

We go back to our own home, and the memory of it fastens upon us. In our own hours of trial and perplexity, we are aided by the conviction that if some other brother is experiencing blessing and increased faith in the midst of his trials, we can also.

And the value of this interchange of experiences moves out beyond the narrow circle of our own particular life’s problem, to the larger sphere of our confidence in the whole movement that has nurtured our spiritual life in a denominational way.

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