Chapter 1

The Mystery of 1888

Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. … The Pharisees … said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blinded, ye should have no sin; but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

— John 9:39-41.

These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, … Thou sayest, I … have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art … blind.

— Revelation 3:14-17.

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The hope and very existence of the Remnant Church is built upon a written record. Without “history” as found in the Bible, the Seventh-Day Adventist denomination would have no reason to exist. The belief that this Record defines a relationship between God and man, and man and God, and that this relationship can be perfect now, and throughout all eternity, is the belief that has caused a distinctive group of people to be gathered out from all the earth.

That Book is none other than the record of men’s lives, a record that claims to have been “given by inspiration of God” notwithstanding it is a record filled with every shade of human misdemeanor and gross sin. This Biblical-Christian history has an irrevocable finality about it that is most serious. No man can undo the facts that make this history, nor can even the sovereignty of God do so. Yet the Lord has seen fit to use such a record, and build His case on such a history of rebellion and enmity towards Himself. Ultimately this contest must find a solution.

Seventh-Day Adventists claim to have a solution, and they do! The “foolishness of the cross” is the ultimate power to bring the solution. In this context the irrevocable past can be used, and understood and made to accomplish exactly what this generation is called upon to attain.

Seventh-Day Adventists do not believe the Bible because they were present when it was written, nor because they knew the authors personally and can vouch for their characters, nor because it is a flattering record. They believe it out of conviction that God gave it to His people, and it has in it the power to destroy enmity against God! The Christ of this Book proved His point and did what Satan said fallen man could not do. The basic spiritual equipment that enabled Him to triumph is available to the last generation who are called to live without sin! Inherent in this is a belief that the history portrayed in the Book is true. By the same token the history of Seventh-Day Adventists must be known, believed, and accepted by them for just what it is. Anything less than this “is not of faith” and “is sin.”

HEBREW HISTORY

If this same conviction should come to the Hebrew nation, it could grasp even now the whole truth of the entire Bible and find in Christ the promised Messiah. This would have world-wide repercussions. Undoubtedly the effects would be felt across all sectors of mankind. This would be true partly because of the adamant stance they have taken over the centuries and the sudden reversal of this. Their repentance would have tremendous impact! True, it would polarize their nation and bring about a “shaking” that would have very far-reaching results, perhaps terrible results as man measures events. But if such a conviction could grip the people, and God could get through to half the nation and they find salvation and bring to Him the glory He deserves and which is due as a final vindication of His name, then surely the travail of the shaking would be worth all that was involved. Truly this would shake the whole world! This would be the result of belief and faith in the Bible which would bear the fruit of conviction and repentance. There is no assurance that such an experience will ever come to the Hebrew nation.

But there is an explicit promise that it will come to the Laodiceans. “We” the leaders, the ministry, the church as a body, can read the history of the Jewish nation. “We” believe that “we” understand it. Can “we” read “our” history and understand it?

The Remnant Church has been told that a “shaking” will come to it and it will do wonders! Those that receive the “counsel of the True Witness … exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth.” There will be “deep repentance.” They will “be purified,” and be “clothed with an armor from their head to their feet,” and they will move “in exact order, like a company of soldiers.” Their countenances will show “the severe conflict which they had endured,” but their features will shine “with the light and glory of heaven.” They will have “obtained the victory,” and “speak forth the truth with great power.” It will have effect. (EW 269, 270.)

This knowledge of the future has been given by direct inspiration. The Lord’s messenger, Ellen G. White, has placed in the hands of God’s people instruction for every phase of life. Presumably the Lord desires to take every precaution to assure that the victory of His people is complete. The history they have been making in the end of time will be read by the entire universe. That history has been written by men during the last 130 years and continues to be written now. The history would have closed ere this if the purposes of God had been carried out. This is a fact well known to Seventh-Day Adventists. The lapse of time has now become a perplexing problem. If, however, “we” will not walk with the Lord, He will condescend to walk with “us.” But sooner or later the divine purpose must be carried out in every detail no matter how humbling the experience may be for His people. The final atonement must be made.

THE PROBLEM

In sacred history there is a mysterious phenomenon that stands out in point of time when the life and work of Christ is considered. God’s chosen people for centuries had been looking for the day when Messiah would come. He came but He was rejected. He did not fit the preconceived ideas of what Messiah ought to be and do. He had a very humbling influence.

However, “the common people heard him gladly.” The problem was not the people. The inspired record of Luke affirms, “the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.” There was great perplexity as to why it turned out the way it did. It need not have been so, for Jesus said, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” (Luke 24:15-32.)

From that day to this there has been debate. Jews, athiests, agnostics, deists, Moslems, and a host of others have been involved — even Christians. But it need not be so. The inspired Record removes all mystery, if “we” believe the Record.

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In a similar way, terrible to contemplate, “we” as a people have built up an array of ideas as to what happened at that remarkable meeting known as the Minneapolis Conference of 1888. “We” have published two views that are diametrically opposed with varying shades of opposition and with conflicting views within the opposition. This is “The Mystery of 1888.”

As time has gone on, this dichotomy has become worse and has now reached vexing proportions. The views are such there can be no compromise. One or the other is wrong, terribly wrong, eternally wrong for the Spirit of God is involved in the outcome. What anguish all Heaven must feel in the circumstances. A solution must be found, the mystery must be solved. “We” must sense the peril of thinking “we see” for under such circumstances Jesus said, “your sin remaineth.” This is another way to say, “You have an unpardonable sin.”


Table of Contents of The Mystery of 1888  |  Introduction  |  Chapter 2
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