Love Under Fire


Lifting the Veil on the Future*

Before sin entered this world, Adam and Eve enjoyed open fellowship with their Maker. But since our first parents separated themselves from God by disobedience, the human race has been cut off from this great privilege. The plan of redemption, however, opened a way for those living on the earth still to have a connection with heaven. God has communicated with human beings by His Spirit by giving divine light to the world through revelations to His chosen servants. “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). LF 7.1

During the first twenty-five hundred years of human history, there was no written message from God. Those whom God had instructed communicated their knowledge to others, and it was handed down from father to son over many generations. The recording of such things in writing began in the time of Moses. Inspired revelations were then put together in an Inspired Book. This work continued during the long period of sixteen hundred years—from Moses, the historian of creation and the law, to John, the recorder of the grandest truths of the gospel. LF 7.2

The Bible points to God as its author, yet it was written by human hands, and in the varied style of its different books it reflects the characteristics of the individual writers. The truths revealed are all “given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16), yet they are expressed in human words. By His Holy Spirit the Infinite One has brought light into the minds and hearts of His servants. He has given dreams and visions, symbols and illustrations; and those to whom He revealed these truths have themselves put the thought into human language. LF 7.3

Written in different ages, by men who differed widely in social status and occupation and in their mental and spiritual abilities, the books of the Bible present a wide contrast in style as well as a diversity in the kinds of subjects they treat. The various writers use different forms of expression. Often one will present the same truth more strikingly than another. And as several writers present a subject in different ways and from different perspectives, readers who are superficial, careless, or prejudiced may think they see a discrepancy or contradiction, where the thoughtful, reverent student, with clearer insight, recognizes the underlying harmony. LF 7.4

The different authors bring out the truth in its varied aspects. One writer is more strongly impressed with one phase of the subject, and he grasps the points that relate to his experience or to his ability to understand and appreciate them. Another relates to a different phase. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, each presents what most strongly impresses his own mind—a different aspect of the truth in each, but a perfect harmony through them all. And the truths revealed in this way unite to form a perfect whole, adapted to meet human needs in all the circumstances and experiences of life. LF 8.1

God has chosen to communicate His truth to the world by human agencies. He Himself, by His Holy Spirit, qualified these men and women and enabled them to do this work. He guided their minds in selecting what to speak and write. God entrusted the treasure to earthen vessels, yet it is still from Heaven. The message comes through the imperfect expression of human language, yet it is the testimony of God. The obedient, believing child of God sees in this message the glory of a divine power, full of grace and truth. LF 8.2

In His Word, God has committed to us the knowledge we need for salvation. We are to accept the Holy Scriptures as an authoritative, infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the revealer of doctrines, and the test of Christian experience. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). LF 8.3

Yet the fact that God has revealed His will to humanity through His Word does not make the continued presence and guiding of the Holy Spirit unnecessary. On the contrary, our Savior promised to give the Spirit to open the Word to His servants, to illuminate and apply its teachings. And since it was the Spirit of God who inspired the Bible, it is impossible for the teaching of the Spirit ever to be contrary to that of God's Word. LF 8.4

The Spirit was not given—and never will be given—to replace the Bible, because the Scriptures explicitly say that the Word of God is the standard by which we must test all teaching and experience. The apostle John says, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). And Isaiah declares, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). LF 8.5

The work of the Holy Spirit has been blamed for the errors of people who claim to be enlightened by the Spirit and then say that they no longer need the Word of God to guide them. They are governed by impressions that they think are the voice of God in the heart. But the spirit that controls them is not the Spirit of God. This following of impressions while neglecting the Scriptures can only lead to confusion, to deception and ruin. It serves only to aid the plans of the evil one. Since the ministry of the Holy Spirit is vitally important to the church of Christ, it is one of Satan's schemes to use the errors of extremists and fanatics to discredit the work of the Spirit and cause the people of God to neglect this source of strength that our Lord Himself has provided. LF 8.6

In harmony with the Word of God, His Spirit was to continue working throughout the gospel era. During the ages while the Scriptures of both the Old and the New Testament were being given, the Holy Spirit did not stop communicating light to individual minds, even apart from the revelations that were to be included in the books of the Bible. The Bible itself tells how people received warning, reproof, counsel, and instruction through the Holy Spirit in matters unrelated to the giving of the Scriptures. And it mentions prophets in different ages whose messages are not recorded. In the same way, after the Bible was complete, the Holy Spirit was still to continue working, to enlighten, warn, and comfort the children of God. LF 9.1

Jesus promised His disciples, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; ... and He will tell you things to come.” (John 14:26; 16:13.) Scripture plainly teaches that these promises, instead of just being limited to the days of the apostles, extend to Christ's church in all ages. The Savior assures His followers, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). And Paul declares that the gifts and workings of the Spirit were given to the church “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12, 13). LF 9.2

For the believers at Ephesus the apostle prayed “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling ... and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe” (Ephesians 1:17-19). The ministry of the divine Spirit to enlighten the understanding and open to the mind the deep things of God's Holy Word was the blessing that Paul was seeking for the Ephesian church. LF 9.3

After the wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, Peter urged the people to repent and be baptized in the name of Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, and he said: “You shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38, 39). LF 9.4

Directly connected with the scenes of the great day of God, through the prophet Joel the Lord has promised a special manifestation of His Spirit (Joel 2:28). This prophecy received a partial fulfillment in the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. But it will be completely fulfilled in the display of divine grace that will accompany the closing work of the gospel. LF 9.5

The great controversy between good and evil will become more and more intense to the very end of time. In all ages Satan has shown his anger against the church of Christ, and God has given His grace and Spirit to His people to strengthen them to stand against the power of the evil one. When the apostles of Christ were to carry His gospel to the world and to record it for all future ages, they were especially given the enlightenment of the Spirit. But as the church approaches its final deliverance, Satan will work with greater power. He comes down “having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Revelation 12:12). He will work “with all power, signs, and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9). For six thousand years that mastermind that once was highest among the angels of God has given all of his energy to the work of deception and ruin. And all the subtle depths of satanic skill he has acquired, all the cruelty he has developed during these struggles of the ages, he will bring against God's people in the final conflict. And in this time of danger the followers of Christ are to carry to the world the warning of the Lord's second advent. Their testimony is to help prepare a people to stand before Him at His coming, “without spot and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14). At this time the church needs the special gift of divine grace and power at least as much as in the days of the apostles. LF 10.1

Through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the scenes of the long-running conflict between good and evil have been opened to the writer of these pages. From time to time I have been permitted to see the working, in different ages, of the great controversy between Christ, the Prince of life, the Author of our salvation, and Satan, the prince of evil, the author of sin, the first transgressor of God's holy law. Satan's malice against Christ has been directed against His followers. In all the history of the past we may trace the same hatred of the principles of God's law, the same policy of deception, by which Satan has tried to make error appear as truth, substitute human laws for the law of God, and lead people to worship the creature rather than the Creator. In all ages Satan has tried continually to misrepresent the character of God, to lead people to cling to a false concept of the Creator, and then to regard Him with fear and hate rather than with love. He has tried to set aside the divine law, leading people to think they are free from its requirements. And he has persecuted those who dare to resist his deceptions. We can see these things in the history of patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, of martyrs and Reformers. LF 10.2

In the great final conflict, Satan will use the same approaches, reveal the same spirit, and work for the same goal as in all the preceding ages. What has been will be, except that the coming struggle will be marked with a terrible intensity such as the world has never seen before. Satan's deceptions will be more subtle, his attacks more determined. If it were possible, he would lead astray those whom God is saving (Mark 13:22). LF 10.3

As the Spirit of God has opened to my mind the great truths of His Word and the scenes of the past and the future, I have been told to make known to others what has been revealed in this way—to trace the history of the controversy in past ages, and especially to present it in a way that will shed light on the fast-approaching struggle of the future. In doing this, I have tried to select and group together events in the history of the church in such a way as to show the unfolding of the great testing truths that have been given to the world at different times, that have stirred up the anger of Satan and the hatred of a world-loving church, and that have been preserved by the witness of those who “did not love their lives to the death” (Revelation 12:11). LF 11.1

In these records we may see a preview of the conflict ahead of us. Looking at them in the light of God's Word and with the illumination of His Spirit, we may see Satan's deceptions revealed and the dangers we must shun if we want to be found “without fault” before the Lord at His coming (Revelation 14:5). LF 11.2

The great events that have marked the progress of reform in past ages are matters of history, well known and universally acknowledged by the Protestant world. They are facts that no one can refute. This history I have presented briefly, in keeping with the scope of the book and the need to condense the facts into as little space as possible while still giving a proper understanding of their meaning for us. In some cases where a historian has grouped events together in a way to give a brief yet comprehensive view of the subject, or has summarized details in a convenient manner, his words have been quoted. But for some of these no specific credit has been given, since the quotations are not given for the purpose of citing that writer as authority, but because his statement offers a convenient and forcible presentation of the subject. In telling about the experience and views of those carrying forward the work of reform in our own time, I have made similar use of their published works. LF 11.3

This book is intended not so much to present new truths about the struggles of times past as to bring out facts and principles that relate to coming events. Yet when we view them as a part of the controversy between the forces of light and darkness, we see all these records of the past with a new significance. Through them a light shines on the future, illuminating the pathway of those who, like the reformers of past ages, will be called, even at the risk of losing everything that this world offers, to witness “for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9). LF 11.4

The purpose of this book is to unfold the scenes of the great controversy between truth and error, to reveal Satan's deceptions and the means by which we may successfully resist him, to present a satisfactory solution to the great problem of evil, shedding light on the origin and the final end of sin in a way that reveals fully the justice and goodness of God in all His dealings with His creatures, and to show the holy, unchanging nature of His law. It is my earnest prayer that through the influence of this book, people may be delivered from the power of darkness and become “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Colossians 1:12), to the praise of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. LF 11.5