Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers


A Review of Significant History

As we review certain situations in our church history which form the background for the messages of the 1890's, we uncover clues which enable us better to understand these messages. Let us turn back the pages of history and look at some important developments. TM xvii.1

From the very outset, Sabbath-keeping Adventists were characterized by their eagerness to understand God's will and to walk in his way. In their Advent experience of the mid-1840's they had witnessed the stable Protestant churches, with their creedal stakes firmly driven, turn from great truths taught in the word of God. Many of these Adventists had been cast out of these churches because of their Advent hope, a hope which sprang from the Scriptures. They had seen their former brethren enter into active opposition to those who held and expounded Bible truths. This led them to be fearful of formality and church organization. But as the way began to open for the heralding of the third angel's message, the need for organization developed, and in January, 1850, Ellen White was shown that the Sabbath-keeping Adventists should bring their work into order, for “everything in heaven was in perfect order.”—Manuscript 11, 1850. TM xvii.2

Earnest efforts to bring about church organization spanned the decade of the 1850's. They culminated in 1860 in the choice of the name “Seventh-day Adventists,” And, in 1861, in plans for the organization of local churches and state conferences. Then in 1863, the state conferences were bound together in the General Conference. Painstaking care was exercised to avoid the first step in forming a creed, for it was apparent that the church could not have creedal stakes firmly Driven, and at the same time be free to follow God's opening providences as revealed through a study of the word of God and the revelations of the Spirit of prophecy. An excellent statement reviewing God's providence in instituting church order appears on pages 24-32. TM xvii.3

At the time of the organization of the General Conference in 1863, a General Conference Committee of three men was chosen. The major interests of the church consisted of the several state conferences and a publishing house located at Battle Creek, Michigan. In the evangelistic field, increasing success came to Seventh-day Adventist ministers. Their work consisted mainly in preaching the distinctive truths of the gospel message, including the Sabbath, the state of the dead, the second advent, and the sanctuary. Many of the men were drawn into discussions and debates involving the law of God and other vital Bible truths. Imperceptibly, not a few of those who engaged in such discussions became self-reliant, and there developed in their hearts a spirit of sureness, self-dependence, and argumentativeness. In time this bore unwholesome fruit. TM xviii.1