When God Purifies His Church
By Elder Lawrence Nelson
I’m excited for I have made another discovery. Now I can answer the question of so many: “When and how is God going to cleanse his church of the apostasy that is daily gaining momentum within this structure.” I receive hundreds of letters from all over the world in which our dear people are sighing and crying because of the abominations which are taking place. But now I praise God for I can tell you exactly what God is going to do and how he is going to do it very soon.
I’m indebted to Leona Rosenvold for helping me to discover the answer which is found in the dream given to William Miller, one of the great pioneers of this Advent movement. Ellen White, God’s last day prophet, considered William Millers dream to be God inspired. She made it a part of her own book, Early Writings, and made reference to it in her own words on p. 48. You will find his dream on p. 81-83.
Humbled Academy that was located many years ago in Ureka, California, was planning on putting on a school program. As a part of their program, they chose an eleven-year-old girl from their nearby grade school to read William Miller’s dream. As a result of that reading, throughout the many years that followed, never did this young girl forget that dream; by reading it to the audience that night it was etched upon her memory forever. If the importance of that dream so impressed an eleven-year-old girl, perhaps it will make an indelible impression upon children and adults who read or hear his dream today.
Throughout the years, as the scroll of current history has unrolled, it is becoming more and more evident that William Miller’s dream is a prophecy. A prophecy of God’s last day remnant church, spanning the time from 1844 to the end. The prophecy began when the Advent movement was purified or cleansed by the disappointment. But his dream also covers the intervening time and ends with the final purification, or cleansing of the church which, according to divine revelation, is scheduled to take place near the end of time. We will begin by reading Miller’s dream as it is recorded in Early Writings. But before we do this let us pray.
Loving Father. So many of our children are perplexed and even discouraged as we see Thy standards being pushed aside with a worship pattern encouraged contrary to divine inspiration, and even doctrines being preached contrary to Thy word. Our hearts cry out to Thee to reveal Thy power and cleanse Thy church. As we thus unburden our hearts before Thee, we praise Thy name for giving us the answer we have prayed for. In the precious name of Jesus we thank Thee. Amen.
In Early Writing p. 81 I read from Miller’s prophetic dream, “I dreamed that God, by an unseen hand, sent me a curiously wrought casket about ten inches long by six square, made of ebony and pearls curiously inlaid. To the casket there was a key attached. I immediately took the key and opened the casket, when, to my wonder and surprise, I found it filled with all sorts and sizes of jewels, diamonds, precious stones, and gold and silver coin of every dimension and value, beautifully arranged in their several places in the casket; and thus arranged they reflected a light and glory equaled only to the sun.
“I thought it was not my duty to enjoy this wonderful sight alone, although my heart was overjoyed at the brilliancy, beauty, and value of its contents. I therefore placed it on a center table in my room and gave out word that all who had a desire might come and see the most glorious and brilliant sight ever seen by man in this life.
“The people began to come in, at first few in number, but increasing to a crowd. When they first looked into the casket, they would wonder and shout for joy. But when the spectators increased, everyone would begin to trouble the jewels, taking them out of the casket and scattering them on the table.
“I began to think that the owner would require the casket and the jewels again at my hand; and if I suffered them to be scattered, I could never place them in their places in the casket again as before; and felt I should never be able to meet the accountability, for it would be immense. I then began to plead with the people not to handle them, nor to take them out of the casket; but the more I pleaded, the more they scattered; and now they seemed to scatter them all over the room, on the floor and on every piece of furniture in the room.
“I then saw that among the genuine jewels and coin they had scattered an innumerable quantity of spurious jewels and counterfeit coin. I was highly incensed at their base conduct and ingratitude, and reproved and reproached them for it; but the more I reproved, the more they scattered the spurious jewels and false coin among the genuine.
“I then became vexed in my physical soul and began to use physical force to push them out of the room; but while I was pushing out one, three more would enter and bring in dirt and shavings and sand and all manner of rubbish, until they covered every one of the true jewels, diamonds, and coins, which were all excluded from sight. They also tore in pieces my casket and scattered it among the rubbish. I thought no man regarded my sorrow or my anger. I became wholly discouraged and disheartened, and sat down and wept.
“While I was thus weeping and mourning for my great loss and accountability, I remembered God, and earnestly prayed that He would send me help.
“Immediately the door opened, and a man entered the room, when the people all left it; and he, having a dirt brush in his hand, opened the windows, and began to brush the dirt and rubbish from the room.
“I cried to him to forbear, for there were some precious jewels scattered among the rubbish.
“He told me to ‘fear not,’ for he would ‘take care of them’.
“Then, while he brushed the dirt and rubbish, false jewels and counterfeit coin, all rose and went out of the window like a cloud, and the wind carried them away. In the bustle I closed my eyes for a moment; when I opened them, the rubbish was all gone. The precious jewels, the diamonds, the gold and silver coins, lay scattered in profusion all over the room.
“He then placed on the table a casket, much larger and more beautiful than the former, and gathered up the jewels, the diamonds, the coins, by the handful, and cast them into the casket, till not one was left, although some of the diamonds were not bigger than the point of a pin.
“He then called upon me to ‘come and see.’
“I looked into the casket, but my eyes were dazzled with the sight. They shone with ten times their former glory. I thought they had been scoured in the sand by the feet of those wicked persons who had scattered and trod them in the dust. They were arranged in beautiful order in the casket, every one in its place, without any visible pains of the man who cast them in. I shouted with very joy, and that shout awoke me.”
When we put Miller’s dream together with the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy writings in regard to this spiritual condition, history, and the future and final cleansing of the church, his dream takes on great importance. Already much of his dream has been or is being fulfilled right now. The remainder will be fulfilled in the very near future. Undoubtedly all are familiar with the circumstances and cause of what is called the great disappointment of 1844. The disappointment divided the Adventists into two groups – the faithful and the unfaithful.
The Historical Prologue, copyright in 1945, that is inserted in the front of the large print edition of Early Writings explains, “At first only a few were identified with this group who were moving forward in advancing light. By the year 1846 they reckoned their number as about fifty. The larger group who turned from confidence in the fulfillment of prophecy in 1844 numbered approximately thirty thousand.”
Now please note, and keep in mind the sizes of these two groups – the majority and the little company. This is very important as we compare the wheat and the tares within the church today.
Now for the particulars of Miller’s dream. According to the inspired writings, the casket represents God’s church. It was made of ebony. Ebony is a very hard wood. It is very durable. The most valuable ebony is black and takes a rich high polish. Imagine this inlaid with magnificent, glistening pearls. The casket was beautiful and this is the way God represents His pure people, after the disappointment when the unfaithful were weeded out in 1844.
In 6T 261 we find this beautiful description and love of God for the church. I quote: “But the church is very precious in His sight. It is the case which contains His jewels, the fold which encloses His flock, and He longs to see it without spot or blemish or any such thing. He yearns after it with unspeakable love.”
What do the jewels represent? Again I will quote from inspired writings. “Christians are Christ’s jewels.” HP 267. Again, “Each soul is his own jewel.” 6T 115. I like that don’t you? In 4BC 1184, we read, “He who lives nearest to Jesus shines the brightest. The luster of the tiniest gem in God’s casket will glorify Him.”
Concerning Christ’s jewels who remained faithful in 1844, we read: “God’s people were then accepted of Him. Jesus looked upon them with pleasure for His image was reflected in them. They had made a full sacrifice, an entire consecration, and expected to be changed to immortality.” EW 239.
So then, in 1844 these faithful few members who loved the truth were precious jewels in God’s casket. They were arranged in the casket, in the church, in perfect order and unity. In the Spirit of Prophecy they are described thus: “Pride and conformity to the world were swept away. Wrongs were made right, hearts were united in their sweetest fellowship and love and joy reigned supreme.” GC 379.
When Miller looked at the casket and the jewels he thought their light and glory was equaled only by the sun. He was overjoyed by their brilliance, beauty, and value. At first the faithful small group studied the beauty of God’s truths. I quote: “My husband, Elder Joseph Bates, Father Pearce, Elder Edison, a man who was keen, noble, and true, and many others whose names I can not now recall, were among those who after the passing of the time in 1844 searched for truth. At our important meetings these men would meet together and search for the truth as for hidden treasure. I met with them and we studied and prayed earnestly for we felt that we must learn God’s truth. Often we remained together until late at night and sometimes through the entire night, praying for light and studying the Word. As we fasted and prayed great power came upon us.” MR Vol. 3, 412, 413.
Still quoting, “Everyday they discovered new beauties in the sacred pages and a wonderful harmony running through all. One scripture explaining another and no word used in vain.” LS 62.
Soon it was made clear to them that they were to share these astounding truths with others. “They had a clearer understanding of the first and second angels’ message and were prepared to receive and give to the world the solemn warnings of the third angel of Rev. 14.” GC 432.
At first but few were willing to listen. Those who did however, were interested, sincere, and honest in heart. So, together with the group they were content to gaze upon the casket with awe. But, sad to say, there came a change. The church was not to remain pure for long. Insincere spectators started to come in and as they increased they began to trouble the jewels. Finally, they took them out of the casket and scattered them all over the table and eventually, all about the room; on the floor, on the furniture, etc. The order and unity of the church was being destroyed. In sorrow we note that their troubles worsened. The insincere spectators began to scatter spurious jewels and counterfeit coins among the genuine. Unconverted souls were joining the church, becoming members in ever-increasing number. They were Satan’s agents – his so-called jewels with their false, glittering, and spurious experiences.
In His parable of the wheat and the tares Jesus predicted that an enemy would sow tares in the field; that is, in the church. So it was that tares and wheat were now growing together in God’s remnant church. See Matthew 13: 24-29. God refers to this phase of our church history when genuine and spurious
souls would mingle together in church fellowship as the church militant. Now the term ‘militant’ means, “Engaged in warfare, aggressively active.” Webster’s Dictionary.
We will note how appropriate this name is for our church during this period of time. For the tares began to bring into the church erroneous doctrines. Paul predicted this would happen in our day. He calls these errors doctrines of devils. I am reading 1 Timothy 4:1, “Now the spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.”
How sad the picture of our church was to become. As time passed the spurious doctrines and practices that were increased and taught by worldly, liberal members of the church, were becoming more and more deceptive and deadly. Raucous forms of worship were being practiced such as drama and puppets. Before long, Celebration type of worship was spreading from church to church and from conference to conference as if it were a leprosy.
The faithful were faced with one unexpected worldly practice after another. Each one seeming to them to be worse then the former. The faithful jewels could scarcely believe it was actually happening. These false doctrines of devils and worldly practices are represented in Miller’s dream by the dirt, the shavings, the sand, and the rubbish that were being tracked into the room. William Miller realizes his accountability and responsibility before God to keep the casket and the jewels intact for their Owner. He pled with the spectators but to no avail. He became highly incensed at their base conduct and ingratitude. He reproved and reproached them but the more he pled and rebuked them the more they brought in dirt, shavings, sand and rubbish, counterfeit coins and spurious jewels. Miller even attempted to use physical force. But as he pushed one out, three more would enter. All his pleadings, all his reproves, and even his attempt at physical force were useless. Alas, hundreds today have experienced the same. Many references in the inspired writings predict and warn us that just such a time as this would come into the church.
Ellen White herself warns us that erroneous theories would be taught to God’s people in our day as if they were Bible truths. See Faith and Works p. 86. She also warns us and I quote: “Many will stand in our pulpits with a torch of false prophecy in their hands, kindled from the hellish torch of Satan. If doubts and unbeliefs are cherished, the faithful ministers will be removed from the people who think they know so much.” TM 409, 410.
Could false church members become so much of a majority, and so powerful, that they could not only preach the hellish doctrines of Satan from our pulpits, but will also deny the use of our pulpits to the faithful? Think in over. It is happening today. Now the question, “how are the faithful hidden from sight?” If the faithful were banned from leadership positions and from our pulpits as suggested in the quotation I just read, are they not essentially hidden at least from the unfaithful majority?
Remember, however, the faithful jewels, though hidden, are still in that room. They are still present in God’s church. Though they may be hidden as it were, they will be standing in the light of God’s presence. They will be awake and aware of that which is transpiring in the church. They cannot but sigh and cry. Neither do they sit quietly by. What did the servant of the Lord see them doing? I will quote from 5T 209, 210. “At the time when the danger and depression of the church are greatest, the little company who are standing in the light will be sighing and crying for the abominations that are done in the land. But more especially will their prayers arise in behalf of the church because its members are doing after the manner of the world.” Now just listen to this. “These sighing, crying ones reproved, counseled, and entreated, but the glory of the Lord had departed from Israel.”
Now that is quite a statement. Although many still continued the forms of religion, His power and presence were lacking. How sad. And notice, “Their righteous souls are vexed day by day with the unholy work and conversation of the unrighteous. They are powerless to stop the rushing torrent of iniquity. And hence they are filled with grief and alarm. They mourn before God to see religion despised in the very homes of those who have had great light. They lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church.”
How clearly stated is Ellen White’s description of the activities of the faithful at the time when the danger of the church is the greatest. Is it not comparable to the feelings expressed by William Miller in his dream? Right. But alas, this was not the end of the works of the unfaithful. Lastly, even God’s casket was torn apart. To add insult to insult the unfaithful, spurious jewels went so far as to tear God’s casket apart and to throw it into the rubbish to be trodden underfoot.
What a picture! Rather than being unified at this time, the church is being torn apart by false members and counterfeit leaders. Confusion reigned. Because of this, the faithful experience great anguish. How can they fulfill their responsibility to keep the church pure so that she will be prepared to meet her Lord? Under such circumstances how can the pure gospel go to the whole world – to every nation, kindred, tongue and people? The entire world must hear the cry, “Prepare to meet thy God!” Who will be held accountable for all this error and upheaval in the church?
In utter despair Miller sat down and wept. It seemed no one regarded his sorrow. Then Miller remembered God. He prayed earnestly for help. Immediately his prayer was answered. A man with a dirt brush entered the room. After throwing the windows open the man began to sweep vigorously. Miller writes, “ I cried to him to forbear, for there were some precious jewels scattered among the rubbish. He told me to ‘fear not’ for he would ‘take care of them.’” How precious the thought! The man with the dirt brush needed no help from man. The final separation of the unfaithful from the faithful will be accomplished by the angels under the direct direction of Jesus Himself.
As the man with the dirt brush swept, what happened? All the dirt and the rubbish, false jewels and counterfeit coins (the unconverted) all arose up and went out the window and the wind carried them away. Note: Out the window went all the unfaithful members together with all their false doctrines of devils and their worldly practices. Praise the Lord!
But please note that this part of his dream actually describes the final cleansing of God’s church. And this will take place in our day, and soon. Again I say, Praise God!
Now the question: “What will God use to accomplish this event?”
At what time in the history of this world will the man with the dirt brush enter to make his final cleansing? I trust you are listening. Ellen White answers: “It will be when the mark of the beast is enforced bringing severe persecution upon the church. The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us. Those who have step by step yielded to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will not find it a hard matter to yield to the power of the beast rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment and death. The contest is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. In this time the gold will be separated from the dross in the church. True godliness will be clearly distinguished from the appearance and tinsel of it. Many a star that we have admired for its brilliancy will then go out in darkness. Chaff like a cloud will be borne away on the wind even from places where we see only floors of rich wheat.” 5T 81.
But let us remember we must be patient for we are told that the wheat and the tares both grow together in the church until the Sunday laws bring about severe persecution. The Lord has this instruction to us in many different manuscripts that it will be then, and not until then, that the genuine gold will be separated from the spurious in the church. This is a last-day event. We all need to understand, so that we will not become discouraged. Let us patiently wait for this to happen in God’s own timetable.
Once again,at the final purification, God’s people will be divided into two groups. The faithful and the unfaithful. How sad that once again the majority will be unfaithful. They will go out the windows while the faithful, little company, will remain in the church. I quote from the 5T 136, “Soon God’s people will be tested by fiery trials and the great proportion of those who appear to be genuine and true will prove to be base metal. To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when the champions are few, this will be our test.”
Then from p. 80 in the same book we read, “The days of purification of the church are hastening on apace. God will have a people pure and true. In the mighty sifting soon to take place we shall be better able to measure the strength of Israel. The signs reveal that the time is near when the Lord will manifest that His fan is in His hand and He will thoroughly purge His floor.”
Please note that in Miller’s dream, the unfaithful rose up of their own volition and choosing and went out the window. Inspiration informs us that they choose to yield to the powers that be rather than suffer persecution. Why? From 5T 136, and this is speaking of every nation on earth, I quote: “The nation will be on the side of the great rebel leader.” We come now to a most beautiful and encouraging part of Millers dream, for a new casket was placed on the table. Yes, but not until all the sinners in Zion had been blown away with the wind together with their doctrines of devils and worldly practices. It is then, but not until then, that a new casket was placed on the table. The new one is much larger and much more beautiful then that first one had been. At this point in his dream, the genuine jewels and true coins lay in confusion, scattered all about the room.
Please note once again: They did not go out. Rather the man who had the dirt brush, gathered up the jewels and the coins by the handful and cast them into the casket. This was done without any seeming effort on his part. At this point Miller closed his eyes for a moment and when he opened them, all the jewels were not only all in the casket, but all were again arranged in perfect order and harmony. Take note, this casket shone with ten times its former glory. Praise God! What a glorious sight is soon to happen. As Millers dream finally develops to this glorious conclusion, it should be of great encouragement to God’s church today. Has not God foretold that these times of despair and confusion are coming? A time when there would be error’s and false members and false leaders?
But praise God He also tells us that there is a soon coming remedy. It is a certainty for it is the Lord who holds the fan of purification in His hand. But take note: The new casket is not a new church, it is the same Seventh-day Adventist church that had it’s beginning in 1844, but it is now in a different phase of it’s earthly history. No longer will she be overwhelmed with a majority who are promoting errors within her borders. No longer will she be called the church militant as the first casket had been called. God now refers to her as the church triumphant. This is the final phase of God’s church on earth. The church triumphant is the new casket. In this casket, each jewel will be shining gloriously in its own place. Unity and order will be restored. The members cannot but be in perfect unity for all will be lead by the same Holy Spirit. I quote: “There will be no confusion because all will be in harmony with the mind of the Spirit. The barriers separating believer from believer will be broken down and God’s servants will speak the same things.” 8T 251. Isn’t that wonderful?
In her book Early Writings , as well as in many other places in her writings, Ellen White describes the purified church. I’m quoting: “I was shown those whom I had before seen weeping and praying in agony of spirit. The company of guardian angels around them had been doubled and they were clothed with an armor from their head to their feet. They moved in exact order like a company of soldiers. Their countenances expressed the severe conflict which they had endured. The agonizing struggle they had passed through. Yet their features marked with severe internal anguish now shone with the light and the glory of heaven. They had obtained the victory and it called forth from them the deepest gratitude and holy, sacred joy. Evil angels still pressed around them but could have no power over them. I asked, ‘What has made this great change?’ An angel answered, ‘It is the latter rain, the refreshing from the presence of the Lord. The Loud Cry of the third angel.’” EW 271.
Beloved, this purified church will be ready to give the pure gospel to the world with a loud cry. In exact order, like a company of soldiers they will quickly finish God’s work on earth as they go forth triumphant conquering to conquer. Remember my recent tape entitled, “With Supernatural Intervention”? During the past week it was vividly impressed again upon my mind. I had gone shopping again for another car. Imagine my surprise when the dealer was filling out the papers and asked what work I was employed in. I replied, “I am a retired Seventh-day Adventist minister.” Suddenly he stopped what he was doing and said, “Good! I’m going to ask you a lot of questions.”
Then he told me he was a born-again Christian, a member of a Baptist church. He wanted to know the difference between my church and his. I began to explain the Sabbath and other truths when he interrupted. “My church believes in keeping nine of the commandments but I am beginning to believe that we should be keeping all ten.”
He continued, “I’m beginning to believe God’s Word is both the Old and the New Testament.” I agreed. He continued, “Tell me about your worship service. Do you believe in Celebration music? I mean electric guitars and Christian rock music?” I replied, “I certainly do not.”
He continued, “And what about drama in the divine service?” I could hardly believe what I was hearing. Then he said, “And what about those Christian ditties when they sing and repeat over and over and over the same words?” Oh how my heart went out to him for I believed the same. He also expressed his disapproval in clapping and members using the divine service to go about shaking hands with their friends and guests, creating a bedlam in God’s holy sanctuary. You know, I was almost speechless. All this from a non-Adventist!
He continued, “I am spending more time studying my Bible and reading spiritual books. I believe something big is about to happen. The end is approaching. That’s why I’ve moved out of the city into the country.” I just couldn’t believe I was listening to one who was still in Babylon.
He went on, “We are homeschooling our three children and we pushed the TV out the door six years ago.” As he spoke I found this young man I judged to be in his early 40’s to be the type of a man that will answer the call when the latter rain falls and the Loud Cry is given. And I believe he will be one of those who will join God’s people to finish the work.
I invited him to attend a nearby Adventist church not far from his home. Fortunately, the pastor of this church believes in the same kind of worship service that God demands when we come to worship Him. I also gave him the Desire of Ages and the Antichrist book and promised to send him The Great Controversy after he read the books I gave him. As I left I felt strangely sad, for the majority of Seventh-day Adventist who are now so sound asleep and who soon will give up their faith.
But praise God, there are those now in Babylon who are awake and getting ready to join us for the final call to become a part of God’s faithful few. I have no doubt that God’s true church will triumph.
Here is Solomon’s description of the new casket, the new church. “Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, terrible as an army with banners.” Song of Solomon 7:10 All new members who join the church in the midst of persecution such as the world has never before experienced will first be purified by the blood of the Lamb and truly converted. Each one will take his place in the casket adding beauty and luster to the church for we are told in scripture that, “There shall no more enter into it anything that defileth.” Revelation 21:27. What a promise! These shall be, “Men wondered at,” by the entire universe. Zecharaiah 3:8. We need to know what is coming, and how to prepare to stand in this soon coming final event. Adults, young people and children all need to be aware of what is happening in our church and of coming events. “ I saw that Satan was working through agents in a number of ways. He was at work through ministers who have rejected the truth and are given over to strong delusions to believe a lie that they might be damned. Oh, that all could get a view of it as God revealed it to me, that they might know more of the wiles of Satan and be on their guard.” EW 43,44.
Beloved, it is time to wake up! Wake up, dear ones! For the man with the dirt brush is soon to enter our church. “Get ready, get ready, get ready!” EW 66. This is our message.
Let us pray. Oh dear Father, how can we thank Thee for giving us such a clear picture of Thy plan to cleanse Thy church and revealing to the world a people without spot or blemish. Help us, Father, to be among Thy genuine gems. We ask in the name of Jesus, Amen.