The Old Covenant Brood

The Old Covenant Brood

by Ty Gibson  |  November 28, 2014

The current tensions and polemics within the Seventh-day Adventist Church are not occurring in a vacuum. We have history behind us that has created the trajectory within which we are now living. To a significant degree the spirit and content of our present dialogues and debates are shaped by a tragic theological turn we took in our journey as a people more than one hundred years ago.


Writing to Willie White in 1902, A.G. Daniells lamented the existence within Adventism of what he called, “the whole brood of old covenant men who are continually raising doubts and unbelief regarding the light that came at the Minneapolis meeting” (A.G. Daniells to W.C. White, April 14, 1902, in Manuscripts and Memories of Minneapolis, p. 321).

Fascinating choice of words from the man who was then the General Conference president! But these words are more than fascinating. They are hugely insightful regarding our history as a people and the struggles in which we are currently engaged.

“The light” to which Daniells referred was none other than the vital truth of justification by faith—aka, the gospel—which was preached with clarity and power at the 1888 General Conference Session by two young men named Alonzo Jones and Ellet Waggoner. But there was resistance to the “light” by prominent church leaders and ministers, a resistance that was advanced under the pretext of faithfulness to the truth.

And why were they resistant?

Because they had formulated a version of Adventism with such a heavy emphasis on the law that Jones and Waggoner’s strong proclamation of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, apart from the deeds of the law, could only be regarded by them with suspicion, as if the gospel was an attack on the law.

Where the gospel is missing, papal principles of control ensue.

Daniells wasn’t name-calling by pointing to “the whole brood of old covenant men.” He was aptly describing a harbored theological perspective that was doing massive damage in the church. By its legacy, that theological perspective continues to do damage in the church to this very day. You’ll see what I mean shortly.


Earlier, in 1894, Ellen White warned of those in positions of leadership who were “looking to the formation of a confederacy that would make Battle Creek like Rome” (Publishing Ministry, p. 144). Where the gospel is missing, papal principles of control ensue. The next year, she wrote with laser clarity, pointing out that these men were oriented toward control precisely because of their theological orientation against the message of righteousness by faith:

“They are following in the track of Romanism. Those who are enjoined to represent the attributes of the Lord’s character, step from the simple platform, and in their own human judgment devise rules and resolutions to force the will of others. The devisings for forcing men to follow the prescriptions of other men are instituting an order of things that overrides sympathy and tender compassion, that blinds the eyes to mercy, justice, and the love of God. Moral influence and personal responsibility are trodden under foot.
“The righteousness of Christ by faith has been ignored by some, for it is contrary to their spirit, and their whole life experience. Rule, rule, has been their course of action” (1888 Materials, pp. 1435-1436).

Don’t miss the significance of the connection she is making. God showed her that those who had rejected the message of righteousness by faith were, as a result, inclined to “force the will of others” by means of “rules and resolutions”—in other words, through political process and policy. The natural tendency of those who do not grasp the gospel will be to institute an order of things in the church that “overrides sympathy and tender compassion, that blinds the eyes to mercy, justice, and the love of God.” Rather than allow God’s people in their local fields of labor to be guided by Him in their manner of advancing His kingdom, “Moral influence and personal responsibility are trodden under foot” in favor of uniform “rules and resolutions.”

She was specifically addressing those who, in and after 1888, stood against the efforts of the Holy Spirit to incorporate the gospel into Adventist theology. They resisted the good news of God’s saving grace in favor, rather, of defining the message with an emphasis on the human responsibility to keep God’s law. This is why A.G. Daniells described them as a “brood of old covenant men who are continually raising doubts and unbelief regarding the light” of the gospel. According to Ellen White’s assessment, the deeper reason they were resistant to the gospel was because it was “contrary to their spirit, and their whole life experience,” which was to “rule” over others.

those who know not the liberating truth of the gospel will simply become more insistent on things being done their way.

She went on to warn that the efforts of church leaders to control people through political process will lead to dire outcomes. Church members will, under such pressures, move in one of two directions:

“those who are thus oppressed will either break every fetter of restraint, or they will be led to regard God as a hard master” (1888 Materials, p. 1436).

Then, in response to the inevitable pushback on their control, those who know not the liberating truth of the gospel will simply become more insistent on things being done their way:

“In order to reign and become a power, they employ Satan’s methods to justify their own principles. They exalt themselves as men of superior judgment.”

Notice she warns that those who operate by “Satan’s methods” in the church do so by exalting themselves as “men of superior judgment.” Whenever men attempt to shut down dialogue by posturing themselves as the ones who have the truth while portraying those who differ from them as unfaithful to Scripture, we can know that it is Satan’s spirit that is prompting them. “These” men, she states rather straightly, “are false gods” (1888 Materials, p. 1436).

In 1903 she again sounded a similar warning:

“The development of the desire to control has been very marked, and God sent warning after warning, forbidding confederacies and consolidation. He warned us against binding ourselves to fulfill certain agreements that would be presented by men laboring to control the movements of their brethren” (Review and Herald, December 10, 1903).

Of course, she was not suggesting that physical force was being employed to exert control. It was not. Rather, she was referring to methods of political process that were being employed to control the church. The way these men were exercising control was by pressuring people into subjection by leveling accusations of unfaithfulness against anyone who disagreed with them.

Leading up to the 1893 General Conference Session, at which W.W. Prescott and A.T. Jones would be attempting yet again to incorporate the gospel into the Adventist message, Ellen White wrote with penetrating insight:

“It is not the inspiration from heaven that leads one to be suspicious, watching for a chance and greedily seizing upon it to prove that those brethren who differ from us in some interpretation of Scripture are not sound in the faith” (1888 Materials, p. 1127).

There was a mentality among the old covenant brood to narrowly define “the truth” according to their particular perspectives and then to represent anyone outside of those narrow parameters as “not sound in the faith.” This is precisely what we see taking place today in Adventism, and it is one of the most damaging influences among us as a people.

The old covenant brood yet lives!

And each of us is as liable to be a part of it as the person in the pew next to us.

The crucial point is this: what lay at the foundation of this inclination to control was a resistance to the gospel with its inherent principles of liberty! If the gospel of grace does not flourish in a church’s theology and experience, the tendency will be to control others by political process, by majority vote, by contractual arrangements, by the formation of confederacies that advance restricting agendas upon the body of Christ. Apart from the principles inherent in the gospel, human beings do not know how to allow others the freedom to advance God’s cause in a manner that differs from what they feel themselves bound to.


The old covenant brood included formidable figures of immense stature like G.I. Butler, who was General Conference president during the 1888 fiasco, and Uriah Smith, preacher, prolific author, and editor-in-chief for many years of the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. In addition to these stalwart figures, there were numerous other leaders, pastors, and evangelists who aligned their influence against allowing the gospel to take its rightful place within the framework of Adventist theology and church governance.

These men created a flavor of Adventism, a fundamental orientation to the message and mission of the church, which came to constitute what nearly all Adventists, to one degree or another, perceived our message and mission to be. We live and evangelize and debate issues in the legacy of their thought. And this historic trajectory has huge implications. It means, among other things, that the corporate personality of the Advent people has been shaped over the generations since 1888 by the theological construct and evangelistic approach bequeathed to us by men who, to a significant degree, barricaded the church against the entrance of God’s grace. As a result of their influence, the gospel did not take on prominence within the conceptual framework of Adventist theology and mission. Even now it is common to hear Adventists say things like, “We don’t need to preach the love of God and focus on the cross, because the other churches are doing that. We’re called to preach the three angels’ messages, the Sabbath, the law of God, the judgment, and the Second Coming.” This is a rough articulation of a mindset that manifests itself in various forms, most notably in the way we define our mission and formulate the content of our evangelistic meetings and Bible study guides. But this is a false and dangerous dichotomy that only serves to emasculate the three angels’ messages of their real power, a power that resides alone in the proclamation of God’s love in all its glorious fullness as the real substance of all biblical doctrine. This kind of thinking entirely misses the crucial fact that Adventism was called into existence by God to proclaim the gospel—not a message distinct from the gospel, but the gospel itself—with the unparalleled clarity that our doctrinal understanding affords.

Today, many of our people are largely living in the legacy of the Butler-Smith theological lineage rather than in the Jones-Waggoner lineage. The old covenant brood lives on in Adventism wherever we hear preachers preaching up storms of obligation, duty, and behavioral reform without any clear proclamation of God’s pardoning love; wherever we hear the preaching of obedience to the law and victory over sin with language of mandate rather than of promise; wherever the emphasis is on what the human agent ought to do, had better do, must do, with little or no heart-warming declarations of God’s saving grace as the power to transform our lives from the inside out.

Adventism was called into existence by God to proclaim the gospel—not a message distinct from the gospel, but the gospel itself—with the unparalleled clarity that our doctrinal understanding affords.

These voices are strident, loud, and prolific in Adventism, and they are draining the church of new covenant power. For many of our people these voices define Adventism, unaware of any alternative way of perceiving our message. The insistent, authoritarian voice of the old covenant brood makes many of our people afraid of any voice that speaks of God’s boundless love and free grace. Many Adventists have been intellectually and emotionally educated with such a narrow theological view that they are automatically apprehensive of any message that points too strongly to Christ and shifts the focus from their own efforts to obey.

On the other end of the spectrum something just as damaging is happening in reaction against the old covenant perspective that has ruled for so long down through Adventist history. We are now faced with an extreme breed of liberalism that would throw out certain distinctive doctrines under the pretext of preaching Christ. “Jesus, Jesus, all we need is Jesus,” is the cry, as if Jesus were somehow vacant of doctrinal content. It is not a wispy, vacuous Jesus we need, but the one and only true Jesus, full of strength, and substance, and the irresistible beauty of self-sacrificing love.

Yes, the backlash of liberalism we see cropping up in various quarters of Adventism is, indeed, a problem. But here’s the crucial thing to grasp: the liberalism we are now facing, with its tendency to negate Bible doctrine, is largely a desperate and misguided reaction against the graceless conservatism that has characterized much of our history. We have sown legalism to the wind, and now we are reaping a whirlwind of liberalism. In other words, theological liberalism was born in Adventism as an overcorrection against rigid conservatism—and the battle lines are drawn in the sand to this day. As a result, we are a fractured and fighting people, often straining gnats and swallowing camels (Matthew 23:24). And the whole brawling mess is traceable back to the sharp right turn we took away from the gospel in 1888!

the liberalism we are now facing, with its tendency to negate Bible doctrine, is largely a desperate and misguided reaction against the graceless conservatism.

It would be difficult to overstate the adverse effect our 1888 divergence has had upon the formation of Adventism in the years that have followed. Conversely, we can only imagine the incredible theological and experiential beauty that would have resulted from a wholehearted embrace of justification by faith as the central theme of all our soul winning efforts. An acceptance of the gospel in 1888 would have generated rapid growth in Adventist theology and experience, creating a powerful fusion between the glory of the cross of Christ and sound biblical doctrine.

In 1899, G.A. Irwin, General Conference president at that time, preached a sermon in which he declared that if Seventh-day Adventists had embraced the message of righteousness by faith, “we would have been infinitely further along in the message than we are today” (G.A. Irwin, Australian Union Conference Record, July 10, 1899). By “infinitely farther along” he meant that we would have been more mature and developed in our theological comprehension. We would have seen how the gospel figures into all our doctrines and sheds brilliant light upon them. If the self-eclipsing truth of justification by faith had been embraced early in the development of Adventist theology, the message would have flowered with radiant color and dimensional depth under our stewardship.

Decades after the basic doctrinal lineup of Adventism had been composed, while evangelistic meetings were being preached gangbusters, an angel informed Ellen White that “there is much light yet to shine forth from the law of God and the gospel of righteousness. This message, understood in its true character, and proclaimed in the Spirit, will lighten the earth with its glory” (1888 Materials, pp. 165–166).

But, alas, that glorious potential was never realized!

There was something vital missing from our doctrinal portfolio. We were preaching the law, the Sabbath, the state of the dead, the investigative judgment, the Second Coming, and the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation. And yet there was a need for Adventists to understand the message—note the language—“in its true character.” There was some additional, crucial light that was to be shed upon the Adventist belief system. That “light” was none other than the glorious truth of God’s faithful love manifested in the person and work of Christ. God tried to bring this light to our people in 1888 and the years that followed, but the old covenant brood barricade the church against its entrance. Ironically, they did so in the name of faithfulness to “the truth.”

In December of 1888, thinking back to the Minneapolis General Conference Session, Ellen White mused with sadness, “What power must we have from God that icy hearts, having only a legal religion, should see the better things provided for them—Christ and His righteousness!” (1888 Materials, p. 229). Here she discerned the two forces that were at odds within Adventism: legal religion versus Christ and His righteousness.

Three and a half years later, in a letter to Stephen Haskell, Ellen White again described the contrast between the two elements that were battling for supremacy in Adventism:

“The whole earth is to be lightened with the glory of God. The light is shining now, and how hard it is for proud hearts to accept Jesus as their personal Savior; how hard to get out of the rut of legal religion; how hard to grasp the rich, free grace of Christ” (Letter 10a, April 6, 1892, to Stephen Haskell).

There are three points to emphasize here:

  1. She is specifically speaking here of the light of Revelation 18, commonly referred to by Seventh-day Adventists as “the loud cry,” which is to be attended by “the latter rain,” thus empowering the church to proclaim the message on a global scale.
  2. Then she indicates that what constitutes the essence of this light is “the rich, free gift of Christ.” Wow! Process that, and compare it to what you know to be the content of much Adventist “evangelism” and “revival” preaching. Where are we hearing messages on “the rich, free gift of Christ”?
  3. Then she points out that what is blocking the loud cry message from taking hold in Adventism is “the rut of legal religion.” In her day, Adventism had lodged itself rather tightly in that rut, making it “hard” for our people “to grasp the rich, free gift of Christ.”

And here we are more than a hundred years later with many of our people still tightly lodged in that rut, while others are reacting against it by running off headlong into the opposite rut of liberalism because they are exhausted by the legalism. There are still insistent voices today that would keep Adventism in the rut of legal religion, preaching what they call “the truth,” but with no clearly developed theology of grace. The net effect of such preaching is that the people in the pew feel guilty, obligated, weak, and “icy cold.” As a result many of them become susceptible to equally strident voices on the opposite end of the spectrum that are preaching a version of “grace” that lacks doctrinal integrity.


Now, then, carefully notice in this historical context that in the same year she made her observation regarding the “rut of legal religion,” Ellen White clearly articulated that something specific needed to be done:

“God calls upon all who claim to believe present truth, to work diligently in gathering up the precious jewels of truth, and placing them in their position in the framework of the gospel. Let them shine in all their divine beauty and loveliness” (Review and Herald, November 15, 1892).

Let her point register deeply, because the future of Adventism hangs upon whether or not we as a people will move in this direction. Our great need is that the precious truths God has given us be understood and preached within “the framework of the gospel.” But there was then, as there is now, a formidable blockade against this happening.

Writing to G.I. Butler in 1888, Ellen White quoted an angel as saying that “the church needed the ‘energy of Christ.'” And then, continuing to explain, she said the angel indicated to her that, “A time of trial was before us, and great evils would be the result of the Phariseeism which has in a large degree taken possession of those who occupy important positions in the work of God. He said that the work of Christ upon the earth was to undo the heavy burdens and let the oppressed go free, to break every yoke; and the work of His people must correspond with the work of Christ” (1888 Materials, p. 93).

This is an absolutely astounding insight, which is, come to think of it, exactly what you would expect from an angel. And it wasn’t merely insightful, but also prophetic. Notice the angel warned of Phariseeism as the element that would bring great evils upon Adventism. We are living in the fulfillment of this angelic utterance as we witness the polarization of Adventism into conservative and liberal camps with the gospel, all the while, nearly nowhere in sight. Phariseeism may be defined as the preaching of the law without the gospel, hammering the people with requirements while withholding from them the beautiful, energizing truth of God’s love. So, then, if the angel that spoke thusly to Ellen White was correct—and certainly we must concede that angels tend to be correct—this is the worm at the core of Adventism that is killing the church from the inside out.

In 1892 Ellen White wrote to Uriah Smith:

“The many and confused ideas in regard to Christ’s righteousness and justification by faith are the result of the position you have taken toward the man and the message sent of God. But oh, Jesus longs to bestow upon you the richest blessings . . . Justification by faith and the righteousness of Christ are the themes to be presented to a perishing world. Oh, that you may open the door of your heart to Jesus!” (1888 Materials, pp. 1053–1054).

Two weeks earlier she had written to Stephen Haskell explaining that the refusal to incorporate the truth of justification by faith into the Adventist message was giving “occasion . . . to the world to doubt the truth of Christianity.” Why? Because the refusal to incorporate the gospel into the message of Adventism was resulting in a cold legalism being projected to the world rather than the warm witness of God’s alluring love. She went on to make a passionate appeal to those who were standing against the gospel:

“You are living in guilty, self-deception, because you keep yourselves away from the light and rich treasures of God’s grace. You imagine yourselves to be rich when you are bankrupt. Your whole life has been a lie. . . . Will you open your heart to the sacred, softening, subduing influence of the grace of Christ? Can you keep your heart closed against His love and the riches of His grace?” (Letter 30a, September 5, 1892).

One week earlier she had written to O.A. Olsen and lamented the spirit of “contention and strife among us” and the inclination toward “watching your brethren with suspicion.” The pushback on the glorious truth of justification by faith yielded an adverse experiential effect upon the old covenant brood: “Doubt, unbelief, prejudice, and stubbornness, killed all love from their souls” (1888 Materials, pp. 1018-1031).

And there were practical, organizational outcomes as well.

In the historic context of Adventism pushing back on the gospel, Ellen White observed that something else was taking place as the inevitable byproduct. Leading up to 1888, she warned of brethren whose inclination would be toward “paring everything done after their style” and that they would “lay their hand upon God’s working and forbid it” (Letter 35, November 17, 1885, to W.C. White).

This is eye-opening language. The word “paring” means “to reduce something by cutting; to diminish or decrease gradually.” The word “style” refers to “a particular, distinctive, or characteristic mode of action or manner of acting.” What she is describing here is a mindset that dictates a reduced or narrow pattern of action, requiring everyone to conduct their labors for God after a uniform mode of action. Astounding! Think about this in relation to the current culture wars going on in our beloved church.

If Ellen White was a prophet of God, we can only conclude that the inclination to constrict the people of Jesus to a single “style” with which to advance God’s kingdom is decidedly anti-gospel, anti-Protestant, and anti-Adventist when compared to the vision God has for this movement. We would all do well to adopt the supremely rational Protestant maxim, “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.”

Grace and liberty go together like water and wet (2 Corinthians 3:17; Galatians 5:1).

Legalism and control go together like ice and cold (Matthew 23:23-24; Galatians 2:4).

An acceptance of the gospel necessarily broadens a person’s mind and widens their range of motion within the large parameters of truth and love. It enlarges a person’s perspective on what is acceptable methodologically for advancing the kingdom because it ignites a passion in the soul to reach the lost for Christ. Of course this doesn’t mean absolutely anything goes, but it does mean that anything goes apart from compromising the truth and committing sin. As my friend, Gary Krause, director of the office of Adventist Mission at the General Conference, likes to say, “My mantra is to adapt everything for the sake of the most effective mission, without compromising truth.” That makes total sense: maintain faithfulness to the truth, cross no moral lines into sin, and beyond that feel free to “become all things to all men, that [we] might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). The problem is, there are those among us who cannot bear to allow anyone to feel at liberty to do anything they do not feel free to do, as if their narrow opinions and dictates constitute the standard with which all must comply or be labeled “unfaithful.”

there are those among us who cannot bear to allow anyone to feel at liberty to do anything they do not feel free to do, as if their narrow opinions and dictates constitute the standard with which all must comply or be labeled “unfaithful.”

And why?

Because—and here’s the crucial point—their basic theological paradigm is one in which the restrictions they impose upon themselves and others have purchasing power with God for salvation. This is why Ellen White so brilliantly discerned a connection between legalism and the inclination to control others. If a person’s heart is void of the gospel of God’s justifying grace, their security with God will be threatened by the freedom others have in Christ. If anyone is allowed to do anything that is outside of the narrow system of restrictions they have set up for themselves, the fundamental basis of their salvation is shaken. Thus they feel compelled to “pare down” everything to their particular “style” of labor and forbid everything else. This is simply the outworking of their theology. They think that there is one “style” by which the mission of the church is to be executed, and it just happens to be their particular style, because their standing with God is built on the fragile foundation of their performance. In other words, the inclination to control others is inherent to the salvation by works paradigm.

Paul described those who conduct themselves in this manner as “false brethren” who “spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage” (Galatians 2:4). Those who live in an arrangement in which their deeds have purchasing power with God are naturally uncomfortable with others in the church doing anything out of sync with their way of doing things, because their way constitutes currency with God. For others to not comply with their way causes them to sense that their currency does not possess the value they have ascribed to it. So they feel insecure and tighten controls, which is the natural impulse inherent in legalism. For the legalist everything is either right or wrong, or almost everything. In keeping with their legalism, they do throw themselves a few bones of freedom in order to maintain the illusion that they actually believe the gospel. But it is not within the scope of their thinking to easily perceive freedom itself as a moral value, and it is not easy for them to perceive morally neutral categories. The impulse toward constriction, coercion, and control is the dark pathology that lurks within legalism, and the glorious gospel of God’s free grace is the only remedy.

For the legalist everything is either right or wrong, or almost everything.

Our beloved church is in the throes of an identity crisis. We are a people in conflict with one another over many issues. Where shall we go from here? May I suggest that we need to go back in order to intelligently go forward? In the light of the history we have pondered in this essay, it seems evident that we as a people desperately need to return to the place where we last saw the light and then work forward with humility and repentance from there.

In 1888, “The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Savior, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel’s message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His spirit in a large measure” (Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 91-92).

The remedy for all that afflicts God’s church is a clearly defined, clearly preached, and experientially embraced doctrine of justification by faith. As we engage in our dialogues and debates over culture and style, over methods of evangelism and approaches to mission, over operational policies and qualifications for ministry, the most productive course we can pursue is to first and foremost proclaim the good news of God’s love in all its clarifying beauty. From that premise, our hearts will enlarge toward one another, our minds will broaden with creativity in the execution of our mission, and we will be secure enough in Christ to allow our brothers and sisters to differ from us in their service for the Lord while affirming them as faithful fellow laborers in the spreading of our Savior’s fame.

Ty Gibson Co-Director
Light Bearers
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  • John Sheffield

    Amen! Now, be bold in proclaiming “Justification by the Faith of Jesus” defined in Romans 5:18 and 3:23, 24 and there will be two principles. The cross of Christ being more acutely defined “the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.” Many will rejoice, but the “brood” of old covenant thinkers be more pronounced toward your ministry. Could this be the finishing of the light that will lighten up the whole world with His glory?

  • Ty thanks for publishing this!

  • Colin Hone

    Spot on Ty . I have also been impressed that we need to go back to the message of 1888 in order to move forward . The message of justification by faith ( Christ’s imputed righteousness ) gift of grace and the impartation of Christ righteousness ( gift of grace ) which leads to the keeping of the commandments of God naturally as Christ lives in us . ( pardon and power ) Unfortunately this teaching on the 1888 message is also being debated on its actual meaning by the liberal and the conservative . With a focus towards one or the other of the gift of His imputed and imparted righteousness .

  • Carol Ann

    Woo hoo! Praise the Lord! What a wonderful, balanced and beautiful message! Thank you!

  • JJ Hamelin

    Mind blowing! Now we just have to skip a whole generation of indoctrinated Adventist to get back to that wrong right turn we took? Well, I suppose “with God, all things are possible”!

  • Jamey Houghton

    Absolutely inspiring. This is the best contribution to discussions in our church in YEARS. Maybe decades. Preach it brother.

  • the great theologian John Cougar Mellencamp once said, “I know there’s a balance, ‘cuz I see it when I swing by.” That being said, thanks for finding the balance. I think you may be too hard on Adventist evangelism – I hear Christ all the time in it. My church does two series a year and we hear the gospel of grace in it throughout.

  • Sounds like good news to me.

  • Greg Leavitt

    Beautiful message! May the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ shine into our hearts as Seventh-day Adventists!

  • Karen Reynolds

    Series B is also wonderful for pointing this out; especially the “rule or ruin” part. Praise God, the Holy Spirit is waking us up!! Time to go HOME!!

  • What a blessing to read this beautiful and passionate article! We do not need the “Fox News” style debate and conflict in our church where everyone is talking and no one is listening. No unity is gained when each person feels that their own personal opinion represents God’s position on any point of doctrine. The Way, the Truth and the Life is a person not a concept!

  • Far out Ty! This was absolutely mind blowing. Reminds me a lot of George Knights “A Search for Identity”. Excellent work dude. If you dont mind I would love to share this on my blog. Blessings!

  • marvellous

    We need to spread this good news,

  • Carm Cooksey

    I try to keep the commandments, not because they will save me, but rather because they are a transcript of the character of God and of Jesus. I want my character to be like theirs because of my love for them and for my fellowmen.

  • Kev

    Wonderful exposition. Thank you, Ty, for the conviction it brought upon me while reinforcing where my theology has been going.

  • Jack Barrow III

    I have much respect and appreciation for saying what many would be hesitant to say. Thank you and God Bless you.

  • What a breath of fresh air. Thank you for beautifully articulating what many of us sense in our hearts and consciences. It is time to call out those who demonize anyone who dares to differ with them, while avoiding the other extreme of throwing out the baby with the bath water. May God continue to inspire you with profound and coherent thoughts that reflect Adventism in its purest form.

  • Josue

    Can you please translate this to Spanish?…desperately needed!

  • Rosemary A

    Thanks for taking your time to research and write this, Ty! Very necessary and relevent to today’s church. Thanks for sharing. May God continually bless you (and the rest of the Light Bearers team) as you work for Him 🙂

  • Jacques

    I have started studying righteousness by faith this week and alreay it has hit me hard.It is so beautiful and I am saddened that this was rejected in 1888.i believe thats the only gospel that should be preached.telling people to keep a law is hopeless.thanks for this article it just fitted to my studies this week.praise God

  • Evan Fox

    Although it is disappointing that our church is still carrying around this theological baggage, and is paying the consequences of such a heavy burden, it is still exciting to know that we are on the brink of understanding our dinstinct doctrines in the beauty of their “true light.” I’m thankful for this essay, and by God’s grace, may we each submit our intellects and hearts to our Saviour that the glory of the unadulterated gospel would move to enlighten us and this world!

  • Manon Quinten

    Sadly, over the years I have met people who are legalistic about grace and the 1888 message! I think it just goes to show that in all eras human nature has a tendency to make us want to rely on ourselves and on rules for salvation, and that we always need to be reminded of the love of Christ. Thank you for a thoughtful and balanced article.

  • What a great essay to read on Sabbath evening! Thank you, so much….:)

  • Jason


  • Christopher

    What is the call to action for those who need to learn about the 1888 message?

  • Ben Moor

    Ty, Thank you brother for this insightful article! I thank God that we can have a conversation about this subject as in impacts ALL areas of our church policy and practice, especially as it relates to GC 2015. Grace in Action through the Holy Spirit’s empowering of all of us, in various and diverse ways but with one message of Christ Alone, In Christ Alone, and Christ Alone in us!

  • Tony

    This article is soooooo true…. (thanks Ty for writing it so well too)

  • Stephen Farr

    I am writing a paper and preparing a sermon on this topic for screaming rock. This really got me excited for this project thank you Ty.

  • Glen

    This is my opinion: God gives each generation a chance to accept or reject the 1888 message. God is waiting for Robert J Wieland’s generation to pass and then God will give us an opportunity. Don’t reject it this time around church or we’ll be wondering in the desert another 40 years.

  • Upliftning/Heartbreaking/Leading in a direction toward Christ and His Righteousnes & Mercy/Grace – Loving Our Lord and Savior and His Commandments, too <3
    Taking a stand to Stand Up For Him/Living The Gospel/Preaching The Gospel/Letting All Sound Doctrine Center Around Christ in All His Beauty <3

  • Swanz

    So the SDA “church” has never officially accepted the clear presentation of the gospel?

  • WOW!!! Ty, you put into words what I have been trying to say for years. With your permission, I would like to present these ideas to my congregation, giving you credit, of course. God is in the business of inclusion, not exclusion John 12:32

  • Bob Burnham

    Balance is key here….the debate is not whether or not we should keep the Law, for “the Law is just and honorable and good” and it is “not burdensome” to quote a couple of Gospel writers…the question, IMHO, is where we get the power (i.e. ability) to “keep the whole law” and it’s either through our own striving or through accepting the power of Christ through His indwelling Spirit in order to truly keep His Word. No one argues the necessity of obedience…just the mechanism by which we attempt to become “over-comers.”
    Kinda reminds me of a bumper sticker I’ve seen: “God is not a Republican….OR a Democrat!” How we choose to obey (“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way…to be happy in Jesus, BUT to trust and obey.”) depends a lot on our personal psychological makeup as well as our upbringing. Fortunately, we see a lot of the ol’ “crack the whip” heavy-handed Adventism disappearing, especially among our young people. It is, as the Master once observed “a burden which you yourselves could not bear.” I, personally, welcome this development, tho it has been a long time comin’ we know the Gospel will triumph. But it’s a good thing He (God) is omnipotent—‘cuz He sure has His work cut out for him…..!

  • Joe Saladino

    Beautiful. May we all “turn our eyes upon Jesus” so we can present to the world His balanced gospel and go home! Thanks Ty.

  • Carlos

    There is indeed a balance that is called for from believers. Justification by faith was missing by many early pioneers but that did in no way invalidate the law of God and His word, justification by faith in Jesus is what strengthens our message and gives it power since it is really Jesus and the core of all our doctrines.

    “Therefore by the deeds of the law NO flesh will be justified in His sight”…Do we the make VOID the law through faith? On the CONTRARY we ESTABLISH the law.”

    Justification by faith is found all throughout the Bible let’s make sure ALL our Christ centered teachings are too!

    God bless you Ty!

  • Ailsa Ure

    Very clear presentation. Simplifying it down for myself, the angel’s message to EGW and ultimately to us, is that a true understanding of the beauty of the law and a true understanding of the beauty of the gospel of Christ, are not mutually exclusive. They are the essence of our personal spiritual life, and the means of fulfilling our commission.

  • Michael Smith

    I believe that you are right on with the thoughts that you have just expressed and I praise God that someone had the courage to express them. God bless you, Ty.

  • I grew up in a very good home but it was largely legalism without a true understanding of faith until I found the book “Lessons On Faith” ( and for the first time I was able to experience forgiveness – at the age of 33! Our church is wandering in the wilderness Ty!

  • Denis LeBlanc

    I think being a christian is about being genuine, honest to oneself and creative in the pursuit of God’s pursuits. Grace is the power behind the desire to please God and it is how the power of God is best expressed in our lives.

  • Ann

    Thank you so much for your clear and insightful thoughts on what is “broken” in the SDA Church.

    From my experience, many outside of our church have only met the Old Covenant Brood, and have placed a rather large stamp of “LEGALISTS” on our denomination. Also, our public evangelistic practices have at times been deceptive, leaving all members at risk of being labeled legalistic liars by non-SDA Christians.

    In addition, the current dichotomy within the SDA church between the Old Covenant Brood and the New Liberals makes it very hard to recommend a place for Sabbath worship and fellowship for those we are helping to know the Lord.

    I continue to hope and pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit our denomination can resolve these issues quickly and decisively in the near future, so that our witness for the Lord will no longer be hampered and misjudged.

  • kevindpaulson

    If one’s perception of the gospel of grace leads one to advocate within the church the tolerance of any teaching or practice contrary to the written counsel of God, we can be sure the “gospel of grace” being promoted is false.

  • claudinec

    Thank you Ty. God bless you and your work for Him.

  • Michael Moor


    Thank-you for boldly sharing this message so needed in our church today. It is so true that my forefathers as part of the “brood of old covenant men” lead us into our own dark ages. No wonder we were seen as a cult by other Christians for we essentually were.

    Thank you also for warning of the opposite backlash as well, for it is easy to throw out the Bambino with the bathwater and have nothing to add of Christ that he had given us.

    Essentially it is these same individuals who took so much of EGW writings out of context beating up the church with her. No wonder many don’t want to have anything to do with her. I would not like the belt I was whipped with either.

    Now to go forward to incorporate Jesus grace in all we do.

  • Tim B

    Trouble is the liberal movement defines justification as purely forensic act taking place in heaven, that has no effect on the believer on earth. Jones, Waggoner and White understood justification to be a vibrant change of heart in the believer that brings obedience to the commandments of God “Born Again”

  • Patricia Robinson

    Some great points here but Adventists are still clinging to the old Covenant. They will never get rid of the problem with the confusion of the Covenants.
    All should read and understand :
    2 Corinthian 3:6-18
    Galations 4
    Colossians 2:14-17
    Hebrews 8:6-9
    If you are still interested I recommend reading Martin Luther’s book on Galations . It will change your life.
    Blessings to you all as you search for Jesus

  • My 1888 experience started on my knees in my room… Does anyone else feel that this might bethe simplicity of all of our problems? When I say all I mean just that! any issue that we are facing in today’s day and age is found written in either the inspir inspired Word or the inspiration of the Spirit of Prophecy, it is this church members belief that it is the duty of all that must endure the end trials to remember that our focus is not on the problem but the problem solver… Although it is important for us to blow the whistle on our adversaries schemes, we at the same time must also remember that neology is the best medicine for a defeat defeated foe! Thank God for the message of 1888 and for righteousness by faith, for without it we would all be in a legalistic state of bondage. God’s message is about love, love is about obedience, and obedience is aboutGod’s message… when will we believe this in faith?

  • Bob Burnham

    I can’t quite agree with you about “our church…wandering in the wilderness” Jwood…yes, that element does exist (as it does in any denomination) but do not forget that the Church is object of Christ’s supreme regard and, tho it may appear as about to fall—fail in her mission—she does not, but carries on to the very end. Take courage, look to Christ, not at others in the church.

  • Edwin (Bud) Racine

    Recalling Sigve Tonstad’s conclusion of his doctoral dissertation, “Saving God’s Reputation The Theological Function of Pistis Iesou in the Cosmic Narratives of Revelation” “And so they endure, these four, ‘the faithfulness of Jesus’, ‘the faith of Jesus’, ‘faith in Jesus’ and ‘faithfulness to Jesus’, and the greatest among these is the faithfulness of God in Jesus.” We, often, circumvent the trust/healing/salvic/earthly ministry of Jesus Christ at great peril.

  • One of the most incisive and accurate analyses I have read on the dynamics of our church in recent years. It explains some of the hard-core positions and critical spirits that emerge on issues ranging from ordination, to emerging church, to spiritual formation, from both the left and the right. It reaches conclusions that I have arrived at independently from my observation and study over the last several years. I am somewhat more optimistic than Ty about more of the church having a positive view of the gospel of grace, but he is right about the tendency of the loudest voices in many of these discussions to reflect the spirit of the old covenant brood. Thank you for sharing this bold piece!

  • Scott Bennett

    Again, Ty, you nailed it. I told a friend of mine the other day that those who have worked hard to earn their salvation feel very threatened by those of us who have discovered it to be a free gift. Jesus told a couple of stories about that like the prodigal son and the workers hired at different times of the day getting the same pay at the end of the day. Keep preaching brother!

  • Patrick

    I know from sad pastoral experience that many members resist this message in the same way that leaders like Uriah Smith, Butler, et al resisted the ‘most precious message’ that came to the church in 1888 and onward. They say in effect “we will not have this man (Christ) rule over us!”. This is a message that casts the pride of righteous man in the dust, and is therefore hated and fought against.

  • Mike

    Interesting article. And I’m still surprised, to this day, that we still don’t always hear some of our most noted televangelist lifting up the Cross with every presentation.

    I have, for most of my ministerial career, preached the law, ’til my own vacuous soul became dry as the hills of Gilboa. But about 3 years ago, I became intentional about inserting the cross into every homily; and the results still amaze me. Before, when presenting Crossless sermons, I never had any success with altar calls; to the point where I just stopped giving them. But since putting the Cross in the middle of the message, I’ve been astounded by the sheer numbers of people who have been responding. It’s been like swapping a Model T for a Ferrari.

    Still lifting up the standards, but I’ve learned that the secret to successful preaching is to lift up the Cross even higher.

  • nancy foote

    I have prayed recently that God would help me see this “most precious message” being thought about, talked about and lived by my church. I have shared it in the past and been branded a heretic. It’s been over 30 years since I first heard the 1888 message. It warmed my heart as nothing has ever done and I look forward to the day when this gospel shall be preached and the New Covenant experience realized for those who will not resist but appreciate what Jesus paid on the cross.

  • Ed

    Sounds really good. Upon further reading though there may be a flaw in a conclusion. It is mentioned that the “liberal” view is a response to the “old brood”. I would disagree. You also talked as if the “old brood” is the dominant force in the church. I sit through a sermon every week in lots of churches, all over the country and 99% of the time it is all about the love of Jesus, and how we need to love each other. Usually an emotional, touchy-feelie kind of love. It is extremely rare to hear about the power that Grace brings to address sin in our lives, to become a new creation and have the old pass away. I would propose that the “old brood have always been there, all the way back to Jesus time. I would also interject that the current liberal view is much more a function of the current sociologic view of society. Just look to the liberation movement of the 50’s, the counterculture thought process of the 60’s, the self-esteem movement of the 70’s the me-generation of the 80’s and the undercurrent of social justice today that says, “we can all be right and no-one has the right to tell me what is truth.” I think satan is much more comprehensive and patient than we give him credit for. His goal is to create strife and direct the blame elsewhere. Our only hope is to trust and follow the word of God completely. Yesterday the pastor said, “I will choose people over the law every time.” My question, if the law is a reflection of the character of God, and God is love then how exactly can we separate the two? I am pretty sure it is more in the framework of how it is presented.

  • Robert McLaughlin

    Over a hundred twenty years going down this path; can we as a people not yet see where it’s tending, the time is over ripe for us to turn around, stop talking so much and get to work spreading the “true gospel”. Thank you, brother Ty, for putting in this essay what the Holy Spirit has been showing me in my study. I cannot give a better version, so I’m sticking with this one. The devil has held us up long enough, we have gone past the time, let us all go home; it is a much better place than what we think we have here.

  • Mike Austin

    Free gift! One everlasting Gospel! Dialogue! Present Truth (today)!

    Our God is big enough, smart enough, and strong enough to preserve His church. I am not.

    The Wilderness is where we are supposed to be; it is our school; it is where we meet Jesus. It is here (right here) where we are called to rest – to trust – to believe.

  • Gerry

    Thank you, Ty. It seems to me that John 14:15 in the Revised Standard Version encapsulates what Ellen is emphasizing : If you love Me you will keep my commandments! ! A true love relationship with Jesus produces a lovely character who naturally spreads the Gospel .

  • Kevin I

    Thank you Ty for this history lesson. It’s amazing to me how much we can learn from our past! This is Papa God’s message, and He does have a people that will carry His message forward!

  • Ty, you are the bomb! Thank you so much for writing this, it gives me hope.

  • Don

    “Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third angel’s message, and I have answered, “It is the third angel’s message in verity.”– Review and Herald, April 1, 1890. She perfectly identifies this balance of presenting Christ as the center of every doctrine.

  • Linda Benningfield

    I am a “victim” of old Adventist long and impossible lists of what had to be done to be saved and for god to hear my prayers. “Alone and abandoned by God” because of my poor choices…what a terrible 30 years I spent running from God and “organized religion”. God follows us with perfect love and steps in when we allow it. Nothing I do can cause him to love me any more or any less. I found very few people in my s.d.a. church who know that to be true. I thank God For Those People Who Preached Grace To me Until I Began To reach for it. It took an old country song by John Anderson to.bring it home…”if I’m ever going to save you, LET GO OF THE STONE. Thank you Jesus.

  • Todd Guthrie

    I would draw attention to the last paragraph of Sermon 5 of The Divine-Human Family, a clear and concise 6 part summary of the gospel presented by W.W. Prescott at the General Conference of 1895 and available ( from Adventist Pioneer Library, now part of Lightbearers Ministry:

    “If the spirit of God rule in the mind of a man, and control his mind, he will not be hankering after the things of the world all the time, and he will not be wanting to fill his mind with the things of the world, and it may be that he will be so particular that he will think it will not be best for him to attend the popular lectures and the popular concerts. It may be there will be some things considered first class, highly respectable, that he would not think best for him to mix with. It may be that he would rather be called a straight-laced man than to mix with such things. It may be he will think best to withdraw himself completely from the things of this world, and give himself, his mind, his soul, his body, and separate entirely to the things of the kingdom of God, and if there should be such a one, I say, Amen; let us go together.” {February 15, 1895 N/A, GCB 162.18}

    When we take our place of identity in the Divine-Human family, with Christ indwelling us, it has practical effects in our personal tolerance of the world’s entertainment, dress, music, etc. How we approach these issues with other “family members” will be in the spirit of brothers and sisters, but we can and should speak candidly and lovingly to the extent that the world’s culture is invading the family.

    Thank you for sharing, Ty!

  • Todd Guthrie

    I appreciate you bringing out the issues of the 1888 era. Glad it is getting good attention!

    W.W. Prescott’s last paragraph of sermon 5 in The Divine Human Family is instructive.

    “If the spirit of God rule in the mind of a man, and control his mind, he will not be hankering after the things of the world all the time, and he will not be wanting to fill his mind with the things of the world, and it may be that he will be so particular that he will think it will not be best for him to attend the popular lectures and the popular concerts. It may be there will be some things considered first class, highly respectable, that he would not think best for him to mix with. It may be that he would rather be called a straight-laced man than to mix with such things. It may be he will think best to withdraw himself completely from the things of this world, and give himself, his mind, his soul, his body, and separate entirely to the things of the kingdom of God, and if there should be such a one, I say, Amen; let us go together.”
    {February 15, 1895 N/A, GCB 162.18}

  • Todd Guthrie

    So I don’t know that I could agree with this statement:

    “anything goes apart from compromising the truth and committing sin.”

    I would say nothing goes if it compromises my identity in the Divine-Human Family.

  • Tim

    If it wasn’t for a friend of mine introducing the 1888 message and concepts to me, I would have left the church years ago. God has been very faithful

  • Kat

    More and more people are coming to the conclusion that the righteousness of Christ is everything. Thank you for pointing this out. When I was driving home from Board meeting and the still small voice says, “I love you more than the things you do for me,” and I said, WHAT? And the voice says again, it is not what you do that makes me love you. This was when I realized that Jesus love for me goes to his core and does not change because of my works. he Loves Me! I have heard several other testimonies lately similar to this. Jesus is getting through to us and it changes my view if what I do for Jesus. It is completely out of love for him and no longer from duty.

  • Ty, you’ve hit the nail on the head. I couldn’t agree more. Continue to preach it! I will as well.

  • Patrick Talbot

    Ty, we are praying that this message can be heard!

  • Thank you, Jesus, for letting this come to Your church! And thank you, Ty, for letting Him do it.

  • Nancy Beiyz

    Yes this message needs to be heard. Let us know so that, We all, can start praying long before it is to air.

  • This is it brother. This is the message!

  • Andy T

    I was raised in a good SDA home. 8 years SDA grade school, 4 years SDA Academy, 2 years SDA college. I never left church, never went crazy, married SDA and looked good as Gold on outside but i was dead as a door nail inside i did not know HIM. I took Lee Vendons advice, prayed and studied new testament for the sole purpose of getting to know HIM. It changed my life and my whole perspective and made me a much more open minded and tolerant ( christian) I call myself a recovering SDA LOL. Still go to SDA church but sometimes hard to tolerate the Brood.It really is all about HIM and if you don’t start there you got nothing and i will spread this gospel to especially out SDA youth every chance I get. This message ( Knowing HIM ) should be our message and is easy to spread and meets little to no resistance. Witnessing becomes a joy instead of a chore. Thanks for Article well done !!!!!!!!!!

  • Dan Appel

    Ty, to use an old Adventist term, this is “present truth” in every sense of the term!

  • CareyandCarey

    Above all, let’s be aware not to fall down from one extreme to another opposite extreme, while at the same time we also must be careful of the “neutral” and “balance” SDA.

    Yes, balance is important as long as it’s not waive the Biblical Truth.
    Unfortunately, many SDA fall into the deepest, which is the neutrality or “balance” mentality that trying to make everybody happy.

    “Indifference and neutrality in a religious crisis is regarded of God as a grievous crime and equal to the very worst type of hostility against God.” 3T.281.

  • Ruth Baker

    God has many “preachers of righteousness” rising up; it’s time to go home; it’s time to learn the science of faith and how to exercise it; it’s time to wake out of sleep; it’s time to admit our Laodicean behavior to our God and, by faith, buy of Him gold, white raiment and eye salve. Thank you Ty/Light Bearers for being “preachers of righteousness”!

  • Cathy Law

    Thank you for a thought-provoking article. A true acceptance of the 1888 Message will be seen in how we work and live with one another. There will be heart repentance when we speak or act harshly. Our very thoughts will become gracious toward others as we see souls that need salvation instead of condemnation. While being graceful towards those who differ with us, we will consider pleasing Christ above “going along” with every wind of doctrine to make peace. There is a balance. It was found in the life of Jesus. A thorough, complete reading of the gospels reveals Christ’s compassion toward the erring and firm denunciation of sin.Having a personal relationship with Him through reading His thoughts in His Word and praying to Him as we would a friend and by His grace acting on the convictions His Spirit impresses on us is the balance. Incidentally, I am a little puzzled by the reference to evangelistic sermons which are void of the gospel. I am sure they’re out there, but the sermons I have heard have been rich in gospel content! How blessed we are to have Spirit-led preachers of truth in our midst. God be praised!

  • Rob

    Thanks for pointing out the correlation between a legalistic mindset and the inevitable inclination to force and control. Let us be clear though: liberals are just as likely to control (as seen in our current dialogues and debates) as the root issues are unbelief and the rising up of self. They are foundational to both legalism and liberalism. Thank God that He has a remedy in the self humbling faith of Jesus and the righteousness of Christ! If the new covenant, “1888 message” were embraced I think it would find us not seizing our “rights” but being accepting of and resting in our (enabled by Christ) God given responsibilities. According to the true “principles of liberty”, may we revel in the narrow focus (for ourselves) of wanting only what pleases Him!

  • Lyndon Gallimore

    Thank you for the clarity with which you presented this crucial issue. Righteousness by Faith, God’s Love and Mercy will transform His people and His Church. I thank God for using you to write this timely message.

  • Sharon

    Amen brother!

  • Cliff Gleason

    Because the message of Christ Our Righteous was rejected, we have not rightly understood the work of our High Priest. We have been satisfied with a human courtroom scene dictating how God judges and how Jesus intercedes rather than finding the Scriptural portrayal. This has left us with a view of God the Father as demanding rather than joining Jesus in drawing us to come boldly to the throne of grace. A picture of a demanding, controlling God will produce a demanding, controlling character in us. A picture of a gracious, humble, cooperative God with produce a like character in us.

  • David

    great article – cogently argued. However, one glaring question is this: why did it take 60 odd years for the gospel to even make an appearance in Adventism? SHouldn’t we be “repenting in dust and ashes” rather than having a spirit of triumphalism which seems so prevalent?

  • Matt

    Beautifully articulated truth. Thanks brother.

  • Todd

    Thank you for the article. I appreciate the study that went into it. Unfortunately, I do see a common thread throughout — judgment. Who gets to define what is a “liberal” SDA and what is a “conservative” SDA? Who gets to decide what traits determine what is a “loving” SDA Christian versus an “unloving” SDA Christian? These kind of thoughts relegate the actual converted heart of an SDA Christian to someone else’s political mindset. Only God knows the heart and the true motive of each individual.

  • Thanks so much for this clear exposition of the heart of the Gospel message and the problem that so persistently plagues our Church. I’m not going to make the mistake of saying it is the “brood” who is holding us back. That’s essentially their message regarding those who have embraced the Gospel. Satan gets us so preoccupied with each other’s beliefs and behaviors that we miss Christ and Him crucified.
    We all need to embrace the Gospel and do everything we can, empowered by Holy Spirit, to make this message known far and wide. It needs to be spread like the “leaves of autumn.”
    Blessings upon you and your ministry in spreading this ever present Truth!

  • John Sheffield

    I agree with Todd’s comment. Also, simply stating that the message is “love” leaves a wide vacuum to fill. What are the beautiful gospel concepts that the “Lord sent” through Waggoner and Jones? Should we not define them in “clear and distinct” lines? As I read the comments I see all kinds of “theology” coming from our beloved brothers and sisters. My burden is that Waggoner and Jones can actually speak, instead of saying they have a message, then completely leaving them mysteriously absent. I would encourage all of us to go back and see what was in the message of 1888 itself.

  • Scott LeMert

    Thank you Ty for your prayerful work on this most insightful and truthful article. The dark clouds of legalism can only be defeated by the light shinning from the true gospel. It is not just that such advocates can ruin their own spiritual journey, but they are so often so zealous to control and impose their thoughts and actions on others. Proclaim this from the mountain tops.
    Scott LeMert

  • Diana Vaneck

    Lord help us to not be control freaks but Jesus freaks.Help us to not throw aside the truths you have given us in rebellion but use them to show how beautiful you are and rebel against this evil in the world. Great article!

  • Ryan

    One book I recommend is “Christ Our Righteousness” by A. G. Daniells. I’m thankful to God the first evangelistic series I witnessed, presented by Mark Fox, was gospel rich, and Christ centered (full of grace and truth), and thus drew me to accept present truth as it is in Jesus and be baptized after further study and heart yearning search of the scriptures. But I exhort, we must be careful not to over generalize… Not all have this legalistic mentality, there has been a faithful few (from early pioneers to present ministers) who kept the faith onced delivered to the saints and lived out the gospel truth in precept, preaching and practice by God’s marvelous grace!

  • Carolyn

    That explains why, when I read Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace, it was like rays of light shining thru a dark cloud.

  • Awesome summary of our history and the consequences. I agree with everything. As Paul said there is power in the Gospel that we as a Church are yet to experience. I pray under guidance from God that this movement going back to move forward will continue to grow and finally bless Adventism. Keep preaching the Good News.

  • Maryann Lee

    Excellent article. Read half and this is so true! There’s been years of abuse, intimidation, control and domineering from the church. May His true message of Righteousness by Faith advance. Praise God for your ministry and may God keep leading Light Bearers -best ministry around.

  • I would urge every one to read A.T. Jones book on Galatians as well as M.L. Andreasen’s book on Hebrews. Also “Lightening the Earth with His Glory” by Elliot Douglin gives a true picture of just what the everlasting gospel reveals about God and His amazing Agape Love.. Ty, I applaud you for the excellent work you have done to bring this article to the forfront. We need more, much more brought home to us on the message of Rghteousness by Faith. I pray that God will continue to lead you and direct your work as you and Light Bearer Ministry forge ahead with this Gospel Truth.

  • Allan

    Here’s to taking the right hand road! Amen.

  • Sue

    Thank you so much for this liberating essay! When we can truly comprehend that there is nothing we could ever do to earn / deserve God’s amazing gift of salvation, and yet He’s given it freely to us, it releases us from our fears and strivings allowing us to bask in His goodness and implants in us a desire to help others experience this mind blowing, amazing gift of grace in their lives! And for those who worry that such liberty leads to licence…just the opposite…I pray that God will so fill me that I will never do anything that would dishonor Him or bring Him sadness because He’s been so good to me. If I do mess up…He’s there for me, picking me up, forgiving me, and reminding me that He’s the truly faithful and trustworthy one in this relationship between us! Thank you, Jesus!

  • Judy Kramer

    Except for God’s Word, SOP and Morris Vendon’s message of “Righteousness by Faith,” no one says it better than you. Thank you for this essay. May we go forward in truth without negating the doctrines that we hold dear that shines the light on Christ’s character. Liberalism and legalism is a lethal union.

  • Bisi

    Wow! Great message-perfect timing. Thanks Ty.

  • Jody D.

    Ty, Thank you for being willing to let God lead you in writing this. I have sensed this and felt this for a number of years now as I’ve done my personal devotions through the Conflict Series and the Bible. The added info. from our early pioneers compared to my own experience and what I’ve read from others in response here is such wonderful confirmation that God is leading. In Spiritual Leadership; Blackabee writes – one say you can tell when God is speaking to you is – you will hear something come from someone else’s mouth the very thing that has been in your heart and mind and you’ve never spoken to them about it. PTL your article has so much that “Thank You” seems to be so insufficient.

  • We’ve got to share, share, share this important and timely message people! And not just share – digest and live it for the world that so desperately needs it!

  • Cyndi Keiser

    Ty this is so beautiful! I really appreciate your thoughtful dissertation on this very difficult subject. I couldn’t agree more! It is something that the LORD has been showing me for awhile now. That critical, fault-finding spirit is rampant within our denomination if we don’t see things just exactly alike. Thank you for sharing this! I shared it with many people!

  • Zoran Veleski

    Dear Brothers as i read your comments, looks like I am the only one that is not convinced of the content… are you all sure that the 1888 message presented here is really what EGW does write about… If it is so, why do i perceve it different from what is expressed in the books of Robert J. Wieland on 1888, where he collects EGW quotes on the matter?

  • Ruth Baker

    I believe Ty is just coming from a different angle because it certainly is the same freeing message. It really is all about Christ, not as “Jesus. Only.” but as “in order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light which streams from the cross of Calvary, and in connection with the wondrous, central truth of the saviors atonement. Those who study the redeemers wonderful sacrifice grow in grace and knowledge.” MS 70, 1901.

  • Mark Swaisgood

    Excellent article! Thanks for letting God use you to handle a very challenging issue in His beloved church with such clarity. May God help us to find ways to live the truth expressed in these words.

  • ‘dena Colon

    I would agree – without actually wanting names, I was wondering what evangelists Ty referred to? I have no doubt some legalistic, and stuck-in-old-methods preachers are still out there (I heard plenty when I was young) – but I hear some good heart warming solid gospel-embedded preaching of our fundamentals all the time!

  • Rick Johnson

    Sounds like an exact repeat of my life and experience. Word for word the same… I am so thankful for people like Lee and Ty.

  • Richard Natzke

    Something to consider: Satan has attacked God’s church on many fronts through the ages but his most effective means of attack has been change. Sometimes by big, abrupt and radical changes but more commonly by small, gradual changes over time. Like a master chess player he plans his moves well in advance. He possesses an intellect that is far beyond our human intellect and if we think to evaluate the changes he will bring into God’s church with solid reasoning and good rationale then we will play right into his plans. We will do what seems right to us but it will really lead to death. Our only safeguard is to stand on a firm “thus saith the Lord”.

    God has set watchmen on the walls of Zion to cry aloud and spare not. Quite often, I am afraid, these watchmen will be required to critically evaluate change and hold it up to the searchlight of God’s Word. If they do their duty faithfully theirs will not be a popular message. They will appear to oppose something that, to human reasoning, appears to be good and right. If we were to follow the council of these watchmen we would be regarded as “odd, singular, straight-laced extremists.” (RH January 9, 1894) But dare we arrange our thinking to oppose those whom God has set to watch against Satan’s devices? Do we label them as troublers of Israel, as the Old Covenant Brood?

    I have long considered Lightbearers to be a watchmen on the walls of Zion and have been blessed greatly through your ministry. I pray that this dark and vilifying label, the Old Covenant Brood, is not misdirected. I pray that we all will have the wisdom to oppose change if it does not conform precisely to the Word of God, our only safeguard. I also pray that we do so with the humility and love of Jesus.

    Satan is a wily and implacable foe but God is greater and He is ultimately in control. Praise the Lord!

  • Buddy Kruger

    Yes, Ann, the current situation in the church and in the world is intimidating to our witnessing. However, it makes it even more needed now that we stand up and out in our lives and words to reveal the Truth, our Savior, Christ our Righteousness. The Holy Spirit will inspire and empower us to do so. We can do this with a corrected Adventist message of Jesus and His crucified love, illustrated and supported in every doctrine. This witness to believer and non-believer alike will guide them into Jesus so deeply they will not get distracted or discouraged by legalists or liberalists in the church. Maybe even many fellow members will be saved from legalism or liberalism by our bearing testimony to Jesus’ work in our lives.

  • Denis Fjarle

    Richard, as I read your comment, I am struck by the possibility (dare I say likelihood?) that your definition of watchmen fits this message perfectly. Ty has “cried aloud and spared not.” He has faithfully done a duty in giving what is surely not a popular message with a portion of the members. He certainly runs the risk of being perceived as an “odd, singular, straight-laced (very proper in manners, morals, or opinion, M-W online dictionary – may he indeed be very proper in all three), extremist (and may he ever be extreme after the example of Christ and Paul to name two).”

    Regarding a “dark and vilifying label,” the same could very clearly be said about Christ’s pointed descriptives of the spiritual leaders of his day and, in my belief, for the same reason – they misrepresented his character to the resulting hopelessness and
    oppression of the people. There is little that incites the jealous
    passion of God more than the misrepresentation of his character. I believe that Ty has represented it brilliantly in this article and
    called us to reject the false representation in the light of the truth
    about God.

    Satan is indeed a “wily and implacable foe,” but God is greater and aches for us to know him as he is rather than how the foe has misrepresented him to be. Praise the Lord!

    I salute you.

  • waldenser

    Thanks brother Ty! This is inspired, and makes amazing reading. Indeed the church needs to step back in time and accept the inspired message by Elders Waggoner and Jones, pick up from there and see the outpouring of the later rain which according to me is long overdue! great stuff, an absolute inspiration

  • PreachingPlace

    Praise God for this powerful essay it touched me deeply

  • Ken Gould

    Thank you for this informative blog. The Old Covenant Brood and the New Covenant Brood have quite a lot in common. As well as differences the Old Covenant Brood are the conservative commandment worshipping works based salvation legalists, the New Covenant Brood are the liberal salvation without works legalists for they believe that salvation is simply a legal transaction. However these groups have a great deal in common.

    1) As pointed out nicely both are devoid of the gospel.

    2) Neither understand the covenant, because they believe that the New and Old Covenant are different when they are not. God offers us eternal life in paradise and the terms are always the same because they cannot be changed. Each new offer has the same terms and conditions. It is always offered and we continue to reject it for the most part.

    3) Both groups believe the God’s laws are imposed and that it is not sin that is damaging but that God is narrow minded, sensitive and uncompromising. The fundamental problem is that God gets upset when we sin. When we believe that God’s laws are imposed it always lead to rebellion, because we see it as an arbitrary restriction. We do not rebel against natural laws like the law gravity and the law of respiration.
    However, we occasionally demonstrate how life is not possible when we are out of harmony with natural laws.

    4) Both groups believe that Christ prayed for the impossible in John 17:20-23, where He prayed that not only his disciples would be one with Him and the Father but that all who believed as the fruit of his disciple’s labor or all Christians would be one with Him and the Father, for they teach that we cannot be perfect. Being at one with Christ and the Father would be perfect. Jesus did not say it is hard. Actually Jesus said it was easy. For Jesus said my burden is light and my Yoke is easy. Jesus said
    the way is narrow, not difficult or hard. Jesus also said few there be few that find it, not because it is hidden but that we will not recognize it. The
    scriptures promise that if we seek we will find.

    5) Both groups believe that the barrier to our salvation is God’s unwillingness to forgive not our unwillingness to allow Him to transform us.

    Additionally George E. Fifield was a popular pastor of Adventist heritage who articulated the truth extremely clearly. Both the Old and New Covenant Brood have made sure that his works are as hard to find as possible. Elder Fifield was the key note or evening speaker at the 1897 General Conference Session and his sermons or talks can be found in the archives. I also highly recommend his book “God is Love”.

  • Curt Kelly

    It sounds as if this goes hand in hand with the council given in Revelation 3:17-19. The angels council to the church of Laodicea ( those living in the last days) was that they needed three missing ingredients. Justification by (faith), Christ’s righteousness and the Holy Spirit to guide them to see their need.

  • Daniel

    I quote: “My mantra is to adapt everything for the sake of the most effective mission, without compromising truth.” This is very dangerous. Could we then use adventist rap? While people are attracted to Jesus in us, we become relevant through us being different.

  • I know I’m coming in a bit late to this conversation, but I’ve only just read the article, and the comments from various people. It seems to me that everyone has some sort of common understanding of what this ‘old covenant’ legalistic thinking means in the church today, but I’m afraid it’s not obvious to me in the church-wide sense that Ty Gibson implies.

    That’s not to say I can’t see it some instances of it. Like most people, I can certainly cite lots of examples of legalistic behaviour and attitudes by individuals and groups within the church. But I’m not sure what Ty is referring to when he talks about the tensions and polemics within the church. Which tensions? Which polemics?

    The article is very well researched and written in terms of church history, and of course, our history as a church shapes what we are today, but I would appreciate some concrete examples of what Ty is talking about in the church at the moment.

  • Lydia

    Thank you for being courageous enough to say all of this. You have been convicted by the Holy Spirit to be an advocate in the SDA church for Gods Love.
    As a young person who grew up in several ‘traditional’ SDA churches it’s taken me so long to release myself from the guilt…This constant laying on of guilt achieves nothing except empty or even fearful obedience – something that must sadden God so much.
    SDA’s should just forget everything go back to basics. Keep our focus on God and his Immense Love, not on ourselves and our immense sin. That’s the only way to try to stay balanced and avoid either extreme.

  • Lydia


  • Lydia

    “You shall know them by their fruits”

    You are correct in that we should not be more lenient toward teaching contrary to the written word.

    The current issue we face is that following the law can (and has) become a stumbling block if the focus is on the law rather than on Gods love, which the Pharisees did.

    A symbolic reminder of this powerful truth was represented in the mercy seat which was seated above (and covered) the law.

  • Julie Mann

    How beautifully written. Eye opening. Heart rending at times. This brought me several time to self examination.

  • Drew Anderson

    Well said Ty! As a life Adventist I have heard the phrase “Cheap grace” spoken of many times in reference to accepting the “free grace” of Christ Jesus. I have always felt that the free grace offered to us through Christ is anything but free or cheap it cost God his son and Jesus his life, hardly cheap in my opinion. When I purchase my wife a birthday present and give that gift to her it is because I love her, I do not then expect her to pay for that gift. Thank you so much for your inspiring words.

  • Tim

    Ty, Scary stuff… you hit another home run with this article. Thank you so much. I say scary because it is so easy to be caught in the whirlpool of dispute and censure under the pretense of defending the “truth”…

    I’ve been reading all your recent blogs and can only say; Praise God! Thank you for the focus on “righteousness by faith” and the reminders of the freedom afforded by the gospel of grace.

  • Matthew Forner

    Great article Ty! As a young adult I fear for the future of our church. Thank you for all that you do and for the deeply insightful articles. They bring clarity and hope to someone who is at the GC session right now seeing all the business meetings and the events that are happening.

  • cslagenhop

    The bible makes it clear that grace is a free gift of God to all mankind, especially to those that believe. This is the good news of the gospel.

  • George Grow

    Many SDA presenters still tend to explain the Christian life in terms of obeying the 10 commandments and not following worldly pursuits. These are important concerns to me but not doable without my proud and selfish heart being changed. Too often there is little or no teaching about carrying the Cross–making the daily prerequisite choice to surrender to the indwelling Christ’s righteousness. This observation has led me to pray daily for guidance on this subject as I study what the Bible and SOP books on salvation and daily living present. I was happy to find the material in this blog on the old covenant brood congruent with and supportive of what I am studying. I now see some present-day effects of the very small number of 1890’s SDA leaders and members who stepped into the Light. These few saw the value of making Christ’s righteousness and His love the centerpiece of our doctrines while the majority did not. Apparently our natural human Laodicean hearts don’t want to surrender daily to the assessment given and the cure Jesus offers in Revelation 3.14-22. I’m praying for myself, my family, our members, and everyone to study the Laodicean message again and resolve to often look in the mirror and prayerfully ask, “Lord, is it I?”.

  • Tom Norris

    Great article! It is time for the SDA’s to repent for being an Old Covenant religion and move forward into the light of the New Convent. This is what Ellen White wanted to take place in 1888, but the leaders refused to allow such Gospel Reform. In 1980, Dr. Ford tried to lead the church into the New Covenant, but the leaders once again shut down Gospel Reform. The Advent Movement will die unless they tell the truth about 1888 and repent for Glacier View. The Old Covenant must be repudiated.