Pickle Publishing "Shut Door of Mercy"
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A Response to the Video:
Seventh-day Adventism, the Spirit Behind the Church

by Bob Pickle

Answers to Questions Raised by:
Mark Martin, Sydney Cleveland
Dale Ratzlaff, The White Lie
. . . and
Others

Discern Fact from Fiction


The Investigative Judgment and Shut Door, and Their Ramifications

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#48 & #49: "At first Adventists believed that the door of mercy was shut on that date."—Dale Ratzlaff.

#48: They believed in a "shut door" of mercy. It's not hard to see why.

"As has been stated, Adventists were for a short time united in the belief that the door of mercy was shut. This position was soon abandoned."—Ellen White, Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, p. 271. When one understands what was happening in those days, this charge becomes irrelevant. Additionally, since Seventh-day Adventism did not yet exist, this is really an argument against the Millerite Movement and first-day Adventism, if it be an argument at all. ("First-day Adventists" is a general term for post-1844, Sunday-keeping Millerite groups.)

America has been called a Christian nation, yet we haven't acted very Christ-like at times. We used to own slaves. After we freed them, we had lynchings and cross burnings. Blacks couldn't eat in the same restaurants, use the same restrooms, or drink at the same water fountains as whites.

As the expected time for Christ to come approached and passed, a spirit seemed to take hold of those who did not believe in Miller's views. Reports include: meetings broken up by mobs; stones, eggs, snowballs, and spikes thrown at the speakers at meetings; some believers publicly whipped; and a lecturer almost tarred and feathered by a minister and mob (Eugene Durand, Yours in the Blessed Hope, Uriah Smith, p. 21; Bliss, p. 353; James White, Life Incidents, pp. 77, 78; Bible Adventism, p. 193; John N. Loughborough, Great Second Advent Movement, pp. 176, 177, 525).

Albert Barnes, the noted Presbyterian author of Barnes' Commentary, told of the spiritual declension of those times: [p. 43]

At a recent meeting of the Presbytery of Philadelphia, Rev. Mr. Barnes, pastor of the 1st Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, whose notes are so extensively used in our families and Sabbath-schools, stated that he had been in the ministry for twenty years, and never till the last communion had he administered the ordinance without receiving more or less to the church. But now there are no awakenings, no conversions, not much apparent growth in grace in professors, and none come to his study to converse about the salvation of their souls. With the increase of business, and the brightening prospects of commerce and manufactures, there is an increase of worldly-mindedness. Thus it is with all denominations.—Congregational Journal, May 23, 1844.

The spiritual condition of the nation as a whole and the churches in particular had reached a low ebb. Consider also the words of revivalist Charles Finney and an unknown author:

In the month of February of the same year, Professor Finney of Oberlin College said: "We have had the fact before our minds, that, in general, the Protestant churches of our country, as such, were either apathetic or hostile to nearly all the moral reforms of the age. There are partial exceptions, yet not enough to render the fact otherwise than general. We have also another corroborated fact: the almost universal absence of revival influence in the churches. The spiritual apathy is almost all-pervading, and is fearfully deep; so the religious press of the whole land testifies. . . . Very extensively, church members are becoming devotees of fashion,—join hands with the ungodly in parties of pleasure, in dancing, in festivities, etc. . . . But we need not expand this painful subject. Suffice it that the evidence thickens and rolls heavily upon us, to show that the churches generally are becoming sadly degenerate. They have gone very far from the Lord, and He has withdrawn Himself from them."

And a writer in the Religious Telescope testified: "We have never witnessed such a general declension of religion as at the present. Truly, the church should awake, and search into the cause of this affliction; for as an affliction everyone that loves Zion must view it. When we call to mind how 'few and far between' cases of true conversion are, and the almost unparalleled impertinence and hardness of sinners, we almost involuntarily exclaim, 'Has God forgotten to be gracious? or, Is the door of mercy closed?' "—Great Controversy, p. 377.

It sure seemed like it.

As pointed out under #12, the term "shut door" comes from the parable of the ten virgins. It is also derived from the following verse:

When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are. (Luke 13:25)

These parables indicate that at some point the bridegroom who is Christ will come, and the door to the wedding feast will be shut. Then the five foolish virgins will try to get in and won't be able to.

The Millerites had been teaching that Christ would come on October 22, and that probation, the door of mercy, would then close. It was only natural for them to think that it had indeed closed on that date, especially given the spiritual declension of the churches and the continual harassment by mobs. No more sinners wanted to hear their preaching, so why should they think they still had a mission to preach to sinners?

#49: They've got to be wrong if they believed this. Besides being irrelevant, this whole objection is an inadvertent attack on the New Testament. Those who have read through the book of Acts will remember that the early church was of the opinion that no Gentile could be saved. Before the door of mercy could be opened for a Gentile, that Gentile had to become a Jew.

To convince them otherwise, God sent Peter the vision recorded in Acts 10. This vision corrected his misunderstanding that the door of mercy was shut to the Gentiles, and he went and preached to Cornelius, the Roman centurion.

When he got back to Jerusalem, the elders met with him to reprimand him, for they were certain that Gentiles could not repent and be saved. Peter recounted his vision and his experience at Cornelius's house, after which the record says, "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18).

To be consistent, if we must automatically reject Mrs. White and first-day Adventism for their misunderstanding, we must reject the apostles and Christianity as well, for they made the same error.

Many Christians still believe something similar today. Calvinists teach that everyone is already predestinated to be saved or lost, and there really isn't anything anyone can do about it. The door of mercy for the strict Calvinist is shut to all those who have been predestinated to damnation.

This writer doesn't agree with such a teaching, but he isn't going to call all the Calvinist churches cults because they teach such. [p. 44]

A Response to the Video

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