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I Burned My Ellen White Books!

Steve Wohlberg

Presenter

Steve Wohlberg

Television producer, radio host, and international speaker

Recorded

  • October 3, 2015
    11:30 AM
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00:00  O.K. I will admit that I'm a little bit nervous tonight because I'm going to be sharing with you some things that I have hardly ever talked about publicly. One time when I was at Weimar years ago I wove some of this into a talk but I have never really done what I'm going to do tonight. This is not a polished sermon. This is more of a story that the Lord has convicted me in the light of what's happening in our world that this hopefully will be very valuable to a lot of people. I've titled my talk: I burned Ellen White’s books. So let's pray before we get into this and before I share what I'm going to share. Let's pray.

 

00:54 Dear Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray, we pray, for the Holy Spirit to please be here. I pray for the holy angels to be around all of us. I pray that You will bless the things that I share, may Jesus be lifted up. Help me to say the things You want me to say. Please go deep into our hearts and teach us the things that You want us to know as we get ready for Your coming. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

 

01:38 All right, I would like to start out with a couple of verses in the Book of Revelation. Revelation 22:7 in my Bible these words are in red which means that these words come directly from Jesus Himself. Jesus says, “Behold I am coming quickly: blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” God has given us the book of Revelation. Jesus has given us the book of Revelation and He wants us to hold on to the words that He's given us in this book. Now if you go back to Revelation 12:17 the Bible says—and these are “the words” “of this book”— Rev. 12:17 says, “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went off to make war with the remnant of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” This is the Word of God. This is part of “the words of the prophecy of this book” that God wants us to keep and to hold onto. Most of you know these verses. Revelation 19:10 defines the “testimony of Jesus:” at the end of the verse it says, “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” All of these words are from “the prophecy of this book.” The Bible tells us that God is going to have a remnant people and that remnant people are going to have the testimony of Jesus which is the spirit of prophecy; and that we need to hold on to what is written in This Book. Seventh-day Adventists officially believe, and I believe this as well, that the gift of prophecy was manifested from Jesus Himself—because the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy—from Jesus Himself through a little lady that used to be nicknamed the little lady who loved Jesus and her name was Ellen White who lived in the 1800s. We believe that that gift that God gave to Ellen White points us to the Bible, points us to Jesus and is designed to help us to get ready for the second coming of Christ. Let me give you some background about my life—I'm not going to be preaching tonight—I’m just going to be telling you my story. I grew up in the Hollywood hills of Southern California. I grew up in a good home, a Jewish home, but it was a very secular home. We never, never read the Bible—sad to say. Jewish people used to be called “people of The Book” but today we're not “people of The Book.” For the first 20 years of my life I never touched a Bible. I never prayed one prayer for 20 years. My family—we never went to the synagogue—except for my brother’s bar mitzvah—we never went to church. We didn't talk to God. We had some Passover celebrations with neighbors when Passover season came along. I vaguely remember the matzo ball soup and the horseradish sauce that I didn't eat because it was much too spicy for me and the empty chair for Elijah—anybody familiar with any of that?—when they have what's called the Passover Seder; Jewish traditions—and that's about all I really know about, or at least remember about, my childhood and about Judaism.

 

06:29 As a young boy growing up with my mother and my father and my brother, Mike, and my sister, Kathy, I was a typical child; rode skateboards when I was 7 or 8; started playing basketball, bowling, swimming, hiking, fishing—did a lot of fishing with my dad. When I was about 13 or 14, I remember being picked up by the school bus taking the neighborhood children to the local public junior high school. I was about, like I said, 14 years old and I still remember one of the girls that lived in my neighborhood. We were sitting together in the back of the bus and she handed me a smoking object, a burning object, which was not a cigarette. Back in those days they called it a ‘joint’. She handed it to me way at the back of the bus and she said, here Steve, take a toke. I still remember that ‘take a toke’. I thought ‘well the bus drivers way up there and I'm way back here so the chances are the smokes not going to get up there’ and ‘no one will say anything’. My parents had never really raised me nor told me to just say ‘no’ to drugs. So I thought about it and I didn't want to look like a ‘wimp’ or something so I reached out and I took it and I took my first inhale of marijuana. Bill Clinton says he didn't inhale. I did inhale for sure. I started smoking pot. We called it ‘pot’, marijuana. I did that for about 6 years. Just about every day I was smoking marijuana. That’s what my ‘buddies’ did. We got into harder drugs. They say marijuana is a ‘gateway drug’ and it's true. I went from marijuana, to Quaaludes, to cocaine, to eventually L.S.D. I have friends or had friends who are dead because they—one friend drank too much alcohol, developed liver disease, and it killed him. I had a friend who was a girl, she wasn’t my girlfriend, she was a friend and I found out one evening that Lisa Cordero had overdosed on Quaaludes and she was dead. It could easily have happened to me. I lived a wild life as a teenager, a rather dangerous life; staying up till 4:00 a.m., going out to the discos—that was the ‘John Travolta’ day. That's what my buddies and I were into. We started going to the rock and roll concerts. We started staying out very late at the discos and going to big parties in the Hollywood area, up in the Hollywood Hills. My life was on a fast track to destruction. No religion, no God, nothing. Well, I'm going to make a long story short. In the year 1979, I was 20 years old; I was as lost as lost could be. And I turned on the television set one day at my dad's house and there was a friendly looking man looking at me with a Bible in his hand and he said, hello Friend, welcome to It Is Written Television. You know who that was? George Vandeman. Pastor George Vandeman. I only watched Pastor Vandeman one time. As I watched that program—it was a 1/2 hour program—it really interested me because he was so friendly and he just seemed so pleasant and he had his Bible and he went from Bible text, after Bible text, after Bible text—which I had never seen in my life.

 

10:35 His topic was the 7th day Sabbath. I watched him one time; at the end of his 1/2 hour program he looked right at me and he held up a little book called A Day To Remember and he looked at me and he said, Friend, call me up. Call the 800 number on the screen and I'll send you this book for free. At that point I felt this strange moving, Go to the phone and call that man. And so I did. I didn’t know that it was ‘the Holy Spirit’ doing that, didn’t know that there was a ‘Holy Spirit’ but this conviction: call him; so I called, ordered the book. I didn't know that the phone rang in Andrews University. One of the A.I.M. operators answered the phone and about four days later the book arrived in my mailbox. I sat down and I read it cover to cover; one sitting, at the back of the book there was a little line at the very end that said: Come visit a Seventh-day Adventist Church sometime and say hello. So I looked at that and thought wow, Seventh-day Adventist! What in the world is a Seventh-day Adventist? There are a lot of people out there who don't know. Probably with Ben Carson running for president more people know. But I didn't know. I had never heard or thought I'd never heard that name before Seventh-day Adventist. What in the world is that? And then there was a hazy memory that came up in my head: about four months earlier I was in a health food store. Believe it or not I was a pot smoking, disco dancing person that liked to go to health food stores. I liked to eat avocado sprout sandwiches. I was into natural things: marijuana natural, sprouts natural. That's the way we thought back then. So I was in a health food store with a buddy of mine and I was buying food and he struck up a conversation with one of the workers of the health food store who was spraying the produce; he was misting the produce, and they talked and I bought the food. As I walked out, my friend and I walked out together and he said, hey you know that guy that I was talking to, that was spraying the vegetables—he said—that guy is a Seventh Day Adventist! And I thought so? Big deal. And it pretty much went in one ear and out the other ear but somewhere it lodged. So after I read Pastor Vandeman’s book and I thought about that phrase Seventh-day Adventist I thought oh yeah, there's that guy at the health food store who was watering the vegetables. So I got in my car and I drove out to Northridge in the San Fernando Valley and I found the health food store. Walked up the stairs, walked into the market and looked around for that man and lo and behold I saw him. He was standing over by the smoothie bar. I walked up to him; I reached out my hand and said, Hi My name is Steve Wohlberg. Would you mind if I went to church with you some Saturday? What would you say? You don’t have to be much of a missionary to do that. Here I was walking right up to him saying, please, would you take me to church? So he said sure. He reached out his hand and said, My name is Richard. Nice to meet you. So about maybe two Sabbaths later, for the first time in my life this lost disco dancing, cocaine snorting, pot smoking, Jew walked into a Seventh-day Adventist church— for the first time—and I met the pastor. The pastor's name was Pastor Church. Anybody know Pastor Church? He’s dead now. He was a godly man, a wonderful man. He invited me into his office. He was a missionary pastor. He recognized this new kid that had walked into his church. He brought me into his office, sat me down, asked me questions: how did you get here? Who are you? What’s your background? We talked for a while and after a little bit he reached into his bookshelf behind him and he pulled out a copy. He pulled off the shelf a book called The Desire of Ages. Familiar with The Desire of Ages?—on the life of Jesus written by Ellen White. And he handed me the book and he said, Stephen, I'd like to give this to you. He said, I want you to go home and I want you to read this book. And I thought, All right. I'll do it. I wasn't really a big reader back then but I thought I'll do it. I had no idea that Ellen White wrote the book; didn't think about it; didn't know anything about it. Really didn't care. He just handed me the book and said, go read this book. So I did. At that time I had moved out of my dad’s house and I was living in a dorm in Cal State, Northridge taking my third year of college. It was a crazy dorm, the cafeteria became a disco on Saturday night and I could smell the marijuana smoke going down the halls. It was a coed dorm. It was crazy. There I am sitting in the dorm and I have a copy of The Desire of Ages. So I started to read this book. I'm going to make a long story short. I tell you that book just gripped my heart. When I finally got to chapter 74 which has a one word title: Gethsemane; I read that chapter and by the time I was done with that chapter I was a different person. The Lord made a move on me. I saw the love of Jesus like I had never known. When I started reading The Desire of Ages I didn't realize that when I got to the end of the book that Jesus was going to die. I didn't know anything about Him, at all. This book just walked me right down through His life based on the Bible. I didn't even think who the author was, didn’t think about it, didn't care. All I saw as I read the book little by little Jesus began to speak to my heart through the Holy Spirit and show me His love and His grace and His power. As I said, when I got to the chapter on Gethsemane I saw him suffering for me. There were a couple of pictures in the book. One where He was kneeling on a rock in the garden and He had His hand on His heart and an angel was standing behind Him with his hand on His shoulder. I just looked at this picture of Jesus and I looked at His face and I thought He looks so sad. Why is He so sad? Why is this angel coming to down and comforting Him. And little by little the Lord—to me this was the biggest miracle of all—little by little the Lord helped me to understand that Jesus was MY MESSIAH. He was my Saviour. He was God's own Son in human form that was suffering and agonizing for me. Whether he was going to drink my cup of sin and pay the price and die a death that I should have died. Well, I tell you I don't remember exactly. I don't know what day it was but after I read that chapter I got on my knees—I had never been on my knees before—I prayed a prayer—I don't remember the prayer but it went something like this: Dear Jesus, I believe that your real. I believe that you are there and if you want me, if you still will have me, I pray that you will forgive my sins and come into my life in Jesus’ name, amen. Something like that and I tell you when I prayed that prayer something happened to me. I felt this burden of guilt lift off my mind, my conscience. This doesn’t always happen. People don't always have this remarkable experience but for me I felt a presence and a peace come into me that I’d never felt before. And I remember thinking to myself when I when I felt this peace—when I was on my knees—I remember thinking to myself, I thought, wow this is better than drugs! This is great! This is wonderful! And the Lord, He came into my life.

 

19:35 I remember the next day after I did that I woke up in the morning and I thought to myself, was it all a dream? Did I just dream that I accepted Jesus? And then I realized, no this wasn't a dream. This is real. I got up in the morning, went praise God! This is real! I was so excited as a brand new Christian. My life was changed and I experienced God's power come into me like I've never known and I know that the Lord used the book The Desire of Ages to help bring me to Himself. I know it. I'm positive. It was so, so real. Well, again I'm going to make a long story short. Within a very short time I landed at La Sierra College. I transferred from Cal State, Northridge over to La Sierra College. I asked Pastor Church I said, I read the book you gave me and wow my life has changed and I don't really want to go to Cal State, Northridge any more. I want to study the Bible. So he recommended that I go to La Sierra. I found out that La Sierra was about an hour away. It hadn’t started yet. I went there. I met the dean of religion. He knew Pastor Church. He said that's a good recommendation. I went to the admin building to enroll for classes. The lady said to me, well, what do you want to study? I said, I just I know I'm here to study the Bible. And she said, you can be a religion major with an emphasis on pastoral or education and I had no idea what either one of those meant so I just said off the top of my head—I said—pastoral. So unknown to me she enrolled me in the ministry. That's what happened. At one of my first classes when I got to La Sierra moved in the dorm from one dorm to the other dorm, Sierra Towers. One of my very first classes was called Life Teachings of Jesus. Guess what my textbook was? The Desire of Ages. I just looked at all that and said wow, this is amazing! The Lord is good. He is in my life. And I started taking classes. And I was at La Sierra for three years. I graduated in 1982. I had three good years at La Sierra, really did. The Lord did wonderful things and I'm just so excited; different things happened—won't go into everything. But I will tell you one experience at La Sierra.

 

22:04 One day I was in the dorm room by myself. My roommate was gone and I was there in Sierra Towers reading the testimonies. I went from The Desire of Ages, to The Great Controversy, to Early Writings, and then to Testimonies for the Church. I thought to myself I'd like to read some more books that this person, whoever this Ellen White is, wrote. So I went—like I said—just devouring the books. One day I was reading the testimonies, Ellen White’s Testimonies for the Church and I was in my room on my knees. As I was reading the testimonies, I tell you once again the power of the Lord came into the room and I could feel it— there were angels all around. I remember opening my eyes on my knees and the presence of God was so thick in that room that you could almost just cut it with a knife and I opened my eyes and I looked across my bed and my Bible was laying over on the bed open and I reached over and with like my hand going through— I mean it was thick— I reached over, I put my hand on the Bible and I pulled it over to myself and I looked down and my eyes fell on Revelation 3:11. I looked down and this is what I read, “Behold, I come quickly:”—these are the words of Jesus—“hold fast what you have that no one take your crown.”—These words were like fire. They just burned into me and I knew the Lord was talking to me and He was telling me Steve, hold on to what you have. Don't let anybody take it away from you. Well, I graduated from La Sierra and I went to Bakersfield. I was hired by the Central California Conference as a young pastor. I pastored in Bakersfield for a year as an intern under two other pastors and then the conference sent me to the seminary for my—now this is my fifth year of being a Christian: 3 years at La Sierra, 1 year in Bakersfield, my 5th year I was on my way to Andrews University. So I went to Andrews. And I was there for two years, 1983- 1985. I moved into another dorm—spent a lot of time in dorms—moved into a dorm called Berman Hall. Anybody ever been to Berman Hall, some of you? OK. The dorm is still there today. Now here's where things start getting—this is where the struggle—somewhere along the line, maybe during the latter time of La Sierra and while I was in Bakersfield, when I got to the seminary, somewhere down the line, something started happening inside my heart. Little by little I began to sense a distance between me and Jesus, the sense of His peace and His presence—I didn’t feel it every day, the sense of God's power and presence every day but I did know that God was with me. I saw all the evidence of His direction but little by little as my Christian life journeyed on that peace that I had when I first got on my knees and asked Jesus to come into my heart, that peace just started seeping out of me. It just started going away. And I didn't really realize it at first. It was sort of an unconscious thing but I wasn't as happy as I was before and I started focusing on doing more things to try to reconnect with the Lord and the peace just slowly went away. So my first year at the seminary I started struggling and I remember grabbing The Desire of Ages and trying to reread the book. For some reason as I read The Desire of Ages it just wasn't speaking to me like it did originally. It wasn't connecting with my heart like it did at the beginning. To be honest with you, I had no clue as to why this was happening. I was sort of a simple Christian that was excited about the Lord and the excitement started going away and I didn't know why and I couldn't figure it out for the life of me I couldn't figure it out and eventually the inner turmoil that just grew—you know that because here I am in the seminary, studying to be a pastor. I’m still praying in the morning and having my devotions but something's just not jelling and it’s bothering me. Kind of imagine like a marriage: you know you have this wonderful first love experience and as time goes on you start struggling for—with your relationship with your spouse and things aren’t as easy as they were at first—I was struggling. Well, my second year—I actually got sick during the first year at the seminary. They diagnosed it as mono. They said I had mono which I don't know if that was a correct diagnosis or not but my spiritual life was suffering and my body started suffering and so I was actually out of school for two weeks. I couldn't do anything. Just basically laid down in the dormitory room and thankfully I was able to catch up when I got better.

 

28:36 My second year at the seminary things got more intense. I had a friend of mine—a friend from La Sierra who was a fellow theology student. He moved to the seminary during my second year—I'm not going to mention his name—but he and I roomed together that second year, 1985. My friend started out—he became a Christian through reading Steps to Christ just like I had by reading The Desire of Ages but in his experience—he started struggling as well and he started getting into books on psychology: Christian psychology, secular psychology. He’d read the Bible. He'd read psychology. He started developing various kinds of theories to try to integrate both of them. We talked a lot when we roomed together. I told him all about my struggles. He was struggling too and he started recommending some books that he read that he liked and one of which I remember well it was called Make friends with Your Shadow by a guy named William Miller. Different William Miller than the Adventist William Miller from the past but he recommended I read that book and it's a book that integrates Christianity and psychology. The basic idea of the book is that we all have a dark side, which we do, we have a simple nature and that the way to become whole as a person is to embrace, not resist, but embrace the dark side and when the dark side becomes conscious and you embrace and you stop hiding from your evil side but you accept it as part of you, that's how you grow as a person and of course there's some truth to that that we do need to realize that we’re sinners but we don't want to embrace the dark side. I didn't really realize that because I was confused and I was trying to find peace again and here's my roommate telling me you need to read these books and so I did and one night my roommate and I were in the room having a conversation and it might have been after he had gone to sleep, I sensed that there was a presence that had come into that room. It's not the same presence that came in when I was in La Sierra; it was a different presence. It was a dark presence. I remember thinking about the book Make friends with Your Shadow and I thought maybe I need to embrace this and maybe it'll help me to become whole—big mistake. And so I did, I let it in. I embraced it. The strangest thing happened, as soon as I did that I felt a power. I remember walking out of my dorm room, walking into the bathroom, there was a joint bathroom—I think we're on the fifth floor—I looked at myself in the mirror and I saw myself as being very powerful and very strong. I felt like I had tremendous energy, like I could do anything and I looked at myself and I thought I don't think this is good. I don’t think this is good. I don’t really want to be like this. I remember talking to my friend about this after I had this experience and he said he recognized that this was a bad spirit and he said—I told him about how I was following advice of embrace from the book Make friends with Your Shadow and he said, Steve there are some shadows you don't want to make friends with. And he was right.

 

32:45 A lot happened during those days. I stopped reading Ellen White's books because by that time it was very difficult for me to read them. I would read some of her writings and I just couldn't relate to them at all anymore. They just weren't really talking to my heart and I started reading the psychology books more and at one point my roommate knew that I was struggling with what do I do with Ellen White and he made a suggestion to me. He wasn't doing it to be rebellious; I wasn't doing it to be rebellious, at least consciously; but he suggested, he said, Steve, you need to in order for you to get some psychological healing—and I was also reading books about self-esteem and self-worth and how important it is that I like myself and I wasn't liking myself at that time because I would read Ellen White's books and try to read the Bible and it wasn't connecting and I felt condemned. I felt guilty. In fact, one time I went to an ABC, walked in, was looking around for books, and there was a whole shelf of Ellen White’s writings in the back and just to see all those Ellen White books— it was a terrible weight on me. I didn't. I just didn't. I just thought wow, I can't relate to those books anymore. I feel guilty even being around them. So my friend suggested to me he said, Steve, I think you need to make a break for psychological healing. You need to heal your emotions and your mind you need to make a break. And he said, I suggest that we take all your Ellen White books. We take them out to the back of Berman Hall in the forest and we have a bonfire. I don't think he was thinking that he was being rebellious to do this. He was just thinking this would be good for me emotionally and spiritually. So I thought, all right we'll do it. So I took all my testimonies, I took my Conflict of the Ages series. I took my Early Writings, Selected Messages, Mount of Blessings—all the books that I had in my library and we put in them in a box and we carried them out off into the distance behind the dorm into the forest and we gathered them up and we lit a match and the fire started burning and we prayed over the bonfire. We prayed that the Lord would heal me and help me to get over the condemnation and the guilt and this sense of lack of peace and that this would be a good thing. Well, all the books burned up. And you know the Lord was looking down on me and he knew that I was very, very confused but He still loved me. (Amen.) I burned Ellen White’s books and God still loved me! Well, my time in the seminary came to an end. My roommate and I separated and I was brought back to the Central California Conference—as I was a sponsored seminary student—and when I got back I landed in a little church in Pacifica California next to San Francisco.

 

36:33 I pastored two churches, a little Russian church in the city and the Pacifica church which was more in a rural area just south of Daily City. I wasn't married so I moved into a little apartment by myself right next to the beach right on the cliff overlooking the water, the Pacific Ocean. There I am now pastoring two churches. My church wanted me to hold a Revelation Seminar so I thought alright I'll do it and I did it. I held a Revelation Seminar, went through the prophecies of the Bible, and the Lord blessed it; people came to Him but the peace, again inside me, was still not there. My intense struggle deepened and I finally got to the crossroads. I reached a point where I thought to myself I cannot continue to be a Seventh-day Adventist pastor and hold Revelation Seminars and talk about the Sabbath and all these Bible truths when something is really wrong within my life— because I don't want to be a hypocrite. I want it to be real or I don't want it—so one night, I turned off the lights in my apartment. I got on my knees and I prayed, I said God, I'm at the crossroads. I don't know what to do. I don't feel You like I used to feel You. I don't sense Your presence like I used to since Your presence. I'm just not a happy Christian anymore and I don't know what to do and I have I guess a couple of choices: I'm either going to find you or I'm going out the door. I'm going back to the world. I'm going back to North Hollywood. I'll try to get a job. I’ll do what I can do because I cannot continue to live this kind of life. I just can't do it so Lord, what do I do? What do I do? Help me, God! You've got to help me! I cried out to Him. My favorite psalm at that time was Psalm 88 because you read that psalm and there's no light in it, it's all darkness. When you get to the end of that psalm David says the darkness is my closest friend. And I could really relate to that psalm. I thought wow, that's me. So I prayed and I said Lord, what do I do? I’ll tell you what happened. There was an impression that came to my mind and the impression was this: pray for the Spirit of Truth to guide you into all truth. That’s a quote from John 16:13 where Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.” That thought came to me pray for the Holy Spirit. So I started doing that. Alright Lord, I'm going to pray for the Spirit of Truth. So I said, God, give me the Spirit of Truth. Help me to sort through all this confusion in my mind: psychology, Christian psychology, my roommate, Ellen White, the bonfire, the Revelation Seminar, all of this! What do I do? So I started praying that and as I started praying that somewhere during that period I open the Bible and I read another verse and I want to show you this verse. It’s in Psalm 119:67. I look down and I read this verse. This verse was like a beam of light that shone into my darkened mind. Here it is. I read this. David said, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now I keep Your word.” I read that text and thought I surely am afflicted, struggling with all kinds of things emotionally. I looked at this text “before I was afflicted I went astray: but now I keep Your word.” I remember thinking to myself, is it possible that my affliction and my struggle and all of this is because before all this started I strayed from the Word of God? Is that possible? And then I read Psalm 119:71, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Your statutes.” I read that and I thought—I tell you I was right at the crossroads: was I going to go back to the world or try to reconnect with God?—this verse spoke to me, it penetrated into the darkness. The text impressed me that I need to get back to the Word of God; back to the Word of God. Had I strayed from the Word of God to follow the opinions of men? At that point I made a decision in the dark, on my knees, in my apartment. My decision was this: I'm going to go back, I'm going to retrace my steps and step, by step, by step, I'm going to keep praying for the Holy Spirit, praying for the Spirit of Truth. I'm going to retrace my steps and go back to the Bible and go back to the cross. Right around that time I thought I'm going to go back to Ellen White’s writings. I'm going to try it again. In fact, I’m going to grab the testimonies so I can really get the meat, the meat stuff because man I need something strong. I need some strong medicine.

 

43:16 When I made that choice I didn't see these things with my visible eyes but when I decided in my mind I'm going to go back to the Bible, back to the cross and I'm going to go back and even start rereading the testimonies, it seemed to me like they were all these faces inside my head that were looking at me going like this: No! Don't go back! No! No! No! They were all there resisting me. Saying, don’t do it! I looked at those faces and I thought I’m going to do it! I’m going back! I started reading the testimonies and I started reading the Bible. Somewhere during that period I started studying about lucifer. I read about lucifer in Isaiah that he exalted himself. I was impressed with that. That lucifer, satan became proud. I thought am I proud? Have I been proud? As a Christian have I been proud? As a new born-again believer with a great testimony that I’d come out of North Hollywood, given up my drugs, now I'm a follower of Jesus; was pride woven into my testimony, somehow? And I started studying pride. So I studied pride in the Bible. I read about Babylon being proud. I read about Assyria being proud; Nineveh being proud; Israel being proud; exalting herself and then she died. I read about Jesus telling the parable of the proud Pharisee in the temple praying with himself— I tell you, little by little the Lord convicted me that I was actually a very proud Christian. It was very subtle. I didn't know it. I didn’t see it. I didn’t understand it. But it was there. I read another verse during that time, turn to Jeremiah 13:15-17—then I'm going to read to you a quotation that I found. The Bible says, “Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the Lord has spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God, before He causes darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains,”—Ellen White talks about the dark mountains of unbelief— “before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while you look for light,”—which is what I was doing. I was looking for light but I was looking in the wrong places—“while you look for light, He turns it into the shadow of death, and makes it dense darkness. But if you will not hear it, my soul will weep in secret places for your pride; and Mine eyes will weep bitterly, and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock has been taken away captive.”—that was me. I was in the dark mountains of unbelief and I was being taken away captive by the devil and I didn't even know it. I looked at this and I thought Lord!

 

47:53 Let me share something with you from Sermons and Talks, Volume 1, p. 58. Ellen White wrote, “The lower we lie at the foot of the cross the clearer will be our view of Christ. For  just as soon as we begin to lift ourselves up and to think that we are something, the view of Christ grows dimmer and dimmer and satan steps in so that we cannot see Him at all.” Wow!—I tell you that was me. That's what happened to me. When I read that the Holy Spirit that I had been praying for again and again and again, the Spirit of Truth to guide me into all truth, He helped me to understand. Just like when I first read The Desire of Ages in the dorm room at Cal State, Northridge and the Holy Spirit showed me Gethsemane and Christ. So now 6 or 7 years later, He brought me back and He showed me. He said Steve, this is why you're having your spiritual struggles. This is why you lost a sense of the presence of God. This is why your peace went away. It's because of self; you started lifting yourself up even as a Christian, even as a Seventh-day Adventist born again Christian who knew the truth, you started lifting yourself up. As you slowly lifted yourself up your vision of the cross got dimmer and dimmer until satan stepped in and he made a move on you. That's what happened in the dorm at Berman Hall when I embraced the shadow. I tell you. Now I’m going to tell you something else that may shock you but you need to know this.

 

50:23 When I started praying for the Spirit of Truth in that apartment in San Francisco praying and praying and praying more and more, little by little, the pieces came together. Little by little I began to see myself in a new light. Little by little I realized that I was the problem not Ellen White. It was me. Not her. Not Jesus. Not the Bible. The problem was Steve Wohlberg. As I sensed the Spirit of God trying to come in more and more—now you may not believe this but I'm telling you the truth—as I would pray I could feel demonic forces coming up. I could feel the Lord coming in and wanting to drive them out. Remember when I told you I looked at the mirror in the dorm bathroom and I saw myself being very powerful? satan came into me to some extent at that time and God wanted to drive him out and so there were many, many, many times—I can't tell you how many times it's happened during the course of a number of years after I was in San Francisco—I actually went to Weimar, landed at Weimar Academy. I went in self-supporting work, left the conference and went back to round out my education. I was teaching teenagers, high school students, the Bible. Even during that period many, many, many times as I would be on my knees praying Lord, give me more of the Holy Spirit I could feel this pressure coming up, pressure coming up. I’d pray Lord, give me the Holy Spirit and when the spirit would convict me deeper of my own sin, my own self, my own pride, I could feel this, this thing. There were lots of times when I would be on my knees and I prayed and I would feel them coming up and I’d grab on to the couch or the chair or something. And I’d go [loud coughing sound] and [coughing sound] I could feel something coming out. And then I’d go [sighing sound] another one is gone, another one’s gone. This happened many, many, many, times. The battle is real. We are in an intense war with the demonic. Acts 26:18 Jesus told Saul who had just become Paul when the bright light shone on him and knocked him off his horse on the way to Damascus; Jesus said I'm going to deliver you. Acts 26:17-18, “I'm going to deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan unto God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith which is in Me.” I learned in a way that I could never learn; I would have never learned. So in a way it was good for me to be afflicted that I might learn Your word. And I learned things that I could never have learned any other way. I learned about the battle and learned about the struggle and when I got to Weimar I started rereading Steps to Christ and little, by little, by little, the Lord taught me back through Steps to Christ and through—I read the whole 1888 Materials, did a lot of study on Righteousness by Faith and I rediscovered the message that Jesus Christ died on the cross and paid the price for all of my sins and through faith in Him and trust in Him and reliance on Him alone, God will justify me and it says in Steps to Christ page 62, “If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. Christ character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned.” (SC 7:62.2) That became so real to me, so real to me that little by little the Bible came back alive to me. Ellen White’s writings started speaking to me again. And I can read about Jesus in Gethsemane and on the cross and it touches me, it moves me. Many times I stand in front of audiences these days and I just cry. I just cry because of what Jesus has done for me especially now that I'm a dad. I think about my children. My seven year old daughter, my eleven year old son and I thank God. I prayed today. I prayed today out by the water. I went out on that little island. You know the little bridge that takes you out to the island? I went out there and I prayed. I said Father, You gave Your son for me. I said, Father, I'm a father save my son, save my daughter, save my wife. And God has taught me through all my struggles—you know why He has blessed White Horse Ministry so much? He's blessed our ministry so much because God has taught me to stick to the Word; stick to the Word; stick to the Truth; and to pray that self will be put aside and make room for the Holy Spirit to work through me. God has taught me that. I have a lot to learn still. I'm as W.D. Frazee used to say, “God is not going to take us out of the oven half baked”—He is going to bake us thoroughly. Daniel 12:10 says, “Many shall be purified, made white, and tried; but the wicked will do wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand; but the wise will understand.” The Lord has been so good to me and He's taught me. So Brothers and Sisters, I'm back! I'm not at the crossroads anymore like I was in San Francisco. I'm not in the darkness anymore (praise God!)—praise God—Jesus is very, very real to me. His word is alive and when I read the testimonies they don't bother me like they did before because Jesus is in my life and He's taught me that I need straight talk, straight medicine because that's what my soul needs and I'm in a battle with a real devil who wants to destroy me and I have decided I'm not going with him. I told him that. I told him that. I went out to a field years ago outside of So Cal camp meeting I got on my knees and I shouted out loud all by myself I said, satan you're not going to have me! I’m not going with you! I'm serving you notice I'm not going with you. I’m going to go with Jesus! I’m going to stick with Him! I’m going to stick with the Word. And may God help me and help you. May He teach us the lessons of humility. Kneeling low at the foot of the cross, where we can find the power of God. I’m going to close with Revelation 12:17—and I hope this has been a blessing to you. I have a feeling there are a lot of Seventh-day Adventists who struggle with the Spirit of Prophecy. They struggle with the writings of Ellen White many times before they go out the door and there are many of us that are in the church that struggle; and I’ve learned that my struggles were because of me. I was the problem. Not the writings of Ellen White—that was a very important revelation— lucifer refused to accept that that the problem was him. It says in Patriarchs and Prophets, that before lucifer finally went out the deep end in heaven it says that through ways that only infinite wisdom in love could devise lucifer was made to see his error; he saw that the problem was not God. It was him and he saw where his rebellion would take him. God urged him to come back. It says in Patriarchs and Prophets that lucifer saw all that and he had to make a choice and it says “but pride forbade him” and he would not go back; he would not go back. I realize that I have to overcome where lucifer failed; lucifer decided I'm not going back. I can hold on to self. [PP 39:1] I had the same decision to make and so do you. We all have that same decision. When God convicts us the problem is us we have to make a choice. Am I going to accept correction or am I going to set my course and go my own way? lucifer went his own way. I've decided Lord, I don't want my own way. I want your way. Your way is the best way. Revelation 12:17 the Bible says “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 19:10 says “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 22:7 says “Blessed are those who keep the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” This is the truth of God. We've got to hold onto it and not let it go. I'll close with this. Perhaps you've heard this before. I don't know where the reference is but I put these notes together just in the last couple of days. But I seem to remember that E.G. Daniels who was a General Conference President in the early 1900’s; he was struggling concerning things that Sister White was saying; various issues he was struggling with and he apparently had some kind of a dream or something where Jesus spoke and said to Daniels, “If you will stand by My servant”—referring to Ellen White—“until her sun sets in a bright sky, I will stand by you to the last hour of the conflict.” Have you ever heard that? Anybody ever heard that? O.K. you’ve heard it. Jesus said to Daniels, “If you stand by My servant until her sun sets in a bright sky, I will stand by you to the last hour of the conflict.” [The Abiding Gift of Prophecy, p.367]  Pray for me. Pray for me if you have a mind to. We all need prayer. We're moving into the final scenes of the Great Controversy. The battle is on and it’s intense! There's a real devil. There are real evil angels. There's a real Holy Spirit and God's Word is the Truth. So let's kneel together. Let’s pray that the Lord will help us to stand on His side no matter what.

 

1:04:08  Dear Father in Heaven, dear God, in the name of Jesus, Your holy Son, Your loving Son,  thank You for being here. I sense Your presence here tonight thank You, thank You that You didn't leave me when I did all those things that I did. I burned those books but You didn't leave me. You stayed with me and You helped me and You brought me back to the Bible and to the Spirit of Prophecy. I pray that You will be with very every one of us and everyone that hears this recording that You will teach us the lessons of humility and trust in Jesus, our Savior that if we trust Jesus, our Saviour, You'll drive out the devil. You will free us from our captivities, from our destructions, from our sins. You’ll bless us and whether we feel you or not from day to day—sometimes we don't feel; we have to trust no matter what. We cannot rely on our feelings. We have to rely on You and on Your Word. Lord, please bless us all. Get us ready for heaven. Save our family. Save our children. May we be with You someday soon in a better land around the great white Throne where we can see You and the nail scars in Your hands and in Your feet Jesus, and know that you did all this so we could be with You forever. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 

 

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