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01. Kingly Power, Alliance, and the Way Forward

Ron Kelly
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What is "kingly power"? Pastor Kelly examines this concept found in the Spirit of Prophecy.

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Ron Kelly

Senior Pastor, Village SDA Church, Berrien Springs, Michigan

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  • December 1, 2018
    11:30 AM
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Let’s pray. Father, thank You for beautiful music, instrumental music, discipline, teamwork and training. Now, Lord, I pray, as we open our hearts, may Your Spirit speak to us. May we be susceptible to the divine impress. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

I’m beginning a series on Christian leadership, and I’ve entitled this message, “Kingly Power, Alliance and the Way Forward.” Edwin Friedman was a Jewish rabbi, a family therapist and a leadership consultant. In his book, A Failure of Nerve, he says, quoting another author, “The great thing to remember is that the mind of man cannot be enlightened permanently by merely teaching him to reject some particular set of superstitions. There is an infinite supply of other superstitions always at hand; and the mind that desires such things, that is, the mind that has not trained itself to the hard disciplines of reasonableness and honesty, will, as soon as its devils are cast out, proceed to fill itself with their relations.”

 

Now, I want to ask everybody at the beginning of this message, how are you approaching the pursuit of truth in your life? For I fear that inside Adventism there is a terrible pressure on to become ideologues on one side or another of a theological divide. In other words, there is an amazing power of division that the devil is seeking to bring into our church to keep us from giving to the world that undeniable witness that the Spirit is in our presence, the sweetness of brethren and sistren dwelling together in unity.

 

The reason I’m asking this morning is that if you have not disciplined your mind to reasonableness and honesty, you can make anything say anything you want it to say, especially the Bible. So, there is a spiritual Guide; His name is Jesus. There is a spiritual Presence; His name is the Holy Spirit. There is a spiritual Architect to our journey; His name is the Father. We’re on a journey where God is looking to lead us into all truth, knowing truth will set us free, but there are minds that have not been disciplined for reasonableness and honesty.

 

Now, this sermon won’t be good for you if you have no desire for reasonableness or honesty because in this message, I’m likely to make people on one side of the fence unhappy with me and people on the other unhappy with me, but that’s okay. My job is not to make people happy with me.

 

Our church is in a little struggle right now, and I don’t mean the Village Church, I mean the larger Seventh-day Adventist Church. And unfortunately throughout the history of Adventism there have been these struggles, and unfortunately sometimes they’ve been public, and right now that’s kind of where we’re at. Now, I don’t really relish making this kind of journey, but after much prayer I am compelled to make it.

 

Friedman talks about a well-differentiated leader. In essence, what he’s saying is that a leader must separate his or her own emotional being from that of his or her followers while still remaining connected. Now, if you’re a parent, I hope you readily put your mind around this phrase. You have to care and understand your fiduciary responsibility to the ones God has given you to raise up. You have to be connected but not be overly connected. You have to have an emotional firewall that allows you to do what you know is right, and you need a large heart to do it in the right way.

 

“Vision,” he will go on to say, “is basically an emotional rather than a cerebral phenomenon, depending more on a leader’s capacity to deal with anxiety than his or her professional training or degree.” This should be a wonderfully encouraging statement. Here’s a man who has his doctorate in psychology, and what he’s really saying is, the person who is best suited to lead is the one that can hold up to the emotional rivers of displeasing people sometimes. He has to be able (or she) to separate themselves from needing to please everyone and from needing to be affirmed by everyone. I mean, someone who can separate while still remaining connected, and therefore can maintain a modifying, non-anxious, and sometimes challenging presence. I mean, someone who can manage his or her own reactivity to the automatic reactivity of others, and therefore be able to take stands at the risk of displeasing.

 

Well, welcome to Adventism. Probably some of you, as you made your journey here to Adventism, ended up paying a high price to make that journey. He says, as he reflects on his life of family therapy, “With families, I stopped creating encyclopedias of data about all their issues, and I began to search instead for the member with the greatest capacity to be a leader as I have defined it. Soon I found that the rest of the family was ‘in therapy’ whether they came into my office or not.” In other words, his approach was to see who was the healthiest and could be discipled into a healthier dynamic of family interacting.

 

“I stopped polling the workers,” this is now his leadership consult. “I stopped polling the workers or going around to the different divisions. Instead, I concentrated on working with only one or two leaders at the top. Soon I found that for organizations, too, by focusing on and supporting the strengths in the system rather than letting the pathology or the pathogens (troublemakers) determine my focus, the rest of the network was ‘in therapy’ whether or not they came into my office and whether or not I joined them on a retreat.”

 

He built his dynamic of leadership off the metaphor of the immune system, and in the immune system he says, “The one thing that it is designed to do is to recognize what belongs and what doesn’t belong.” And he said, “When you get a cell in your body that is not self-regulated, it multiplies out of control because it has no nucleus; it has no membrane. These cells tend to be the cells that destroy the human being.” Self-regulation, a sense of who we are, his metaphor is the immune system.

 

Uriah Smith wrote of James White, “Some have thought that he was deficient in social qualities, and sometimes rigid, harsh, and unjust, even towards his best friends.” I’m here this morning to suggest to you that James White was God’s well-differentiated leader prepared to get this prophetic movement up and onto solid footing. “But these feelings, we are persuaded, come from a failure to comprehend one of the strongest traits in his character, which was his preeminent love for the cause in which he was engaged. To that he subordinated all else; for that he was willing to renounce home and friends.”

 

Now, James and Ellen White made tremendous sacrifices. They were in God’s order. Today, I think it might behoove us to consider such a commitment to the apple of God’s eye, the bride, His body, this cause, the church. “No man would have been more glad than he to enjoy continuously the pleasures of domestic and social life, and the company of friends, had he not thought that integrity to the cause called him to take a different course. But when this was the case, the voice of duty was first and all else was secondary.”

 

Now, I want you really think about this paragraph. “Some in whose natures this principle is lacking…” In Uriah Smith’s mind, this kind of commitment to God and His cause is valuable. This kind of commitment to God and His cause is significant. And he’s saying that if you don’t have that kind of commitment, if truth doesn’t matter more than anything else, if pleasing people is what you’re after, if deciding which group, the larger group or the littler group, is the one that you’re going to please, you would never be a good friend of James White. But if you have this principle, you can “comprehend the actions of a man who is governed by such motives. But how would a man be fitted, without such an element as this in his character, to be the conservator of the interest of any cause whatsoever?”

 

Now, I’m talking to a number of dads and moms, and I’m going to assure you, to take your children from the cradle to their adult footings is a difficult journey. It is one that requires the deep, well-rooted love of God, the wisdom of the Word, hopefully the teamwork of two. But along the way, Friedman has this phrase, “from parents to presidents,” a man or a woman who is not well-differentiated, who doesn’t know who they are and what their duty is, will be a poor excuse as a leader. Leaders do what’s right because it is right. Leaders do what’s right in as best a way as they know how to do it. Leadership is not about politicking; leadership is about moving forward, understanding what the people who are depending you need.

 

“Kingly power,” now, this phrase has been thrown around a lot in Seventh-day Adventism over the last year or two, maybe longer. “Kingly power” is a phrase that is used by Ellen White over 130 times, about 136, but there is some variation. Some of the database has quotes that are very, very close; it looks like a secretary changed a word or two. And I tried to look at all 130-plus of these quotes this week so that I could understand what kingly power is because it’s an awful slur to say, “You’re grasping for kingly power.” But it’s been thrown around inside the circles of Adventism to the hurt of our own organization.

 

I mean, what good would it do a child if a wife said to their husband, “You know, you’re just after kingly power”? What good would it be for those whose lives are working underneath the shadow of this tree of marriage of two people that are supposed to love each other and be united in the raising of children? But this phrase has been used in a very haphazard manner to wound and to discredit, and I’d like to just take a few moments with you and help you understand what kingly power is, what it is not, when it was used, when it wasn’t, and what it means today. “Kingly Power,” 130-plus times.

 

Well, “kingly power,” is used one time to describe unsanctified humanity. It appears that in all of us, we’d like to make a good run for kingly power. We want to be in charge, but that isn’t how it works. King Ishbosheth, you remember, he was the son of Saul. He was tentatively put in place to be a leader and by Abner, and Abner tried to give him all the kingly power he could. Two times Ellen White references to it.

 

And then there’s the componentry of choice. When Adam and Eve lost their estate as the overseers of this earth, Jesus came down in the Garden, and He said, “Wait a minute, Lucifer. They are not slaves. They have the choice. They can choose to be sons and daughters of God.” Choice is a form of kingly power. It’s mentioned five times by Ellen White. I think you should know.

 

And then we come to the hopes and the expectations of the Jews and the disciples. Ten times she references to the idea of them hoping that the Messiah would have kingly power.

 

And then Jesus’ First Advent is something she references to, where He left behind kingly power. He came as a baby in a manger. And then we have Jesus’ Second Coming, for ten times she mentions it, where He will come with kingly power.

 

And then there’s one prominent Seventh-day Adventist in history whom she has ten references to, named. Go ahead, figure out who it is. Let your Adventist history run for a moment. Who did she say or relate to? And it is recorded there in the White Estate; ten different times you can read about this person making a grasp for kingly power. You got your name? Here it is: Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. Ten times there are references to this.

 

Now, this leaves us with the other 60-plus times to look at here this morning where kingly power is an overreach. It’s an attempt to control via few the missional and the administrative movements and the financial dynamics of the church. There was a small group…You need to understand before I go into this. It used to be the church was exceptionally little, and it grew. As it grew, it got beyond itself. Ellen White found herself in Australia. Decisions were having to be made in Australia by the people in Battle Creek. And then the folks in Battle Creek got to the place to where they were actually trying to control way too much.

 

The General Conference had no such thing as unions. It was the General Conference with different segments. And finally, when we get to the turn of the twentieth century, in 1901, there’s a General Conference session where the church is reorganized like you know it today. You’re a member of the Lake Union. Unions are what the General Conference is built on. You put enough of those unions together, you can call them a division. We’re in the North American Division.

 

In 1901, this is what Ellen White had to say in the General Conference bulletin. This was before the session that reorganized the church began. “Now I want to say, God has not put any kingly power in our ranks to control this or that branch of the work. The work has been greatly restricted by the efforts to control it in every line.” Don’t miss the emphasis. This was what was the problem, was that the church was growing faster than it could be administrated from Battle Creek, and they were reluctant to release their hold on power. “There must be a renovation, a reorganization; a power and a strength must be brought into the committees that are necessary.”

 

“The division of the General Conference,” this was written two years later, “into District Union Conferences,” like the Lake Union, “was God’s arrangement. In the work of the Lord in these last days there should be no Jerusalem centers, no kingly power. All of God’s servants have a work to do in His vineyard. In the church of God no one is to set himself up in kingly power and authority…’All ye are brethren.’ Be very courteous in speech, very kindly in action.” These last words are a theme of Ellen White.

 

So let’s be careful how we throw accusations, or what I call pejorative terms around. Pejorative is a word that means “touched with negativity.”  It’s pejorative. If someone were to come up to you as the boss, as a manager, even as the owner of a company, and say, “You know, you’re just grasping for kingly power,” it would be quite an insult. And it ought not to be said casually or carelessly today, especially in regards to people who are leading our church. “The Lord would work mightily for His people today if they’d place themselves wholly under His guidance.” All of these quotes are extracted from places where she mentions kingly power. “They greatly need the constant abiding of the Holy Spirit.”

 

“Mightily” is what she says. “If there were more prayer in the councils of those bearing large responsibilities, more humbling of their hearts before God, we should see abundant evidence of divine leadership and greater advancement in our work.” Do you sit on a committee? Do you have leadership somewhere? Is prayer just one of those things you hurry up and get out of the way so you can do the work?

 

God forbid that you should be a pastor or an administrator or a business owner, somebody who really needs wisdom. By the way, if you’re a business owner, your business partner, according to the book of Education is Jesus. He designs to prosper you if it won’t ruin you. How much time do you spend praying? Is it a waste of time to praise the Lord and read the Bible? Or are those parts of a committee action actually the places where divine wisdom comes and unity is built and where God Himself might manifest in regards to a request?

 

“I write this that all my know that there is no controversy among Seventh-day Adventists over the question of leadership. The Lord God of heaven is our Leader.” Can you say amen? “He is a leader whom we can safely follow; for He never makes a mistake.” That’s why prayer matters.

 

“Those who walk in the fear of God, meditating upon His character, will daily become more and more like Christ. Those who choose not to know God,” could be a Seventh-day Adventist on the books, could be the leader of an organization, “Those who choose not to know God will be ostentatious and boastful.”

 

There are character differences that separate those filled with the Spirit versus those who are not. It is absolutely imperative for you to understand that God could accomplish a lot without us, but He gives us a role so that we could depend on Him and be transformed by the doing of it so our faith could grow. There’s a dynamic of change that comes into our lives when He uses us, and if we think we can do it on our own, and we don’t seek Him, we can be ruined in the process.

 

“There is a great work to be done. My heart aches as I think of the many who are unready to meet their Lord.” This is written to brethren in varying responsibilities. Don’t miss what’s at the bottom. This is written to leaders, conference presidents, all right? This is written to union presidents. This is in 1904, so this is after the reorganization. “My heart aches as I think of the many who are unready to meet their Lord and of the wasted time that has passed into eternity. ‘O God, have mercy upon Thy people,’ is my prayer.” And then this next phrase has to really grip you, “Grown-up men and women,” leaders, “are acting like little children. There is not a particle of excuse for the strife and alienation that exist among us.”

 

Do you think she was bothered? Do you think this was agitating her? It wasn’t pleasing to be a prophet. You had to be a well-differentiated person to have to rebuke and exhort and reprove with all authority.

 

“The division of the General Conference into District Union Conferences was God’s arrangement. In the work of the Lord for these last days there should be no Jerusalem centers, no kingly power.” As you can see, these thoughts kind of repeat themselves. “And the work in the different countries is not to be tied up by contracts to the work centering in Battle Creek; this is not God’s plan.”

 

These two people had a feud going on, Haskell and Franke. “I know how pleased the enemy is,” she writes, “when he can keep the hearts of those in the service of God filled with distrust and suspicion.” Listen, if you have distrust and suspicion towards a leader, whether it’s your local pastor or your local conference president or your local union president or your division president or your General Conference president, get on your knees and pray. You could be ruined by the evil thinking that’s fomented by some of the things you can read on social media. God forbid! Turn the computers off and find a way to engage your time for the sake of Jesus that would actually edify you and edify the work.

 

“And more than this: Unity existing among the followers of God is an evidence that the Father sent His Son to save sinners.” Listen, any group of people can get together and be fractured and splintered and divided, but only God’s presence unifies a group of people. Is there any wonder that the devil’s working so hard to make sure we’re talking evil of our leaders and the process, et cetera?

 

“It is a witness to His power; for nothing short of the miraculous power of God can bring human beings, with their different temperaments, together in harmonious action, their one aim being to speak the truth in love.”

 

“God has given me a word to speak to you in New York. Strive earnestly for unity. Pray for it, work for it. It will bring spiritual health, elevation of thought, nobility, heavenly mindedness. You will overcome selfishness…” Last I checked, all of us were trying, some harder than others. “You will overcome selfishness and evil surmising and will be more than conquerors,” praise the Lord, “through Him that loved you and gave Himself for you.”

 

“Crucify self. Esteem others better than yourselves.” You think you’re a good administrator? You think you’re a good preacher? You think you’re a good parent? Just be who you’re called to be and encourage the others who are trying to do the same thing. You’re not in competition with the parent next-door. You’re not in competition with the preacher around the corner. You’re not in competition with the school down the road. Do what God called you to do. Be a well-differentiated leader. Know who you are. Fulfil the role and the place He has given you and do it your best.

 

“Before the heavenly universe and before the church and the world you will bear unmistakable evidence that you are God’s sons and daughters. God will be glorified in the example that you set.”

 

“And let us be careful how we press our opinions upon those,” this was written to a General Conference president. “‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.’” She didn’t want the leaders, in this case, the highest level of leadership, Brother A.G. Daniells, our General Conference President. “God would not have you suppose that you can exercise a kingly power over your brethren.”

 

And then I’m not going to read all this, but I’m going to tell you about it. What happened was that around this period of time, Ellen White was renegotiating royalties for her books. She used the money to pay for her secretaries and to advance God’s cause. Back in the day, she got 20 cents for every Great Controversy and Patriarchs and Prophets that was sold. She was unfortunately dealing with publishing houses that had leaders who were covetous and greedy, and they were striving for kingly power. So they said to her, “Oh, Mrs. White, let us sell your book for 15 cents royalty, and we will make sure we encourage the colporteurs to sell it, but they didn’t do it.

 

Ellen White was convinced that she was supposed to take and develop a book relationship with another publisher. “Light came to me that I was to take the publication of my books into my own hands, for by working on corrupted principles men were greatly dishonoring God.” This is not a good chapter for Seventh-day Adventism. Kind of too bad, but it’s like the Bible; the good and the bad are there.

 

“My children,” think Willie and Edson, “discouraged me from making this move,” and you know what? She listened to God or did she listen to her children? She listened to her kids. “They did not think that I was in a position to carry the work forward against the strong influence opposed to me.” Political winds were blowing. She knew things weren’t quite how they ought to be. An organization like the Seventh-day Adventist Church, to stay fresh, has to have leaders that stay fresh with God. “And I did not venture. I did not urge the matter as I should have done…For two or three years the kingly power that ruled closed the door against the light God had sent to the world in The Great Controversy and Patriarchs and Prophets.

 

“While I was in Australia, the matter was again laid out before me. I was shown that had I followed the light that was given, working according to the Lord’s plan, notwithstanding the objectionable features that appeared, human authority would not have become so bold.” You didn’t know Ellen White made this kind of mistake, did you? Well, she was as human as you and I, and she got advice, sometimes good advice, sometimes bad. This time it was her kids, and it was bad advice. If she would have taken her stand and followed the Lord, she would have helped mitigate the kingly power that was operating in the publishing places.

 

“God would have worked to purify the publishing houses from selfishness, covetousness, and unfair dealing. God would not have despised the day of small things,” which would have been her. “Many souls would have been won to the truth who have been swept away by the undercurrent of the strong minds who grasped authority which did not belong to them. Wrongs would have been traced to their true source. The Saviour, the Restorer, would have wrought in behalf of His cause and work.” But she didn’t do it, and this is what she says about herself.

 

Let me ask you, is she a woman that’s well-differentiated? Does she have a responsible and honest mind? Can she say of herself, “This hesitation in venturing forward was unbelief”? Think about it. When we lose that ability to say, “Self, this is what you did. It wasn’t good.” Now, it’s hard to do that without a safety net. I want to tell you, friends, you’ve got a safety net. The safety net is the love of God. He knows you’re human. He knows you have feet of clay. He knows you don’t do it right all the time. He knows how He made you. He didn’t make you to compare yourself to everybody else. He made you to look into His face and follow His plan, to hear His voice and do His bidding.

 

God is calling you and me to have nothing between, and yet, along the way we’ve got a little challenge because God does have authority. God does give authority. God does invest with power. It’s not that power itself is wrong, it’s kingly power. It’s power that’s overreaching. It’s power that’s out of bounds. It’s power that’s overcontrolling.

 

James White, I won’t read this to you as well. Well, I will, “The Lord has blessed the work that James Edson White,” the son. He was the one who developed the Morning Star, the boat that went up and down the rivers in the South. “God grant that the voices which have been so quickly raised to say that all the money invested in the work must go through the appointed channel at Battle Creek, shall not be heard.” In other words, back in Battle Creek they were saying, “Hey, Edson, you can’t do that on your own. Send the money up to us,” and, of course, once they had it there would be control, “and we’ll take care of giving it back to you as we see best.” And Mrs. White said, “No way.” “The people to whom God has given His means are amenable to Him alone. It is their privilege to give direct aid and assistance to missions. It is because of the misappropriation of means that the Southern field has no better showing than it has today.”

 

She takes Seventh-day Adventism to task, and she says, “You’re going to have to answer to God for neglecting this field.” “God helping His [people], the circle of kings who dared to take such great responsibilities shall never again exercise their unsanctified power in the so-called ‘regular lines.’”

 

All right, take your Bibles and open them up to the book of 1 Samuel, 1 Samuel, chapter 24, kingly power. Everybody in America wouldn’t know what to do with kingly power. We have such a rich heritage of democratic government, but I need to remind you, friends, Heaven will not be a democratic government. Heaven will be a place where the beneficent love of God and the all-knowing heart of God will exercise His omnipotent power. But in ages past, kings and kingdoms has been the order of the day.

 

Now, I’m going to shorten this a little bit. You remember that David took on Goliath, and he won. That set up a new set of problems for David. David was a well-differentiated person. Out there on the hillsides, he learned to hear God’s voice. Out there on the hillsides, he took the next steps. First it was the bear, then it was the lion, then it was the uncircumcised Philistine. But David got himself into problems because he got linked up very closely with a not-very-well-differentiated leader; his name was Saul.

 

Saul needed to be popular. Saul needed to be affirmed. Saul no longer had the imprimatur, the affirmation of God, and Saul needed the affirmation of others. He was bigger and better looking than everybody else, and after awhile that became his identity. Too bad. David found himself fleeing as a fugitive from the presence of the king whom he sought to allay his mental illness with his music.

 

Once on the run, David found himself two times in a position to take Saul’s life. I want to look at them both. The first was in a cave, 1 Samuel, chapter 24. It says, verse 1, “Now when Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, saying, ‘Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.’ Then Saul took three thousand chosen men.” Verse 3, “He came to the sheepfolds on the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses…The men of David said to him, ‘Behold, this is the day of which the Lord said to you, “I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.’” Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul’s robe secretly.” He crawled back to where the men were, and he felt guilty. When he came out of the cave, he did make a little statement to Saul, and he basically said, “You need to know something. I’m not like you. I could have taken your life. I’ve got a piece of your robe in my hands. Check it out.”

 

But David thought about that for a long time. And it’s a good thing he did because he found himself in the same situation again, and that’s the one I want to look at little more at. Turn over to chapter 26. Chapter 26 is a similar story. Saul has 3,000 chosen men. This is his number, and when he’s going to take out David, he has them both times. This time he is pursuing David again. First Samuel 26, verse 1, “Then the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, ‘Is not David hiding on the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon?’” Tattletale, tattletale. “So Saul arose and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having with him three thousand chosen men of Israel, to search for David in the wilderness.”

 

Now David had spies, the Bible says. He knew where Saul and his company were going to spend the night that night. And when they found them, David says in verse 7…We’ll start with verse 6, “Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, saying, ‘Who will go down with me to Saul in the camp?’ And Abishai said, ‘I will go down with you.’”

 

Now I want you to understand how gutsy this is. Abishai is David’s nephew, not his cousin, Abishai and Joab and Asahel, three brothers. They are actually going to go into the camp, as if there were no sentinels and no watchmen; they’re going to step over hundreds of sleeping people, and they’re going to go right up to the middle of the camp, which is supposedly the most secured place. I want to tell you something, friends, God has the ability, if He wants, to set kings up and take kings down or to set people with kingly power up and take people with kingly power down. You don’t have to take it into your own hands. God is going to show us in this story. He’s got it all under control.

 

Now the truth of the matter is, David may come to a period in his life some years later where he regrets this, for David’s fugitive journey lasts a lot longer than he thought it was going to. David ends up being on the lam, on the run, for years. And there are probably some of those years when his faith is not as strong as it is as he ventures right into the middle of the camp; 2 against 3,000 isn’t very good odds.

 

But there he is down in the middle of the camp, and David’s faith is strong. He knows he’s anointed; he knows he has been called to be the king, and he knows God has protected him thus far. He goes right down into the middle of the camp with his nephew, and this is what happens. “Then Abishai said to David, ‘Today God,’” verse 8, “‘has delivered your enemy into your hand.’” True or false statement, friends? I want you to think about this because I want you to see what a thin line defines God’s will from something that sounds reasonable. “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hand.” Just think about it and answer your question, true or false?

 

“‘Now therefore, please let me strike him with the spear to the ground with one stroke, and I will not strike him the second time.’” You need to remember Abishai is quite a warrior. He’s the one that saves David from one of Goliath’s relatives later on. Abishai has got it going on. He knows how to fight, and when he says, “I can do this, and it will be over quick and easy,” he means it. “But David said to Abishai, ‘Do not destroy him, for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be without guilt?’” And, “David also said, ‘As the Lord lives, surely the Lord will strike him, or his day will come that he dies, or he will go down into battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed; but now please take the spear that is at his head and the jug of water, [it’s time to] go.’”

 

Now I want you to ask yourself a question, and I want something to be emblazoned on your hearts: Is David the only one that’s ever been anointed for service to God in the scope of God’s covenant relationship with His people, yes or no? Clearly no. Some of you listening to me right now have come up onto this platform as elders, and people have laid their hands on you. In the Seventh-day Adventist Church, it used to be commonly understood practice that what David said about an enemy who actually had kingly power and was seeking to use it to snuff him out, that we ought not to in our diminished degrees of duress. [Whispers] “I don’t like that pastor.” “I don’t like that conference president.”

 

Some of us have been taught through the years that wounding the influence and the leadership ability of someone who has been anointed by the Lord is another type of grievance to God for which we will not be held guiltless. I want you to think about this. You don’t like your boss? You don’t like the president of an institution or a conference or a union or a division? You need to understand something: We don’t believe that that’s the real leader. We don’t believe that this is the real leader. We believe, as Ellen White said, that Jesus Christ is the leader of this enterprise, and the reason she tells us to pray is because divine administration can come into the ranks of our committees, and we can have the encouragement of the results of walking in the way that He’s leading in.

 

You’ve got something that’s rustling around in your mind, you need to understand something. There’s a shaking coming, and that which is chaff is going to be blown away in the wind. But that character, which has been made into the likeness of Christ because of a living relationship that’s built on trusting God, if David could trust God while one who is trying to literally take his life, perhaps you and I could trust God with a bad boss or a bad leader. Why don’t you pray for him? There’s a story. But the idea that we would sling slurs about people like “kingly power” is absolutely incompatible with our Christian profession. It is wrong. It is baseness of the lowest order, and I should surely hope that none of my brothers and sisters would find themselves polarizing like ideologues into camps of Adventism. Are we not like James White, committed to the cause and to what truth is? And could we not in humility pray and find our way into it? And if we found ourselves on the wrong side for a while, might we not find ourselves on the right side later, if God in His patience should correct us as His erring children?

 

You got opinions? Welcome to the world of Adventism. I’ve never met a good Adventist who didn’t have a few. You didn’t fall out of another denomination into this church, and you shouldn’t fall out of this church into another one because this is true prophetic purposeful identity.

 

Now, in my journey, I discovered one last category of kingly power. And this is the one I want all of you to have. As a matter of fact, if you don’t have this kind of kingly power, you won’t make it to Heaven. And this was the biggest surprise of my journey as I sat there scrolling and looking through quote after quote about kingly power. I thought, “We ought to know what this is.” And I came upon this one; 20 times she references to this kingly power. My guess is, 99.9 percent of most Adventists have never heard of this. “So, what is it, pastor?”

 

“It is God’s purpose that the kingly power of” (what, friends?) “sanctified reason…” Maybe we would be a more united church if we all had it. “The kingly power of sanctified reason, controlled by divine” (what?) “grace, shall bear sway in the lives of human beings. He who rules his spirit is in possession of this power.”

 

“God’s law has been placed around human beings as a bulwark to protect them, body, soul and spirit, from defilement. The kingly power of sanctified reason, controlled by the grace of Christ, is to bear sway in the hearts of the Lord’s workers.” And look what she says. “They should spend much time in secret prayer, in close communion with God. Thus only can they gain the victory.”

 

You know why there is so much ugly, slap-happy, unacceptable dialogue in Adventism? It’s because it doesn’t matter to me whether you’re the General Conference president or whether you’re sitting in a pew listening to me here this morning; we’re all children in God’s eyes. But when you don’t go for much time in secret prayer, you won’t have this. Your opinion will be pompous. Or you’ll be without the ability to really dig deep into the depths of your own soul and the Bible, and you’ll just mirror the thoughts of somebody else you look up to. God forbid!

 

So this is what Abishai said, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hand.” What was that? He had reason. Who would want to argue against that case? And this is exactly where Adventism is. Two groups with two different reasons, but what did David say? “Who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be without guilt?” And what was that? He had sanctified reason, which trumps reason every time. But I want you to see what a thin line divides them. And if you’re not claiming James 1:5, “He who lacks wisdom, let him ask of God,” you could be deceived as easily as Eve was deceived at the Tree of Evil.

 

You see, what David had was kingly power, and that’s what I want, and that’s what you need, and this is what every administrator and every teacher and every parent and every pastor needs. We need the kingly power of sanctified reason. I just love this. I would love to see this get totally turned around inside of Adventism, and instead of flinging verbal darts at people farther up the administrative flow chart, we actually started praying that God would give us a heart like David’s so that we wouldn’t unnecessarily wound anybody, let alone the people that are paying a higher emotional price tag to lead people in an age in which every form of authority that’s moral is hated.

 

You need to understand something. We have a crisis. Our crisis is that we have very few people choosing the teaching ministry and very few people until middle of life choosing the pastoral ministry. You know why? Because sometimes we’re conducting ourself just like those grown men and women who Mrs. White called “little kids,” and what millennial wants to wander into that morass? Go for it, millennial, just like Ellen White should have. You’ve got to follow God or you’ll be weak and afraid and not very well-differentiated.

 

“If we have the Spirit of God, we will think right thoughts, utter right words, and keep the heart with all diligence lest by one unwise impulse, we shall grieve and distress one of the Lord’s chosen messengers. ‘Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.’”

 

I’d like to ask a commitment of every single person here today that you would seek the restraining power of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Spirit, the fruits of the Spirit, one of which is self-control, that you would not participate in conversations that only fuel, fertilize and wound the administrative structures of this church. So, you don’t like this leader or you don’t like that leader, what does that have to do with anything? Come back to James White, what’s right, what’s wrong, and how would we graciously communicate in prayer for God to intervene.

 

Could we like David say, “Lord,” and later on he was suffering at the hands, “Lord, reach in, hear me, deliver us, deliver me.” I’m asking every single person here today to make a commitment that in this community, in our homes, in our workplaces, we will not speak words that wound the Lord’s anointed ones. We don’t need to be dragging people down. If you have a point to make, pray, and go make it in person. Don’t be cowardly. Love. But in the meantime, should you elect to think that your opinion is better than everybody else’s? You might have the wrong kind of kingly power.

 

So, we’re almost done. I just want to tie this thing off. (We’ll skip this one.) There were two or three men in Battle Creek making decisions for the whole world; this wasn’t right. They tried to control all the dollars, and they were attempting to make all missional and administrative decisions. This was a problem in our church. That was kingly power. Now you just need to know, especially in this community, where there are 7,000-plus Seventh-day Adventists, I want you to know what kingly power was by the definition of historic Adventism. And I want to contrast it with something else.

 

In 2015 thousands of people gathered. They voted, and this is what the vote looked like: 1381 people said no to the most controversial initiative, 977 wanted it to go. That means that 2,358 people were present to make a decision. Not quite like the two or three that were controlling in Battle Creek. This fall there was another difficult decision to be made. “The World Church Executive Committee approves steps recommended by Unity Oversight Committee,” and what was the vote? It was 185 to 124, that means 309 people voted. What you need to know is that that process is not kingly power. It’s called “due process.” And I want every single person here this morning to know you could never take 309 people, which is what was the restructuring that led to the recent vote back in 1901, you could never take 23-, almost 2400 people, if you listen to any of the debate when people stood in line to talk for hours. Free-thinking men and women got to speak their mind, and then free-thinking men and women in secret got to vote. That is not kingly power. And everybody here today needs to know that because if you call it that, what you’re showing us is that you lack the reasonable honesty of a person who could look at a subject not as an ideologue and without bias.

 

Listen, friends, I’ve worked for this church for three decades. You think I’ve liked every vote? No. There are things that have been decided about me that were wrong. But I got to decide, should I use the method of David or should I use the method of Absalom? And my choice has been to use David’s method, and you know what? David’s method will take me all the way to the Kingdom, which is where I am planning to go. And I’m appealing to you to go with me. I am asking you today to make a commitment that you will not feed, fuel or fertilize the ugly discussions, whether they are in this community or on the social media, that wound our church, but that you will point people to praying for that kingly power, which is sanctified reason empowered by divine grace, and that we might give to this world a sense that we are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love for each other.

 

If you’d like to make that decision, I invite you to stand right now. I just want to testify before I go, I woke up in the middle of the night and didn’t know I had a fever. I was cold, and when I got up, I started shaking uncontrollably. I took my temperature, and I tried to go back to sleep, but I couldn’t. I woke up around five-something again, and I went and I said, “Lord, if You don’t want me to preach this message, you just make my temperature go up, not down.” And I’d study, and I’d work, and then I’d take my temperature again. It stayed the same. Finally, somewhere later in the morning it started going down. Pastor Joe didn’t know how close he was to me calling up and saying, “You get to preach today.”

 

God’s given me the strength to give this message. I won’t be shaking your hand at the door; you don’t want me to breathe on you, and you don’t want me to touch you. I left it up to the Lord, and now He’s leaving it up to you. Be men and women of Christian integrity. Let’s start praying more. I put Ted Wilson’s name on my lips, I put Dan Jackson’s name on my lips, I put Maurice Valentine’s name on my lips, I put Jim Micheff’s name on my lips regularly. That’s General Conference, Division, Union and Conference. I don’t have to like every decision they make, and I don’t have to like every decision committee’s make, but this is my church, and they need me, and I need them. And we all need each other.

 

Just think about what I’ve said, and if you have pride of opinion, I’m challenging you, take it to the Lord, and may we be beautiful as Jesus is. Let’s pray. Lord, You’re very good to give us choice in the Garden so we weren’t slaves. This is a form of kingly power. Unto as many as believed on You, to them you gave power to become the sons and daughters of God. And, Lord, in spite of all the misunderstandings through the ages, disciples who thought that You were going to set up a literal kingdom, and Millerites who thought You were coming in a literal kingdom in 1844, You’ve labored long with Your people in spite of their mistakes, so may we labor long with each other in prayer. Bind up our wounds, draw us together, make us one. And may the nobility of Christ, who made Himself subject to His creatures, be the nobility of our lives. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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