THE NEW 'OBEDIENCE'
Teachings of Morris Venden-
MORRIS VENDEN AND THE NEW OBEDIENCE
For your convenience we are placing the conclusions and summaries first SO YOU CAN GET THE FACTS. then for more in-depth analysis the quotation selections:
Morris Venden and the New Obedience
in-depths analysis of what Morris Venden believes, teaches in his books
and articles, and, apparently, what he practices.
are not sinful because we sin /Sin is not doing bad things / Both right
and wrong can be sin / Jesus had Adam's sinless nature / We have original
sin / The will has nothing to do with salvation-before or after conversion
/ Sanctification Is the same as justification/ Do not try to please God /
You were saved at the cross / Resisting Satan makes us like him /
Resisting sin cheapens grace/ Do not claim Bible promises / Prayer does
not work / We often live worse when we pray / Danger of teaching children
good habits / Forget rules, regulations, and laws / Don't try to give
up smoking and drinking / The third angel's message is rest from trying to
obey /The beast of Revelation is self worship / The image of the beast
is righteousness by resolution / We are saved sinners/ We will be sinful
till Jesus comes
- and lots more!
October 1997, Lonnie Melashenko brought Morris Venden on the Voice of
Prophecy staff as an "Associate Speaker." This is astounding!
Our readers are well-aware of earlier events In Keene, Texas. Page 1 of
the VOP announcement said this:
Venden, Associate Speaker bringing Jesus and the Adventist gospel of
righteousness by faith to the airwaves, at the Voice of Prophecy speaking
appointments, through books and his global cassette ministry. "-
Voice of Prophecy announcement sheet, October 1997.
"gospel of righteousness by faith" Is remarkably aberrant.
Several years ago, we complied a remarkable collection of topically
classified statements from his books, which revealed how twisted his
theology really Is. In recent years, that material ("Morris Venden
and the New Obedience"-Part 1-9 ) has been in Part 3 of our
Publishing Tractbook. However, since Venden is now a featured radio
speaker and traveling lecturer for the Voice of Prophecy, the situation
demands that this compilation be more widely available. Therefore we have
PLACED IT ON THIS WEB FOR YOU TO READ AND SHARE.
possess talents which would accomplish much good if sanctified and used In
the cause of Christ, or much harm if employed In the service of unbelief
and Satan. The gratification of self and its various lusts will pervert
the talents and make them a curse Instead of a blessing. Satan, the
arch-deceiver, possesses wonderful talents. He was once an exalted angel,
next to Christ. He fell through self-exaltation, and created a rebellion
in heaven, and caused many to fall with him. Then his talents and skill
were employed against the government of God, to cause all whom he could
control to despise the authority of heaven. Those who are charmed with his
satanic majesty may choose to imitate this fallen general and share with
him his fate at last.
of life imparts refinement, which will lead those possessing it to shrink
more and more from coarseness and indulgence in sin. Such will not be led
away from the truth or be given up to doubt the inspiration of the Word of
God. On the contrary, they well engage in the study of the sacred Word
with ever-Increasing interest, and the evidences of Christianity and
inspiration will stamp their impress on the mind and life. Those who love
sin will turn away from the Bible, and will love to doubt, and will become
reckless in principle. They will receive and advocate false theories. Such
will ascribe man's sins to his circumstances, and when he commits some
great sin they make him a subject of pity Instead of looking upon him as a
criminal to be punished. This will always suit a depraved heart, which In
course of time will develop the principles of fallen nature. By some
general process, men abolish sin at once to avoid the unpleasant necessity
of Individual reformation and exertion. In order to free themselves from
the obligation of present effort, many are ready to declare of no account
all the labor and effort of their lives while following the sacred
principles of God's Word. Elder Hull's philosophical necessity has its
stronghold in the corruptions of the heart. God is raising up men to go
forth to labor In the harvest field, and if they are humble, devoted, and
godly, they will take the crowns which those ministers lose who concerning
the faith are reprobate." - 1 Testimonies, 440-441
are some eternal truths that stand out in contra-distinction to the
teachings of Morris Venden:
God, by His Holy Spirit, moves upon men to do kindly, unselfish acts, even
before they are converted. And the good and right things that they choose
to do after conversion are also prompted by the Spirit of God.
unselfish thought, word and act of men, when done for a worthy objective,
is pleasing to God.
is always offensive to God. He cannot countenance intentional
("known") sin, nor can He cover the individual with his
Righteousness who is indulging cherished sin.
cannot be saved while retaining or clinging to known or cherished sins.
is based on daily re-conversions (renewed justifications)-but it also
includes more than Justification.
also includes self-control and obedience through the enabling grace of
Christ. This is done through a strengthening of the human will by the Holy
Spirit, moment by moment, as we depend upon God for strength and help.
That which we could not do outside of Christ, we can now do in Christ: and
this is to conscientiously resist the wrong and choose the right-even
though it may be painful to thus choose a better way. This choosing the
right and refusing to do the wrong is a distinct act of our choice,
strengthened by the Holy Spirit, so that it can be carried through to
we chose Christ, our will was in slavery to Satan and sin. But in
accepting Christ and remaining with Him -our wills are set free from that
bondage. In Christ, we are now perfectly free to choose that which we
shall do. We can choose to remain with Christ and do the right. And we are
free at any moment to leave Him for the indulgence of selfishness and
sin-and with that choice, a temporary or permanent return to bondage, if
that is what we desire. But in our bondage, be it long or short, we can
again cry to Christ for release (deliverance). The freedom of the will
to choose sin or right living is pivotal in the entire experience of the
Christian. Not understanding the freedom of the will, and thus not
forcefully exercising it in the right direction can result in eternal
is never wrong to obey God, or to try to do so. Every effort to obey God
will benefit and help the individual himself, and those around him. It
matters not whether he be a Christian or a worldling. Every step in the
right direction will
you know of anyone who is trying to do the right, please do nothing to
discourage him. And you do well not to make fun of such people behind
their backs. It were better that a millstone were hung around your neck,
than that you thus cause one of these little ones to stumble.
the angels of God are continually seeking to guide these precious souls
toward the hand of Jesus. Do not ridicule the righteous-and do not mock
right-doing. -And, please, do not excuse sin and wrong-doing as though it
were acceptable in God's plan to save men. And never hint that God desires
anyone to remain in his sins for even an extra moment. Sin is a terrible
tragedy -a state of rebellion-that God wants every soul to leave at once,
by fleeing to Christ for overcoming strength. While it is called
today-come to yourself and return to your wonderful Father, that He may
forgive and heal, hold and empower you to henceforth live a clean life.
please, do not tell people that claiming Bible promises, quoting
Scripture, singing songs to Jesus, studying God's Word, and asking Jesus
for help -are "gimmicks" that are worthless in resisting and
final generation will keep the commandments of God-but it will be done by
an act of their own free wills, empowered by the Holy Spirit. Strength of
will to do good is a noble quality. Never ridicule it as "Phariseeism,"
"Iegalism," or "Laodiceanism."
a man sets his will to obey God, he does it under the direct conviction of
the Holy Spirit. Satan will never encourage anyone to try to resist sin or
obey God. It would appear that for one to speak against this sincere act
of the soul under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is bordering on the sin
against the Holy Spirit. He is attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to
All who will not plead with God, and resolutely choose the right, but
instead prefer to accept the error that God will do it for them-and even
"in them,' -but apart from their own persistent decisions-will be
lost. All who enter Heaven's gates, will in this life have chosen the
right, at the cost of friends, applause, power, and position.
The cooperation of the human with the divine is a key principle in the
Bible. and the Spirit of Prophecy. But this cooperation involves far more
than coming to Christ. It also includes fighting temptation, choosing the
right, upholding standards, and obeying all the laws of God. And many,
many times it will appear to yield unpleasant consequences if we do
resolutely stay by our resolve to keep our will on the side of God's
will-and deliberately choose the right and resist the wrong.
Only Seventh-day Adventism has the Sanctuary Message. For only Adventism
teaches that the highest levels of obedience are to be chosen and lived by
the remnant people of God. They are to be a spectacle to men and to
angels. But the secret is the Sanctuary Message. For it is through the empowering
intercession of Christ, their High Priest in the Sanctuary above, that
they can be thus strengthened in their wills to obey God in every
particular. (But do not suppose that they are to keep quiet on this
secret-for the Message of Christ's Mediation in the Sanctuary in Heaven
lies at the heart of the Third Angel's Message-read "Early
are personally held responsible for every sin we commit. This includes
sins performed after initial conversion.
Final Crisis is coming to all the world-and the Church will feel its
effects to the full. This crisis is literal and is carefully explained in
the book "Great Controversy." There IS a Mark of the Beast and a
Seal of God. And there is a fearful warning by the Third Angel against
accepting the errors of the Beast. And those who have a nominal awareness
of the Advent Message, and yet who play down, ignore, or spiritualize away
the truths of "Great Controversy" in regard to this Crisis, and
the dangerous agencies of Satan responsible for it, such as Roman
Catholicism,' Apostate Protestantism and Spiritualism, will not be
prepared for what is just ahead.
IS in our power to hasten the coming of Jesus by putting away sin and
developing a character like that of our Lord. In His strength, we can and
must prepare for the solemn events that are soon to come on all the earth.
The teaching that the will of man is predestined to failure in obeying
God's commandments and that those who accept Christ are not thereafter
responsible for their sins- is both foreign to historic Adventism and
devastating to it. It is a two-pronged error that will cause many people
to be lost. Seventh-day Adventists should not preach or publish such
soul destroying errors. They should refuse to listen to such errors;
they should openly oppose such errors; and they should not employ those
who teach such errors.
following is taken from a telephone conversation with an individual who is
well-known in the denomination. This individual has spoken at length with
Morris Venden on a number of occasions, but without success. You will find
this referred to in this conversation. In order to safeguard denominational
employment, I cannot identify this person.
have deeply appreciated the work of Elder Venden to try and help the
people. But as I have traveled and spoken in camp meetings and local
churches across America, I have found that there are very definite
after-effects in what he is presenting.
have spoken to many, many people who have read his books and are faced
with personal difficulties as a result. His teachings leave people saved
in known, ongoing, deliberate sin. He leaves them justified in sin. This
is Elder Venden's concept of sanctification, as he presents it.
long as you are studying and praying, and "in fellowship with
Christ," you are being saved, even though you may have cherished sins
in your life. This is his teaching.
called [by phone] a person in the --- --- [A highly placed office of
denominational work]. I asked him if he had read these books. He said that
he had "casually looked at them." I explained what he is
teaching, and --- was shocked But the teachings are there.
sanctification idea -totally by faith-is really dangerous. He teaches that
we can't do anything about sin except by study and prayer. And God does it
all -totally, with out your will. If you use your will, it is legalism.
And that i sin. It becomes sin to resist sin!
have spoken to many people all across America. And have found that this
teaching leaves you helpless when temptation arises. [Venden teaches that
you cannot use your will when tempted in order to resist sin]. You can
only use it to study and pray. You must let God take care of temptation
and sin, for you cannot do anything about either one yourself.
Jesus used His will every moment to resist sin and stay with God, and we
must also. For He is our Example. I have asked Morris Venden, "Then I
can use my effort of will to submit to God, and that is all right?"
he said "that is all right."
I cannot use my will to resist temptation?"
he replied; "-that is legalism! You cannot-you must not-try to use
you will to resist temptation. To do so is legalism.
Venden is teaching is directly opposed to the truth that we must resist
sin in the strength of Christ in this life-and that we can successfully
resist sin in the strength of Christ in this life.
message fits beautifully into the Laodicean experience. People have told
me: "I know I couldn't do it, and now God will do it for me some
day." "I don't have to try today. God is going to do it later
on, some day later." "Oh, I have such a strong relief after
reading Morris Venden's books. I have been trying to fight sin and now I
don't need to. God is going to take care of it in my life."
the Bible teaches, "The soul that sinneth, it shall ' die."
[Ezekiel 18:20] While Morris Venden is teaching that the soul will be
saved in sin.
false platform says: "You can be saved in sin." Ask any teacher
of a new doctrine: "Are you still in Christ while sinning?" If
he says "Yes," then he is on the wrong platform. And Venden is
on this wrong platform!
says that I dont have to resist sin, but as long as I study and pray, I
am in Christ anyway; even though I continue sinning all this time. His
teaching is a perfect complement to Ford's. People tell me that Venden is
going to bring the young people out of Ford teaching; the truth is that he
is taking them there. He is presenting a compromise between historic Adventism
and "new theology" that can appeal to all. If successful, he
will end up uniting everyone on a platform that most can accept- Live in
sin and be saved.
yet strangely enough, his teaching is mixed up with statements that the
remnant will overcome sin and keep the commandments. This attracts the
faithful who believe in genuine Adventism. It sounds good and it doesn't
sound like "new theology:' But how is this "overcoming" to
be done? That is the question. And Venden tells his listeners and readers
that it is only done by letting Christ do it. When we are in Christ, the
Holy Spirit gets rid of the sins eventually when He sees that it is best
to do so. Till then we just wait on Him to do it for us.
teaches that we can live in sin and be safe. Satan is not your master, he
says. You are now in Christ, and He will take away your sins in His own
says that we need to obey God, but then he adds that we cannot do anything
about it. He teaches that obedience is possible, but only as God gives it.
There is nothing for us to do except to study, pray and witness.
then, we are to continue in our sins. If God sees that He can gently take
away your cherished sins, then He will do it. But until He can quietly,
magically remove them without effort on your part,-just be patient.
That's the patience!! of the saints. Rest from your works, he says. The
works that are of value with God, he teaches, are those of submitting to
Christ and reading, praying and witnessing. Doing
good is all right; resisting sin and temptation is doing bad. It IS
legalism and you may be lost if you keep it up. It is an unprofitable work
of the flesh, and we need to repent of all such works.
have talked and pled with him over this. I have spent many hours with him.
But I cannot get through to him. He is adamant on his position and will
not budge. There are a number of us who are greatly concerned. But we
don't know what to do. The leaders won't listen to us. We've tried talking
with them. They say they are not theologians and that Venden is helping
people. If only he would unite the Spirit of Prophecy truths about sin and
obedience with his message, instead of twisting them to make them fit into
his preconceptions. He quotes a lot of Spirit of Prophecy in his books,
but this misleads people into thinking that all is well when it is not.
one of his sermons he tells the story of how he likes a certain kind of
ice cream. He craves it, he says. If he walks by an ice cream parlor and
knows that it is in there, what is he to do? "I might as well go on
in and have it -to resist it would be legalism," he tells the people.
your will -an act of will -to resist sin is legalism, he teaches. But what
a terrible danger when we cut off the involvement of choice, decision;
will in the warfare against sin!
truth is that we must yield ourselves to God-and then in His Strength put
to death those temptations to wrongdoing. I have spoken with a number of
church members who have confided in me that they are powerless against
temptation. When it comes along, they always give in. I ask them if they
have been reading Venden's books. "Why, yes," they say,
"how did you know."
most unfortunate of all, so many of our people are too busy to take time
to learn what is taking place. Few people are thinking through all this;
even fewer seem to even care.
statement below was prepared by one holding a doctorate who lives in the
central states. His brief analysis approaches the problem from yet
another angle, and thus helps us see the entire picture more clearly. .
Venden considers the following statements to be errors: 1. The main issue
in sin is what you do. 2. We are not sinful until we sin. 3. If we stopped
sinning we would no longer be sinful.
following statements he considers to be true: 1. Everyone is sinful,
whether or not he sins. 2. We are sinful until Jesus comes. 3. God does
not hold us responsible for being sinful. 4. We sin because we are sinful;
we are not sinful because we sin. 5. Sin is not what we do; it is what we
are. 6. Sins are what we do as a result of what we are. 7. Sin results in
the transgression of the law.
are replies to these errors:
He says that this is false: "The main issue in sin is what you
do." But this statement is true, for the main issue IS what you do.
It is whether or not you and I will keep the commandments. It is whether
we will sin or not sin.
the commandments of God" is an action, an activity; it is not just a
Bible phrase. It is not just believing that we should not sin and
"Letting God take care of it for us;" it is personally resisting
sin and not doing it. "Blessed are they that 00 His
commandments." (Revelation 22:14) "The DOERS of the law shall be
justified." (Romans 2: 13)
first four commandments reveal our duty to God, and the last six show our
duty to our fellow men. Each one of the Ten Commandments represents an
activity. "The covenant which He commanded you to PERFORM, even Ten
Commandments." (Deuteronomy 4: 12-13) "If ye KEEP My commandments."
(John 15:10) Additional examples could be given (Christ acted to fulfill
the law [Matthew 5: 17] ; "whosoever shall do and teach them"
[Matthew 5:19]; walking after the Spirit fulfills the law [Romans 8:4];
keeping the commandments is the whole duty of man [Ecclesiastes 12:
central issue in the crisis at the end of time is this: Is it possible for
us to do what God asks us to do;-is it possible for us to keep His
commandments, as Revelation 14:12 predicts that we shall do? And this is
the central issue in Elder Venden's error on sin.
consider these passages: We can render obedience to His law (OA 24). The
law lifts us above the power of natural desires and tendencies; above the
temptations that lead to sin (1 SM 233). By His perfect obedience He
[Christ] has made it possible for every human being to obey His
commandments (COL 312). "Christ is a living witness that the law can
be kept. It is not that men cannot keep the law, but that they will
not" (RH, May 28 1901). "He who has not sufficient faith in
Christ to believe that He can keep him from sinning, has not the faith
that will' give him an entrance into the kingdom of God" (RH, March
Venden says that this is false: "We are not sinful until we
sin." But it is a correct statement, nevertheless. We were born
sinful, that is, inherited sinful tendencies; but we are not sinners until
we personally commit sin.
He says that this is false, also: "If we stopped sinning, we would no
longer be sinful" But he is in error on this point, too.
Bible fact is that when we stop sinning and keep all of God's
commandments, we are no longer sinning;-even though we still retain a
sinful nature, or bent toward sin.
who by faith keep's God's commandments, will reach a condition of
sinlessness in which Adam lived before His transgression" (ST, July
30, 1902; 6 BC 1118). "Through cooperation with divinity, human
beings may in this life attain to perfection of character" (AA 531).
"Perfection of character is attainable by everyone who strives for
it" (1SM 212). The 144,000 are "without fault [faultless] before
God (GC 649), and are called "living saints" (EW 15).
are several erroneous statements which Elder Venden believes to be true:
teaches that "Everyone is sinful whether they sin or not." This
is incorrect and contradicts the points given in the above several
paragraphs (under the heading, "If we stopped sinning, we would no
longer be sinful"). The truth is that we must become new creatures in
Christ and overcome every fault (MH 492), for through faith in Christ we
can correct these faults (AA 564)..
Venden teaches that "God does not hold us responsible for being
born sinful" This is true,- but He holds us responsible for remaining
in the sins we have chosen. Let us not try to escape from the
responsibility for our sins! Let us be done with them.
what consisted the strength of the assault made upon Adam, which caused
his fall? It was not indwelling sin; for God made Adam after His own
character, pure and upright. There were no corrupt principles in the
first Adam, no corrupt propensities or tendencies to evil. Adam was as
faultless as the angels before God's throne." (1 BC 1083)
to all the commandments of God was the condition of eating of the tree
of life . . Obedience through Jesus Christ gives to man perfection of
character, and a right to that tree of life." (1 BC 1086)
related to the first Adam, men receive from him nothing but guilt and the
sentence of death. But Christ steps in and passes over the ground where
Adam fell, enduring every test in man's behalf. He redeems Adam's
disgraceful failure and fall by coming forth from the trial untarnished.
This places man on vantage ground with God. It places him where, through
accepting Christ as His Saviour, he becomes a partaker of the divine
nature. Thus he becomes connected with God and Christ." (6BC 1074)
"You cannot bring up your children as you should without divine help; for the fallen nature of Adam always strives for the mastery." (AH 205)
will bring in every kind of theory to pervert the truth. The work will go
hard, for since the fall of Adam it has been the fashion of the world to
sin." (6T 129-130)
Venden teaches that "We sin because we are sinful; we are not sinful
because we sin." Much of this may be true, but Adam did not sin
because he was sinful, and sufficient provision has been made for us not
to remain in our sins.
evil propensities must be controlled (CG 42). An enlightened intellect
must control our animal propensities (MYP 237). Both inherited and
cultivated tendencies to wrong can be overcome (MH 176). Through the plan
of redemption, God has provided means for subduing every evil trait (1SM
82). Christ's perfect humanity is that which all His followers may possess
if they will be in subjection to God as He was (OA 664).
Venden teaches that "Sin is not what we do; it is what we are."
Such a concept is false. Too much evidence of Augustine's Original Sin
error is to be found in Venden's view of sin.
Venden believes that "Sins are what we do as a result of what we
are." This may be partly true, but it is a half-truth. Both of the
above statements (numbers 3 and 4) imply that we cannot do otherwise than
to sin. But recall again 7BC 943, where we are told that there is no need
to retain even one sinful propensity, and MYP 81, where we are told that
we can have strength to overcome as He overcame. Read all of these
passages for yourself.
central theme of the above statements by Elder Venden appears to be this:
Sin is a condition of the organism and not an activity of the organism. In
other words, sin is what we are and not what we do. But such a teaching is
the basis of the false doctrine of Original Sin. As soon as we say that
sin is what we are, then our inherent tendency to sin-renders sin inevitable
in our lives. The two become identical; the tendency to sin becomes the
same as the act of sin itself.
is true that we have inherited sinfulness from Adam. But sinful tendencies
are not sin. The suggestion that man is born a sinner leads us directly to
the Roman Catholic doctrine of Infant Baptism, whereby it was assumed that
one could wash away the infant's inherited sin by means of sprinkling, so
he might have a sinless start in life.
teaching of inherited sin also leads to the Roman Catholic doctrine of the
Immaculate Conception. If man inherits sin from Adam, then Christ, born
as a man, must have inherited sin and thus must have been born a sinner
also. ln order to avoid this logical conclusion, and keep Christ's life
sinless (as in fact it was), we must declare that Mary, the mother of
Christ; did not, in some way, pass sinful human nature on to Christ. Thus
we see that if man had Original Sin, then Christ could not have partaken
of our nature and still be sinless. Thus He could not really have been
tempted in all points as we are. It would be necessary for Him, therefore;
to have been able to keep the law with a strength or power not available
to the rest of us.
this results from this error. The obvious conclusion of this error is that
we need not keep the law of God, because Christ kept it for us with a
superior power. This error also eliminates our own responsibility for the
specific acts of sin that we commit, -for why should we be responsible for
them since we have no power available to us to eliminate them from our
life. Our sins are indeed excusable, and Christ becomes an inadequate
Saviour. Sin becomes excusable.
and Eve sinned with a sinless nature. The plan of salvation is based upon
the real truth that a human being 'With a sinful" nature can indeed
live a sinless life on this earth, for he can do it with empowered help
doctrine of Original Sin rules out the possibility of a total victory over
sin by any human being in this present life. In contrast, the Spirit of
Prophecy maintains that sin can be completely eradicated and now. Elder
Venden says that the remnant will keep the commandments of God, but he
explains it in such a way as to teach that we will continue to remain in
our sins without being able to resist them. Then, when probation has
closed, it would be forever too late for those who had been taught that
they could not and should resist sin. Venden reflects the Roman Catholic
doctrine of Original Sin, and this is the error upon which the doctrinal
edifice of Brinsmead and Ford are built.'
this study, the above writer added a number of Spirit of Prophecy
references, with some quotations. Here are some of them:
MUST COOPERATE WITH CHRIST IN THE WORK OF SALVATION
our endeavor to obtain salvation we must cooperate with divine agencies.
There is a certain work that we must engage in, certain tasks that we must
perform in order to place ourselves in harmony with the divine so that
Christ can do for us that which He is willing and waiting to impart to
has created us free moral agents. This means that He respects our will,
our desires, and the choices that we make. He does not interfere with
them, set them aside or override them if we are intent upon having our own
way. He allows us to act out our desires wherever they may lead unless we
pray that His will rather than ours be done in our lives. This means that
God's interaction with our will is secondary. That is, it takes place only
if the primacy of our desires acquiesces in God's will for us. He will
lead us if we allow Him to lead us and place our lives in His hands. There
exists a divine principle of cooperation between us and God
which is stated as follows:
God was working in Daniel and his companions 'to will and to do of His
good pleasure,' they were working out their own salvation. Herein is
revealed the outworking, of the divine principle of cooperation, without
which no true success can be obtained. Human effort avails nothing'
without divine power; and without human endeavor, divine effort is with
many of no avail. To make God's grace our own, we must act our part. His
grace is given to work in us to will and to do. But never as a substitute
for our effort." Prophets and Kings" 486-487.
"No man can of himself work out his own salvation, and God cannot
do this work for him without his cooperation. But when man works
earnestly, God works with him, giving him power to become a son of
God." 6 Testimonies, 372.'
"We must make more earnest decided efforts, if we would have the Lord
Jesus abide with us as our counselor and helper." 1 Selected
The Lord does not propose to do for us either the willing or the doing.
This is our proper work. As soon as we earnestly enter upon the work,
God's grace is given to work in us to will and to do, but never as a
substitute for our effort. Our souls are to be aroused to cooperate: The
Holy Spirit, works the human agent to work out our own salvation. This is
the practical lesson the Holy Spirit is trying to teach us. The whole work
of the Christian is comprised in willing and doing." Testimonies to
Ministers, 240, 241.
"Let no man present the idea that man has little, or nothing to do in
the great work of overcoming; for God does nothing without man's
cooperation. "1 Selected Messages, 381."
"Let no man say that our works have nothing to do with our rank and
position before God . . Effort and labor are required on the part of the
receiver of ,God's grace." 1 Selected Messages, 381.'
"Earthly blessings cannot be obtained without toil, and can we expect
that spiritual and heavenly blessings will come without effort on our
part?" 1 Selected Messages, 359.
"Can man be saved in doing nothing? Never, never. He must be a
co-laborer with Christ. He cannot save himself. 'We are laborers together
with God.' " Matthew 16:24.
"Some say that Christ had borne all the burden, all the suffering,
all the self-denial, and they are willing to let Him bear it. They say
that there is nothing for them to do but believe; but Christ says: 'If and
man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and
follow Me.' " Matthew 16:24.
WORKS ARE NECESSARY
the exercise of faith we must faithfully work to bring forth fruit. This
is indicated in the following statements:
"We are to do all we can on our part to fight the good fight of
faith. We are to wrestle, to labor, to strive, to organize to enter in at
the straight gate. In one way we are thrown upon our own energies; we are
to strive earnestly to be zealous and to repent, to cleanse our hands and
purify our hearts from every defilement. . The Bible teaches that
everything regarding our salvation (all phases) depends upon our own
course of action. If we perish, the responsibility rests wholly upon
ourselves. . If we accept God's terms, we may lay hold on eternal life . .
Faith and works go hand in hand; they act harmoniously in the work of
overcoming. Works without faith is dead; faith without works is
dead." Faith and Works, 48. "
"It is an error to believe that since by grace alone we become
partakers of the grace of Christ, our works have nothing to do with our
redemption (sanctification and glorification)." Steps to Christ,
"He who is trying to reach heaven (glorification) by his own works in
keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. Man cannot be saved
without obedience. But his works should not be of himself; Christ should
work in him to will and to do of His good pleasure." 1 Selected
"Some say that Christ has borne all the burden, all the suffering,
all the self-denial, and they are willing to let Him bear it. They say
that there is nothing for them to do but believe; but Christ says:
"If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his
cross and follow Me." Matthew 16:24.
"If you say 'I am saved' and disregard the commandments of God, you
will be eternally lost." 1 Selected Messages, 318.
"When it is in the heart to obey God, when efforts are put forth to
this end, Jesus accepts this disposition and effort as man's best service,
and He makes up the deficiency , with His own divine merit." Faith
and Works, 50.
"Can a man be saved (sanctified) in doing nothing? Never, never. He
must be a colaborer with Christ. He cannot save himself. "We are
laborers together with God." 1 Corinthians 3:9.
"Earthly blessings cannot be obtained without toil, and can we expect
that spiritual and heavenly blessings will come without effort on our
part?" 1 Selected Messages, 359.
"When we have prayed for something we are to do our best to have it come
to pass." 4 Testimonies, 115.
"Those who are waiting to behold a magical change in their characters
without determined effort on their part to overcome sin, will be
disappointed." 1 Selected Messages, 336.
"Engaging in the struggle here below--work out your own
salvation--strain every muscle and train every faculty:" Review and Herald
April, 28, 1910.
"WE should not wait for God to do for us what we can do for
ourselves." My Life Today, 119.
"We hear a great deal about faith, but we need to hear a great deal
more about works. Jesus says: "If any man will come after Me, let him
deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." 1 Selected Messages,
"Faith works by love and purifies the soul. Through faith the Holy
Spirit works in the heart to create holiness therein; but this cannot be
done unless the human agent will work with Christ." 1 Selected
Messages, 374. .
"Apart from Christ no one can do good works. . Faith and works go
together, believing and doing are blended." 1 Selected Messages, 373.
"Although the good works of man are of no more value without faith in
Jesus than was the offering of Cain, yet covered with the merit of Christ
they testify to the worthiness of the doer to inherit eternal life
(glorification)." 1 Selected Messages, 382.
"The condition of eternal life (glorification) is now what it has
always been. . Perfect obedience to the law of God, perfect
righteousness." Steps to Christ, 62.
"The Lord will receive the sinner when he repents and forsakes his
sins so that he can work with his efforts in seeking perfection of
character (sanctification)" 5 Testimonies, 631.
"Faith and works are two oars which are to be used equally." Welfare
GOOD WORKS ARE NECESSARY IN SANCTIFICATION
fruit means practicing the truths of God in our own lives so that others
may obtain the benefits of our justification and sanctification, and are
helped toward their own justification or salvation. Sanctification means
to believe the truth and to practice it (My Life Today, 261).
the life-giving truths of God's word are faithfully carried out in the
life, no man can see the kingdom of heaven (glorification) (faith and
works that we should do are the works in which the Holy Spirit is our
guide and helper. They should be works in which the Holy Spirit cooperates
with us. "Man cannot be saved (sanctified) without obedience, but his
works should not be of himself. Christ should work in him to will and to
do of His good pleasure, ' (1 Selected Messages, 364).
word 'saved' here means sanctified because obedience to all of the
commandments comes during sanctification. Education, 7.
we find that there are conditions to our receiving justification and
sanctification and the righteousness of Christ. . While good works will
not even save one soul, yet it is impossible for even one soul to be saved
without good works' (1 Selected Messages, 377).
good works will not even save one soul' means in justification, and 'it is
impossible for even one soul to be saved' means sanctification. Works of
faith are involved in obeying God's law, for 'obedience to the law of God
is sanctification' (Faith and Works, 85). By obedience the truth will
sanctify the soul and will help us overcome all weakness of character.
is the work of conversion (which here means justification) and
sanctification to reconcile men to God by bringing them in accord with the
principles of His law (Great Controversy, 461).
is a progressive work. It is not attained in an hour, or a day, and then
maintained without any special effort on our part (2 Testimonies 472).
growth in grace takes effort, and can be achieved only by daily conformity
to God (4 Testimonies, 299).
with Christ living within us through His Holy Spirit such conformity is
not automatic. It takes earnest, decided effort on our part if we would
have the Lord Jesus abide with us as counsellor and helper (1 Selected
reason for this is that God has given us freedom of choice and a will. He
never overrides these against our will. So the initiative in staying with
Christ resides in us. God never forces the will. -Great Controversy, 591.
OUR JUSTIFICATION AND SANCTIFICATION
individual who has been justified will now do good works in order to
develop the perfection of his character, his sanctification. When we
spoke of an individual not being saved by works we were referring to his
initial contact with Christ or his justification. After an individual has
been justified he must become sanctified. This means that he must develop
his character unto higher and ever higher levels of perfection or
sanctification. Hence the works which he does during sanctification are
works which not only sanctify him, but these same works also maintain his
justification or justify him. This is the reason why the Bible speaks of
persons being justified by their works, while it also speaks of
individuals not being justified by works. This means that only justified
persons, only sanctified persons, only believers who have placed their
faith in Christ can be justified by works. It means that the works which
sanctify also justify, and that the works which justify also sanctify.
This principle is made clear in the following statements:
"In order for man to retain justification, there must be continual
obedience through active living faith that works by love and purifies the
soul:'-1 Selected Messages, 366.
"The Christian cannot maintain sanctification without special effort
on his part:'-2 Testimonies 472.
"We must make earnest decided efforts if we would have the Lord Jesus
abide with us as our counsellor and helper." 1 Selected Messages, 319.
"Righteousness is obedience to the law. The sinner is incapable of
rendering it . . He can attain it only through faith. God places the
obedience of the Son to the sinner's account and pardons and justifies the
repentant sinner and treats him as though he were righteous. . When we do
our best He becomes our righteousness.
"Conversion (sanctification) may be viewed as a daily experience.
"Genuine faith will be manifested in good 'works for good works are
the fruit of faith. . The faith that does not produce good works does not
justify the soul. . Where faith is good works appear." 1 Selected
"Faith will never save (sanctify and glorify) you unless it is
justified by works." 2 Testimonies, 159.
came to the earth, taking humanity and standing as man's representative,
to show in the controversy with Satan that man, as God created him,
connected with the Father and the Son, could obey every divine
requirement:" 7 Bible Commentary 926.
brings man into a new relation with God." Our High Calling 215.
a man is converted, when he comes back to his allegiance to God, he then
places himself in a right relation to Him, . .whereby he will regain the
moral image of his Maker." Review and Herald March 1, 1887.
your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins
have hid His face from you, that He will not hear. Isaiah 59 :2.
Him was no guile or sinfulness; He was ever pure and undefiled; yet He
took upon Him our sinful nature. Review and Herald Dec. 15, 1896.
"He [Judas] . . did not become transformed, and converted through connection with the True Vine. This dry sapling adhered not to the Vine until it grew into a fruitful, living branch. He revealed that he was the graft that did not bear fruit,-the graft that did not, fiber by fiber and vein by vein, become knit with the Vine, and partake of its life." Sons and Daughters of God 291.
"A mere profession of godliness is
worthless." Sons and Daughters of God 297. "like Judas, we may
hold the truth in righteousness."
"Repentance for sin is the first fruits of the working of the Holy Spirit in the Life." 6 Bible Commentary 1068.
"If you are right with God today, you are ready if Christ should come
today." In Heavenly Places 227.
knowledge of Christ will avail nothing unless we become like Him in
character, bearing the same likeness, and representing His Spirit to the
world. Christ is of no value to us unless He is formed within, the hope of
glory. If we do not know Him as our personal Saviour, a theoretical
knowledge will do us no good." That I May Know Him 107.
is through the tangible ingredients of relationship Bible study, prayer,
and Christian witness--that we enter into relationship with Him and that we
continue to abide in Him, as well. What will be the result? We will
experience so close a relationship with Him that Jesus describes it as
dwelling in Him, and He in us (See John 17:20-23)." "Ministry" magazine
March, 1982, page 9.
Three Tangibles: Paul says in Philippians 2:12, "Work out your own
salvation with fear and trembling. " How do you work out your own
salvation? What is your part? What can you do? Three things. The study of
the Bible and spending time in prayer are the first two. The third is
Christian witness. " To Know God 67..
purpose of the daily relationship with Christ is communication. If you
maintain regular communication, you will have a relationship. " To
Know God 52.
. . Spending time together. It's just that simple. " To Know God 46..
mere assent to this union while the affections are not detached from the
world, its pleasures and its dissipations, only emboldens the heart in
disobedience." 5 Testimonies 232. "To claim union with Christ
(one which is not genuine) hardens the heart in disobedience and
self-confidence." 5 Testimonies 48..
"The hope which had been so precious to them lost its attractions;
for the specious delusions of Satan almost wholly extinguished the light
of salvation through the merits of a crucified Saviour, and men were led
to seek to make an atonement through works of their own,-by fasts and
penances, and through the payment of money to the church. It was more
agreeable to the natural heart thus to seek justification than to seek it
through repentance and faith, through belief in, and obedience to, the
truth. Review and Herald Nov. 22,1892.
author of the book positively asserts that "if you enter into a
relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and continue that relationship
with Him from now until He comes again, He will do the rest." To
Know God 40,101.
you continue the relationship with Jesus, sooner or later your sin is
going to go. That's the way it works. That's the only way it works-" To Know God, 94.
"Those who are waiting to behold a magical change in their characters
without determined effort on their part to overcome sin, will be
disappointed." Maranatha, 227.
is the conclusion: Morris Venden is championing overcoming and perfection
of character, but the means to that end is by letting God do the
overcoming and perfecting, without any effort on your part. And the
result is that many who buy this new method are going to remain in their
sins. And that is unfortunate..
mention the cigarette habit as but one example of the fallacy of this new
theory. Only those who miraculously have the desire for the habit taken
from them will be able to overcome this problem, if Venden's view is
examples could be cited, such as the conquest of bad temper, or eating too
much or the wrong kinds of food. Venden theology teaches day-by-day
salvation in sin, and says that, if we will patiently stick with his way,
it will ultimately gain for us perfection of character. Do you dare wait
till later to put away your sins? I say you had better plead with God for
empowerment to actively resist and overcome them now!.
you want to be tied to your sinful habits when the National Sunday Law is
passed and the Mark and Seal begins to be affixed? Do you want to be
living with the "patience of the saints" with your sins -when
your name comes up in judgment in the Sanctuary above? At such a time in
history as this, when the great Day of Judgment is just upon us, are we to
teach-or accept the teaching-that we do not need to immediately put away
ramifications of this terrible theory go on and on. Morris Venden writes
in code. And this is why it has been difficult for many to grasp his
objective. You may be interested in how the code was cracked.
will tell you.
was done by people who personally asked Venden pointed questions. As with
a number of us, they could not figure out where he was headed and exactly
what he meant. So they interviewed him personally. And he gave them the
key to the code. One young man found himself puzzled by Venden's Carolina
Conference campmeeting presentations, so he went to him privately and
asked him what he meant.
way you seem to be coming through to me is, that a Christian is not
supposed to resist sin through any effort of his will at all. If the
removal of sin does not come about easily through the Holy Spirit, then
the Christian must wait for the Holy Spirit to do it; is that right?"
Venden's reply: "Any effort put into overcoming sin by the Christian
explaining the code, Venden had explained his concepts. The young man
then turned to Venden's books and found the errors clearly stated therein.
He now stands in opposition to the current Carolina Conference promotion
to place a copy of Venden's "How to Make Christianity Real" in
every Adventist home in North and South Carolina.
individual spent many, many hours with Venden discussing his concepts.
And the time spent spanned several years. The result was a very clear view
of Venden's beliefs. This denominational worker's statements made over
the phone to me are recorded in this present set of papers.
there was the individual who teaches at the University of Nebraska, in
Lincoln, Nebraska. He has been exposed to Venden's teachings for quite
some time now. Sitting in his classes, he has heard Venden repeatedly
explain his positions. But ironically, this individual told me that it was
because of a different aspect of the problem that aroused him to action.
(He is currently appealing to the conference president for help.) We have
here been discussing the Venden view on how to deal with sin, but this
church member in Lincoln, Nebraska, was aroused to action by Venden's
view of sin itself!
are told in the Spirit of Prophecy that the basic definition of sin is
to be found in 1 John 3:4. "Sin 'is the transgression of the
law." But Morris sees sin as "separation from God." (But
Isaiah 59:2 is speaking of separation from God as an effect of sin, and
not as the sin itself or the cause of the sin.) With this new definition
of sin in mind, one can easily see why Venden can believe us safe when,
after having had our study and prayer for the morning, we dare to journey
through the day's activities without resisting temptation and known sins.
We don't need to resist temptation because sin is really only
"separation from God," and having had our prayer and study for
the day-we are now with God!
would be very happy if Morris Vend en would publicly state-and write in
his books-that the God of heaven requires mankind to put forth efforts to
obey His laws, and that these efforts will be successful when done in
faith that Christ will strengthen those efforts. Then this set of papers
could be withdrawn from circulation.