The Doctrine of Balaam
There is something in the Scripture called “the doctrine of Balaam”. This doctrine is a poisonous article that will convert the church into Babylon. We will look at what this doctrine is, how it is a snare to the people of God, and how God leads His people out of this doctrine, and promises (even delights to confer) His blessing upon them.
SEPARATION FROM BABYLON
The pioneers of Adventism, having prided themselves on the heritage of the Protestant reformation, understood what it meant to separate from Babylon, which is understood to be first and foremost the “mother of harlots”, the mother apostate church, the church of Rome.
“As fundamental errors, we might class with this counterfeit sabbath other errors which Protestants have brought away from the Catholic church, such as sprinkling for baptism, the trinity, the consciousness of the dead and eternal life in misery. The mass who have held these fundamental errors, have doubtless done it ignorantly; but can it be supposed that the church of Christ will carry along with her these errors till the judgment scenes burst upon the world? We think not… And as the true light shines out upon these subjects, and is rejected by the mass, then condemnation will come upon them. … Solemn dreadful, swiftly-approaching hour!” (J. S. White, Review & Herald, September 12, 1854)
“Protestants and Catholics are so nearly united in sentiment, that it is not difficult to conceive how Protestants may make an image to the Beast. The mass of Protestants believe with Catholics in the Trinity, immortality of the soul, consciousness of the dead, rewards and punishments at death, the endless torture of the wicked, inheritance of the saints beyond the skies, sprinkling for baptism, and the pagan Sunday for the Sabbath; all of which is contrary to the spirit and letter of the new testament. Surely there is between the mother and daughters, a striking family resemblance.” (1858 Merritt E. cornell, FT 76.1)
“The cause of the fall of Babylon is thus stated: “she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Her fornication was her unlawful union with the kings of the earth. The wine of this, is that with which the church has intoxicated the nations of the earth. There is but one thing that this can refer to, viz., false doctrine. This harlot, in consequence of her unlawful union with the powers of earth, has corrupted the pure truths of the Bible, and with the wine of her false doctrine, has intoxicated the nations. A few instances of her corruption of the truths of the Bible must suffice…The doctrine of the Trinity which was established in the church by the council of Nice, a. d. 325. This doctrine destroys the personality of God, and his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. The infamous measures by which it was forced upon the church, which appear upon the pages of ecclesiastical history might well cause every believer in that doctrine to blush.- (1855, TAR J.N. Andrews)
“But to hold the doctrine of the Trinity is not so much an evidence of evil intention as of intoxication from that wine of which all the nations have drunk. The fact that this was one of the leading doctrines, if not the very chief, upon which the bishop of Rome was exalted to popedom, does not say much in its favor…” (R. F. Cottrell, July 6, 1869, Review & Herald)
“The “mystery of iniquity” began to work in the church in Paul’s day. It finally crowded out the simplicity of the gospel, and corrupted the doctrine of Christ, and the church went into the wilderness. Martin Luther, and other reformers, arose in the strength of God, and with the Word and Spirit, made mighty strides in the Reformation. The greatest fault we can find in the Reformation is, the Reformers stopped reforming. Had they gone on, and onward, till they had left the last vestige of Papacy behind, such as natural immortality, sprinkling, the trinity, and Sunday-keeping, the church would now be free from her unscriptural errors.” (Feb. 7, 1856 JWe, ARSH 148.22)
It’s evident that the pioneers were unanimous on many points regarding that mother of harlots, but they were chiefly unanimous on this point: the trinity was of Babylonian origin. What do they mean by these things? They mean exactly what the great harlot has taught: “The mystery of the Trinity is the central doctrine of the Catholic Faith. Upon it are based all the other teachings of the church…” Handbook for Today’s Catholic, p. 11
And why is she the great harlot? Jeremian 3:1 “…thou hast played the harlot with many lovers;… thou hast polluted the land with thy whoredoms and with thy wickedness… thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.“
It is for this cause (that is the worship of another god), that she has the very name “Mystery” upon her forehead. This fornication was doubtless the chief sin of the church. For by it, the Christians which were to be a blessed people, from the same “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” (Eph. 1:3), would turn away the blessing of God. To better explain this and why it is important, we are going to examine the blessing God bestows upon His faithful people, and also how the ¨doctrine of Balaam¨undermines that special blessing He longs to give us.
THE BLESSING & THE DOCTRINE OF BALAAM
The blessing upon the Christians was the blessing of Abraham’s seed. Therefore, the blessing conferred upon ancient Israel was the very same blessing. The experiences of the former are written for us:
(1Cor. 10:11) “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”
All things that happened were examples, especially for those in the last days. We ought to understand the examples that Scripture outlines for us to understand, that we might take heed to the admonition spoken of in them, and to at least briefly understand the blessing God gave to them.
It is evident that you cannot curse what God has blessed, for even so, did the prophet Balaam teach Balak, who sought for Balaam to curse Israel.
Numbers 22:12 “And God said unto Balaam…thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.“
Now that blessing was dependent upon obedience: “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” (Gen. 22:12)
Numbers 23:19-20 “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it.“
This testifies of the faithfulness of God to keep His Word. This fact we are called to remember, and for good cause. Micah 6:5 “O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the LORD.“
We are told to remember this point, that we may know the righteousness of God. And what is the righteousness of God?
Romans 1:16-17 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith…”
So what is this righteousness of God? It is the gospel of Christ! So it was with the blessing of Israel.
THE BLESSING OF ABIDING IN HIS LOVE
Deuteronomy 23:5 “Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.“
Why did God turn the blessing into a curse? Because he loved Israel, the people He had blessed with the gospel. It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth! But not all the Israelites believed. The Scriptures declare:
Hebrews 4:2 “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.“
It says the ancient Israelites did not believe the gospel, and His righteousness. Therefore they did not have the power of God. They did not believe in the message of God’s blessing, and therefore did not comprehend His love toward them. Therefore they turned aside in their unbelief from the blessing. Why did God declare His power to bless them in His love? He says it is because He loved them, and this is true. Yet, the Word declares that this special manifestation of His love can be reversed. We will look at what it means when the Scripture declares His love to you, and how the Israelites turned aside in unbelief, that we might heed the admonition.
John 15:10 “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”
John 14:21-23 “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him….If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
Abiding in the love of God is to abide in His blessing through obedience to His Word. It is to receive streams of continual blessing, so much so that curses God will turn to blessing to the child that loves Him with their whole heart. But Balaam, in showing that the blessing of God rested upon Israel, “taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” How did Israel stumble because of Balaam’s teaching Balac? The ancient Israelites stumbled by being seduced into the worship of false gods with the Moabite women, and were defiled with their abominations. They ceased to abide in the love of the true God, and cursing and the plague broke out upon them.
THE ADMONITION OF THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH
This same scenario happened in the early Christian church because the admonition of the doctrine of Balaam, which is turning aside from God and His love for the worship of false gods, was given but not heeded:
Revelation 2:14 “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.”
This was the sad record left upon the pages of history in the early Christian church when apostasy came in. The church of this era in the prophetic history was converted into Babylon. The pioneers recognized this fornication of the Babylonian harlot, and would not give credence to the Trinity for a moment, understanding the great blessing that was removed from the Christians as a result. Now, as it was then, even so it is now.
CONVERTING THE CHURCH INTO BABYLON
Abiding in the love is to abide in the blessing of God. This can only be done through obedience to the will of God, and through the keeping of His Word. There is no other way. The pioneers were clear of that great sin of the Babylonish harlot. In 1936, a letter from B.G. Wilkinson read:
“Replying to your letter of October 13 regarding the doctrine of the Trinity, I will say that Seventh-day Adventists do not and never have accepted the dark, mysterious Catholic doctrine of the Trinity.” (B.G. Wilkinson, letter to T. S. Teters, November 3rd 1936)
We were admonished by sister White regarding these points of tearing down the landmarks, which included the understanding of God, placing it on equality with the doctrine of the heavenly Sanctuary and those things regarding that:
“Let not any man enter upon the work of tearing down the foundations of the truth that have made us what we are..Those who seek to remove the old landmarks are not holding fast; they are not remembering how they have received and heard. Those who try to bring in theories that would remove the pillars of our faith concerning the sanctuary or concerning the personality of God or of Christ, are working as blind men. They are seeking to bring in uncertainties and to set the people of God adrift without an anchor.” (Ellen G. White to the delegates at the 1905 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Takoma Park, Washington D. C., May 24th 1905, “A Warning against False Theories,” MR 760)
What truths have made us what we are? Those that brought about a great separation from the sins and errors of Babylon.
“Seventh-day Adventists have been chosen by God as a peculiar people, separate from the world. By the great cleaver of truth He has cut them out from the quarry of the world and brought them into connection with Himself. He has made them His representatives and has called them to be ambassadors for Him in the last work of salvation. The greatest wealth of truth ever entrusted to mortals, the most solemn and fearful warnings ever sent by God to man, have been committed to them to be given to the world; and in the accomplishment of this work our publishing houses are among the most effective agencies.” (Testimonies for the Church Vol. 7, P. 138)
That great cleaver of truth separated us from the Babylonian trinity, declaring a great pillar of our faith to be the personality of God and Christ. “The way spiritualizers have disposed of or denied the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ is first using the old unscriptural Trinitarian creed…” (James White, January 24, 1846, The Day Star)
He was quoting Jude: (Jude 1:4) “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.“
What was Jude’s remedy for this? It was “to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.”
Now, if inducing to trinity worship is “the doctrine of Balaam” to turn the blessing of God into a curse, then Seventh day Adventists were right in contending for the faith delivered to them from God on this point, which was what some men God raised up would do. However, after a great struggle for many years on both sides regarding the matter, it was declared by the conference president in 1980 that the General Conference officially embraced the doctrine of the Trinity, which was a complete departure from the understanding of the pioneers. It was nothing less than backsliding, and apostasy: a denial of God and Christ.
Now seeing that to deny that faith would be a denial of God, and of Christ, let us see what this denial is termed as. (1 John 2:22-23) “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.” A denial of this would be antichrist. A denial of this is Babylon.
“The wine of Babylon is the exalting of the false and spurious sabbath above the Sabbath … also the immortality of the soul. These KINDRED HERESIES, and the REJECTION OF THE TRUTH, CONVERT THE CHURCH INTO BABYLON….” (2Selected Messages p. 68}
“We are not to think that the chosen ones of God who are trying to walk in the light compose Babylon. The fallen denominational churches are Babylon. Babylon has been fostering poisonous doctrines, the wine of error. This wine of error is made up of false doctrines, such as the natural immortality of the soul, the eternal torment of the wicked, the denial of the pre-existence of Christ (the Son of the living God- which the Trinity does) prior to His birth in Bethlehem, and advocating and exalting the first day of the week above God’s holy and sanctified day. These and kindred errors are presented to the world by the various churches, and thus the Scriptures are fulfilled that say, ‘For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” (Testimonies to Ministers pg. 61-62)
J.S. Washburn, in 1939, writing regarding the growing agitation on the Trinity matter, spoke forthright against the matter in a letter sent to all the conferences:
“Seventh-day Adventists claim to take the word of God as supreme authority and to have “come out of Babylon”, to have renounced forever the vain traditions of Rome. If we should go back to the immortality of the soul, purgatory, eternal torment and the Sunday Sabbath, would that be anything less than apostasy? If, however, we leap over all these minor, secondary doctrines and accept and teach the very central root, doctrine of Romanism, the Trinity…is this anything else or anything less than apostasy, and the very Omega of apostasy?…’ J.S. Washburn letter, 1939
Then if this is the case, then the General Conference is in apostasy. To drink from the very cup of intoxication, to worship the god of Babylon “the very central root, doctrine of Romanism”, would be to fall into the same sin as the doctrine of Balaam brought about. The mother of harlots and her daughters have induced this apostasy, as the Moabite women of old. Balaam, who held a high spiritual trust, was the one who was foremost the agitator in this apostasy with the Moabite women. Even so, by the General Conference leaders, Christ is shut out from the view of the people, and is denied entrance. Those who have denied Him are “working as blind men“, as sister White said. What is the result? The blessing is turned into a curse. Even so it is described in the Laodicean church:
Revelation 3:15-20 “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: …As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
God loves those who keep His word, and His blessing is especially with them. Therefore those who keep His Word will see the evidence of this apostasy, because He will reveal it to them that they may take their stand with Christ, and making their confession of Him in the sight of men. Thus shall they return to the faith once delivered to the saints, who abide in the blessing of the love of God.
Here is the promise given to those that keep His way of blessing:
Rev 3:8-9 “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews (Adventists- see the following quote), and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.“
“You think, that those who worship before the saints’ feet (Revelation 3:9), will at last be saved. Here I must differ with you; for God shew me that this class were professed Adventists (“say they are Jews, and are not”), who had fallen away, and “crucified to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” And in the “hour of temptation,” which is yet to come, to show out every one’s true character, they will know that they are forever lost; and overwhelmed with anguish of spirit, they will bow at the saints’ feet.” (EGW, Letter 2, 1847, p. 2)
It is clear that one class does not deny the name of Christ but kept the Word of God abiding in the love of God. Yet the other class deny Christ, and are liars (they “do lie”). Yet both classes profess to be Adventist.
“I saw that God has honest children among the nominal (name-only/professed) Adventists and the fallen churches, and before the plagues shall be poured out, ministers and people will be called out from these churches and will gladly receive the truth. Satan knows this; and before the loud cry of the third angel is given, he raises an excitement in these religious bodies, that those who have rejected the truth may think that God is with them. He hopes to deceive the honest and lead them to think that God is still working for the churches. But the light will shine, and all who are honest will leave the fallen churches, and take their stand with the remnant.” (Early Writings, p. 261).
And who are the remnant? If the nominal and fallen churches are those that have rejected the truth, and must receive the truth, it is evident that they must receive the truth. Therefore, the remnant are they who have not denied the name of Christ, and have kept the Word of God: the Israelites who have the blessing upon them.
Revelation 18:1-4 “And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”