For My Love for the Son of God

Posted Jun 05, 2012 by Adrian Ebens in Disfellowship Process Hits: 3,461

On May 14th 2012 I received a letter from my local church indicating that my current situation requires that my membership with the church be examined. The reasons presented to me that require these proceedings were as follows:

  • Denial of faith in the fundamentals of the gospel and in the fundamental beliefs of the Church or teaching doctrines contrary to the same.
  • Persistent refusal to recognise properly constituted church authority or to submit to the order and discipline of the church.

I was informed that a church business meeting would be held on June 4th at 7pm to consider the matter and that if I wished to continue my membership that it would be good for me to attend the meeting.

The church where my membership is held is about 1900kms from my home. My son and I travelled this distance by car. As I travelled I had plenty of time to think and consider the matter. My belief that Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father had placed me in direct conflict with my beloved Church. Belief for me is something that you live, that you confess, it is not something you are silent about. This is why I say my belief brought me into direct conflict with my church.

My trip took me past the place where I was born which is directly opposite the headquarters of the South Pacific Division. As I looked at the Sydney Adventist Hospital  and then turned my eyes to gaze upon the symbol of my church that I had served all my life, I pondered the cost that I was about to pay. Racing through my mind were many experiences, faces, churches that I had worshipped in. I thought of my schooling right through the Adventist School system and the several teachers that had helped me develop and grow through my formative years. I remembered the rousing hymn singing that would often accompany a powerful sermon on Daniel or Revelation and I smiled as I thought about dear friends I had encountered along the way. These things were now placed at distance from me and I had to question was the Son of God worth the loss of all this?

A few simple statements from Scripture and a recollection of all the research and study I had engaged over the past 5 years. My mind locked down like a steel trap upon the certainty of the Word of God and I felt that the truth concerning the Son of God could endure the pounding of a thousand sledge hammers. Nothing could shake my confidence in the Son of God and nothing would separate me from Him, not friends, nor church, nor sweet memories, nor career, nor honour, not one thing would stand before my choice of the only begotten Son of God.

That night I stayed only a short distance from Avondale college and I recalled the experience of my seminary training. I recalled the efforts to bring my mind into the spiritualistic, metaphorical philosophy and my efforts to resist it. I remembered wondering to myself how the Adventist Church could ever survive with such blatant attacks on the pillars of Adventism given to us as a people. As I cast my gaze over that institution I wondered what harvest awaits this place for what it has done to the youth of our church over the last four decades.

On the Sabbath before my trial I attended the church that wished to disfellowship me. I saw many familiar faces and to my great delight I found that I only felt love for them. I had prayed that our Father would help me to only reflect the spirit of Jesus in all I do. I was well aware that I might fail and that feelings of self-pity or frustration at the process might overtake me, but I spent the whole Sabbath worship time there without any negative feelings towards them. As I sat there before the service I recalled the years of service I had given to this very church as its pastor. Many warm memories returned as I recalled the faces and events that we had engaged together. Now from the very pulpit that I had preached of the love of Christ came the announcement that the church was planning to meet the following Monday night to decide my membership announced by one of the wonderful young men that I had taught and trained in the gospel.

Is there no anger Adrian? Is there no frustration at such injustice for all that you did for this church? No, none, only love and the sad reminder that I had involved myself in the worship of a false god and that I was more than worthy of this treatment – yes I deserved it all. So I had nothing to complain about. I trusted myself to my loving Saviour and contented myself that the knowledge of the Son of God was more than worth all this and much more besides.

On the day of the meeting being June 4th I received a call from my conference president who was going to chair the business meeting. He told me that he had read my manuscript Return of Elijah and watched some of my DVD’s and read some of my articles. He told me that he saw some lovely things in my writings but that he could not see the thrust of what I was saying. He told me that he was hearing many things and that I was causing much damage to the church. I thanked the president for taking the time to read my material and that I could not ask him to do more than this. He asked me how it could be possible that I alone could be right and the whole church incorrect. I indicated that there are thousands of laymen who have found joy in the Father and His Son. Do not all these voices count. I stated that I was only one of many who believed this. The president informed me that he had recommendations from every level of the church indicating that it was in the best interests of all that I be disfellowshipped. Our discussion ended cordially with only a short time before the meeting was to commence.

I knew that many people were praying for me for I only felt the love of Jesus in my heart. My main thought was of Him and what He had done for me and how sweet to me was the revelation of His Sonship to the Father. There was no struggle now, only peace. I knelt in prayer before the meeting and thanked our Father for the opportunity to represent His Son before my brethren.

As I walked out towards my car I looked into the cloudless heavens and beheld the moon broad and full shining down upon me. I trusted myself into my Father’s care and drove to the meeting. As I walked into the hall I saw a number of men that I had baptised, married and mentored. I prayed that our Father would bless and help them. The local church pastor gave a devotional sermonette about the church as the apple of God’s eye and that he who touches the church touches God’s eye and the need to protect the church.

The president of the conference then read the charges against me and then a third charge was introduced.

“Adhering to or participating in divisive movements or organisations”

We were told that this charge had been put together between the local conference and the local church eldership and was now being recommended to the church. Without discussion the charge was voted upon and apparently accepted. I did not follow too closely to verify this.

The president then outlined the history of my submission process of Return of Elijah to the Biblical Research Committee which led to the removal of my credentials. It was clearly established that I disagreed with some of the Fundamentals – namely those referring to the Trinity. The charges concerning the denial of the gospel and persistent refusal to submit to church authority or adhering to divisive movements were not directly addressed. (I since have written to the conference and local church asking for details of these charges and as yet have had no response) The only connection to any refusal on my part could only be linked to the fundamentals. If the church believes it has the authority to enforce a teaching about God not found directly in Scripture then I believe there is confusion as to the limits of church authority.

The church was then told that recommendations had come from several levels of administration indicating that I should be disfellowshipped. Who were these members to oppose the leaders of the church? If these leaders desired it then it must be right, right? If he were not in error then we would not have presented his name in this way!

I was then given 15 minutes to respond to the charges against me. I thanked those assembled (there were about 30 people I estimate) for the privilege of being a Seventh-day Adventist. I told them that I was a third generation Seventh-day Adventist and that my grandfather on my father’s side received Great Controversy from a Colporteur in the Netherlands and accepted the Adventist Faith and my Grandmother on my mother’s side studied with an Adventist minister for seven years before accepting the message. I was born in Sydney Adventist hospital, attended Adventist Primary and High Schools for my entire schooling. I worked for Sanitarium health food company for two years and then later attended Avondale college to do training for the ministry. Beyond this I have married into a fifth generation Adventist family. My wife’s great grandfather and great great grandfather were brought into the message by A.G Daniells in New Zealand. My wife’s great grandfather Fairly Masters attended the first Adventist School in Melbourne and would carry letters written by Ellen White to the post office to be mailed back to the USA. My wife’s grandfather was the first missionary to the Indian Fijian people in Fiji. Indeed it has been a privilege to be connected to such rich Adventist History and I might add here that it will be my joy to present my wife to her great grandfather(s) and tell them that I done my best to bring her to the kingdom by standing for the truth.

Beyond this I thanked the church for allowing me to be their pastor for 3 years and that I often would go to bed at night with a smile in my heart that I was enabled to be a minister of the third angel’s message. At that point I brought out a gift which I had purchased for the church and I handed it to the local pastor asking him to accept it as a token of my appreciation.

I then told them of the Bible promise which states

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.  John 8:36 

I confessed to them that this promised freedom I would taste and then lose under my former beliefs as an Adventist. I explained to them that I then realised that because I worshipped a Jesus that had the title of a Son and did the work of a Son and yet was not truly a Son, that by beholding this image I also had the title of a son of God and did the work of a son of God but I had no assurance that I was truly a son of God because the Jesus I worshipped was not truly a Son of God.

As for my supposed denial of the gospel I told them that I believed that God sent His only begotten Son into the world that whosoever believed in Him should not perish but have eternal life. I stated that I believed that Jesus died and rose again for my justification and now ministers for me in the most holy place. I believe also that He will come again and receive me unto Himself that where He is, I may be also.

I then informed them that the only begotten Son of God was my master. (At this point the local pastor interjected stating that we do not use that language anymore. ) I waited for him to finish and then continued. I stated that I represented the Father and His Son. I told them how that the church does not believe that Jesus has any kind of inheritance from the Father. I explained to them about the statement by Whidden Moon and Reeve that indicate that the terms Father and Son should be taken metaphorically[1] and the Adventist Encyclopaedia indicated that there is no idea of generation of the Son from the Father.[2] I indicated that the Church professes an unbegotten Son while I profess an only begotten Son. He is who I represent and it is Him that you are dealing with. I appealed to them that if they were not absolutely certain I was in error then they had something to consider.

As I went to sit down it was suggested to me that I was free to leave. I indicated that I would be happy to stay and learn the outcome of the vote. I then moved to another room and waited as my situation was discussed. I prayed for the people in the meeting that they would consider the actions they were taking and that they were dealing with my beloved master – the only begotten Son. Would they betray him and cast him out of the Adventist Church?

I spoke to my wife on the phone and assured her that my heart was at peace. As I sat alone in that room, I thought of the many implications that awaited the outcome of this decision. I prayed for our church, our beloved church that our Father would help them…. And then I was called back in.

The president announced that by an overwhelming majority, the vote had been carried to disfellowship me. I felt all eyes looking at me as I took in the vote. There was only peace in my heart and only joy on my face. I marvel now as I recall the event. Brethren I invite you to test this spirit, test and see who gives men such grace to face their accusers? There is nothing to boast for me, only to marvel that I should be granted such freedom of spirit in the face of what should have been such a crushing blow. As I felt the peace all over my soul, I just silently thanked my Saviour for holding me so strong in the face of such things. Brethren this Spirit I proclaim to you, it is the Spirit of the Son of God. It is most sweet and completely resilient. What strength, what incredible love in the face of such heartlessness. I was reminded of what happened to Peter when he denied His Lord and I prayed that nothing on my face would indicate any self-pity or sorrow or bitterness, but only love that I might not discourage any when once they consider the enormity of what they have done. As the people beholding me saw only joy, I saw some of their faces turn pale and begin to wonder if they had done the right thing. Some faces looked tortured, others came to hug me as if to comfort me and yet they were the ones who needed the Comforter that I possessed in my heart. I thank the Lord for one dear man whom I had met once before and he came to me crying saying “this is not what I wanted, this is not what I wanted to see.” He was crying and we just held each other and I prayed that the Father would lead him to the joy that I had found.

I went to the president and thanked him for chairing the meeting in a gracious manner and allowing me to add points to his presentation and allowing me to speak for 15 minutes.

When I arrived home I had no heaviness but only joy and I slept soundly during the night and awoke with a deep sense of joy that my Beloved was mine and I was His.

To all my brethren around the world who read this, I bear witness to the joy I have found in the only begotten Son. He has given me the freedom to love in the face of loss, rejection and the shame of my church. Brethren I proclaim to you with joy the only Begotten Son. If you allow Him to be your master you too can have this freedom that I have found. Come to Him now while you can. He is worth it all. 

 


[1] “Another important point involves how we interpret the Bible. Here the issue pertains to whether we should interpret some passages literally or whether we may treat them more figuratively. Maybe we could illustrate this way. While we often refer to Jesus as the Son and frequently call the first person of the Godhead the Father, do we really want to take such expressions in a totally literal way? Or would it be more appropriate to interpret them in a more metaphorical way that draws on selective aspects of sonship and fatherhood” “The Trinity” by Whidden, Moon and Reeve, Page 94

“Is it not quite apparent that the problem texts become problems only when one assumes an exclusively literalistic interpretation of such expressions as “Father,” “Son,” “Firstborn,” “Only Begotten,” “Begotten,” and so forth? Does not such literalism go against the mainly figurative or metaphorical meaning that the Bible writers use when referring to the persons of the Godhead?” (Woodrow Whidden, The Trinity, ‘Biblical objections to the trinity’ page 106, 2002)

[2] “There is, therefore, no ground within the biblical understanding of the Godhead for the idea of a generation of the Son from the Father.” Fernando Canale, Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopaedia, Volume 12, page 125, ‘The doctrine of God’)