Subject: [AI] The Open And Shut Door
Date: December 3, 1999 3:20 PM
The Open And Shut Door
Excerpt taken from: The Sanctuary,1844, And The Pioneers, by Paul A.
The Millerites in the United States then went in at least five
directions. 1. Some abandoned any kind of religious belief altogether.
2. Others returned to their former churches. 3. Another group, quite
small in number, maintained that Jesus had returned as expected, but
that it had been a spiritual coming in His saints. They became known as
"spiritualizers." Within ten years they had virtually disappeared. (We
must not confuse them with the spiritualism of table rappings and
seances.) 4. The largest segment continued to expect the imminent
return of Christ. They became distinguished for "time setting," and
clung to the idea that the earth was the sanctuary to be cleansed. The
Advent Christian Church, today numbering some thirty thousand members,
traces its roots back to them. 5. The smallest of the groups-no more
than fifty to one hundred in number-strongly resisted organization for
nearly twenty years. James White early called them "the scattered
flock." Seventh-day Adventists have their spiritual ancestry in them.
At the time of the organization of the General Conference in 1863 they
still numbered only about 3,500. By 1982 they had increased a
thousandfold to more than 3.5 million members around the world, with
more than eighty percent outside the United States.
Seventh-day Adventist Roots
From the beginning of its life the small band that was the
forerunner of the Seventh-day Adventist Church struggled with enemies
committed to its destruction. Some tried to ridicule it into silence.
Others determined to prove it false through what they considered to be
Biblical answers to the claim for a new understanding of the cleansing
of the sanctuary. Others, who had participated in Millerite preaching,
simply refused to accept a new understanding of the events of 1844. The
fact that the forerunners of the Seventh-day Adventist Church believed
they had someone with the prophetic gift in their ranks seemed only to
fuel the fires of opposition further. Some opponents claimed that the
explanations of the Disappointment and new interpretations of 1844 had
come from Ellen White's visions. The historical record clearly refutes
such a claim.
The Investigative Judgment and Shut Door
A new perception of the events of 1844 did not burst upon the sight
of Adventists suddenly. For example, from the beginning, many believed
in an understanding of a judgment before Christ's second coming, though
it was a decade and more before the actual term "investigative
judgment" appeared in Adventist publications. And though, at the
beginning, there was some confusion regarding the "shut door," only a
few years passed before Adventists generally agreed that the door of
mercy for the world still stood open for those who had not clearly
rejected the Advent message. They saw another shut door-the door of the
first apartment in heaven's sanctuary-and an open one into the Most
Holy Place, where Christ had entered in 1844.
The Shut Door Changes Meaning
The parable of the ten virgins formed the basis of the use of the
term "shut door" at the beginning. The Millerites applied the parable
to the close of probation for the world at Christ's return. For a short
time after the 1844 disappointment many Adventists, including Ellen
White, continued to hold a similar belief. But not for long. Writing in
1883, she said:
"For a time after the disappointment in 1844, I did hold, in common
with the advent body, that the door of mercy was then forever closed to
the world. This position was taken before my first vision was given me.
It was the light given me of God that corrected our error, and enabled
us to see the true position.
I am still a believer in the shut-door theory, but not in the sense
in which we at first employed the term or in which it is employed by my
There was a shut door in Noah's day. There was at that time a
withdrawal of the Spirit of God from the sinful race that perished in
the waters of the Flood. God Himself gave the shut-door message to Noah:
"My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is
flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years" (Gen. 6:3).
There was a shut door in the days of Abraham. Mercy ceased to plead
with the inhabitants of Sodom, and all but Lot, with his wife and two
daughters, were consumed by the fire sent down from heaven.
There was a shut door in Christ's day. The son of God declared to
the unbelieving Jews of that generation, "Your house is left unto you
desolate" (Matt. 23:38).
Looking down the stream of time to the last days, the same infinite
power proclaimed through John:
"These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath
the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth,
and no man openeth" (Rev. 3:7).
I was shown in vision, and I still believe, that there was a shut
door in 1844. All who saw the light of the first and second angels'
messages and rejected that light, were left in darkness. And those who
accepted it and received the Holy Spirit which attended the
proclamation of the message from heaven, and who afterward renounced
their faith and pronounced their experience a delusion thereby rejected
the Spirit of God, and it no longer pleaded with them.
Those who did not see the light, had not the guilt of its
rejection. It was only the class who had despised the light from heaven
that the Spirit of God could not reach."--Selected Messages, book 1,
pp. 63, 64.
Observe that Ellen White, before a vision corrected her, believed
that probation had ended for the world. Remember, she had been a
Millerite who accepted such an interpretation along with others in the
movement. But we find evidence that she soon changed her position. In
March, 1849, Ellen White corresponded with the Hastings family, close
Adventist friends. She spoke of a "Brother Stowell" who was "wavering
upon the shut door." With her husband, James, she decided to visit the
Stowells, and spent a week with them. The results were good. "Brother
Stowell was established
in the shut door and all the present truth he had doubted."-Letter
What does Ellen White mean when she refers to "the shut door"?
Further on in the same letter she describes a vision she had on
Sabbath, March 24, just prior to visiting the Stowells.
"I saw the commandments of God and shut door could not be
separated. I saw the time for the commandments of God to shine out to
His people was when the door was opened in the inner apartment of the
heavenly sanctuary in 1844. Then Jesus rose up and shut the door in the
outer apartment and opened the door in the inner apartment and passed
into the Most Holy Place, and the faith of Israel now reaches within
the second vail where Jesus now stands by the ark."-Ibid.
The description of her vision in the letter closely parallels an
account in The Present Truth of August,1849, and in Early Writings,
pages 42-45. Observe that Ellen White applied the term "shut door" not
to the close of probation, but rather to the shut door of the first
apartment of heaven's sanctuary.
In 1851 James White revealed a transition of understanding among
the Adventist pioneers regarding the "shut door." He began by quoting
"Behold I set before thee an open door." This door Christ opens,
while He shuts another. As the Philadelphia church applies to no other
period than the time of the termination of the 2300 days when Christ
closed His work for the world in the Holy, and opened the door of the
"Holiest of all," the conclusion seems irresistible that the open and
shut door of Revelation 3:7, 8, refers to the change in the position
and work of our great High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary. He then
closed the work or "door" of the daily ministration in the Holy, and
opened the door of the Most Holy. "The tabernacle of the testimony" was
then opened; but before this could be done, the "door," or work of
Christ's continual mediation in the Holy, had to be closed. This may
well be "likened" to the shut door in the parable.
The idea that the door of God's mercy is closed or ever was to be
closed to those who do not reject the offers of mercy is not found in
the Bible. No such door is mentioned in Scripture. But that there ever
has been a point, beyond which men may go, where, according to the plan
of salvation, the intercession of Christ could not benefit them is
evident": RH, June 9,1851.
Later White spoke of the parable of the ten virgins and the
application of the term "shut door":
"But what is represented by the shut door in the parable? We have
shown the absurdity of applying it to the Second Advent. We can see no
other application of the shut door that will harmonize with other parts
of the parable, and with other scriptures, than to our High Priest
entering upon the antitype of the ancient tenth day of the seventh
month atonement, at the end of the 2300 days, in the autumn of 1844.
His work, performing the antitype of the daily ministration then must
cease in the Holy Place of the true tabernacle, in order for him to
enter the Most Holy Place to cleanse the sanctuary. And as His work
closed in the Holy, it commenced in the Most Holy": RH, April 14,1853.
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