“Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?” John 6:67
Why did Jesus ask this question of His disciples? Who is it that left off from following Him? The Jewish leaders were constantly out to get Him. They were never followers of Jesus, so it was not they who left His side because they never were with Him. To leave someone, you would have had to be with him at one point in time.
In John chapter 6 we read of Jesus speaking about Himself as the “Bread of Life.” After His sermon we read that, “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.” John 6:66. It reads that many disciples (or followers), left Him. “With a yearning heart, Jesus saw those who had been His disciples departing from Him, the Life and the Light of men. The consciousness that His compassion was unappreciated, His love unrequited, His mercy slighted, His salvation rejected, filled Him with sorrow that was inexpressible. It was such developments as these that made Him a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” The Desire of Ages, p. 393
“Without attempting to hinder those who were leaving Him, Jesus turned to the twelve and said, ‘Will ye also go away?’” The Desire of Ages, p. 393
And these disciples who left, did they quietly go home to take care of their own business? Unfortunately not.
“As those disaffected disciples turned away from Christ, a different spirit took control of them. They could see nothing attractive in Him whom they had once found so interesting. They sought out His enemies, for they were in harmony with their spirit and work. They misinterpreted His words, falsified His statements, and impugned His motives. They sustained their course by gathering up every item that could be turned against Him; and such indignation was stirred up by these false reports that His life was in danger.” Desire of Ages, p. 392 – 393
Jesus did not soften His message in order to retain the following of His disciples. He spoke the truth. It was with sorrow that He watched His disciples leave.
This was a sad event; people who were disciples of Jesus, turning away from, and turning against Jesus because He spoke the truth and they could not tolerate it.
History has repeated this event many times over. People who appeared to be followers of Jesus, who were faithful, sincere believers and missionaries, have turned away.
Demas was a faithful supporter of the truth in the time of the Apostle Paul, but we read in 2 Timothy 4:10, “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.”
King Saul was very faithful to the Lord at the beginning of his reign, however he became proud and self-important. He went as far as offering a sacrifice that only the priests in holy office could perform. King Saul, rather than repenting of his wrongs, repented only of the punishment and he finally turned his back on the Lord. We read in 1 Samuel 15:11, “It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.” Samuel loved King Saul as his own son and now he was grieved when the king departed from the Lord. This is much the same grief that parents experience when they see their children departing from the Lord.
Jehoiada the priest in the temple provided a safe haven for little Joash from the anger of his grandmother Athaliah, who killed all the rest of his family and would have killed him if she knew he was alive. Joash was made king at the age of seven, and how did he repay the kindness of Jehoiada? He was faithful to the Lord until the death of Jehoiada, but then things changed. He left off from following the Lord and turned to idol worship. When reproved by the son of Jehoiada, he had him stoned. Jehoiada the priest will be surprised to not see King Joash in heaven when he arrives there. (2 Chronicles 24)
Although the above-mentioned people openly apostatized from the faith, there are those who remain in the church, but are secretly living a life of sin.
These people are spoken of by Jesus in the parable of the two women who are grinding at the mill, the one being taken and the other one left (Matthew 24:40, 41). In God’s church there have always been two types of worshippers. They are also described by Jesus as “the wheat and the tares” (Matthew 13:24–30). They look alike. They worship together, however, in a time of crisis, the “wheat” find strength from above to endure the difficulty because they have maintained a close connection with their Lord and Saviour. The “tares,” lose their way and depart from God’s people. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” 1 John 2:19. They willingly depart because they could not stand the “heat” or pressure in the time of crisis. They chose to compromise their faith and to join with the majority in the world.
Lucifer was the first to leave off from following Jesus in heaven, even before this earth was created. He worked in secrecy while pretending to serve God. “Leaving his place in the immediate presence of the Father, Lucifer went forth to diffuse the spirit of discontent among the angels. He worked with mysterious secrecy, and for a time concealed his real purpose under an appearance of reverence for God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 37. By his cunning, he managed to deceive one-third of the angels. When they were finally in open rebellion, together they were all cast out of heaven.
Judas Iscariot was thought of highly by the other disciples and appeared to be a true follower. “While the disciples were searching for evidence to confirm the words of the Great Teacher, Judas would lead them almost imperceptibly on another track. Thus in a very religious, and apparently wise, way he was presenting matters in a different light from that in which Jesus had given them, and attaching to His words a meaning that He had not conveyed.” The Desire of Ages, p. 719. Judas was secretly working against Jesus, however, he was not completely evil as we see the Holy Spirit striving with Him. “But Judas was not yet wholly hardened. Even after he had twice pledged himself to betray the Saviour, there was opportunity for repentance. At the Passover supper Jesus proved His divinity by revealing the traitor’s purpose. He tenderly included Judas in the ministry to the disciples. But the last appeal of love was unheeded. Then the case of Judas was decided, and the feet that Jesus had washed went forth to the betrayer’s work.” The Desire of Ages, p. 720. When Jesus was taken, his true character came out. Up until the end the Holy Spirit was striving with Judas, and he almost surrendered, but in the last minute his pride held him back.
Annanias and Sapphira were church members who donated to the church, however, they lied. Not to any man, but Peter asked Ananias, “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?” Acts 5:2 (Read Acts 5:1–10). They lost their lives.
In the year 1914, a great shaking came to God’s church. During the first World War, 98% of the church membership apostatized and left Jesus behind. Only a remnant remained faithful and this remnant was persecuted. Many young men gave their lives as martyrs rather than take up weapons and kill their fellow men. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44. They would rather die than take up weapons to kill another person.
In the year 1951, another shaking came to God’s church. Again, a large number willingly left God’s church and illegally organized another movement.
END OF TIME
History has been repeating itself over and over again. People who once loved the Lord, and loved the truth, have departed for one reason or another. We are now living at the very close of this earth’s history and there will still be more shaking in God’s church. It is time for God’s people to press together and work together. A time will come when many will, once again, depart from following Jesus.
Sister White saw a vision regarding the two types of worshippers in God’s church at the end of time. The first sentence is interesting. “Before the throne I saw the Advent people—the church and the world.” Early Writings, p. 54 (emphasis mine). She describes the Advent people as “the church and the world.” There are two classes of people in the church . . . “the church and the world.” Then further in the vision, she is shown more details about these two types of people. They both look the same.
“I saw two companies, one bowed down before the throne, deeply interested, while the other stood uninterested and careless. Those who were bowed before the throne would offer up their prayers and look to Jesus; then He would look to His Father, and appear to be pleading with Him. A light would come from the Father to the Son and from the Son to the praying company. Then I saw an exceeding bright light come from the Father to the Son, and from the Son it waved over the people before the throne. But few would receive this great light. Many came out from under it and immediately resisted it; others were careless and did not cherish the light, and it moved off from them. Some cherished it, and went and bowed down with the little praying company. This company all received the light and rejoiced in it, and their countenances shone with its glory.” Early Writings p. 54 – 55
If we look closer at the above statement, firstly, there are two groups; one praying, one standing around uninterested. When a bright light came from the Father to the Son, and on to the people, some of the careless resisted it and did not cherish it. A shaking occurred. They left the ranks and moved away from the serious ones.
There are hundreds of churches in the world and each church, while having differing beliefs, all use the same Bible. This is a spurious deception of Satan. 99% truth is not enough for God. Many who have departed from the faith have used the Bible to justify their course. They say they have received “new light.” People have also left God’s church because of “new light,” finding some verses in the Bible, taken out of context, to justify their course. “Men whom He has greatly honored will, in the closing scenes of this earth’s history, pattern after ancient Israel. . . . A departure from the great principles Christ has laid down in His teachings, a working out of human projects, using the Scriptures to justify a wrong course of action under the perverse working of Lucifer, will confirm men in misunderstanding, and the truth that they need to keep them from wrong practices will leak out of the soul like water from a leaky vessel.” Last Day Events, p. 178 – 179 (emphasis mine)
It is often more surprising to see ministers and leaders depart from the faith; those who have stood faithful upon the platform of truth. Yet it has been prophesied to happen. “Many will show that they are not one with Christ, that they are not dead to the world, that they may live with Him; and frequent will be the apostasies of men who have occupied responsible positions.” Last Day Events, p. 179. “Ministers and doctors may depart from the faith, as the Word declares they will, and as the messages that God has given His servant declare they will.” Last Day Events, p. 179
“Many a star that we have admired for its brilliance will then go out in darkness. Those who have assumed the ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ’s righteousness, will then appear in the shame of their own nakedness.” Prophets and Kings, p. 188.
And those that depart from the faith in the end of time, we are told this of their conduct. “Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” Matthew 24:10.
“As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel’s message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls. They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren. When Sabbathkeepers are brought before the courts to answer for their faith, these apostates are the most efficient agents of Satan to misrepresent and accuse them, and by false reports and insinuations to stir up the rulers against them.” Maranatha, p. 196
“The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The observance of the false sabbath will be urged upon us. The contest will be between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. Those who step by step have yielded to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will then yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment and death. At this time the gold will be separated from the dross. True godliness will be clearly distinguished from the appearance and tinsel of it.” Review and Herald, November 20, 1913
WHERE SHALL WE GO?
When all those disciples left Jesus, He turned to the twelve and asked them also if they would leave. Peter’s response was, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” John 6:68
If we are tempted to leave, we need to ask the same question: Where shall we go? Is there more happiness, peace and security in the world? Shall we go to another church that is teaching false doctrines? We need to think twice. The only peace and happiness is in the fold of Christ.
People have left the fold for the most simple reasons. The devil doesn’t care what the excuse is, as long as he manages to see that a person departs. Some are offended and harbor resentment. They cannot forgive and therefore they leave. Some find it too difficult to live according to God’s standard. They try to walk the pathway alone, and miserably fail, and then give up, rather than connecting with Jesus, in Whom they can find victory. Some are deceived by other religious bodies whose teachings are very close to the teachings of God’s church, but they find the people, the sermons, more pleasing to their ears.
If any of the above-mentioned people would have a close connection with Jesus and earnestly study their Bibles, yielding their lives to Christ, they would not be deceived. Jesus never leads people into error, only into truth. The truth is, as Peter stated, “And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6:69. Yes, there is no other place of safety.
May God help us to remain faithful now so we will stand firm when the times of trouble come upon God’s people as the close of this earth’s history rapidly approaches. There is safety only by remaining in the fold of Christ. Let us unite together in Christian love and unity. AMEN