The North New Zealand Conference President Responds to the Fallout over His Comments on the National Sunday Law Book

Three days ago Bob Larsen, President of the North New Zealand Conference, disavowed the National Sunday Law book in an interview with the local media. The news sought an official response from the Seventh-day Adventist Church about a mass distribution campaign currently underway in New Zealand. The media wanted answers as to why some in the community were “horrified” and “disgusted” with the National Sunday Law book that was being labeled an “extreme and insidious propaganda” and a “conspiracy theory.”

How did the President of the North New Zealand Conference of Seventh-day Adventists respond when pressed by the secular media? Did he say that the “official” church actually believes that a National Sunday Law will one day be enacted? Did he say that the National Sunday Law book does in fact contain the last message of mercy to the world? Or did he at least remember what the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, an official church publication, says on this matter:

“It is for the interest of all to understand what the mark of the beast is, and how they may escape the dread threatenings of God. Why are men not interested to know what constitutes the mark of the beast and his image? It is in direct contrast with the mark of God.” (Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 979).

All need to know what the mark of the beast is and how to avoid it. By the way, what does the word “all” mean? Does that mean 90%? Does it mean just the members of our church? What does that mean? God says this means the whole world:

“The Lord gives a special truth for the people in an emergency. Who dare refuse to publish it? He commands His servants to present the last invitation of mercy to the world. They cannot remain silent, except at the peril of their souls.” (Great Controversy, pp. 609, 610).

“Christ is coming the second time, with power unto salvation. To prepare human beings for this event, He has sent the first, second, and third angels’ messages. These angels represent those who receive the truth, and with power open the gospel to the world.” (Bible Commentary, vol. 7, pp. 798, 979).

The word “all” literally means the whole world. Does this include New Zealand? Yes. So here we have faithful Seventh-day Adventists who are actually doing the work that the church is supposed to do. These faithful souls are distributing the National Sunday Law book and helping to warn people about the mark of the beast (Sunday laws) while encouraging them to embrace the seal of God (Saturday). Is this an important mission? Absolutely! It is the most solemn message ever given by God.

“Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention. The most solemn truths ever entrusted to mortals have been given us to proclaim to the world” (Testimonies, Vol. 9, p. 19).

So what did President Bob Larsen actually do when pressured by the local news to respond? Rather than being “ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh” (1 Peter 3:15), he sidestepped the issue and completely disavowed the book containing the Three Angels’ Message. This is what the media reported his response was:

“Seventh-Day Adventist Church in New Zealand North Island lead pastor Bob Larsen said the book was not endorsed by the church. The [church] had no involvement in the publication or distribution of the book … The church does not endorse or recommend this book.” [1]

That happened three days ago. There seems to have been some fallout from his words, and it turns out that President Bob Larsen is now trying to backtrack and roll back what he said; but NOT to the media, only to the concerned Seventh-day Adventists who have reached out to him for his statements. Here is a copy of an email Bob Larsen is sending:

I have had many emails with questions both for and against the distribution of this book. I had similar questions from another person and I share with you my response to him.

We do believe that prophecy points to a national Sunday law prior to the second coming of Jesus. Our doctrines are clear on that. We do not endorse this approach as the way of leading people to Jesus. Ellen White says:

“Learn to meet the people where they are. Do not present subjects that will arouse controversy. Let not your instruction be of a character to perplex the mind… Do not arouse opposition before the people have had opportunity to hear the truth and know what they are opposing.” {EV 142-143}

Therefore, I recommend that the Great Controversy is distributed to people who have shown an interest in knowing more, rather than being the entering wedge. It is a great book which we clearly stand by, but is not the sort of book we letterbox.

I will not continue an email conversation on this matter but wish you God’s blessings

Bob Larsen

Lead Pastor

Bob Larsen is now claiming that the Seventh-day Adventist Church does believe in a National Sunday Law. Why didn’t he tell that to the secular news and its 2 million monthly viewers? That’s when he should have stated this truth. Do we only pretend to believe in a National Sunday Law when trying to save face with concerned Seventh-day Adventists? This is remarkable! We have leaders who don’t stand up for the truth when they’re supposed to because they want to be at peace with the world, but then when trying to appease concerned church members they say, “Yes, we have always believed in a National Sunday Law.”

This is where we are today in Adventism. We have reached a point where we speak with both sides of our mouth just to be in good standing with everyone, both the world and the church. But the situation worsens even more. President Bob Larsen then uses two quotes from the Spirit of Prophecy to try to justify his inaction. He attempts to excuse himself by misquoting Ellen White and taking her words out of context. He took two statements and put them together in his email to convey something that God never intended. Below are the statements in their entirety. You can judge for yourself if the Spirit of Prophecy was gutted and misused.

President Bob Larsen first cited the following: Learn to meet the people where they are. Do not present subjects that will arouse controversy. Let not your instruction be of a character to perplex the mind…

Here is the full statement and you will notice that some important details were left out:

“Learn to meet the people where they are. Do not present subjects that will arouse controversy. Let not your instruction be of a character to perplex the mind. Do not cause the people to worry over things which you may understand but which they do not see, unless these are of vital consequence to the saving of the soul. Do not present the Scriptures in a way to exalt self and encourage vainglory in the one who opens the word. The work for this time is to train students and workers o deal with subjects in a plain, serious, and solemn manner. There must be no time uselessly employed in this great work. We must not miss the mark. Time is too short for us to undertake to reveal all that might be opened to view. Eternity will be required for us to know all the length and breadth, the depth and height, of the Scriptures. There are some souls to whom certain truths are of more importance than other truths. Skill is needed in your education in Scriptural lines. Read and study Psalm 40:7, 8; John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:14-17; Revelation 5:11-14. To the apostle John on the Isle of Patmos were revealed the things which God desired him to give to the people. Study these revelations. Here are themes worthy of our contemplation, large and comprehensive lessons which all the angelic host are now seeking to communicate.” (Testimonies, Vol 6, pp. 58, 59).

In other words, “Avoid controversy, unless souls are in danger.” Then President Bob Larsen quotes the following sentence taken from a different statement and joins it with his other quote: “Do not arouse opposition before the people have had opportunity to hear the truth and know what they are opposing.”

Here is the full statement from which the one sentence was taken:

“Do not arouse opposition before the people have had opportunity to hear the truth and know what they are opposing. Reserve your means to do a strong work after the meeting rather than before. If a press can be secured to be worked during the meeting, printing leaflets, notices, and papers for distribution, it will have a telling influence. At some of our camp meetings strong companies of workers have been organized to go out into the city and its suburbs to distribute literature and invite people to the meetings. By this means hundreds of persons were secured as regular attendants during the last half of the meeting who otherwise might have thought little about it. We must take every justifiable means of bringing the light before the people. Let the press be utilized, and let every advertising agency be employed that will call attention to the work. This should not be regarded as nonessential. On every street corner you may see placards and notices calling attention to various things that are going on, some of them of the most objectionable character; and shall those who have the light of life be satisfied with feeble efforts to call the attention of the masses to the truth?” (Testimonies, Vol. 6, pp. 36, 37).

What Ellen White was concerned about was making a doctrinal statement without giving all the biblical evidence to support what was said. The National Sunday Law book is not a statement. It is a 100-page book that contains all the verses of the Bible that prove that the seventh day Sabbath, Saturday, is the true Sabbath of the Lord and that the sacredness of Sunday is nowhere to be found in the Bible. The book also warns that Sunday will one day be enforced by law.

The National Sunday Law book has absolutely NO application to the statements made by President Bob Larsen. Which brings us to our final point: When will the Church in New Zealand begin to tell their countrymen about the Third Angels’ Message, which is a warning about the mark of the beast when Sunday is enforced by law? Will they wait until AFTER it becomes law? No friends. God says it will be too late by then:

“Are we to wait until the fulfillment of the prophecies of the end before we say anything concerning them? Of what value will our words be then? Shall we wait until God’s judgments fall upon the transgressor before we tell him how to avoid them? Where is our faith in the word of God? Must we see things foretold come to pass before we will believe what He has said? In clear, distinct rays light has come to us, showing us that the great day of the Lord is near at hand, ‘even at the doors.’ Let us read and understand before it is too late” (Testimonies, Vol. 9, p. 20).

Now is the time to share the truth of the Third Angel’s Message to everyone. If we as a people do not fulfill this solemn duty, there will be a price to pay:

“The people turned upon their ministers with bitter hate and reproached them, saying, ‘You have not warned us. You told us that all the world was to be converted, and cried, Peace, peace, to quiet every fear that was aroused. You have not told us of this hour; and those who warned us of it you declared to be fanatics and evil men, who would ruin us.’ But I saw that the ministers did not escape the wrath of God. Their suffering was tenfold greater than that of their people” (Early Writings, p. 282).

It is not enough to say, “We believe in a National Sunday Law.” That’s not good enough. How will the world get a chance to hear what we know if we only “believe” intellectually? Our faith is more than just knowing:

“And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” Romans 10:14, 15.

God is not asking us to simply “believe.” It is of little consequence to believe that a National Sunday Law is approaching. Satan believes that a Sunday law is coming because it will be his agents who will introduce it. The demons also “believe” the truth of God (James 2:19). In fact, the devil can quote the Bible. He can also recite the 28 Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

So it’s no big deal if we can say “I believe” in a National Sunday Law. God is not impressed. Your beliefs mean nothing as long as you hold those beliefs between your two ears. God has not only called us to “believe” His message; He has ordained that we communicate it to the world in a loud voice (Revelation 14:6).

We are not only called to keep the Sabbath; we have a commission to proclaim the truth of the Sabbath and to persuade others to keep it. The same is true of the mark of the beast. We are not only warned to avoid it; we must persuade others to reject the mark of the beast as well. And we don’t have to “gradually prepare” people before they can be told about the seal of God and the mark of the beast:

“Some have thought it best to gradually prepare the way for the presentation of the Sabbath question. The Sabbath truth is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, as represented in the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. There has been too much beating about the bush in the proclamation of the third angel’s message. The message has not been given as clearly and distinctly as it should have been” (Manuscript, 16, 1900).

It is the lukewarm Laodicean condition that is creating all the stagnation today. We just cannot make up our minds as to who we are. The Laodicean church was the least controversial church in the New Testament. They couldn’t decide which side they wanted to be on. They were a people with divided loyalties. This was a culturally conformed and compromised people who were sitting on the fence trying to please everyone. Sound familiar?

We need to pray for our people and for the leadership of the Church in America and around the world that the Lord will open our eyes before our probation period ends and our eternal density is forever sealed. Soon the great test will be upon us. Soon the mark will be enforced. Soon the work will finish. May we be seeking God’s approval today and may we be found doing His will.