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The rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem by those who returned from exile in Babylon was accomplished through the cooperation of prophets, priests and rulers. The temple was started and finished under the leadership of Zerubbabel, who led the first group of exiles who returned from Babylon to Jerusalem based on the decree of Cyrus, supported by Joshua the High Priest, under the instructions of God through the Prophets Haggai and Zechariah. After the temple was finished, other servants of God such as Ezra and Nehemiah built the city and erected its walls.
Haggai the Prophet
The word of the Lord through Haggai the prophet:
“In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built. Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways…Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the Lord…Then spake Haggai the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the Lord. And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.” (Haggai 1:1-15)
Zechariah the Prophet
The word of the Lord through Zechariah the prophet:
“And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by. And the angel of the Lord protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.” (Zech. 3:1-7).
“This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you.” (Zech. 4:6-9).
The Spiritual Temple of the Last Days
In our day, there is a temple to be re-built and there is a New Jerusalem that we will live in that will have walls of Jasper – “After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.” (Acts 15:16, 17); “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:5); “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Rev. 21:2); “And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.” (Rev. 21:18).
Jesus Christ has gone back to heaven and is preparing the city. But the temple, we must play our part in building – “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3); “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth…And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.” (Rev. 11:1-7).
Sealed for the Final Conflict
When the temple is finished, there will be a hundred forty and four thousand sealed – “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” (Rev. 7:1-4).
Those who are sealed will have to contend with the Beast and his Image but they will overcome and be delivered – “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is…And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” (Rev. 17:8-14).
Prophetic Message to Priests, Rulers and People
Prophets, Priests and Rulers all have a part to play. But we must get it in order – Prophets first, then Priests and Rulers. The Prophet is the one who receives messages from God and passes it on to the Priests and Rulers who govern the people. Unfortunately, the Prophet is not always popular with the Priests and Rulers and people often regard the word of the Priests and Rulers more than they do the Prophets. But God’s word is: “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” (2 Chron. 20:20).
God promised to raise up a Prophet like Moses, but when He came, the Priests and officers stirred up the people and together they pressured the Rulers to kill Him – “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” (Deut. 18:18); “Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.” (John 19:4-6).
The witnesses of the last days will likewise be killed and, like their Master before them, will rise again after three days – “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.” (Rev. 11:7-14).
Interesting times are ahead – “Solemn events before us are yet to transpire. Trumpet after trumpet is to be sounded, vial after vial poured out one after another upon the inhabitants of the earth. Scenes of stupendous interest are right upon us.” (Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, p. 982.)
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/
Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: email@example.com
Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel
An experience recently has led me to ask, “Does truth matter?”. The question seems almost redundant since there is hardly anyone who would deny that truth matters; but claiming to believe something and believing it are two different things. One of the greatest evidences that truth matters to someone is that person’s willingness to act on it. My recent experience has led me to think that one of the reasons people do not seem to act on truth is that it is easier to simply follow creeds and rituals, norms and customs. It is not so much that they do not care about truth or that they are unable to discern between truth and error. They just don’t think about it. It is easier to just drift along with the tide. In church settings, creeds and rituals help to foster that attitude of just going along without giving serious thought, because after all, those matters have been thought out by others already. Right? Is that a good enough basis to just go along? Let’s see.
Here is my experience: I was at an Anglican church at an anniversary church service to commemorate the founding of an institution. The service included a communion ritual. The Leader read certain words and the Congregants were expected to respond by reading the words projected on a screen. To my surprise, the Congregants read without hesitation words indicating that the bread and wine were transformed into the literal body and blood of Christ. It seemed like a Roman Catholic Mass rather than a Protestant Communion.
Transubstantiation and Mysticism
The shock came from my recollection that one of the main issues that ignited John Wycliffe, who is considered the Morning Star of the Reformation, in his opposition to the Church of Rome, was the issue of transubstantiation. One of the significant differences between the Roman Catholic Mass and the Protestant Communion was that the Catholics believed in transubstantiation, whereas the Protestants didn’t. Transubstantiation is the belief that the priests can convert the bread and wine to the literal body and blood of Christ by the pronouncements that they make over those substances. The Protestant belief, originally embraced by Anglicans, was that the bread and wine are only symbols of the body and blood of Christ; they do not become the literal body and blood of Christ. But here, in a supposedly Protestant church, the Roman Catholic belief was being recited effortlessly. What was the reason? The Roman Catholic belief had been incorporated into a Creed and a Ritual.
The case of the bread and wine being transformed into the literal body and blood of Christ illustrates the nature of mysticism. Mysticism takes us away from the realm of reality because it is incompatible with the literal reality that we know. To our real senses, the bread remains bread and the wine remains wine. No chemical test will show any difference before and after the priest makes pronouncements over them. Yet mysticism says a literal transformation would have taken place. It defies logic and common sense. But persons are told, never mind, it’s a mystery. You’ll never be able to understand it from a literal point of view. Creeds and rituals pave the way for mysticism; and mysticism destroys faith that is based on reality.
Mystical Beliefs Rejected
Today, the lure of mysticism has led many to lose faith in the reality of many aspects of Christian faith. The prophet to the remnant church wrote in 1904 that for 50 years every effort was being made to overthrow the faith that was delivered to the movement that God raised up in 1844 – “For the past 50 years every phase of heresy has been brought to bear upon us… Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayer, study, and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord.” (Ellen G. White, Special Testimonies, Series B #2, p. 59). Among the mystical beliefs that were rejected by the early pioneers of the remnant church was transubstantiation; and thankfully, the Movement still rejects it as unscriptural. But there are other mystical beliefs that are constantly being urged upon the faithful from Roman Catholicism and apostate Protestantism. Among them are the following:
- The Trinity, which makes God’s love in giving His only begotten Son senseless. If God is three in one – a unity of three coequals in age and power, then one could never be the son of any of the others, except in a sense of role-play or make-believe. The extent of God’s love is manifested in the fact that He gave His only begotten Son – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16); “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32); “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9).
- The death of Christ as an atonement, which makes Christ’s intercession senseless. It is Christ, in His capacity as our High Priest, who intercedes or makes atonement based on the merits or arguments that the sacrifice provides. The sacrifice itself is not the atonement – “And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty; Or if his sin, which he hath sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering…And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay the sin offering…and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.” (Lev. 4:27-31). But if the sacrifice itself is the atonement, then there is no need for a priest. It was part of the doing of the Little Horn power to remove Christ’s mediation in the heavenly sanctuary on our behalf from the minds of people and cast it to the ground – “Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily [sacrifice] was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down.” (Dan. 8:11). [Note: the word “sacrifice” was supplied by the translators – “ministration” is more appropriate, since Christ was offered only once (Heb. 9:28) – there is no “daily sacrifice” of Christ except in the Roman Catholic mass, which is counterfeit.]
- The righteousness of Christ as a gift that someone simply receives, which makes repentance senseless. Righteousness is a state of character that is formed based on what one believes. One can be declared righteous based on what one believes, since one’s belief is an indication of the state of one’s heart and mind, which determines one’s actions and motives. If you have the righteousness of Christ, it means you are righteous as Christ is, and no action of yours can be regarded as sinful unless Christ is sinful; so, the need to repent does not arise, since Christ is sinless. But the truth is that righteousness is based on believing Christ, which leads us to repent of our sins and practice righteousness. It is not something that someone can just give to you and you have it – “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” (1 John 3:7); “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” (1 John 3:10); “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11, 12); “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1); “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” (Acts 8:22); “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30).
- Someone living inside of you, which makes the idea of personal accountability senseless. Christ dwelling in you, as opposed to sin dwelling in you, is easily understood as a reference to the mind and character that you have, whether it is Christlike or sinful. But to treat Christ as being inside of us personally makes Him the driver who is responsible for what we do, sin and all. Christ does not take charge of people’s lives and then hold them accountable for what is done in their lives. Everyone must give account of himself before God for all actions that are done in his body as those actions are his, and not someone else’s acting through him – “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matt. 12:36); “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Rom. 14:12); “Who will render to every man according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6); “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” (Matt. 16:27); “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5).
Bible Foundation of Faith
We are reminded that the faith of the pioneers was firmly laid – “Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid. My husband, Elder Joseph Bates, Father Pierce, Elder Hiram Edson, and others who were keen, noble, and true, were among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844, searched for the truth as for hidden treasure… When they came to the point in their study where they said, ‘We can do nothing more,’ the Spirit of the Lord would come upon me, I would be taken off in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as to how we were to labor and teach effectively. Thus light was given that helped us to understand the scriptures in regard to Christ, His mission, and His priesthood. A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God, was made plain to me, and I gave to others the instruction that the Lord had given me.” (Ellen G. White, Selected Messages Vol. 1, p. 206.)
So, does truth matter? Do we simply go to church and repeat creeds and rituals without thinking about the sense of what we are saying or doing? In order to maintain a form of faith, many find it easier to do that. Otherwise, they will give up faith that seems to make no sense. Can one keep faith and still make sense? If it is a faith that is based on mysticism, the answer is no. But a faith that is based on reality will make sense. Biblical faith is based on reality and does make sense. If our faith is going to be strong enough to stand in the last days, we must give up mysticism and be real.
For the early pioneers, the Bible was their only creed. They recognized the need to study the scriptures for themselves and seek to understand. The disappointment of 1844 was still fresh in their minds and so they were mindful of their fallibility. The disappointment might have been a blessing, because they recognized that popular opinion was not always right – it had led to their disappointment, thinking, like others that the earth was the sanctuary; only to realize after the disappointment that the Bible taught no such thing. They recognized that the moment they set up a creed, there would be a tendency for blind submission without intelligent thought and understanding. So, they avoided it.
Once creeds and rituals are established, they tend to perpetuate themselves. Institutions that operate based on creeds and rituals are often impervious to change. One may well ask, what if the Church of Rome had taken stock of itself, when John Wycliffe challenged the doctrine of transubstantiation or Martin Luther questioned the sale of Indulgences, and had simply discontinued those beliefs and practices? Would there have been a need for open protest? Perhaps not. Instead, they condemned the messengers. The result was that Wycliffe, Luther and others were forced to break away. Quite differently, when Rachel Oakes Preston challenged the Adventists about their keeping Sunday rather than the Seventh day Sabbath, Frederick Wheeler, then William Farnsworth and others such as Joseph Bates accepted the Sabbath truth and the Adventists became sabbath-keepers. What was different? One body had relied on creeds and tradition while the other, fresh from a major disappointment, knew that their only safeguard was in studying the scriptures. May the commitment and the example of the pioneers in maintaining the scriptures as their creed still inspire the modern movement.
Today, we have statements of belief. We do not call them creeds; but do we just drift along with them with the view that they have all been worked out already? And are we mindful when subtle changes are made to them? One remembers when the introit for worship was followed by the song “Bless the Lord, Oh my Soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name” until someone came and said, let’s use instead, the invocation, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost”, then gradually it shifted to an invocation to the Holy Spirit. Has anyone asked whether those invocations are scriptural? Or do people just drift along?
We have been admonished that we should be able to give a reason at all times to anyone who asks about the faith we hold – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). In order to stand in the last days we must be sealed – “Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads – it is not a seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved – just as soon as God’s people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come.” (Ellen G. White, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 1161).
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/
Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel
One of the most foundational bases for Christian faith is the fact that God forgives. If there was no forgiveness, all hope would be lost because we are all sinners – “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
We have been given the assurance that God will forgive the vilest sinner and will cast his sins to the bottom of the sea and will remember them no more – “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19). The parable of the prodigal son aptly illustrates God’s eagerness to forgive us even after we have messed up – “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20). Jesus’s treatment of the woman caught in adultery challenged the accusers. He told them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7), while He tells the woman, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11).
But strangely enough, the Bible also speaks of instances where persons will be turned away by God. An examination of a few such cases should help us to determine what might be the reasons and help to put us in a better position to avoid being turned away.
1. Jesus speaks of some who would have ardently professed to be His followers who will be turned away at the last day. Why? Because, they failed to do His Father’s will – “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7:21-23). So, if we want to be accepted by Christ, we can’t be doing our own thing. We must seek to do the will of God.
2. There are others who seek forgiveness from God, but they do not forgive their fellowmen. They too will not be forgiven – “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14, 15). This is further illustrated in the parable of the unforgiving servant who refused to forgive his fellow servant after his master had forgiven him. His master withdrew his forgiveness and demanded that he pay all his debts. Jesus said that this is how it will be for those who refuse to forgive others – “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matt. 18:35). So, if we want God to forgive us, we must forgive others.
3. Then there are the selfish ones who live only for themselves and fail to help others in distress. They will be numbered among the goats who will be told to depart from Christ when He separates the sheep from the goats – “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matt. 25:41-45). So, if we want to remain in favour with God, we must be kind to others.
4. Those who sin presumptuously will not be forgiven either – “But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.” (Num. 15:30, 31). But wait a minute. Isn’t that only an Old Testament concept? Not quite. It is a New Testament concept too – “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.” (1 John 5:16)
What is the sin unto death that you should not pray for? Notice, first, that it is not the sinner who is praying here. This is speaking about praying on behalf of someone else. Let us be clear, God always hears and answers the prayer of the repentant sinner. But the presumptuous person does not even see the need to repent. No amount of prayer on his behalf can save him if he does not repent “because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment”. At the root of presumptuous sin is despising the word of the Lord. So, if we want to be forgiven, we must repent and not despise the word of the Lord.
God’s word and rebellion
Presumption comes in various forms. Like Cain, one may decide that, although God asks for a lamb, fruits should be just as good, and may decide to offer fruits instead of a lamb; the result being that we are rejected, as was Cain – “And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.” (Gen. 4:4, 5). God may ask for the seventh and one decides that the first is just as good or even better. God may say two and we decide that it should be three. Let us beware, lest we find ourselves in rebellion against God!
Christ will be our advocate if we are willing to accept God’s word and keep His commandments – “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1 John 2:1-3); Jesus said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15).
Sin is ultimately a condition of the heart – rebellion against God. That is how it started in heaven with Lucifer who became Satan (Isa. 14:12-15). There is no cure for genuine rebellion. That is Satan’s condition. We might be deceived or, like Jesus’s disciples, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt. 26:41). If that is the case for us, there is a remedy. When we are made aware of our mistakes, if we are sorry, we have a mediator who will present our case and God will forgive us, because we are not genuinely seeking to rebel against Him or seeking to do our own thing. Our repentance and willingness to obey Him serve as proof that we are not with Satan.
Salvation and the Son of God
The plan of salvation was made in the heavenly council between God, the Father, and Jesus Christ, the Son of God; – “the counsel of peace shall be between them both” (Zech. 6:13). God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9). He is our mediator and the only one through whom we have access to God – “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). The Son of God came to earth to reveal to us how much God loves us and to represent us before God. He receives from God, His Father, and gives to us. He told us to ask the Father for whatever help we need. We should ask in His name, and the Father will give it to us – “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” (John 16:23). The Father will give us the Holy Spirit if we ask Him – not that we should ask the Holy Spirit to come to us or fill us, but rather that we ask the Father to give us the Holy Spirit – “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13). We should not run the risk of despising the word of God by deciding that our requests should be directed to the Holy Spirit rather than to God himself through Jesus Christ.
Let us, by God’s grace, accept God’s word and not add to it nor subtract from it, lest we are found to be liars – “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Prov. 30:6). Being found a liar, we run the risk of hearing from His lips, the fateful words, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7:23). If we seek peace and forgiveness, we should cooperate with Him and avoid following human devising.
So, we have seen that God forgives. But God’s forgiveness is not given without consideration of our attitude and behaviour. Certain attitudes and behaviours on our part can result in us not being forgiven and ultimately result in us being turned away by God. But hold a moment. Is it not the case that the death of Christ has provided unconditional forgiveness for all humanity and all we need to do is simply accept that we are already forgiven? Not quite. Christ came in place of Adam and bore the penalty for the sin of Adam; whose sin had condemned all humanity – “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22). Having borne the penalty for Adam’s sin, forgiveness has been unconditionally provided for all humanity for that sin – “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Rom. 5:8-10).
We are “now justified” by the blood of Christ that has been shed for us, even “while we were yet sinners”. When “we were enemies, we were reconciled to God” from the condemnation caused by Adam’s sin. But we are not yet saved because, apart from Adam’s sin, we have sins of our own. Even though we are not condemned for Adam’s sin, we could not be saved if we choose to remain enemies, committing sins of our own. We “shall be saved from wrath through him”. How? By repenting of our own sins and accepting God’s power to stop committing them – “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).
No one will ever be called upon to bear any penalty for Adam’s sin; we only suffer consequences of the degradation around us and in us caused by it. But in order to be forgiven for our own sins, we must repent of them. Nobody can do that for us. And we cannot get forgiveness in advance, before committing a sin. If we sin and are sorry, we repent, and we are granted forgiveness. Let us, by God’s grace, repent of our sins and ask God, through His Son Jesus Christ, for the Holy Spirit, so that we may both will and do His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
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Christians, Muslims and Jews believe in common that there is one true God. While they all differ in general beliefs, they are all agreed that this one true God is presented in the Old Testament Torah of the Bible. The New Testament continues the same concept of the one true God and speaks even more specifically about who this one true God is. The New Testament equally testifies to the divinity of Christ. How then should we understand the biblical teaching that there is one true God? Is the one true God three persons, two persons or one person? And does it matter? It matters in that a concept of God that is inconsistent with the scriptures is a creation of man – an idol. Would this not be a violation of the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3)? Let us see what the Bible says about the one true God. Judge for yourself.
About the one true God, the Bible says the following, starting with the words of Jesus himself:
“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” – John 17:1-3.
Jesus identified His Father as “the only true God” and himself as the “Son” of that only true God. The question has been answered. If Jesus cannot settle it, then who else can? Is that the only place in scripture that this is said? No! The same thought is expressed elsewhere. In another instance, almost as if anticipating a question as to whether there is someone else to whom the title ‘only true God’ could also apply, the Apostle Paul says:
“As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge” – 1 Cor. 8:4-6.
The Apostle Paul says that “there is none other God but one”, that “there is but one God, the Father” but “there is not in every man that knowledge”. One would hope that Christians are not among those that the Apostle Paul says do not have that knowledge. The Bible is clear when it says that there is “One God and Father of all, who is above all” (Eph. 4:6). He is clearly the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” – 2 Cor. 11:31. There is only one Person who is above Christ and that is His Father. The Father of Christ “appointed” Him “heir of all things” (Heb. 1:2), “anointed” Him (Heb.1:9), “sent” Him “into the world” (John 10:36), “raised him from the dead” (Gal. 1:1) and has “highly exalted him” (Phil. 2:9).
No true revelation will contradict what either Jesus or Paul said.
Who is Jesus?
Jesus himself declares that He is the “only begotten Son” of God (John 3:16). God Himself also spoke from heaven more than once and said that Jesus Christ is His Son (Matt. 3:17; Mark 9:7). The Bible says that Jesus “hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name” than the angels (Heb. 1:4). Jesus is so much better than the angels that God commanded angels to worship Jesus, His Son (Heb. 1:4-6). The Father addresses Jesus as God while indicating at the same time that He is the God of Jesus and the One who “anointed” Him – “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” (Heb. 1:8, 9). This confirms Jesus’ full divinity while showing that even as God (being divine but not the one true God), Jesus is subject to His Father.
Jesus Christ is the Mediator between us and God and there is no other way to God but through Jesus Christ. The Bible says: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” – 1 Tim. 2:5. And Jesus said: “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” – John 14:6. There ought to be no confusion as to who the one true God is and who Jesus is.
Eternity has no break
Of God, the Bible further says that He is:
“the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto” – 1 Tim. 6:15, 16.
According to that scripture, the Father is the only one who “hath immortality”. All who have or will receive eternal life, would have received it from Him. This means that even the life of Jesus was obtained from His Father. Jesus himself said this as follows:
“For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself” – John 5:26.
Jesus died and was raised from the dead by His Father (Gal.1:1). The fact that Jesus died means that He has not always existed and is therefore not eternal since eternity has no break.
God has no equal
God declares of Himself: “I am God, and there is none like me” – Isa. 46:9. The Bible reveals God as a majestic being who has no equal in heaven or in earth. Jesus came to earth to reveal Him to us so that we can be reconciled to Him. Various prophets have gotten a glimpse of Him (His form, not His face – Ex. 33:20-23) and described the majesty of His being. Among those are Ezekiel (Eze. 1 and Eze. 10); Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and seventy elders of Israel (Ex. 24:9, 10); Daniel (Dan. 7:9-14); and John (Rev. 4 and Rev. 5). This is the God who says: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” – Ex. 20:3. Therefore we ought not to have a concept of God that places anyone else on equal footing with Him. That would be idolatry. He is the Creator of whom the Bible says there is none else:
“For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.” – Isa. 45:18. (See also Isa. 46:5, 9)
The Creator sits on the throne
In heaven, God sits on the throne and is worshipped as the Creator of all things –
“a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne” (Rev. 4:2);
“The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Rev. 4:10, 11).
Jesus is identified separately as the Lamb who died:
“And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Rev. 5:7-9).
True God or false Christ?
It is interesting that Jesus told us who the “only true God” is (John 17:1-3), yet people are saying something else, that God is a Trinity or that God is “Jesus only”. Paul told us that even “though there be that are called gods” whether in heaven or in earth, but to us there is but one God (1 Cor. 8:5, 6) and he tells us who He is, yet people prefer to go by their own speculation, saying that God is three-in-one or that the Most High is Jesus Christ himself rather than the Father of Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that Jesus died, yet people insist that Jesus is co-eternal with the Father as if Jesus never ceased to live at one point.
Are people worshipping a false Christ that they consider to be “like the Most High” as Lucifer sought to be (Isa. 14:14) as opposed to worshipping the Christ who is the Son of God? Will the true Christ accept from them a designation that belongs only to God, His Father, or will He tell them in that final day that He never knew them, as the Bible says that He will tell many who would have been saying “Lord, Lord” (Matt. 7:22, 23)?
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
For further information, please visit http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/
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In the Bible, the term Holy Spirit may refer to the gifts of the Spirit or it may refer to the representative of Christ who dispenses the spiritual gifts. Christ said that He was going away, and He would send the Comforter, who He calls the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit).
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7).
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26).
Quite separate from the representative that Jesus would send in His place, the term Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) is also used to refer to something that Jesus is said to have inside of Him and that He can give us so that we can have it in us in measure.
“For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” (John 3:34).
“And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Luke 4:1).
“And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22).
Holy Spirit Poured Out
As gifts, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers at Pentecost, in fulfilment of a promise that God made through the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28, 29). Peter referred to this promise and its fulfilment in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost:
“But this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17, 18);
Jesus says that we should ask the Father for the Holy Spirit:
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).
Early Rain and Latter Rain
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was like the early rain that gave a kick start to the newly germinated seeds. When the plants are mature, latter rain showers are needed to ripen the crop and prepare them for the harvest. Based on Joel’s prophecy there would be an Early Rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit and in the last days, a Latter Rain outpouring.
“Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.” (Joel 2:23).
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.” (Joel 2:28-31).
The Latter Rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit is described as the work of a Mighty Angel who descends from heaven and causes the earth to be lightened with his glory.
“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.” (Rev. 18:1, 2).
The Latter Rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit is given in the last days at a time when Babylon is taken over by demons and evil spirits. This final outpouring of the Holy Spirit will empower God’s true and faithful believers to overcome the Devil as Moses was able to overcome the magicians of Egypt.
Representative of Christ Dispenses Gifts
It is important that we do not confuse the spiritual gifts that we receive in us with the representative of Christ who dispenses the gifts. Whereas the Comforter dispensed the gifts at Pentecost as the Early Rain, the Mighty Angel of Revelation 18 will dispense the gifts in even greater measure as the Latter Rain.
The Comforter is not a third God-being like the Father and the Son. Like the Mighty Angel of Revelation 18, the Comforter was sent on a mission to dispense spiritual gifts and to comfort the disciples. He would not speak of himself but would speak only what he hears.
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13).
If the Comforter who brought the Early Rain was a third God-being, then we have a situation where the Mighty Angel would be dispensing spiritual gifts more extensively in the Latter Rain than the third God-being was allowed to do in the Early Rain. Would that be signalling that the Mighty Angel is more powerful than this third member of the Godhead, or that he is a fourth member? Or rather, is it suggesting that the Comforter, like the Mighty Angel, is not a Divine Being to be worshipped, but rather, a messenger (angel) carrying out a similar mission? The latter suggestion is more consistent with scripture.
The Adventist Pioneers in their Statement of Fundamental Principles published in the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1889 and onward until about 1930 described the Holy Spirit as Christ’s Representative. This is consistent with scripture.
The Holy Spirit is not a third God-being to be worshipped; neither is the Holy Spirit a being that takes up residence inside of us. The Spirit of Christ that dwells in us in measure are the spiritual gifts of Divine light, love and power, by which we reflect the character of Christ and are empowered to be His witnesses.
In conclusion, the term Holy Spirit may refer to the spiritual gifts that we receive and that remain in us or it may refer to Christ’s representative (or messenger – angel) who dispenses the gifts to us.
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
For further information, please visit http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/
Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: email@example.com
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What is at Stake
It is popularly assumed that Father, Son and Holy Ghost make a Trinity; further, that the Trinity concept is difficult to explain but should be accepted by faith. But, does the supposed difficulty in explaining it really expose us to embracing questionable ideas that could be detrimental to accept? First of all, what is the Trinity and why is the question important? Consider this. On the assumption of a Trinity, people worship the Holy Ghost alongside the Father and the Son. Is this a valid position? Could we, unwittingly, be offering worship where it does not belong – making us guilty of idolatry?
This is a critical matter because the very first commandment of the Ten Commandments says: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3). Repeatedly, God has warned against idolatry and has punished individuals and nations for practicing idolatry. God has made it clear that He is the only true God; “there is none else” (Isa. 45:5).
Jesus said the same, as He prayed, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3).
Notwithstanding that, Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, “the express image of His person” (Heb. 1:3) and God, the Father, commands both us and angels to worship His Son (John 5:23; Heb. 1:6).
But there is nowhere in the Bible that says we should worship the Holy Spirit, neither is it said that we are allowed to do that. People do it on an assumption that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equally God.
What the Trinity Concept is
The Trinity doctrine asserts that there is one God who is made up of three persons. Some people prefer to use the term Godhead, but in essence hold to the same concept as is held by those who use the term Trinity. Standard definitions of Trinity are as follows:
“Trinity n Christianity the union of three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in one God” – Collins Student’s Dictionary.
“(the Trinity) (in Christian belief) the three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) that make up God.” – Little Oxford Dictionary.
“Trinity noun in Christianity, the union of Father, Son and Holy Ghost in one God.” – Chambers English Dictionary.
The idea is that when the Bible says that there is one God, the one God is really Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
So, since we are allowed to worship the Father and the Son, the assumption is that we should then be able to worship the Holy Spirit as well. But is it true that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are co-equal? Does the Bible teach that? And does the Bible teach that the one God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Let us see for ourselves what the Bible actually says.
What the Bible Teaches About God
The truth is that the Bible does not teach that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are co-equal. A few clear references will show this. Jesus said: “my Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28).
He said again, “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” (John 12:49). One might say: Oh, that was in reference to the Son only in His human state. But that is not true. Before the Son came to earth, it is said of Him, that His Father “anointed” Him (Heb. 1:9) and the Father “appointed” Him (Heb. 1:2). Further, the Bible tells us: “And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.” (Heb. 7:7).
It is very obvious. The Father is greater than the Son.
Further, after sin and death are done away with, the Son himself will be subject to the Father – “And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Cor. 15:28).
Therefore, the Father is greater than the Son at all phases: before the Son came to earth, while He was on earth, and after He left the earth continuing into eternity.
Prophets of the Bible have referred to the Father as “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:3; 2 Cor. 11:31). And God the Father is reported as saying to the Son that “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee” (Heb. 1:9). So, this concept of co-equality is totally unscriptural.
This is not to say that the Son is not to be worshipped. The Father says that we are to worship His Son. And the Son exercises the authority of His Father. The relationship is similar to a king and a prince. God, the Father, is the King of the Universe and Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son is the Prince of the universe. In another sense, Jesus Christ, as the second Adam, will be King of this particular territory in the universe called earth. He will be King of kings and Lord of lords over His earthly subjects who will reign with Him as kings and priests (Rev. 5:10).
But as for the Holy Spirit, it is a different matter. While we need the Holy Spirit, nowhere is it ever said that we should worship the Holy Spirit.
Further, Christ the Son, is greater than the Comforter who is the Holy Spirit. Christ said that He would send the Comforter and when the Comforter comes, he would not speak of himself. He will only speak what he hears –“It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7). And “he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak:” (John 16:13).
So, Christ is obviously greater than the Comforter.
Even in the sending of the Comforter, the order of authority is clearly seen. Christ prays to the Father and asks Him to give the Comforter. Then Christ sends the Comforter –“I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter” (John 14:16).
“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26).
The concept of Father, Son and Holy Spirit being co-equal is totally false.
Further, the Bible tells us who the one God is. We are told:
“For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things” (1 Cor. 8:6). The idea that the one God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit is totally unscriptural.
What the facts show is that Father, Son and Holy Spirit do not make a Trinity.
The Bible is clear that there is only one Supreme Being, and that is the Father – “One God and Father of all, who is above all” (Eph. 4:6). When the Bible says that there is one God, it is a reference to the Father and the Father only.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is of the same nature as God and is worshipped just as God the Father is worshipped. But He is, has been and will always be subject to and submissive to His Father. As we are told, “the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Cor. 11:3). But the Holy Spirit is not to be worshipped as God.
This will remain true even into the new earth of which we are told:
“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” (Rev. 21:22). May the Lord help us to worship God in spirit and in truth and not to be drawn unwittingly into idolatry, giving worship where it does not belong. Blessings!
For further information:
Adventist Pioneers’ 28 Beliefs in the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1889
“The Fundamental Principles of Seventh Day Adventists”, as upheld by the SDA Pioneers, was presented in the 1889 Year Book (http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1889.pdf) and is reproduced here. This reflects the defining Statement of Beliefs of the Seventh Day Adventist Church from 1888 to 1930. These beliefs reflect what Ellen White, James White and the Seventh Day Adventist Church as an organization advocated and believed up until 1930, 15 years after the death of Ellen White. The “Fundamental Principles” were first published by James White in the Signs of the Times in 1874, originally as 25 Principles, but three additions (listed below as Principles 14, 15 and 16) were included in the 1889 Yearbook and thereafter, until a new version was published in 1931.
In the 1889 Yearbook, Mrs. E. G. White is even listed as one of the Ministers along with a number of other notable pioneers. Some of them, such as James White, Joseph Bates and J. N. Andrews had already passed off the scene.
There have since been SUBSTANTIAL CHANGES to the “Beliefs” of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. What the SDA Church advocates today IS NOT ENTIRELY what Ellen White and James White and their contemporaries believed.
You are invited to CRITICALLY EXAMINE what the beliefs of the SDA Church were up until 1930 and compare them to the beliefs of today advocated in 28 Fundamental Beliefs (2015) (included below for ease of reference). Of particular note, for comparison, are 1889 Fundamental Principles 1, 2 and 19 to be compared with Fundamental Beliefs (2015) 2, 3, 4 and 5. The view of God has changed. Another matter for comparison is the view of the atonement. Compare 1889 Fundamental Principles 2 (along with the note in the original, included here), 10 and 21 to be compared with Fundamental Beliefs (2015) 9, 10, 11 and 24.
What follows, are direct extracts from the Seventh Day Adventist Year Book, 1889. The link to the original document from the official Seventh-day Adventist Archives is given above for reference and possible cross-checking. The original document has 208 pages. The  FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS , as they were then held, is given below, followed by an extract showing a list of some of the leading ministers (including Mrs. E. G. White). After that, you will find the current  FUNDAMENTAL BELIEFS .
DISCLAIMER: Please note that the information presented here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to speak on behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
S e v e n t h -D a y A d v e n t i s t
STATISTICS FOR 1889,
REVIEW & HERALD PUBLISHING CO., Battle Creek Mich., 1889
 FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS .
“As elsewhere stated, Seventh-day Adventists have no creed but the Bible; but they hold to certain well-defined points of faith, for which they feel prepared to give a reason “to every man that asketh” them. The following propositions may be taken as a summary of the principal features of their religious faith, upon which there is, so far as we know, entire unanimity throughout the body. They believe, –
- That there is one God, a personal, spiritual being, the creator of all things, omnipotent, omniscient, and eternal; infinite in wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, truth and mercy; unchangeable, and everywhere present by His representative, the Holy Spirit. Ps. 139:7
- That there is one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, the One by whom He created all things, and by whom they do consist; that He took on Him the nature of the seed of Abraham for the redemption of our fallen race; that He dwelt among men, full of grace and truth, lived our example, died our sacrifice, was raised for our justification, ascended on high to be our only mediator in the sanctuary in heaven, where through the merits of His shed blood, He secures the pardon and forgiveness of the sins of all those who penitently come to Him; and as the closing portion of His work as priest, before He takes His throne as king, He will make the great atonement for the sins of all such, and their sins will then be blotted out (Acts 3:19) and borne away from the sanctuary, as shown in the service of the Levitical priesthood, which foreshadowed and prefigured the ministry of our Lord in heaven. See Lev 16; Heb. 8:4, 5; 9:6, 7; etc.*(see note in original).
*Note.— Some thoughtless persons accuse us of rejecting the atonement of Christ entirely, because we dissent from the view that the atonement was made upon the cross, as is generally held. But we do nothing of the kind; we only take issue as to the time when the atonement is to be made. We object to the view that the atonement was made upon the cross, because it is utterly contrary to the type, which placed the atonement at the end of the yearly sanctuary service, not at the beginning (see scriptures last referred to), and because it inevitably leads to one of two great errors. Thus, Christ on the cross bore the sins of all the world. John said, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away [margin, beareth] the sin of the world 1” John 1:29. Peter tells us when he thus bore the sins of the world: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” 1 Peter 2:24. Paul says that “he died for all” 2 Cor. 5:14, 15. That which Christ did upon the cross, therefore, was done indiscriminately and unconditionally for all the world; and if this was the atonement, then the sins of all the world have been atoned for, and all will be saved. This is Universalism in full blossom. But all men will not be saved; hence the sins of all were not atoned for upon the cross; and if Christ’s work there was the atonement, then His work was partial, not universal, as the scriptures above quoted assert, and he atoned for only a favored few who were elected to be saved, and passed by all others who were predestined to damnation. This would establish the doctrine of election and predestination in its most ultra form, — an error equally unscriptural and objectionable with the former. We avoid both these errors, and find ourselves in harmony with the Mosaic type, and with all the declarations of the Scriptures, when we take the position that what Christ did upon the cross was to provide a divine sacrifice for the world, sufficient to save all, and offered it to everyone who will accept of it; that he then, through the merits of his offering, acts as mediator with the Father till time shall end, securing the forgiveness of sins for all who seek him for it; and that, as the last service of his priesthood, he will blot out the sins of all who have repented and been converted (Acts 3:19), the atonement not being completed till this work of blotting out sin is done. Thus Christ atones, not for the sins of the whole world, to save all, not for a favored few only, elected from all eternity to be saved, but for those who, as free moral agents, have voluntarily sought from him the forgiveness of sin, and everlasting life. And all for whom the atonement is made, will be forever saved in his kingdom. This view in no way detracts from the merit of Christ’s offering, nor from the value and glory of his atoning work for men. While on this line, we are not driven into Universalism on the one hand, nor into election and reprobation on the other.
- That the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, contain a full revelation of His will to man, and are the only infallible rule of faith and practice.
- That baptism is an ordinance of the Christian church, to follow faith and repentance, – an ordinance by which we commemorate the resurrection of Christ, as by this act we show our faith in his burial and resurrection, and through that, in the resurrection of all the saints at the last day; and that no other mode more fitly represents these facts than that which the Scriptures prescribe, namely, immersion. Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12.
- That the new birth comprises the entire change necessary to fit us for the kingdom of God, and consists of two parts; first, a moral change wrought by conversion and a Christian life (John 3:3, 5); second, a physical change at the second coming of Christ, whereby if dead, we are raised incorruptible, and if living, are changed to immortality in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. Luke 20:36; 1 Cor. 15:51, 52.
- That prophecy is a part of God’s revelation to man; that it is included in that Scripture which is profitable for instruction (2 Tim. 3:16); that it is designed for us and our children (Deut. 29:29); that so far from being enshrouded in impenetrable mystery, it is that which especially constitutes the word of God a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Ps. 119:105; 2 Peter 1:19); that a blessing is pronounced upon those who study it (Rev. 1:1-3); and that, consequently, it is to be understood by the people of God sufficiently to show them their position in the world’s history and the special duties required at their hands.
- That the world’s history from specified dates in the past, the rise and fall of empires, and the chronological succession of events down to the setting up of God’s everlasting kingdom, are outlined in numerous great chains of prophecy; and that these prophecies are now all fulfilled except the closing scenes.
- That the doctrine of the world’s conversion and a temporal millennium is a fable of these last days, calculated to lull men into a state of carnal security, and cause them to be overtaken by the great day of the Lord as by a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:3); that the second coming of Christ is to precede, not follow, the millennium; for until the Lord appears, the papal power, with all its abominations is to continue (2 Thess. 2:8), the wheat and tares grow together (Matt. 13:29, 30, 39), and evil men and seducers wax worse and worse, as the word of God declares. 2 Tim. 3:1, 13.
- That the mistake of Adventists in 1844 pertained to the nature of the event then to transpire, not to the time; that no prophetic period is given to reach to the second advent, but that the longest one, the two thousand and three hundred days of Dan. 8:14. Terminated in 1844, and brought us to an event called the cleansing of the sanctuary.*(See note in original).
*The Adventists of 1844 expected that the end of the world would come in that year, because they held that certain prophecies would then transpire, which they believed reached to the coming of the Lord. Chief among these was the prophecy of Dan. 8, 13, 14, which says that at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days (years) the sanctuary should be cleansed. They believed that the earth was the sanctuary then to be cleansed, and that its cleansing was to be accomplished with fire, which would accompany the manifestation of the Lord from heaven. From these premises, the conclusion seemed inevitable that when the 2300 years ended, in 1844, the Lord would come. But the day passed by, and no Saviour appeared. Suspended between hope and fear, and waiting until every plausible allowance for possible inaccuracies of reckoning and variations of time, was exhausted, it became at length apparent that a great mistake had been made, and that the mistake must be on one or both of the following points: either, first, the period of the 2300 days did not end at that time, and they had made a mistake in supposing that they would terminate in that year; or, secondly, the cleansing of the sanctuary was not to be the burning of the earth at the second coming of Christ, and hence they had made a mistake in expecting such an event at that time. While there was a possibility that they had made a mistake on both these points, it was certain that they had made a mistake on one of them; and either one would be sufficient to account for the fact that the Lord did not then appear.
- That the sanctuary of the new covenant is the tabernacle of God in heaven, of which Paul speaks in Hebrews 8 and onward, and of which our Lord, as great high priest, is minister; that this sanctuary is the antitype of the Mosaic tabernacle, and that the priestly work of our Lord, connected therewith, is the antitype of the work of the Jewish priests of the former dispensation (Heb. 8:1-5, etc.); that this and not the earth, is the sanctuary to be cleansed at the end of the two thousand three hundred days, what is termed its cleansing being in this case, as in the type, simply the entrance of the high priest into the most holy place, to finish the round of service connected therewith, by making the atonement and removing from the sanctuary the sins which had been transferred to it by means of the ministration in the first apartment (Lev. 16; Heb. 9:22,23); and that this work in the antitype, beginning in 1844, consists in actually blotting out the sins of believers (Acts 3:19), and occupies a brief but indefinite space of time, at the conclusion of which the work of mercy for the world will be finished, and the second advent of Christ will take place.
- That God’s moral requirements are the same upon all men in all dispensations; that these are summarily contained in the commandments spoken by Jehovah from Sinai, engraven on the tables of stone, and deposited in the ark, which was in consequence called the “ark of the covenant,” or testament (Num. 10:33; Heb. 9:4, etc.); that this law is immutable and perpetual, being a transcript of the tables deposited in the ark of God’s testament; for under the sounding of the seventh trumpet we are told that “the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament.” (Rev. 11:19).
- That the fourth commandment of this law requires that we devote the seventh day of each week, commonly called Saturday, to abstinence from our own labor, and to the performance of sacred and religious duties; that this is the only weekly Sabbath known to the Bible, being the day that was set apart before Paradise was lost (Gen 2:2,3) and which will be observed in Paradise restored (Isa. 66:22,23); that the facts upon which the Sabbath institution is based confine it to the seventh day, as they are not true of any other day; and that the terms Jewish Sabbath, as applied to the seventh day, and Christian Sabbath, as applied to the first day of the week, are names of human invention, unscriptural in fact, and false in meaning.
- That as the man of sin, the papacy has thought to change times and laws (the law of God, Dan. 7:25), and has misled almost all Christendom in regard to the fourth commandment, we find a prophecy of a reform in this respect to be wrought among believers just before the coming of Christ. Isa. 56:1, 2; 1 Peter 1:5; Rev. 14:12, etc.
- That the followers of Christ should be a peculiar people, not following the maxims, nor conforming to the ways, of the world; not loving its pleasures nor countenancing its follies; inasmuch as the apostle says that “whosoever therefore will be” in this sense, “a friend of the world, is the enemy of God” (James 4:4); and Christ says that we cannot have two masters, or, at the same time, serve God and mammon. Matt. 6:24.
- That the Scriptures insist upon plainness and modesty of attire as a prominent mark of discipleship in those who profess to be followers of him who was “meek and lowly in heart,” that the wearing of gold, pearls, and costly array, or anything designed merely to adorn the person and foster the pride of the natural heart, is to be discarded, according to such scriptures as 1 Tim. 2:9, 10; 1 Peter 3:3, 4.
- That means for the support of evangelical work among men should be contributed from love to God and love of souls, not raised by church lotteries, or occasions designed to contribute to the fun-loving, appetite-indulging propensities of the sinner, such as fairs, festivals, oyster suppers, tea,, broom, donkey, and crazy socials, etc., which are a disgrace to the professed church of Christ; that the proportion of one’s income required in former dispensations can be no less under the gospel; that it is the same as Abraham (whose children we are, if we are Christ’s, Gal. 3:29) paid to Melchisedec (type of Christ) when he gave him a tenth of all (Heb. 7:1-4); the tithe is the Lord’s (Lev. 27:30); and this tenth of one’s income is also to be supplemented by offerings from those who are able, for the support of the gospel. 2 Cor 9:6; Mal. 3:8, 10.
- That as the natural or carnal heart is at enmity with God and his law, this enmity can be subdued only by a radical transformation of the affections, the exchange of unholy for holy principles; that this transformation follows repentance and faith, is the special work of the Holy Spirit, and constitutes regeneration, or conversion.
- That as all have violated the law of God, and cannot of themselves render obedience to his just requirements, we are dependent on Christ, first, for justification from our past offenses, and secondly, for grace whereby to render acceptable obedience to his holy law in time to come.
- That the Spirit of God was promised to manifest itself in the church through certain gifts, enumerated especially in 1 Cor. 12 and Eph. 4; that these gifts are not designed to supersede, or take the place of, the Bible, which is sufficient to make us wise unto salvation, any more than the Bible can take the place of the Holy Spirit; that, in specifying the various channels of its operation, that Spirit has simply made provision for its own existence and presence with the people of God to the end of time, to lead to an understanding of that word which it had inspired, to convince of sin, and to work a transformation in the heart and life; and that those who deny to the Spirit its place and operation, do plainly deny that part of the Bible which assigns to it this work and position.
- That God, in accordance with his uniform dealings with the race, sends forth a proclamation of the approach of the second advent of Christ; and that this work is symbolized by the three messages of Revelation 14, the last one bringing to view the work of reform on the law of God, that his people may acquire a complete readiness for that event.
- That the time of the cleansing of the sanctuary (see proposition 10.), synchronizing with the time of the proclamation of the third message (Rev. 14:9,10), is a time of investigative judgment, first with reference to the dead, and secondly, at the close of probation, with reference to the living, to determine who of the myriads now sleeping in the dust of the earth are worthy of a part in the first resurrection, and who of its living multitudes are worthy of translation, – points which must be determined before the Lord appears.
- That the grave, whither we all tend, expressed by the Hebrew word sheol and the Greek word hades, is a place, or condition, in which there is no work, device, wisdom, nor knowledge. Eccl 9:10.
- That the state to which we are reduced by death is one of silence, inactivity, and entire unconsciousness. Ps. 146:4; Eccl. 9:5, 6; Dan. 12:2.
- That out of this prison-house of the grave, mankind are to be brought by a bodily resurrection; the righteous having part in the first resurrection, which takes place at the second coming of Christ; the wicked, in the second resurrection, which takes place a thousand years thereafter. Rev. 20:4-6.
- That at the last trump, the living righteous are to be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and with the risen righteous are to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, so forever to be with the Lord. 1 Thess. 4:16, 17; 1 Cor. 15:51, 52.
- That these immortalized ones are then taken to heaven, to the New Jerusalem, the Father’s house, in which there are many mansions (John 14:1-3), where they reign with Christ a thousand years (Rev. 20:4; 1 Cor. 6:2,3); that during this time the earth lies in a desolate and chaotic condition (Jer. 4:23-27), described, as in the beginning by the Greek term abussos (αβυσσυς) “bottomless pit” (Septuagint of Gen. 1:2); and that here Satan is confined during the thousand years (Rev. 20:1,2), and here finally destroyed (Rev. 20:10; Mal. 4:1); the theatre of the ruin he has wrought in the universe being appropriately made, for a time, his gloomy prison-house, and then the place of his final execution.
- That at the end of the thousand years the Lord descends with his people and the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2), the wicked dead are raised, and come up on the surface of the yet unrenewed earth, and gather about the city, the camp of the saints (Rev. 20:9), and fire comes down from God out of heaven and devours them. They are then consumed, root and branch (Mal. 4:1), becoming as though they had not been. Obad. 15, 16. In this everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (2 Thess. 1:9), the wicked meet the “everlasting punishment” threatened against them (Matt 25:46), which is everlasting death. Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:14, 15. This is the perdition for ungodly men, the fire which consumes them being the fire for which “the heavens and the earth, which are now,… are kept in store,” which shall melt even the elements with its intensity, and purge the earth from the deepest stains of the curse of sin. 2 Peter 3:7-12.
- That new heavens and a new earth shall spring by the power of God from the ashes of the old, and this renewed earth, with the New Jerusalem for its metropolis and capital, shall be the eternal inheritance of the saints, the place where the righteous shall evermore dwell. 2 Peter 3:13; Ps. 37:11, 29; Matt. 5:5.” Seventh Day Adventist Year Book, 1889 pp143-147.
[.See pages 45, 132.]
E x e c u t i v e Committee — O. A. Olsen, S. N. Haskell, W. C. White, R. A. Underwood, R. M. Kilgore, E. W. Farnsworth, Dan. T. Jones.
O f f i c e r s — Pres., 0. A. Olsen; Rec. Sec., Dan. T. Jones; Cor. Sec., W. H. Edwards; Home Mission Sec., Geo. B. Starr; Foreign Mission Sec., W. C. White; Educational Sec., W. W. Prescott; Treas., Hannon Lindsay.
B o o k Committee. — Pres., W. C. White; Sec., F. E. Belden; U. Smith; R. M. Kilgore; W. W. Prescott; A. T. Jones; E. J. Waggoner; C. Eldridge; J. H. Kellogg; E. W. Farnsworth; J. G. Matteson; A. T. Robinson; C. H. Jones.
L a b o r Bureau — A. R. Henry, C. Eldridge, H. W. Kellogg.
S p e c i a l C o u n s e lo r s — Southern Field, R. M. Kilgore; Eastern Field, R. A. Underwood; Western and Northwestern Field, E. W. Farnsworth; Pacific Coast, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, W. C. White.
M i n i s t e r s. —• America, Geo. I. Butler, S. N. Haskell, U. Smith, 0. A. Olsen, W. C. White, R. M. Kilgore, R. A. Underwood, E. W. Farnsworth, Dan. T. Jones, Mrs. E. G. White, A. T. Jones, Geo. B. Starr, J. G. Matteson, H. Shultz, D. T. Bourdeau, W. H. Saxby, J. E. Robinson, D. E. Lindsey, N. Orcutt, J. W. Bagby, M. G. Huffman, I. E. Kimball, L. II. Crislcr, Oscar Hill, B. F. Purdham, S. H. Kime; Great Britain, D. A. Robinson, A. A. John, E. W. Whitney; Scandinavia, Lewis Johnson, J. F. Hansen, E. G. Olsen, J. M. Erickson; Central Europe, L. R. Conradi, H. P. Holser, J. S. Shroek, J. C. Laubhan; South Africa, C. L. Boyd. Ira J. Hankins; Australia, Geo. C. Tenney, M. C. Israel, Will D. Curtis; New Zealand, A. G. Daniells, Robert Hare; Pacific Islands, A. J. Cudney.
L i c e n t i a t e s — America, W. W. Prescott, C. Eldridge, Wm. M. Baird, N. B. England, Mrs. Ruie Hill, Arthur Hunt, D. C. Babcock; Great Britain, Geo. R. Drew, A. Smith; China and Japan, A. La Rue; Pacific Islands, J. I. Tay.” Seventh Day Adventist Year Book, 1889, p 25.
 FUNDAMENTAL BELIEFS *
The Holy Scriptures 1
The Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, are the written Word of God, given by divine inspiration. The inspired authors spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. In this Word, God has committed to humanity the knowledge necessary for salvation. The Holy Scriptures are the supreme, authoritative, and the infallible revelation of His will. They are the standard of character, the test of experience, the definitive revealer of doctrines, and the trustworthy record of God’s acts in history. (Ps. 119:105; Prov. 30:5, 6; Isa. 8:20; John 17:17; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Heb. 4:12; 2 Peter 1:20, 21.)
The Trinity 2
There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three coeternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. God, who is love, is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation. (Gen. 1:26; Deut. 6:4; Isa. 6:8; Matt. 28:19; John 3:16 2 Cor. 1:21, 22; 13:14; Eph. 4:4‑6; 1 Peter 1:2.)
The Father 3
God the eternal Father is the Creator, Source, Sustainer, and Sovereign of all creation. He is just and holy, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. The qualities and powers exhibited in the Son and the Holy Spirit are also those of the Father. (Gen. 1:1; Deut. 4:35; Ps. 110:1, 4; John 3:16; 14:9; 1 Cor. 15:28; 1 Tim. 1:17; 1 John 4:8; Rev. 4:11.)
The Son 4
God the eternal Son became incarnate in Jesus Christ. Through Him all things were created, the character of God is revealed, the salvation of humanity is accomplished, and the world is judged. Forever truly God, He became also truly human, Jesus the Christ. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He lived and experienced temptation as a human being, but perfectly exemplified the righteousness and love of God. By His miracles He manifested God’s power and was attested as God’s promised Messiah. He suffered and died voluntarily on the cross for our sins and in our place, was raised from the dead, and ascended to heaven to minister in the heavenly sanctuary in our behalf. He will come again in glory for the final deliverance of His people and the restoration of all things. (Isa. 53:4-6; Dan. 9:25-27; Luke 1:35; John 1:1‑3, 14; 5:22; 10:30; 14:1‑3, 9, 13; Rom. 6:23; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4; 2 Cor. 3:18; 5:17-19; Phil. 2:5‑11; Col. 1:15-19; Heb. 2:9- 18; 8:1, 2.)
The Holy Spirit 5
God the eternal Spirit was active with the Father and the Son in Creation, incarnation, and redemption. He is as much a person as are the Father and the Son. He inspired the writers of Scripture. He filled Christ’s life with power. He draws and convicts human beings; and those who respond He renews and transforms into the image of God. Sent by the Father and the Son to be always with His children, He extends spiritual gifts to the church, empowers it to bear witness to Christ, and in harmony with the Scriptures leads it into all truth. (Gen. 1:1, 2; 2 Sam. 23:2; Ps. 51:11; Isa. 61:1; Luke 1:35; 4:18; John 14:16-18, 26; 15:26; 16:7-13; Acts 1:8; 5:3; 10:38; Rom. 5:5; 1 Cor. 12:7-11; 2 Cor. 3:18; 2 Peter 1:21.)
God has revealed in Scripture the authentic and historical account of His creative activity. He created the universe, and in a recent six-day creation the Lord made “the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” and rested on the seventh day. Thus He established the Sabbath as a perpetual memorial of the work He performed and completed during six literal days that together with the Sabbath constituted the same unit of time that we call a week today. The first man and woman were made in the image of God as the crowning work of Creation, given dominion over the world, and charged with responsibility to care for it. When the world was finished it was “very good,” declaring the glory of God. (Gen. 1-2; 5; 11; Exod. 20:8-11; Ps. 19:1‑6; 33:6, 9; 104; Isa. 45:12, 18; Acts 17:24; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2; 11:3; Rev. 10:6; 14:7.)
The Nature of Humanity 7
Man and woman were made in the image of God with individuality, the power and freedom to think and to do. Though created free beings, each is an indivisible unity of body, mind, and spirit, dependent upon God for life and breath and all else. When our first parents disobeyed God, they denied their dependence upon Him and fell from their high position. The image of God in them was marred and they became subject to death. Their descendants share this fallen nature and its consequences. They are born with weaknesses and tendencies to evil. But God in Christ reconciled the world to Himself and by His Spirit restores in penitent mortals the image of their Maker. Created for the glory of God, they are called to love Him and one another, and to care for their environment. (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:7, 15; 3; Ps. 8:4-8; 51:5, 10; 58:3; Jer. 17:9; Acts 17:24-28; Rom. 5:12-17; 2 Cor. 5:19, 20; Eph. 2:3; 1 Thess. 5:23; 1 John 3:4; 4:7, 8, 11, 20.)5
The Great Controversy 8
All humanity is now involved in a great controversy between Christ and Satan regarding the character of God, His law, and His sovereignty over the universe. This conflict originated in heaven when a created being, endowed with freedom of choice, in self-exaltation became Satan, God’s adversary, and led into rebellion a portion of the angels. He introduced the spirit of rebellion into this world when he led Adam and Eve into sin. This human sin resulted in the distortion of the image of God in humanity, the disordering of the created world, and its eventual devastation at the time of the global flood, as presented in the historical account of Genesis 1-11. Observed by the whole creation, this world became the arena of the universal conflict, out of which the God of love will ultimately be vindicated. To assist His people in this controversy, Christ sends the Holy Spirit and the loyal angels to guide, protect, and sustain them in the way of salvation. (Gen. 3; 6-8; Job 1:6-12; Isa. 14:12-14; Ezek. 28:12‑18; Rom. 1:19-32; 3:4; 5:12-21; 8:19-22; 1 Cor. 4:9; Heb. 1:14; 1 Peter 5:8; 2 Peter 3:6; Rev. 12:4‑9.)
The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ 9
In Christ’s life of perfect obedience to God’s will, His suffering, death, and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that those who by faith accept this atonement may have eternal life, and the whole creation may better understand the infinite and holy love of the Creator. This perfect atonement vindicates the righteousness of God’s law and the graciousness of His character; for it both condemns our sin and provides for our forgiveness. The death of Christ is substitutionary and expiatory, reconciling and transforming. The bodily resurrection of Christ proclaims God’s triumph over the forces of evil, and for those who accept the atonement assures their final victory over sin and death. It declares the Lordship of Jesus Christ, before whom every knee in heaven and on earth will bow. (Gen. 3:15; Ps. 22:1; Isa. 53; John 3:16; 14:30; Rom. 1:4; 3:25; 4:25; 8:3, 4; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4, 20-22; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15, 19-21; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 2:15; 1 Peter 2:21, 22; 1 John 2:2; 4:10.)
The Experience of Salvation 10
In infinite love and mercy God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might be made the righteousness of God. Led by the Holy Spirit we sense our need, acknowledge our sinfulness, repent of our transgressions, and exercise faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord, Substitute and Example. This saving faith comes through the divine power of the Word and is the gift of God’s grace. Through Christ we are justified, adopted as God’s sons and daughters, and delivered from the lordship of sin. Through the Spirit we are born again and sanctified; the Spirit renews our minds, writes God’s law of love in our hearts, and we are given the power to live a holy life. Abiding in Him we become partakers of the divine nature and have the assurance of salvation now and in the judgment. (Gen. 3:15; Isa. 45:22; 53; Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 33:11; 36:25-27; Hab. 2:4; Mark 9:23, 24; John 3:3-8, 16; 16:8; Rom. 3:21-26; 8:1-4, 14-17; 5:6-10; 10:17; 12:2; 2 Cor. 5:17-21; Gal. 1:4; 3:13, 14, 26; 4:4-7; Eph. 2:4-10; Col. 1:13, 14; Titus 3:3-7; Heb. 8:7‑12; 1 Peter 1:23; 2:21, 22; 2 Peter 1:3, 4; Rev. 13:8.)6
Growing in Christ 11
By His death on the cross Jesus triumphed over the forces of evil. He who subjugated the demonic spirits during His earthly ministry has broken their power and made certain their ultimate doom. Jesus’ victory gives us victory over the evil forces that still seek to control us, as we walk with Him in peace, joy, and assurance of His love. Now the Holy Spirit dwells within us and empowers us. Continually committed to Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, we are set free from the burden of our past deeds. No longer do we live in the darkness, fear of evil powers, ignorance, and meaninglessness of our former way of life. In this new freedom in Jesus, we are called to grow into the likeness of His character, communing with Him daily in prayer, feeding on His Word, meditating on it and on His providence, singing His praises, gathering together for worship, and participating in the mission of the Church. We are also called to follow Christ’s example by compassionately ministering to the physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual needs of humanity. As we give ourselves in loving service to those around us and in witnessing to His salvation, His constant presence with us through the Spirit transforms every moment and every task into a spiritual experience. (1 Chron. 29:11; Ps. 1:1, 2; 23:4; 77:11, 12; Matt. 20:25‑28; 25:31-46; Luke 10:17-20; John 20:21; Rom. 8:38, 39; 2 Cor. 3:17, 18; Gal. 5:22‑25; Eph. 5:19, 20; 6:12-18; Phil. 3:7-14; Col. 1:13, 14; 2:6, 14, 15; 1 Thess. 5:16‑18, 23; Heb. 10:25; James 1:27; 2 Peter 2:9; 3:18; 1 John 4:4.)
The Church 12
The church is the community of believers who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. In continuity with the people of God in Old Testament times, we are called out from the world; and we join together for worship, for fellowship, for instruction in the Word, for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, for service to humanity, and for the worldwide proclamation of the gospel. The church derives its authority from Christ, who is the incarnate Word revealed in the Scriptures. The church is God’s family; adopted by Him as children, its members live on the basis of the new covenant. The church is the body of Christ, a community of faith of which Christ Himself is the Head. The church is the bride for whom Christ died that He might sanctify and cleanse her. At His return in triumph, He will present her to Himself a glorious church, the faithful of all the ages, the purchase of His blood, not having spot or wrinkle, but holy and without blemish. (Gen. 12:1-3; Exod. 19:3-7; Matt. 16:13-20; 18:18; 28:19, 20; Acts 2:38-42; 7:38; 1 Cor. 1:2; Eph. 1:22, 23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11; 5:23-27; Col. 1:17, 18; 1 Peter 2:9.)
The Remnant and Its Mission 13
The universal church is composed of all who truly believe in Christ, but in the last days, a time of widespread apostasy, a remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. This remnant announces the arrival of the judgment hour, proclaims salvation through Christ, and heralds the approach of His second advent. This proclamation is symbolized by the three angels of Revelation 14; it coincides with the work of judgment in heaven and results in a work of repentance and reform on earth. Every believer is called to have a personal part in this worldwide witness. (Dan. 7:9-14; Isa. 1:9; 11:11; Jer. 23:3; Mic. 2:12; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Peter 1:16-19; 4:17; 2 Peter 3:10-14; Jude 3, 14; Rev. 12:17; 14:6-12; 18:1-4.)7
Unity in the Body of Christ 14
The church is one body with many members, called from every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. In Christ we are a new creation; distinctions of race, culture, learning, and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us. We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and with one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation. Through the revelation of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures we share the same faith and hope, and reach out in one witness to all. This unity has its source in the oneness of the triune God, who has adopted us as His children. (Ps. 133:1; Matt. 28:19, 20; John 17:20-23; Acts 17:26, 27; Rom. 12:4, 5; 1 Cor. 12:12-14; 2 Cor. 5:16, 17; Gal. 3:27‑29; Eph. 2:13-16; 4:3‑6, 11-16; Col. 3:10-15.)
By baptism we confess our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and testify of our death to sin and of our purpose to walk in newness of life. Thus we acknowledge Christ as Lord and Saviour, become His people, and are received as members by His church. Baptism is a symbol of our union with Christ, the forgiveness of our sins, and our reception of the Holy Spirit. It is by immersion in water and is contingent on an affirmation of faith in Jesus and evidence of repentance of sin. It follows instruction in the Holy Scriptures and acceptance of their teachings. (Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 2:38; 16:30-33; 22:16; Rom. 6:1-6; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12, 13.)
The Lord’s Supper 16
The Lord’s Supper is a participation in the emblems of the body and blood of Jesus as an expression of faith in Him, our Lord and Saviour. In this experience of communion Christ is present to meet and strengthen His people. As we partake, we joyfully proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again. Preparation for the Supper includes self-examination, repentance, and confession. The Master ordained the service of foot-washing to signify renewed cleansing, to express a willingness to serve one another in Christlike humility, and to unite our hearts in love. The communion service is open to all believing Christians. (Matt. 26:17-30; John 6:48-63; 13:1‑17; 1 Cor. 10:16, 17; 11:23-30; Rev. 3:20.)8
Spiritual Gifts and Ministries 17
God bestows upon all members of His church in every age spiritual gifts that each member is to employ in loving ministry for the common good of the church and of humanity. Given by the agency of the Holy Spirit, who apportions to each member as He wills, the gifts provide all abilities and ministries needed by the church to fulfill its divinely ordained functions. According to the Scriptures, these gifts include such ministries as faith, healing, prophecy, proclamation, teaching, administration, reconciliation, compassion, and self-sacrificing service and charity for the help and encouragement of people. Some members are called of God and endowed by the Spirit for functions recognized by the church in pastoral, evangelistic, and teaching ministries particularly needed to equip the members for service, to build up the church to spiritual maturity, and to foster unity of the faith and knowledge of God. When members employ these spiritual gifts as faithful stewards of God’s varied grace, the church is protected from the destructive influence of false doctrine, grows with a growth that is from God, and is built up in faith and love. (Acts 6:1-7; Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12:7-11, 27, 28; Eph. 4:8, 11‑16; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; 1 Peter 4:10, 11.)
The Gift of Prophecy 18
The Scriptures testify that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and we believe it was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. Her writings speak with prophetic authority and provide comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction to the church. They also make clear that the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested. (Num. 12:6; 2 Chron. 20:20; Amos 3:7; Joel 2:28, 29; Acts 2:14-21; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Heb. 1:1-3; Rev. 12:17; 19:10; 22:8, 9.)
The Law of God 19
The great principles of God’s law are embodied in the Ten Commandments and exemplified in the life of Christ. They express God’s love, will, and purposes concerning human conduct and relationships and are binding upon all people in every age. These precepts are the basis of God’s covenant with His people and the standard in God’s judgment. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit they point out sin and awaken a sense of need for a Saviour. Salvation is all of grace and not of works, and its fruit is obedience to the Commandments. This obedience develops Christian character and results in a sense of well‑being. It is evidence of our love for the Lord and our concern for our fellow human beings. The obedience of faith demonstrates the power of Christ to transform lives, and therefore strengthens Christian witness. (Exod. 20:1-17; Deut. 28:1- 14; Ps. 19:7-14; 40:7, 8; Matt. 5:17-20; 22:36-40; John 14:15; 15:7-10; Rom. 8:3, 4; Eph. 2:8-10; Heb. 8:8-10; 1 John 2:3; 5:3; Rev. 12:17; 14:12.)9
The Sabbath 20
The gracious Creator, after the six days of Creation, rested on the seventh day and instituted the Sabbath for all people as a memorial of Creation. The fourth commandment of God’s unchangeable law requires the observance of this seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest, worship, and ministry in harmony with the teaching and practice of Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a day of delightful communion with God and one another. It is a symbol of our redemption in Christ, a sign of our sanctification, a token of our allegiance, and a foretaste of our eternal future in God’s kingdom. The Sabbath is God’s perpetual sign of His eternal covenant between Him and His people. Joyful observance of this holy time from evening to evening, sunset to sunset, is a celebration of God’s creative and redemptive acts. (Gen. 2:1-3; Exod. 20:8-11; 31:13-17; Lev. 23:32; Deut. 5:12-15; Isa. 56:5, 6; 58:13, 14; Ezek. 20:12, 20; Matt. 12:1-12; Mark 1:32; Luke 4:16; Heb. 4:1-11.)
We are God’s stewards, entrusted by Him with time and opportunities, abilities and possessions, and the blessings of the earth and its resources. We are responsible to Him for their proper use. We acknowledge God’s ownership by faithful service to Him and our fellow human beings, and by returning tithe and giving offerings for the proclamation of His gospel and the support and growth of His church. Stewardship is a privilege given to us by God for nurture in love and the victory over selfishness and covetousness. Stewards rejoice in the blessings that come to others as a result of their faithfulness. (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:15; 1 Chron. 29:14; Haggai 1:3‑11; Mal. 3:8-12; Matt. 23:23; Rom. 15:26, 27; 1 Cor. 9:9-14; 2 Cor. 8:1-15; 9:7.)
Christian Behavior 22
We are called to be a godly people who think, feel, and act in harmony with biblical principles in all aspects of personal and social life. For the Spirit to recreate in us the character of our Lord we involve ourselves only in those things that will produce Christlike purity, health, and joy in our lives. This means that our amusement and entertainment should meet the highest standards of Christian taste and beauty. While recognizing cultural differences, our dress is to be simple, modest, and neat, befitting those whose true beauty does not consist of outward adornment but in the imperishable ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit. It also means that because our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, we are to care for them intelligently. Along with adequate exercise and rest, we are to adopt the most healthful diet possible and abstain from the unclean foods identified in the Scriptures. Since alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and the irresponsible use of drugs and narcotics are harmful to our bodies, we are to abstain from them as well. Instead, we are to engage in whatever brings our thoughts and bodies into the discipline of Christ, who desires our wholesomeness, joy, and goodness. (Gen. 7:2; Exod. 20:15; Lev. 11:1-47; Ps. 106:3; Rom. 12:1, 2; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20; 10:31; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; 10:5; Eph. 5:1-21; Phil. 2:4; 4:8; 1 Tim. 2:9, 10; Titus 2:11, 12; 1 Peter 3:1‑4; 1 John 2:6; 3 John 2.)10
Marriage and the Family 23
Marriage was divinely established in Eden and affirmed by Jesus to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman in loving companionship. For the Christian a marriage commitment is to God as well as to the spouse, and should be entered into only between a man and a woman who share a common faith. Mutual love, honor, respect, and responsibility are the fabric of this relationship, which is to reflect the love, sanctity, closeness, and permanence of the relationship between Christ and His church. Regarding divorce, Jesus taught that the person who divorces a spouse, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery. Although some family relationships may fall short of the ideal, a man and a woman who fully commit themselves to each other in Christ through marriage may achieve loving unity through the guidance of the Spirit and the nurture of the church. God blesses the family and intends that its members shall assist each other toward complete maturity. Increasing family closeness is one of the earmarks of the final gospel message. Parents are to bring up their children to love and obey the Lord. By their example and their words they are to teach them that Christ is a loving, tender, and caring guide who wants them to become members of His body, the family of God which embraces both single and married persons. (Gen. 2:18-25; Exod. 20:12; Deut. 6:5-9; Prov. 22:6; Mal. 4:5, 6; Matt. 5:31, 32; 19:3-9, 12; Mark 10:11, 12; John 2:1-11; 1 Cor. 7:7, 10, 11; 2 Cor. 6:14; Eph. 5:21-33; 6:1-4.)
Christ’s Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary 24
There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle that the Lord set up and not humans. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. At His ascension, He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and, began His intercessory ministry, which was typified by the work of the high priest in the holy place of the earthly sanctuary. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry, which was typified by the work of the high priest in the most holy place of the earthly sanctuary. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent. (Lev. 16; Num. 14:34; Ezek. 4:6; Dan. 7:9-27; 8:13, 14; 9:24-27; Heb. 1:3; 2:16, 17; 4:14-16; 8:1‑5; 9:11-28; 10:19- 22; Rev. 8:3-5; 11:19; 14:6, 7; 20:12; 14:12; 22:11, 12.)11
The Second Coming of Christ 25
The second coming of Christ is the blessed hope of the church, the grand climax of the gospel. The Saviour’s coming will be literal, personal, visible, and worldwide. When He returns, the righteous dead will be resurrected, and together with the righteous living will be glorified and taken to heaven, but the unrighteous will die. The almost complete fulfillment of most lines of prophecy, together with the present condition of the world, indicates that Christ’s coming is near. The time of that event has not been revealed, and we are therefore exhorted to be ready at all times. (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 5:1-6; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; 2:8; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; Titus 2:13; Heb. 9:28; Rev. 1:7; 14:14-20; 19:11-21.)
Death and Resurrection 26
The wages of sin is death. But God, who alone is immortal, will grant eternal life to His redeemed. Until that day death is an unconscious state for all people. When Christ, who is our life, appears, the resurrected righteous and the living righteous will be glorified and caught up to meet their Lord. The second resurrection, the resurrection of the unrighteous, will take place a thousand years later. ( Job 19:25-27; Ps. 146:3, 4; Eccl. 9:5, 6, 10; Dan. 12:2, 13; Isa. 25:8; John 5:28, 29; 11:11-14; Rom. 6:23; 16; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; 1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 20:1-10.)
The Millennium and the End of Sin 27
The millennium is the thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints in heaven between the first and second resurrections. During this time the wicked dead will be judged; the earth will be utterly desolate, without living human inhabitants, but occupied by Satan and his angels. At its close Christ with His saints and the Holy City will descend from heaven to earth. The unrighteous dead will then be resurrected, and with Satan and his angels will surround the city; but fire from God will consume them and cleanse the earth. The universe will thus be freed of sin and sinners forever. ( Jer. 4:23‑26; Ezek. 28:18, 19; Mal. 4:1; 1 Cor. 6:2, 3; Rev. 20; 21:1-5.)
The New Earth 28
On the new earth, in which righteousness dwells, God will provide an eternal home for the redeemed and a perfect environment for everlasting life, love, joy, and learning in His presence. For here God Himself will dwell with His people, and suffering and death will have passed away. The great controversy will be ended, and sin will be no more. All things, animate and inanimate, will declare that God is love; and He shall reign forever. Amen. (Isa. 35; 65:17‑25; Matt. 5:5; 2 Peter 3:13; Rev. 11:15; 21:1‑7; 22:1-5.)
*Copyright © 2015, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
What exactly is the Gospel? The word ‘gospel’ means good news. The Gospel is the good news about salvation, and salvation comes to us through Jesus Christ.
But what is salvation? In a general sense, salvation is deliverance from danger or difficulty. It comes from the word ‘save’. It may also be seen as preservation from destruction or failure (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
So, then, what are we being saved from? If, for example, someone is caught in a fire and that person is to be rescued from the fire, there is a certain urgency that is associated with the act or process of saving the person. In the case of the good news of salvation, what are we being saved from? If we don’t understand what we are being saved from, we won’t be able to appreciate the good news that is in it, neither will we share it with any conviction.
In order to understand what we are talking about here, without the obfuscation that is often associated with some of the popular terms that people use, that lend themselves to multiple interpretations, we’ll simply ask some questions and see what the simple answers are from the Bible, giving the appropriate references.
Consider John the Baptist, Christ and the Apostles:
1. Who was John the Baptist? John the Baptist was the greatest prophet (Luke 7:28).
2. What did he do? He preached repentance and pointed to Jesus as the saviour (Luke 3:3,4; John 1:29-34).
3. Did John do miracles? No (John 10:41). Did he speak truth about Jesus? Yes (John 10:41).
4. Did John have the Holy Spirit? Yes (Luke 1:15).
5. What are we being saved from? Sin (Matt. 1:21).
6. What is sin? Sin is disobedience to God (1 John 3:4).
7. How many types of sin exist? There are two types of sin: rebellious (presumptuous) and naive (ignorant) – 1 John 5:16; Num. 15:24-31; Heb. 10:26; 1 John 2:1).
8. What type of sin was Satan’s? Satan’s sin was rebellious (Rev. 12:7-9).
9. What type of sin was Eve’s? Eve’s sin was naive – she was deceived (1 Tim. 2:14).
10. Concerning whom was the promise of redemption when it was first given? Eve and her offspring (Gen. 3:15).
11. What is required of us and why? Believe the testimony of Jesus and repent (Acts 16:31; 2:38, 39; Rom. 4:3).
12. What was Jesus’s testimony about? The testimony of Jesus was about God, His Father (John 1:18; 17:3-8; 18:37).
13. Did Jesus reveal anything else? Yes, the truth about principalities and powers – Satan and his host (Col. 2:15).
14. What did Christ reveal about Satan and His host? That they are liars and murderers (John 8:44; Acts 2:23).
15. What does that revelation result in? Christ triumphing over Satan and his host by exposing them (Col. 2:15).
16. Through what does Christ destroy the Devil? Through His death (Heb. 2:14).
17. What else does Christ’s death accomplish? Our release from bondage and our redemption (Heb. 2:15; Rev. 5:9).
18. What kept us in bondage? Fear of death (Heb. 2:15).
19. Who had the power of death? Satan (Heb. 2:14).
20. What casts out fear? Love (1 John 4:18).
21. Who is love? God (1 John 4:8).
22. Why do we love God? Because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
23. How do we know that God loves us? Because He sent His only begotten Son into the world (1 John 4:9; Rom. 8:32).
24. So how are we saved? By knowing God and believing the truth about Him as Jesus manifested (John 17:3-8).
25. How are we going to know the truth about God and Christ? Someone has to tell us (Rom. 10:13, 14).
25. Were there eyewitnesses who gave firsthand testimony about Christ? Yes, His disciples and the prophets (2 Pet. 1:16-21).
27. So what did Christ call upon His disciples to do? Go and teach all nations to observe whatsoever He has commanded and to be witnesses concerning Him (Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 1:18).
28. What will we do if we love Him? Keep His commandments (John 14:15, 21; 15:10; 1 John 5:2, 3; 2 John 1:6).
29. How are we changed? By beholding Christ (2 Cor. 3:18).
30. How did sin start on earth? Eve was deceived and got her husband, Adam, to join her in disobedience to God (1 Tim. 2:14).
31. What was the first step? She took her focus away from God – going to where the serpent was and talking to the serpent (Gen. 3:1-5).
32. What was the second step? She believed the serpent’s lie – about God (Gen. 3:6).
33. What was the third step? Disobedience to God – which is sin (Gen. 3:6; 2:16, 17).
34. What is the reverse that is involved in the redemption process? Transformation by renewing of the mind (Rom. 12:2).
35. How are we drawn back to God? By beholding Christ and believing in Him (2. Cor. 3:18; John 3:14, 15; 12:32).
36. What about Him do we need to believe? That He is the Son of God, that God sent Him, that He is manifesting the Father’s character and that His testimony or witness is true – about God (John 11:42; 12:44-50; 16:27; 17:8; 18:37).
37. To what end does Christ seek to have us believe on Him? That we might be reconciled to God in our hearts and will obey God – keep His commandments (John 1:12; 12:50; Matt. 19:17; Matt. 5:19; Matt. 15:3, 6-9; Rev. 22:14).
38. How are we able to keep God’s commandments? He gives us the power to keep them (Phil. 2:13; Titus 2:11, 12; John 1:12) – it is He that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
39. What does God have in store for those who obey Him? Everlasting life and paradise restored (Rom. 6:22; Rev. 22:14).
40. And what else is in store, most critically? A restored relationship and fellowship with God and Christ, the heavenly beings and the host of the redeemed (Rev. 21:22-27).
Look away from self and look to God through Christ – the mediator. You will be drawn to love God and others; by repentance you demonstrate that you are not rebellious but only previously duped by Satan; Christ will advocate for you and give you what you need.
Christ came to reveal the Father and expose the Devil in order to win us back to the Father and break the Devil’s hold over us that has existed because of our belief in the Devil’s lies about God.
The truth to believe is that God is good, means us well, knows what is good for us and we should believe, accept and follow everything He says. The Devil is a liar and a murderer and should be rejected.
Christ, the only begotten Son of God, who is exactly like God, His Father, in character, is the perfect manifestation and proof, in His life on earth, of God’s character.
By yielding himself to be killed by wicked hands, Christ has exposed Satan and his followers as liars and murderers whose words should be completely rejected and whose company should be shunned, thereby releasing us from Satan’s captivity in which we were held through our belief in Satan’s lies about God.
Even now Satan still holds many people captive under his deception by causing them to believe a distorted version of the gospel that still maligns God. They believe that Christ died in order to pay a price that God demanded before He would forgive us.
The truth is that the death of His Son was the price that God had to pay in order to save us. That is what it costed God to provide the basis whereby Satan’s hold on us might be broken.
Having revealed the true character of God, His Father, through the life that He lived on earth, and having discredited Satan by exposing him as a liar and a murderer, Christ now invites us to believe the truth and be saved (Acts 16:31; Rom 4:3; John 17:3). Otherwise, we’ll believe the Devil’s lies and be damned (2 Thess. 2:10-12).
It is all about relationship. That is why the Bible likens the relationship between husband and wife to that between Christ and His church. It is all about love. Righteousness is love to God first and foremost, which also leads us to love others as we love ourselves.
Sin is love of self first, which leads to lack of appreciation of others and ultimately to enmity against God and to the practice of every form of wickedness.
Nobody can love for us. We must love for ourselves. People talk about receiving the righteousness of Christ as though a righteous life is something that Christ does for us and simply gives us. Christ’s love cannot stand in place of the love that we ourselves must have and exercise.
What Christ does for us is to accept us and extend His love to us. It is entirely up to us to respond to His love by loving Him in return.
The capacity to love is something that God made all of His creatures with. It is only a question of who or what we choose to love supremely – whether God or self.
This is determined by whether we look at God as manifested in Christ, so that, in beholding we become changed or we look constantly at self so that everything for us revolves around self.
The root of the matter is all about relationship – love to God supremely and love for others as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40). This is what righteousness is.
If we believe the Devil’s lies about God we cannot love Him.
Even with the clearest evidences of God’s love for us and God’s true character, Satan still tries to distort the truth about God. Some of the distortions are:
(i) The idea of an eternally burning hell
(ii) the idea that God required a blood sacrifice, the death of His Son, before He would forgive (that’s not what the death of Christ was all about – it was the sacrifice that God made, not what He required).
In the final analysis: believe the truth and be saved or believe a lie and be damned (2 Thess. 2:10-12; Luke 8:11, 12).
What then must be our mission? Accept and preach the gospel as John the Baptist did, as Christ did, as the apostles did and as Jesus has commanded us. The gospel is a message to repent and believe God (Mark 1:2-4, 14, 15; Acts 2:38; Matt. 28:19, 20; Rom. 4:3).
What will happen when our mission is fulfilled? The end will come (Matt. 24:14).
May the Lord help us.
“Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Mal. 4:4-6)
“And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
For further information:
Warning to the World!
The time is upon us! The final events for which we have long waited are unfolding before us! We cannot afford to fall asleep now!
The Paris agreement calls for countries to cut carbon emissions; in other words, reduce industrial activity that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon emissions, it is generally held, causes global warming. Global warming is believed to be the reason for natural disasters and other events that destroy the environment. Pope Francis’s recent encylical, Laudato si´, links Sunday rest with protection of the environment. So the question is this: When countries commit to cut carbon emissions, are they expected to achieve the implied reduction in industrial activity by mandating Sunday rest?
For more than 170 years, there have been efforts to call the world’s attention to the Third Angel’s Message of Revelation 14 which is understood as a warning to the world that an alliance between the Papacy and the United States of America would bring about worldwide enforcement of Sunday observance and that such enforcement would constitute the Mark of the Beast.
One of the things that has not been prominently highlighted, however, is the fact that the prophet, Ellen G. White, predicted that such enforcement would be propelled by an appeal to environmental concerns. Here it is:
“Satan works through the elements also to garner his harvest of unprepared souls. He has studied the laboratories of nature, and he uses all his power to control the elements as far as God allows . . . . . In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon both man and beast. . . . And then the great deceiver will persuade men that those who serve God are causing these evils. The class that have provoked the displeasure of Heaven will charge all their troubles upon those whose obedience to God’s commandments is a perpetual reproof to transgressors. It will be declared that men are offending God by the violation of the Sunday sabbath; that this sin has brought calamities which will not cease until Sunday observance shall be strictly enforced; and that those who present the claims of the fourth commandment, thus destroying reverence for Sunday, are troublers of the people, preventing their restoration to divine favour and temporal prosperity.” (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 589, 590.)
The Third Angel’s Message of Revelation 14 sounds a warning to the world against receiving the Mark of the Beast and describes the mission and character of God’s people in the last days, saying: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12).
The Commandments of God
There is no question as to what are the “commandments of God”. There is only one set of commandments that God himself gave, the Ten Commandments. He spoke them audibly from Mount Sinai in the hearing of a multitude. He wrote them with His own fingers on two tables of stone. Some people try to get away from keeping the Ten Commandments because they find the fourth commandment, which requires us to keep the seventh day Sabbath, inconvenient. The fourth commandment says: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy”, and it indicates clearly that “the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God” (Ex.20:8-11).
Some will claim that in the New Testament dispensation it is the commandments of Jesus that matter and that Jesus did not specifically say that we should keep the seventh day Sabbath. This is clearly spurious as Jesus kept the Sabbath (Luke 4:16) and even anticipated that His followers should be keeping the Sabbath long after His resurrection and ascension, by warning them: “pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day” (Matt. 24:20), in prophesying of the destruction of Jerusalem, which would take place in the year 70 AD. Others say that the doing away of the glorious ministration of ancient Israel that was centred on the two tables of stone means that the commandments themselves are done away with. This is also false as the new covenant involves writing the commandments of God in our hearts whereas the old covenant had them written on tables of stone (Heb. 8:7-10).
The final conflict will be between the keeping of the commandments of men on the one side and the keeping of the commandments of God on the other side. Jesus warned: “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:9).
The Third Angel warns: “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb” (Rev. 14:9, 10). The commandments of men are not very different from the commandments of God as it relates to not killing, stealing or doing other such vices. The one distinct sign, however, that distinguishes the commandments of God from the commandments of men is the keeping of the seventh day Sabbath. This is God’s sign and will identify those who are worshipping God, the Creator, as opposed to those who are worshipping someone else. God says: “And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” (Eze. 20:20).
Many people are worshipping ignorantly, but the mission of God’s people in the last days is to call them to the worship of the true and living God who created heaven and earth. It was as a reminder that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day, as stated in the fourth commandment, that the seventh day Sabbath was given by God (Ex. 20:8-11).
The Faith of Jesus
Along with the keeping of the commandments of God, God’s people in the last days are characterized by their keeping “the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12). But have we, unwittingly put ourselves in a position where we are unable to fully contemplate the faith of Jesus – the faith that Jesus had? If we consider Christ, in His position on earth as being “all-knowing”, then He could not exercise faith. As we are told: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb. 11:1. So faith is predicated on hope and holding on to things that we cannot see. Further, “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” (Rom. 8:24).
The Bible is clear that Jesus did not know everything when He was on earth. Jesus Himself declared, speaking of His second coming, that “of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” (Mark 13:32). Those who say that the Father and the Son are co-equal need to think again. Further, we are told that, as a child, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:52). Jesus had to exercise faith – faith in His Father.
The one thing that is required of us in order for us to be saved is faith: “For by grace are ye saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8). Further, we are told, “Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” Rom. 4:3 (also Gal. 3:6). If Jesus knew everything when He was here, He could not exercise faith and therefore could not be our example in the one thing, above all else, that is required of us, namely exercising faith in God. But Jesus did exercise faith. He did it most particularly in yielding up His life on Calvary. He believed in God – His Father. He trusted the love of God. He believed that His Father would raise Him from the dead and his Father did. We are told that it was “God the Father, who raised him from the dead” (Gal. 1:1).
Jesus came to earth to reveal the truth about His Father – that God is love. He said: “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” (John 18:37). He sealed His testimony with His blood. He died not knowing what was beyond the grave. That is the faith that we are called upon to have. And Jesus is the greatest exemplar of that faith. Of the saints it is said that, they will be severely tested, tried and persecuted by Satan but “they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Rev. 12:11).
Our faith, today, is best reflected in our hope of the Second Coming of Christ. The blessed hope of the soon return of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, sums up our faith that, in keeping the commandments of God, even to the point of death, we will not be disappointed. The promise is that, if we are faithful, we will either be resurrected to eternal life or we will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye and be caught up to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:14-17; 1 Cor. 15:51, 52), when Jesus Christ returns. Jesus trusted His Father to raise Him from the dead. We must trust that Jesus will do the same for us. God’s counsel to us is confirmed by two immutable things: His promise and His oath, as we are told:
“Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus” (Heb. 6:17-20).
Laudato si´ and Sunday Rest
On June 18, 2015, the Vatican officially released an encyclical letter from Pope Francis, addressing climate change, titled Laudato si´. In a book version of the encyclical, published by Our Sunday Visitor, the publishers noted that, “In his second encyclical, Laudato si´: On Care For Our Common Home, Pope Francis draws all Christians into a dialogue with every person on the planet about our common home”. They further stated that: “We as human beings are united by the concern for our planet and every living thing that dwells on it, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. Pope Francis’ letter joins the body of the Church’s social and moral teaching and draws on the best scientific research, providing the foundation for “the ethical and spiritual itinerary that follows.” ”. (Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntington, IN 46750). On the face of it, this sounds very good.
But who would have thought that the pope would have been sending out an encyclical letter (Laudato si´) to the entire world linking Sunday rest with protection of the environment at a time when almost the entire world has climate change, caused by destruction of the environment, as a major concern? And who would have thought that the President of the United States, Barack Obama would have used the opportunity of the pope’s encyclical to express “hope that all world leaders — and all God’s children — will reflect on Pope Francis’s call to come together to care for our common home”, referring to the pope as “His Holiness”, and speaking of the “full moral authority of his position”?
Things are happening! Watch for the ‘fine print’! The Devil’s end-time tool is deception (which, by nature, is not obvious to many) and we have been warned that the final events will “break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise” (Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8, p. 28; Last Day Events, p. 41).
“But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief” (1 Thess. 5:4).
On July 21, 2015, a little over a month after the release of Pope Francis’s encyclical letter Laudato si´, the pope invited the mayors of more than sixty (60) of the world’s major cities to meet with him, and he told them that he had “a lot of hope” major climate talks later that year in Paris, France, would result in a bold deal to reduce global warming. On the face of it, this does not seem unreasonable or alarming. But notice the wording of the common declaration that the pope signed with the mayors. Specific mention is made of the encyclical letter Laudato si´, and the significance of that, is that tucked away within the broader discussion of climate change issues, Laudato si´ advocates for Sunday observance and enforcement. Part of the declaration reads:
“On the basis of the encyclical Laudato si´, we have considered the overwhelming scientific evidence regarding human induced climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and the vulnerability of the poor to economic, social and environmental disasters. In the face of the emergencies attributable to human induced climate change, social exclusion, and extreme poverty, we join together to declare the following: Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its effective control is a moral imperative for humanity. In this core moral space, cities play a very vital role. All of our cultural traditions uphold the inherent dignity and social responsibility of every individual and the related common good of all humanity.”
“The world should take note that the climate summit in Paris later this year (COP21) may be the last effective opportunity to negotiate arrangements that will keep human-induced warming below 2oC, and aim to stay well below 2oC for safety, yet the current trajectory may well reach a devastating 4oC or higher. Political leaders of all UN member states have a special responsibility to agree at COP21 to a bold climate agreement that confines global warming to a limit safe for humanity, while protecting the poor and the vulnerable from ongoing climate change that gravely endanger lives.”
“We want our cities and urban settlements to become ever more socially inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (cf. UN Sustainable Development Goals, n. 11). All sectors and stakeholders must do their part, a pledge that we fully commit ourselves to in our capacities as mayors and individuals.” (Joint Declaration signed at the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, July 21, 2015).
The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference COP21 or CMP11 was held in Paris from November 30 to December 11, 2015. It was the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties to the 1992 UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the meeting of the Parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. According to the Organizing Committee, the objective was to achieve for the first time in over 20 years of UN Negotiations, a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.
Laudato si´ was clearly intended to influence the Conference. The overarching goal was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to limit global temperature increase to 2oC above pre-industrial levels – BUT watch the ‘fine print’ – Sunday was a part of the ‘fine print’ of Laudato si´. Among the challenges issued in Laudato si´ were the following:
- “206. A change in lifestyle could bring healthy pressure to bear on those who wield political, economic and social power. This is what consumer movements accomplish by boycotting certain products.”
- 237. … Sunday, like the Jewish Sabbath, is meant to be a day which heals our relationships with God, with ourselves, with others and with the world. Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, the “first day” of the new creation…” (Pope Francis, Laudato si´: On Care For Our Common Home)
Revelation 16 speaks of unclean spirits like frogs that will be gathering the whole world to the final battle (Rev. 16:13, 14). This final battle will see the world on one side and Christ and His people on the other side (Rev. 19:19, 20).
The final message to the world, as presented in Rev. 18, is a call out of Babylon – that confederation of the Beast, the Dragon and the False Prophet, particularly on account of their being taken over by spiritualism. Rev. 18 tells us that Babylon is fallen and has become “the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird” (Rev. 18:2). The message is to “come out of her” (Rev. 18:4).
After the first three angels’ messages of Revelation 14, each of which represented a movement at a specific time in the history of our world, this Fourth Angel comes on the scene representing another movement. This Fourth Angel’s Movement is not opposed to the Third Angel’s movement but rather, unites its voice with the voice of the Third Angel as the Third Angel’s message swells to a loud cry. The Third Angel’s movement has for over 170 years, since 1844, been warning people against receiving the Mark of the Beast. The prophet, Ellen G. White says of this Fourth Angel:
“The work of this angel comes in at the right time to join in the last great work of the third angel’s message as it swells to a loud cry.” (The Story of Redemption, 399).
The wine with which Babylon drunks and deceives the nations is specifically the doctrines of Sunday sacredness and the immortality of the soul. We are told:
“The wine of Babylon is the exalting of the false and spurious sabbath above the Sabbath which the Lord Jehovah hath blessed and sanctified for the use of man, also [it is] the immortality of the soul. These kindred heresies, and the rejection of the truth, convert the church into Babylon.” (Ellen G. White, 2 Selected Messages p. 68).
These doctrines are strongly repudiated by the Third Angel’s movement. So, the Third Angel’s movement is not Babylon.
We are told that:
“The sins of the world will have reached unto heaven when the law of God is made void; when the Sabbath of the Lord is trampled in the dust, and men are compelled to accept in its stead an institution of the papacy through the strong hand of the law of the land. In exalting an institution of man above the institution ordained of God, they show contempt for the great Lawgiver, and refuse His sign or seal” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, Nov. 5, 1889).
It is at that time while the Angel of Rev. 18 gives the final message that the call is made: “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.” (Rev. 18:4, 5).
At this time in particular, as the Third Angel’s message is about to swell to a loud cry, God’s people must be aware of the subtle inroads of spiritualism so that they can effectively call people away from its alluring influence. The reality is that, if one is taken over by spirits of devils, acceptance of the Mark of the Beast will inevitably follow.
How many of us took note of the words of invocation to Lucifer that was said in the papal mass to induct Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII into sainthood on April 27, 2014 in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican in Rome? In case you missed it, here it is:
“Flammas eius Lucifer matutinus inveniat: ille, inquam, Lucifer, qui nescit occasum”, which is translated “Flaming Lucifer finds mankind, I say: Oh Lucifer who will never be defeated”.
No interpretation will be placed on it, lest one be accused of misrepresenting the intended meaning. But we should at least know of it and consider it especially in light of the warning of Revelation 18 telling God’s children to come out of Babylon because she has become the “habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit”.
Beloved, it is high time that we awake out of sleep and sound the alarm before it is too late!
Jesus’s Sequencing of Last-day Events
In Matthew 24, Jesus gives a sequence of events that would lead up to the second coming of Christ. He tells us that there would be wars and rumours of wars, but we should not be troubled when we see those things, because the end is not yet (Matt. 24:6). He went on to say that nation would rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, that there would be famines, pestilences and earthquakes and that such would be the “beginning of sorrows” (Matt. 24:7, 8). Note what comes next: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” (Matt. 24:9). That is the sequence of events. The last part has not taken place yet.
We have seen increasing pestilences and earthquakes, so do we think that the part to follow, wherein we will be hated by all nations and will be persecuted and killed will not happen, or that it is far away? Think again! It is within that context, that Jesus continues by saying that the gospel will be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations and then shall the end come (Matt. 24:14). That is the Loud Cry of the angel of Rev. 18 being described there. You’ll get the sequence quite easily if you read in order, verses 4 to 14 of Matthew 24.
The Paris Agreement and Sunday Enforcement
If you think that the world is not in the process of gathering around a common cause, with Sunday enforcement woven into it, you need to spend some time reflecting on the most recent drive to protect the planet, being led by the United Nations and inspired by Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato si´. Copies of this book are being sent to persons of influence, far and wide. In the last chapter, specific reference is made to Sunday rest as being meant to heal relationships with God, with ourselves, with others and with the world (paragraph 237); taking the Eucharist and worshipping the Trinity are also mentioned specifically as being necessary (paragraphs 236 and 238-240); and that healthy pressure can be brought to bear on those who wield political, economic and social power by boycotting certain products (paragraph 206). The Bible says that we will not be able to buy or sell and later on will be killed for not supporting a cause that honours the beast power and promotes false worship, around which the world will be gathered (Rev. 13: 8, 15-17).
The Paris Agreement calls for countries to cut carbon emissions – which is associated with industrial activity. The more industrialized a country is, the more carbon they release into the atmosphere. Countries are not committing themselves to reduce industrial activity, necessarily, because it is industrial activity that give their people modern amenities and many comforts of life. It is industrial activity that set industrialized countries as being wealthier than poorer countries. And poorer countries strive to become more industrialized. Yet over 191 countries have already signed the Paris Agreement, committing themselves to cut carbon emissions. How do they plan to do it? Is there something that we are not being told? Or, have we been told but we are not paying attention?
The pope says, in Laudato si´, that Sunday rest helps to heal the environment. Is this a signal that countries should mandate Sunday rest? Is this the unspoken method that countries will adopt to cut their carbon emissions without curtailing their industrial development? The Creator, from the creation week, had set aside the seventh day Sabbath as a weekly rest (Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11). So, is it that humanity has finally caught up with a manifestation of Divine wisdom, except that they want to take the credit for themselves and deny the Creator, by establishing their own rest day?
The requirements for the Paris Agreement to take effect are that at least 55 countries must ratify the Agreement and that at least 55% of global emissions must be covered by the countries ratifying the Agreement. As at October 5, 2016, the double threshold was met. That means the Paris Agreement will, unless something unforeseen happens, come into effect on November 4, 2016. This Agreement, according to the Organizing Committee of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21, is intended to be a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. Let us see how it will all pan out. But, be warned! Things are happening! We must be awake! We cannot afford to fall asleep now!
May we be counted among the “saints”, when Jesus Christ returns, that “keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12).
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Where was God when the twin towers were struck, killing so many innocent people? Where was He when that tsunami killed so many and left so many to suffer? Where is He now when so many are having to flee their homes because of warfare, poverty and other distresses to find refuge in foreign countries where they are often not welcomed? Where is He when I am in distress and seem unable to find help? These are some of the questions that people frequently ask! These are all a part of the bigger question of how could there be a God who is considered to be Good and yet tolerate the existence of evil in the world when He has the power to stop it, being Almighty. It is the purpose of this presentation to present a Biblical framework that answers this age-old question.
The first thing to note is that the Almighty God, who is altogether good, is not the One who is presently running this territory called earth! Amazing? Perhaps, indeed, but this is what the Bible teaches! The Bible speaks of someone else who is called the “god of this world” in the following words:
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Cor. 4:4).
There is someone else running the affairs of this world who is blinding people so that they might not know the gospel or good news of Christ who is the image of God. It is important to note that Christ is the image of God. He looks like God. So, if you want to know what the Almighty God is like, you only need to look at Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ himself said that he came into the world for the specific purpose of revealing to the people of this world the truth. He said:
“I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world” (John 16:28).
Again, He said:
“To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” (John 18:37).
To confirm that someone else who is operating contrary to God’s style of rulership claims to be in charge here, one needs only to consider the following circumstances surrounding Jesus Christ’s coming into this world:
- An attempt was made to kill Him the moment He entered this space.
The Bible says:
“And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.” (Matt. 2:13).
The events going on behind the scenes are described as follows:
“and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.” (Rev. 12:4).
Note that the dragon, who sought to destroy Jesus Christ at His birth was previously in heaven.
“7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Rev. 12:7-9)
It is clear that the one who tried to kill Jesus Christ at His birth, who is here deceiving the world, is none other than the angel called Satan who, prior to coming to earth, was in heaven and had to be cast out because of his rebellion against God. He came to earth with his deception and realising that God was sending His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world, to dis-abuse people’s minds from the lies that he was using to keep people in bondage, Satan tried to kill Jesus Christ the moment he came to this earth.
- Satan offered Jesus Christ all the kingdoms of this world in exchange for Jesus Christ worshipping him.
“the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” (Matt. 4:8, 9)
The Bible explains how Satan came to be in control. God made the world and gave the first man, Adam, control over it. But Adam allowed Satan to take over because Adam voluntarily submitted his control to Satan.
“What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him? 7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: 8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. (Heb. 2:6-8)
“And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” (Gen. 3:12, 13)
“And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (1 Tim. 2:14)
Remember, as we read earlier, it is Satan the fallen angel who is called the serpent. He tricked Eve and used Eve to get Adam to join him in disobeying God. Remember also, that Adam, being a man, was made lower than the angels. So, once Adam joined Satan in disobedience to God, Adam and his dominion fell under the control of Satan’s superior intelligence.
That is how, Satan became the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), and was now able to offer the kingdoms of this world to Jesus Christ to try and bribe Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to join him in rebellion against God (the Father), as he got Adam and his decendants to do. First he tried to kill Jesus Christ, in infancy, and failing to do that he then tried to bribe Jesus Christ to join him in rebellion against God. But Jesus Christ was true to His mission. His Father had sent Him into the world to reveal the truth in order to win back the hearts and minds of human beings. That was the promise that God made as the means by which He would rescue humanity from Satan, the serpent. God said:
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen. 3:15)
Salvation is all about belief. It is whether we will believe Christ and what He says about God or whether we will believe the lies that have been perpetrated by Satan. Belief in the truth will put us at enmity with Satan and bring about reconciliation with God, through Christ, the Mediator between us and God. Christ explained it in the parable of the sower, as follows:
“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” (Luke 8:11, 12)
Again, we are told:
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5)
So, Satan is running the show down here. That’s the reason injustice prevails, suffering and death is a part of the norm and even Jesus Christ, the Son of God, suffered and died at the hands of wicked people who were being deceived by Satan. We are told that God gave up His Son and through His foreknowledge, He knew what the rulers of this world would do to Him. They would kill Him. But this was all a part of God’s way of showing up Satan and his system of running things so that we can reject them totally. It is all a part of what it takes, the sacrifice that God and Christ had to make in order that we might see the truth and be converted from Satan and his system of managing the affairs of this world and be reconciled to God and His way. The Bible explains:
“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23).
“And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Col. 2:15).
Now we can understand why the death of Christ is identified in scripture as the basis of Satan’s demise. Having killed the innocent Son of God, Satan has exposed himself to the universe in a way that makes it impossible for him to redeem himself to be able to win anyone in the universe to his side who understands the truth and is willing to accept it. The Bible says:
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).
For those who think that Satan does not exist, it is impossible for them to reconcile the existence of evil in the world with the idea that there is an Almighty God who is good. Those who believe that God required the death of His Son in order that He might forgive us, have also unwittingly missed the point of Christ’s death. As we have seen, it was Satan and wicked people who killed Christ, thereby providing the basis for us to turn away from Satan or in other words be cleansed from sin, which is, rebellion against God. How will it end? The Bible tells us:
“But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. 27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” (Dan. 7:26, 27).
Christ will return for His faithful. God is love, as Jesus Christ has shown. He will put an end to sin, suffering and death forever. We should love Him.
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It is sometimes queried of Sabbath-keepers: “Is the day you worship so important? Isn’t it a clean and holy life that really matters? Don’t you believe that it is those who have clean hands and a pure heart who will see God, whether they worship on Sunday or Saturday?” These are questions which many people ask and which deserve answers. Accordingly, this presentation seeks to address these questions. It is hoped that sincere persons will look carefully into the answers that are now given and will find them beneficial in their quest for truth.
Keeping A Day Holy
The first thing, it is not an issue of the day you worship. Christians ought to worship God every day, whether by themselves or in company. It is a question of which day you keep holy. Man cannot make a day holy, only God can make a day holy; and a day cannot be kept holy if that day is not already made holy by God. God commands us, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…. the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God” (Exodus 20:8-11). Thus, God tells us to keep one day holy and tells us which day He wants us to keep holy.
Keeping the day holy involves not only worshipping God, but abstaining from doing our own work (Exodus 20:8-11) and finding our own pleasure (Isa. 58:13) on that day. It involves devoting the day to communing with God. In order to minimize distractions which might interrupt our communion with God during this special time that God has set apart for this purpose, God has designated the sixth day (the day before the Sabbath) as the preparation day (Ex. 16:22-30; Luke 23:54; Mark 15:42).
For All time
Spending this special time with God was not just an Old Testament thing or a Jewish thing, it was intended for all time. This is clearly indicated by the command that Jesus gave to His followers concerning the destruction of Jerusalem that He was prophesying would take place. He told them that when they saw a certain sign they were to flee into the mountains in order to escape the destruction (Matt. 24:15-18). How-ever, he went on to say: “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day” (Matt. 24:20). The destruction took place in AD 70, almost 40 years after the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Christ, and yet the followers of Christ were to pray that they would not need to flee on the Sabbath. Clearly, Jesus could not have given such instructions if the Sabbath was not supposed to be still important at that time.
While the LORD expects us to worship Him every day. He does not expect us to keep every day holy. He has given us six days for legitimate toil and labour and has re-quested one day only to be set apart for holy use (Ex. 20:9,10). It is not any day that we choose that God will accept. This is clearly seen in the experience of the children of Israel when God fed them with manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16:22-30).
God provided manna from heaven for them six days every week for forty years. On the sixth day a double portion was provided, some of which was to be kept over until the following day which was the Sab-bath, since none was provided on the seventh day Sabbath. Hence, on the seventh day Sabbath, a specific day every week, a day that God Himself had determined independent of their thoughts or wishes, no manna fell from heaven. Some persons decided to do their own thing, ignoring the specific day that God had chosen and went out looking for manna on that day. God was very displeased with them and asked, “How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?” (Ex. 16:27, 28).
A Clean and Holy Life
The question is asked; “Isn’t it a clean and holy life that really matters?” The answer is yes. But what is a clean and holy life? Is refusing to keep God’s commandments and His laws a manifestation of a holy life? The Word of God says no. Jesus tells us what is righteousness: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang (hinge) all the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40). Also, Jesus tells us how we may know whether or not we truly love God: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15), and “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me” (John 14:21).
Let us not, like some of the children of Israel in the wilderness, seek to do our own thing. If we set aside the specific day that God has set apart to be kept holy and in its place set up our own, God will be just as dis-pleased with us as He was with them. We can be sure which day God has set apart to be kept holy because God has preserved the Jewish people with the tradition of Sabbath-keeping from the days in the wilderness, when God Himself showed them which day was the Sabbath, until the present day, so that nobody should be in doubt as to the matter of which day.
Reason for the Sabbath
Perhaps we might have a better appreciation for the Sabbath if we understand the reason for it and how it came about. Exodus 31:17 gives us an idea. It says: “for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” You may ask, how can God rest and be refreshed when He neither slumbers nor sleeps? To understand this, one has to go back in thought to the creation week. Man was created on the sixth day. The seventh day was the very first day after man was brought into existence and Jesus tells us that “The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27). On this very first day of man’s life God ended His work and spent the day in fellowship with Adam and Eve, this lovely pair, just created, beautiful and pleasant to interact with. This was the refreshing experience that God had on that very first Sabbath.
On account of this wonderful experience that God had, He blessed the day and sanctified it (Gen. 2:3). To sanctify means to set apart and make holy. This shows that God wants to repeat this experience with His children every week. Notice that this day is special because of the special experience that God had on that first Sabbath day, on account of which He highly esteems that day. But the setting apart of the day be-comes meaningful for us, only if we make ourselves available for that special interaction with God. It is a great disappointment to God and a great loss to ourselves when God makes Himself available for special interaction with us and we are too busy tending to all manner of other interests at that particular time.
It is perhaps similar to a case where a man (God) is greatly in love with a woman (us) and makes a special date with her to spend pleasant and quality time with her only to find, when he arrives, that she did not consider it important, did not get herself ready but instead made herself busy with other things and just tells him that she has no time for him now. Perhaps he would not be wrong to conclude that she doesn’t really love him. One might say that God is not like that, He is available all the time. Yes, He is available all the time, but He makes Himself available in a special way on the Sabbath, which is not the case on other days. An example of God turning his attention to His children in a special way at a particular time is seen in the experience of Adam and Eve.
After Adam and Eve ate the forbid-den fruit, the biblical account says: “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (Gen. 3:8,9). From this it is seen that although God is every-where in Spirit and knows every-thing without having to ask, yet He came in a special way to meet with Adam and Eve. Why should we think that God does not come to meet with us in a special way also, even although He tells us to use the sixth day specifically for the purpose of preparation?
One might ask whether it is not clean hands and a pure heart that is required of us rather than giving attention to a special day. The real question is this: How are we going to develop clean hands and a pure heart without close fellowship and communion with God? And how do we expect to have close fellowship and communion with God if we do not avail ourselves of the opportunity at the particular time that God sets apart for special fellowship and communion with Him? This is not to say that we cannot interact with God at other times, but He has sanctified the Sabbath, which means that this time is set apart for special interaction with Him, just like He had it with our first parents on that first Sabbath day.
This is the reason the Bible says: “Hallow (reverence; keep holy) my Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God” (Ezekiel 20:20). It says as well, “Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.” (Ezekiel 20:12). To sanctify means to make holy. Hence, keeping the Sabbath holy has an integral function in the process by which holiness is accomplished in one’s life.
Dear reader, I hope you will consider prayerfully all that has been said here and will be drawn into a meaningful fellowship with God in spirit and in truth. May God richly bless you to this end.
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The Truth our Safeguard Against Spiritualism
Rev. 16 speaks of unclean spirits like frogs that will be gathering the whole world to the final battle (Rev. 16:13, 14). This final battle will see the world on one side and Christ and His people on the other side (Rev. 19:19, 20). The main agency of deception will be evil spirits. This domain of religious deception is called spiritualism, which capitalizes on two things : 1. The false notion that people can communicate with the dead -who are, in reality, evil spirits and; 2. Confusion in people’s minds as to who or what is the Holy Spirit and the nature of God’s presence. The Bible gives the final warning against this deception as follows:
“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.” – Rev. 18:1, 2
“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.” Rev. 18:4, 5.
Our only safeguard is to know the truth from the scriptures about this very important matter. Regarding the first deception, the Seventh-day Adventists have, for years, been teaching the truth from the scriptures that the dead are asleep and are unable to communicate with the living. Since there is an abundance of literature from that source on that particular point, it will not be the focus of this presentation. However, literature on the second deception is woefully lacking and so, the focus of this tract is to establish the truth about God – who God is, who is Jesus Christ and who or what is the Holy Spirit.
A simple text summarizes quite eloquently the consistent perspective that is given throughout the scriptures, as follows:
“And of the angels he saith, who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” – Heb. 1:7-9.
The perspective is simply that the Supreme God (the Father) anoints His Son (Jesus Christ) who is God by nature and above the angels (spirits). Thus is presented the three powers of heaven – God, Christ and angels.
There is a difference between the ministering spirits of God and the spirit of God – both are referred to as “Holy Spirit” and “Holy Ghost”. This presentation will establish the difference.
A simple question can help in showing the difference: With what was Jesus anointed? We are told:
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” – Acts 10:38.
“Holy Ghost” here is that with which Jesus was anointed.
This is clearly different from the following reference where the Apostle John is conveying grace and peace from God, Christ and the Spirits. He says:
“John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begot-ten of the dead.”– Rev. 1: 4, 5.
The Three Powers of Heaven are identified – God, Christ and the Spirits. “Spirits” here are ministering spirits. Some people represent the “seven Spirits” here as the “seven-fold Spirit”, giving the impression that it is not seven but really one. This is easily clarified by comparing this verse with another verse that is very similar, in which there are four Spirits mentioned and each goes to a different place. Here it is.
“And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.” – Zech. 6:5
These spirits are of course ministering spirits or angels. Some go into the north country and others go into the south country (Zech. 6:6).
The next few verses again speak of the three powers of heaven:
1.“I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things.”- 1. Tim. 5:21. There we see the three powers – God, Christ and angels.
2.“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”-Matt. 28:19.
[The word Pneuma translated Ghost, is also properly translated Spirit or Spirits. It is the same word translated “spirits” in reference to the ministering spirits – Heb. 1:7, 14]. So, the reference is to the three powers again – God, Christ and angels. Note also that the whole family in heaven and earth is named after the Father (Eph. 3:14, 15).
3.“For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.” – St. Luke 9: 26. There we have the three powers again – God, Christ and angels.
4.“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” – Mark 13: 32. It is evident here that the three powers are not co-equal.
The Bible is clear that we should not worship angels. It says:
“Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels.” Col. 2: 18.
“And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Rev. 19:10.
5.“For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to me a Son? And again, when He bringeth the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, and let all the an-gels of God worship Him”- Heb. 1: 5, 6. Here again the three powers are identified showing the order of precedence: God first, Christ next and then the angels.
6.“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” Rev. 1:1. Once again the three powers are indicated showing the order of precedence – God gave to Christ and Christ gave to the angel to dispense to John.
Some persons say that the Holy Spirit is a third divine being to be worshipped. If that were the case, these verses that have been highlighted would have presented the equivalent of a big elephant in a room being missed.
Ellen G. White Testimony
The pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Movement fully understood the truth as presented here from the scriptures. A sample of the perspective that was commonly understood among them is reflected in the following unambiguous statements from Ellen G. white:
“Read and study the fourth chapter of Zechariah… The golden oil rep-resents the Holy Spirit.” (Ellen G. white, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 188).
“From the two olive trees the golden oil was emptied through the golden pipes into the bowl of the candlestick, and thence into the golden lamps that gave light to the sanctuary. So from the holy ones that stand in God’s presence His Spirit is imparted to the human instrumentalities who are consecrated to His service. The mission of the two anointed ones is to communicate to God’s people that heavenly grace which alone can make His word a lamp to the feet and a light to the path. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6. (Ellen G. white, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 408).
The same thought is expressed at another place, the only difference being that the golden oil that was said to be God’s Spirit, is now said to be divine light, love and power. It says:
“In this vision the two olive trees which stand before God are represented as emptying the golden oil out of themselves through golden tubes into the bowl of the candlestick. From this the lamps of the sanctuary are fed, that they may give a bright, continuous light. So from the anointed ones that stand in God’s presence the fullness of divine light and love and power is imparted to His people, that they may impart to others light and joy and refreshing. Those who are thus enriched are to enrich others with the treasure of God’s love.” (Ellen G. white, Prophets and Kings, p. 594).
“And when these angels empty from themselves the golden oil of truth into the heart of him who is teaching the word, then the application of the truth will be a solemn, serious matter.” (Ellen G. white, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 337).
“The anointed ones standing by the Lord of the whole earth have the position once given to Satan as covering cherub. By the holy beings surrounding His throne, the Lord keeps up a constant communication with the inhabitants o`f the earth.” (Ellen G. white, The Truth about Angels, p. 150; The Review and Herald, July 20, 1897).
In summary, the ministering spirits (angels) of God bring to us God’s spirit, the golden anointing oil (Divine light, love and power). The Holy Spirit is not someone to be worshipped. Neither is the Holy Spirit someone who takes up residence inside of us.
Let us therefore hold fast to the truth and not be drawn into spiritualism or into modern Babylon.
Our worship should be given to God and Christ, as it will be in the new earth, as the scriptures say: “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” Rev. 21:22.
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Most people are aware that there is a controversy between good and evil in the world. But who are the contending parties? What are the issues? And how will it end?
It is generally accepted that God is good and that the enemy who is behind evil is Satan. The Bible describes a part of the conflict in the following words:
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Rev. 12:7-9)
At the outset, it must be established that there is no issue of Satan matching power with God. God is the Creator. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” (Ps. 33:6). He who created the angels and brought the heavens and the earth into existence can just as easily remove them and take them out of existence. Devils tremble at the very thought of God because they are aware of His awesome power –“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19).
So, there is no contest between God and Satan on terms having to do with the exercise of power. People speak broadly about a conflict between good and evil. But what is good and what is evil? How are these defined? To those, like Satan, who feel that they have a cause to pursue, they may well think that it is their side that is good and the other side evil. In fact, the serpent’s accusation against God, to Adam and Eve, would represent God as being the evil one and he, Satan (the serpent), as being the one that is good and sought good for Adam and Eve.
The Issues of the Conflict
The real issue of the controversy is about the character of God. And the controversy is not between God and Satan per se; it is between Christ and Satan over the character of God. “Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels” (Rev. 12:7). Further, the weapons of our warfare are not physical weapons. As we are told:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-6). The knowledge of the truth about God will lead us to love Him and submit to Him. Lucifer, who was an exalted angel in heaven, by taking his eyes off God and focussing on himself, developed an overblown concept of himself and a diminished or warped perception of God. The result was that he rebelled against God and became Satan and was cast out of heaven. The prophet Isaiah described the fall of Lucifer as follows: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. (Isa. 14:12-15). His wisdom was corrupted because of his focus on and concept of himself.
“Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28).
If we have a wrong concept of God and end up, like Lucifer, rebelling against God, it is us who are the losers, not God. Through Christ, God seeks to save us by extending His grace to us in the form of a revelation of Himself to us, through Christ, who looks like Him and behaves like Him. It is an information war. It is all about what we choose to believe about God. The conflict between Christ and Satan is a battle for the hearts and minds of intelligent beings. Those who believe Christ, believe the truth and will be saved, while those who believe otherwise, as promulgated by Satan, believe a lie and will end up as losers. Satan cannot give life. So there is no future in buying into his deceptions and false representations of God.
Satan is described as the “god of this world” and his purpose to deceive is described as follows: “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Cor. 4:4). Sifting
Truth from Error
Establishing the truth is like fitting up a jig-saw puzzle where many extraneous pieces are mixed up on the table with the genuine pieces. These pieces that do not belong, are deliberately placed there to throw us off so as to prevent us from being able to fit the puzzle together. Such is the nature of the many erroneous ideas that Satan places before us. We have to sift out the truth from the error, diligently. That is what will determine the outcome for us – whether belief in the truth that aligns us with God so that we can receive eternal life from Him or belief in a lie that places us with Satan, with the result that we will die like him and with him. The choice is ours. The appeal is to choose life by seeking and believing the truth and joining the fight as an ambassador for the truth, preaching the gospel of truth whereby souls can be saved.
How do we sift out the puzzle pieces that do not belong to the picture and retain those pieces that belong? By having an idea of what the overall picture looks like. If, for example, you are fitting up a puzzle that forms a picture of green trees and the blue sky in the background, then you can remove from the table the red and purple pieces that clearly do not belong. Of course, the closer the erroneous pieces look like the correct pieces, the more effort and diligence has to be applied to differentiate. Jesus said that deception will be so strong in the last days that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matt. 24:24).
The Overall Picture
The overall picture is provided by information about the fall of Lucifer from heaven; his enticing Adam and Eve to sin against God; God’s Son coming to earth to win back the hearts and minds of human beings by revealing the truth about God to us; Satan being exposed by his stirring up the multitude to kill the innocent Son of God; Christ being raised from the dead and representing before God and the angels, by virtue of our repentance, the fact that some of us were only deceived and not genuinely rebellious; and Christ returning to earth to reclaim this territory from Satan and resurrecting those who died in a state of acceptance of the truth, while translating those who are alive and faithful. This is the framework that allows us to sift out the erroneous ideas that Satan throws in our way to deceive us.
As with Adam and Eve who got one simple instruction from God that, if followed, would have protected them from Satan, we today have one simple instruction: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Ex. 20:8). This is God’s sign that, if we embrace it, will signal to the universe that we have aligned ourselves on God’s side- “And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” (Eze. 20:20). Further, the Sabbath provides us with special time with God that He uses to sanctify us and make us holy –“Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” (Eze. 20:12).
The final conflict is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. The commandments of men represent Satan’s formula for governing people’s behaviour. The commandments of men are an imitation of the commandments of God, except in two points. Whereas the commandments of God forbid making images to represent God and commands that we rest from our labours on the seventh day Sabbath as a sign that we believe in and give allegiance to the Creator, the commandments, as represented by men, does not forbid the making of images and they regard Sunday in place of the seventh day Sabbath.
These two points of difference will identify those who Christ will claim as His, as opposed to those who Satan will claim as his. Jesus said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21). Further, He says: “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:9). And again: “If ye love me keep my commandments.” (Matt. 14:15).
Today, many professed Christians are saying that all we need to do is just accept Jesus. You don’t have to consider anything else. To them, keeping the commandments of God is legalism. But that is contrary to what Jesus said. Its all a part of Satan’s efforts to create confusion. Remember, its an information war. May the Lord help us to align ourselves under His banner so that when Christ returns, we will be among those who would have accepted Christ and His revelation of the truth about God, and be faithfully keeping His commandments.
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All my life, I have been driven by my sincere belief in the inspiration of the Bible. It has been and continues to be my primary source of authority in spiritual matters and life in general. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Tim. 3:16) and “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1:21) are among the familiar verses that speak of the scriptures as being of divine origin.
Some years ago, however, I had an experience that forced me to clarify in my mind the issues raised in the question at caption. A claim was being made on Jamaican radio that there were contradictions in the Bible. One of the cases cited was the account of David numbering the people of Israel. 2 Sam. 24:1 says that the LORD was angry with Israel and moved David to number them, while 1 Chron. 21:1 says that Satan stood up against Israel and provoked David to number the people.
In my efforts to gain clarity in my own mind, I found the following statements from the prophetess Ellen G. White, quite useful:
“It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired. Inspiration acts not on the man’s words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost is imbued with thoughts. But the words receive the impress of the individual mind.” (Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 21).
“The Bible is not given to us in grand superhuman language. Jesus, in order to reach man where he is, took humanity. The Bible must be given in the language of men. Everything that is human is imperfect. Different meanings are expressed by the same word; there is not one word for each distinct idea.” (Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 20).
“God had especially guarded the Bible; yet when copies of it were few, learned men had in some instances changed the words, thinking that they were making it more plain, when in reality they were mystifying that which was plain, causing it to lean to their established views, which were governed by tradition” (Ellen G. White, Early Writings, p. 220).
“The truths of the Bible are as pearls hidden. They must be searched, dug out by painstaking effort. Those who take only a surface view of the scriptures will, with their superficial knowledge, which they think is very deep, talk about contradictions of the Bible, and question the authority of the scriptures. But those whose hearts are in harmony with truth and duty will search with a heart prepared to receive divine impressions. The illuminated soul sees a spiritual unity, one grand golden thread running through the whole, but it requires patience, thought, and prayer to trace out the precious golden thread. Sharp contentions over the Bible have led to investigation and revealed the precious jewels of truth. Many tears have been shed, many prayers offered, that the Lord would open the understanding to His Word.” (Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 20).
My conclusion is that the Word of God is not the Bible, or Ellen G. White’s writings but the Word of God is found in them. Truth was revealed by God to fallible human beings, who wrote in the best way they could. We ignore such revelations from God to our own peril. But we must employ normal intelligence and seek understanding from God in order to decipher exactly what the truth is. To consider the example above, David numbered the people, but who motivated him to do it is someone’s opinion. There is no need to stumble over that.
In contrast, Daniel had a vision and he related the explanation that the angel Gabriel gave him. That was not Daniel’s opinion. That was coming straight from God. Is there no difference between the level of weight and certainty that one would place on such revelation as opposed to say the statement as to who motivated David to number Israel?
Can prophets make mistakes in their own understanding of some matters on which they might not have gotten specific revelations? This question is no less a question than that of whether a human being is as infallible as God Himself. In times gone by, prophets inquired of the Lord regarding matters on which they were uncertain. Obviously, they did not know everything. And if a matter was not an issue at the time, they would have had no need to inquire.
If a prophet makes an error of judgement on a matter, or misunderstands something, does God automatically cease communicating with the person and regard them as a false prophet? There is no such indication in the Bible. Moses struck the rock when God had told him to speak to the rock. He erred, but did God abandon him? No, He did not. An old prophet misled a man of God, telling the man of God that God had told him, the prophet, that it was okay for the man of God to stop and eat at the prophet’s house, even although God had distinctly told the man of God not to stop and eat. Yet God still gave the old prophet a message, after that, as the Bible says: “as they sat at the table, the word of the Lord came unto the prophet” (1 Kings 13:20).
There are many other questions that could be asked and answered. But it is not necessary to try to exhaust them here. The broad framework should be sufficient to allow us to answer some of the questions ourselves. But there is an important matter of present query among many people that is worth citing here. The Advent movement of today has widely embraced belief in the Trinity – a concept that was once labelled as pagan and unscriptural by the founders of the movement, citing statements by Ellen G. White concerning a three-person Godhead as a primary basis for making the change.
The question is being asked: by what authority has a view of God that was backed up by vision given more than once been changed to this new concept? It is clear, from the report of the “Great Controversy” vision, as given by Ellen G. White that there was a hierarchy in heaven in which God, the Father was supreme and regarded as the Sovereign, His Son, Jesus Christ was next and then Lucifer was third (E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, pp. 17, 18). The prophet, in describing what was revealed to her, even went as far as to say that Christ was “the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God.” (E. G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 34).
When the prophet spoke about a three-person godhead, was there a vision that revealed a different picture of God, Christ and heavenly beings, or was the prophet simply using expressions that were in common use at the time, while discussing other issues, without trying to teach a new doctrine? I leave this question for us to ponder.
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
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“If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.” (1 John 5:16, 17).
It is generally known that the gospel is about salvation from sin. A critical element to understanding exactly what this means is the largely ignored fact that all sin is not of the same nature and that broadly speaking there are two categories of sin, both of which are treated differently in the plan of salvation. In speaking about the gospel, salvation and sin, some of these expressions have become so generalized and clichéd that people do not understand exactly what is involved. The result is that their thoughts on these matters are unclear and superficial and do not lend themselves to any kind of conviction that they would be willing to lay down their lives for. In this presentation, the objective is to seek to bring clarity so as to strengthen conviction.
The last-days prophet Ellen G. White explains that the two types of sin are exemplified by the sins of Lucifer and Adam respectively. She says:
“But even as a sinner, man was in a different position from that of Satan. Lucifer in heaven had sinned in the light of God’s glory. To him as to no other created being was given a revelation of God’s love. Understanding the character of God, knowing His goodness, Satan chose to follow his own selfish, independent will. The choice was final. There was no more that God could do to save him. But man was deceived; his mind was darkened by Satan’s sophistry. The height and depth of the love of God he did not know. For him there was hope in a knowledge of God’s love. By beholding His character he might be drawn back to God.” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 761, 762.)
She explains also:
“There was nothing poisonous in the fruit itself, and the sin was not merely in yielding to appetite. It was distrust of God’s goodness, disbelief of His word, and rejection of His authority, that made our first parents transgressors and brought into the world a knowledge of evil . . . . By the mingling of evil with good, his mind had become confused, his mental and spiritual powers benumbed. No longer could he appreciate the good that God had so freely bestowed.” (Ellen G. White, Education, p. 25.)
So, there you have it. There is the sin of rebellion which is final and there is the sin of ignorance or naiveté for which redemption rests in the knowledge that will straighten the mind out of its confusion.
Jesus came to reveal the truth
Jesus Christ, the Son of God came to earth for the very purpose of bringing light into this dark world of confusion so that our minds may be transformed. The Bible says:
“In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:4, 5).
Again, it says:
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John3:19).
At another place, it says:
“My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee”. (Hosea 4:6).
It is by the renewing of our minds that we are transformed. We are told:
“be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind”. (Rom. 12:2.
Some people dismiss the importance of knowledge lightly, saying: “Knowlege? What’s that? That can’t save you. That’s only words or information.” But the Bible says otherwise. It says:
“the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63).
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3).
Jesus came to the world for the specific purpose of bearing witness of the truth. He said:
“To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” (John 18:37).
The truth that He came to bear witness of is the truth about the character of God – His Father; further, to reveal the true character of Satan and the real reason for Satan’s rebellion. As was pointed out earlier:
“But man was deceived; his mind was darkened by Satan’s sophistry. The height and depth of the love of God he did not know. For him there was hope in a knowledge of God’s love. By beholding His character he might be drawn back to God.” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 762.)
Truth revealed in life and in death
Jesus came as the “express image” of God’s person (Heb. 1:3) and it is by “beholding” Him we see the true character of God and “are changed” (2 Cor. 3:18) from our attitude of suspicion towards God and alienation from Him. We are told that in our unconverted state, we were like the Gentiles who were described as:
“Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Eph. 4:18).
Don’t forget, it was man who went and hid from God after he sinned in the Garden of Eden. Satan speaking through the serpent told Eve that nothing was wrong with the fruit (which was correct) but led Adam and Eve to be afraid of what they were made to believe that God would do to them. The fear of death that was sowed in man’s mind then has since kept humanity in bondage to the Devil. We are told that Jesus came to “deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Heb. 2:15). But Jesus came to show us that there is no need to be afraid of God because “God is love” (1 John 4:8), and nothing such as the Devil portrayed Him. He showed that God’s instructions are for our protection and not requirements of God for His sake. Jesus showed that “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18). So much does the Son have the character of the Father that Jesus told Philip: “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9).
So, in His life on earth Jesus revealed by living demonstration the truth about God’s character. And then, by allowing Himself to fall into the hands of Satan, He allowed the entire universe to see the truth about Satan’s true motives and character as a murderer, a liar and the real cause of death, suffering and misery.
As is explained in another presentation on this site, “Who Killed Jesus and what is the Significance of His Death?”, it was Satan and his evil host that murdered the innocent Son of God and by so doing, exposed the true character of Satan so that the last link of sympathy for Satan among the loyal angels of heaven was forever broken. It is supposed to have the same effect on the human mind, if we understand what really happened and what it was all about.
The death of Christ was specifically the basis on which the Devil’s destruction is assured, as we are told:
“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8).
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).
It is all about the truth
It is by believing the truth that we are saved! We are told:
“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).
Hence, the real objective of the Devil is to deceive people or cause them to stop their ears – anything that might lead them to not receive the truth, which, in believing it they would be saved from joining him in rebellion. In the parable of the sower, we are told:
“Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” (Luke 8:12).
Further, the Devil will work
“with signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” (2 Thess. 2:10).
Those who make miracles their benchmark for determining authenticity will be sent
“strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thess. 2:11, 12).
It is by our repentance when the truth comes to us that we provide the basis whereby Christ can plead our case, before the heavenly tribunal and the entire universe presided over by the Father. We are told that we should not sin, but if we miss the mark, we have an advocate with the Father:
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).
People wonder what Christ’s advocacy on our behalf could be all about, in relation to us having sinned and being in need of forgiveness. But a clear illustration of it is given when Jesus was on the cross. He prayed to His Father, saying:
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).
Mercy because we are ignorant and naive
Throughout the Bible, the fact that we are ignorant and naive has always been referred to as the basis on which we are not classified with Satan. Here are a few cases:
Speaking of the death of Christ, Peter said:
“ And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.” (Acts 3:17.
- We mentioned already the Gentiles, being alienated because of ignorance, but it is worth noting again:
“Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Eph. 4:18).
- The former lusts in which people walked were due to ignorance:
“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance” (1 Pet. 1:14).
- The people of Nineveh, to whom Jonah was sent, were described as not knowing their right hand from their left hand. That’s ignorance.
“And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:11).
- The priests that ministered in the earthly sanctuary were chosen such that they could have compassion on the ignorant, in order to be able to minister for them.
“For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.” (Heb. 5:1, 2).
- Jesus told the Pharisees that their sins remained if indeed they were not blind but saw clearly.
“Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” (John 9:41).
- Again, He told them that they might have had an excuse if He had not come and spoken to them.
“If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.” (John 15:22).
The Apostle Paul said that all his previous actions in persecuting God’s people were due to ignorance, and for that reason God had mercy on him; and further, that the ignorance was due to his unbelief at the time.
“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.” (1 Tim. 1:12, 13).
- People in the last days who are willingly ignorant in denying the creation and the flood are warned that destruction is coming upon the earth and they need to repent before it is too late.
“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:3-9).
Truth in the sanctuary and the final conflict
The fact that Christ pleads for us on the basis of our ignorance and naiveté is clearly taught in the sanctuary services that were given to ancient Israel. It was only sins of ignorance that were ministered for in the sanctuary on earth (Lev. 4:2, 3, 13, 22, 27; Num.15:25-29) and all those confessed sins are eventually laid on Satan, represented by the scapegoat – Azazel, on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:9, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22), as the one who is truly responsible for them through the darkness and confusion that he has unleashed on the whole earth, that has caused us, the ignorant and naive descendants of Adam, to repeatedly stumble and miss the mark. Sins that were considered presumptuous were not atoned for (Num. 15:30, 31).
The fact that we are ignorant and naive and not rebellious, as Satan is, and we have not genuinely rejected God, provides the basis for our redemption. But if we reject the truth that is to straighten us out and lighten our dark understanding, we have no basis on which our sins might be laid on Satan as the real culprit. We must bear the responsibility for them ourselves and perish with them.
Those who remain in ignorance will be destroyed for lack of knowledge.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee” (Hosea 4:6).
Because the truth is the only basis on which we can be straightened out of our confusion and be redeemed to God in an unswerving relationship, the truth is the focus of the Christian warfare. Satan seeks to distort the truth, whereas the followers of Christ are called upon to cast down every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” (2 Cor. 10:3-6).
It is for this reason that the finishing up of God’s mission on this earth is tied to the gospel being preached in the entire world, because people cannot believe if they do not know.
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:14).
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:13, 14).
It is the truth that sanctifies us. It is not some strange miracle that causes us to be seen as righteous when we are not in reality, as propounded by the new theology that I wrote about in a previous presentation. Accordingly, Jesus prayed:
“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17).
The final conflict will be fought by persons who are sealed – people who will not turn away from the truth or their allegiance to God, even when faced with weariness, hunger, delay and the prospect of losing not only their reputation but their very lives. The last-days prophet, Ellen G. White tells what the sealing is. We are told:
“Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads – it is not a seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved – just as soon as God’s people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come.” (Ellen G. White, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 1161)
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
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