Be Ready to Give an Answer

Before Jesus returns, those who are faithful to the ten commandments are going to meet with religious intolerance from the majority of Christian churches. At that time, faithful ministers and leaders will mostly be in jail or possibly hiding in a cave somewhere. The common people are going to be arraigned in front of courts and legislatures to give a reason for their faith.

I am disturbed as I visit with different brothers and sisters around the country that so many are unprepared for that time. I wonder how they will be able to tell a court what they believe. All should be able to give a simple Bible study about the cardinal features of their faith, and be able to do it succinctly in a few minutes.

Every Seventh-day Adventist should be able to give a Bible study on the seal of God and the mark of the beast. However, before these subjects can be understood there are a few other topics that need to be explained in preparation. First, it is helpful to know who the beast is in Revelation 13:1–10, and who the little horn is in Daniel 7. To understand the mark of the beast, it is first necessary to identify the beast.

In giving an interesting Bible study, often less is best. When Adventists first started giving Bible studies in the late 19th century they used a hundred to a hundred fifty texts to prove their point. Soon they found out that this was way too much material and caused overload. To keep a person’s interest, studies must be kept simple.

The Seal of God

1    The seal of God is found in His law. Isaiah 8:16 says, “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among My disciples.” The law is the Ten Commandments, so the seal of God must have something to do with His law. It says, “seal the law.”

Some former Adventists believe that the seal of God is the Holy Spirit. However, the New Testament teaches that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not the seal. The seal of God has to do with the law.

2    The words sign and seal are used interchangeably in the Bible. Romans 4:11 says, “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also.”

3    The Sabbath has always been the sign of the true worshipers of the God of heaven.

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: “Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.” ’ And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:12–18).

4    The Sabbath is a perpetual covenant between God and His people. “Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant” (Exodus 31:16).

The Sabbath commandment has all the identifying characteristics of the seal of a covenant, which authenticates the following:

  • a) the name of the covenanter
  • b) the covenanter’s position
  • c) his jurisdiction: the area that person governs or has authority over

The fourth commandment identifies:

a    God—the covenanter

b   Creator of the heavens and the earth—His position

c    Heaven and earth—His jurisdiction

The Sabbath is a perpetual covenant between God and His people.

5    The Sabbath commandment has always distinguished God’s people from the rest of the world. “Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them” (Ezekiel 20:12).

This sign is mentioned again in verse 20: “Hallow My Sabbaths, and they will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.”

6    Breaking the Sabbath commandment is likened in the Bible to spiritual adultery. “They have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. They have committed adultery with their idols, and even sacrificed their sons whom they bore to Me, passing them through the fire, to devour them. Moreover they have done this to Me: They have defiled My sanctuary on the same day and profaned My Sabbaths” (Ezekiel 23:37, 38).

7    God’s children in the last days are especially pointed out in prophecy as commandment keepers. “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).

“And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17).

This is an important point to remember, as most of our Protestant friends believe they are keeping the commandments while neglecting the fourth. But James makes it very clear when he says, “Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty” (James 2:10).

This text points out that you cannot be called a commandment keeper while breaking even one. It is clear that James is referring to the ten commandment law, because he mentions both the sixth and seventh commandments. It points out that the ten commandment law is the standard for the judgment. To have a clear conscience, one must keep the seventh day Sabbath, regardless of what the state says, or the popular churches say. Nowhere in Scripture can we find that the Sabbath was changed from the seventh to the first day of the week. Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29).

In less than 15 minutes the seal of God can be explained. It is an important subject to know because it is only those who have received the seal who will be under divine protection from the time of trouble that lies ahead.

Seventh-day Adventists have been given the light of the three angels’ messages to share with the world. The third angel’s message is a warning against the worship of the beast, its image, and its mark.

The Beast and the Little Horn

Once the “beast” and the “little horn” are identified it will not take a long time to explain the mark of the beast.

1    Scripture indicates that the beast power and the little horn power represent the papacy by pointing out the special characteristic of this. “He shall speak great words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law” (Daniel 7:25, literal translation).

2    The papacy has deliberately attempted to change God’s law. J. F. Snyder of Bloomington, Illinois, once asked a Catholic clergyman this question: “Does the Catholic church claim to have changed the Sabbath?”

In response, C. F. Thomas said, “Of course the Catholic church claims that the change was her act, and the act is a mark of her ecclesiastical power and authority in religious matters.” Sentinel, May 21, 1995, Number 22.

The Bible says in Daniel 7:25 that changing “times and law” is a special characteristic of this power and the Catholic church openly claims to have done just exactly that. However, it is often a terrible shock for Roman Catholics to find out this truth, but it is better to be shocked now rather than be shocked when Jesus comes and find out they have been supporting the wrong side of the battle between Christ and Satan.

The Mark of the Beast

1    Those who receive the mark of the beast will also be the recipients of God’s wrath. “A third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation’ ” (Revelation 14:9, 10).

This has been described by Ellen White to be the most fearful threatening in the whole Bible. (See Early Writings, 254.) That being the case, shouldn’t we be interested in knowing how to avoid it and warning others as well?

2    Only those who refuse to obey the truth but obey unrighteousness receive God’s wrath. “But to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath” (Romans 2:8).

There are many, including Christians, who are ignorant of present truth and have never heard the last warning message to the world found in Revelation 14.

3    “All unrighteousness is sin” (1 John 5:17, first part).

4    “Sin is the transgression of God’s law” (1 John 3:4, literal translation).

5    The mark of the beast involves the transgression of one or more of the ten commandments. We know that because if you receive the mark of the beast, you are going to receive the wrath of God. Nobody receives the wrath of God except those who obey unrighteousness (break God’s law). We read that in Romans 2:8.

6    The mark of the beast is a special characteristic or feature or teaching of the beast power that leaves its mark, something that is seen.

The proclamation of this truth today is often criticized as being hateful toward the Catholics – an accusation that could not be further from the truth. It is because of God’s love for Catholics and other Protestants that have been deceived that this warning is given. He is not willing that any miss out on eternal life and has raised up the Seventh-day Adventist Church to give this last message of mercy before He comes in the clouds of heaven.

Before He returns every person on earth will make a decision that will determine their eternal destiny. All will be marked with one or the other. Either they will receive the seal of God, or they will receive the mark of the beast.

This mark is not a literal mark, but is the manifestation of a decision that is made. The deciding factor will be when Sunday observance is enforced by pain of law in the United States. At that time, all people will have to decide whom they will follow—man or God, and this decision will determine their eternal destiny.

Ellen White describes God’s people in the end time as a little company. Those who followed Jesus when He walked out of Jerusalem after His resurrection are also described as a little company. On the day of Pentecost the followers of Christ are also described as a little company. Over and over, in the Spirit of Prophecy, God’s true followers are called a little company.

At Christ’s first coming, there was a multitude of people who believed in a coming Messiah, but out of those millions of people there was only a little company who truly believed in Him enough to follow Him. In Luke 12:32, KJV, Jesus said, “Fear not, little flock.” At that time there were only a handful of people left that were following Him. The 5,000 that had been fed on the mount had walked away. He said, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Isaiah said, “For though your people, O Israel, be as the sand of the sea, a remnant of them will return” (Isaiah 10:22). A remnant will be saved.

Dear friend, you must not be discouraged if it seems you are all alone in your belief, or the church you attend is small with only a handful of faithful believers. You must say, Lord, show us what to do to get this message out. It would be wonderful if all of God’s people could give a simple answer for what they believe on all of our beliefs.

Remember, it does not have to be complicated with numerous proof texts. The truth is straightforward and should be simply stated. God is going to have a little company and we want to be part of it.

We are told that for a little time it will appear as though the devil has won the great controversy. It looked that way at Jesus’ first coming so we must be ready for that and not be discouraged.

I have tried to analyze this over and over again. It is the most ironic, paradoxical thing that I have ever thought about in my life that when Jesus was crucified on the cross, He did not die from the wounds of crucifixion. We often say that it was our sins that killed Him and, in a sense, that is almost true. Jesus said, “No one takes it [My life] from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father” (John 10:18). Jesus willingly chose to lay down His life so you and I could live. This love is beyond our understanding.

Throughout eternity the redeemed will study about God’s gift to man, His only begotten Son, and what He did for us to be saved. We are told that angels also long to look into these things. This study will never be exhausted throughout eternity.

Before we can go to heaven, we have a work to do. Ellen White says this work is never going to be finished by ministers alone. The whole church must be involved in the outreach. All should have the experience and joy of being part of someone’s conversion story and witness them giving their lives to Jesus.

Ellen White wrote, “The plan of holding Bible readings was a heaven-born idea. There are many, both men and women, who can engage in this branch of missionary labor. … He will crown with success every humble effort made in His name.” Gospel Workers, 339.

Pray about getting involved. We all need to be involved in some kind of outreach. There are many resources that can be used for Bible studies but the best one is the one you understand yourself.

[All emphasis supplied.]

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.