Through the ages that have passed since the days of the apostles, the building of God’s temple has never ceased. “Paul and the other apostles, and all the righteous who have lived since then, have acted their part in the building of the temple. But the structure is not yet complete. We who are living in this age have a work to do, a part to act.” The Acts of the Apostles, 598, 599.
In a previous article [LandMarks, November 2013], we studied about completing the temple with the law of God. We learned that, for ancient Israel, the ark of the covenant was a symbol of God’s presence and power. As we looked into the sanctuary we learned that wherever God’s law and mercy were found, there is where God’s presence was found and where communion with God occurred. Then we made the connection with modern Israel, the church. We learned that the law of God, as well as the mercy of God, should be located in the church and, specifically, in the hearts of His people.
The reason for addressing this is because, according to Early Writings, 254, “The minds of all who embrace this [the third angel’s] message are directed to the most holy place, where Jesus stands before the ark, making His final intercession for all those for whom mercy still lingers and for those who have ignorantly broken the law of God.” The third angel’s message emphasizes the law of God and the faith of Jesus which is present truth at its core and our primary message.
Another reason is because of what may be read in The Great Controversy, 478: “It is only as the law of God is restored to its rightful position that there can be a revival of primitive faith and godliness among His [God’s] professed people.” Friends, do you want to see a revival of primitive faith and godliness? Inspiration says, “A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 121. Such a revival can come only as the law of God is restored to its rightful position, and that position is in the heart. Let us therefore do as Jesus did, magnify the law and make it honorable, first and foremost in our lives.
While the law of God is essential to the finishing of God’s work, the completion of God’s temple, there is something else that is as essential as the law. Without it the law of God would leave us sinners under eternal condemnation with no hope of eternal life. The Bible says that by the law is the knowledge of sin (Romans 7:7). Therefore, if we had only a knowledge of our sins, what rest or peace could we receive from such guilt? The law brings condemnation to the sinner; therefore, if man is to be restored to the image of God, there must be something blended with the law.
“The law and the gospel go hand in hand. The one is the complement of the other. The law without faith in the gospel of Jesus cannot save the transgressor of law. The gospel without the law is inefficient and powerless. The law and the gospel are a perfect whole. … The two blended—the gospel of Jesus and the law of God—produce the love and faith unfeigned.” Our High Calling, 141.
With this in mind, let’s consider completing the temple with the gospel of Jesus. But before discussing the completion of the temple, let us take a brief look at the gospel as it was given to man at the beginning of time and also as it is given to man at the end of time.
In Genesis 3:15, we read, “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.” Here God, in the Garden of Eden, made a decree that He would put enmity (hatred) between the serpent (Satan) and the woman (the church). He would also put enmity between Satan’s seed (his followers) and the woman’s seed (Jesus and all who belong to Him). There is one point from this that needs to be emphasized. According to this text, although Satan and his army will fight against Christ and His church, the promise is that Jesus will ultimately gain the victory in this war. God told the serpent that although he would bruise the heel of the woman’s seed, that seed would bruise the serpent’s head, signifying victory for Jesus and defeat for the devil.
Notice the following quotation concerning this Scripture: “To man the first intimation of redemption was communicated in the sentence pronounced upon Satan in the garden. … This sentence, uttered in the hearing of our first parents, was to them a promise. While it foretold war between man and Satan, it declared that the power of the great adversary would finally be broken. … Though they must suffer from the power of their mighty foe, they could look forward to final victory.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 65, 66. According to this statement, the sentence pronounced in Genesis 3:15 was a promise to Adam and Eve. It was a promise that the power of the adversary would eventually be broken and that they could look forward to final victory. In simple terms, this is the gospel, and this gospel is a promise of victory. Friends, I want you to keep the word victory in mind, because we will come back to it at the end.
While this gospel was first given to man at the beginning of time, the Bible declares that, in the last days, the same gospel, the everlasting gospel, is given to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Revelation 14:6, 7.
Look at the phrase “another angel.” The word angel refers to a messenger. It can refer to a heavenly messenger, or it can refer to a human messenger. The angel in Revelation 14:6 has the everlasting gospel to preach. Notice what Jesus said in Mark 16:15: “And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Here we learn that the responsibility of preaching the gospel was given to the church. Therefore, the angel referred to in Revelation 14:6 must represent a movement in which the church would proclaim a message to the world.
The message of the first angel is a message announcing the judgment hour. This message began to be proclaimed in the early 1830s by William Miller, Joseph Wolff and others. The movement became known as the Millerite movement and later on as the Advent movement. The Scripture that laid the foundation for this movement was Daniel 8:14: “And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Here we have a prophecy that the sanctuary is to be cleansed at the end of 2300 days. In this article we will not discuss this prophecy in detail or the misunderstanding of the Millerites concerning the sanctuary, but note that, in the everlasting gospel, the sanctuary is to be cleansed. This is the gospel of the first angel. It is a message of final victory.
This is the first angel that preaches the everlasting gospel at the end of time; however, it is not the last. The message of judgment was to be followed by two other messages, and all were to be proclaimed together. Skipping directly to the third and last angel’s message: “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, 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: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:9–12.
There are at least five descriptions within the third angel’s message, but draw your attention to that which the angel of God directs. Recall the quotation mentioned earlier from the book, Early Writings, 254: “The minds of all who embrace this [the third angel’s] message are directed to the most holy place, where Jesus stands before the ark, making His final intercession for all those for whom mercy still lingers and for those who have ignorantly broken the law of God.”
Notice that the third angel draws the attention of God’s people to the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. Our attention is drawn to the work that Jesus is doing for us, and according to this quotation, Jesus is making His final intercession for sinners. God’s mercy is still lingering for that man or woman who is ladened with the burden of sin, and it is the third angel’s message that points us to the sin-bearer. Once again, this is the gospel. This is the hope of the world. Preaching the law of God without this gospel would leave us sinners under eternal condemnation and with no hope of eternal life. Yet, because we have a gospel message, we have the hope that, though we are sinners, we can become saints by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. This is the gospel, and the sooner we fully receive the provisions of this gospel, the sooner the building of God’s temple will be completed and the sooner we can leave this world of sorrow and sin.
In conclusion, consider what is the provision of the third angel’s message and how it is connected with the finishing of God’s temple. In Revelation 14:12, it says, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Here is described the characteristics of the saints. Because sanctification is a lifetime process, this Scripture also gives a clue to the work that should occupy our attention in the last days. The keeping of God’s commandments and the faith of Jesus is the most important work we are called to do. Nothing should divert our attention from this. Because we have already discussed the importance of God’s law, let us now consider the importance of the “faith of Jesus.”
What is the faith of Jesus? “ ‘The faith of Jesus.’ It is talked of, but not understood. What constitutes the faith of Jesus, that belongs to the third angel’s message? Jesus becoming our sin-bearer that He might become our sin-pardoning Saviour. He was treated as we deserve to be treated. He came to our world and took our sins that we might take His righteousness. And faith in the ability of Christ to save us amply and fully and entirely is the faith of Jesus.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 172.
Friends, do you have the faith of Jesus? Do you believe that He can completely save you from all of your besetting sins, even today? The only solution for the transgressor of God’s law is the sacrifice and intercession of Jesus Christ. There is no need for us to bear our own guilt. There is no need for us to be doubtful, hateful, lonely, distressed, depressed, despaired or defeated. There is a Saviour who can, even at this moment, deliver you from the power of sin and give you the power to live victoriously. Not only can He do it, but He wants to do it, even right now. All you have to do is have faith in the promise, yea in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and He will give you the victory that was promised to Adam in the beginning and that is still being offered to all who will receive it today.
“Feeling is not faith; the two are distinct. Faith is ours to exercise, but joyful feeling and the blessing are God’s to give. The grace of God comes to the soul through the channel of living faith, and that faith it is in our power to exercise.
“True faith lays hold of and claims the promised blessing before it is realized and felt. We must send up our petitions in faith within the second veil and let our faith take hold of the promised blessing and claim it as ours. We are then to believe that we receive the blessing, because our faith has hold of it, and according to the Word it is ours. ‘What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them’ (Mark 11:24). Here is faith, naked faith, to believe that we receive the blessing, even before we realize it. When the promised blessing is realized and enjoyed, faith is swallowed up.” Early Writings, 72.
Friends, do you have faith in the promises of God? Do you believe that God can deliver you from all evil? Remember the word victory that was mentioned in the beginning? Victory over sin is the promise of the gospel, but it will come to those only who ask, believe, and receive it by faith.
Demario Carter is currently a Bible worker for Steps to Life.