“The warfare against God’s law, which was begun in heaven, will be continued until the end of time. Every man will be tested. Obedience or disobedience is the question to be decided by the whole world. All will be called to choose between the law of God and the laws of men. Here the dividing line will be drawn. There will be but two classes. Every character will be fully developed; and all will show whether they have chosen the side of loyalty or that of rebellion. Then the end will come.” The Desire of Ages, 763.
What is the last great crisis that is facing the world? Not the symptoms, but what is the fundamental issue in the last great crisis facing the world? It is the Law of God. “That the Law which was spoken by God’s own voice is faulty, that some specification has been set aside, is the claim which Satan now puts forward. It is the last great deception that he will bring upon the world. He needs not to assail the whole law; if he can lead men to disregard one precept, his purpose is gained . . . By consenting to break one precept, men are brought under Satan’s power.” Ibid.
When Jesus was on earth, the disciples asked what was going to be the sign of the end of the age. “And Jesus answered, and said to them: Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ and will deceive many.” Matthew 24:4. The first thing that Jesus said to His disciples was a warning about being deceived. This was so important that Jesus repeated the warning at least three times in Matthew 24.
Who was it that Jesus warned could be deceived? He said, “For false Christs and false prophets will rise up and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24. Jesus warned the elect against being deceived. Who are the elect? They are the godly. They are the church. They are the Seventh-day Adventists.
The devil has a special plan for deceiving Seventh-day Adventists. He is causing a great crisis in Adventism, because he wants to deceive those who have been given the greatest light—the elect.
This clear warning has been given to Seventh-day Adventists. “In the last vision given me I was shown the startling fact that but a small portion of those who now profess the truth will be sanctified by it and be saved.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 608, 609.
That is not good news to me. I grew up in the Adventist Church. I went entirely through the Adventist educational system. All my friends, when I was growing up, were part of the Adventist Church. Those are my best friends today, scattered all over the world. It is startling to read that only a few of those who now profess the truth will be sanctified by it and be saved. The great majority of Seventh-day Adventists will be deceived by the devil’s sophistries. I repeat God’s warning because I do not want you to be one of the many people who are going to be lost.
What will be the test for those who will be among the faithful who stand strong despite the devil’s greatest deceptions? “To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few—this will be our test.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 136.
What is the great crisis for Adventism? “Satan hopes to involve the remnant people of God in the general ruin that is coming upon the earth. As the coming of Christ draws nigh, he will be more determined and decisive in his efforts to overthrow them. Men and women will arise professing to have some new light or some new revelation whose tendency is to unsettle faith in the old landmarks.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 295.
This great crisis in Adventism is predicted in Matthew 24. “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” Matthew 24:12. The antichrist power teaches people to break part of God’s law. Revelation and 2 Thessalonians 2, show clearly that almost the whole world is going to be deceived.
God’s people are going to be living in the midst of an ocean of lawlessness. In that environment, Jesus said the love of many will grow cold. This does not take place suddenly. You do not go from a position of spiritual health and strength, filled with the Holy Spirit, then immediately turn and be ready for ruin and destruction. It happens over a period of time.
The message to the Laodiceans is that they need to repent, because they are lukewarm. They are no longer hot. Their love has grown cold. This is the great crisis in Adventism. Many are in the process of going from hot to cold, but sadly, they do not realize the change, because they do not feel any different today than they felt yesterday. How does the devil work it so that someone can go from hot to cold and not even know anything has happened? That is the incideousness and the subtleness of the crisis in Adventism.
The story is told of a Seventh-day Adventist minister in California who lost his life in a tragic vehicle accident. When the autopsy was performed, the physicians found that he was full of cancer. He would have died in a short time anyway, but neither he nor his wife knew it.
Why did he not know about it? Because the cancer, itself, does not hurt. The results of cancer can hurt as a nerve is eaten up, or pressure from a tumor pushes on something and causes unbearable pain. The cancer itself does not hurt. You can be full of it and not know that you are sick.
Safeguard Against Deceptions
If you have the truth and the devil is trying to involve you in the ruin that is coming upon the world, how is he going to do it? “It is not alone those who openly reject the Testimonies, or who cherish doubt concerning them, that are on dangerous ground. To disregard light is to reject it . . . Many are going directly contrary to the light which God has given to His people, because they do not read the books which contain the light and knowledge and cautions, reproofs, and warnings.” Testimonies to the Church, vol. 5, 680, 681.
Many people go directly contrary to God’s instructions because they do not read. Your pastor, Sabbath School teacher, and elder cannot teach you everything in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. God holds us responsible when we do not take advantage of the light available to us. God expects you to learn on your own.
As we approach the end, there will be people who will say, “I am a Seventh-day Adventist. I believe the Bible. I believe the Spirit of Prophecy.” But they will be involved in the ruin coming on all the world because they are not following God’s instruction. They do not read. They choose not to understand.
We are living in the most deceptive time in the world’s history. How will you know if you are deceived? (Always remember, that no one who is deceived knows he is deceived.) If you do not want to be deceived you must study for yourself. No one can do it for you. If you are not studying, watching, and praying for yourself, the devil will bring a deception for you, and cause you to lose confidence in the truth.
We are living in a time of unbelief and doubt. All throughout Adventism, and especially on Seventh-day Adventist college campuses, skepticism is running rampant. The devil is using his cleverly developed methods to secure his end. He rarely makes a frontal attack, because he is a deceiver. To gain control of us, he starts to chip away at our belief, to undermine our confidence in the inspired writings.
You and I are no match for the devil. We are not as intelligent as he is, or as old. The devil knows that the only way we can escape is by reading the inspired writings, believing them and acting upon them. (See James 2.)
The chapter called “Snares of Satan,” in the book The Great Controversy, shows how the devil tries to rob people of their faith. We have had attack, after attack, in Adventism on this point. For instance, in 1976 an Adventist scholar wrote a book called, Ellen G. White, Prophetess of Health. Many Adventist, intellectual people, lost their confidence in Ellen White on the basis of this book. This book asks a lot of questions to bring in doubt.
We need to learn that if we involve ourselves in asking questions that no one can answer, we will eventually lose our faith, become skeptics, and lose our souls. This was the devil’s first tactic after he rebelled in heaven. He planted doubt in the minds of his fellow angels, by asking questions.
Ellen White warned us that this is one of the principle deceptions of the devil. “It is a masterpiece of Satan’s deceptions to keep the minds of men searching and conjecturing in regard to that which God has not made known and which He does not intend that we shall understand.” The Great Controversy, 523.
Mysteries in the Bible
Seven mysteries are mentioned in the New Testament. One of the seven mysteries is the incarnation—God manifested in flesh. That is spoken of as a great mystery in 1 Timothy 3:16. When an inspired writer says that something is a great mystery, in other words, it is something you and I are never going to be able to explain fully. Yet, I get letters from Seventh-day Adventists who want me to explain the Godhead, and every detail about the nature of Christ. They want the unexplainable explained for their finite minds.
The early church, between the second and sixth centuries, wanted the same thing. Large church councils were called over and over again, to try to settle the controversy. In the end fighting broke out, and there was actually war over the issue. All this took place because people were trying to explain what God had not revealed.
The devil uses philosophical and scientific arguments that are pleasing to the mind to lead many astray. Friend, if the devil can rob you of your faith and confidence in inspired writings, he will prevail. You may not know that he has won, because you will be deceived, but you will still be lost. He leads many people to think that if they can ask a question that cannot be answered, they have gained some point. These people put their own finite mind above the infinite mind of God.
Many today are like the Greeks, who required a rational explanation for everything, or like the Jews, who wanted a sign before they would believe. But faith is not based on demonstration. It is based on evidence. “The Word of God, like the character of its Author, presents mysteries that can never be fully comprehended by finite beings. But God has given in the Scriptures sufficient evidence of their divine authority. His own existence, His character, the truthfulness of His Word, are established by testimony that appeals to our reason; and this testimony is abundant. True, He has not removed the possibility of doubt; faith must rest upon evidence, not demonstration; those who wish to doubt have opportunity; but those who desire to know the truth find ample ground for faith.” Education, 169.
The Word of God is the only thing in this world that you can really depend upon all the time. Are you asking, “Pastor John, what is the evidence?” If so, study carefully the following two evidences from the Bible.
The first is the evidence that God Himself is the One true God. He gives this as a challenge in Isaiah 44 and 45, and especially in Isaiah 46:9, 10. He supports His claim with the evidence that He can do something that no one else can ever do. He says, “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” Isaiah 46:9, 10. God says that not only has He created everything that exists, He also knows the end from the beginning, and can reveal the future.
Several months ago we held a Prophecy Seminar in Wichita and we went over these things the first night. A young woman came to this Prophecy Seminar. Her mother, who was a Christian, upon learning that her daughter was attending our meetings, became worried that she might be becoming involved with a cult. I am sure she had heard some of the things that Seventh-day Adventists are called today. The mother said, “I should go and be sure that my daughter is not becoming a cultist.”
The mother came about the sixth or seventh session. By that time we were studying the Sabbath and the Law of God and what prophecy said about it. The mother listened carefully the first night. She could not find anything cultic in the messages she heard from the Bible. She came every single night after that. After several nights, she realized that there was a message in Bible prophecy that she could see was being fulfilled all over the world. The prophecy was true, and the evidence was overwhelming.
In many seminars I have conducted, I have watched people from many religions, non-Christians, Catholics, Lutherans—people from many other churches, and when the seminar is completed, they will tell you the same thing. The evidence that what you have taught is Bible prophecy and that it is true, is overwhelming. The evidence is there if you want to see it.
There is an evidence of the truthfulness of God’s Word that is far more profound than simply prophecy or the ability to foretell the future. This powerful evidence is found in this text: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.” Romans 8:16. The evidence that Jesus is the Messiah, that the gospel is true, that the Bible is an inspired book and that Ellen White was a prophetess, comes as you study these things. The Holy Spirit comes into your life and changes your heart. Then the Lord can use you to win others who do not know Him, even if they do not know anything about prophecy. If you have been changed, and you can share your testimony with others, you can be a mighty witness for the Lord.
The Holy Spirit’s Power
What changes does the Holy Spirit make when He comes into your heart? First, the Holy Spirit gives you power to witness. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8.
Second, the Holy Spirit gives you power to overcome sin. “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:4, 5. (See Romans 8:1–14.)
Sometimes people say, “Pastor John, I have a besetting sin and I cannot overcome it.” Of course, you cannot overcome it. No one can overcome a besetting sin in their own power. When the Holy Spirit comes into your life, he gives you the power to overcome. Your thoughts will be pure, your language will be pure and your actions will be in harmony with God’s law. You will begin to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and your neighbors as yourself. You will be a different person. Then you become a powerful witness.
Are you having that experience? Is the Holy Spirit inside? Or is the Holy Spirit outside, pleading with you to give your heart in surrender to Jesus, not only as your Savior but as the Lord of your life? The Holy Spirit is with all who have not committed the unpardonable sin.
Jesus told His disciples that up to that time the Holy Spirit had just been with them, but in the future it was going to be different. “The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:17.
What is your condition today? Is the Holy Spirit just with you? Or is the Holy Spirit in you? If the Holy Spirit is in you, you will be living a sin-free life, bearing witness to the gospel. It will have a powerful effect on other people. That is the most powerful sign that God’s Word is true, that Ellen White is a prophet, that Jesus is the Christ and that He is coming soon to take the faithful home.