For many years I have been intrigued with a verse of Scripture which I believe is one of the most sublime of all inspiration. It is found in Psalm 85 verse 10:
“Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”
When one reads this text for the first time, he is captured by its poetic nature and aroused by its romantic thought, but when one gives himself to prayerful study of this text he is filled with amazement as he begins to realize the very thoughts of God in achieving victory in the great controversy between Christ and Satan.
Today, mankind is faced with many unsolved questions. Each differs widely depending on where one lives, but our subject is of more importance than any problem found in this world today. We are dealing with a question of how to find permanent peace. I am not talking about the present war with terrorists around the world, nor the present peace movements on foot, yet in a way, these world efforts to obtain peace are connected with Satan’s ambition to destroy the peace of the universe.
Perhaps we should first question, How can this be? And the answer is: Because Satan had attempted to prove that the righteousness of God’s law is the enemy of peace. This is why the Son of God came to live on this earth, to reveal His Father’s eternal peace plan proving that His law and everlasting peace are inseparably joined together, that mercy and truth cannot exist without each other.
May the Holy Spirit guide us in our search for Divine understanding that we may realize the meaning of Christ’s final words on the cross when He cried, “It is finished.” His words forever ended any doubt throughout the universe as to the final outcome of the war with Satan.
The Scripture declares without question in Psalm 119:142, last part, “Thy law is the truth.”
The life of Christ on this earth proved beyond a doubt that God’s law is righteous and can be perfectly obeyed with Divine help. By the death of Christ on the cross He proved that Satan’s charges were utterly false, that justice did not destroy mercy in forgiving sin, that heaven’s peace will extend throughout all eternity and can be realized only on God’s terms.
I trust by now that we are beginning to comprehend a small portion of those dramatic words that Christ uttered on the cross when He cried, “It is finished.” It is no wonder when these words were uttered from His dying lips that all heaven broke forth in a mighty shout of victory. Usually when death comes in this life, it brings great anguish, for all hope has finally vanished. Death is the state of hopelessness. But this was not so when Christ died. Those dying words of Christ, “It is finished” was a cry of victory. The battle had been won. It was a time for rejoicing, for Christ had accomplished the task He had come to do. In dying He became a conqueror. All heaven participated in the Savior’s victory. Shouts of triumph echoed from one unfallen world to another throughout the vast universe.
Do you question why? Because Heaven’s peace had now become a reality. Satan, who for ages had harassed the angels of God and the inhabitants of sinless worlds, was no longer permitted to disrupt heaven’s harmony. He had become a defeated foe and, what’s more, he knew it. This is why his hatred for God has now turned to revenge. This is why he is going about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
Those divine words, “It is finished,” mean that redemption was no longer a possibility but was now an accomplished fact, not only for us but for the peace of the unfallen worlds. It was not until the moment of Christ’s death on the cross that the character of Satan was clearly revealed to the angels of God and to the unfallen worlds. The arch apostate had so clothed himself with deception that even the remaining holy angels did not fully understand the principles of Satan’s kingdom. How could this be? We must realize that Satan was a created being, so wonderful, so powerful, and so great in his glory that he was above all created beings. He was actually next to the divine Godhead.
Inspiration speaks of him as “Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12, last part). Lucifer was of the highest order of all creation. He was used by God to carry out the purposes of the Godhead to the universe. Angels trusted him. They never questioned any of his commands, but after Satan made the decision to take the place of Christ, God could no longer use him. The power and wisdom that he had used to achieve God’s purposes he now used to deceive. It was a most difficult task for God to unveil Satan’s character.
One often wonders why God didn’t immediately destroy Satan when he determined to overthrow God’s throne, but at that time, only God in His divine wisdom knew that rebellion is never overcome by force. Therefore, God rightly chose to resist such evil by revealing His goodness, His mercy, His truth and His love. Henceforth Satan would try to prove his false claims by using the power of force while God chose His divine principles as the only means to prove that truth and love can achieve a peaceful kingdom.
So, in Heaven’s council God took action with eternity in mind. It was decided that time should be given Satan to develop his government so that the universe might see the final results. Thus, during the next four thousand years Christ worked by truth and love to uplift man while Satan worked with his deception to ruin man.
Finally, the time came for Jesus to be born in Bethlehem. Satan immediately attempted to kill the Babe. No child has ever been tried as the Christ Child. Satan used every possible means within his power to keep Christ from developing a perfect character in childhood and to prevent Him from maintaining a faultless manhood. The devil did everything possible to disrupt His three years of holy ministry, which was dedicated to providing an unblemished sacrifice. Satan’s storm of wrath continually beat upon Him, but the more Satan attempted to force Him to sin the more firmly Christ clung to His Father.
Unnumbered created beings were absolutely captivated as they beheld Christ’s struggle with death in the Garden of Gethsemane, a death that exceeded that of the cross, forcing bloody sweat that fell to the ground from His pores. These sinless creatures watched and wondered. Three times they heard Him pray for deliverance until heaven could no longer endure the sight and the angel Gabriel was sent to strengthen Jesus.
All heaven beheld as Christ was betrayed into murderous hands. They watched the violence with which He was treated as He was hurried from one tribunal to another. They heard the sneers spoken of His lowly birth. The angels were amazed at the denial and cursing of His beloved disciple. They beheld thousands of demons turning the hearts of men against their Creator. What a picture is revealed! Jesus seized at midnight in the garden and mistreated from palace to judgment hall, two times arraigned before priest, twice before the Sanhedrin. By mob violence He is taken to Pilate who chastised Him and then sent Him to King Herod who cruelly handled Him. Finally, He is brought back to Pilate who condemned and scourged Him.
All heaven was watching as that whip with sharp metal attached to the many strands dug deep into the Saviour’s back, removing strength from His body, making it impossible for Him to carry the cross and He falls to the ground. Surely your heart is touched as we have joined with the universe in watching the nails driven through His hands and feet. We can actually sense the pain as the cross is lifted and dropped into the hole. And our eyes fill with tears as we watch His labored breath grow quick and deep. All this and more because the sins of the world have been heaped upon Him.
We cannot but marvel with heaven that Jesus prays amid such suffering, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Watch with contempt as we see the devil’s legions of demons inspiring the mob with the words, “If Thou be Christ, save Thyself” (Luke 23:39, last part). But in all this Satan gained absolutely nothing. Not one sin could be found in Jesus Christ. Suddenly Jesus gives that astonishing cry, “It is finished” as His head falls forward in death.
John tells us what happened in heaven at that very moment. Revelation 12:10 says, “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” At last Satan’s disguise is torn away. His administration is laid wide open before the unfallen angels and the universe. Satan had revealed himself a murderer. How true were the words of Christ, “He was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). Never again would the angels of God in heaven have to listen to Satan’s accusations as he had taunted them at Jerusalem’s pearly gates. The last link of sympathy for Satan was forever broken.
Yet the angels of God did not know the depth of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. This mystery of iniquity must be fully revealed, so Satan’s existence must continue a little longer. For some two thousand years more they must see the full contrast between the Prince of Life and the prince of darkness.
Satan had declared that God’s law could not be obeyed, that God’s justice was inconsistent with His mercy, that it was impossible for a sinner to be pardoned for sin. He must be punished. And if sin should be forgiven, God could no longer be a God of justice because Satan himself had been banished from heaven and refused pardon. But beloved, let us pause for a moment and think this thing through clearly. Lucifer had been the covering cherub next to God. No one in the universe knew more fully and understood more clearly God’s government of love. Yet he openly rebelled, knowing full well that God is a God of love. But man was deceived by Satan’s sophistry. Man, at creation, had lived but a very short time and did not know the heighth and breadth and the depth of God’s love. There was hope for fallen man when given time to realize God’s love and thus be drawn back to God by beholding His character. God’s mercy and justice must be made manifest to sinful man. He must understand that mercy did not set aside God’s justice, that God’s law revealed the attributes of His character and in heaven’s sanctuary not one jot or tittle could be changed in that divine law.
So, wonder of wonders, what does the Godhead do? In order to prove to man that God is filled with love and mercy, Christ sacrifices Himself. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:19: “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” Since the law requires righteousness, no man of himself can become righteous, but Christ can embrace men with God’s attributes. Jesus can give to us His character; thus, the righteousness of the law can be fulfilled in the believer. God can be just, “the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). Thus, Jesus revealed the way to God. Since the law is truth, Christ revealed that mercy and His law were insolubly joined together, that one cannot exist without the other. This is why our text states, “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”
This brings us to the most important truth for those living in this end time. It is here that we discover Satan’s final deception. Since the cross reveals such unquestionable love of Divinity, Satan now declares that Christ’s love had destroyed the law. Let’s think this through. If it had been possible for God to alter or to change His law, Christ need not have died. So, Satan in this end time has decided to use the love of God to immortalize transgression. Since Jesus’ love was so great that He died for mankind, Satan now uses God’s mercy as the means to do away with the requirements of the law. So today we need only to love God and not obey Him. This is the final deception of Satan in this end time.
Satan is working through the fallen Protestant churches and the Papacy to lead men to disobey one precept of God’s law, knowing full well that God has stated, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). Thus, in our world today most all have swallowed Satan’s lie, hook, line, and sinker, which is his masterly deception in keeping Sunday holy instead of the seventh day Sabbath. And by doing this they are making it possible for Satan to be worshiped as the God of this world.
I am sorry to say that this deception is gaining ground in the Seventh-day Adventist church. Never before has there been so much love-preaching. Never has there been so little preaching of obedience. The result is very obvious. Since God loves you so much, you do not have to obey Him anymore; you may sin until Jesus comes. The results are very evident. Two separate classes are being developed within God’s true church: those who love Jesus so much that they would rather die than sin, and, on the other hand are those who only want to hear of love and no obedience, believing that God’s mercy is so great that they can continue to sin and still be saved.
Beloved, Jesus is soon coming and will vindicate His law with the seven last plagues while at the same time He will deliver those who keep the commandments of God. Sin and sinners will be punished both root and branch – Satan the root, and those who accept his last deception, the branches. God’s word will be fulfilled of Satan and his followers. “I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire” (Ezekiel 28:16, last part). “Thou shalt be a terror, and never shall be any more” (Ezekiel 27:36). “The wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be” (Psalm 37:10). They shall be as though they had not been.
To those individuals who chose to believe Satan’s final deception that God’s love is so great that He will save them even in their sins will discover that they have actually cut themselves off from the peace of eternal life, for as Proverbs 8:36 states, “All they that hate Me love death.” The glory of God’s love will destroy them.
Let us never forget that at the beginning of the great controversy one third of the angels in heaven were deceived. The unfallen worlds did not comprehend what you and I have discovered in this study. If Satan and his angels had been destroyed by God the moment they had rebelled, the universe would never have known the results of sin and they may also have produced the deadly roots of rebellion, but this will not be so when this controversy ends, for God’s character will be fully vindicated. Every created intelligence of heaven and on earth will fully understand the character of God and they will know His precepts are perfect and immutable. Every created being will delight to do God’s will, for in their heart God’s love has been fully understood. Love has not destroyed His law but established His law. Peace, perfect peace will eternally reign, for mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
“And the years of eternity, as they roll, will bring richer and still more glorious revelations of God and of Christ. As knowledge is progressive, so will love, reverence, and happiness increase. The more men learn of God, the greater will be their admiration of His character. As Jesus opens before them the riches of redemption and the amazing achievements in the great controversy with Satan, the hearts of the ransomed thrill with more fervent devotion, and with more rapturous joy they sweep the harps of gold; and ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of voices unite to swell the mighty chorus of praise.
“ ‘And every creature which is in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever’ (Revelation 5:13).
“The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love.” The Great Controversy, 678.
For more than fifty years, Lawrence Nelson served the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a church pastor, evangelist, and then in Conference, Union, and General Conference leadership. When God laid upon him the responsibility to “tell it like it is” to alert the people how the church was leading them into the worldwide ecumenical movement, he was forbidden to preach in any church within the Oregon Conference. Elder Nelson passed to his rest on April 18, 2012.