In this article, we will review the first five points concerning central features of the Three Angels’ Messages that we looked at last month, and further develop number six:
- The Three Angels’ Messages are special messages to the last generation. When Jesus comes, the people who are lost are the ones who rejected the Third Angel’s Message, received the mark of the beast and worshipped his image.
- The Three Angels’ Messages lead men to keep God’s law. “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. Those are the distinguishing marks of God’s people in the last days. To help you understand who and what Babylon is, God gives twenty-five identifying marks so you will not miss it. But with God’s people it is straightforward: they keep the commandments and have the faith of Jesus.
- The whole world, in the last days, will reject the Three Angels’ Messages. That is clear in Revelation 13:14–16; 16:12–14; 18:23, 24; 19:18, 21. Since the Third Angel’s Message is the most awful threatening and warning in the Bible, the question is why would the whole world reject a threatening and warning so plain, clear and strong?
- They will reject this strong, plain warning because of the great deceptions that the unclean spirits will bring upon the world. “I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them together to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” Revelation 16:13, 14. The reason the world rejects the message is because they are deceived. As we said in part one, if your faith is based on miracles, the chances are one hundred percent that you will be deceived.
- The result of rejecting the Three Angels’ Messages is that you will receive this mark, and drink of the wine of the wrath of God. What has the wrath of God seen in it? The seven last plagues, according to Revelation 15. If you reject the Three Angels’ Messages, you will receive the plagues. That is Revelation 15 and 16. Revelation 17 is about the great worldwide confederation that will oppose God. Revelation 18 is about the destruction of the people that oppose the Three Angels’ Messages. And Revelation 19 is about their final destruction when Jesus comes before the millenium.
- The devil will work miracles, specializing in a certain kind of miracle. This miracle is the impersonation of our dead loved ones, famous people of the past, the Virgin Mary or the apostles. Before it is over according to Great Controversy, 624, the devil is even going to personate Jesus Christ.
Ellen White says that some of the same gracious words that Jesus spoke, the devil will speak. He will appear more glorious than anyone mortal eyes have ever beheld. The people of this world will fall down and worship him as Christ. He is the great antichrist.
Ellen White says that the devil can impersonate your dead loved ones perfectly. The form, the shape, the voice, the accent, information that no one but you and that person knew, he can duplicate perfectly. The devil will deceive people through ministers, even through Seventh-day Adventist ministers. Selected Messages, vol. 2, 380 says, “Many of the ministers are half paralyzed by their own defects of character. They need the converting power of God.” If a minister is half paralyzed by his defects of character, can he preach to you about overcoming your defects of character, gaining perfection and overcoming sin? Not unless he wants to be a hypocrite; and if he does, he will shake in his boots the whole time. How can you talk to someone else about something that you yourself are not experiencing? You cannot preach about overcoming smoking if you are smoking.
I used to wonder why no one was preaching about perfection of character, sanctification, overcoming and forsaking sin? I read about these topics all the time in Ellen White’s writings, but rarely heard them preached from the pulpit. Now I understand why so few ministers preach it. It is because they themselves have never experienced these things. You cannot preach about overcoming sin if you are not in your own closet going through an experience with the Lord and overcoming. That is one of the ways the devil deceives people. They never hear about the necessity of forsaking and overcoming sin. The preachers do not preach about it because they cannot.
We talk about how the devil uses religion to deceive people. Ellen White says that he will come to the last generation in the “livery [that is the cloak] of heaven.” (See Testimonies, vol. 3, 456.)What is that talking about? He will come in a religious guise, seeking to gain control of the world.The devil will come to Adventists in church.
The devil will cause heresy to be preached. “Every conceivable message is coming to counterfeit the work of God, and always bearing the inscription of truth upon its banner. And those who are prepared for anything new and sensational, will handle these things in such a manner that our enemies will charge all that is inconsistent and overdone upon Mrs. E. G. White, the prophetess . ..There will be counterfeit messages coming from persons in all directions. One after another will rise up, appearing to be inspired, when they have not the inspiration of heaven, but are under the deception of the enemy. All who receive their messages will be led astray.” Selected Messages, vol. 3, 404.
“Delusions and deceptions will come in among us and will multiply as we near the end.” 1888 Materials, 1243. We are living in the time when these delusions and deceptions are multiplying.
Here is another way the devil deceives people. “Those who feel at liberty to question the Word of God, to doubt everything where there is any chance to be unbelieving, will find that it will require a tremendous struggle to have faith when trouble comes. It will be almost impossible to overcome the influence that binds the mind which has been educated in the line of unbelief, for by this course the soul is bound in Satan’s snare and becomes powerless to break the dreadful net that has been woven closer and closer about the soul.” Last Day Events, 68, 69.
If you sow unbelief, questioning and doubting, that is what you will reap. The time will come when you will be so steeped in unbelief that there will be no way to reach you. There are a lot of people in that condition all around us today, even in the church. There is one more deception we have not looked at: “The warfare against God’s law commenced in heaven. Satan was determined to bring God to his ideas, his way, to force Him to change the law of His government. This was the cause of the war in heaven. Satan worked upon the sympathies of the angelic host by his deceptive attitude.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, 37.
Can you have sympathy without any feeling? Sympathy has to do with the way you feel toward another person. The devil was successful in getting a third of the angels on his side by working on their sympathy. He still knows how to do that. The devil uses this technique to get control, not only of individuals or families, but of whole churches and conferences in the Adventist Church.
The Way of the Transgressor is Hard
God created human beings to be happy. But He says there are certain conditions under which you cannot have happiness. The Bible says that “in Your [God’s] presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forever more.” Psalm 16:11. “Good understanding gains favor, but the way of the unfaithful is hard.” Proverbs 13:15. For those who follow the Lord there is peace and joy, but not for the wicked. ” ‘There is no peace,’ says the Lord, ‘for the wicked.’ ” Isaiah 48:22. Paul clearly describes what it is like for the wicked:
“As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one; There is none who understands. There is none that seeks after God. They have all turned aside. They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit; The poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” Romans 3:10–19.
Paul says for sinful men, “Destruction and misery are in their ways, the way of peace they have not known.” There is no chance for them to have joy and happiness. They will experience destruction and misery. That is what the Bible teaches from the beginning to the end.
The Bible says that if you sin and try to cover it up, you will not prosper. “He who covers his sin will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13. But for six thousand years the devil has been trying to convince people that you can sin and still have joy and happiness. The Bible says, “No, you cannot!”
During the time of the children of Israel, the Lord gave them a special service once a year called The Day of Atonement. On this Day they were to afflict their souls. “For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day he shall be cut off from his people. And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.” Leviticus 23:29, 30.
“This shall be a statute for ever for you; in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you. For on that day the priest shall make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins.” Leviticus 16:29–31. God’s plan is to get rid of your sins. If your sins are forgiven and forsaken, then you will be happy. That is one of the central points of the whole ceremonial service.
“It is a Sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever.” Verse 31. The old covenant Day of Atonement came once a year. The new covenant Day of Atonement began in 1844. We are living in the anti-typical Day of Atonement. Right now, the Lord is reviewing the records of every individual.
Search for Hidden Sins
“In this great day of atonement our work is that of heart-searching, of self-abasement, and confession of sin, each humbling his own soul before God, and seeking pardon for himself individually . . . If each will search and see what sins are lurking in his own heart to shut out Jesus, he will find such a work to do that he will be ready to esteem others better than himself.” Historical Sketches, 213.
We have to go to the Lord and say, “Lord, is there anything in my life that is wrong and needs to come out.” If you ask the Lord that question, you will be surprised how fast He might answer your prayer! The Holy Spirit will put His finger right on something and say, “How about this?”
“Every man is required to afflict his soul before God. Every heart is required to be in harmony with the divine will.” Review and Herald, August 12, 1884. “Investigate the motives of every action and know that the eye of God reads all, searches out every hidden thing.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 124. I am to ask myself, “What are my motives?” That is afflicting my soul.
“An effort was made to arouse them by presenting our true position in the anti-typical day of atonement, when every man should afflict his soul before God, when sins should be confessed and go beforehand to judgment that when the times of refreshing shall come, they may be blotted out.” Review and Herald, October 21, 1884. “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment . . . and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.” 1Timothy 5:24, 25.
There was another special occasion on the Jewish calendar, which was very different from the Day of Atonement. “The Feast of Tabernacles was the great holiday of the nation.” Review and Herald, July 7, 1896. The Feast of Tabernacles represented the great celebration that the saints will enjoy when the Lord takes them to heaven. We believe in celebrating! We are getting ready for the biggest celebration of all time, but it will take place in heaven after the Day of Atonement that we are still in now.
The Day of Atonement prepares you for the great celebration. The devil’s trick is to get people celebrating when they are not ready to go to heaven. They are not ready to have their sins blotted out. He knows that they are headed straight for hellfire if they do not get sin out of their lives.
Do you want to celebrate a few years down here and then go to hellfire? Or do you want to celebrate up there forever. “The Feast of Tabernacles was the great holiday of the nation. This feast was preceded by a Day of Atonement, which occurred on the tenth day of the seventh month, when everyone was to afflict his soul by confessing his sins, both to the Lord and to his brethren. This humiliation was to prepare the way for the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles.” Ibid.
The Lord says, “If you desire to have joy, peace and happiness, sin has to come out of your life.” And the devil says, “No, it does not. You can have a celebration right now!” That is deceptive. But the Christian world is falling for it. A large part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is falling for it. The Adventist Review took a random survey of 1738 Adventists (printed in the October 30, 1997 edition); twenty-nine percent of those polled said they attend celebration churches right now.
I want to show you from the Bible how serious this is. It is impossible for me to state it too strongly. If you are going to a celebration church, you had better repent and get out of there or you will commit the unpardonable sin and go straight to hellfire. I will read it to you right now in the Bible. “You are full of noise, a tumultuous city, a joyous city. Your slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle . . .Therefore I said, ‘Look away from me, I will weep bitterly; Do not labor to comfort me because of the plundering of the daughter of my people. For it is a day of trouble and treading down and perplexity by the Lord God of Hosts in the valley of vision—breaking down the walls and of crying to the mountain . . .He removed the protection of Judah. You looked in that day to the armor of the house of the forest . . .You also saw the damage to the city of David that it was great. You numbered the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses you broke down to fortify the wall . . .And in that day the Lord God of Hosts called for weeping and for mourning, for baldness and for girding with sackcloth.” Isaiah 22:2, 4, 5, 8–10, 12.
There is a time when it is not appropriate to sing, dance, wave our hands and have a good time. Do you laugh at a funeral? A funeral, the Bible says, is for mourning. The Lord tells us in verse twelve that it is time to weep and mourn. Why? Because a large percentage of Seventh-day Adventists today are going straight to destruction.
A man came along in the seventies by the name of Desmond Ford, saying you cannot find the investigative judgment in the Bible. That is not true. But people did not and still do not want to hear about the judgment. They want to feel good and to say, “Our sins are forgiven and it is all right.” The Lord says the opposite: “Search your heart, examine your life, look at your motives and ask Me to help you get sin out.”
It is time to pray, to weep between the porch and the altar and plead for God’s people. It is not time to cover up sin and to have a good time. That kind of a good time will not last. When God called for weeping and mourning, the people did not do it. “But instead, joy and gladness, slain oxen and killing sheep, and eating meat and drinking wine: Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Verse 13.
They said, “we will not weep and mourn. We will celebrate and have a good time. We will tell the people, Be joyful and happy!” If you are joyful and happy when you are living in sin, you insult the deity and God will respond to that insult.
The Lord said, “It is time to afflict your soul. It is time to search your heart.” They said, “Oh, no, we will have a good time.” The God of heaven is a loving God. He loves us all very much, but He is not to be trifled with. Soon it will be impossible to save the rebellious. Jesus is coming in the clouds of heaven. He will tell us that there is no more sacrifice for sin. If there is sin on your record at that time, you will be lost forever. There will be plenty of gnashing of teeth when the Lord comes. Jesus said that when He comes there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, no celebrating then, because the people have not overcome their sins.
While there is still time, the Lord says, “You need to afflict your soul. You need to search your heart.” Neither the preacher, the elder nor the Sabbathschool teacher can do it for you. You have to do it for yourself. You have to go to your closet and pray saying, “Lord, is there anything in me that needs to come out so I can be ready to meet Jesus in peace?”
The people said, “We will have a good time.” The Lord said, “Yes, you will have a good time, but look what will happen to you.” “Then it was revealed in my hearing by the Lord of Hosts, ‘surely for this iniquity there will be no atonement for you, even to your death,’ says the Lord of hosts,” Verse 14. This means you have committed the unpardonable sin. People say, “Oh, it does not matter. You can worship any way you choose!” But according to Isaiah 22, when God says, “It is time to weep and mourn,” the decision you make to obey or disobey, has eternal consequences.
I am to go to my closet and say, “Lord, are my motives right? I may be doing good things, but are my motives right? Is there secret sin in my life, Lord? If so, I want it to come out now while there is time and not after probation when it is too late.” If I do that now, the time is coming when I will go to a great celebration! It is likened to the marriage supper of the Lamb. It will be the happiest time in my life and it will never end.
Ellen White said, “The command is ‘Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that [celebrate?] sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.’ [Ezekiel 9:4.] These sighing, crying ones have been holding forth the works of life; they had reproved, counseled, and entreated. Some who had been dishonoring God repented and humbled their hearts before Him. But the glory of the Lord had departed from Israel; although many still continued the forms of religion, His power and presence were lacking. In the time when His wrath shall go forth in judgments, these humble, devoted followers of Christ will be distinguished from the rest of the world by their soul anguish, which is expressed in lamentation and weeping, reproofs and warnings. While others try to throw a cloak over the existing evil, and excuse the great wickedness everywhere prevalent, those who have a zeal for God’s honor and a love for souls will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 210.
The sin that is all around is going to send these people to destruction. The day of salvation is almost over. She talks about two classes: The people who are not grieved over their sins and the people who are sighing, crying, mourning, weeping, lamenting, reproving and counseling others to get sin out of their lives.
The people who receive the seal of God are those who look at their lives and ask, “Lord, is there anything in me that needs to be changed so that I will be ready for heaven?” If all Adventism decides to stomp their feet and clap their hands, wave, have drums and music, sing, dance, play and be joyful, I will not do it!
We are now in the preparation time. The only people who attend God’s great celebration are the ones whose robes of character have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. All the wrinkles are removed, and they are ready. When Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven, the saints will ask only one question, “Is my garment spotless? Are all the wrinkles out?”
I have visualized in my mind over and over again what it will be like to see the cloud coming and know that I am either saved or lost. There will be no changing then. The time to make your calling and election sure is now.
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout . . . and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. What a celebration!