“The Waldensian missionaries were invading the kingdom of Satan, and the powers of darkness aroused to greater vigilance. Every effort to advance the truth was watched by the prince of evil, and he excited the fears of his agents. The papal leaders saw a portent of danger to their cause from the labors of these humble itinerants. If the light of truth were allowed to shine unobstructed, it would sweep away the heavy clouds of error that enveloped the people. It would direct the minds of men to God alone and would eventually destroy the supremacy of Rome.” The Great Controversy, 76. That was the reason for persecution.
The devil is just as afraid of the Three Angels’ Messages today. He is just as angry against God’s Word today, as he was then. We read in Revelation 12:17 that he was wroth. The dragon was angry. He was furious with the woman, that is God’s people, the church, and he went to make war with the last church.
The devil is furious. He is as afraid today, as he was afraid of the Waldensian missionaries then and for the very same reason. An acceptance of the Three Angels’ Messages and an understanding of the truth of those messages will destroy large religious movements today that are based and founded on error. The Three Angels’ Messages will sweep away all the clouds of darkness. So the devil is afraid, and he has reason to be fearful, because he is going to lose. He is furious, and his ferocity is the ferocity of an animal that has been wounded by his fight for life.
Satan’s last attempt to thwart God’s purpose involves an attack, an attack from satanic forces, an attack from the dragon. We see very clearly, in Revelation 12:17: “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.”
This attack has two phases, a long preliminary phase and then a short final phase, which we are rapidly approaching. The first, long preliminary phase of this attack scheme is to deceive as many of God’s professed people as possible, so they will not realize that they have changed leaders and that they are on a different side than they think they are.
Ellen White wrote that, “The time is right upon us when every kind of deception will be practiced. [Every kind of deception.] Christ says, ‘Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing.’ [Matthew 7:15.]” The Youth’s Instructor, July 31, 1902.
What does it mean when it says, “come to you in sheep’s clothing”? That means that outwardly they appear to be members of the church. The most deceptive attacks will come from those who profess to be Seventh-day Adventists.
“As we near the end, temptations will be stronger and more seductive.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 89. What does seductive mean? It means the temptations will be attractive and deceptive. This will result in the shaking and the sifting.
To completely understand Satan’s last attempt to thwart God’s purpose, you have to first understand what God’s two great objectives are in the end time.
God’s Two Objectives
God has two objectives in the last generation. You can read about the first objective in Ephesians 5:25–27, where it is predicted that Jesus is going to have a church in the last generation that is without spot or wrinkle, one that is holy and without blemish. God is going to have a perfected people. Satan’s first purpose is to attempt to keep that from happening.
That is the reason for all kinds of heresies. Satan is trying to keep people sidetracked into some kind of heresy, so they will never reach perfection of character.
You can read about God’s second end-time objective in Revelation 14:6, 7; it says that these messages are going to go to the world’s population. There are people who believe that it is all right to send out advertising and invite people to come to a meeting. If they come to the meeting, you tell them about the Three Angels’ Messages, but if they do not come to the meeting, you just leave them alone. So over 99 percent of the population of that town never finds out about the Three Angels’ Messages. Are we only to give the Three Angels’ Messages to those who will consent to come to one of our meetings, or does the whole world have to find out about it? Revelation 14:6, 7 says the whole world has to find out.
When Will the Time be Right?
Now when and how is the whole world going to find out? “Well,” somebody says, “We will just have to wait until the right time.” When will the right time be? Do you want to wait until we are all in prison and try to do it from there?
Now God is not going to force anybody to accept these messages. God never uses force. But everyone has to know about them. Why? They have to know, so they have an opportunity to make an intelligent decision, whether or not they are going to receive the mark of the beast.
They cannot make that decision if they have no idea what the mark of the beast is. And that is what the Third Angel’s Message is about. They cannot make that decision if they have no idea what Babylon is. That is what the Second Angel’s Message is about. And they cannot make an intelligent decision to receive the seal of God unless they understand that there is a Creator Who made the earth and Who is going to judge the world. That is what the First Angel’s Message is about.
The devil is determined that God’s second objective will never happen. That is one of the reasons for this lawsuit down in Florida. It is to stop people who are trying to get the message out to all the world. They say, You are doing it wrong. Okay, fine. Do you have a better way? We have a message that we have to get to the entire world population and if we are doing it wrong, show us a better way. Show us a way that will be more productive, that will get to more people, quicker and faster.
The result of God’s two objectives is that He has a special testimony for His people in this last generation. A special testimony, a straight testimony or the testimony of Jesus, as it is called in Revelation 12:17, has been vouchsafed to Seventh-day Adventists. We have the Spirit of Prophecy. We have the straight testimony, and Ellen White says it will result in a shaking in the church. It will do two things; some will be shaken out, and others will receive the seal of God. (See The Kress Collection, 124.) The sealing, the sifting and the shaking are in process now. A refining process is going on in every church; people are coming in; people are going out.
Ellen White wrote about this in 1895. She said, “The Lord is soon to come; there must be a refining, winnowing process in every church, for there are among us wicked men who do not love the truth. There is need of a transformation of character. Will the church arise and put on her beautiful garments, the righteousness of Christ? It is soon to be seen who are vessels unto honor.” Review and Herald, March 19, 1895.
Front Page, Worldwide News
We know, from Revelation 12:17, that we will be attacked. Now we have had a few skirmishes in the past, but we are going to have an attack that will be front-page, worldwide news. This point of the attack will be a religious liberty issue over Sabbath and Sunday. You can read about that in Revelation 13:13–17. This crisis is just before us. There is going to be a fierce conflict of mind with mind, of principle with principle and of truth with error. We are fast approaching this crisis. It will be an all out attack from the devil. Do you see the battle coming? If you see the battle coming, what should you and I do about it? Shall we just say, “Well, Lord, Satan is determined’ it is going to come; just get us through it,” and then sit back and watch it happen?
No, friends, that is avoiding the issue, and it is exactly what the devil is trying to get many Adventists to do—just sit back and watch it happen. Do you know that you cannot be involved in the victory that is coming to God’s people unless you are also involved in the conflict that precedes the victory? We must pray, each one of us, for faith and strength to be active in the battle.
“This world is the great field where the last battle is to be fought. Now every man who is on the Lord’s side will come up to the battle of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty, and the walls of antichrist shall fall before the Captain of the Lord’s host.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, 1038. Is that not encouraging? We have a promise that the walls of antichrist are going to fall.
Unfortunately, there are some Adventists today who talk as though they do not even know who antichrist is. Do you think you can attack a city, a wall, if you do not even know where the wall is? Something to think through, is it not? God wants you to know for sure who the antichrist is and what his program is.
God Will Have Men Who Stand Firm
“God never leaves the world without men who can discern between good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness. God has men whom He has appointed to stand in the forefront of the battle in times of emergency.” Review and Herald, November 19, 1903. “These will see the battle coming and will give the trumpet a certain sound. When the crisis is upon us, when the season of calamity shall come, they will come to the front, gird themselves with the whole armor of God, and exalt His law, adhere to the faith of Jesus, and maintain the cause of religious liberty.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 16, 238.
Oh, friends, this crisis is upon us, and we must not be paralyzed. We must go to the Lord in prayer and claim the promises of Scripture. Some of you may say, “Well, Pastor John, I am just so weak.” Do you know what the Bible says? In Hebrews 11:34 it talks about some people who, by faith, “out of weakness were made strong.”
We are approaching this last battle, this major attack that Satan will bring against the remnant, and this attack will be a most determined effort to blot from the face of the earth all those who keep the commandments of God. He is going to be so successful that, just a few days before Jesus comes, it is going to look like every single person in the world who is keeping the commandments of God will be killed and blotted out of existence.
It is going to take some faith, let me tell you. We need to be memorizing the promises. Concerning the Bible, Ellen White said, “Let us commit its precious promises to memory, so that, when we are deprived of our Bibles, we may still be in possession of the Word of God.” Review and Herald, January 6, 1910.
Some people today do not know who antichrist is; at least it does not appear that they do. They ask why we have to talk so plain. Let me tell you why. Do you know, friends, that if you do not know for sure exactly who antichrist is, that one of these days you are going to join antichrist and be part of it and not even know what happened?
Ellen White says, “Those who become confused in their understanding of the word, who fail to see the meaning of antichrist, will surely place themselves on the side of antichrist.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 949. Now that is quite a prophecy. If you do not know who antichrist is, you are going to be with antichrist.
A lot of people do not know what the Greek word “anti” means. The derived meaning is “against.” That is what everybody thinks it means, but that is not the original, primitive meaning. The original meaning of the Greek word “anti” is somebody who stands in the place of somebody else. If we would convert it to Latin, the Latin word, meaning the same, is “vicar.” An antichrist is the vicar of Christ, someone who stands in the place of Christ.
Unless the Holy Spirit is in control of your mind, the delusion is going to be so much like the real thing that you will be deceived. You will believe that you are worshipping Jesus Christ; you will believe that you are having the greatest religious experience that you ever had, but you will be deluded. Let me tell you, the devil can give people wonderful feelings.
We are headed toward this major attack. It is right around the corner. We have had some skirmishes, but there is going to be a major, all out, attack against the remnant. We must be careful that we never manifest the spirit of the enemy. We are to stand for the truth, but we are never to manifest the spirit of the enemy while standing for the truth.
In 1893, Ellen White wrote, “Although we are to stand firm as a rock to principle, we should be courteous and Christ-like in our dealings with all men. In meekness and love we should tell the people why we cannot accept the papal Sabbath, because it is a mark of special dishonor to God, whom we love and worship. But while we sacredly observe the Sabbath of the Lord, it is not our work to compel others to observe it. God never forces the conscience. That is Satan’s work.” Review and Herald, February 7, 1893.
As we approach this final attack, remember the first thing is for the devil to move in and to deceive as many of God’s people as he can. Ellen White says that he will come dressed in angel robes. (See Review and Herald, January 11, 1887.) Is he going to be successful? With the majority of Seventh-day Adventists, he will be successful.
Patterned After Ancient Israel
They are going to be deceived. They will believe that they are having these marvelous religious experiences, but it will be the wrong spirit. “In His Word the Lord declared what He would do for Israel if they would obey His voice. But the leaders of the people yielded to the temptations of Satan, and God could not give them the blessings He designed them to have, because they did not obey His voice but listened to the voice and policy of Lucifer. This experience will be repeated in the last years of the history of the people of God, who have been established by His grace and power. Men whom He has greatly honored will in the closing scenes of this earth’s history pattern after ancient Israel.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 379.
What will happen? Among Seventh-day Adventists, men, whom God has greatly honored, will pattern after ancient Israel. What was that? They listened to the voice and policy of Lucifer, and when people do that it looks like they are doing the right thing from a human standpoint. That is the way it is presented.
Unless you are praying, unless the Holy Spirit is leading and guiding you as you are memorizing the Bible promises and as you are searching God’s Word, you will be led astray, You will not even know what has happened. It happened to the Jews, and it is happening all around us today.
I cannot keep you from being deceived. Only the Lord can do that; only the Holy Spirit can do that. But you have something to do, if you are not going to be deceived. You must study God’s Word and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your mind to understand, to follow and to obey it.