The Approaching Storm

The basis for this study is found in Luke the 8th chapter verses 22–25, first part, which says, “Now it came to pass on a certain day, that He [Christ] went into a ship with His disciples: and He said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed He fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, Master, Master, we perish. Then He arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.  And He said unto them, Where is your faith?”

This is a scriptural record of an actual experience which took place in the life of Jesus Christ and His disciples. They had just experienced a very busy day. Since early morning Christ had been teaching and healing. They were so busy that they had not taken time for food or for rest. To make matters even worse they were constantly being surrounded by malicious criticism and misrepresentation by the Pharisees who continually pursued Christ making His labors more severe and harassing.

So now at the close of this busy day the Lord was utterly wearied and He determined to seek a retirement in a secluded place across the lake. Dismissing the multitude Jesus and His disciples hastily set off in a boat to relieve the pressure of the crowd. Overcome with weariness and hunger Jesus lies down in the stern of the little boat and is soon sound asleep. The evening is calm and pleasant and the boat gently rides upon the lake, but suddenly a strange darkness spreads over the lake and the wind sweeps wildly down the mountain gorges as a fierce tempest bursts upon them. The waves lashed by such howling wind dash completely over the tiny boat threatening to engulf them. These hardy fishermen have guided their craft safely through many a storm but this time their strength and skill avail nothing.

The disciples are helpless in the face of this tempest, for Satan is attempting to destroy both the Master and His disciples. So absorbed are these men to save themselves that they have completely forgotten that Jesus is on board. Now as death is imminent they recall that it was Christ who commanded them to cross the lake and in their helpless condition they cried, Master, Master! but in such a stormy darkness they see no one and their voices are drowned by the roaring tempest. Doubts and fears grip their hearts. Had Jesus forsaken them? Could it be that He who would conquer disease and demons and even death itself could not help them now?

Again, they called for help, for the boat is beginning to sink. Another moment and they will be swallowed up by the angry waters. Suddenly there is a flash of lightning and they see Jesus lying asleep – undisturbed by the raging storm. In amazement they cry out, “Master, carest Thou not that we perish” (Mark 4:38)? Their cry arouses Jesus and in the lightning glare they see the peace of Heaven on His face. Again, they cry, “Lord, save us! We perish” (Matthew 8:25)! Never did a soul utter that cry unheeded.

Jesus arises as the waves sweep over them. Lifting His hands He says to the angry sea, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39). Immediately the stormy billows cease their attack. The clouds roll away, the stars shine forth, and the tiny boat rests upon a quiet sea. Jesus looks around at His disciples and asks sorrowfully, “Why are ye so fearful?” “Where is your faith” (Mark 4:40; Luke 8:25)? In this life and death crisis Jesus did not ask the questions that are so often to be found in the minds of uncertainty. He did not ask like we would today, “Don’t you have a bank account that you can count on? Don’t you have some investments? Don’t you have a lot of friends that will help you? What type of insurance do you carry, and how much?” No, He asked a very personal, heart searching question: “Where is your faith?”

As Seventh-day Adventists we believe that men are justified by faith for “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6), and we believe that “faith cometh by hearing … the word of God” (Romans 10:17). But how many of us know the faith that will be required of each one to meet the coming storm? When we are surrounded by riots and protests leading to civil strife and war here in America and with the united evangelical movement joined against us, when suddenly every security we’ve ever known has vanished in a time of trouble such as never was, what good will it be then to talk about the prestige of our great institutions? the luxury of our beautiful churches which architects have built with our sacrificial money? the well-edited literature and international broadcasts that our church presents? when every religious body in this world will be against us? I ask, Are we ready for persecution, even the facing of a universal death decree? Then to discover that our very best friends, even those within the church we love, are testifying against us. When our world collapses around us, will we be strong enough in the faith to stand alone or will we be captured in total fear as were the disciples? What will our answer be when Jesus speaks, “Where is your faith?”

In Revelation 14:12 the remnant have two characteristics. They keep the commandments of God and they keep the faith of Jesus. Let’s consider just for one more moment the faith of Jesus – literally. “When Jesus was awakened to meet the storm, He was in perfect peace. There was no trace of fear in word or look, for no fear was in His heart. But He rested not in the possession of almighty power. It was not as the ‘Master of earth and sea and sky’ that He reposed in quiet. That power He had laid down, and He says, ‘I can of Mine own self do nothing’ (John 5:30). He trusted in the Father’s might. It was in faith—faith in God’s love and care—that Jesus rested, and the power of that Word which stilled the storm was the power of God,” His Father. The Desire of Ages, 336.

Let us think now of some very serious questions which I hope will awaken your mind to the approaching storm that is so soon to break upon us. I trust we will truly keep the faith of Jesus. There is a sinister force at work in our world today to overthrow the cause of God. “The agencies of evil are combining their forces and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis. Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 11. “We are on the very verge of the time of trouble, and perplexities that are scarcely dreamed of are before us. A power from beneath is leading men to war against Heaven. Human beings have confederated with satanic agencies to make void the law of God.” Ibid., 43. [Emphasis added.]

Let’s take the word consolidation. Never in my life span have I seen such a surge of consolidation that we now see taking place. The financial structures of this world are consolidating. Bank after bank merge together in a colossal empire. Giant corporations are swallowing up one another so that a few are now controlling every aspect of life. Even denominational churches are consolidating so that today a few are emerging with a powerful political clout. Even the nations are consolidating. Take the North American Process Technology Alliance (NAPTA). You find the joining together of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. And then look at the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in which the third world countries are joining together for their power. Look across the Atlantic to the European commonwealth. Here countries are uniting in a European union which has one currency and a tremendous trade power.

Now let’s look at the word confederation. We hear much today of a United Nations for a new world order, and for what purpose? for peace? so that there will be no more war? Don’t be fooled. Inspiration has made it clear that it is to make void the law of God producing a worldwide united power in which it will not be possible to buy or to sell unless you have the mark of the beast.

Things are developing fast. The Lord said the last movements would be rapid ones. How is this crisis coming? Selected Messages, Book 2, 367: “The word of God plainly declares that His law is to be scorned, trampled upon, by the world; there will be an extraordinary prevalence of iniquity.” And nobody can shut their eyes today at the evils and say this is not here. It is. “The professed Protestant world will form a confederacy with the man of sin, and the church and the world will be in corrupt harmony.

“Here the great crisis is coming upon the world. The Scriptures teach that popery is to regain its lost supremacy, and that the fires of persecution will be rekindled through the time-serving concessions of the so-called Protestant world.” Ibid., 367, 368.

Did you catch that? Did you notice a confederacy between Protestants and the man of sin? Need I tell you that this just recently happened when Protestant and Catholic leadership in 1994 signed the document called “Evangelicals and Catholics Together”? An idea that was conceived by Charles Colson, the founder of the prison fellowship and a Catholic priest by the name of Richard Neuhaus.

Christianity Today, the evangelical magazine, was so excited that it called this document the most important. It said, “All who accept Christ as Lord and Savior are brothers and sisters in Christ. Evangelicals and Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ. However imperfect our communion with one another, however deep our disagreements with one another, we recognize that there is but One church.” [Emphasis added.] Oh, it’s here, friend!

The Great Controversy, 445, says, “When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by them in common … .” Let me tell you, the crisis is not coming; the crisis is here now! From our pulpits is being preached peace and safety. The purpose of this great ecumenical movement is to reestablish papal power as it was before the reformation. The papacy accomplished its authority in A.D. 538 by conducting councils, conventions, and evangelical alliances and they are using the same strategy today. “Was not this the way things went with Rome? Are we not living her life over again? And what do we see just ahead? Another general council! A world’s convention! Evangelical alliance, and universal creed!” Ibid.

There have been two great Vatican councils that have been held and there are numerous evangelical alliances that are now being formed by dialogs between Catholics, Protestants and Jews. I know of this personally because one day while I was pastor in Sacramento, California, I received a call from a Catholic priest from a nearby church. He remarked that there is a great ecumenical movement now. He wanted to come speak in my church on our Sabbath day. He would then invite me to come and speak to his people on a Sunday. My answer was, no thank you. …

Let me read to you from the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, vol. 10, of the Bible Commentary, pages 410 and 411: “The ecumenical movement will … become a concerted effort to unite the world as to secure universal peace and security by enlisting the power of the civil government in a universal religio-political crusade to eliminate all dissent. SDA’s envision this crusade as the great apostasy to which John the revelator refers to ‘Babylon the great’ (Revelation 17:5).” …

In The Great Controversy, 571, are these words: “The papacy is just what prophecy declared that she would be, the apostasy of the latter times (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4). … Shall this power, whose record for a thousand years is written in the blood of saints, be now acknowledged as a part of the church of Christ?” And then Testimonies, vol. 7, 108: “To bind ourselves up by contracts with those not of our faith is not in the order of God. We are to treat with kindness and courtesy those who refuse to be loyal to God, but we are never, never to unite with them in counsel regarding the vital interests of His work.” [Emphasis added.] These things will only lead to persecution. The Great Controversy, 445: “When this shall be gained, then, in the effort to secure complete uniformity, it will be only a step to the resort of force.”

“In the movements now in progress in the United States to secure for the institutions and usages of the church the support of the state, Protestants are following in the steps of papists. Nay, more, they are opening the door for the papacy to regain in Protestant America the supremacy which she has lost in the Old World. And that which gives greater significance to this movement is the fact that the principal object contemplated is the enforcement of Sunday observance … .” The Great Controversy, 573.

Did you notice those words? “To regain in Protestant America the supremacy which she lost in the Old World.”

History reveals that in Europe during the 1260 years of papal supremacy Rome was in complete control of every kingdom and every law was based on Catholic law. Do we realize what it must have been to live there? Freedom of worship as we know it today was absolutely forbidden. You could be destroyed to think differently from than that which Rome taught. Freedom as we have experienced it in our lifetime did not exist then. Approximately a hundred and fifty million were put to death as heretics. You see, the reason why the founders of America established a strict separation of church and state was to give full freedom for religious groups to flourish as their own message would grow. But today’s religious right is not satisfied with this freedom. It feels driven by the name of God to conduct its doctrinal principles into the political arena.

I was amazed to read The Monitor of McAllen, Texas, January 24, 1995, in which the editor said some very bold things. He talks about the political principles, for example, of this new religious right. He says, “It tends to confine women to traditional roles proscribing any productive rights and impose public manifestations of religion such as school prayer. It is punitive in its outlook on people who receive government assistance and as a retributive view of criminal justice offering strong support for capital punishment.” Then are these words: “The religious right brooks no tolerance or possibility of divergent moral beliefs by equally religious folks. Perhaps for that reason it seems so full of hatred and intolerance, hardly biblical values, and for those who do not subscribe to its agenda, the religious right unleashes its version of the inquisition.” Here we see developing in America the beginning of the image of the beast.

Will churches seek the aid of the state? The Great Controversy, 443: “It was apostasy that led the early church to seek the aid of the civil government, and this prepared the way for the development of the papacy … . Said Paul: ‘There’ shall ‘come a falling away, … and that man of sin be revealed’ (2 Thessalonians 2:3). So apostasy in the church will prepare the way for the image to the beast.”

God speaks of this in the second angel’s message when He said in Revelation 14:8: “… Babylon is fallen, is fallen.” In 1935 there was a man, Professor Beltz, who sent out questionnaires to the leading Protestant ministers throughout America. The statistics speak for themselves. These ministers of Protestant churches confessed as follows, that they believe no longer in the Bible as being trustworthy. So spoke the Baptists, 37%; the Congregational Church, 91% said they no longer believe the Bible to be trustworthy; the Episcopalians, 96%; the Presbyterians, 80%.

Thirty-five years later (1970), Look Magazine sent out a survey to the students in North American seminaries, asking them a question about the Second Coming. Only one percent believed that Jesus Christ would ever return. And these are the ministers that are in the churches today. Should we be amazed when we look at the books that are coming from our presses today which are teaching the doctrines of Babylon, that we can be saved in sin, that we don’t have to keep the law, that obedience is not required, that we do not have to overcome, that Jesus did it all for us on the cross? All we have to do is just believe.

We see the image of the beast developing. The Great Controversy, 445: “When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to enforce their decrees and to sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result.”

What is meant by giving life to the image of the beast? Testimonies, vol. 5, page 712: “When our nation shall so abjure the principles of its government as to enact a Sunday law, Protestantism will in this act join hands with popery; it will be nothing else than giving life to the tyranny which has long been eagerly watching its opportunity to spring again into active despotism.”

And so, in The Great Controversy, 449: “Hence the enforcement of Sundaykeeping in the United States would be an enforcement of the worship of the beast and his image.” Have we been told when it will be formed? Yes, we have. Selected Messages, Book 2, 81: “The Lord has shown me clearly that the image of the beast will be formed before probation closes.”

And what is the mark? “The mark … is the observance of the first day of the week.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 117.

And what will the enforcement of the national Sunday law do to our church? “When the law of God is made void the church will be sifted by fiery trials, and a larger proportion than we now anticipate, will give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 368.

And what will happen to our nation? The Review and Herald, May 2, 1893: “The result of this apostasy will be national ruin.”

We see it all coming together. I believe as we have been told in Testimonies, vol. 5, 451, “The angel of mercy is about to take her flight, never to return.” “We may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.” Ibid.

Let me tell you friend, a storm is coming. May I ask you again that personal question, Is Christ on board your ship? When the storm breaks, will the Master ask, “Where is your faith?” Will you cringe in despair or will you be able to go to sleep at night just like Jesus in that little boat, without fear in a raging storm because His faith was in His God, His Father. God give us this kind of faith today is my prayer.

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. Though nothing could be found in his preaching that was contrary to the doctrines of the church he was considered divisive. Thus Keep the Faith Audio Tape Ministry was born.