In the 1888 General Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a tremendous controversy arose. Speaking about what took place there, Ellen White said: “In Minneapolis God gave precious gems of truth to His people in new settings. This light from heaven by some was rejected with all the stubbornness the Jews manifested in rejecting Christ, and there was much talk about standing by the old landmarks.” Counsels to Writers and Editors, 30. Do you know what a landmark is? If you live out in the country, you probably have stakes marking the corners of your property that show where your property ends and someone else’s begins. That is a landmark in the earthly sense. During these meetings there was a great deal of controversy over landmarks—the spiritual landmarks or the pillars of our faith. Sister White said, “But there was evidence they knew not what the old landmarks were. There was evidence and there was reasoning from the Word that commended itself to the conscience; but the minds of men were fixed, sealed against the entrance of light, because they had decided it was a dangerous error removing the ‘old landmarks,’ when it was not moving a peg of the old landmarks, but they had perverted ideas of what constituted the old landmarks.” Ibid. She was talking here about the Editor of the Review and Herald, the President of the General Conference and some others. What are the landmarks that should not be removed? Mrs. White made this clear in the same message: “The passing of the time in 1844 was a period of great events, opening to our astonished eyes the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having a decided relation to God’s people upon earth, [also] the first and second angels’ messages and the third (angels messages), unfurling the banner on which was inscribed ‘The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’ One of the landmarks under this message was the temple of God, seen by His truth-loving people in heaven, and the ark containing the law of God. The light of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment flashed its strong rays in the pathway of the transgressors of God’s law. The nonimmortality of the wicked is an old landmark.” Ibid.
Continuing to talk about the situation in 1888 she said, “Now at the present time God designs a new and fresh impetus shall be given to His work. Satan sees this, and he is determined it shall be hindered. He knows that if he can deceive the people who claim to believe present truth, [and make them believe that] the work the Lord designs to do for His people is the removing of the old landmarks, something which they should, with most determined zeal, resist, then he exults over the deception he has led them to believe . . . That which is food to the churches is regarded as dangerous, and should not be given them. And this slight difference of ideas is allowed to unsettle the faith, to cause apostasy, to break up unity, to sew discord, all because they do not know what they are striving about themselves.” Ibid., 31.
The Three Angels ’ Messages
The landmarks that were mentioned are: the truth about the sanctuary and its cleansing, the Sabbath of the Ten Commandments (See Revelation 11:19), the Three Angels’ Messages (See Revelation 14:6–12), and the nonimmortality of the soul. The Three Angels’ Messages then, are one of the “old landmarks” and thus need to be clearly understood by God’s people.
The First Angel’s Message is an announcement that the hour of God’s judgment, is come. (See Revelation 14:6, 7.) The devil does not like that. He is trying to persuade people that they do not need to worry about the judgement, so that they will be lost. But the Bible says that it is here, and cannot be avoided, so we need to be prepared.
The Second Angel’s Message, in verse eight, announces that Babylon has fallen. Babylon here is described both as a city and as a woman. A woman, in Bible prophecy, represents a church. (See Jeremiah 6; 2 Corinthians 11; Song of Solomon 6; Ezekiel 23.)
The Third Angel’s Message in verses 9–12 is the focal point of the entire last half of the book of Revelation. It warns against worshipping the beast (who is clearly identified and described in Revelation 13:1–10) and receiving his mark. It further describes the people who receive this message and act on it. They are described as the people of God who keep the commandments and have the faith of Jesus.
In this article I would like to study four central features of the Three Angels’ Messages:
- The Three Angels’ Messages are a special message to the people who live at the end of the world.
Revelation 19 contains one of the most dramatic descriptions of the Second Coming of Christ found in the Bible. He is described as riding on a white horse and wearing a robe dipped in blood.His name is called The Word of God, and the armies in heaven follow Him. (See Revelation 19:11–14.) As the leader of this great army, He comes to confront the united force that is arrayed against Him, as described in Revelation 19:19–21: “And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worship his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.” This is the war of Armageddon.
The Three Angels’ Messages are especially for the last generation that lives on the earth. If you accept the three angels’ messages and become part of God’s people who keep the commandments, you will obtain eternal life. But if you reject the Third Angel’s Message and receive the mark of the beast or worship the image of the beast, you will lose eternal life. “And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.” Revelation 19:21.
All of the wicked will drink of the wine of the wrath of God. What is the wine of the wrath of God? Revelation 15:1 says, “Then I saw another sign in heaven great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues for in them the wrath of God is complete.” If you receive the mark of the beast, you will receive the seven last plagues. You will be part of the group that decides to fight the Lord when He comes in the clouds of heaven, and you will be destroyed.
Power to Overcome
- If you receive the Three Angels’ Messages and accept them, you will, through the power of the Holy Spirit, keep the commandments of God. That is the dividing line, in the last generation, between those who are saved and those who are lost. People say, “Oh, but Pastor John, I can’t keep the law.” Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5. And Paul added, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.
One of the main reasons for the gift of the Holy Spirit is to give you power so that you can keep all of God’s law. If you ask, you will receive the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit will give you the power to keep God’s law. (See Luke 11:13.)
This is one of the most exciting things in the world to see happen. I have seen miracles take place in the lives of prisoner’s who were slaves to the vilest sins. Their thoughts, words and actions were all changed and their lives came into harmony with God’s law. What excuse do we have for not overcoming? If God can transform the lives of the men and women I have seen, he can change you! The Bible says that in the day of final judgment the people who are lost will be speechless because they will not have any excuse, the evidence will be overwhelming that they could have been saved.
- Prophecy makes it very clear that almost all of the world will reject the Three Angels’ Messages. I am told very frequently, “But Pastor John, I’m the only one in my family who believes this message. Everyone else thinks I am crazy.” If this is the way you feel, do not be discouraged; just remember that God’s people have always been a small minority. In the last days, only a small group will accept God’s way, the majority will reject the final warning and be lost.
Look at what Satan will do to ensnare them: “And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived . . . He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads.” Revelation 13:14, 16. This work of deception is very successful. Notice what it will be like when Jesus comes back: “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, ‘Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” Revelation 19:17.
Almost the entire world will reject the Three Angels’ Messages, and in the process of rejecting it they will seal their doom. That is why all through the New Testament it is predicted that when Jesus comes back again, the whole world will mourn. Why are they going to mourn? Because they have received the mark of the beast, worshipped his image and they are not ready to meet the Lord. While the saints are rejoicing (See 2 Thessalonians 1), most of the world will be weeping and wailing at their great loss.
A Great Deception
- They will reject the Three Angels’ Messages because of the great deceptions that the evil spirits bring on the world. What are these great deceptions? The Bible predicts that one of them will be a great development of spiritualism within Christianity. This spiritualism, disguised with the garb of Christianity, will be accepted by many people who will not even recognize what it really is. This prophecy is being fulfilled right now in Christian churches everywhere. Does this surprise you? It has been clearly predicted in the Bible: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! for Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” 2 Corinthians 11:13–15.
Can you tell the difference between a preacher of righteousness and a preacher of unrighteousness? If you cannot tell the difference, you are going to be deceived. Think it through. A preacher of righteousness will never come to you if you are living in fornication, adultery, abusing your body or breaking God’s law in any way and tell you to rejoice and be happy and praise the Lord because you will be saved! A preacher of righteousness will never do that! Any preacher that tries to make you happy and joyful while you are living in sin is a preacher of the devil and leading you straight to hell. Do not misunderstand me. God created human beings for happiness and He wants you to be joyful, but here is the catch. The Bible says that it is impossible to have true happiness if you are breaking God’s law. And the devil has been trying to disprove that for thousands of years, but it is still true.
People are in all kinds of sin and so they are depressed. When they go to church they need to find out how their sins and guilt can be taken away so they can receive power from the Holy Spirit to live a new life. But when they come to church, instead of hearing how to overcome, the preacher tells them to be joyful, sing, clap, wave and be happy. They get the drums and the music going and everyone gets an emotional “high,” but they are still in sin! And if you are in sin, you are on the way to eternal destruction. People are getting a “high” when they go to church, but no one has told them about confessing, repenting and forsaking their sins. They just say, “You are forgiven.” The devil is anesthetizing people today so that they are walking down the path that leads to destruction. They are clapping, dancing and singing their way to destruction.
Why do people reject the Three Angels’ Messages? Because of the deceptions of the spirits. I have just pointed out one of the big deceptions, but there are others. One of them is found in Revelation 16:13, 14: “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming 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 spirits of demons performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”
The majority of the people in the world in the last days will be deceived because they believe what they see. The devil will perform many undeniable miracles and they will be swept off their feet.
I believe in miracles, but Jesus never ever asked anyone to believe that He was the Messiah because He worked miracles. In Matthew 4:3 we read how the devil tempted Jesus and asked Him to work a miracle to prove that He was the Messiah. This was a terrible temptation because Jesus could have done it. He could have spoken and instantly every stone in sight would have turned into a loaf of bread, but He would not do it. There is a moral principle involved here. Your faith is never to be based on miracle working. Jesus would not appease the devil by working a miracle. “But he answered and said, It is written, man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4.
Jesus could have avoided being crucified by working a miracle. “Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him. Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing.” Luke 23:8, 9. Jesus would not work a miracle even to avoid going to the cross.
In John 4 the story is recorded of a man who came to Jesus because his son was at the point of death. He appealed to Jesus to heal his son, but in his mind he said, “If Jesus heals my son, then I will know that He is the Messiah.” Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.” John 4:48. Instead of instantly healing his son, Jesus rebuked him because he was looking for miracles as a basis for his faith.
If your faith is based on miracles or what you can see, you will be deceived. You have to test every miracle that you see by the Bible. Remember what Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
There will be a small group of people who decide to live by every word in the Bible and they will live in harmony with God’s law. They are called the saints. The word “saint” comes from a Greek word that means a holy person. Paul said that God’s “law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” Romans 7:12. A holy person is one whose life is in harmony with God’s law. An unholy person is one that breaks God’s law. “Here are the patience of the saints. Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12.
If you decide that you will live by every word that proceeds out of God’s mouth, you will not depend upon what you can see or hear. You will depend on what is written in God’s Book. If you do this, God promises that no plague will come nigh your dwelling. (Psalms 91:10.) God is looking for loyal people and numbers do not matter to Him. It is quality that counts with the Lord. If you want to be one of those people described in Revelation 14:12, you can be. All you need to do is make the right decision. Jesus says, “If you confess Me before men, I will confess you before My Father in heaven.”
There are many voices for you to listen to if you want to, but choose to listen to the still small voice that says, “This is the way, walk in it.” Walk in the way of God’s commandments. Walk in the way of His Word. Do not worry about what all your friends, associates, relatives or other people are doing. Choose today to walk in the way of God’s commandments.