In this life, many decisions have to be made. Sometimes we do not have a long time to make the decision. Often we have already made preliminary decisions, before the time comes to make a final decision.
Before a pilot or captain in an airliner takes off, many preliminary decisions are made. You have perhaps seen printouts being made so a pilot can study the weather along his or her flight route. And, of course, there are checklists to go through and instruments to check. Each step requires that preliminary decisions be made. But after a while, when the plane is on the runway rolling towards take off, the time comes when a final decision has to be made.
When that final decision is made, it is a go or no-go decision. As the end of the runway approaches, the decision must be made to take off or to abort the take off. So in all affairs of life; there come times when we have to make final decisions.
The Bible recognizes this fact and has a lot to say about it. One of the things that the Bible says about these final decisions is that very often when a person is making his final decision, he does not know it. God has arranged things this way so that people will make a decision based on what is really in their hearts and not on some external circumstance.
We see a number of stories in the Bible where something like this took place. For example, in Acts 24:25, we see the apostle Paul talking to a heathen ruler by the name of Felix. Felix actually was a very wicked man, but he was offered, like all other wicked people, salvation. The Lord was willing, if he was willing to repent and turn around, to forgive his sins and give him another chance so that he could have eternal life through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.
Paul preached to Felix about this, but notice his response. In Acts 24:25, it says, “Now as he [Paul] reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, ‘Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.’ ”
Felix was impressed that he was a wicked man and that he needed to repent of his sins and follow the Lord. But he loved his sins so much that he thought he wanted to enjoy them a while more. You know, there are many people in this world that have one or more darling sins, and they love those sins. They know they cannot go to heaven when they are committing those sins. But they say, I will enjoy them for a little while more, and then I will turn around; I will forsake sin at some future time. This is evidently what Felix was feeling. He said, It is not convenient for me right now to get ready for the judgment. There are some things in my life that I want to do first.
Do you know, that was Felix’s last opportunity for salvation. He made his final choice right then. He deliberately passed up his last chance for eternal life, because there were some darling sins in his life, and he wanted to hold on to them for a while longer. He did not want to get ready for the judgment right then.
Another story in the Bible tells about one of the most wicked men who had ever lived, yet the apostle Paul made an appeal to him. He was given the opportunity for salvation, but he too passed it up, and that was his last chance. He never had another opportunity. Paul talks about this meeting that he had with Nero, the Caesar. He says, “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and [that] all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” 11 Timothy 4:16, 17.
Nero was afraid to kill the apostle Paul right at that time. When he listened to the message, his heart was so under conviction that he could not condemn him, although he did condemn him to death later. But Nero, on that occasion, passed up his last chance for salvation.
The Bible talks about many people that passed up their last chance for salvation. Jesus told a story one time about the rich man and Lazarus, in Luke 16:19–31. This rich man was a person who believed that he belonged to the true church and that he would have salvation in the end. In the story Jesus told, the man not only did not have salvation but he had passed up his last chance for salvation. Never again would he have another opportunity to be saved.
A fact that every person needs to think about seriously is that every one of us at some time has our last chance to accept salvation. If we do not accept it at that point, we will never accept it. It will not be offered to us again, because we read, in Proverbs 1:24–33, “Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, When your terror comes like a storm, And your destruction comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the Lord, They would have none of my counsel [And] despised my every rebuke. Therefore, they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies. For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them; But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil.” The Lord says, You turned away. You would not listen. The result is that you are going to reap the consequences of your own ways.
Time is Limited
The prophet Isaiah makes an appeal to people to not turn away. In Isaiah 55:6, 7, he says, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”
There is a time when you may find salvation, but that time does not last forever. It is time limited, and at some point, if you turn your back on the Lord and you keep turning your back on the Lord, you will do it for the last time.
We are living in that age of the world when this is true, not just for individuals but for the entire world. Every one in the world will make a decision; they will make a final decision to go one way or the other. The whole world will be divided into two classes. Each class will be identified by a special mark.
Because of the seriousness of the time in which we live, a time when people would make a final decision that would result in eternal life or eternal death, God in the Bible gave special messages just for people that live in the last generation.
These special messages are recorded in symbolic language in Revelation 14:6–12. These symbolic messages are likened to angels whom fly in the midst of heaven, to take these messages to every single person in the world.
What is involved in accepting or rejecting the Three Angels’ Messages? A person’s acceptance or rejection of these messages will determine his or her eternal destiny.
Message of Judgment
Notice what it says in the first angel’s message, Revelation 14:6, 7. “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”
There are several vital points in the first angel’s message. First of all, it says that this angel has “the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth.” Nothing can save you, friend, except the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.
What is the gospel? The gospel has two parts. You can read about it in Romans or Galatians, or you can read about it in the stories of Jesus. The first part is the blood of Christ, which cleanses a person from the guilt of sin and offers a pardon. But it is not enough to be pardoned. It is not enough to be forgiven. It is not enough to drink the blood. It is also necessary to eat the bread, to receive the life of Christ into our lives.
Jesus talked about this in John 6. We receive His life by receiving the Holy Spirit and putting to death the carnal or sinful nature, as Paul said in Romans 6:2. We are to die to sin. Paul told the Galatians that as many as are Christ’s, they have crucified the flesh with the passions and affections. (Galatians 5:24.)
Oh, friend, have you had this experience? Have you experienced the gospel? No matter what else you have; no matter how much you know; no matter what you do; unless you have died to self, unless you have received the Holy Spirit and you are dead to sin and are following in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, your religion will end up being in vain.
The gospel is not just a belief system; it is a way of life whereby a person receives the Holy Spirit and lives and walks in newness of life, in harmony with God’s Law. As you can read in 1 John 3 or John 8 or Romans 8, you must receive the whole gospel, if you are going to survive the last generation.
Most of the world’s population will not survive. The vast majority will be deceived and lost, because they believe in what they see more than they believe in God’s Holy Word. But this message of the first angel is not just about the gospel. It is also an announcement that while the gospel is being preached, the hour of God’s judgment is come. God is judging the world!
Law of Liberty
Friend, we are living in the time when that is happening. One of the most important things to understand about the judgment is how you are going to be judged. It says in James 2 that we are to be judged from the law of liberty. What this law is, is made very clear and plain in the very same passage. The sixth and the seventh commandments are quoted, and it is that law, called the law of liberty, by which we will be judged.
It is not hard to understand that the Ten Commandments are called the law of liberty. For instance, if everyone kept just the eighth commandment that says, “You shall not steal,” everybody would be free. You would not have to lock your house, your car, or anything else—if there were no thieves in the world. God’s Law brings liberty.
The judgment is on the basis of God’s law. That is, God’s Law is the standard for the judgment. Your life in the judgment will be compared with the Law of God. If your life is in harmony with God’s Law, you will receive the gift of salvation. But if it is not in harmony with God’s Law, as you read in Revelation 22:15, then you will not be saved at all.
We are living in that most stupendous, serious time in earth’s history when people’s lives are being compared with the Law of God.
A Second Angel
The first angel’s message is followed by another angel, a second angel. God knew in advance that the great majority of the people in this world would not harmonize their lives with His Law, and He predicted what will happen. Remember this was written almost 2,000 years ago, but it is happening in our time.
In Revelation 14:8, we read: “And another angel followed, saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’ ”
Who is that? Well, it refers to her as a woman. A woman in Bible prophecy represents a church, as you can see in 11 Corinthians 11 or Jeremiah 6, or the Song of Solomon, or Ephesians 5 or many other Scriptures. A woman represents a church. But this is not a pure church. This is a harlot, a fallen church. This is also called a city, a city that rules over the kings of the earth.
In addition, this city, this church, this woman, this harlot is referred to as a power that rules over the nations and makes all nations drink of her wine, of her teachings. It is talking about spiritual wine, but what is spiritual wine? The Bible tells us in Isaiah 29:9, 13, 14: “Pause and wonder! Blind yourselves and be blind! They are drunk, but not with wine; They stagger, but not with intoxicating drink.” “Therefore the Lord said: ‘Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men, Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work Among this people, A marvelous work and a wonder; For the wisdom of their wise [men] shall perish, And the understanding of their prudent [men] shall be hidden.’ ”
We see here that spiritual wine involves teaching people to worship God, to serve God according to the commandments of men. That is the wine of Babylon. If you drink this wine and follow it, you will receive the wrath of God, because as Jesus said, in Matthew 15, people through the traditions of men make the commandments of God of none effect. They say they are keeping it, but if you look at what the commandment says, by the time they have kept the commandments of men, the traditions of men, they have broken the commandments of God. You see, you cannot keep both.
Come Out of Her
So what is the result? The result is recorded in Revelation 18:1–4. “After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.’ And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.’ ”
A terrible condition of the religious world is here described. As a result of drinking this wine—the traditions, the commandments of men—the world has sinned against the Lord. Concerning Babylon, it says, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.”
Sin, 1 John 3:4 tells us, is breaking God’s Law. By the commandments of men the commandments of God are made of none effect. If you associate with a group of people who are deliberately breaking any one of the Ten Commandments, eventually you are going to participate with them. If you participate with them in sin, you will participate with them also in receiving the plagues of God which are going to be poured out on Babylon, as you can read in Revelation 15 and 16.
One Final Warning
If the warning of the second angel is not enough to wake a person up, there is one final warning. This final warning will separate the wheat from the tares. It will separate the whole religious world into two classes. This final warning is the warning of the third angel given in Revelation 14:9–12. “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives [his] mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.’ Here is the patience of the saints; here [are] those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”
Notice that the third angel warns people against worshiping the antichrist power. That is the beast power described in Revelation 13:1–10, the same as the little horn power described in Daniel 7 or the man of sin described in 11 Thessalonians 2. Also, men are prohibited, forbidden in this message to worship the image of the antichrist or to receive the mark of the antichrist.
The identifying mark of the antichrist power is spelled out very explicitly in Daniel 7:25. It (the antichrist power) will attempt to change times and laws. The one who receives this mark will end up, it says, receiving the wrath of God. God does not pour out His wrath on anybody without due cause. But the mark of the antichrist involves a deliberate breaking of the Law of God.
In Romans 2:8, it is made very plain that the people that receive the wrath of God are those that obey unrighteousness—not those that do what is right or follow God’s Word. To receive the wrath of God, a person must first obey unrighteous-ness. But what is unrighteousness? “All unrighteousness is sin.” 1 John 5:17.
So obeying unrighteousness means sinning, and sinning is transgressing God’s Law. (See 1 John 3:4.) If you put these three texts together, you can see very clearly that receiving the mark of the beast involves sinning against God, breaking His Law—breaking His Law as mentioned in Daniel 7:25, a deliberate attempt to change times and law. Read the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:3–17. See what it says about time, and examine and see how the religious world today has changed the times that God has given.
You cannot change something that God has given. You cannot adjust something that God has given. The Bible says do not change or add or take anything away from what God has done lest ye be found to be a liar. (See Deuteronomy 12:32; Proverbs 30:6.)
In contrast to the people that receive the mark of the beast, right at the end of the third angel’s message there is revealed the people that listen to the message and are saved. Who they are and how they are described is seen in Revelation 14:12: “Here is the patience of the saints; here [are] those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”
There you have it, friends; it is spelled out in Revelation over and over again. The ones that lose out at the end are those that break God’s Law. The ones that are accepted and receive the gift of eternal life and get to go through the gates into the city are those that keep God’s Law.
The question is, What are you going to do with that information? Are you going to accept it, repent of your sins and say, Lord, create in me a new heart? Are you going to miss your last chance? The choice is yours.
Pastor Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life Ministry and pastor of the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.