I believe that the time of trouble is right around the corner for God’s people. God’s people should not be afraid of the time of trouble. When I was a little boy, I used to have nightmares about the time of trouble. I have found out since, that when you know the Lord Jesus Christ, you do not need to worry about the time of trouble. It is during this time that Michael is going to stand up to protect God’s people.
We are going to study about the persecution of God’s people. Second Timothy 3:12 tells us that, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Is persecution of God’s people something new? No, it has been going on for thousands of years, but there is going to be a time of trouble that is going to come upon God’s people that is going to be worse than any persecution that has ever taken place. Have you heard about what happened to God’s people during the Dark Ages, about how the early Christians were fed to the lions?
“In every age since the fall of Adam the opposition of evil agencies has made the lives of those who would be loyal and true to God’s commandments a continual warfare. Those who would at last be victorious must meet and conquer the forces of Satan, who with fierce determination opposes every step of advance. They must meet a vigilant foe, a crafty enemy who never sleeps and who tries untiringly to undermine the faith of God’s servants.” In Heavenly Places, 260. Do you know what it means when it speaks of undermining the faith of God’s servants? It means to discourage them. If that does not work, then there is an effort to undermine the work God’s servants are doing.
I believe that one of the master strokes of Satan in recent memory has been the Waco tragedy. Because that fanatical group had a tie-in with the Seventh-day Adventist Church some sixty years ago, the structure is now trying to show them to be an example of what takes place when groups separate from the organized structure, thereby casting reproach upon all independent ministries. I believe this was a master stroke of Satan to tie in anyone who dares, in 1993, to stand for the truth, with the group in Waco. Perry Parks, the president of the Montana Conference, immediately following the disbanding of the Troy, Montana Church said that the only difference between the Troy Church and Waco is that the Troy group had no guns.
Let me tell you; any man who would be so vile and low, who would stoop to compare the Historic Adventist independent ministries with the fanatical group in Waco, is absolutely devoid of all honesty. Cyril Miller, the Southwestern Union Conference president made the statement that the independent ministries and those responsible for the billboards have the potential of being more dangerous than the group in Waco had.
Satan has worked though his agents to agitate, to bring reproach upon the cause of God. We have been told that this is exactly what we are to be faced with in the last days, and we have not seen anything yet. There will be more reproach brought upon the truth and those who dare to stand for truth, than anything we have yet seen.
Let me assure you that there is no peace between truth and error. “The antagonism that exists between the spirit of Christ and the spirit of Satan was most strikingly displayed in the world’s reception of Jesus. It was not so much because He appeared without worldly wealth, pomp, or grandeur that the Jews were led to reject Him. They saw that He possessed power which would more than compensate for the lack of these outward advantages. But the purity and holiness of Christ called forth against Him the hatred of the ungodly.” The Great Controversy, 506. This is why Jesus was hated, for no other reason. “His life of self-denial and sinless devotion was a perpetual reproof to a proud, sensual people. It was this that evoked enmity against the Son of God. Satan and evil angels joined with evil men. All the energies of apostasy conspired against the Champion of truth.” Ibid.
What is apostasy? When you hold to a religious belief and later backslide from it and renounce what you once believe, that is apostasy. So, in the last days, we see that Satan is going to use the energies of apostasy. Now, does this mean that he is going to use people of other churches against Seventh-day Adventists? In order to be an apostate Adventist, you must have once been an Adventist and have backslidden. This does not necessarily mean you will no longer call yourself a Seventh-Day Adventist, because if you did that, you could not do as much damage. No, these people will still call themselves Seventh-day Adventists. They will still attend Seventh-day Adventist churches, but they will be suing people they do not like, and they will not believe what true Seventh-day Adventists have believed for one hundred and fifty years.
“The same enmity is manifested toward Christ’s followers as was manifested toward their Master. Whoever sees the repulsive character of sin, and in strength from above resists temptation, will assuredly arouse the wrath of Satan and his subjects. Hatred of the pure principles of truth, and reproach and persecution of its advocates, will exist as long as sin and sinners remain. The followers of Christ and the servants of Satan cannot harmonize. The offense of the cross has not ceased. ‘All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.’ 2 Timothy 3:12.” The Great Controversy, 507
Please do not waste your time, folks, calling me and suggesting a meeting with the conference men to try to reconcile. Can we reconcile? Folks, I am sorry. When the Waldensian Christians were persecuted, when God’s faithful people down through the ages who have been persecuted were approached by those who wanted to work out a compromise, they responded by telling them that when they would forsake their false doctrines and separate from sin, they would gladly embrace them; but as long as they insisted on being joined to falsehood, there was no purpose in talking.
Friends, do not think that some of the independent ministries are unwilling to reconcile. Oh, we are! We want to be reconciled with the corporate structure, and if they would be willing to get the Pentecostalism, the New Age spiritualism and the Neuro-linguistic programming of our pastors out of the church and ask for forgiveness, we would get on with preaching the three angel’s messages together. There cannot, however, be reconciliation over falsehood.
“All who in that evil day would fearlessly serve God according to the dictates of conscience, will need courage, firmness, and a knowledge of God and his word; for those who are true to God will be persecuted, their motives will be impugned, their best efforts misinterpreted, and their names cast out as evil.” The Acts of the Apostles, 431. We cannot be timid in the last days. We can no longer warm the pews. “No longer consent to listen without protest to the perversion of truth.” Selected Messages, book 1, 196. You are not going to obtain courage and firmness unless you are reading and studying.
God always divides His people up into two groups, and this is happening right now. There are no longer any gray areas; things are becoming black and white.
“He [Satan] is now preparing for his last campaign against the church. All who seek to follow Jesus will be brought into conflict with this relentless foe. The more nearly the Christian imitates the divine Pattern, the more surely will he make himself a mark for the attacks of Satan.” The Great Controversy, 510
Have you heard of the carrot and the stick routine? First of all, the person trying to conform you to his idea hangs the carrot out—something you like—and an attempt is made to entice you to conform to his idea. If you do not go for that, then the stick is brought out; and if you still do not conform, he will hit you with the stick. It is a method of Satan.
“As the movement for Sunday enforcement becomes more bold and decided, the law will be invoked against commandment keepers. They will be threatened with fines and imprisonment, and some will be offered positions of influence, and other rewards and advantages, as inducements to renounce their faith.” Ibid., 607
I do not know how the devil will try to use the carrot on you, but just as he offered to Jesus all of the kingdoms of this world if He would but bow down and worship him, he will come to you, offering you advantages to be gained by compromise. Just as the alternative to accepting the bribe was death, so in the last days, if you remain faithful, expect betrayal from your fellow Adventists. “Those who apostatize in time of trial, will, to secure their own safety, bear false witness, and betray their brethren. Christ has warned us of this, that we may not be surprised at the unnatural, cruel course of those who reject the light.” The Desire of Ages, 630
I believe that The Great Controversy does more to prepare God’s people than any other book.
“When He leaves the sanctuary, darkness covers the inhabitants of the earth. In the fearful time, the righteous must live in the sight of a holy God without an intercessor.” The Great Controversy, 614
Now what does it mean to live without an intercessor? It mans that we must have allowed Christ to give us victory over all sin in our life.
“The restraint which has been upon the wicked is removed, and Satan has entire control of the finally impenitent. God’s long-suffering has ended. The world has rejected His mercy, despised His love, and trampled upon His law. The wicked have passed the boundary of their probation; the Spirit of God, persistently resisted, has been at last withdrawn. Unsheltered by divine grace, they have no protection from the wicked one. Satan will then plunge the inhabitants of the earth into one great, final trouble. As the angels of God cease to hold in check the fierce winds of human passion, all the elements of strife will be let loose. The whole world will be involved in ruin more terrible than that which came upon Jerusalem of old.” Ibid.
Do you realize that in A.D. 69, when Cestius had surrounded Jerusalem problems were encountered in the homeland and the Romans suddenly withdrew? This was a sign that had been given by Jesus nearly forty years earlier. The Christians, following Jesus’ instructions, fled from the city and not one lost. The following year, Titus, another Roman general, again surrounded the city. Rather than attack the city, Titus resolved to starve the people out. Eventually things got so bad that people would try to slip out of the city gates at night just to find some grass to eat. If they were caught by the Romans, they were crucified in the area surrounding the city. It finally became so bad that the Roman soldiers had difficulty moving among the crosses, they had become so numerous. And, if they managed to escape the Romans and get back into the city, the people were killed by their own countrymen for the grass they had risked their lives to obtain.
Here, we read, however, that when God’s presence is finally withdrawn from the earth, it is going to be more terrible than that which came upon Jerusalem of old. Can we really fathom how terrible this world will be?
But even though God’s presence is withdrawn from the world, it is not withdrawn from His people. His presence is never withdrawn from His people.
“Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.” Revelation 18:8
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” Matthew 24:22, This means that it will be worse than any other persecution that has ever come upon this earth. Are we really ready for this? It comes right down to your Christian experience and how much you depend upon the Lord Jesus Christ, because if you depend upon Him enough, then you will be able to stand, and this is the only way that you will be able to stand.
Do God’s people suffer during this time?
“The people of God will not be free from suffering; but while persecuted and distressed, while they endure privation and suffer for want of food, they will not be left to perish. That God who cared for Elijah will not pass by one of His self-sacrificing children. He who numbers the hairs of their head will care for them, and in time of famine they shall be satisfied. While the wicked are dying from hunger and pestilence, angels will shield the righteous and supply their wants. To him that ‘walketh righteously’ is the promise: ‘Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.’” The Great Controversy, 629
“Some were denouncing God and cursing Him. Others rushed to the people of God and begged to be taught how they might escape His judgments. But the saints had nothing for them.” Early Writings, 281. Why are the saints unwilling to help? It is because probation has closed. “The last tear for sinners had been shed, the last agonizing prayer offered, the last burden borne, the last warning given. The sweet voice of mercy was no more to invite them. When the saints, and all heaven, were interested for their salvation, they had no interest for themselves. Life and death had been set before them. Many desired life, but made no effort to obtain it. They did not choose life, and now there was no atoning blood to cleanse the guilty, no compassionate Saviour to plead for them, and cry, ‘Spare, spare the sinner a little longer.’” Ibid.
We hear about the time of trouble, and then we hear about a special part of this time of trouble know as Jacob’s time of trouble. During Jacob’s night of wrestling, through the entire time he was struggling, he feared that his sin had not been forgiven. Though he had confessed and repented, he feared that he had not obtained forgiveness. During this time of trouble, God’s people realize that there is no more forgiveness for sins. There is the awful realization that they are either saved, or lost, and that the plan of salvation is over. They will also be concerned as to whether they failed to do anything during the time of salvation. They will realize that should they fail, God will be dishonored, and this will bring a torture of mind we do not now comprehend. Though it is a terrible ordeal for God’s people, it is a time for them to look up in faith. The person who has in these times of relative peace and prosperity developed perfect faith in God, will not then be as severely tried as those who have failed to gain this experience.
Right now the Lord is allowing trials and troubles to come to us to develop the faith we will need to stand in the final time of the great test. God wants us to learn to live moment by moment in perfect peace because of our confidence in Him.
“When Christ shall cease His work as mediator in man’s behalf, then this time of trouble will begin. Then the case of every soul will have been decided, and there will be no atoning blood to cleanse from sin.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 201
Friends, we must get our eyes off of the things of this world and no longer allow the things that people are saying against us, or the problems that come against us in our daily lives, to bother us, but to turn them over to the Lord. We have to give up the concern that we have, that if we turn it over to the Lord, it may not turn out as we want it to.
“As Satan influenced Esau to march against Jacob, so he will stir up the wicked to destroy God’s people in the time of trouble. And as he accused Jacob, he will urge his accusations against the people of God. He numbers the world as his subjects; but the little company who keep the commandments of God are resisting his supremacy. If he could blot them from the earth, his triumph would be complete. He sees that holy angels are guarding them, and he infers that their sins have been pardoned; but he does not know that their cases have been decided in the sanctuary above. He has an accurate knowledge of the sins which he has tempted them to commit, and he presents these before God in the most exaggerated light, representing this people to be just as deserving as himself of exclusion from the favor of God. He declares that the Lord cannot in justice forgive their sins and yet destroy him and his angels. He claims them as his prey and demands that they be given into his hands to destroy.
“As Satan accuses the people of God on account of their sins, the Lord permits him to try them to the uttermost. Their confidence in God, their faith and firmness, will be severely tested. As they review the past, their hopes sink; for in their whole lives they can see little good. They are fully conscious of their weakness and unworthiness. Satan endeavors to terrify them with the thought that their cases are hopeless, that the stain of their defilement will never be washed away. He hopes so to destroy their faith that they will yield to his temptations and turn from their allegiance to God.
“Though God’s people will be surrounded by enemies who are bent upon their destruction, yet the anguish which they suffer is not a dread of persecution for the truth’s sake; they fear that every sin has not been repented of, and that through some fault in themselves they will fail to realize the fulfillment of the Saviour’s promise: ‘I will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world.’ Revelation 3:10. If they could have the assurance of pardon, they would not shrink from torture of death; but should they prove unworthy, and lose their lives because of their own defects of character, then God’s holy name would be reproached.” The Great Controversy, 618,619
When Moses saw the great apostasy of the people of Israel in the wilderness when they worshipped the golden calf, he chose rather to die himself than to have the people destroyed and bring reproach upon God. This is the concern that people of God will have for the honor of God’s name in these trying times.
“Those who exercise but little faith now, are in the greatest danger of falling under the power of satanic delusions and the decree to compel the conscience. And even if they endure the test, they will be plunged into deeper distress and anguish in the time of trouble, because they have never made it a habit to trust in God. The lessons of faith which they have neglected they will be force to learn under a terrible pressure of discouragement.” The Great Controversy, 622
Are you ready to give God every portion of your life? Are you ready to say, “Lord, prepare me for the time of trouble. Help me to be willing to give these little things that happen to me every day, over to You and to learn to trust You implicitly”? If we cannot in confidence do this now, we will not be able to stand in the time of trouble which all of God’s faithful must soon meet.