The Teachings of John Chrysostom

One of the early church leaders, later claimed to be one of the later church fathers, was John Chrysostom. Like others who, in the passage of time, have been claimed as “father” of the church, but whose lives and teachings were a rebuke to the church of their time, Chrysostom, even in his day, recognized the importance of understanding the true nature of the church.

Born in A.D. 350, Chrysostom is best known for his Christian preaching. An eloquent teacher, he became the bishop of the church at Constantinople in 398. Later, expelled from his bishopric and relegated into misery, suffering much ignominy, he was eventually banished. Though later released, he died not long after, in 408, as a result of the hardship and trials that he had been forced to endue. By imperial edict, those Christians who followed his teachings were greatly persecuted. At that time, the state sponsored church required of all that they attend their services. Those who chose to follow the principles taught by John refused to do so. Instead of listening to their enemies, they would gather in a secluded meeting place on the farthest outskirts of the city. They were constantly watched, however; and when their place of meeting was discovered, a report was quickly taken to the authorities. A squad of soldiers would be promptly sent to the place; and with sticks and stones, they would disperse the meeting, robbing those who had assembled of their goods and apprehending such as could not make their escape. Finding it impossible to hold public meetings of any kind, they chose voluntary banishment.

Theologians believe that they know a great deal about Chrysostom, as some of his teachings and exhortations have been preserved and passed down to us. From them we learn that he not only understood the coming of the spirit of antichrist within the professed church, but the nature of the true church of Christ.

We know that he taught against cruelty, tyranny, war, and bloodshed, maintaining that it is altogether improper for Christians to wage war and that peace and quiet are to be taught in the kingdom of Christ. “Christ,” he says, “compels not, drives not away, oppresses not, but accords to each his free will, saying: ‘If any man will.’”

Expounding on Matthew 13, he explained that the tares (to which the heretics were compared) are not to be rooted out; for, speaking of them, he said, “Christ spoke for the purpose of preventing and forbidding war and bloodshed; no violence is to be employed in heavenly things. The wicked teachings which have proceeded from heretics are to be reprehended and anathematized, but the man we must spare.”

He also opposed worshipping saints, saying, “God is not like the tyrants with whom intercession is necessary.: Concerning Matthew 23, he taught, “With human doctrines we serve God in vain, that there is no other testimony of the truth, no other certain test of heresy than the Holy Scriptures, and no other way by which we may know which is the Christian Church.”

Chrysostom believed that, “When the Roman Empire shall be put down, then shall antichrist come.” Speaking on Matthew 224, he said, “He speaks not unreasonably, who by the abomination of desolation understands antichrist, who it is thought will shortly afterward rise and occupy the holy place of the church, under the name of Christ.” With regard to II Thessalonians 2, he said, “When the Empire shall be waste and vacant, then antichrist shall occupy it and endeavor to draw to him the kingdom of God and men.” Further, on Matthew 24, he said; “Beloved, be not moved when antichrist does the works of Christ and in the sight of Christians performs all the offices of Christ; for Satan himself can transform himself into an angel of light. What wonder then, that his servants assume the garb of servants of righteousness and a semblance of Christianity.”

Chrysostom also taught, “The Jewish abomination is to be understood as having reference not only to the Jewish war, but in a spiritual sense, also to antichrist, who in the last times shall sit in the holy place occupying the chief places of the church and leading the souls of men away from God. This is very likely the one of whom Paul says; ‘He shall oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God showing himself that he is God.’ He, standing in the Holy Place, has laid waste the church of God with multitudes of heresies.”

Chrysostom also understood the importance of understanding the true nature of the church, and that a failure to do so could prove disastrous in the experience of the believer. “Since the Lord Jesus knew what great destruction would come in the last days. He commanded that the Christians who are in Christendom, if they would always continue in the true faith, should resort only to the Holy Scriptures; for if they would look to other things, they would be offended and corrupted and not understand what the true church is; and, in that way, fall into that horrible abomination which sitteth in the holy place of the church.”

Like others of the early Christian teachers who lived during the time of the development of the great apostasy in Christianity, Chrysostom did not understand all things. There are some points on which he was mistaken, but it is amazing how many points of prophecy in Christianity about which he had a clear understanding.

Another early church leader, who, like Chrysostom, understood the prophecies to point to the rise of the antichrist within the professed church of Christ, was Jerome. Of the antichrist, Jerome said, “And do we not know that the coming of antichrist is nigh at hand? He shall sit in the temple of God, that is to say, in Jerusalem, or in the church, as I apprehended with more truth. Antichrist shall war against the heathen and overcome them.” Jerome understood the spiritual nature of Christ’s kingdom and taught that it was not the place of the church to compel the conscience. He said that he who is spiritual never persecutes him who is carnal. “I have learned,” said he, “from the command of the apostles to avoid a heretic, but not to burn him. Christ came not to smite, but to be smitten. He who is smitten follows Christ; but he who smites, follows antichrist.”

Concerning the Lord’s Supper, he said that “with this bread, Christ intended to prefigure, represent, and show the truth of His body.” In many places, he calls the cup a figure of the blood.

Regarding Matthew 16, he taught that the priests have no more power or just as little power to bind or to loose as the priests of the Old Testament had to pronounce lepers clean or unclean. The words of the priests made them neither clean nor unclean, but simply indicated who, according to the law of Moses, was leprous and who was not. He believed that, in like manner, according to the law of Christ, it only devolved upon the priest to pronounce whose sins are retained and whose are forgiven.

Concerning the nature of the church, he taught that the Roman Church was not to be esteemed more highly than the church of the whole world, regardless of where it might be found, but that each was to worship one Christ and have One Ruler or Teacher of the truth. This he understood to constitute the true church of God on earth.

Martin Luther, part III – Luther Stands Firm Before The Council

When he nailed his theses on the door of the church at Wittenberg, Luther acted without a plan, a fact that he later admitted. He was acting upon what he believed to be his duty of the moment, without thought that the sound of his hammer would resound throughout Christianity for years to come, toppling the throne of the pontiff that, as of yet, he professed to revere. At the time, Luther’s great concern was that his flock at Wittenberg not be ensnared by Tetzel’s indulgences. Little did he dream that by the action that he was taking he would arouse the opposition that was soon to be manifest.

The theses spread with the rapidity of lightning. A month had not elapsed before they had arrived in Rome and, in as little time, they had been circulated throughout all of Christendom. A response was not lacking. The widespread interest that they aroused greatly increased the fears of the papal authorities, and Luther received a summons to appear in Rome within sixty days to answer the charge of heresy. In spite of the rising storm of opposition, however, Luther was unmoved. Though he stood alone, he was ready to stand on his theses. He had thrown down the gage, and he would not decline the battle. Luther’s friends, fearing greatly for his safety, petitioned the elector to have the case heard in Germany; and a hearing was eventually arranged in Augsburg.

Before Luther’s lodging in Augsburg, the Italian courtier, Urban of Serra Longa, presented himself. He made unbounded professions of friendship for the doctor of Wittenberg and had come, he said, “to give hi a piece of advice before appearing in the presence of De Vio. . . .

“The advice of Urban was expressed in a single word—‘Submit. Surely he [Luther] had not come this long way to break a lance with the cardinal: of course, he had not. He was speaking, he presumed, to a wise man.’

“Luther hinted that the matter was not so plain as his advisor took it to be.

“’Oh,’ continued the Italian, with a profusion of politeness, ‘I understand: you have posted up “Theses,” you have preached sermons, you have sworn oaths; but three syllables, just six letters, will do the business—Revoco.’”

God’s Word Luther’s Only Authority in Matters of Faith

“’If I am convinced out of the sacred Scriptures,’ rejoined Luther, ‘that I have erred, I shall be but too glad to retract.’

“The Italian Urban opened his eyes somewhat widely when he heard the monk appeal to a Book which had long ceased to be read or believed at the metropolis of Christendom. But surely, he thought, Luther will not be so fanatical as to persist in putting the authority of the Bible in opposition to that of the pope; and so the courtier continued.

“’The pope,’ said he, ‘can by a single nod change or suppress articles of faith, and surely you must feel yourself safe when you have the pope on your side, more especially when emolument, position, and life might all lie on your coming to the same conclusion with his Holiness.’ He exhorted him not to lose a moment in tearing down his ‘Theses’ and recalling his oaths.

“Urban of Serra Longa had overshot the mark. Luther found it necessary to tell him yet more plainly that the thing was impossible, unless the cardinal should convince him by arguments drawn from the Word of God that he had taught a false doctrine.” Wylie, History of Protestantism, vol. 1, 275, 276.

Three times Luther appeared before the council at Augsburg. As he returned for the third meeting, accompanied by the elector’s councilors, he was immediately surrounded by the Italians, who were present at the conference in great numbers. They crowded around him, eager to obtain a glimpse of the monk who had stirred up such a commotion in Christianity. Luther advanced to present his protest to the cardinal. In this protest, Luther addressed two points on which he had been attacked. The concept that the indulgences were the treasure of the merit of Jesus Christ and of the saints was the first point to which he had objected. Second, Luther showed that no man can be justified before God if he has not faith, a point that he proved with a number of statements from Scripture.

The legate took the declaration from Luther’s hand; and after coldly looking it over, declared, “’You have indulged in useless verbiage; you have penned many idle words; you have replied in a foolish manner to the two articles and have blackened your paper with a great number of passages from Scripture that have no connection with the subject.’ Then, with an air of contempt, De Vio flung Luther’s protest aside; as if it were of no value, . . . he began to exclaim with all his might that Luther ought to retract. The latter was immovable. . . . The cardinal then began a long speech, extracted from the writing of St. Thomas; he again extolled the constitution of Clement VI and persisted in maintaining that by virtue of this constitution it is the very merits of Jesus Christ that are dispensed to the believer by means of indulgences. He thought he had reduced Luther to silence; the latter sometimes interrupted him; but De Vio raved and stormed without intermission and claimed, as on the previous day, the sole right of speaking. . . .

“His [Luther’s] indignation burst out at last; it is his turn to astonish the spectators, who believe him already conquered by the prelate’s volubility. He raises his sonorous voice, seizes upon the cardinal’s favorite subject, and makes him pay dearly for his rashness in venturing to enter into discussion with him. ‘Retract, retract!’ repeated De Vio, pointing to the papal constitution.

Luther Meets De Vio on His Own Ground

“’Well, if it can be proved by this constitution,’ said Luther, ‘that the treasure of indulgences is the very merits of Jesus Christ, I consent to retract, according to your eminence’s good-will and pleasure.’” D’Aubigne, History of the Reformation, book 4, chapter 8.

The Italians, who were not expecting such a response, were in complete astonishment. As for the cardinal, he was beside himself, scarcely believing how completely he had captured his opponent. Exulting in the victory he now thought to be certain, De Vio seized the book which contained the famous constitution and eagerly read the passage. The Italians could not suppress their elation, nor could the elector’s councilors hide their embarrassment. Luther, however, waited for his opponent. “At last, the cardinal read the words: ‘The Lord Jesus Christ has acquired this treasure by His sufferings,’ and Luther stopped him.

‘Most worthy father,’ said he, ‘pray, meditate, and weigh these words carefully: He has acquired. Christ has acquired a treasure by His merits; the merits, therefore, are not the treasure; for, to speak philosophically, the cause and effect are very different matters. . . .’

“De Vio still held the book in his hands, his eyes resting on the fatal passage; he could make no reply. He was caught in the very snare he had laid; and Luther held him thee with a strong hand, to the inexpressible astonishment of the Italian courtiers around him. The legate would have eluded the difficulty, but he had not the means; he had long abandoned the testimony of Scripture and of the fathers. . . . Desirous of concealing his disgrace, the prince of the church suddenly quitted this subject and violently attacked on other articles. Luther, who perceived this skillful maneuver, did not permit him to escape; he tightened and closed on every side the net in which he had taken the cardinal and rendered all escape impossible. ‘Most reverend Father,’ said he, with an ironical, yet very respectful tone, ‘your eminence cannot, however, imagine that w Germans are ignorant of grammar; to be a treasure, and to acquire a treasure, are two very different things.’

“’Retract!’ said De Vio, ‘retract! Or if you do not, I shall send you to Rome to appear before judges commissioned to take cognizance of your affair. . . . Think you that your protectors will stop me? Do you imagine that the pope cares anything for Germany? The pope’s little finger is stronger than all the German princes put together.’” Ibid.

Luther’s only reply was to request that the legate forward his reply to the pope. At these words, the legate in anger said, “Retract, or return no more.”

Without reply, Luther, followed by the elector’s councilors, withdrew. The cardinal and the Italians, remaining alone, looked at one another in confusion.

Though they never met again, messages of friendship from the cardinal were conveyed to Luther. The concern of the Germans for Luther’s safety increased, however, just in proportion to the mildness of the prelate’s language. They greatly feared that the legate was laying plans to seize the Reformer and throw him in prison; but he feared to move and violate the imperial safe-conduct on his own, until he should receive a reply from Rome.’’

Luther, realizing that God had preserved him until that hour, determined not to tempt God. Quickly plans were laid for a secret departure. A horse was provided, and the city magistrate supplied him with a guide. Before daybreak, they slipped through a small gate and as rapidly as possible made their way away from Augsburg. Luther pressed his poor animal to gallop as fast as its strength would allow. He well remembered the supposed flight of Huss and the manner in which he was caught. At the time when Huss was committed to the flames, his adversaries asserted that by his flight he had forfeited the safe-conduct and that they had a right to burn him.

Surprised and angered at the news of Luther’s escape, the legate wrote Frederick, the elector of Saxony, bitterly denouncing Luther and demanding that Frederick send him to Rome or banish him from Saxony.

Though the elector had, as yet, little knowledge of Luther’s doctrine, he was greatly impressed by the force and clearness of his reasoning; and until he should be proved to be in error, Frederick resolved to stand as his protector. He wrote the legate: “’Since Doctor Martin appeared before you at Augsburg, you ought to be satisfied. We did not expect that you would endeavor to make him retract without having convinced him of his errors. None of the learned men in our principality have informed me that Martin’s doctrine is impious, anti-Christian, or heretical.’ The prince refused, moreover, to send Luther to Rome or to expel him from his states.” Ibid., chapter 10.

The darkness seemed to thicken around Luther. Everywhere were ominous signs of a gathering storm. Just when the danger had reached its height, Emperor Maximilian died (January 12, 1519). Negotiations and intrigues were now set on foot for the election of a new emperor. The pope, who favored a particular candidate, found it necessary, in order to obtain his objective to court the favor of the elector Frederick, whose position as regent and whose character for wisdom gave him a potential voice in the electoral college. For the time being, it did not seem prudent to push the issue regarding Luther.

On July 4, 1519, a debate was held between Dr. Eck and Luther at Leipzig, relative to the primacy of the papacy. As the debate proceeded, Eck was constantly and consciously losing ground. Finally, on the second day of the debate, he sought to direct the course of discussion in such a way as to prejudice the audience against Luther, hoping to destroy the effect of his words. Addressing the council, he said, “From primitive times downward it was acknowledged by all good Christians that the Church of Rome holds its primacy of Jesus Christ Himself, and not of man. I must confess, however, that the Bohemians, while obstinately defending their errors, attacked this doctrine. The venerable father must pardon me if I am an enemy of the Bohemians, because they are the enemies of he Church, and if he present discussion has reminded me of these heretics; for . . . according to my weak judgment, . . . the conclusions to which the doctor has come, are all in favor of their errors. It is even affirmed that the Hussites loudly boast of this.” A. T. Jones, Ecclesiastical Empire, 729.

Luther well knew the peril in which Eck had placed him. He replied, “I love not a schism, and I never shall. Since the Bohemians, of their own authority, separated from our unity, they do wrong, even were divine authority decisive in favor of their doctrines; for at the head of all divine authority is charity and the union of the Spirit.” Ibid.

The debate was adjourned for dinner. During the interval, Luther’s conscience began to trouble him for speaking as he did about the Bohemian Christians and he determined to correct the false impression that he had left on the minds of the people.

Luther Rejects the Primacy of the Church

Luther saw the difficulty of his position. He had already repudiated the primacy of the pope and had appealed from the pope to a council. This decision involved the rejection of the Council of Constance, one of the greatest councils of the Church. For him to endorse the attitude of the Christian Bohemians was to declare that a Council had condemned what was, in fact, Christian—in short, of having erred—breaking from himself the last remaining bond of attachment with the papacy; and, doing so, opening all of the floodgates of papal opposition. Yet, in Luther’s mind it was becoming clear that the infallible authority of councils, as well as that of the pope, must be given up and that he must stand on the Word of God alone.

“Accordingly, as soon as the meeting had assembled in the afternoon session, Luther seized the first moment. He arose and, with the decision of conviction in his voice, said: ‘Certain of the tenets of John Huss and the Bohemians are perfectly orthodox. This much is certain. For instance, “That there is only one universal Church,” and again, “That it is not necessary to salvation to believe the Roman Church superior to others.” Whether Wycliffe or Huss said so, I care not. It is the truth.’” Ibid., 730.

Eck had, without realizing it, done both Luther and the Reformation a great service. The blow which he had anticipated would destroy Luther served, instead, to sever the last link in the chain that still bound the Reformer to Rome.

Luther’s statement produced a sensation. Several persons who had until that moment listened to him with favor, began to doubt his orthodoxy. The impression made upon Duke George was never effaced; and from that moment, he viewed the Reformer with an unfavorable eye.

When the Bohemian Christian heard the news of the discussion, they wrote to Luther: “What Huss was formerly in Bohemia, you, O Martin, are now in Saxony. Wherefore pray, and be strong in the Lord.” Ibid., 731.

The choice for emperor fell between two men—Charles I of Spain, and Francis I of France. Charles, who at nineteen was seven years younger than his rival, scattered gold profusely among the electors and princes of Germany to gain the coveted prize. His rival, Francis, was liberal; but he lacked the gold mines of Mexico and Peru which Charles had at his command.

The very power of the two rivals nearly defeated both of them. Encouraged by the pope, who feared the rising power of both monarchs, the electors chose Frederick of Saxony. Frederick, perhaps as an act of weakness when suddenly faced with the fearful challenge meeting a multitude of distractions within the empire and the Moslems on its frontier, declined what the two most powerful sovereigns in Europe were so eager to obtain. On June 28, 1519, the electors again met; the vote was unanimous in favor of Charles. How differently might history have been written had Frederick, the friend of Luther, accepted the imperial crown. Instead, however, it passed to Charles, who was to become the bitter foe of the Reformation.

It was a year before Charles was to arrive for his coronation, and the regency was continued in the hands of Frederick. During that time, “the little group at Wittenberg busily engaged in laying the foundation of an empire that would long out last that of the man on whose head the diadem of the Caesars was about to be placed.” Wylie, The History of Protestantism, vol. 1, 305.

Luther began reading the writings of John Huss. To his surprise, he found in them the truth of free justification of the sinner. “’We have all,’ he exclaimed, half in wonder, half in joy, ‘Paul, Augustine, and myself, been Hussites without knowing it!’ and he added, with deep seriousness, ‘God will surely visit it upon the world that the truth was preached to it a century ago, and burned!’” Ibid.

It was now that Luther published his famous appeal on the reformation of Christianity to the emperor, the princes, and the people of Germany. It was the most graphic and stirring appeal that had yet issued from his pen. Like a peal of thunder, it rang from side to side of Germany, sounding the deal knell of Roman domination.

Presuming that the new emperor would be just and magnanimous, Luther appealed to Charles, knowing that his cause would triumph regardless of which side Charles might espouse. While he would rather have had its progress peaceful and its arrival at the goal speedy, Luther never doubted the ultimate triumph of truth. The emperor never condescended to reply to the doctor of Wittenberg.

Children’s Story – Heavenly Food

In the early days of mission work in China, there was an elderly man named Li who accepted the gospel. Having learned the truth, he immediately began to share his faith with others. One day, soon after his conversion, he read, “covetousness which is idolatry.” Colossians 3:5. Determined not to fall into any kind of idolatry, he gave away all of his property and lived day to day from the hospitality of the people with whom he was laboring to share the gospel. Not far from Li’s home was a large temple in which lived a cousin who was a priest. From time to time the young priest would visit his old relative, bringing him a small present of bread or millet from his very adequate supply. Each time the old man received the gift, he would say, “My heavenly Father’s grace!” After awhile, this began to annoy the younger man; and he at last said, “Where does your heavenly Father’s grace come in, I should like to know? The millet is mine. I bring it to you. And if I did not, you would very soon starve for all that He would care. He has nothing at all to do with it.”

“But,” replied the old man, “it is my heavenly Father who puts it into your heart to care for me.”

“Oh, that is very well!” interrupted the priest. “We shall see what will happen if I bring the millet no more.”

For a week or two he kept away, although his better nature kept prompting him to care for the old man whom he could not help but respect for the many works of mercy in which he was engaged in helping others.

In the passage of time, old Li’s food supply finally ran out. The day came when he no longer had enough food for one more meal. Kneeling alone in his room, he poured out his heart in prayer to God. He knew very well that his Father in heaven would not, could not, forget him; and after pleading for a blessing on his work and upon the people all around him, he reminded the Lord of what the priest had said, asking that, for the honor of His own great name, He would send that very day his daily bread.

Suddenly the answer came. While Li was still kneeling in prayer, he heard an unusual clamor and cawing and flapping of wings in the courtyard outside, and a noise as of something falling to the ground. He rose up and went to the door to see what was happening. A number of ravens, which are common in that part of China, were flying all about in great commotion above him. As he looked up, a large piece of meat fell at his very feet. One of the birds, chased by the others, had dropped it just at that moment.

Thankfully the old man picked up the unexpected food, saying, “My heavenly Father’s kindness!” Then glancing about him to see what had fallen before he came out, he discovered a large piece of Indian meal bread, cooked and ready for eating. Another bird had dropped that also. There was his dinner, bountifully provided. Evidently the ravens had been on a foraging expedition at the market place; and, overtaken by stronger birds, had let go their prize right over the poor brother’s courtyard. But whose had had guided them to give up their prize right over his small courtyard?

With a thankful heart that was overflowing with joy, the old man started a fire to prepare the welcome meal. While the pot was still boiling, the door opened; and to his delight, who should walk in but his cousin, the priest.

“Look and see,” said the old man, smiling, as he pointed to the pot on the fire.

For some tie the priest would not look, feeling certain that there was nothing inside but boiling water. At length, however, there was the unmistakable smell of cooking meat. Overcome by curiosity, he lifted the lid and looked inside. Great was his astonishment when he saw the excellent dinner being prepared.

“Why,” he cried, “where ever did you get this?”

My heavenly Father sent it,” responded old Li, gladly. “He put it into your heart, you know, to bring me a little millet from time to time; but when you would no longer do so, it was quite easy for Him to find another messenger.” And then Li told his cousin the whole story about the coming of the ravens.

The priest was very much impressed by what he saw and heard, and it eventually led him to also accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. He gave up his comfortable living in the temple and became a teacher. He eventually became a deacon in the church. During the Boxer War that took place in China in 1900, he finally lay down his life for Jesus.

Stress, part 3

In our last article, we noted that there are basically two ways of combating stress:

To strengthen oneself as a person in order to more readily resist the destructive effects of stress.
To resolve the actual cause of stress at its source.

Bearing in mind that there are many different causes of stress, it may be that a person’s stress problem will not be dealt with by simply dropping it into just one of the above areas. There may well be considerable overlapping. It is hoped, however, that a person of average intelligence should be able to prayerfully evaluate his situation and determine what measures need to be adopted to meet his case.

Previously we began to explore the first aspect of strengthening oneself as a person in order to better handle the stressors of life. In so doing, we dwell at length upon the importance of getting an adequate amount of rest and not overworking. To continue, we now need to consider several other modalities that relate to stress control and life-style in general:


It has been rightly said that action is the law of our being. We all need to be physically active, but the sedentary type person who is under stress needs to be especially sure that he makes time for physical activity at some time in his day. Those in need of exercise should bear in mind that while stretching and twisting exercises and some form of moderate weight lifting may have their place, the best exercise for stress is aerobic activity, such as walking, swimming, or cycling. In addition to helping to dissipate stress and tension, this type of exercise also strengthens the heart and lungs and tones up the body’s oxygen delivery system. An efficient circulatory system is much better able to convey waste materials and impurities from the cells to the excretory organs. This will not only result in a clearer mind but, in conjunction with other factors, contributes to an increased energy level, which is helpful in combating stress.

The cells of the body contain minute structures called mitochondria, which produce a special energy substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). People who exercise regularly and sufficiently have been shown to have more mitochondria in their muscle cells than people who do not exercise. Often a person who feels chronically tired wrongly supposes that exercise will further deplete his energy level. This is not true. The best way to increase his vitality is to get up and start working out! The more he does, the more he will increase the number of mitochondria producing the ATP, turning his yawns and sluggishness into pep and energy.

It is not unusual for an overworked, under-exercised, and stressed-out individual to suffer from hypertonic muscle tension. This is a condition in which certain muscle groups become tense and wound up like a clockwork spring. Even when a person in this state tries to relax, his muscles in the scalp, neck, and shoulders, for example, remains taut and unable to fully relax. The best remedy for this situation is to go outside and engage in some physical activity, followed by a relaxing, warm bath. Another type of maneuver for dealing with muscle tension is to lie flat on the bed and physically contract the muscles in the arms and legs and then let them relax. Though this procedure is never as good as engaging in a more complete body exercise, it may be of benefit for someone who is trying to relax in bed before going to sleep.

The best and safest type of exercise is brisk walking, several times per week, for about thirty minutes per session. Gardening, weather permitting, is an excellent form of exercise and stress alleviator. These forms of exercise are very helpful as mood elevators, helping to overcome depressions.

Fresh Air

Fresh air is a vital weapon in overcoming stress. Deep, rhythmic breathing has a calming effect upon jittery and shattered nerves. People in the stressful throws of quitting cigarettes have often been advised to begin deep, rhythmic breathing when the craving starts hitting them hard. Coupled with prayer, this is a powerful means of getting them through an intense peak of craving. It has been shown that brain cells require about five times more oxygen than cells elsewhere in the body. A nervous system deficient in the vital element of oxygen is more vulnerable to the onslaughts of stress.


By far the best kind of diet for anyone, and especially those who seek to increase their stress resistance, is that which is prescribed in Counsels on Diet and Foods, 92; “grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.” Such a diet will provide all of the nutritional elements necessary for life and the challenges of living. Unfortunately, many subsist today on highly refined junk foods that do not provide the vital nutrition that their bodies require.

In addition to a deficient diet, the majority of people do not eat at the times best suited to meet the stressors of each day. For example, the most challenging part of the work day has been shown to be the morning, up until lunch time. Many individuals, however, go off to work in the morning with very little, if any, breakfast and with the false expectation that they will produce at their optimum. Regardless of how well they my think they have done, it is a fact that people who go to work on a good breakfast generally do better than those who do not. In the case of school children, it was shown in the now classic, Iowa breakfast studies of several years ago, that children who face school after an adequate breakfast did better academically and emotionally than those who ate little or no breakfast. Adults who eat breakfast have been shown to have better concentration and dexterity and are less accident prone than those who skip breakfast. It goes without saying that those who ate breakfast had much better resistance to stress.

One of the key factors in all of this is the blood glucose level. People who eat little or no breakfast, other than possibly some other type of sugary junk food, may have difficulty maintaining an adequate level of glucose in their bloodstream throughout the morning. Because junk foods are highly refined and usually contain a lot of sugar, they are very quickly digested. Their carbohydrate content is rapidly converted into glucose and released into the blood stream. This quick source of energy is soon spent, often leaving the individual as deficient in vitality as before. The rapid surge of large amounts of sugar into the circulation can cause an overreaction in some people as their bodies seek to restore homeostasis. The pancreas becomes over stimulated because of the sudden, rapid rise in circulating glucose and responds by secreting an excess of insulin, in turn causing the blood sugar to rapidly drop below its normal range. Such episodes of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) leave a person feeling weak, nervous, jittery, and hollow inside. Apart from all of the other classical symptoms associated with hypoglycemia, the person is rendered much less capable of handling stress.

A number of years ago a study was conducted among a group of young women who had been placed on a diet deficient in vitamin B-1. The experiment finally had to be abandoned because they became nervous, irritable, intolerant to noise, and started having a hard time getting along with one another. While a person’s low stress threshold may not be due to a nutritional deficiency, it certainly does no harm to examine one’s dietary practices and especially ensure that he starts each day with a hearty breakfast.

Chemical Stimulants

Chemical stimulants never serve to strengthen the nervous system and fortify it against stress, even though they may give the impression of being beneficial. A degree of stimulation may come as a consequence of eating a flesh diet or ingesting a large amount of sugar, as is sometimes seen in hyperactive children. The greatest culprit by far, however, is caffeine. This chemical rapidly whips up the nervous system, only to produce greater debilitation once its stimulation has worn off. The usual response to this ultimate “let down” is to ingest more caffeine, continuing the vicious cycle of addiction and depletion of vital energy reserves. A physician friend of mine once described a very nervous and stressed out lady who visited his office. No significant cause could be found for her severe agitation until the doctor discovered that she was drinking a very large amount of coffee every day. His prescription was for her to go home and get rid of the coffee pot! She returned home doubting the credibility of his advice; but under the admonition of her husband, whom she had almost driven to despair, she quit the caffeine. Several weeks later she returned to the doctor’s office so completely relaxed and unwound that he hardly recognized her!

Not all stress problems, however, are related to lifestyle.


Some of the worst kinds of stress are the result of strained relationships. In such cases, efforts must be made to facilitate communication between both parties in as unconfrontational way as possible in order to address the underlying issues. It may even be necessary to involve a neutral party to mediate between them.

During these types of situation, when discouragement threatens to break one’s hold upon God, it is crucial to cling tenaciously to the divine promises, believing that all things can work together for good to them that love Him and that God will not permit us to endure more than we are able to bear. (See Romans 8:18; I Corinthians 10:13.) If it yields nothing else, being locked into a stressful, hostile relationship is an opportunity for spiritual growth that may not have been possible on the sunny side of the street.

When subject to the stress of relationship problems, we should prayerfully search our hearts and honestly ask if the problem is not of our own creating. We may have to search our hearts to ensure that what we have said or done for the right has been done properly. It is also appropriate to ask if we are causing stress because of our lack of necessary action.

Quietly stewing inside over what others may have said or done to us is not healthy. This is not said to encourage anyone to passionately rise up in anger and defend a selfish interest. It is said, however, within the context of what Jesus Himself said, “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” Matthew 18:15. If we are genuine Christians, we will not treat such occasions as opportunities to get things “off our chest” in an attempt to dissipate our stress; but we will ask God to give us the courage and compassion to not only redeem our relationship with the individual and resolve the stress, but to redeem them from a wrong course of action which can affect their eternal interests.

A lot of unnecessary stress and anguish might be resolved if such individuals were willing to honestly enquire as did the psalmist: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me.” Psalm 139:23, 24. In the book, Early Writings, 113, Ellen White states that, “Many who profess the name of Christ . . . are not subdued by grace, and they are not dead to self, as is often shown in various ways. At the same time they are talking of having trials. But the principal cause of their trials is an unsubdued heart, which makes self so sensitive it is often crossed.” Individuals in this category experience tremendous stress which could be decidedly resolved if they were broken upon the Rock and were dead to self.

Learning To Be Content

While we should strive to do our best in life to the glory of God, the good of others, and the wholesome betterment of ourselves, we should ever remain thankful for what we have and for who we are and not allow covetousness to dictate our actions. Many people have pierced themselves through with many sorrows and burdened themselves with stress because they begin coveting the possessions and achievements of others. They get into the rat race of keeping up with the Jones’s and soon find themselves living beyond their means. The only way to resolve the stress that often overwhelms those who have trod this well-worn path is to stop seeking that which God has not called them to seek. Depending on the circumstances, it may require them to change their job, or to be content with less.

When we choose to cut from our lives the things contrary to God’s will that have stressed them out and robbed them of happiness, we may do so with God’s help. He understands each situation far better than we know it ourselves. “’Come unto Me,’ is His invitation. Whatever your anxieties and trials, spread out your case before the Lord. Your spirit will be braced for endurance. The way will be opened for you to disentangle yourself from embarrassment and difficulty. The weaker and more helpless you know yourself to be, the stronger will you become in His strength. The heavier your burdens, the more blessed the rest in casting them upon the Burden-bearer. The rest that Christ offers depends upon conditions, but these conditions are plainly specified. They are those with which all can comply.” The Desire of Ages, 329. We need never fear of doing the right and accepting God’s plan for our lives. “In every difficulty He has His way prepared to bring relief. Our Heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us, of which we now nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service and honor of God supreme will find perplexities vanish and a plain path before their feet.” Ibid., 330. As we make whatever changes are necessary in accepting that plan, we can become joyfully content with such things as we have (see Hebrews 13:5) and by faith rest in the assurance that all things needful will be ours. (See Matthew 6:25–34.)

Resolving the Stress of Guilt

In conclusion, we must never overlook the fact that many are stressed with a burden of guilt which they never can resolve in themselves. To all, Jesus extends the hand of mercy, presenting Himself as the only One able to lift the burden from their shoulders and their anxious minds. He alone is able to resolve the stress and inner turmoil caused by sin and exchange it for heaven’s sweet and lovely peace. Those who submit their lives into His keeping may know, even in the midst of a troubled world, the peace of God that passes all understanding. They can also rejoice in the sure hope of one day dwelling with Christ in glory, never again to know the distress of stress!

The Investigative Judgment: Who Shall be Worthy of Eternal Life?

“I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked; for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.” Ecclesiastes 3:17.

The judgment of the great day is an event certain to take place. “He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained.” Acts 17:31. What God hath appointed is sure to come in due time. The resurrection of Christ is an assurance to all men of the final judgment. It is not the fact of the judgment, however, but the order of its work that at this time engages our attention. The work to be accomplished is of immense magnitude. The judgment relates 1) to all of the righteous, 2) to all of the wicked, 3) and to all of the evil angels. The number of cases, therefore, to be acted upon at this grand tribunal exceeds our powers of conception. We must not, however, suppose that there will be any difficulty on the part of the Judge in acting upon every case individually. Far from this, “There is a time there for every purpose and for every work.” The Judgment, indeed, pertains to an immense number of beings; yet every one of them shall give account of himself to God. (See Romans 14:12.) It will not relate to so vast a number as to make it otherwise than a strictly personal matter. Nor will there be aught of confusion or disorder in that final reckoning. God has plenty of time for the work, and He has no lack of agents to do His bidding. That He has order in this work, the Scriptures clearly teach.

The righteous are to judge the wicked, yet the righteous are themselves to pass the test of the judgment. Whence it follows that the judgment must pass upon the righteous before they can sit in judgment upon the wicked.

This is a very important proposition. That it is truthful we know from the express testimony of the Scriptures. “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?” I Corinthians 6:2, 3.

“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4.

“I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” Daniel 7:21, 22.

Here is the exalted work of the saints in the judgment. They are to take part in the examination of the cases of all wicked men and fallen angels. But this is not to be until they have been changed to immortality and exalted to thrones of glory. They do not, therefore, have their cases decided at the same time with the wicked. We believe that the reader will acknowledge the justice of this reasoning. Let us state another proposition.

The trump of God sounds as the Saviour descends from heaven. When that trump is heard, all of the righteous are, in the twinkling of an eye, changed to immortality. There can be no examination after this to determine whether they shall be counted worthy of eternal life, for they will then have already laid hold upon it. From this it follows that the examination and decision of the cases of the righteous takes place before the advent of Christ. The resurrection of the righteous to immortality is decisive proof that they have then already passed the test of the judgment and have been accepted of the Judge. That they are thus raised to immortality the following texts plainly teach:

“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” “Behold, I show you a mystery; We hall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” I Corinthians 15:42–44, 51, 52.

Judgment of the Righteous Precedes the Second Coming

These passages are certainly convincing. The resurrection of the saints is to immortal life, and they are made immortal in the very act of the resurrection. The decision of their cases is, therefore, passed before their resurrection; for the nature of their resurrection is declarative of eternal salvation. But the fact that the decision of the judgment in the case of the righteous precedes the advent is proved by another proposition, as follows:

The righteous are to be raised before the wicked have their resurrection. This shows that the examination of their cases takes place before they are raised, for the final discrimination is made in the very act of raising the just and leaving the unjust to the resurrection of damnation.

“But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath a part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:5, 6.

“But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage; neither can they die any more; for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” Luke 20:35, 36.

“If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Literally “the resurrection out from the dead ones.”) Philippians 3:11.

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order; Christ the First-fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming.” I Corinthians 15:22, 23.

There is a resurrection which bears the inspired designation of the “first resurrection.” All who have part in this resurrection are pronounced “blessed and holy.” On them “the second death hath no power.” This resurrection is out from among the dead. Paul earnestly labored to attain unto it. It is to be at the coming of Christ. Only those who are Christ’s shall have part in it. All that have part in it are the children of God because they are the children of the resurrection to life. These facts clearly prove that the examination of the cases of the righteous precedes their resurrection at the advent of Christ, that event being really declarative of their innocence in the sight of God and of their eternal salvation. Such as are accepted of God are raised; the others sleep till the resurrection to damnation. These facts are decisive proof that the righteous are judged before they are raised.

But we have a still more explicit statement yet to notice. Says our Lord: “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead,” etc. Then it is certain that the act of accounting worthy to obtain the resurrection from among the dead and a part in the world to come does precede the resurrection of the righteous. But this act of accounting men worthy of a part n the kingdom of God is the very act of acquitting them in the judgment. The investigative judgment in the cases of the righteous is, therefore, past before their resurrection. As the resurrection of the just is at the advent of Christ, it follows that they pass their examination and are counted worthy of a place in the kingdom of God before the Saviour returns to the earth to gather them to Himself.

It is proved, therefore, that the resurrection of the saints to immortal life is declarative of their final acceptance before God. Whatever of investigation is requisite for the final decision of their cases must take place before the Saviour in mid-heaven utters the word of command to His angels, “Gather My saints together unto Me.” Psalm 50:5. (See also Matthew 24:31.) The act of accounting them worthy must precede all of this. The saints alone are to be caught up to meet Christ in the air. (See I Thessalonians 4:17.) But the decision who these saints are, who shall thus be caught up, rests not with the angels who execute the work, but with the Judge, who gives them their commission. We cannot, therefore, avoid the conclusion that the investigation in the cases of the righteous precedes the coming of the Saviour. Let us now consider an important proposition.

The Investigative Judgment Announced

This period of Investigative Judgment is ushered in by a solemn proclamation to the inhabitants of the earth, and this investigative work embraces the closing years of human probation. This is a very important statement, but it is susceptible of being clearly proven.

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come; and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” Revelation 14:6, 7.

The gospel of Christ is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” Romans 1:16. No other gospel than this can be preached, not even by an angel from heaven. (See Galatians 1:8.) Whence it follows that the angel of Revelation 14:6, 7, preaching the everlasting gospel, represents some part of the great gospel proclamation. It is a part of that preaching which is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. This fact alone is decisive that this proclamation concerning the hour of God’s judgment must be made while human probation still lasts. Two other solemn announcements follow. It is evident that the human family are still upon probation when the Third Angel declares that “if any man worship the beast . . . the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God. . . . Here is the patience of the saints.” Revelation 14:9, 10, 12. This is a consecutive prophecy, as several expressions plainly indicate. And it is to be observed that the Son of Man is seen upon the white cloud after all of these solemn proclamations have been made.

That this announcement of the hour of God’s judgment precedes the advent of Christ and is addressed to men while yet in probation, the fourteenth chapter of Revelation clearly proves. That this is not some local judgment is proved by the fact that “every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,” are concerned in it. It is evidently that part of the judgment work which precedes the coming of Christ, and, as has already been shown, this is the work of determining who shall be accounted worthy to have part in the resurrection to immortal life, and, we may add, who also of the living shall be accounted worthy to escape the troubles that shall come in the conclusion of this state of things and to stand before the Son of Man. (See Luke 20:35; 21:36.)

The Blotting Out of Sin

When the sins of the righteous are blotted out, they can be no more remembered. They are blotted out before Christ comes. There can be, therefore, no act of calling them to account for their sins after the advent of Christ. Thus we read: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you.” Acts 3:19, 20.

Mr. Wesley, in his Notes on the New Testament, gives a different translation, which may be more accurate: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and He may send to you Jesus Christ, who was before appointed.”

Albert Barnes, in his Notes on the Acts, speaking of these two translations, says, “The grammatical construction will admit of either.” One of these represents the blotting out to be when the times of refreshing arrive; the other makes it the cause of that refreshing. But neither of them gives the idea that this blotting out takes place when the sinner turns to God. Both of them throw it into their future. Each of them represents it as preceding the Second Coming of the Lord. But this is especially true of the latter translation, which follows the original in using a conditional verb respecting Christ’s advent; not as though that were a doubtful event, but rather as if His coming to the personal salvation of the ones addressed depended upon their having part in the refreshing, and as if that refreshing was to come in consequence of the blotting out of sins.

The sins of he righteous are blotted out before the coming of Christ. They cannot be called to give account of their sins after they have been blotted out; whence it follows that whatever account the righteous render to God for their sins must be before the advent of the Saviour, and not at, or after, that event.

The sins of men are written in the books of God’s remembrance. The blotting out of the sins of the righteous does, therefore, involve the examination of these books for this very purpose. That the sins of men are thus written is plainly revealed in the Scriptures.

“For though thou wash thee with niter, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before Me, saith the Lord God.” Jeremiah 2:22. And thus the Lord speaks of the guilt of Israel: “Is not this laid up in store with Me, and sealed up among My treasures?” Deuteronomy 32:34. And Paul speaks in the same manner: “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasureth up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds.” Romans 2:5, 6. These statements of wrath being treasured up can have reference only to the fact that God takes notice of men’s sins and that every sin is marked before Him. To this fact all of the texts which speak of the blotting out of sins must have reference. Thus, David prays that God would blot out his transgressions. (See Psalm 51:1, 9.) And Nehemiah, David, and Jeremiah pray, respecting certain persons, that their sin may not be blotted out. (See Nehemiah 4:5; Psalm 109:14; Jeremiah 18:23.) Isaiah, in prophetic language, speaks of this blotting out as if it were a past event, just as in the next verse he speaks of the new creation and the final redemption. (See Isaiah 44:22, 23.) And in the previous chapter he speaks in a similar manner of this blotting out as necessary in order that the sins of the people of God may be no more remembered. (See Isaiah 43:25.) These texts plainly imply that the sins of men are upon record and that there is a time when these are blotted out of the record of the righteous.

Food for Life – Sugar, Sugar, Sugar!

From the smallest child to the aged, sugar is one of the most addictive pleasures that we as a people seem so unable to eliminate from our diet. We brag about being vegetarians, at least 49% of us, and a small part of us have even eliminated all animal products from our diet. A few more have given up caffeine in its various forms, but what about sugar? A few years ago we were up to about 130 lbs. per year, per capita. Now the average is 150 lbs. What are we doing to the temple which God has given us to use for Him in His service?

First let us review what God in His great mercy revealed to Ellen White in order to prepare a people to stand before Him, a perfect people without blemish.

“Sugar clogs the system. It hinders the working of the living machine.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 327. “The free use of sugar in any form tends to clog the system, and is not infrequently a cause of disease.” Ibid., 197. “Sugar is not good for the stomach. It causes fermentation, and this clouds the brain and brings peevishness into the disposition.” Ibid., 327. From the Natural Health Bulletin I quote, “If we jailed sugar instead of criminals, we might well have less crime in our society.” This study was done by a group of food-behavior specialists in Los Angeles County, headed by Dr. Bernard Mason of the County task Force on nutrition and behavior. They reported that a change from sugary “junk” food to “health food” helped control criminal tendencies. Basic Rule. “As little sugar as possible for the imprisoned,” says Dr. Mason. “The reason is that we believe it is responsible for many bizarre behavioral attitudes—even homicidal and suicidal.” He explains that 90% of criminals in custody have hypoglycemia, low blood sugar, because of the modern junk foods, alcohol, and dope that most criminals are on.” Dr. Mason made a diet change among the confined. No soft drinks and French fries wee given. Instead, the inmates were given raw zucchini, fresh fruit, broccoli, apples, bananas, peaches, and yogurt. Cooks were instructed how to use tofu in combination with brown rice, spaghetti, and meatless enchiladas. Dr. Mason reports, “There has been a change in the actions and attitudes of criminals, leading to increased stability, a more cooperative attitude, and a willingness to improve their lives.” He feels it was the “no sugar” rule, which resulted in correcting their hypoglycemia, which led to reduced mental disturbance and less crime.

According to a Scottish study conducted by G. Hems from the Department of Community Medicine, Foresterhill, Aberdeen, we read that “woman who eat less refined sugar, less total fat, less animal protein, and fewer animal calories have the best chance of avoiding breast cancer.” He analyzed breast cancer rates in relation to child-bearing, various differences in diet, and other factors in forty-one countries. For the first time, sugar was implicated as a possible cancer-causing substance.

When we refer back to God’s original diet for the human race, we find that “Adam and Eve came forth from the hand of their Creator in the perfection of every physical, mental, and spiritual endowment. God planted for them a garden, and surrounded them with everything that was lovely and attractive to the eye, which their physical necessities required. . . . A benevolent Creator had given them evidence of His goodness and love in providing them with fruits, vegetables, and grains, and in causing to grow out of the ground every variety of tree for usefulness and beauty.” Confrontation, 10. God created us with taste buds that we might enjoy the food we eat, but we have perverted those taste buds. Can they ever be normal again? Give God a chance, and you will see that in a short time those abnormal cravings cease and there will be true enjoyment in eating wholesome, unrefined, and nutritious food.

Christ is soon to return to take His faithful ones home. Forever remember that, “True conversion to the message of present truth embraces conversion to the principles of health reform.” Letter 62, 1909.

February’s Recipe:

Sugar Free Sunflower-Oat Waffles

Place in blender:

1-1/2 cups water

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 Tablespoons date sugar

Whiz until well blended, and then slowly add 2 cups quick oats. Let stand for 5 minutes. Bake in medium-hot, non-stick waffle iron for 8-10 minutes. Do not test before waffle is ready. For a special treat as well as nutrition, add ½ cup walnuts or pecans. This recipe can also be used for pancakes.

The Time of the End

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Daniel 12:4.

The time of the end noted in this text is not the end itself. It is evidently a period of time just prior to the end. In the time of the end, many were to run to and fro and knowledge upon the grand subject before the prophet’s mind was to be increased.

The words of the book, named in the text, are undoubtedly the prophecy of Daniel, the several chains of which reach down to the close of all earthly kingdoms at the Second Coming of Christ

Shut up the words, and seal the book. Prophecy is history in advance. To the prophets themselves, their own prophecies could afford but little light, the prophetic scenery spread out before them being the history of the future. The apostle, speaking of the prophecies relative to the plan of salvation embracing the sufferings of Christ at His first advent and also the glory that should follow at His Second Advent, says: “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.” I Peter 1:10–12.

Prophecies Not Especially for the Prophets Themselves

The prophecies relative to the first advent of Christ were not an especial light to the prophets in their day, but they were given for the benefit of the believing about the time of their fulfillment. From the very nature of the case, they were, in a degree at least, shut up until about that time. So with those prophecies which relate to the Second Advent. They were not designed for the especial benefit of the prophets, the apostles, the martyrs, or the Reformers; but they are an especial light to those who live in the time of the end. The book was to be shut up and sealed until that period of time, called the time of the end, should arrive. What then?

Many shall run to and fro. Whether this be fulfilled in turning and searching to and fro in the Scriptures for light upon the subject of the fulfillment of prophecy, or by men called of God to the work traveling to and fro with the message from God to the people upon this subject, the fulfillment is evident. Both have been done within the last half century as never before.

Duffield on Prophecy, 373, says: “The word translated, run to and fro, is metaphorically used to denote investigation, close, diligent, accurate observation—just as the eyes of the Lord are said to run to and fro. The reference is not to missionary exertions in particular but to the study of the Scriptures, especially the sealed book of prophecy.”

Clarke says: “Many shall run to and fro. Many shall endeavor to search out the sense; and knowledge shall be increased by these means. This seems to be the meaning of this verse, though another has been put upon it; viz., ‘Many shall run to and fro preaching the gospel of Christ, and therefore religious knowledge and true wisdom shall be increased.’ This is true in itself, but it is not the meaning of the prophet’s words.”

Matthew Henry says, “They shall read it over and over, shall meditate upon it; they shall discourse of it, talk it over, sift out the meaning of it, and thus knowledge shall be increased.”

Gill says: “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased; that is, toward the end of the time appointed, many shall be stirred up to inquire into these things delivered in this book and will spare no pains nor cost to get a knowledge of them; will read and study the Scriptures and meditate on them, compare one passage with another, spiritual things with spiritual, in order to obtain the mind of Christ; will carefully peruse the writings of such who have lived before them, who have attempted anything of this kind; and will go far and near to converse with persons who have any understanding of such things; and by such means, with the blessing of God upon them the knowledge of this book of prophecy will be increased and things will appear plainer and clearer the nearer the accomplishment of them is; and especially when prophecy and facts can be compared.

An Increase of Knowledge Relative to Prophecy

Knowledge shall be increased. This does not mean general knowledge, but the words must be limited to the subject presented to Daniel. The book of Daniel contains chains of prophecy which reach down to the end of earthly kingdoms and the judgment. Chapters 11 and 12 are one chain reaching down to the time when Michael shall stand up, the time of trouble such as never was, and the resurrection of many. In chapter 12:6, one says to “the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” The end of the wonders is the close of those scenes connected with the judgment. In the next verse the answer is given by the man clothed in linen, with a most solemn oath, with both hands raised to heaven.

But says Daniel: “I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?” Verse8. The prophet here makes earnest inquiries relative to the scenes connected with the Second Advent. Read the angel’s reply: “Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” Verse 9. The prophecy of Daniel, which points distinctly to the period of the Second Advent, was closed up and sealed till the time of the end. What then? In verse 4, Daniel was told that in the time of the end many should run to and fro and knowledge should be increased. This relates to the theoretical part of the work. But in verse 10, the angel’s answer to the earnest inquiry of the prophet relates to the work of preparation and the results of the great Second Advent movement. He says: “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.

Only Two Classes

Here are two classes, the wicked and the wise. The wise are those who are being purified and made white. They are wise in reference to the things of God and the kingdom of heaven. They understand by the opening prophecies the events which terminate the wonders shown to the prophet. They see these things clearly, believe, prepare, and rejoice in the blessed hope. Here we should be impressed with the practical bearing of the Second Advent faith and hope. The truly wise, those who are being “purified, and made white, and tried,” understand. They will listen to the voice of warning and will be instructed and will understand that the day of the Lord is coming and hasteth greatly. They will be waiting and watching and will be ready when the Lord shall come. Of these Paul speaks: “And unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:28. Or, as Peter exhorts: “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” II Peter 3:14. Again, “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.” Verse 11.

But the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand. They do not seek for the Spirit of truth. They are led by the spirit of error. They doubt, scoff, and mark their course of rebellion against the truth of God by doing wickedly. May God pity the blind sinner.

That there is a period of time in which the church is especially to look for the Second Coming of Christ is evident. Many, however, take the ground that it was right for the early Christians to look for Christ’s Second Coming in their day, that it has been Scriptural for the followers of Christ in each generation since to expect His coming in their day, and that nothing more, in this respect, is required of the church at this time.

It is true that some of the early church received the idea that Christ would come in their day. It is evident that the Thessalonian church thus believed from the fact that the apostle Paul, in his second epistle to them, corrects this error. He says: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering unto Him, that you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God.” II Thessalonians 2:1–4.

Paul Did not Expect Christ’s Return in His Day

From this testimony we conclude that there were those who had taught the Thessalonians to expect the Second Advent in their day. But the apostle exhorts them not to be troubled with this idea and warns them against being deceived by it. He then states that the day of Christ would not come except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin (the papacy) be revealed. He points the church of Christ down over the period of the apostasy and the twelve hundred and sixty years of papal supremacy, to near our time, and guards all the way with a warning against being deceived with the idea that Christ might come during that period. Why did his warning cease there? Answer: At that point, the time of the end commenced when the prophecy of Daniel was to be unsealed, knowledge on the subject of Christ’s coming was to be increased, and many run to and fro.

What a beautiful harmony in the testimonies of the angel and of Paul. The angel says to Daniel, “The words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” Paul says to his brethren, “That day shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed.” The apostle’s warning reaches down to the time of the end when the words were to be unsealed. This plainly shows that the last half century has been the period for the subject of the Second Advent to be brought out and that this is the only time when the church of Christ could scripturally look for the coming of the Lord.

The Meaning of the Time in Which We Live

Present truth has always been important. Peter speaks about being grounded and established in present truth. (See II Peter 1:12.) Before every significant event in the plan of salvation, there have been special messages given so that God’s people could be established in present truth. If, however, the people to whom the message is given leave that message and turn back from following the light, they’re leaving present truth; and they do so at the loss of their souls.

As an example, in the days of Noah, if you were going to have your sins forgiven, if you were going to have eternal life, it was the same plan of salvation as today. There is just one plan of salvation. There was present truth in the days of Noah; and the present truth was that if you wanted to be saved, you had better get into the ark. If, at that time, you failed to listen to present truth, could you still be lost? Most certainly you could.

It has always been the purpose of the devil to distract God’s people or in some way divert their attention from these messages of present truth. Paul tells us, however, that we are not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices. We must know what is going on so that we will be prepared to resist Satan’s advances and not be deceived.

We have also been warned, “So subtle and untiring are the efforts of the enemy of souls, that God’s people need to be very watchful, and to labour earnestly and unceasingly to counterwork evil in the church and in the world. Satan and his agencies are laying out special lines of labour for those who are controlled by his power. Deceptions of every kind and degree are arising, so that, if possible, he would deceive the very elect. With the same subtle power that he plotted for the rebellion of holy beings in heaven before the Fall, Satan is working today to operate through human beings for the fulfillment of his purposes of evil.” Australian Record, April 15, 1912.

If you leave the message of present truth that God has given, the devil is going to take control of your mind. It is just that simple. Did you notice that if he gains control of your mind, Satan is going to outline a special work for you to do?

Where is Satan working? “I say to all be on your guard for as an angel of light; Satan is walking in every assembly of Christian workers and in every church trying to win the members to his side.” Review and Herald, May 14, 1908. The great controversy is going on in every church, in every family. Every soul whom Satan can deceive and is lost brings dishonor upon the name of Christ, and it is his purpose to bring as much dishonor upon Christ’s name as he possibly can.
There are all kinds of theories present in the world today to cast doubt on what God has said so that His people will not have faith in what is written. The devil knows that if you do not have faith in His Word, when temptation comes, you are going to fall.

Speaking of the last days, we read: “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; yours sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions, and also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” Joel 2:28, 29. According to these verses, in the last days God’s people are going to have the gift of prophecy. The New Testament teaches exactly the same thing. Notice also how important the gift of prophecy is as we prepare for the coming of Christ. “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you.” I Corinthians 1:4–8. According to Revelation 19:10, the testimony of Christ is the spirit of prophecy.

The gift of prophecy is one of the gifts of the Spirit that has been promised the church. Unless the remnant church, which is waiting for the Second Coming of Christ, has the gift of prophecy, it cannot truly be said that it comes short in no gift.

This counsel was not written primarily for the people living in the first century. The apostle Paul says very clearly that these books were written to the Christian church. Though this book was addressed specifically to the church of Corinth, in his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul said, “Even if you receive this letter that is purported to be from us, do not think that the Second Coming of Christ is going to take place right away, because it is not.; the great apostasy is going to come first.” (See II Thessalonians 2:2–4.) The apostle Paul knew that the Second Coming of Christ was not going to occur in the first century. He is addressing the Christians and the people who are waiting for Jesus to come in the last days. We also read that these gifts were given “till we all come to the unity of the faith.” Ephesians 4:13. Are all of God’s people in the unity of the faith yet? No they are not; so we still have need of the gifts, including the gift of prophecy.

“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.” Revelation 12:17.

Now, if you were the devil, what would you do? You would do the same thing that you did in the Garden of Eden, the same thing that you have done all down through history; you would try to get God’s people to doubt the authenticity of that gift. You see, if the devil can get you to doubt the Spirit of Prophecy, you will lose your way. One of his methods is to ask questions that no one can answer. You do not have to have a Ph.D. to do that; little children can do it. One of the devil’s deceptions is to lead people to ask questions that God is not going to answer, even throughout eternal ages. If you allow yourself to start asking questions that no one can answer, the day is coming when you will become a skeptic. That is just the way the human mind works.

“The Lord has given me a special work to do in giving words of warning that should come to our people. Satan’s forces are preparing their seductive temptations to deceive, if possible, the very elect. Satan will work through those who have disregarded the warnings of God to the church. They will be exceedingly zealous unto the working of a deceptive influence and most strange manifestations will appear.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 376.

Where are the warnings of God to the church found? They are found in the inspired writings of the Spirit of Prophecy.

What is the result of disregarding the inspired writings? The devil is going to take control of the mind of the one who is questioning, and then he is going to use that person to take control of someone else. In an attempt to accomplish this, he has aroused doubt using a whole new theology which attacks that foundation pillar of Adventism, including the Third Angel’s Message.

“The mark of the beast is to be presented in some shape to every institution and every individual.” 1888 Materials, 477. Now, if it must come in some form, can it come in more than one way? Evidently. The devil is studying your character to try to find out what the most attractive form of the mark of the beast would be for you. If he can induce you to disregard the warnings of God to the church, you are going to be taken in by the snare and not even know it until it is too late.

Oh friend, do you want to be kept from the deceptions that will take the world and most of the Adventist Church captive? How are you going to be kept? The people who will be kept are people who do not doubt the Spirit of Prophecy.

Today, the devil will attempt to bring into the church every kind of confusion, but creating doubt with regard to inspired truth is one of the main ones. Satan knows that if people have confidence in the Bible and in the writings of Ellen White and they start to study them, wonderful things will happen. This leads to harmony and unity among God’s people. Even people who have newly come into the faith gain such a clear understanding of present truth that they are safe from the deceptions coming upon the world. These books enlighten people’s minds.

When studying the counsel of God on a subject, do not just take one little verse or sentence here or there and build your whole theology on it. The Bible says that there is a principle involved in studying inspired writings. We find in Isaiah 28:9, 10 that “precept must be upon precept . . . line upon line . . . here a little, there a little.” What is the principle? You look at all of the instruction. Remember, the Bible is inspired by a mind that is infinite, that is so much greater than yours or mine, that we will not be able to understand it all. IF we take just a little piece, without the benefit of all of the instruction in any given area of study, we are prone to misinterpret it. But if all of the counsels on any subject are considered, there is little danger of being deceived. In the past, when I have heard of new doctrines and teachings and wanted to know, Does the Lord endorse these teachings? Are they according to the Spirit of Prophecy? I have followed this method of study over and over again. You may not be able to explain every statement or every text; but if you are willing to look at all of the counsel on he subject, considering, what is the weight of evidence? You will be led to the truth.

Have you ever met people who want to interpret certain prophecies differently? This is common, not only in Adventism today, but all across the Christian world. People are studying prophecy, and there is more confusion than I have ever seen in my entire life. When considering something of this nature, the first thing that you want to do is to go to the inspired writings and ask, “Is this interpretation in line with all of the statements in inspired writings on that subject?” If you do this, you will be kept from much of the wild speculation that is going about today.

“The church, soon to enter upon her most severe conflict, will be the object most dear to God upon earth.” Testimonies to Ministers, 20. We are also told that the last conflict will be the devil’s most deceptive. She says, however, that it will result in the worst defeat that Satan has ever had. It will not look like defeat for a while, but truth and righteousness will emerge triumphant.

There is another area of deception that the devil is seeking to use to deceive Seventh-day-Adventists. Before examining it more closely, let me ask you a question. Suppose that you enlist in an army (the church militant is an army) and your commander tells you, “We are now going to enter into the most severe conflict you have ever experienced. Now as we enter this conflict, the army in which you are fighting is invisible, and you cannot tell who is part of your army and who is not.” How would you like to be in a conflict of this nature?

Do you understand what I am getting at yet? There are some people who believe that the true church is invisible. Though we have been accused of teaching the idea that the true church is invisible and only God knows who they are, we do not believe this is true, nor have we taught it.

Speaking about the meaning of the times in which we live, Ellen White says, “Before the great trouble shall come upon the world such as has never been since there was a nation, those who have faltered and who would ignorantly lead in unsafe paths will reveal this before the real vital test. The last proving, comes so that whatsoever they may say will not be regarded as voicing the True Shepherd. The time of our educating will soon be over. We have no time to lose in walking through clouds of doubt and uncertainty because of uncertain voices.” 1888 Materials, 1002. God is going to arrange things so that those who would lead His people astray will manifest their true character so that people will know not to put confidence in them in the time of trouble. I believe that this helps us to understand a great deal about the meaning of the times in which we are living right now. If you think that in the last days, during the time of trouble, the 144,000 are not going to be able to know who each other are, you are sadly mistaken; and if you believe that God’s army in the last great conflict is so invisible that nobody can figure out who they are, you are sadly mistaken.

Do not sink into the trap of believing that you are to live a godly life and develop a godly character but no one will know who you are. God’s church is visible now, and it is going to be more and more visible. The Second Advent Movement is going to be public, and it is going to be visible until the end. Do not let anyone confuse you with the theory that the true church is invisible and that you cannot tell who it is. The true church is visible. In Testimonies to Ministers, 20, Sister White is talking about the church militant. The church is soon to enter upon her most severe conflict. Because we are entering a time of most severe conflict, it is a time to press together, to pray for unity of doctrine, faith, and spirit. It is a time to meet together to pray and to ask the Lord to send us the Holy Spirit—to bring us, to make us, a unified, organized army to finish God’s work in the world.

Present truth is going to triumph gloriously very soon. Do you want to triumph with it? Well, friend, if you want to triumph with it when it triumphs, you need to be part of it now. And being part of it is not being part of some invisible, amorphous mass that nobody knows who and what it is. I am sorry if that sounds hard to some, but it is important that we do not get mixed up and be lost because of false theological teachings.

If you belong to an invisible church, it is time for you to make a public profession of faith and become visible, because there is not going to be an invisible church that is going to triumph. The church that triumphs is going to be a people who have made a profession of faith publicly and are visible. The devil and all of his angels even know who they are, and they are going to see them triumph. I want to be a part of that group, do you? It will not consist of people who doubt the Spirit of Prophecy. It is going to be made up of people who have accepted the warnings and said, “Lord, whatever needs to be changed in my life, I am willing to change. I am willing to change my mind on anything; just show me.

A Bear Robbed of Her Cubs

“Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly.” Proverbs 17:12 NKJV.

A few years ago we were visiting the home of a friend and noticed a most interesting poster on the wall depicting the truth that is expressed in this verse. As you can imagine, it caught the attention of our young children; and they stood for some time studying it. We discussed it at the time. As time passed, however, I did not think much more about it.

In our family worship, we often read the chapter from Proverbs that corresponds to the day of the month. Some time later, when in our worship we again read this verse, events that we had recently experienced had so shaped our thinking that the verse took on new meaning for us; and we were reminded of the poster that we had seen some time before. As we reflected on the significance of the wise man’s words, we began to realize that they have a depth of meaning beyond what words can adequately express. This text of Scripture has caused me to ask the Lord to deliver me from the folly of the fool! Before we can be delivered from the folly of fools, we must, of course, have first had folly taken out of our own hearts.

The events that prepared us to better appreciate the meaning of this warning began during a visit to Yellowstone Park a few months ago. While looking for a book to buy the children, I became interested in one about bears. We bought the book and began reading it during our evening worships. We prefaced our reading with Proverbs 17:12. The children, of course, wanted to know what a “fool in his folly” is.

Before they could fully understand the danger involved in the situation, they needed to more fully understand the significance of the term, a bear robbed of her cubs. One story entitled, “A Mother’s Revenge” particularly caught my attention. Although this was not necessarily the most thrilling of the bear stories, it did make the point; and I would like to briefly share it with you.

In 1907, in the virgin forest of northwest Montana, a mother bear and her cub were preparing for winter. Unbeknownst to them, a small government survey team, accompanied by some adventurous tourists, was packing into this uninhabited region. The area was a section of high and rugged mountain peaks, snowfields, and living glaciers, wholly uninhabited except by the wild animals and well-nigh inaccessible save in the dead of winter. Soon after the party arrived, bad weather set in, making survey work impossible. The inactivity soon prompted the suggestion of a hunt, but only two hardy souls were interested. These two men, both experienced hunters, set out from camp with their horses and guns, little dreaming of the adventure that awaited them.

The men traveled some distance by horseback to a glacier, where they left their horses at the head of the basis. At this point, they separated, Mr. Stiles going one direction and Dr. Penrose another. Mr. Stiles soon spotted a buck dear and began stalking it when he heard three shots in rapid succession. Paying no special attention to the reports which came from the other side of the ridge, he was about to shoot the deer when he heard two more shots, rapidly followed by a third. Immediately becoming alarmed, he ran back in the direction of the shots. Within a few minutes he came around a mass of broken boulders and saw Dr. Penrose wandering aimlessly around in the canyon bed without his gun. His hat was gone, his coat torn off, and his trousers rent. Blood poured from his head and neck, and he gripped his left arm in his crimson right hand, presenting a horrible sight. As Mr. Stiles approached him, he murmured piteously, “Water, water.” As he tried to drink the water, part of it ran out through a gash in his cheek. He then said: “Stiles, I am all in; I have had a fight with a bear.”

As the story unfolded, it revealed that Dr. Penrose had come upon a young grizzly cub. Being late in the year, the cub was large enough that it appeared full-grown, to all but the careful observer. Dr. Penrose’s first three shots had killed the cub; and in his excitement, he failed to note that it was a cub that he had killed. Having laid his gun aside, he was bending over the young bear that he had so recently killed when suddenly, not more than sixty feet behind him, the doctor heard a cry of anger as the grief-stricken and enraged mother bear rushed forward to avenge the death of her offspring.

Turning, with almost superhuman presence of mind, Dr. Penrose caught up his rifle again and fired two shots into the enraged beast. Rapidly removing his last cartridge from his pocket, he worked it into the rifle and sent a third steel-jacketed bullet into the on-rushing bear. Swift and sure as were the little bullets, the bear continued her charge, her fury unchecked. With one stroke of her paw she sent him into the gulch, eight feet below. Springing down after him, she caught him in her mouth and shook him as a cat might shake a mouse, before dropping him. Again she caught him up, this time by his face, narrowly missing his eyes but tearing his cheek and throat wide open. There were five gaping wounds in his chest. His thigh was torn, the flesh handing in ragged pieces, and his left wrist was twisted and broken. Before she could again shake her half-dead victim, the mother bear staggered, and falling dead at his feet. In spite of the terrible beating that he had taken, Dr. Penrose did survive, though he spent several months recuperating from the attack.

The purpose of recounting this event is to bring home the point that, as terrible as is the wrath of a mother bear who has been robbed of her cubs, it is not so much to be feared as is a fool in his deceit.

Solomon also tells us “the folly of fools is deceit.” Proverbs 14:8. As severely as Dr. Penrose was mauled by the enraged mother bear, he did live; but those who are taken with a fool in his folly, do not fare so well. The Lord has warned us, “A companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Proverbs 13:20. As you are confidently passing along the road of life, you need to be aware that lurking not far from you, possibly just around the next corner, is a secret and hidden enemy, far more dangerous than an angered mother bear, and that enemy is deceit.

False Friends More to be Feared than Open Enemies

In all of the stories of angry bears, we found them to be an aggressive and open enemy. Far less to be feared is an enemy who openly seeks to destroy you than one who professes friendship, flattering with his lips, but in whose heart is hatred. The Bible describes what this secret enemy is like. “He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.” Proverbs 20:19. “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly. Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross. He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; when he speaketh fair, believe him not; for there are seven abominations in his heart. Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shown before the whole congregation. Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him. A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.” Proverbs 26:22–28.

Friend, a direct command from God cannot be disobeyed without terrible results, and the command is “meddle not with him.”

“It is not the open and avowed enemies of the cause of God that are most to be feared. Those who . . . come with smooth words and fair speeches, apparently seeking for friendly alliance with God’s children, have greater power to deceive. Against such every soul should be on the alert, lest some carefully concealed and masterly snare take him unaware.” Prophets and Kings, 570, 571.

“Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.” “Speak not in the ears of a fool.” Proverbs 14:7; 23:9.

In our family worship, we made a list of the texts that were descriptive of a fool in his folly, describing his deceit. It would be well for all of us to keep these words of wisdom in mind. Here is a partial list from the book of Proverbs:


  • Fools despise wisdom and instruction. 1:7


  • Fools hate knowledge. 1:22


  • He that hides hatred with lying lips, and who utters slander is a fool. 10:18.


  • It is a sport to a fool to do mischief. 10:23.


  • The way of a fool is right in his own eyes. 12:15.


  • A fool’s wrath is presently known. 12:16.


  • A fool lays open, or reveals, his folly. 13:16.


  • A foolish woman plucketh down her house with her hands. 14:1.


  • In the mouth of the fool is a rod of pride. 14:3.


  • The folly of fools is deceit. 14:8.


  • Fools make a mock at sin. 14:9.


  • The fool rageth and is confident. 14:16.


  • A fool despiseth his father’s instruction. 15:5.


  • A foolish man despiseth his mother. 15:20.


  • A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool. 17:10.


  • The eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth. 17:24.


  • A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. 18:6.


  • A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. 18:7.


  • He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. 18:13.


  • Every fool will be starting a quarrel. 20:3.


  • A foolish man spends up the treasure. 21:20.


  • A fool returns to his folly as a dog returns to his vomit. 26:11.


  • A fool uttereth all his mind, but a wise man keepeth it till afterward. 29:11.


After you have thoughtfully considered the traits of a fool, as the Lord has identified them for us, remember the seriousness of the matter. The wise man was not given to making an exaggerated statement when he warned us that a furious mother bear was less to be feared than the deceit of a fool. It is well summed up in this verse. “The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.” Proverbs 14:15.

We need to keep ever before our minds that the One Who counseled us to be harmless as doves also admonished us to be as wise as serpents. (See Matthew 10:16.) We would do well to remember that “those in the synagogue of Satan will profess to be converted, and unless God’s servants have keen eyesight, they will not discern the working of the power of darkness.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 281. How said it is that so often “the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” Luke 16:8.

Friends, if we are simple minded we are liable to be destroyed, because someone will come to you with fair words, concealing the hatred that is hidden in the heart. That, friends, is deceit and is more dangerous than an open enemy. That which appears to be a comparatively small snake is, in reality, worse than a dragon.

“Infidelity in many specious forms will have to be met. Satan works under disguise, and it will require a well-trained mind, sharpened by divine enlightenment, to meet his wily devices.” Signs of the Times, October 24, 1900. We can be so thankful that the Lord has not left us to our own demise. He has promised to help the simple minded. Proverbs 1:4 tells us that if we listen to His words, they will “give subtlety to the simple.” What a fabulous promise. Even fools can become wise. “O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.” Proverbs 8:5.

The terrible truth of the power of deceitful subtlety is found in the history of Adam and Eve.

“If he [Satan] should come boldly upon Adam and Eve and make complaints of God’s own Son, they would not listen to him for a moment but would be prepared for such an attack. Should he seek to intimidate them because of his power, so recently an angel in high authority, he could accomplish nothing. He decided that cunning and deceit would do what might, or force, could not.” The Story of Redemption, 29.

In the passage of time, Satan has lost none of his cunning and deceitfulness. Those of God’s people whom he can not destroy through an open, frontal attack he is often successful in overthrowing by deceitfulness. As you study the book of Proverbs, you can readily see that there are several tell-tale signs that deceit may be being used.

Twelve Ways to Know a Fool

In closing, I would like to summarize twelve character traits that quickly reveal to us, regardless of profession, that a person is a fool.

  • He indulges in flattery.


  • A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct.


  • He has a quick, or uncontrolled temper.


  • He mocks at making amends for sin.


  • He refuses to listen to his parents.


  • He is talkative, speaking all of his mind.


  • He does not listen to reproof.


  • He is contentious and quarrelsome.


  • He is arrogant.


  • He spends all that he has, often living beyond his means.


  • He is quick to answer, without pausing to give a thought-out reply.


  • He is a talebearer, or gossip.

Trials Alone Will not Save Us

We all face many trials; but trials, in and of themselves, will not save us; otherwise, the whole world would be saved. “Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him.” Proverbs 27:22. NKJV. Though we may lack wisdom, our condition does not have to remain such, for we have been promised, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5. We must, however, submit our wills to God’s will in every matter of life; for “all who do not earnestly search the Scriptures and submit every desire and purpose of life to that unerring test, all who do not seek God in prayer for a knowledge of His will, will surely wander from the right path and fall under the deception of Satan.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 192.

If we do this, determining to do nothing that will dishonor our Lord, He will gently reprove our wrongs and change us into His image. “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” II Corinthians 5:17.

The time in which we are living is a momentous one, weighed with eternal consequences. The rapidly unfolding events in the world speak eloquently to the shortness of time. Now is the time that we must remedy the defects of our character, becoming wise in the wisdom of the Lord, lest we stumble and fall amidst the trials and temptations of the last days. “At the time of the Loud Cry of the Third Angel, those who have been in any measure blinded by the enemy, who have not fully recovered themselves from the snare of Satan, will be in peril, because it will be difficult for them to discern the light from heaven, and they will be inclined to accept falsehood. Their erroneous experience will color their thoughts, their decisions, their propositions, their counsels. The evidences that God has given will be no evidence to those who have blinded their eyes by choosing darkness. After rejecting light, they will originate theories which they will call ‘light,’ but which the Lord calls, ‘Sparks of their own kindling,’ by which they will direct their steps.” Review and Herald, December 13, 1892.


Editorial – Apocalyptic Times, part 2

The closing chapters of Revelation outline significant world developments that will bring about the end of world history. A number of these developments can be seen in their embryo form already. Let us consider just a few of these developments.

During the time of the seventh trumpet, the nations will be angry (see Revelation 11:18); and as a result of the worldwide dissemination of the teachings of spiritualism, the world will enter the most general and deadly war of all time—Armageddon. (See Revelation 16:13, 14.) The Word of God explicitly states that the whole world will be involved (see Revelation 16:14), and that more people will die in this struggle than in any battle in recorded history. (See Revelation 19.)

We must recognize that for the whole world to be gathered together, there would have to be some unifying forces that would unite the nations in the interest of obtaining common objectives. This would require that treaties or international agreements be in place that would outline the plans for cooperation. We believe that we see this taking place today.

The Scriptures reveal that this unity among the nations will result from the uniting of three major forces. One uniting force, according to Revelation 16:13, 14, will be spiritualism. Spiritualism is the basis for the Eastern religions that are experiencing world-wide resurgence today. Within western society, spiritualistic teachings invaded the educational system decades ago and are now found throughout the business world and even within the professed churches of Jesus Christ. Over one hundred years ago Ellen White predicted that in the last great crisis, Satan would appear as an angel of light, work many undeniable wonders and miracles, and even profess faith in and respect for the Bible and the institutions of the church. (See The Great Controversy, 588.) In modern refined forms of spiritualism, one person’s mind seeks to gain control over another person’s mind. In this spiritualistic practice, the devil is actually able to take control of both minds. (See Medical Ministry, 114.) Sadly, many Seventh-day Adventists do not recognize this demonstration of spiritualism, even when it occurs in their own church. This is a most startling evidence that we are getting ready for Armageddon whether we realize it or not.

“We would lose faith and courage in the conflict if we were not sustained by the power of God. Every form of evil is to spring into intense activity. Evil angels unite their powers with evil men, and as they have been in constant conflict and attained an experience in the best modes of deception and battle, and have been strengthening for centuries, they will not yield the last great final contest without a desperate struggle. All the world will be on one side or the other of the question. The battle of Armageddon will be fought, and that day must find none of us sleeping. Wide-awake we must be, as wise virgins having oil in our vessels with our lamps.” 1888 Materials, 761, 762.

A second uniting force will be a great international religious peace movement. (See Isaiah 2; Micah 4: I Thessalonians 5:1–3.) This peace movement will include a campaign against intemperance, but will also be of a religious nature, supporting Sunday laws. (See The Great Controversy, 587.) In the midst of the bloody conflicts of the twentieth century, the human heart naturally longs for peace. The devil will take advantage of this desire, and men will feel that they are entering a time of world-wide universal peace as they enter the time of Armageddon. The element that will appear to ensure this peace is a world-wide religious revival and a “returning to God.” In a desperate bid to meet the problems facing the world, men will demand that governments enact religious laws so that morality might again prevail. “Even in free America, rulers and legislators, in order to secure public favor, will yield to the popular demand for a law enforcing Sunday observance.” The Great Controversy, 592.

Spiritualism is not the only unifying force. The beast and the false prophet also have a part to play. In the developments taking place in the religious world today, this cooperative effort is very apparent.

“Four mighty angels hold back the powers of this earth till the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads. The nations of the world are eager for conflict, but they are held in check by the angels. When this restraining power is removed, there will come a time of trouble and anguish. Deadly instruments of warfare will be invented. Vessels, with their living cargo, will be entombed in the great deep. All who have not the spirit of truth will unite under the leadership of satanic agencies. But they are to be kept under control till the time shall come for the great battle of Armageddon.” Maranatha, 257.

But a little time remains. May God help us all to be making the necessary preparations while the four mighty angels continue to hold.