Facing the Crisis – Warnings of Coming Persecution

Every time I see the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor or see its picture in a book or in a magazine, I feel moisture gathering in my eyes and a heartbeat in my throat. For in America, the land that I love, its citizens will soon lose, and even now are losing, many of their freedoms. When people lose their freedom, one of the first segments to be curtailed is religious liberty—freedom to worship God and to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

America is represented in Revelation 13 as the lamb-like beast, but we are aware as well, that Revelation 13 also pictures America as becoming a persecuting dragon who will, through the papal power, set up and enforce the image of the beast. Soon there will come a time in America when true Christians will lose all their religious freedom.

There is a growing movement today within the United States for people control. This is hidden under the guise of such terms as a one-world order or a global government. Most Americans are unaware of the ultimate goals of these movements. Silently the stage is being set by the forces of evil to gain power to persecute those who obey the Commandments of God, including the fourth commandment.

Those who teach that Christ’s soon coming will end this world of sin and usher in an everlasting kingdom, not on this earth but in heaven above, will be targeted. On the other hand are the nominal churches who believe that when Christ comes He will set up His kingdom on earth and bring peace upon this world for a thousand years. These will not be subject to persecution. The real issue will be over the Sabbath day.

As the end draws near, under the leadership of the antichrist, an unstoppable movement is developing to enforce Sunday worship in the place of God’s command to keep holy the seventh-day Sabbath. Turning to the Spirit of Prophecy, we read, “In this warfare the Sabbath of the fourth commandment will be the great point of issue; for in the Sabbath commandment the great Lawgiver identifies Himself as the Creator of the heavens and the earth.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 983.

“In America, laws to exalt the false Sabbath will be passed.… all who will not bow to the decree of the national councils, and obey the national laws to exalt the sabbath instituted by the man of sin to the disregard of God’s holy day, will feel, not the oppressive power of popery alone, but of the Protestant world, the image of the beast.” Selected Messages, book 3, 385.

Sabbath laws and persecution will spread over the entire world. “The decree enforcing the worship of this day is to go forth to all the world. As America, the land of religious liberty, shall unite with the papacy in forcing the conscience and compelling men to honor the false sabbath, the people of every country on the globe will be led to follow her example. Foreign nations will follow the example of the United States. Though she leads out, yet the same crisis will come upon our people in all parts of the world.” Maranatha, 214. All nations and tongues and peoples will be commanded to worship this spurious sabbath.

Revelation 13:8 says, “All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Beloved, we need divine power to comprehend the fulfilling prophecies that are now taking place in preparation of accomplishing this hellish goal. In this article we will discuss the warnings of coming persecutions to all who will stand for the right though the heavens fall. We will look at the subtle changes that are taking place.

In the Scriptures, we find that Jesus spoke of this end time when great persecutions would face His followers. “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Matthew 24:9-13.

In 2 Timothy 3:12, 13, Paul writes, “…all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.”

Once again, let us read from the Spirit of Prophecy. Mrs. White says the great deceiver’s “…principle concern is to silence this sect of Sabbath keepers….we will finally have a law to exterminate all who will not submit to our authority.” Testimony to Ministers, 473.

And again, “It is the purpose of Satan to cause them to be blotted from the earth, in order that his supremacy of the world may not be disputed.” Ibid., 37.

These messages are speaking of the end time battle between God’s true Sabbath and Satan’s false “Sunday sabbath” which is so soon to burst upon us. Since the first Advent of Christ there have been periods of persecutions directed against the followers of Christ. No sooner had Jesus Christ started His Christian church than persecutions began and continued for the next three hundred years.

This was Satan’s gigantic effort through apostate Judaism and pagan Rome to exterminate Christianity. During these years thousands upon thousands of Christians were beheaded, buried alive, fed to lions, boiled in oil, crucified and, by other means, tortured and put to death. Then some years later, through papal Rome, Satan made his greatest attack yet against Christians for 1,260 years.

Not merely thousands but millions were persecuted and put to death during this long period of papal supremacy. In The Great Controversy, Ellen White shares the inspired revelation of the terrible atrocities hurled against the Waldenses, the Hussites, the Lutherans, the Calvinists and the Anabaptists. You will further discover there how the Church of England persecuted and burned at the stake, the Pilgrims and the Puritans, a people who believed and taught the Scriptures.

The Inquisition banned the Bible and forbade the people to read the Scriptures. Yet what was the result of all these persecutions? “Notwithstanding all these continued persecutions and horrible punishment, the church daily increased.” Storm Warnings, 12

You may be surprised to learn that in the day in which we live millions of Christians have been, and are being, persecuted and many martyred by the enemies of Christianity. This is happening in Communistic countries such as China and Cuba, and in Socialistic Regimes such as Africa.

In a book published in 1999 entitled, Storm Warnings, the author, Don Mac Elvaney, states “Today millions of Christians are being persecuted, imprisoned or martyred in Communist China, while 2.1 million Christians have been martyred in Southern Sudan by the followers of Islam in 1990 alone. Over a million Christians have been martyred in Burundi, the Central African Republic, and in the Marxist front line states of Southern Africa in recent years. About one thousand Christians a day are being martyred somewhere in the world today. The greatest number since the beginning of the Christian Church.” (see page 10.)

The reality of such a truth should be very alarming. I have received word that Christians who recently emerged from such persecutions in Russia are now preparing to go back to underground organizations in order to serve God. The hundreds of letters that I receive from around the world reveal that great changes are sweeping the entire globe and from the Adventist Network of February 1, 2000, pages 7, 8, is evidence of the persecution of Seventh-day Adventists in Mexico where thousands were baptized despite ongoing persecutions:

“In Chiapas, Mexico, 33 pastors baptized more than 3,600 people in the ocean off Puerto Madero on Sunday, January 23, 2000. The Adventist church leader in this region reports that the baptisms were the result of a week–long evangelistic campaign held in the area in mid-January. At least 10,000 from across the region crowded on the shore to watch the event.

“The baptisms came at a time of increasing difficulty for Adventists in a nearby village. Since 1994 ongoing conflict between different Christian groups in the region has forced at least 20 Adventist families to leave the area and ten homes have been burned down. The current dispute results from plans by the five remaining Adventist families to build a new church in the village on land donated by church members.

“The general assembly, a local governing power, has refused to allow the building to go ahead and is threatening to evict the Adventists from the village. In spite of the persecutions the brethren have continued to spread the gospel while working to establish better relations and mutual respect with the locals who have persecuted them for their beliefs.”

Here in America the prosperity that has been ours since the end of World War II has caused millions of professed Christians to believe that the good life will continue forever. But a small remnant have not succumbed to this deep sleep. They are aware of a growing political power of anti-Biblical sentiments that are taking control of our country. Christian standards and beliefs are ridiculed and belittled on the television and in the movies.

Christianity is being attacked in popular books and even by the media in newscasts. “The decline of America should be obvious to any thinking American. The explosion of crime, gang warfare and drive-by shootings in our cities; the disintegration of the American family with proliferating divorce, infidelity, child abuse, single-parent families and teen age rebellion; the explosion of drug usage, the highest in the world; the rampant spread of promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality and sexually transmitted diseases; the gross immorality and corruption at the highest levels of
U. S. government are all irrefutable evidence of a country whose culture, morality conditions and spiritual life are in a free fall.” Storm Warnings, 23-24. (please note that this author is writing from a non-Adventist perspective.)

Faced with this reality, is it any wonder that the judgments of God have been steadily increasing, especially in the past two decades? God is endeavoring to awaken the inhabitants of our country to their sins and to their need of repentance. We have become so accustomed to hearing and seeing on TV the results of earthquakes, storms, fires, and other disasters, that I feel it necessary to summarize the catastrophic events that have taken place recently.

Beginning in the early 1980s America suffered a terrible drought followed by severe flooding in the Midwest and in California, which destroyed huge amounts of crops. Then came Hurricane Hugo in 1989 which caused great damage in South Carolina. Soon after, in 1992, a very powerful earthquake rocked San Francisco followed by four powerful earthquakes in California.

Next came Hurricane Andrew striking Southern Florida with the most expensive disaster in our nation’s history, some $33 billion in damage. This was followed in Los Angeles by the worst rioting in our country since the Civil War. Then in 1993 another record storm hit the East Coast followed by the worst terrorist attack in American history in New York at the World Trade Center. This was soon followed by the bombing of a government building in Oklahoma City, which killed scores of innocent men, women and children.

Incredible disasters continued. In 1994 with temperatures the lowest since recording began in 1890, a vast portion of the Midwest sustained a wind chill of 90 degrees below zero. Next, the state of Pennsylvania was hit by the strongest earthquake ever recorded in that state, centering in Reading. Two days later a large earthquake struck Los Angeles, creating some $10 billion in damage and leaving thousands homeless.

During the year 1994, America crossed the line from being the world’s largest creditor nation to being the world’s largest debtor nation. Almost 1.5 million personal bankruptcies took place in 1998 alone, a record since the great depression. Now, friend, do not miss the facts by looking at this total picture. I believe God is permitting these tragic events to happen because America is following and tolerating a lifestyle which, the Bible clearly states, removes God’s blessings.

Sins such as fornication, adultery, sodomy, sexual perversions and the shedding of blood of the unborn are everyday occurrences. Do you realize that America aborts 1.6 million babies a year, that since 1973, some forty million children have been killed in the womb? (See Storm Warning, 30.)

Morally this nation hit the bottom with its 1998 gay-lesbian celebration at the Disney World in Orlando, Florida. “A review of the gay days, 1998, scheduled events was amazing. On June 3 from 9pm to 3am was an event titled, ‘Who Is Your Daddy?’ The description of the event followed: A leather, latex and bondage party featuring live flogging and spanking; masters and slaves; plus piercings. Sponsored by the Absolute Leather ED and SM group of Florida. There were two events called Seductive Dancing. There were male strippers and female impersonators. Gay days ended on June 7 with a Sunday Gospel brunch from 10:15am until 3:30pm, an event entitled ‘Sin Tonight, Repent Tomorrow.’ And wonder of wonders, the President of the United States sent a letter of congratulations for events like this!” Ibid., 41.

Listen, friend, America cannot continue in this direction and remain a great nation. Proverbs 14:34 reads, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” I totally agree with the following found in Storm Warning, 46. “The Bible states that ‘If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ Psalm 11:3. The foundations of America have been destroyed. The husband and wife family unit, which is ordained by God, is being replaced with a term ‘domestic partners,’ and homosexuals are being allowed to adopt children. America is becoming unglued. The nation is full of violence as innocent blood is being shed from coast to coast. It seems every week a mass murderer kills several people. This was virtually unheard of before 1963. The violence started against children in the womb has spread like a cancer throughout the entire society. It is truly ironic that America has developed the technology to allow men to walk safely in space, yet in most of our cities it is unsafe to walk the streets.”

The Bible speaks, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20. Woe to those who acquit the guilty but deny justice to the innocent.

And now Ellen White speaks. “The earth groans under the burden of accumulated guilt, and everywhere dying mortals are compelled to experience the wretchedness included in the wages of unrighteousness. I was shown that men have carried out the purposes of Satan by craft and deceit, and a dreadful blow has recently been given. It can be truly said: ‘Justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter,’ ‘and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey.’ In some of the free states the standard of morality is sinking lower and lower. Men with depraved appetites and corrupt lives have now an opportunity to triumph. They have chosen for their rulers those whose principles are debasing, who would not check evil, or repress the depraved appetites of men, but let them have full sway. If those who choose to become like the beasts, by drinking liquid poison, were the only sufferers; if they alone would reap the fruit of their own doings, then the evil would not be so great. But many, very many, must pass through incredible suffering on account of others’ sins. Wives and children, although innocent, must drain the bitter cup to its dregs. Without the grace of God, men love to do evil. They walk in darkness, and do not possess the power of self-control. They give loose reign to their passions and appetites until all the finer feelings are lost and only the animal passions are manifested. Such men need to feel a higher, controlling power, which will constrain them to obey. If rulers do not exercise a power to terrify the evildoer, he will sink to the level of the brute. The earth is growing more and more corrupt.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 362.

And what about Communism which has wrought such brutality and wickedness in past years? Do not be misled. Communism, even in America, is not dead but is much alive. Mikhail Gorbechev is still one of the most powerful leaders of the New World Order and he has headquarters in the Presidio, formerly the U. S. Army or government military base in San Francisco, California. That is amazing!

There are literally scores of organizations with papal cooperation who are pushing for a New World Order or a Global Government. When this happens, freedom will be a thing of the past. Never forget, it was through 1,260 years of papal rule by cruel persecution that the papacy once controlled the nations of earth.

One way to accomplish this goal again would be the passage of laws to punish hate crimes. A hate crime would be defined as anything derogatory that might be said of religious groups, races, lifestyle, etc. The Word of God identifies the Roman religious system as an enemy of the Law of God and of His Holy Sabbath Day. If the law against hate crimes should be passed, then if one were to teach Bible truths regarding this power or if he should pass out a book like The Great Controversy written by Ellen White or other literature that would identify the papacy and expose her sins and aims, he could be accused of breaking the law. He might be imprisoned and fined for simply sharing God’s Word.

The near future could very well bring such persecutions upon God’s people. Yet we have the divine commission to teach all the truths of God’s Word to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. In Revelation 13:15-18 God foretold that terrible persecutions will be executed under the reign of the image of the beast, “And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six.”

Concerning this time Jesus warns, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake.” Matthew 24:9. “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” John 16:2.

Now let us conclude by reading the inspired instructions God has given to His remnant, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, as found in the book The Great Controversy, Chapter 35, “Liberty of Conscience Threatened.” “In the movements now in progress in the United States to secure for the institutions and usages of the church the support of the state, Protestants are following in the steps of papists. Nay, more, they are opening the door for the papacy to regain in Protestant America the supremacy which she has lost in the Old World. And that which gives greater significance to this movement is the fact that the principal object contemplated is the enforcement of Sunday observance—a custom which originated with Rome, and which she claims as the sign of her authority. It is the spirit of the papacy—the spirit of conformity to worldly customs, the veneration for human traditions above the commandments of God—that is permeating the Protestant churches and leading them to do the same work of Sunday exaltation which the papacy has done before them.

If the reader would understand the agencies to be employed in the soon-coming contest, he has but to trace the record of the means which Rome employed for the same object in ages past. If he would know how papists and Protestants united will deal with those who reject their dogmas, let him see the spirit which Rome manifested toward the Sabbath and its defenders.” Ibid., 573.

“Romanism is now regarded by Protestants with far greater favor than in former years. In those countries where Catholicism is not in the ascendancy, and the papists are taking a conciliatory course in order to gain influence, there is an increasing indifference concerning the doctrines that separate the reformed churches from the papal hierarchy; the opinion is gaining ground that, after all, we do not differ so widely upon vital points as has been supposed, and that a little concession on our part will bring us into a better understanding with Rome. The time was when Protestants placed a high value upon the liberty of conscience which had been so dearly purchased. They taught their children to abhor popery and held that to seek harmony with Rome would be disloyalty to God. But how widely different are the sentiments now expressed! [Even by some of our own church leaders.]

“The defenders of the papacy declare that the church has been maligned, and the Protestant world are inclined to accept the statement. Many urge that it is unjust to judge the church of today by the abominations and absurdities that marked her reign during the centuries of ignorance and darkness. They excuse her horrible cruelty as the result of the barbarism of the times and plead that the influence of modern civilization has changed her sentiments.

“Have these persons forgotten the claim of infallibility put forth for eight hundred years by this haughty power? So far from being relinquished, this claim was affirmed in the nineteenth century with greater positiveness than ever before. As Rome asserts that the ‘church never erred; nor will it, according to the Scriptures, ever err’ (John L. von Mosheim, Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, book 3, century II, part 2, chapter 2, section 9, note 17), how can she renounce the principles which governed her course in past ages?”

“The papal church will never relinquish her claim to infallibility. All that she has done in her persecution of those who reject her dogmas she holds to be right; and would she not repeat the same acts, should the opportunity be presented? Let the restraints now imposed by secular governments be removed and Rome be reinstated in her former power, and there would speedily be a revival of her tyranny and persecution.” Ibid., 563, 564.

“The Constitution of the United States guarantees liberty of conscience. Nothing is dearer or more fundamental. Pope Pius IX, in his Encyclical Letter of August 15, 1854, said: ‘The absurd and erroneous doctrines or ravings in defense of liberty of conscience are a most pestilential error—a pest, of all others, most to be dreaded in a state.’ The same pope, in his Encyclical Letter of December 8, 1864, anathematized ‘those who assert the liberty of conscience and of religious worship,’ also ‘all such as maintain that the church may not employ force.’ [Did you get that? That the church may not employ force?]

“The pacific tone of Rome in the United States does not imply a change of heart. She is tolerant where she is helpless. Says Bishop O’Connor: ‘Religious liberty is merely endured until the opposite can be carried into effect without peril to the Catholic world.’…The archbishop of St. Louis once said: ‘Heresy and unbelief are crimes; and in Christian countries, as in Italy and Spain, for instance, where all the people are Catholics, and where the Catholic religion is an essential part of the law of the land, they are punished as other crimes.’…

“Every cardinal, archbishop, and bishop in the Catholic Church takes an oath of allegiance to the pope, in which occur the following words: ‘Heretics, schismatics, and rebels to our said lord (the pope), or his aforesaid successors, I will to my utmost persecute and oppose.’” Ibid., 564, 565.

And what about the attitude of John Paul II? We should note that it is really not different from the above testimony of the archbishop of St. Louis when he said that heresy and unbelief are crimes. John Paul’s grand design is set forth by Malachi Martin in his book, The Keys of This Blood. This book, published only ten years ago, reveals John Paul’s grand design to bring the whole world under his control. Martin refers to this as the “coming global government.”

On page 287, he writes, “…to defend every person’s right to be wrong…sets [them] apart from John Paul.” He continues by saying, “…it is axiomatic for John Paul that no one has the right—democratic or otherwise—to a moral wrong; and no religion based on divine revelation has a moral right to teach such a moral wrong or abide by it.”

Now listen to me carefully. Is not Martin actually saying here that, according to the present pope, no one, including Seventh-day Adventists, has the right to believe or teach a different doctrine than that taught by the Roman pontiff? And is not this echoing the sentiment of the archbishop of St. Louis as documented in The Great Controversy? Frightening, is it not?

Should not such a statement as this awaken us as to what the purposes of Rome really are? Prophecy shows that the great day of God is right upon us. It hasteneth greatly. (See Testimonies vol. 1, 361.)

Can we not see that even now the deadly wound is almost fully healed? Soon the pope will be in a position to persecute those whose understanding of the Scriptures differ from his own. Turning again to The Great Controversy, 581 we read, “God’s Word has given warning of the impending danger; let this be unheeded, and the Protestant world will learn what the purposes of Rome really are, only when it is too late to escape the snare. She is silently growing into power. Her doctrines are exerting their influence in legislative halls, in the churches, and in the hearts of men. She is piling up her lofty and massive structures in the secret recesses of which her former persecutions will be repeated. Stealthily and unsuspectedly she is strengthening her forces to further her own ends when the time shall come for her to strike. All that she desires is vantage ground, and this is already being given her. We shall soon see and shall feel what the purpose of the Roman element is. Whoever shall believe and obey the Word of God will thereby incur reproach and persecution.”

And so, beloved, let us not wait until it is too late in order to escape her snare. We must understand what her purposes are now, right now.

Editorial – He Sits as God, Part I

In Adam and Eve, all was lost for the human race.  One of the principle deceptions which caused the fall of Eve was the temptation to become like God. (See Genesis 3:5.) This has been one of that ancient serpent’s most successful temptations, and it has sent billions of people to eternal destruction.

To understand the essence of the great apostasy which would have a leader who sits as God in the temple of God, as described by Paul in II Thessalonians 2:4, we must first understand, from the Bible, what prerogatives God has which men and women, or even angels, do not have.  For a person to sit as God, in the temple of God, he must assume powers or prerogatives that God has but that men do not have.

First, God has the ultimate right to decide what is right and wrong. God has not only determined, in advance, what right and wrong are, but He considers this subject so important that He has not even entrusted it to man to write down—He has written it down with His own finger in stone, and He has said that He will not change it. (See Psalm 89:34.) “…Whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it.” Ecclesiastes 3:14. This law is exceedingly broad (Psalm 119:96) so that it is impossible to do anything wrong without breaking it. and it is impossible to practice righteousness without keeping it.  The Bible says, “…all Your commandments are righteousness.” Psalm 119:172. All unrighteousness is sin, which is breaking the law (I John 5:17; 3:4.) For this reason the wise man said that the commandments of God comprise the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14.)

In the judgment only one question will be asked, and that question will be, “Did this person keep My law?” (See Revelation 22:14; 14:12.) Obedience proves that the Holy Spirit has regenerated a person’s heart and spirit and that he is walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh (Romans 8.) Jesus said that nobody could be saved unless they had been born again of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5.)

Christians submit themselves to human or civil ordinances and laws (I Peter 2:13) as long as the laws do not contradict the law of God, but if the human ordinance contradicts the law of God, then Peter and all his spiritual brethren say, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29.

Concerning the moral law (the Ten Commandments) James 4:12 says that there is only one lawgiver who can save or destroy. There are not two or three lawgivers. The Apostles were never given this authority, and since the apostles were never given this authority, obviously the church does not have this authority, because the church has no authority which was not given to the 12 apostles. Even the angels have not been given authority over the law of God.

The temple of God (II Thessalonians 2:4,) of course, is the church of God. Writing only to the saints and to the faithful in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:1,) Paul says, “…the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:21, 22.

So any person in the professed church of Christ, any “church board,” “church committee,” “diocese,” “conference,” “church congregation,” “church,” or “church organization” that attempts to make a moral requirement, in addition to or in contradiction of the Ten Commandments, has thereby set himself, or themselves, up as God in the temple of God.  By that very act they become part of the antichrist.

Lucifer, or Satan, is the true antichrist, but if we attempt to assume one of the prerogatives of God like He did, we become part of antichrist.

God will not give to any angel, man, or group of men the prerogatives that He has reserved for Himself. One of those prerogatives is the right to be the moral lawgiver. The lawgiver is also the Saviour (See James 4:12,) so the lawgiver who gave the Ten Commandments is none other than Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12,) the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

The authority which God would not give to Lucifer, which he did not give to any of the prophets or apostles, which Jesus said was as enduring as heaven and earth (Luke 16:17) will always endure. Human governments and churches must always remember that they will never be able to judge the law; rather the law will judge them. (James 2:8-12.)

To be continued…

Editorial – He sits as God, Part II

In his successful plot to deceive Eve in the Garden of Eden, and thus hopefully gain control over the entire human race, the devil, masquerading as a serpent, made the following statement to Eve: “God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5.

This statement contained truth and falsehood, as the devil’s sophistries generally do.  It was true that if they ate of the fruit that their eyes would be opened and they would know something that God did not desire them to know. “Their eyes were indeed opened; but how sad the opening! The knowledge of evil, the curse of sin, was all that the transgressors gained.” Education, 25.

The human race would not have known anything about pain, sickness, disappointment, misery, loneliness, bereavement, poverty, exhaustion, frustration, war, strife, quarreling, bitterness or death. By disobedience, our eyes were opened to know what God did not desire us to know. In the aspect of understanding what evil is and what its consequences would be, we learned something that only God knew before.  (At the time of the Garden temptation, even the devil did not know all of the consequences of evil, and it would take a long time for the human race to become acquainted with all of them. So in this sense, the statement was a lie and it will remain a lie until the end of the Great Controversy.)

Part of the reason for the success of the temptation was the fact that it aroused in Eve an unholy curiosity to know something that she did not know, and that could not be known without disobeying God. This same curiosity causes the downfall of millions today. There is some knowledge that God has always forbidden us to tamper with and to cross that line starts one down a path to destruction.  There are some pictures you cannot look at and some reading that you cannot engage in and still be a Christian. There is some music that you cannot listen to, or play, and still be a Christian. There are some kinds of work that you cannot engage in and still be a Christian. Any work, occupation, reading, pictures, music, food or clothing that involves a violation of the law of God, or any practice that tends toward breaking any part of that law, is forbidden ground. If you venture upon that forbidden ground, the devil knows that you have entered his territory and are lawful prey.

But the other part of the temptation was the arousal of an intense desire to become elevated to a higher sphere of existence—to become like God. In all ages this same temptation has been one of the most successful in the downfall of the human race.

There are a number of things that are right for God to do that are wrong for anybody else to do.  This is implied right in the first commandment, which states, “you shall have no other gods before Me.”

In our first editorial on this subject we showed from scripture that there is only one lawgiver (referring to the moral law.) It obviously then, would be wrong for anybody else to attempt to be a lawgiver and define what is right and wrong.  All righteous human laws derive from that moral standard given by God Himself.

But there is something else that belongs to God alone and that is the right to receive worship.  This is stated in the most explicit and definite language in the second commandment. It is right for God to receive worship but it would be wrong for anybody else to receive it. Even an angel from heaven is not to be worshipped. (See Revelation 19:10; 22:8, 9.)

Contrary to this most explicit command, in the heathen religions, the leaders of those religions received worship. In II Thessalonians 2, when describing the antichrist power, Paul says “He sits as God in the temple of God showing himself that he is god.” We have seen already that the temple of God is His church (Ephesians 2:19-22.) This then is a prophecy that the antichrist will appear within the Church and that he will sit as God in the church. In other words, he will attempt not only to be another lawgiver but also be another demanding worship. The Bible predicts that in the last days all the world, except for the remnant, will worship this antichrist power (Revelation 13:8.) This applies primarily to the devil, but it would also apply to any human being who, under the inspiration of the original rebel against God’s government, attempted to rewrite God’s law and accepted worship from mankind.

Editorial – He Sits as God, Part III

In our first two editorials on this subject, we pointed out how, for over 100 years, Adventists have revealed the identity of the antichrist power; this power, which is spoken of in the last days, and whom Bible prophecy warns us so plainly about.

While we have confidently shown the identifying marks of the antichrist power (it is easy from just Daniel 7, II Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 13 to list over 60 identifying, or descriptive, marks of the antichrist power) we have not suspected that we could ever get in such a situation ourselves. We thought that we understood Bible prophecy and we would never acknowledge any part of antichrist.  The Spirit of Prophecy does not give us such an optimistic picture, however.

“If all that appears to be divine life were such in reality; if all who profess to present the truth to the world were preaching for the truth and not against it, and if they were men of God guided by His Spirit,–then might we see something cheering amid the prevailing moral darkness. But the spirit of antichrist is prevailing to such an extent as never before. Well may we exclaim: “Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.” I know that many think far too favorably of the present time. These ease-loving souls will be engulfed in the general ruin. . . .the days of purification of the church are hastening on apace. God will have a people pure and true. In the mighty sifting soon to take place we shall be better able to measure the strength of Israel. The signs reveal that the time is near when the Lord will manifest that His fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 79.

What is this spirit of Antichrist that is prevailing to such an extent as never before? The spirit of antichrist includes man’s desire to be as god (This was the issue at the 1901 General Conference. Study the library speech.) The Greek work anti means, first of all, someone who is in the place of someone else, or in this context, another who stands in the place of Christ and receives that which only Christ can lawfully receive, such as worship. Any such person obviously would have become a god because only God can lawfully receive worship.

The things that the Spirit of Prophecy specifies will eventually make many in Adventism a part of antichrist are the following:

  1. Worldly policy
  2. Presuming to judge the motives of others
  3. Idolizing human wisdom and setting the opinions of men above the revealed wisdom of God
  4. Rejecting the prophets and holding to the traditions of men.
  5. Skepticism
  6. Spiritualism
  7. Molding ourselves (getting our own way)
  8. Following human nature (not dying to self).
  9. Manifesting a love for supremacy.

These brief quotations support these statements:

“Worldly policy is taking the place of the true piety and wisdom that comes from above, and God will remove His prospering hand from the conference. Shall the ark of the covenant be removed from this people? Shall idols be smuggled in? Shall false principles and false precepts be brought into the sanctuary? Shall antichrist be respected?” Counsels to Writers and Editors,

“Whoever presumes to judge the motives of others is again usurping the prerogative of the Son of God. These would-be judges and critics are placing themselves on the side of antichrist, Lift Him Up, 335.

“All that have refused to be taught of God hold to the traditions of men; they at last pass over on the side of the enemy against God and are written antichrist.” General Conference Daily Bulletin, March 18, 1897.

“There are rank infidels, those who believe in the lying wonders of Spiritualism, and those who reject the claims of divine truth. All these are placed among the class that John has written of, and are controlled by the spirit of antichrist.” Manuscript Release, vol. 20.

“Those who will not practice the lessons of Christ, but keep themselves in hand, to mold themselves, find in antichrist the center of their union. While the two parties stand in collision, the Lord will appear.” Ibid., 113.3.

“The crisis is just before us. The fierce conflict of mind with mind, of principle with principle, of truth with error, which is fast approaching, and which has already begun, calls for constant vigilance. . . .the walls of antichrist shall fall.”  Ibid.

“The spirit of antichrist is developing rapidly. Soon there will be a time when those who follow their own human nature, who manifest a love for supremacy, will be found to be on the losing side.” Ibid., 176.

Editorial – He sits as God – Part IV

A quick review is that the church is God’s temple (Ephesians 2), that God has prerogatives that He will not give to any created being, and any man or angel who attempts to assume prerogatives of God in the church has thereby set himself up as God, in the temple of God, as the antichrist is described as doing in II Thessalonians 2.

One of the prerogatives of God that the angels and the apostles have never had (and which therefore the church has never had) is the right to decide what is right and wrong—the right to be the lawgiver. There is only one lawgiver (James 4:12).

Another right that only God has, is the right to be the Saviour—to deliver you and me from the guilt and power of sin.  Both the Old and New Testaments declare this. (See James 4:12; Matthew 9:2-6; Isaiah 45:21.) The church cannot save you from sin; the leaders of the church cannot save you from sin; the services of the church cannot save you from sin. Only God can do that. All that the church or any man can do is point people to where the help is, where the salvation is. But the essence of false religion is to lead men to look to men, to trust in men for salvation, to trust churches or rituals or theological beliefs for salvation.  This is why false religion doesn’t work.

If your religion is not leading you to victory over sin, to a cessation from sinning in your life, then there is something wrong with your religion. True religion points people to the true God and results in a spiritual new birth, which results in victory over sin. (See I John 5:18.)

Through heathenism, Satan had, for ages, turned men away from God; but he won his great triumph in perverting the faith of Israel. By contemplating and worshiping their own conceptions the heathen had lost a knowledge of God and had become more and more corrupt. So it was with Israel. The principle that man can save himself by his own works lay at the foundation of every heathen religion; it had now become the principle of the Jewish religion. Satan had implanted this principle. Wherever it is held, men have no barrier against sin. (See Desire of Ages, 35, 36.)

One of the most serious consequences of the rule of antichrist is that the people are not delivered from their sins and a theological system has been developed to handle this.  The theological explanation is that we cannot overcome our sins because of our fallen sinful nature (“original sin”). Therefore, we are saved just by being forgiven of our sins and the church claims to do this. So the sinner who goes on in sin, regularly confessing his sins, believes, mistakenly, that he is on the road to salvation. Nowhere in the Bible is salvation promised to the person who is living in sin.  In fact, damnation is promised to the person who goes on living in sin. Salvation is promised only to the one who overcomes or is set free from sin. (See John 8:32-36; Romans 6; I John 3; Revelation 21:5-7; I Corinthians 6:9, 10; Revelation 22:14, 15.)

There was a time when God’s remnant people knew this, and we proclaimed that the doctrine of being saved in sin was from the antichrist and that we could only be saved from sin.  But the doctrines of antichrist have strangely become much more acceptable to the professed people of God, and many have accepted the “saved in sin” theology along with the majority of the professed Christian world. Where will this theology leave you in the Day of Judgment? With antichrist. (See Matthew 7:21-23.)

“The victory that Jesus gained in the wilderness is a pledge to you of the victory that you may gain through His name. Your only hope and salvation is in overcoming as Christ overcame.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 457.

Identification and Spirit of Antichrist – Part I

No Time to Assimilate with the World

Identification of the antichrist is a subject we need to understand. If we do not know who the antichrist is, we will end up being joined to the antichrist. Ellen White says, “The enemy’s last great conflict will be a most determined one. It will be the last battle between the powers of darkness and the powers of light. Every true child of God will fight bravely on the side of Christ. Those who, in this great crisis, allow themselves to be more on the side of the world than of God, will eventually place themselves wholly on the side of the world. Those who become confused in their understanding of the Word, who fail to see the meaning of antichrist, will surely place themselves on the side of antichrist. There is no time for us to assimilate with the world. Daniel is standing in his lot and in his place.” Pamphlets, 68, 135, 139.

If we become confused in our thinking, so that we do not understand who the antichrist is, if we do not understand what the spirit of antichrist is, we will end up being joined with antichrist. We will not even know what we have done because we will think that we are having a great reformation and revival and a wonderful Christian experience.

When you get deep into the prophecies in Revelation, you begin to see that, at the end of the world, the people who are lost are going to be very confident that they will have eternal life. They are going to think that they are having the most wonderful spiritual experience that they have ever had. Let me tell you, the devil is determined that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is going to have the same wonderful experience that these other churches are having.

He is trying to get our church to unite with the fallen churches of Babylon. He is trying to obliterate the line of demarcation between the remnant church and the churches of Babylon. He wants to get us aligned with them so we stop preaching the Second Angel’s Message. Let me tell you, the spirit of hostility which is developing in the Seventh-day Adventist Church against the Three Angels’ Messages is frightful.

It has been going on for much longer than most people realize. When I attended Andrews University and the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in the mid- sixties, I took a class in evangelism. The students were each required to preach an evangelistic sermon, listened to by the teacher and the rest of the class. I decided if I was going to preach an evangelistic sermon, I was going to preach the Third Angel’s Message. So I did.

Nobody could say it was heretical, at that time at least, because it was exactly what Ellen White taught in The Great Controversy and what was in Daniel and Revelation by Uriah Smith. At that time the Seventh-day Adventist Church had been teaching that message for over a hundred years. But every single person in that class, except one, opposed my sermon. Is that not an interesting state of affairs? Here was a Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary and the students there did not believe that you should preach the Third Angel’s Message in an evangelistic sermon.

What kind of evangelism are you going to do? To what are you going to convert the people? What are they going to believe when you get done preaching?

The Third Angel’s Message is about the antichrist, because the beast power of Revelation 13:1–10, is the antichrist. So the mark of the beast is the mark of antichrist, and the worship of the beast is the worship of antichrist.

A Millennium of Peace?

According to Revelation 13:8, everybody in the world, except the saved, is going to worship antichrist. Everyone whose name is not in the Book of Life is going to worship him. It is going to be universal, and these people are going to think that they are having the most wonderful revival and reformation of their lives. They are going to feel so wonderful.

It is going to be very religious. It will apparently be the most successful religious revival of all times. According to Revelation 18, the kings of the earth and the various government leaders all over the world will be involved. The legislatures, the courts, the church leaders, the thought leaders, the civil
leaders, the professional people, the moneyed people will all be involved. When you get all those people involved, the great mass of humanity is going to fall right in behind, and say, This is the most wonderful thing.

Ellen White says that they are going to come to our people and they will say, Angels are among us and miracles are among us. And this is the millennium of peace for which we have been hoping so long. Everything in the world is at peace. (See Maranatha, 209.)

Of course, they are not going to know that Armageddon is right around the corner. Right now, Christians all over the world are praying that the Lord will bring peace to the world, and the devil is going to make it look like God has answered their prayers. Then they will say, Angels are among us and miracles are among us and the whole world is at peace, and if you people who are so stubborn would only go along with this movement and be in harmony with the Sunday Law, then the whole world would be at rest.

Ellen White said that she saw our people in great distress during this time. She said they had taken away our resources so that we could not buy or sell, and they mocked the smallness of our numbers. Ibid. Now, we are going to be a very large number, but we are going to be scattered all over the world. We do not know the exact number, but if you took 144,000 people today and scattered them evenly across the world’s area, in proportion to the world’s population, I figured out that in Wichita there would be between 10 and 20 people. And Wichita is the biggest city in Kansas!

Twenty people scattered over the greater Wichita area, most of them in prison somewhere, would look like a pretty small group, would it not? It would look like you were all alone. The world has always been impressed by numbers, and when they see the smallness of our numbers, they are going to laugh.

Who or What is the Antichrist?

Mrs. White said they are also going to mock our poverty. Of course, you are poor if you cannot buy or sell, and you will be poor in that day. If you had a million dollars, it would not matter. What are you going to do then? If you do not know for sure what you believe, you are not going to make it. If you do not know absolutely for sure the truthfulness of the Three Angels’ Messages, you will not be able to stand against the rest of the world. So you need to know who is antichrist.

The mark of the beast is the mark of antichrist, because the beast is antichrist. As I keep studying this subject, the number of descriptive things I find as identifying marks of the antichrist, gets larger and larger.

You need to know how to identify, absolutely for sure, who the antichrist is, because almost the whole Christian world today, even many Seventh-day Adventists, are confused about this issue.

If you do not understand this, you cannot proclaim the Three Angels’ Messages with power. You cannot! This is a vital, important subject for Seventh-day Adventists. God has put us here for this time and place to be able to explain this to the world, so let us look at the first detailed description about the antichrist power, given in Daniel 7.

How do we know that this is talking about the antichrist? Daniel 7:25 says, “He shall speak”—great thing [words] against the Most High, and wear out [persecute] the saints of the Most High.” Is it the antichrist power that speaks great words against the Most High? By definition that would be an antichrist power. You do not need any other text to show it. You know that whoever it is talking about in this text, is an antichrist power. So let us find out who is this antichrist power.

Has the Antichrist Come?

I like to begin at Daniel 7 to identify the antichrist, because there are certain major identifying marks there that are not found anywhere else in the Bible. Daniel 7 gives us absolutely, indisputable evidence as to the time and place where the antichrist power would arise. That is important to understand, because some people think that the antichrist has not even come yet.

Some people think that the antichrist power is still in the future, and some believe that the antichrist power appeared sometime before the time of Christ. But Daniel 7 puts dates and places in your mind so you have some anchor points regarding time and place, and that is important.

Daniel 7 records a vision about four beasts, which represent four empires, or kingdoms, that were going to rule the world.

Rome Identified

We know from Daniel 2 that there were only four kingdoms that would be worldwide in authority, and Daniel 7:23 says, “The fourth beast shall be A fourth kingdom on earth, Which shall be different from all other kingdoms, And shall devour the whole earth, Trample it and break it in pieces.” This fourth kingdom was not to be superceded by another kingdom, but it was to be divided into ten kingdoms. (See verses 7, 8.)

It is the fourth beast, the fourth kingdom, that would rule over the whole earth. We know that the fourth beast in Daniel 7 is the same as the fourth kingdom in Daniel 2, which is Rome. The third beast was Greece, the second Medo-Persia, and the first was Babylon.

Rome was to be divided up. Notice what it says in verse 7. “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it.…”

This fourth kingdom, we are told in the last part of verse 7, had ten horns. Then it says in verse 8, “‘I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots.’” Notice the explanation of this in verse 24. “‘The ten horns are ten kings Who shall arise from this kingdom [out of the Roman Empire]. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, And shall subdue three kings.’”

Now this other one that would arise after them is the little horn power described first in Daniel 7:8, referred to again in verses 20 and 21, and now referred to again in verses 24 and 25. Notice several things about this little horn power, this antichrist power.

First of all, look at the place where the antichrist arose.

The Ten Divisions

Scripture gives us a geographical place where the antichrist was to arise. The antichrist was to arise among the ten divisions of the Roman Empire.

The Roman Empire was divided into the following ten divisions between 351 ad and 476 ad:

  1. Anglo Saxons (Great Britain)
  2. Alamanni (Germany)
  3. Franks (France)
  4. Burgundians (Southern France and the area of Switzerland.)
  5. Visigoths (The Westgoths of Spain)
  6. Ostrogoths (The Eastgoths were driven out of Rome in 538 ad, and were later destroyed and disappeared.)
  7. Vandals (Northern Africa, they were destroyed in 534 ad and disappeared.)
  8. The Heruli (Odoacer’s kingdom, were driven out and destroyed in 493 ad.)
  9. The Suevi (Portugal)
  10. The Lombards (Northern Italy)

Identifying Marks of the Antichrist

The prophet clearly says, in verse 8, that this little horn power, the antichrist power, is to arise among these 10 tribes. So if you want to know where the antichrist power would arise, you have to look at that area of Europe where those ten kingdoms were divided from the Roman Empire. It has to occur in that geographical place. It cannot be anywhere else.

A power that arose in Africa, in Israel, in South America, in North America, in India or in China would not qualify. The place has to be among the divisions of these 10 kingdoms. In Daniel 7:24, it says, “And another shall rise after them.” (After the ten kings.) The ten kings divided up the Roman Empire between 351ad and 476ad, which means this little horn power would have to appear after 476ad. Now remember, it is called a horn, which means that it was a king, because these horns were called kings. (See verse 24.)

This little horn, the antichrist power, was “another” one, or “another” kingdom. (Verse 8, 24.) In other words, it was not one of the European nations. It was not France or England or Germany. It was in addition to the first ten kingdoms.

It was “a little horn.” (Chapter 7:8.) In fact, in size, it was so little that it was smaller than any of the other ten nations of Europe. It would arise as a horn, or as a kingdom, after the ten horns, divisions, of the Roman Empire.

In the process of arising, it would uproot three of the first ten kingdoms. We already saw the three that were uprooted were, the Heruli in 493 ad, the Vandals in 534 ad, the Ostrogoths in 538 ad, for the first time. The earliest date that could be given, according to this prophecy of Daniel 7, when the little horn power would appear or have independent authority, is 538 ad.

The little horn power existed before 538 ad, but the earliest time it had independent civil authority as a kingdom, was at this time. It arose to independent political power between 493 ad and 538 ad. Before that, it was always subservient to another power, and that is why the Ostrogoths, the Vandals and the Heruli were driven out. The little horn power could not have independent authority as long as they were around.

Daniel 7 tells us that this little horn had eyes like the eyes of a man. That is a very significant statement. If you have a Strong’s Concordance, look up the word eye, eyes of man, and the eyes of the Lord. You will find out some very interesting things.

This little horn power, this antichrist, had a mouth speaking great things. The claims made by this power are very, very easy to document. This power claims to hold, on earth, the place of God Almighty.

Daniel 7:20 says, “whose appearance was greater than his fellows.” In other words, this horn became more prominent. Some people say, Oh, that was Antiochus Epiphanies. Daniel 7:20 says that his appearance was more stout, or more formidable than was his fellows. That means that this power was greater than the British Empire, the French Empire, the German Empire, or any of the nations of Europe. Now that puts a little qualification on who this could be. This could not be just anybody. This is a power that is greater than any of the nations of Western Europe, which, in the last 1,500 years of history, have been the greatest nations of the world. This is a very qualifying statement.

The antichrist power, according to Daniel 7:21, would make war with the saints and prevail against them.

It says, again, in verse 24, that this antichrist power would be different than the first ten divisions of the Roman Empire. In what way would it be different? The difference is that this little horn would be a religious power and the 10 kingdoms were simply civil powers.

One of the key identifying marks of the antichrist in Bible prophecy is that it “shall intend to change times and law.” (Verse 25.) Notice, it is not talking about something that just happens, it is talking about a deliberate, intentional change of times and law.

The Picture Gets Clearer

“The saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.” (Verse 25.) We have not yet exhausted Daniel 7, but we are going to go to the second passage of Scripture that talks in detail about the antichrist power, and that is in 2 Thessalonians 2:4. We know this is the antichrist power, because it says he opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or is worshipped. So this is obviously an antichrist power or an antigod.

First of all we see that the antichrist will be revealed before Jesus comes. This is a very important point, because there are many people today who believe the rapture is going to come and steal the saints out of the world, then the antichrist is going to come.

Notice what Scripture says.

“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him [that is what some people call the rapture], we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.” 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3.

So the antichrist is to come before Christ comes. In fact, not only does the antichrist come before Christ, but also the antichrist will not appear after Christ comes, because this Scripture plainly tells you that Jesus is going to destroy the antichrist. Anything that the antichrist does to the world is going to be finished before Christ comes. This is a very powerful Scripture if you are helping somebody who is really looking for the truth.

The Antichrist Described

The appearance of the antichrist will occur as a result of a great apostasy in Christendom. (See 2 Thessalonians 2:3.)

The antichrist is called “the man of sin” and the “son of destruction.” (Verse 3.)

It says that he opposes all that is called God or worshipped. So we know that he is antichrist, because he opposes all that is called God. He is opposed to Christ because Christ is worshipped. (Verse 4.)

He “exalts himself above all that is called God.” Verse 4 tells us, “He sits as God.” In other words, the antichrist accepts worship.

It says that “he sits as God, in the temple of God.” This is a most revealing and significant statement about the antichrist. During the third and fourth centuries, a man called John Chrysostom was preaching. I do not know whether John Chrysostom was a Sabbath-keeper or not, but he understood something about the antichrist. John Chrysostom studied Matthew 24 and he studied 2 Thessalonians 2, and he knew about the antichrist appearing “as God in the temple of God.” Where is the temple of God? By that time Jerusalem had already been destroyed, so he knew that it was not Jerusalem. You see, some people today are confused. They think the antichrist is going to be some atheist who appears in Jerusalem at the end of time. But the temple had already been destroyed long before the fourth century. In Ephesians 2:19–22, Paul says the temple of God is the church. The house of God, the temple of God, is the church, and John Chrysostom told the people, The antichrist is going to appear in the church. Is that true? Yes, it is. Scripture says, “in the temple of God,” and the temple of God in this world is the church. So this passage of Scripture shows us that the antichrist is going to sit as God in the Christian church. But then it says, in the last part of verse 4, that he is “showing himself that he is God.” In other words, he is taking the place of God on earth and accepting worship from people.

“Now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.” Verse 6 reveals to us that the spirit of the antichrist was being restrained in Paul’s time. It was already here.

The spirit of antichrist was already at work even though it was being restrained. Notice what it says in verse 7: “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work.” So the spirit of antichrist was already present in Paul’s day. Daniel 7 shows that the antichrist would not be revealed as a kingdom until after the fall of the Roman Empire, but Paul says the spirit of antichrist, the spirit of lawlessness, is already at work. In other words, the antichrist power has roots that go all the way back to the time of the apostles. It was restrained then; it could not be manifested then, but its roots were there.

And then it says, it is called “the mystery of lawlessness.” That is an interesting expression. If you want to do some research sometime, the New Testament speaks of seven mysteries. This is one of the seven, the mystery of lawlessness. Why is it “the mystery of lawlessness?” Because, “the mystery of lawlessness is a system where people think they are keeping the law when they are actually breaking it. It is an amazing thing.

Paul says exactly the same thing as Daniel. He says it is already at work, but it is being restrained right now. But then he says that after the one who restrains it is taken out of the way, the antichrist power would be revealed. “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.” (Verse 7.)

Who is the one that, at that time, was restraining the mystery of lawlessness? It was the Roman Empire, the Roman Caesar. You see, the Roman Caesar claimed to be the incarnate god of the sun, that is, the sun god in the flesh. The Roman Caesar demanded worship, so the antichrist power could not be revealed. It was restrained by this pagan power that had control of the world, so the spirit, the mystery of lawlessness, the antichrist power could not be revealed. But Paul said, After the one who is presently restraining him is taken out of the way, then it will be revealed. The Roman Empire was taken out of the way between 351 ad and 476 ad

This antichrist power is called the lawless one in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, 9.

This antichrist power is going to come with deceptive signs. (See verse 9.) He is going to come according to “the working of Satan.”

He is going to come “with all power.” All power is talking about all satanic power. When you realize that, then you understand why Ellen White says unless we are continually under the jurisdiction and control of the Holy Spirit, we will be deceived. (See The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, vol. 2, 831.) Unless we are protected by the Holy Spirit, we will be deceived. Every morning, before we even get out of bed or talk to anybody, we should be committing our life to the Lord, asking that His Holy Spirit will be in charge of our minds and not allow us to come under the deceptive power of the antichrist. The deceptive power, today, is getting much, much worse than it has ever been in the past.

It is going to come with “lying wonders.” The world today does not believe the Bible, but if there is an apparition of the Virgin Mary somewhere, they will travel half-way around the world to see it, and they do not even know at what they are looking. Talk about superstitious! We are as superstitious as the ancient people were. And when you have all these lying wonders that are going to be manifested, what do you expect is going to happen? The whole world is going to be deceived, except those whose lives are committed to Jesus. Those who are converted, who are obeying and following Him, the Holy Spirit will enable to tell the difference between the false and the true. And it will take the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, because Ellen White says that the path of error and the path of truth will be so close together that without the Holy Spirit, you will not be able to tell the difference. (See Testimonies, vol. 8, 290.) That is why we need to be praying for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, day by day.

Pray that the Holy Spirit will be in control of your mind and help you not to offend God by sinning in thought, word or action. The commission of a known sin silences the voice of the Holy Spirit, and then you are vulnerable. The devil knows that. That is why he is always trying to entice God’s people to sin, so he can get at them to destroy them.

Verse 10 says the coming will be with all “unrighteous deception.” Everyone who does not love the truth is going to be deceived by the antichrist.

The antichrist is going to come with “the lie.” (See verse 11.) What is “the lie”? Satan coming as Christ. (See Ellen G. Comments, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 911.)

Revelation 13:1–10 talks about the antichrist power, the very same power that we have just been studying in 2 Thessalonians 2 and Daniel 7. “Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven.” (Verse 6.) So we know that this is talking about the antichrist power. Now who is this beast, this antichrist power that is described in Revelation 13? It says that this is the beast that rises up out of the sea, from among many people. Seventh-day Adventists know what it means for a beast to rise up out of the earth (“where the population is sparse”) and out of the sea (“where there are multitudes of peoples.”) (See Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 816.)

This antichrist power has seven heads and ten horns. This antichrist power has ten crowns, or diadems, on his ten horns. This antichrist power has a blasphemous name. All those descriptions are given in Revelation 13:1.

Verse 2 tells us that this antichrist power is “like a leopard.” It is a beast, and a beast represents a power. (See Daniel 7:17). This is a composite beast. Notice part of it is like a bear, part of it is like a lion and so forth, and “the dragon gave him his power.” The dragon also gave him his throne, that is, his seat of government, and also gave him great authority.

One very significant identifying mark is given in verse 3. One of his heads received a deadly wound. Now let us just think through for a moment what is the deadly wound. To understand what the deadly wound is, you have to understand the genius of the papacy.

A Civil-Religious Power, with the Church in Control

What the papacy is, in its central essence, is the union of the power of the church and state all in one, with the power of the church on top. That is a very important concept to understand. If you do not understand that, you have no comprehension of what the papacy is all about. The papacy is a union of the church with the state, but the church is in control. So the church uses the state for its own purposes and its own ends.

The spirit of lawlessness (the papacy) goes clear back to Paul’s time, but the actual union with the church-controlled state, did not occur for the first time until 538 ad. If you were to destroy one of those, you would not have to destroy the church. The church has never been destroyed. It has existed continuously since then. But if the church and the state were not united with the authority of the church in control, you would have destroyed the essential character of the papacy. That is what the deadly wound was all about.

All through the Dark Ages the pope had controlled what was called the papal state in Italy, but in 1798 the Catholic Church did not cease to exist, but its civil power was removed for the first time since 538 ad. When they elected a new pope in 1800, he had no civil authority, and from then on the pope had no civil authority; no kingdom. That deadly wound was healed in 1929, when the papacy was given territory where they, again, had their own government on one of the seven hills in Rome. The hill on which their kingdom sits, where their government is located, is Vatican Hill, or the Vatican.

The deadly wound has been healed. There is again a union of church and state, with the church in control. That is the reason given in the public press, why President Reagan sent an Ambassador to the Vatican. Since 1867, the United States had refused to send an Ambassador to the Vatican. However, because it was said, this man is not just the head of the church, he has a state government; he is the head of a state; a king of a state, as well as the head of a church, so it is right that he should have a representative from all governments of the world. The deadly wound was healed, but after the deadly wound was healed, he blasphemed those who dwell in heaven. (See Revelation 13:6.)

A Worldwide Super Power

“It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them.” This again is a very conclusive identifying mark. It says in Revelation 13:7, “Authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.” Revelation 13:7.

So this is a super power, with authority worldwide. This again is a very conclusive identifying mark. That could never apply to Communism, because Communism has never had authority over every tribe, tongue, people and nation. They tried, but they did not make it.

“All who dwell on the earth will worship him.” (Verse 8.) Again, it shows the antichrist is a religion.

The number of this beast, this antichrist power, “is the number of a man,” and the number is 666.

The Weight of Evidence Points to the Papacy

There are a few other marks of the antichrist power in 1 John 2 and 1 John 4, and also some about the future in 2 Thessalonians 2, that we did not cover. But if you put all of these things together, the antichrist power can only be one thing. It could not apply to anything else. This one power meets every one of the over 60 descriptions and identifying marks given in this article, and that power is the papacy.

Even though Jesus said, “‘Judge not, that ye be not judged,’” Matthew 7:6, we are living in a time when world governments want to do this very thing. They pass legislation against hate crimes, because the devil is trying to make it so that you and I cannot tell people who is the antichrist power. That is the devil’s goal, to make it impossible for us to get out the word.

That is why, friends, we need to pray and ask the Lord to help us quickly get out the word about who the antichrist power is, because very soon we are not going to be able to do it. Our Bibles will be taken away from us. We are not going to be able to distribute The Great Controversy. It is going to be impossible to send out The National Sunday Law books, or any books that tell the truth about the antichrist

The Lord has held things open for the people of this world to find out these things for many years. But the time is coming when the Lord is going to allow our religious liberties to be taken away, and right at the end, we will not have religious liberty. Right now if you know somebody who is deceived, confused, or does not know the truth, you need to help them find the truth about who the antichrist is, because if they worship it, or if they receive its mark, they are going to receive the plagues. And, friends, the plagues could be coming sooner than we realize.

We are living in the last days. Things are winding up. When I was a boy I was told that these things would happen, but it was way down in the future. It is happening right now! You need to not only know who the antichrist is, but you need to prepare to answer in a court, or tell your neighbor or anyone who is looking for truth.

Are you ready? We are on the winning side, even though it is not going to look like it for a little while. Ellen White says, in the book Adventist Apocalypse, that for a little while it is going to look like Satan has won the great controversy. But he is not going to win; truth in righteousness is going to triumph. And if you stay with the Three Angels’ Messages, when the Three Angels’ Messages triumph, you will triumph with them.

Part II

Identification and Spirit of Antichrist – Part II

We have been looking at the spirit of antichrist, and we want to look further at his philosophy and purpose.

Daniel 7:25 says, concerning the antichrist, that he “shall intend [in other words, he will do this deliberately, on purpose, intentionally] to change times and law.”

In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, he is called “the man of sin.” In verse 7, he is called “the mystery of lawlessness,” and in verse 8, he is called “The lawless one.” One more text about the antichrist says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits.…” 1 John 4:1. One of the great tragedies, one of the great disasters of our time is that almost the whole Christian world is in violation of this verse.

Apparitions and Wonders

When there is an apparition, when there is a spiritual happening, when there is a wonder, when there is a miracle, people gawk at it and say, Is that not wonderful? But what does the Bible say? The Bible says, do not believe every spirit. It says to test the spirits. If you are going to make it through the times just ahead, every spirit, every miracle, every teaching, every wonder, every sign must be tested by the Word of God.

“Test the spirits.” Obviously all the spirits are not good, because the Bible says to test them “whether they are of God” or not. “…because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.” Verses 1–5.

Now, verse 3 is explicit and exact. It says, “every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.” That is an unequivocal, general, absolute statement. Furthermore, he says, “This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”

In 1 John 2:18, 19 the apostle John makes it clear that there are many antichrists. He also makes it clear that these many antichrists are people who came out of the bosom of the Christian church. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” Verse 19.

Even though he acknowledges that there are many antichrists, he also acknowledges that there is one power that he calls “the antichrist.” He says, “You have heard that the Antichrist is coming.” Verse 18 (NKJV.)

The spirit of the antichrist is the spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. (See 1 John 4:3.) This has to do with the philosophy and the purpose of antichrist. What is it all about? The question is, of course, what does it mean to say that Jesus Christ has not come in the flesh, or to not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh?

The Word “Flesh”

There has been much controversy over this text for many, many centuries. The reason that it is difficult for people to understand is because the word, flesh, is a technical term in the New Testament. In every branch of knowledge, we have technical terms. Whether you are studying medicine, aviation, electricity, chemistry, every branch of knowledge has certain technical terms to explain certain things that you are studying. The same is true in religion. The Christian religion has some technical terms, and to understand the Bible, you must understand what these technical terms mean. When the apostles talk about the flesh, they have something very specific in mind. Let us examine a few texts and see if we can figure out what this technical term means.

The Basis for All Sin

The word flesh, comes from the Greek word sarx. In the Latin equivalent, it is carnal and the English equivalent is flesh. What does this technical term mean in the New Testament? We will let the apostle John answer that. “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” 1 John 2:16. John says there are only three things in the world, and one of those things is the lust of the flesh.

So obviously, flesh is a technical term. It is one of only three things that even exist in this world. Now let us see what the apostle Paul says about it. He uses this term probably more than any other Bible writer does. “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Galatians 5:16, 17.

Paul says there is a fight going on in your mind, and that fight is between the flesh and between the spirit. Because of that battle, you cannot just do what comes naturally. “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident.” Verses 18, 19.

If the lust of the flesh is expressed in works, what will happen and what are the works?

Paul lists about 17 things that tell what the works of the flesh are: “The works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Ibid.

Paul lists all these things and then he adds, and all the other things like that. Those are the works of the flesh. People who live and manifest the works of the flesh are not going to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Do you now understand what the apostles mean when they talk about the flesh?

In our modern, English speech, the modern equivalent expression to “the flesh” and all these things that he listed here, would be sin! Carnal equals flesh, self. This is our fallen, sinful human nature. Ellen White says that is what we have inside. (See Education, 29.) This is important for young people to understand. She says that we have within us “a bent to evil” that we cannot resist if we do not have help. Is that true?

The Deceitful Heart

Have you ever heard a young person say, Well, I do not want to be a Christian, but I am going to be a good person. Oh, no, you are not! You may be a good person outwardly, but your heart will not be pure and holy without the power of Christ within you. It will not happen.

The Bible says that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked and who can know it? (See Jeremiah 17:9.) In other words, nobody can know it. That is the flesh is—your sinful, fallen, human nature. The apostle Paul talks about this extensively in Romans 8:1–14. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.…For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded [that is fleshly minded] is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind [that is the fleshly mind, the unconverted mind] is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. [Notice, it is impossible.] So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”

Fallen Human Nature

When we are converted, we receive the Holy Spirit. Then a warfare takes place in the heart and the mind, the warfare between the Spirit and the flesh. Paul says you will live, if according to the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, the sinful, carnal, fallen human nature; that bent to sin that you cannot resist on your own without divine help. That is why Jesus came, to give you that help.

Notice in verse 3, that God sent “His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh,” and He condemned sin in the flesh.” So when the New Testament talks about the flesh, it is talking about our fallen, human nature. Does that make sense? We see that repeatedly—in Galatians 5, Romans 8, and many other places in the New Testament.

I want you to see something very interesting in 1 John 4:3. It says, “every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist.” This has to do with the basic philosophy and the purpose of the antichrist.

Again, the word flesh is talking about our fallen human nature. So let us look at that text again, replacing the word flesh, with the words our fallen human nature. “Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the fallen human nature is not of God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist.”

A Religion of Human Nature

The antichrist power does not acknowledge that Jesus came in fallen sinful nature. In fact, that is one of the foundational points of their theology, and anyone who has studied and understands the Roman Catholic faith will confess that.

Ellen White says that the Roman Catholic religion is the religion of human nature. (See Signs of the Times, February 19, 1894.) It is a very logical religion, and it has tremendous appeal to human nature. Here is why. If Jesus did not come to this world in the likeness of sinful flesh, if He was not tempted on every point like we are tempted, if He did not come in fallen human nature, then He was different than we are. Does that make sense? If He came in the unfallen nature of Adam in the Garden of Eden, then He is different than we are.

Now let us just think this through a minute. If Jesus is different than we are, if He did not even participate in the kind of temptations that we have, because of that difference, it would mean He was not tempted in every point like we are. But the Bible says that He was. (See Hebrews 4:14–16.) If He was not tempted in every point just like we are, if He did not have a nature like we have, He cannot understand us, so there is a gulf between Jesus Christ and us. How would you like to pray to somebody who could not understand you?

You need help. Who can help? There were some holy people who lived in the world who were just like you. We call them saints and they can speak to Jesus and talk to Him about your need. They can feel the way you feel. That is part of the reason for the development of the doctrine of the theology of the intercession of the saints. It is why people pray to saints. They know that the saints understand them, because they are alike.

They do not believe that Jesus understands, because He was different than they are. The intercession of saints is just the beginning. Christ is thereby removed far from human beings, far from the sinner. Sinners are afraid to even approach Christ. They think that they must approach somebody who is more like themselves. They would like to approach Mary. They think she would understand a little better, however, even Mary is not enough, because they believe that she was immaculate.

Becoming Like Jesus

There is another problem that comes in. If Jesus was completely different than we are, not only can He not understand us, but how could we ever be expected to become like He is, because His nature is different than ours.

A few select people will become like Him. We call them saints. What the great mass of mankind will have to do is to simply keep their sins confessed. There are hundreds of millions of sincere people who know nothing else about the Christian religion except that Jesus is different than they are. They can never become like Jesus and they can never overcome.

A Terrible Delusion

They do not understand the gospel. The gospel teaches, not only forgiveness of the guilt of sin, but also that you will overcome your sins. In fact, Scripture promises salvation only to those who overcome. (See Revelation 3:5.) No one else is promised salvation. (See John 8, 1 John 3, and Romans 8.)

But people do not know that. They believe that you can be saved in sin as long as you keep your sins confessed, so they go to confession every day, every week, and keep confessing their sins. These people do not expect to overcome their sins. They know that they are going to sin for the rest of their lives, but they think if they keep their sins confessed, then they will go to heaven.

It is a terrible, terrible delusion that has taken almost the whole Christian world captive, and I am sorry to tell you that there are Adventists today who have been taken captive by this delusion, too. They think if they just keep their sins confessed, they will go to heaven.

A Great Disappointment

Jesus addresses this theory in Matthew 7:21–23. These are Christians who believe that they are going to be saved. But they are not going to be saved, and the day of God is going to bring to them the most bitter disappointment. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’”

These people believe that they have received the Holy Spirit. They have been working miracles, speaking in different languages, prophesying in Christ’s name. These are the people who have participated in the great revival of antichrist at the end of the world, and they cannot believe that they are not saved. They say, You have to have made a mistake, Lord. But from lips that never make a mistake comes the following reply: “‘And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”’ Verse 23.

The Lie of Antichrist

What is their problem? They are breaking God’s law. They thought that they could be saved in sin; this is the lie of the antichrist. 11 Thessalonians 2:9–12 says, “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all powers, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.”

The lie is that you can be saved in sin. That is the lie of antichrist. That is the philosophy of antichrist. That is the objective of antichrist. “That they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Verse 12.

There was a time when Seventh-day Adventists did not believe the lie. Some time ago I looked over the notes of sermons that I first preached as a young minister, before we had such things as the new theology in the Adventist Church. I was surprised how clear the message was. If you wanted to be saved, you had to overcome sin. That is just the way it was. That is the way it still is, but we have been influenced by the lie, the teaching of antichrist that you can be saved in sin, just by keeping your sins confessed. We cannot be saved without overcoming sin!

A Terror to Evil-doers

Have you read about the early Christians in The Great Controversy, chapter two? It says that their doctrines were a terror to evil-doers. Is what you believe a terror to evil-doers? If it is not, then what you believe is not what the early church believed.

Seventh-day Adventists have been affected by antichrist. We have been affected by the lie. I am praying that, by the grace of God, I can help people remove the blinders from their eyes, so they can see the truth. The truth is that not one of us are going to be saved in sin. Not one! If there is any sin in our mind or in our character, that we have not overcome, we are not going through the pearly gates. It is just that simple.

People have heard the lie for so long that when they first hear that they cannot be saved in sin, they are shocked, they can hardly believe it! The lie of antichrist has gone all over the world. It has affected almost all Christian churches and even non-Christian churches, but it is still a lie. It is the lie of the antichrist power.

People say that nobody can be perfect. In other words, everybody is going to sin a little bit. Yes, almost all the people in the world are going to sin, but they are not going to heaven. The only people going to heaven are the people who quit sinning. And, oh, friend, do not believe it because I said so. Read your own Bible.

This is not an obscure Scriptural theory. Read John 8, Romans 6, Romans 8, Galatians 5, 1 John 3, the book of James, and Revelation 2, 3, 21 and 22. It is there! Scripture makes it very clear, that when Jesus comes again, He is going to have a people who are without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish. They are the only people He is going to save.

A Complete Change

Maybe someone is saying, There is always someone who is sinning. I guess I will just not be able to go to heaven then. No, you will not be able to go to heaven if you do not let the Lord work in your life so that there is a complete change. The Lord wants to save you. He has the power to save the most vile, degraded sinner. (See The Desire of Ages, 258.) Matthew 22 relates the story of a wedding for a king’s son. After the people who were first invited would not come, the king said, Go into the highways and byways and bring in all the people. That is happening right now.

When I was preaching the gospel in New Guinea in 1996, a lot of the church people did not accept it. Do you know what happened to the people who would not accept it? The Lord bypassed them and picked someone else. He picked the vile sinners, and they came and accepted the gospel. While I was there they had a baptism, and one of the persons baptized was the former leader of a drug gang. He found the gospel, or the gospel found him, he gave up his lucrative drug business and became a Seventh-day Adventist.

When we come right down to the end, there are going to be people on the inside of the city, who, in their past have been vile, degraded sinners, but they came to the Lord and said, Lord, please change me. Their biggest sin, they bring to the Lord and say, I am willing to give it up.

The Smallest Sin

We need to think as well about the other side of the coin, because most of us have probably never been the leader of a drug gang, the head of a house of prostitution, or have done some other horrible thing; but the smallest sin, that we are not willing to forsake, will keep us out of the Kingdom. The smallest sin! The sin that nobody knows about. The sin that you just enjoy. Perhaps you are a deacon, an elder, an evangelist, or some other church leader, and no one knows about this small sin. But the smallest sin that you will not forsake will keep you out of heaven, because God is going to have a people who are without spot or wrinkle.

You might be going to a Seventh-day Adventist Church and still have the lie of antichrist in your mind, because you do not realize that all sin must be given up, forsaken, and overcome. Jesus has promised to give you power to overcome. Do you believe that? Many people have told me that they could not overcome. Yes, you can! The Lord said that you can do it. Why do you not put God to the test, and say, Lord, here I am; I am going to give it everything that I have.

The Lord will not answer your prayers if you just give Him half of your heart, but if you make a total and complete surrender and bring your vile sin to Him, you will have victory!

Immediate Deliverance!

The God that we serve is powerful! Do not ask if it is His will. Ellen White says when you are asking for victory over sin, you do not need to ask whether it is God’s will, because it is His will to deliver us immediately. (See The Desire of Ages, 266.)

If there is sin in your life that you have never overcome; if you will come to the Lord today and say, Lord, I am willing to give up that sin now, today, the Lord will give you the power to give it up, the chance to be changed today!

If we are going to go to heaven, we are going to have to get serious. Ellen White wrote that when God sees that we are really serious, He will attract the heart to Himself as a magnet. (See Our High Calling, 337.) Do you want that to happen in your life?

God wants to do that for you, but unlike the antichrist, He never uses force. God will not operate in violation or your choice. Friend, are you going to escape the lie that you can be saved in sin? The reason people like the lie is because it is so attractive. 11 Thessalonians 2:12 says there is pleasure in unrighteousness.

If you are having pleasure in unrighteousness, you are lost. Do not fool yourself. The fact that you are in a Seventh-day Adventist Church is not going to save you at all when the plagues begin to fall.

I have met people, with a sin in their life, and when I urge them, encourage them, to allow the Lord to deliver them, they say, Well, the Lord knows how I feel. Yes, the Lord does know how you feel, but you are not going to heaven with those kinds of feelings, thoughts, and actions. It is not going to happen.

God Longs to Set Us Free

The Book says that you are not going through the pearly gates with sin. There are going to be a few people who say, I believe what God says. He has promised that He can deliver me from every sin; every darling sin He can take away from me, and I am willing to cooperate.

Do not fool yourself. Do not think, Oh, I know what the Bible says, but I can still divorce my wife and marry somebody else and go to heaven. Watch out! Read the Sermon on the Mount. (See Matthew 5.) Jesus did not promise salvation to anybody in that kind of a situation. Watch out! Do not commit the sin of presumption. Do not say, I know the Bible says this, but the Lord knows I have this habit that I cannot overcome and I just have to do it. Watch out!

God is powerful, and He wants to heal you and me. I do not know what the passion is in your life, that the devil has put in your heart and in your mind, that you cannot overcome. I do not know what your heredity or your past environment has been so that you have a certain problem in your life. I do not know, but God knows all about it. And God is waiting to set us free.

If we are going to be set free at all, we are going to be set free in this life, friends, because we are not going to heaven in chains to be set free there. If you want to be set free, bring your sin to the Lord. He is just waiting for you to ask.

Stones to Remember, Part II

Last month we learned that when Joshua led the children of Israel into the land of Canaan, God instructed that one man from each of the 12 tribes carry a stone from the midst of the Jordan River to the shore of Canaan. There an altar was to be built as a reminder of the Lord’s leading. (See Joshua 4:1–9.)

Every one of us should know that the Lord has been leading us. We should also know that the Lord has been leading in the second advent movement and in the revival and reformation movement in Adventism. If God is leading us, He will always, without fail, be leading us in harmony with His law.

After Ellen White died, in 1915, did the Lord continue to lead the advent movement? Yes! Is He going to lead us until the end? Yes! So, we need to study and to remember—just as the children of Israel put up a memorial when they went across the Jordan River—how the Lord has led us, not just up until 1915 but up to today.

In the development, in the understanding, and in the proclamation of the three angels’ messages, the Lord has been leading. We should know how the Lord has led, and we need to recognize how the devil has attacked and what the Lord has done in return. Our faith, as Adventists, must be grounded in the Bible.

Dropping the Bombshell!

In 1979 I was invited to teach health science, food and nutrition at Southwestern Adventist College in Keene, Texas. Prior to that time I had been a pastor for the Seventh-day Adventist Church and had worked in public evangelism. My family and I arrived in Keene during the summer of 1979 for the beginning of the 1979–1980 school year. At the beginning of the school year a bombshell dropped on Adventism that has had repercussions around the world, and we are still affected by it.

In California at Pacific Union College at that time was a visiting professor from Australia by the name of Dr. Desmond Ford. He gave a lecture at an Adventist Forum, the essence of which was that, as a church, we were mistaken in regard to what happened in 1844. He also espoused that we were mistaken in regard to our concept of the investigative judgment.

Although I was not on the Theology Department staff, I obviously was mingling with people from all of the departments. As we mingled, we talked about these things, and I found out something shocking.

I learned that the faculty was divided. Some of the faculty thought that Desmond Ford was right! Some of them thought that he was dead wrong. A flurry of publications began to be issued. Some people, whom I had always thought were pillars in the Adventist Church, our theologians, were writing things like, “We cannot find anything about the investigative judgment in the Bible.”

Our Doctrines Still Stand

I was amazed! I can find things about the investigative judgment in the Bible! For example: “I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of days was seated; his garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before him. A thousand thousands ministered to him. Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. [That is a hundred million.] The court was seated [or the judgment was set in place] and the books were opened.” Daniel 7:9, 10.

These verses are talking about a court, or a judgment. Notice that in the last sentence it says, “and the books were opened.” I do not know how much more plain you could write it. If you have a judgment and books are being opened, some kind of investigation is occurring.

If you look at the context of these verses, they take place while the little horn power, the antichrist, is still in existence. This is not talking about after the millenium, or after Jesus comes, because when Jesus comes, the antichrist power is going to be destroyed. (See 11 Thessalonians 2.) This takes place before the antichrist power is destroyed—check the context in your Bible. This is talking about a judgment which includes an investigation. You do not have to be a scholar to understand this. It is in plain language.

Revelation 14:6, 7 talk about a judgment that takes place while the gospel is still being preached. Is the gospel going to be preached after Jesus comes? No, the gospel is all finished being preached before Jesus comes.

If you study Revelation 14:6, 7 carefully, you will see, from the context of the verses, that your conduct is going to make a difference in regard to the decision made in this judgment. It says, “The hour of his judgment is come” and for that reason you need to “fear God and to glorify him.” The Bible is very clear—there is a judgment that takes place in heaven before Jesus comes, while the antichrist power is still in the world and the gospel is still being preached.

But in 1979–1980, we started to have all of these things dropped on us. In fact, it was such a bombshell that it was decided that all the leaders in the Adventist Church would gather the next year at Glacier View Camp in Colorado to study out this topic. After this gathering, many more than before of the scholars in the Seventh-day Adventist Church were even more convinced that Desmond Ford was right. But they decided not to say anything about it, because they were afraid they would lose their jobs. Many of those people are still teaching our ministers.

Checking it Out

The people said, “Well you just do not know. You cannot tell from the Greek text in Hebrews that Jesus went into the holy place instead of the most holy place in 31 a.d.”

I decided to check this out further. I thought I already knew what was truth—I had been teaching it for many years. I thought all Adventists knew. But some of the leading scholars in our church said that we were wrong and that we had been wrong since the beginning of the church. It was time to do some very diligent study.

It was said that if you looked in the Greek text at Hebrews or if you looked in the Hebrew text at Daniel, you would find out that we were wrong. In the providence of God, I had studied Greek at Walla Walla College (College Place, Washington) and at the Seventh-day Adventist Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan. At the Berrien Springs Seminary I had also studied Hebrew. In fact, I often preach from my Hebrew Bible.

I bought a new Hebrew Bible and secured some new Greek Bibles, and I determined to check out this teaching. If we had been wrong in Adventism for almost 150 years, it was high time that we found out what the Bible really said. If you have studied the history of Adventism and know where we come from, you know that Seventh-day Adventists are Protestants. A Protestant is a person whose faith is anchored in the word of God. So if the word of God should prove us wrong, we would have to just accept that we were wrong.

I determined to check every word. I was going to check the declension of every single noun. I was going to check the conjugation of every single verb in these disputed passages and I was going to find out if we were wrong. And, of course, if we were wrong, we would have to change; we would have to acknowledge that we were wrong. I spent a number of years checking all of those things out very, very carefully.

Our Anchor Holds!

Since I was working at a college, I had access to the Baptist Seminary Library in Forth Worth, Texas, which provided me access to historical and lexical aids. I checked out everything, and I want to tell you, the Adventist message that our pioneers taught is solidly anchored in the Bible. There is no mistake in it!

I am not saying that we know everything. I am not claiming that we can explain every verse of Scripture, but the message that Adventists have proclaimed about 1844 and about the investigative judgment and about the sanctuary is anchored in the Bible. The more deeply we study into it, the more solid we will find it to be.

When I started to study in 1980, I spent so many hours in my Hebrew Bible that I got a magnifying glass so I could enlarge the words and make it easier to read. I went down Daniel 8 word-by-word-by-word, over and over again, because that was one of the most disputed passages. There were people saying that they did not think that this passage even applies to the papacy; they thought that it applies to Antiochus Epiphanies. That is what other Protestant churches teach! Now church leaders claimed that what we had been saying for over 100 years was wrong.

Even a Child Can Understand

Let me point out some things.

  1. In the first part of Daniel 8 is the description concerning the ram. It says, in the Hebrew language, that the ram became great.
  2. It also talks about a he-goat with a horn between the eyes and about the ways that the he-goat became very great. The ram became great; the he-goat became very great. Daniel 8 tells us as well that the ram represents the kings of Medo-Persia; the he-goat represents Greece, and the great horn represents the first king.
  3. It then talks about the little horn becoming exceedingly great. That is more than very great! In the Hebrew language, it is very explicit and very clear. You cannot make a mistake. The ram became great; the he-goat became very great, and the little horn became exceedingly great, greater than Alexander the Great. Was Antiochus Epiphanes greater than Alexander the Great? No! That would be like saying that your state governor is greater than the President of the United States. It makes no sense at all. The little horn in Daniel 7 and Daniel 8 is exactly what the Adventist pioneers said—the papacy!

The 2,300 days are exactly what our pioneers said also. You can follow word-by-word-by-word in the Hebrew text, and you do not have to take anything out of context. When I was challenged about this, and when I saw theologians in our church saying that we did not know what we were talking about, I realized that what they were saying would not only make Ellen White wrong, but it would make us all wrong in our beliefs. If they were right, we would have to change.

People did change as a result of this theology. One of them, the associate pastor of the church that I had attended in Loma Linda, California, became the pastor of a Sunday-keeping church. That is where this theology led him.

God has led in the second-advent movement! There is not one Adventist in a hundred who knows how deeply this message is laid. The foundation goes deep; it is on the Rock. You cannot overthrow it unless you overthrow the Bible.

We have nothing of which to be ashamed when we talk to any person of any religious persuasion concerning what we believe about the prophecies in Daniel 7, 8 and 9. If we have studied it carefully, we can go through the verses word-by-word-by-word, in context, and they all fit together.

I did the same type of study in the book of Hebrews. I looked at the conjugation of every verb, the declension of every noun, and looked at every single word. They say that you cannot determine that Jesus went into the holy place in 31 a.d., but you most certainly can! You do not have to look at the writings of Ellen White to prove it, either. You can find it right in the Bible.

The Bible Alone—Our Foundation Stone

Our faith is based in the Bible. We should be able to teach every doctrine of belief that we have right from that Book. Now, please do not misunderstand me. I believe that Ellen White is a prophet. I do not have any question about that. But you and I should be able to prove everything that we believe from the Bible alone.

Ellen White told us that we should be able to do that. (See Manuscricpt Releases, vol. 2, 96.) The Adventist message came out of the Bible. That is why you do not need to take anything out of context. You do not need to twist anything. You just need to look and see what it says and what is the weight of the evidence.

What was the bottom line in all those new teachings that came to be called the New Theology? It all led to denial of 1844, to denial of the investigative judgment, and to denial of the sanctuary message. The people who accepted those new teachings, have been led from one heresy to another. A theology student came to me one day when I was teaching at Southwestern Adventist College. He said, “I have a theology teacher who told us in class that we are going to sin until Jesus comes.” That is the end result of this theology. The fact of the matter is, friend, that many, many Seventh-day Adventists as well as other people are going to sin until Jesus comes, but then they are going to get burned up.

The reason there has been so much opposition against what Adventists teach about the sanctuary is because of the devil’s hatred of that doctrine. That doctrine will lead you to understand that you and I must be purified to be ready for Jesus to come. Oh, friends, you and I cannot go to the kingdom of heaven the way we are right now. We have to be purified. We have to be cleansed. Our sins have to be blotted out.

Purified and Cleansed

Are you praying about this every day? Do you want to be purified and cleansed? Do not try to find some new message. The Bible teaches the Adventist message. Maybe I should say it the other way around—the Adventist message comes out of the Bible. The sanctuary message comes out of the Bible. The fact that we must be purified comes out of the Bible.

John said, “Everyone who has this hope in him [Jesus] purifies himself, just as he is pure.” 1 John 3:3. Do not look for a different message. We have the truth! I am not boasting. We have the truth because God gave it to us. Our spiritual forefathers searched the Bible through, and the Lord, through the Spirit of Prophecy led them to understand what these words mean.

You can go to those original texts in Hebrew and Greek, and you will find that they teach Adventism. God has led us. The big question is, are you and I going to come into harmony with what God wants to do for us individually and for us as a movement?

Before the end of time, one of two things is going to happen to every single person in Adventism, and eventually to every single person in the world, because this is the way that God is leading. We know it is going to happen because prophecy says so. There is going to be one group of people, a smaller group, who will come into harmony with everything in the word of God, every word!

Living by Every Word

Jesus said we should live by every word (see Matthew 4:4); that means that every word is important. I want to be among that group. That is the whole aim of my life. Those people are going to be purified; the Lord is going to blot out their sins. He is going to clothe them with the righteousness of Jesus Christ and take them to heaven.

But there is going to be a much larger group of people in Adventism, as well as in the world, who are not going to become purified. If you believe the New Theology, then you believe that you are going to sin until Jesus comes. Ellen White says, “Success in any line demands a definite aim.” Education, 262. If you are not aiming to overcome sin, you are not going to do it.

Have you ever seen an alcoholic who just quit drinking without even trying? Have you ever seen a chain smoker suddenly quit, and it just happened? You see, those things do not just happen. They do not happen unless a person decides they are not going to do those things any more. They decide to change.

A person does not quit sinning unless they decide, either, but you are not going to decide to stop sinning if you do not think that it is possible to stop. That is what is wrong with so much religious teaching today. People are not taught that it is possible. Even some Seventh-day Adventist preachers are telling their congregations to just do the best they can.

Not Good Enough!

I believe that it is good to do the best you can in all your activities all the time. But if you are talking about sin, you had better not just talk about doing the best you can, because God requires that we come up to a standard which He has set.

God is leading a people into a path of purification and holiness. The evidence for it is strong. The evidence is overwhelming that this is true. We know that He is leading because the deeper we study the Bible, the more evidence we find that this is what it teaches.

When it is all over, there will be only two groups. In which of those two groups are you going to be? The devil is attacking; he is trying to trip you up with any kind of heresy or false teaching that he can foist on you. The Lord is leading a people, and if you are willing for Him to lead you, He said, I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. (See Hebrews 13:5.)

If you depart from the truths of our church pioneers, it is because you choose to believe error. It is not because God or His message have changed. We see the evidence from history that He has led us up to this point and He is going to lead us into the kingdom.

Bible Study Guides – The Mystery of Iniquity

September 26, 2010 – October 2, 2010

Key Text

“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, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” II Thessalonians 2:3, 4.

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 33–43. The Great Controversy, 49–54.


“The special characteristic of the beast, and therefore of his image, is the breaking of God’s commandments.” The Great Controversy, 446.

1 Next to Christ, who was the most exalted among the angels and what do we know of his position? Ezekiel 28:12–14.

Note: “Sin originated with him who, next to Christ, had been most honored of God and who stood highest in power and glory among the inhabitants of heaven. Before his fall, Lucifer was first of the covering cherubs, holy and undefiled.” The Great Controversy, 493, 494.

2 What led this anointed cherub on the course that separated him from the privileges of heaven? Ezekiel 28:6, 15–17.

Note: “Lucifer might have remained in favor with God, beloved and honored by all the angelic host, exercising his noble powers to bless others and to glorify his Maker. … Instead of seeking to make God supreme in the affections and allegiance of His creatures, it was Lucifer’s endeavor to win their service and homage to himself. And coveting the honor which the infinite Father had bestowed upon His Son, this prince of angels aspired to power which it was the prerogative of Christ alone to wield.” The Great Controversy, 494.

3 How does the prophet Isaiah contrast the original position of Lucifer with his later condition perpetuated throughout history? Isaiah 14:12–14.

Note: “Little by little Lucifer came to indulge the desire for self-exaltation. … Though all his glory was from God, this mighty angel came to regard it as pertaining to himself. Not content with his position, though honored above the heavenly host, he ventured to covet homage due alone to the Creator.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 35.

“The desire for self-exaltation had brought strife into the heavenly courts, and had banished a multitude of the hosts of God. Had Lucifer really desired to be like the Most High, he would never have deserted his appointed place in heaven; for the spirit of the Most High is manifested in unselfish ministry. Lucifer desired God’s power, but not His character. He sought for himself the highest place, and every being who is actuated by his spirit will do the same. Thus alienation, discord, and strife will be inevitable. Dominion becomes the prize of the strongest. The kingdom of Satan is a kingdom of force; every individual regards every other as an obstacle in the way of his own advancement, or a steppingstone on which he himself may climb to a higher place.” The Desire of Ages, 435, 436.

4 On what were Lucifer’s ambitions focused?

Note: “Pride in his own glory nourished the desire for supremacy. The high honors conferred upon Lucifer were not appreciated as the gift of God and called forth no gratitude to the Creator. He gloried in his brightness and exaltation, and aspired to be equal with God.” The Great Controversy, 495.

5 Where was Lucifer cast when his rebellion was overcome, and how many angels joined him in rebellion? Isaiah 14:15; Revelation 12:4, 7–9.

Note: “When through his rebellion he [Lucifer] was cast out of heaven, he determined to make man his victim, and the earth his kingdom. He cast the blame of his rebellion upon Christ, and in determined hatred of God, sought to wound Him through the fall of man.” The Bible Echo, November 1, 1892.

6 Having been cast out of heaven, how has Lucifer continued his destructive work? Revelation 12:12; I Peter 5:8, 9.

Note: “From the very beginning of the great controversy in heaven it has been Satan’s purpose to overthrow the law of God. It was to accomplish this that he entered upon his rebellion against the Creator, and though he was cast out of heaven he has continued the same warfare upon the earth. To deceive men, and thus lead them to transgress God’s law, is the object which he has steadfastly pursued. Whether this be accomplished by casting aside the law altogether, or by rejecting one of its precepts, the result will be ultimately the same.” The Great Controversy, 582.

7 How may the particular representative of Satan in this world be positively identified, and what sign will identify the national pawn he will use? Revelation 13:1, 2, 17, 18.

Note: “In [Revelation] chapter 13 (verses 1–10) is described another beast, ‘like unto a leopard,’ to which the dragon gave ‘his power, and his seat, and great authority’ [verse 2]. This symbol, as most Protestants have believed, represents the papacy, which succeeded to the power and seat and authority once held by the ancient Roman empire. Of the leopardlike beast it is declared: ‘There was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies. … And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations’ [verses 5–7]. This prophecy, which is nearly identical with the description of the little horn of Daniel 7, unquestionably points to the papacy.” The Great Controversy, 439.

“The prophecy of Revelation 13 declares that the power represented by the beast with lamblike horns shall cause ‘the earth and them which dwell therein’ [verse 12] to worship the papacy—there symbolized by the beast ‘like unto a leopard.’ The beast with two horns is also to say ‘to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast;’ and, furthermore, it is to command all, ‘both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond,’ to receive the mark of the beast [verses 14, 16].” Ibid., 578, 579.

8 What do the Scriptures say of the ambitions of the antichrist? Daniel 7:25.

Note: “The special characteristic of the beast, and therefore of his image, is the breaking of God’s commandments. Says Daniel, of the little horn, the papacy: ‘He shall think to change times and the law.’ Daniel 7:25, R.V. And Paul styled the same power the ‘man of sin’ [II Thessalonians 2:3], who was to exalt himself above God. One prophecy is a complement of the other. Only by changing God’s law could the papacy exalt itself above God; whoever should understandingly keep the law as thus changed would be giving supreme honor to that power by which the change was made. Such an act of obedience to papal laws would be a mark of allegiance to the pope in the place of God.” The Great Controversy, 446.

“Those who become confused in their understanding of the Word, who fail to see the meaning of antichrist, will surely place themselves on the side of antichrist. There is no time now for us to assimilate with the world. Daniel is standing in his lot and in his place. The prophecies of Daniel and of John are to be understood. They interpret each other. They give to the world truths which every one should understand. These prophecies are to be witnesses in the world. By their fulfillment in these last days they will explain themselves.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 949.

9 What did Paul reveal concerning the “mystery of iniquity,” and what Old Testament prophecy foreshadowed this? II Thessalonians 2:3–5; Ezekiel 28:1, 2.

Note: “Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, ‘the mystery of iniquity’ [II Thessalonians 2:7] carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured under paganism. But as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she substituted human theories and traditions.” The Great Controversy, 49.

10 What special warning did Paul give to the Ephesian church in his farewell to them? Acts 20:28–30.

Note: “The dangers that would assail the church at Ephesus were revealed to the apostle. [Acts 20:29, 30 quoted.] Paul trembled for the church as, looking into the future, he saw the attacks which she must suffer from both external and internal foes.” The Acts of the Apostles, 395.

11 When did the attempt to change God’s law (Daniel 7:25)—particularly the Sabbath—begin to take place? II Thessalonians 2:7.

Note: “Protestants now urge that the resurrection of Christ on Sunday made it the Christian Sabbath. But Scripture evidence is lacking. No such honor was given to the day by Christ or His apostles. The observance of Sunday as a Christian institution had its origin in that ‘mystery of lawlessness’ (II Thessalonians 2:7, R.V.) which, even in Paul’s day, had begun its work. Where and when did the Lord adopt this child of the papacy? What valid reason can be given for a change which the Scriptures do not sanction?” The Great Controversy, 54.

Additional Reading

“Even at that early date he saw, creeping into the church, errors that would prepare the way for the development of the papacy.

“Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, ‘the mystery of iniquity’ carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work. Almost imperceptibly the customs of heathenism found their way into the Christian church. The spirit of compromise and conformity was restrained for a time by the fierce persecutions which the church endured under paganism. But as persecution ceased, and Christianity entered the courts and palaces of kings, she laid aside the humble simplicity of Christ and His apostles for the pomp and pride of pagan priests and rulers; and in place of the requirements of God, she substituted human theories and traditions. The nominal conversion of Constantine, in the early part of the fourth century, caused great rejoicing; and the world, cloaked with a form of righteousness, walked into the church. Now the work of corruption rapidly progressed. Paganism, while appearing to be vanquished, became the conqueror. Her spirit controlled the church. Her doctrines, ceremonies, and superstitions were incorporated into the faith and worship of the professed followers of Christ.

“This compromise between paganism and Christianity resulted in the development of ‘the man of sin’ foretold in prophecy as opposing and exalting himself above God. That gigantic system of false religion is a masterpiece of Satan’s power—a monument of his efforts to seat himself upon the throne to rule the earth according to his will.

“Satan once endeavored to form a compromise with Christ. He came to the Son of God in the wilderness of temptation, and showing Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, offered to give all into His hands if He would but acknowledge the supremacy of the prince of darkness. Christ rebuked the presumptuous tempter and forced him to depart. But Satan meets with greater success in presenting the same temptations to man. To secure worldly gains and honors, the church was led to seek the favor and support of the great men of earth; and having thus rejected Christ, she was induced to yield allegiance to the representative of Satan—the bishop of Rome.

“It is one of the leading doctrines of Romanism that the pope is the visible head of the universal church of Christ, invested with supreme authority over bishops and pastors in all parts of the world. More than this, the pope has been given the very titles of Deity. He has been styled ‘Lord God the Pope’*, and has been declared infallible. He demands the homage of all men. The same claim urged by Satan in the wilderness of temptation is still urged by him through the Church of Rome, and vast numbers are ready to yield him homage. …

“God has never given a hint in His word that He has appointed any man to be the head of the church. The doctrine of papal supremacy is directly opposed to the teachings of the Scriptures. The pope can have no power over Christ’s church except by usurpation.” The Great Controversy, 49–51.

* For the title “Lord God the Pope” see a gloss on the Extravagantes of Pope John XXII, title 14, ch. 4, Declaramun. In an Antwerp edition of the Extravangantes, dated 1584, the words “Dominum deum Nostrum Papam” (“Our Lord God the pope”) occur in column 153. In a Paris edition, dated 1612, they occur in column 140. In several editions published since 1612 the word “Deum” (“God”) has been omitted.

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

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.