The Wrath of God, Part I

And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake.” Revelation 6:12. In fulfillment of this prophecy, there occurred, in the year 1755, the most terrible earthquake that has ever been recorded. Though commonly known as the Great Lisbon Earthquake, it extended to the greater part of Europe and Africa. Its shock waves pervaded an area of 1,300,000 square miles, and a vast tsunami wave stretched over the coasts of Spain and Africa, engulfing cities and causing great destruction.

It was in Spain and Portugal that the shock manifested itself in extreme violence. At Cadais, the in-flowing waves were said to be 60 feet high. Mountains, some of the largest in Portugal, were impetuously shaken, as it were, from their very foundations, and some of them opened at their summits, which were split and rent in a wonderful manner, huge masses of them being throw down into the adjacent valleys. Flames are related to have issued from these mountains. One survivor reported that a sound of thunder was heard under the ground, and, immediately afterwards, a violent shock threw down the great part of his city. In the course of about six minutes, 60,000 persons perished. The sea first retired and laid the bar dry; it then rolled in, rising 50 feet or more above its ordinary level.

Among other extraordinary events related to have occurred during the catastrophe was the subsistence of a new harbor built entirely of marble at immense expense. A great concourse of people had collected there for safety, that they might be beyond the reach of fallen ruins. But suddenly the harbor sank down with all the people on it, and not one of the bodies ever floated to the surface.

The shock of the earthquake was instantly followed by the fall of every church and convent, almost all the large, public buildings, and more than one-fourth of the houses. In about two hours after the shock, fires broke out in different quarters of the city and raged with such violence for the space of nearly three days that the city was completely desolated.

The earthquake happened on a holiday when the churches and convents were full of people, very few of whom escaped. The terror of the people was beyond description. Nobody wept; they were beyond tears. Yes, they ran hither and thither delirious with horror and astonishment, beating their faces and breasts saying, Miserecordia meu Dios!¾the world is at an end. Mothers forgot their children and ran about loaded with crucified images. Unfortunately, many ran to the churches for protection, but in vain was the sacrament exposed, in vain did the poor preachers embrace the altar images, and priests and people where buried in one common ruin. It has been estimated that 90,000 persons lost their lives on that fatal day.


My question, considering the horrors described above, is, What is the wrath of God? In the Old Testament, the Hebrew hema is identified in Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary as denoting heat, rage, fury, hot displeasure, or indignation. This noun occurs in somatic language with the meaning of heat, wrath, poison, or venom. The noun as well as the verb denotes a strong emotional state. The noun is used 120 times in the Scriptures, predominately in the poetic and prophetic literature, especially Ezekiel.

The first use of hema takes place in the story of Esau and Jacob. Jacob is advised to go to Harmon with the hope that Esau’s rage will dissipate. We read in Genesis 27:41-45: “And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob. And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, [purposing] to kill thee. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; and arise, flee thou to Laban my brother to Haran; And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away; Until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget [that] which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day?”

Now, notice that Esau’s fury and anger is a stage of anger and fury that causes an angry person to desire or to bring about destruction and death on the person or persons involved. This is the same word used to denote God’s wrath, God’s fury, and God’s anger.

Regarding this situation, Ellen White wrote: “Threatened with death by the wrath of Esau, Jacob went out from his father’s home a fugitive.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 183.

The anger and the fury that Esau felt for his brother Jacob are the same as wrath. Understanding the words anger and fury used in Genesis 27:41-45, which is also wrath and which, as was stated earlier, is the Hebrew word hema, helps to identify the definition for the wrath that God displays toward unrepentant, rebellious sinners.

In the New Testament, the Greek word orge means wrath; it means anger. Synonyms are indignation and vengeance. Orge is similar in meaning to hema and carries the same understanding. Orge suggests the abiding condition of the mind, frequently with a view to take in revenge. It is less sudden in its lies but more lasting in its nature. Orge expresses active emotion.

So, what is the wrath of God? It is that active emotion embedded in God’s righteousness and love that is reattributed in nature, which leads to the destruction and death of every unrepentant sinner that rebels against God.

Bible Defines Wrath

The Bible provides definitions concerning the wrath of God. In Romans 1, we read: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves.” “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature.” “And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” Verses 18, 21, 24, 26, 28.

So, the biblical definition of the wrath of God is that action in which God gives the sinner over to sin and its results.

David prayed for God’s mercy in the hour of His anger. Read what he says in Psalm 6:1: “O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.” What a beautiful passage! David is not saying that God should not rebuke him, but that He would please not allow His wrath to come with the rebuke. David knew that to allow God’s wrath to be mixed with it would mean certain death. It must be understood that there is a basic difference, which confuses many Christians. There is a basic difference between God’s retributive judgment, or what we call His wrath, and His rebuke or chastening.

The apostle Paul records for our benefit these words in Hebrews 12:5–11: “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son,” (of course, that is generic and means daughters too) “despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected [us], and we gave [them] reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened [us] after their own pleasure; but he for [our] profit, that [we] might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

Paul evidently was quoting portions of King Solomon’s book, Proverbs 3:11, 12, where the wisest man said: “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son [in whom] he delighteth.”


From these passages, we can conclude that God’s chastening and rebuking are messages to provide correction. The word chastening, as used by Paul and Solomon, literally means disciplinary correction—chastisement, destruction, nurture, education, and to train up a child, to teach. This is the meaning of the word chasten as used by Paul and by the wise man Solomon. Therefore, we can say that the chastening and the rebuke of the Lord are designed to bring about change in the sinner’s attitude and behavior. They are designed for character development, not death and destruction. The psalmist confirmed this fact in Psalm 118:18: “The Lord hath chastened me sore.” Ellen White says that God brings His workmen to bitter disappointment: “Christ’s true disciples follow Him through sore conflicts, enduring self-denial and experiencing bitter disappointment.” The Acts of the Apostles, 590. It is a thought about which David is passionate: “The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.” Because His chastisement, His rebuke, is not towards death; it is correction.

This thought is brought out clearly also in these words: “Our sorrows do not spring out of the ground. God ‘doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.’ Lamentations 3:33. When He permits trials and afflictions, it is ‘for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.’ Hebrews 12:10. If received in faith, the trial that seems so bitter and hard to bear will prove a blessing. The cruel blow that blights the joys of earth will be the means of turning our eyes to heaven. How many there are who would never have known Jesus had not sorrow led them to seek comfort in Him!

“The trials of life are God’s workmen, to remove the impurities and roughness from our character. Their hewing, squaring, and chiseling, their burnishing and polishing, is a painful process; it is hard to be pressed down to the grinding wheel. But the stone is brought forth prepared to fill its place in the heavenly temple. Upon no useless material does the Master bestow such careful, thorough work. Only His precious stones are polished after the similitude of a palace.” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 10.

So, the wrath of God or His anger or retributive judgment is totally different. God’s wrath is towards destruction and death. It is not for instruction, nor is it corrective. God’s retributive justice relates to the infliction of penalties. It is an expression of the divine wrath; while, in a sinless world, there would be no place to exercise it, it necessarily holds a very prominent place in a world full of sin. On the whole, the Bible stresses the reward of the righteous more than the punishment of the wicked, but even the latter is sufficiently prominent. Read such verses as Romans 1:22; 2:9; 12:19; 11 Thessalonians 1:8, and many other passages. It should be noted that while man does not merit reward, which he receives, he does merit the punishment, which is meted out to him. Divine justice is originally and necessarily obliged to punish evil, but not to reward good. (See Luke 17:10; 1 Corinthians 4:7; Job 41:11.) Many deny the strict, punitive justice of God and claim that God punishes sinners to reform them or to deter others from sin, but these positions are not tenable.

Does God Kill?

The primary purpose of the punishment of sin is the maintenance of right and justice. Of course, it may incidentally serve and may even secondarily be intended to reform the sinner and to deter others from sin. Having stated that, the question that is now bothering many Seventh-day Adventists and that is dividing the Adventist Church is, Does God kill? Is it in His loving nature to kill or destroy human beings whom He has made in His own image? There are a fraction of Adventists who say that God does not kill, and there are those who say that God does kill. It was the great artist Leonardo da Vinci who said, “The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.”

In an attempt to answer this question as to whether or not God kills, I would like to point out that God’s retributive judgment or wrath is based on the amount of knowledge and opportunity to which a person is exposed in order to know God, and what is done with the knowledge and opportunity.

God’s messenger, Ellen White, states: “God will judge all according to the light which has been presented to them, whether it is plain to them or not.” Sketches From the Life of Paul, 87. Whether it is plain or not! So long as it is presented to you and to me, we are responsible. “It is their duty to investigate as did the Bereans. The Lord says through the prophet Hosea: ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee.’ [Hosea 4:6.]” Ibid., 87, 88.

Some people stay away from church because they do not want to hear, because they do not want to be responsible. Even taking that position, it means that you know; that is why you stay away.

No Turning

Read of the experience of the Amalekites and God’s wrath that had befallen them: “Samuel also said unto Saul, The Lord sent me to anoint thee [to be] king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember . . .” God does not forget like we do! We do not talk about it, especially when we do not repent. But God says, “I remember. Acknowledge, do not apologize, and take the necessary steps to correct it; we need to talk about it; I will not forget it.” “I remember [that] which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid [wait] for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” 1 Samuel 15:1-3. Everything! Everybody and everything! Wipe them out!

In those ancient times, God ordered people to utterly slay all members of that wicked, unbelieving nation, the Amalekites, including infants and sucklings. Sometimes people wonder why God would order the killing of those innocent little toddlers. They declare that God is unmerciful, that God is wicked. Is He? Did God know that those infants, if preserved, would perpetuate the evils of their parents? As a nation, the Amalekites had closed the door of their probation for themselves and for their children, even for the infants and sucklings.

God’s servant points out that, “Some parents allow Satan to control their children, and their children are not restrained, but are allowed to have wicked tempers, to be passionate, selfish, and disobedient. Should they die these children would not be taken to heaven. The parent’s course of action is determining the future welfare of their children.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 314, 315.

The Amalekites had been the first to make war upon Israel in the wilderness, and for this sin, together with their defiance of God and their debasing idolatry, the Lord, through Moses, had pronounced sentence upon them. By divine direction, the history of their cruelty towards Israel had been recorded with the command, “Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget [it].” Deuteronomy 25:19. God gave them time for 400 years. For 400 years the execution of this sentence had been deferred, but the Amalekites were not turning from their sins. That was the point—to give them time, to give them an opportunity, to give them privileges—but there was no turning.

The Lord knew that this wicked people would, if it were possible, blot His people and His worship from the earth. For each one of us who takes a position against God continually, God knows that if He allows us to continue, we will at some time cause problems for Him and for His people.

The time had come for the sentence so long delayed to be executed. The forbearance that God had exercised toward the wicked embodies men in transgression, but their punishment will be nonetheless certain and terrible for being long delayed.

A Strange Act

Look now to the area that we need to understand: “For the Lord shall rise up as [in] mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as [in] the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.” Isaiah 28:21. Note that phrase, “His strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.” To our merciful God, the act of punishment is a strange act.

“[As] I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Ezekiel 33:11. The Lord is merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. Yet He will by no means clear the guilty. While He does not delight in vengeance, He will execute judgment upon the transgressors of His law. He is forced to do this to preserve the inhabitants of the earth from utter depravity and ruin. In order to save some, he must cut off those who have become hardened in sin. “The Lord [is] slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit [the wicked].” Nahum 1:3. By terrible things in righteousness, He will vindicate the authority of His downtrodden law.

The very fact of His reluctance to execute justice testifies to the enormity of the sins that call forth His judgment and to the severity of the retribution awaiting the transgressor. No, God does not delight in destroying His creatures, but He will. If we take a path that is a path of rebellion and ongoing stubbornness, God will destroy us. That is a strange act.

Within the experience of the Amalekites, we see the wrath of God that was visited upon them. 1 Samuel 15:1–3 clearly shows that God was the One who ordered the death and destruction of this people. That is the reason why I cannot subscribe or hold to the idea that God does not kill, as some teach.

To be continued . . .

Pastor Ivan Plummer ministers through the Emmanuel Seventh Day Church Ministries in Bronx, New York. He may be contacted by telephone at: 718-882-3900.

Bible Study Guides – The Millennium, Continued

September 23, 2007 – September 29, 2007

Key Text

“The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.” Psalm 37:29.

Study Help: The Great Controversy, 662-678.


“At the close of the thousand years, Christ again returns to the earth. He is accompanied by the host of the redeemed and attended by a retinue of angels. As He descends in terrific majesty He bids the wicked dead arise to receive their doom. They come forth, a mighty host, numberless as the sands of the sea. What a contrast to those who were raised at the first resurrection! The righteous were clothed with immortal youth and beauty. The wicked bear the traces of disease and death.” Maranatha, 336.

1 During the thousand years following Christ’s Second Coming, where will the saints be? What will they be doing? Revelation 20:4, 6; John 14:1-3.

note: “Long have we waited for our Saviour’s return. But nonetheless sure is the promise. Soon we shall be in our promised home. There Jesus will lead us beside the living stream flowing from the throne of God and will explain to us the dark providences through which on this earth He brought us in order to perfect our characters. There we shall behold with undimmed vision the beauties of Eden restored. Casting at the feet of the Redeemer the crowns that He has placed on our heads, and touching our golden harps, we shall fill all heaven with praise to Him that sitteth on the throne.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 254.

2 What important task will the saints perform during this time? 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3; Psalm 149:5-9.

note: “After the saints are changed to immortality and caught up together with Jesus, after they receive their harps, their robes, and their crowns, and enter the city, Jesus and the saints sit in judgment. The books are opened the book of life and the book of death. The book of life contains the good deeds of the saints; and the book of death contains the evil deeds of the wicked. These books are compared with the statute book, the Bible, and according to that men are judged. The saints, in unison with Jesus, pass their judgment upon the wicked dead.” Early Writings, 52.

3 What marks the end of the thousand years? Revelation 20:5-7.

note: “The new heavens, and the new earth, (Revelation 21:1; Isaiah 65:17; 11 Peter 3:13) will not appear, till after the wicked dead are raised, and destroyed, at the end of the 1000 years. I [Ellen White] saw that Satan was ‘loosed out of his prison,’ at the end of the 1000 years, just at the time the wicked dead were raised.” A Word to the Little Flock, 11.

4 As soon as Satan is loosed, to whom does he go? Revelation 20:8.

note: “Satan prepares for a last mighty struggle for the supremacy. While deprived of his power and cut off from his work of deception, the prince of evil was miserable and dejected; but as the wicked dead are raised and he sees the vast multitudes upon his side, his hopes revive, and he determines not to yield the great controversy. He will marshal all the armies of the lost under his banner and through them endeavor to execute his plans. The wicked are Satan’s captives. In rejecting Christ they have accepted the rule of the rebel leader. They are ready to receive his suggestions and to do his bidding. . . . Satan works wonders to support his claims. He makes the weak strong and inspires all with his own spirit and energy. He proposes to lead them against the camp of the saints and to take possession of the City of God. With fiendish exultation he points to the unnumbered millions who have been raised from the dead and declares that as their leader he is well able to overthrow the city and regain his throne and his kingdom.” The Great Controversy, 663.

5 What is said of the character of Gog and Magog? Ezekiel 38:2; 39:1. When are they to come forth? Ezekiel 38:8; Revelation 20:8.

note: “And I [Ellen White] saw, that as Christ is the vine, and his children the branches: so Satan is the ‘root,’ and his children are the ‘branches’; and at the final destruction of ‘Gog and Magog,’ the whole wicked host will be burnt up, ‘root and branch,’ and cease to exist. Then will appear the new heaven and the new earth. Then will the saints ‘build houses,’ and ‘plant vineyards.’ I saw, that all the righteous dead were raised by the voice of the Son of God, at the first resurrection; and all that were raised at the second resurrection, were burnt up, and ceased to exist.” A Word to the Little Flock, 12.

6 Who will appear at that time? What comes to earth with Jesus and the saints? To what place do they come? Zechariah 14:4, 5; Revelation 21:2.

note: “At the end of one thousand years, Jesus, the king of glory, descends from the holy city, clothed with brightness like the lightning, upon the mount of olives the same mount from whence he ascended after his resurrection. As his feet touch the mountain, it parts asunder, and becomes a very great plain, and is prepared for the reception of the holy city in which is the paradise of God, the garden of Eden, which was taken up after man’s transgression. Now it descends with the city, more beautiful, and gloriously adorned than when removed from the earth. The city of God comes down and settles upon the mighty plain prepared for it.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 83, 84.

7 When Satan sees them, what does he do? Revelation 20:9; Ezekiel 38:10-12.

note: “Satan works wonders to support his claims. He makes the weak strong and inspires all with his own spirit and energy. He proposes to lead them against the camp of the saints and to take possession of the City of God. With fiendish exultation he points to the unnumbered millions who have been raised from the dead and declares that as their leader he is well able to overthrow the city and regain his throne and his kingdom.

“In that vast throng are multitudes of the long-lived race that existed before the Flood; men of lofty stature and giant intellect, who, yielding to the control of fallen angels, devoted all their skill and knowledge to the exaltation of themselves; men whose wonderful works of art led the world to idolize their genius, but whose cruelty and evil inventions, defiling the earth and defacing the image of God, caused Him to blot them from the face of His creation. There are kings and generals who conquered nations, valiant men who never lost a battle, proud, ambitious warriors whose approach made kingdoms tremble. In death these experienced no change. As they come up from the grave, they resume the current of their thoughts just where it ceased. They are actuated by the same desire to conquer that ruled them when they fell.

“Satan consults with his angels, and then with these kings and conquerors and mighty men. They look upon the strength and numbers on their side, and declare that the army within the city is small in comparison with theirs, and that it can be overcome. . . .

“At last the order to advance is given, and the countless host moves on an army such as was never summoned by earthly conquerors, such as the combined forces of all ages since war began on earth could never equal. Satan, the mightiest of warriors, leads the van, and his angels unite their forces for this final struggle. Kings and warriors are in his train, and the multitudes follow in vast companies, each under its appointed leader. With military precision the serried ranks advance over the earth’s broken and uneven surface to the City of God.” The Great Controversy, 663, 664.

8 Why does God permit the wicked to come against His people? Ezekiel 38:16.

note: “The crowns of the saints were of the most pure gold, decked with stars. Their faces shone with glory, for they were in the express image of Jesus; and as they arose and moved all together to the top of the city, I [Ellen White] was enraptured with the sight.

“Then the wicked saw what they had lost; and fire was breathed from God upon them and consumed them. This was the execution of the judgment. The wicked then received according as the saints, in unison with Jesus, had meted out to them during the one thousand years.” Early Writings, 54. [Author’s emphasis.]

“The whole wicked world stand arraigned at the bar of God on the charge of high treason against the government of heaven. They have none to plead their cause; they are without excuse; and the sentence of eternal death is pronounced against them.

“It is now evident to all that the wages of sin is not noble independence and eternal life, but slavery, ruin, and death. The wicked see what they have forfeited by their life of rebellion. The far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory was despised when offered them; but how desirable it now appears. ‘All this,’ cries the lost soul, ‘I might have had; but I chose to put these things far from me. Oh, strange infatuation! I have exchanged peace, happiness, and honor for wretchedness, infamy, and despair.’ All see that their exclusion from heaven is just. By their lives they have declared: ‘We will not have this Man [Jesus] to reign over us.’ ” The Great Controversy, 668.

9 What will the Lord do to the wicked? Ezekiel 39:4-6; Revelation 20:9.

note: “The wicked receive their recompense in the earth. . . . Fire comes down from God out of heaven. The earth is broken up. The weapons concealed in its depths are drawn forth. Devouring flames burst from every yawning chasm. The very rocks are on fire. The day has come that shall burn as an oven. The elements melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein are burned up.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1142.

10 What effect will this fire have on the earth? 11 Peter 3:10. What shall come forth from this ruin? Verse 13.

note: “The fire that consumes the wicked purifies the earth. Every trace of the curse is swept away. No eternally burning hell will keep before the ransomed the fearful consequences of sin.” The Great Controversy, 674.

“Said the angel, ‘Satan is the root, his children are the branches. They are now consumed root and branch. They have died an everlasting death. They are never to have a resurrection, and God will have a clean universe.’ I [Ellen White] then looked and saw the fire which had consumed the wicked, burning up the rubbish and purifying the earth. Again I looked and saw the earth purified. There was not a single sign of the curse. The broken, uneven surface of the earth now looked like a level, extensive plain. God’s entire universe was clean, and the great controversy was forever ended. Wherever we looked, everything upon which the eye rested was beautiful and holy. And all the redeemed host, old and young, great and small, cast their glittering crowns at the feet of their Redeemer, and prostrated themselves in adoration before Him, and worshiped Him that liveth forever and ever. The beautiful new earth, with all its glory, was the eternal inheritance of the saints. The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, was then given to the saints of the Most High, who were to possess it forever, even forever and ever.” Early Writings, 295.

11 Who shall dwell on the new earth? Matthew 5:5; Isaiah 35:4-10.

note: “In the final restitution, when there shall be ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ [Revelation 21:1] it is to be restored more gloriously adorned than at the beginning.

“Then they that have kept God’s commandments shall breathe in immortal vigor beneath the tree of life; and through unending ages the inhabitants of sinless worlds shall behold, in that garden of delight, a sample of the perfect work of God’s creation, untouched by the curse of sin a sample of what the whole earth would have become had man but fulfilled the Creator’s glorious plan.” The Adventist Home, 539.

12 What prophecy will then be fulfilled? Micah 4:8.

note: “The time has come to which holy men have looked with longing since the flaming sword barred the first pair from Eden, the time for ‘the redemption of the purchased possession.’ Ephesians 1:14. The earth originally given to man as his kingdom, betrayed by him into the hands of Satan, and so long held by the mighty foe, has been brought back by the great plan of redemption. All that was lost by sin has been restored. ‘Thus saith the Lord . . . that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited.’ Isaiah 45:18. God’s original purpose in the creation of the earth is fulfilled as it is made the eternal abode of the redeemed. ‘The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever.’ Psalm 37:29.” The Great Controversy, 674.

Editorial – “None of the Wicked Will Understand”

Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand.” Daniel 12:10.

“The inability to understand is due to an unwillingness to confess and forsake error and accept the truth which involves a cross. Satan will strive to retain every soul in his strong power. He will not willingly let go his dominion over men who have influence upon other minds. Therefore God’s own methods of advancing the gospel in His dominion are met by great opposition from the whole synagogue of the satanic agencies. As the last conflict with Satan will be the most decisive, the most deceptive and terrible that has ever been, so also will his overthrow be the most complete.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, 317.

What is it that makes the last conflict so deceptive? What will be visible is very different from the reality. This deceptive conflict will have the most devastating results in the church.

“The days are fast approaching when there will be great perplexity and confusion. Satan, clothed in angel robes, will deceive, if possible, the very elect. There will be gods many and lords many. Every wind of doctrine will be blowing.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 80.

The devil comes into the church angelically disguised by promoting the very same things as Jesus. An example of this is promoting the Three Angels’ Messages. Both the devil and Jesus are working for this, yet the devil is promoting it in such a way as to be detrimental. Satan is also promoting:

  1. The nearness of the second coming of Jesus. (Most “Babylonian” churches are teaching this.)
  2. Lamentation over the great wickedness in the world today.
  3. The fact that God’s judgments are coming on the world because of its great wickedness.
  4. That great destruction is coming on the cities of our world.
  5. That now is the time to get ready for what is coming.
  6. That we are very close to the end of the world as we know it.

The difference is that Satan’s methods by which to accomplish the will of God and prepare for His second coming are erroneous and many will not recognize this until it is too late.

Preparation is not accomplished by counting the rosary or repeating the Lord’s Prayer with more frequency. The book of Revelation describes those who are ready as people who are keeping God’s commandments. (See Revelation 12:17; 14:12; 22:14.)

It is not possible for us to keep God’s commandments unless we have been born again by the Holy Spirit. (See Romans 8:1–16.)

Be sure that your preparation for the future involves a daily born-again experience through the Holy Spirit. (See Galatians 2:20.)

Bible Study Guides – Appeals for Salvation

September 6, 2009 – September 12, 2009

Key Text

“Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” Ezekiel 33:11.

Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 7, 254–266; Ibid., vol. 9, 19–29.


“It is in mercy and love that He [God] lifts the veil from the future, and reveals to men the results of a course of sin.” The Desire of Ages, 582.

1 What did God prophesy about Egypt—a superpower in ancient times? Ezekiel 29:3, 9, 10, 14, 15.

Note: “With unerring accuracy the Infinite One still keeps account with the nations. While His mercy is tendered, with calls to repentance, this account remains open; but when the figures reach a certain amount which God has fixed, the ministry of His wrath begins. The account is closed. Divine patience ceases. Mercy no longer pleads in their behalf.” Prophets and Kings, 364.

2 How does the Bible depict the rise of Assyria? Ezekiel 31:3–9. How did its rulers grieve the Most High?

Note. “The rulers of Assyria, instead of using their unusual blessings for the benefit of mankind, became the scourge of many lands. Merciless, with no thought of God or their fellow men, they pursued the fixed policy of causing all nations to acknowledge the supremacy of the gods of Nineveh, whom they exalted above the Most High. God had sent Jonah to them with a message of warning, and for a season they humbled themselves before the Lord of hosts and sought forgiveness. But soon they turned again to idol worship and to the conquest of the world.” Prophets and Kings, 363.

3 How did the Lord warn Egypt through the fall of Assyria? Ezekiel 31:2, 10–18.

Note: “The pride of Assyria and its fall are to serve as an object lesson to the end of time. Of the nations of earth today who in arrogance and pride array themselves against Him, God inquires, ‘To whom art thou thus like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden? yet shalt thou be brought down with the trees of Eden unto the nether parts of the earth.’ [Ezekiel 31] Verse 18.

“‘The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him. But with an overrunning flood He will make an utter end’ of all who endeavor to exalt themselves above the Most High. Nahum 1:7, 8.” Prophets and Kings, 366.

4 What should we learn from Zechariah’s brief summary of the punishment that came upon Assyria and Egypt? Zechariah 10:11.

Note: “This is true not only of the nations that arrayed themselves against God in ancient times, but also of nations today who fail of fulfilling the divine purpose. In the day of final awards, when the righteous Judge of all the earth shall ‘sift the nations’ (Isaiah 30:28), and those that have kept the truth shall be permitted to enter the City of God, heaven’s arches will ring with the triumphant songs of the redeemed.” Prophets and Kings, 366.

5 What is our responsibility as believers entrusted with the proclamation of the three angels’ messages? Ezekiel 33:1–6.

Note: “The responsibility of the watchmen of today is as much greater than in the days of the prophet as our light is clearer and our privileges and opportunities greater than theirs. It is the minister’s duty to warn every man, to teach every man, in all meekness and wisdom. He is not to conform to the practices of the world, but, as God’s servant, he must contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. …

“The end of all things is at hand. My brethren, ministers and laymen, I have been shown you must work in a different manner from what you have been in the habit of working. Pride, envy, self-importance, and unsanctified independence have marred your labors. When men permit themselves to be flattered and exalted by Satan, the Lord can do little for them or through them.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 16.

6 How are we accountable for our words and influence? Ezekiel 33:7.

Note: “The Lord is soon coming. The watchmen on the walls of Zion are called upon to awake to their God-given responsibilities. God calls for watchmen who, in the power of the Spirit, will give to the world the last warning message; who will proclaim the time of night. He calls for watchmen who will arouse men and women from their lethargy, lest they sleep the sleep of death.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 304.

“The day of woe, of wasting and destruction, is upon all who do unrighteousness. With special severity will the Lord’s hand fall upon the watchmen who have failed to place before the people in clear lines their obligation to Him who by creation and by redemption is their owner.” Ibid., vol. 8, 195.

7 How was Ezekiel’s commission similar to ours? Ezekiel 33:8, 9.

Note: “In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. …

“The most solemn truths ever entrusted to mortals have been given us to proclaim to the world. The proclamation of these truths is to be our work. The world is to be warned, and God’s people are to be true to the trust committed to them. They are not to engage in speculation, neither are they to enter into business enterprises with unbelievers; for this would hinder them in their God-given work. …

“So far as his opportunities extend, everyone who has received the light of truth is under the same responsibility as was the prophet of Israel to whom came the word: [Ezekiel 33:7–9 quoted.]” Testimonies, vol. 9, 19, 20.

8 What should we realize about the character of God in relation to sin and to ourselves as sinners? Ezekiel 33:10, 11.

Note: “It is Satan’s special device to lead man into sin and then leave him there, helpless and hopeless, fearing to seek for pardon. But God invites, ‘Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me.’ Isaiah 27:5. In Christ every provision has been made, every encouragement offered.” Prophets and Kings, 326.

“God does not desire the destruction of any. … Throughout the period of probationary time His Spirit is entreating men to accept the gift of life. It is only those who reject His pleading that will be left to perish. God has declared that sin must be destroyed as an evil ruinous to the universe. Those who cling to sin will perish in its destruction.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 123.

9 Name some principles of salvation given to Ezekiel that are vital to our understanding. Ezekiel 33:12–20.

Note: “The whole purpose in giving His Son for the sins of the world is that man may be saved, not in transgression and unrighteousness, but in forsaking sin, washing his robes of character, and making them white in the blood of the Lamb. He proposes to remove from man the offensive thing that He hates, but man must cooperate with God in the work. Sin must be given up, hated, and the righteousness of Christ must be accepted by faith. Thus will the divine co-operate with the human.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 631, 632.

10 How were the messages given in Ezekiel’s day vindicated, and how is this situation similar to ours today? Ezekiel 33:23–33.

Note: “There are persons who believe that they are right, when they are wrong. While claiming Christ as their Lord, and professedly doing great works in His name, they are workers of iniquity. …

“A mere profession of discipleship is of no value. The faith in Christ which saves the soul is not what it is represented to be by many. ‘Believe, believe,’ they say, ‘and you need not keep the law.’ But a belief that does not lead to obedience is presumption. The apostle John says, ‘He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.’ I John 2:4. Let none cherish the idea that special providences or miraculous manifestations are to be the proof of the genuineness of their work or of the ideas they advocate. When persons will speak lightly of the word of God, and set their impressions, feelings, and exercises above the divine standard, we may know that they have no light in them.

“Obedience is the test of discipleship. It is the keeping of the commandments that proves the sincerity of our professions of love. When the doctrine we accept kills sin in the heart, purifies the soul from defilement, bears fruit unto holiness, we may know that it is the truth of God. When benevolence, kindness, tenderheartedness, sympathy, are manifest in our lives; when the joy of right doing is in our hearts; when we exalt Christ, and not self, we may know that our faith is of the right order.” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 146, 147.

Additional Reading

“Christ saw in Jerusalem a symbol of the world hardened in unbelief and rebellion, and hastening on to meet the retributive judgments of God. The woes of a fallen race, pressing upon His soul, forced from His lips that exceeding bitter cry. He saw the record of sin traced in human misery, tears, and blood; His heart was moved with infinite pity for the afflicted and suffering ones of earth; He yearned to relieve them all. But even His hand might not turn back the tide of human woe; few would seek their only Source of help. He was willing to pour out His soul unto death, to bring salvation within their reach; but few would come to Him that they might have life.

“The Majesty of heaven in tears! the Son of the infinite God troubled in spirit, bowed down with anguish! The scene filled all heaven with wonder. That scene reveals to us the exceeding sinfulness of sin; it shows how hard a task it is, even for Infinite Power, to save the guilty from the consequences of transgressing the law of God. Jesus, looking down to the last generation, saw the world involved in a deception similar to that which caused the destruction of Jerusalem. The great sin of the Jews was their rejection of Christ; the great sin of the Christian world would be their rejection of the law of God, the foundation of His government in heaven and earth. The precepts of Jehovah would be despised and set at nought. Millions in bondage to sin, slaves of Satan, doomed to suffer the second death, would refuse to listen to the words of truth in their day of visitation. Terrible blindness! strange infatuation!” The Great Controversy, 22, 23.

“How little do we enter into sympathy with Christ on that which should be the strongest bond of union between us and Him—compassion for depraved, guilty, suffering souls, dead in trespasses and sins! The inhumanity of man toward man is our greatest sin. Many think that they are representing the justice of God while they wholly fail of representing His tenderness and His great love. Often the ones whom they meet with sternness and severity are under the stress of temptation. Satan is wrestling with these souls, and harsh, unsympathetic words discourage them and cause them to fall a prey to the tempter’s power.

“It is a delicate matter to deal with minds. Only He who reads the heart knows how to bring men to repentance. Only His wisdom can give us success in reaching the lost. You may stand up stiffly, feeling, ‘I am holier than thou,’ and it matters not how correct your reasoning or how true your words; they will never touch hearts. The love of Christ, manifested in word and act, will win its way to the soul, when the reiteration of precept or argument would accomplish nothing.” The Ministry of Healing, 163, 164.

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

Our God is a Consuming Fire

The Lord is coming. He is coming with power and great glory. And “our God is a consuming fire” [Hebrews 12:29]. Of the times and seasons, you have no need that I should speak; for yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, “Peace and safety,” then sudden destruction cometh upon them, and they shall not escape [1 Thessalonians 5:2,3]. And though it is true that of the times and seasons you need not that I should speak, there is that connected with His coming, of which it is altogether essential to speak, and to think upon, all the time; and that is, the effect of His coming; for He comes “in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And all these will be “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.” II Thessalonians 1:8, 9.

Yet again it is written: “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. … And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity.” Isaiah 13:9, 11. And “who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth?” Malachi 3:2. …

When He comes, he is no more of a respecter of persons than before He comes. “There is no respect of persons with God” (Acts 10:34). Just as certainly … we shall see Him as He is, so certainly will we all—each one of us—be dealt with as we are. There is no change of character, there is no room for change in us in that day. …

It is not upon men themselves that God’s wrath is visited; but upon the sins of men, and upon men only as they are identified with their sins. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven,” not against all ungodly men, not against all unrighteous men, but “against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” Romans 1:18. And only as the man clings to his ungodliness, only as he holds down the truth in unrighteousness, shall it be that the wrath of God will be revealed from heaven against him: and even then not against him primarily, but against the sin to which he clings, and will not leave. And as he has thus made his choice, clinging fast to his choice, he must take the consequences of his choice, when his choice shall have reached its ultimate. So it is written, and I read it again, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth [who hold down, who press back the truth] in unrighteousness.”

“Then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: even Him, whose coming is a after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceiveableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” [II Thessalonians 2:8–12]. “Believed not the truth.” They knew of it; it was presented to them; their hearts told them, the Spirit of God told them, that it was the truth; their own consciences approved of it all: but they would not believe the truth; they “had pleasure in unrighteousness,” and held down, and pressed back, the truth in unrighteousness; and “for this cause” it is that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, and strikes them.

Yet, as already stated, the wrath of God is not primarily against them, but against the thing which they love; against the thing which they cling to, and will not be separated from. And at last, in that great day when the judgment is set, and on the right and on the left are all the people who have ever lived, those on the left will depart “into everlasting fire, prepared”— not for them, but “for the devil and his angels” [Matthew 25:41]. The Lord has done His utmost that they might never see it. He gave His Son to save them, that they might never know it. It was not prepared for them. He does not desire that they should be lost; but they have to go there because they are the company which they have chosen; that is the place with which they have connected themselves, and from which they would not be separated. Therefore, He says, “depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Not prepared for you. God in that day—the Lord Jesus Christ in that hour—when that word shall be spoken, will be just as sorrowful as He was in the hour of the cross. He will be just as sorry that these have to go into that place, which was not prepared for them, as He was in the hour of the cross. It is not His pleasure that any should be there. They are there because of that sin to which they have inseparably joined themselves. And that being their irrevocable choice, they simply have the opportunity now of receiving indeed, and to the full, that which they have chosen. … God has done all that He could do, but they would not have it. …

“Taking vengeance on them that know not God” [II Thessalonians 1:8]. They had an opportunity to know God. Multitudes professed that they did know God, but in their works they denied Him. They had the form of godliness—the profession—but they denied the power thereof. … “In the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts … reprobate concerning the faith” (11 Timothy 3:1–6, 8). And destruction comes to them, not because they had no chance, but because they despised all the chances they had: not because they had no opportunity to know God, but because they rejected every opportunity that God ever gave them to find Him out, and know Him when He revealed himself.

God is altogether clear; for Jesus said: “If any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him.” John 12:47, 48. …

“If any man hear My words”—that word is the word of God. It is the word of life of God, … eternal is the life of God. … “ If any man hear My words, and believe not;” and “he that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words,” … and when he rejects the word, he rejects eternal life. … It is his own choice to reject eternal life; and in rejecting that, he chooses death. … God did all that He could: He set eternal life before him; He surrounded him with every possible inducement. … He rejected the word, and in rejecting the word of eternal life, he rejected eternal life; and in that he chose eternal death. And when he receives eternal death, it is only what he chose. He himself is the only one who counted himself worthy of it.

When Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch, and the Jews contradicted and blasphemed against those things which were spoken by Paul and Barnabas to the Gentiles, these men of God waxed bold, and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Acts 13:46. … It was not said, We judge you unworthy of eternal life. No; you “judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life.” Every man who meets destruction passes upon himself the judgment of that destruction.

All the Scripture is founded upon this thought—that it is not against the person—but against the thing to which the person has fastened himself, that the wrath of God comes. Then as the Lord executes vengeance primarily only against sin, as His wrath is only against ungodliness and unrighteousness, and He has done everything He could to get the people to separate from sin, then in that burning day when He comes, and reveals Himself to the world, and the world sees Him as He is, it will still be only sin against which He will execute vengeance.

What more could God do than He did do to take away sin? He gave his only begotten Son; Christ gave himself, that whosoever would believe on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). He pledges Himself to every soul who will believe, that he shall not perish. … To every soul in this world, wicked as he may be, God’s message is that He has made the provision, He has established the thing, and so firmly fixed it that just as certainly as a soul believes in Jesus Christ, that soul “shall not perish.” …

Destruction of sin is the only way of salvation. His name shall be called “Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins” [Matthew 1:21]. So when I accept his offer, as certainly as I believe in Jesus I shall not perish. And in that, I accept the provision that I will let sin go. I agree that I am willing to be separated from the sin, and that I will separate from sin. Listen: “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him that the body of sin might be destroyed.” Then the object of the cross of Christ is the destruction of sin. Never miss that thought. Hold fast to it forever: the cross of Jesus Christ—the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the object of it—is the destruction of sin. Thank the Lord, that object will be accomplished. Now let us read the whole verse: “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Romans 6:6. Not only is there destruction of sin, but freedom from the service of sin. “For sin shall not have dominion over you.” Verse 14. …

“For he that is dead is freed from sin” [verse 7]. He who is crucified, he who has accepted the death of Jesus Christ, and is crucified with Him, he it is that is freed from sin.

“Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him” [verse 8]. … As certainly as we live with Him, we live with Him free from sin.

“Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him” [verse 9]. … It had the dominion, because He gave Himself up in surrender to the dominion of death; but death could not hold Him, because He was separated from sin. Neither can death hold anybody else; even though it has dominion, it can not hold the man who is free from sin.

“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you” [verses 11–14].

There the apostle says that sin shall not have dominion over you. Let not sin therefore reign in your flesh, in your members. … “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” The next verse reads: “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” [verses 16–18].

The cross of Christ gives not only freedom from sin, but makes men servants of righteousness. The next verse tells us that the service of righteousness is “unto holiness” [verse 19]; the end of holiness is everlasting life; and without holiness “no man shall see the Lord” [Hebrews 12:14].

Then it is perfectly plain, as plain as ABC, that the only true preparation for the coming of the Lord is separation from sin. It makes no difference how much we talk about the coming of the Lord; nor how much we preach the signs of the times; nor how much we prepare for it otherwise, though we sell all we have, and give to the poor—if we are not separating from sin, making it our constant consideration to be absolutely separated from sin, and to be servants of righteousness unto holiness, we are not making preparation for the coming of the Lord at all: our profession is all a fraud. We may not be working it as a fraud; but we are inflicting upon ourselves a fraud. It may be that we are deceiving ourselves by it; but that makes no difference: if our constant consideration is not entire separation from sin, our profession is a fraud.

The profession of being a Seventh-day Adventist, looking for the coming of the Lord, telling people that the coming of the Lord is near, watching the signs of the times—all this is right, absolutely and forever right. But, though I have all this, and have not that one thing—the sole ambition to be completely separated from sin, and from the service of sin—my profession of the Adventist faith is a fraud; for if I am not separated from sin, I cannot meet the Lord at all in peace. Therefore if my sole ambition is not separation from sin, and from the service of it, I am not preparing at all to meet the Lord. …

Are you preparing to meet the Lord, whom, without holiness, no man shall see? … Are you ready to meet the Lord? Of the times and seasons, you have no need that I speak to you. … Are you separated from sin? And being separated from sin, are you ready to meet the Lord? Our God is a consuming fire. …

Do you not remember that the Word not only says that we shall see Him, but see Him as He is? … John saw Him as He is—saw Him as we shall see Him … “His eyes were as a flame of fire.” “His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and “His countenance was as the sun shineth in His strength” [Revelation 1:14–16]. His raiment was “white as snow, so as no fuller on earth can white them,” “as white as the light” [Mark 9:3; Matthew 17:21]—the whiteness of piercing, consuming brightness. And that is He as He is when He comes; and without holiness no man shall see Him. Without separation from sin, no man shall stand. …

Look at yourself and your record, and I will look at myself and my record. We will look at the evil traits that are in us, at the struggles we have made, and the longing we have had to overcome these besetments, and to separate ourselves from all the evil, that we might indeed be ready. Where is there time to get ourselves ready? In the short time that intervenes between now and that day—is there time? and if so, when shall be that time when you and I shall have that thing so accomplished, shall have so separated ourselves from sin that we shall be ready to meet Him in flaming fire? The answer is, Never. That time will never, never come.

What, then, shall we do? Do not misunderstand. I did not say that the time will never come when we could be separated from sin. I said, Look at yourself, and I will look at myself, and we will see what we are, how full of evil traits, and what little progress we have made in this work of overcoming, and ask the question, When will the time ever come when you and I shall have so separated ourselves from sin that we can meet Him in flaming fire? It is that time which I say will never, never come.

But, bless the Lord! there is time to be separated from sin. No time will ever come when we can do this work ourselves; but the time is now, JUST NOW, to be separated from sin. The time to be separated from sin is right now, and that now is all the time; for “now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation” [II Corinthians 6:2]. Only God can separate us from sin; He will do it, and He will do it just now. Bless His name!

Yet, what every one must understand is this: the only way that God does, or can, separate anybody from sin is by that very consuming fire of His presence. The only way, therefore, in which you and I can ever be so separated from sin as to meet God as He is, in the flaming fire that He is, in that great day, is to meet Him TODAY as He is, in the consuming fire that He is. … “I will not leave you comfortless: I will COME TO YOU.” John 14:18. But do not forget that whether He comes to you or to me now, or whether He comes to other people in that great day, He comes only as a consuming fire.

Listen: “If any man hear My voice, and open the door,”—what does He say?—“I will come in to him” [Revelation 3:20]. … And “He is a consuming fire” and when He comes in to you, that coming will consume all the sin in you, so that when He comes in the clouds of heaven in flaming fire, you can meet Him in joy in the consuming fire that He is.

Then do you hear His voice? “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I WILL COME INTO HIM.” Ibid. Do you hear His voice? Then swing open wide the door, and keep it everlastingly open. Bid Him welcome, in the consuming fire that He is: and that flaming fire of his presence will consume sin in all your being, and so will thoroughly cleanse and prepare you to meet Him in flaming fire in that great day.

When I meet Him today “in a flaming fire, “when I welcome Him today “a consuming fire” in me, shall I be afraid to meet Him in flaming fire in that day—No; I shall be accustomed to it; and knowing what a blessed thing it is to become familiar with meeting Him as “a consuming fire,” knowing what a blessing that has brought to me today, I shall be delighted to meet Him on that other day, when He shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire. “Our God is a consuming fire.” Bless the Lord!

“Who may abide the day of His coming? Who shall stand when he appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s FIRE” [Malachi 3:21]. Good. Then when I meet Him now, in the consuming fire that He is, I meet Him in a fire that is refining, that purifies. “And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness” [verse 3]. That is separation from sin; that is purification from sin. And that sets us where we offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness: we become the servants of righteousness unto holiness, that we may meet the Lord. So, then, bless the Lord that He is a consuming fire—that He is as a refiner’s fire.

Look again at that expression in Revelation: “His eyes were as a flame of fire.” In that day His eyes will rest upon each one of us, and He will look clear through us. … What will that look do for everyone who is wrapped up, body and soul, in sin?—It will consume the sin and the sinner with it; because he would not be separated from the sin. And today, just now, those eyes are the same that they will be in that day. Today His eyes are as a flame of fire; and “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” [Hebrews 4:13]. … As all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do, whether we will have to do with Him or not, why not accept the fact, choose to have it so, and on our part open up everything to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do? … Those eyes of living flame will look clear through us, and will consume away all the sin, and all the dross; and will refine us so that He shall see in us the image of Himself.

It is written that we are to serve the Lord “as of sincerity.” Sincere is genuine; it is true; it is as strained honey. Originally, it is honey strained, and strained again, over and over, until, holding up the honey to the light, it is found to be sine-cera—“without wax,” no trace of cera to be seen floating in it. That is what He says you and I are to be as certainly as we are Christians. God cleanses us in the blood of Christ, and holds us up in the light of the Lord, and the world can see only the light. And so, “ye are the light of the world” [Mathew 5:14]. Here, again, is the word of the Lord: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me.” Psalm 139:23, 24. That is the word given to us for today and for all time. Another word goes right along with it: “O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.

“Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising … and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me.” Another translation has it: “Thou has compassed me all around; and holdest Thine hand over me.” Verses 1–5. That is a fact. He has compassed us all around, and His hand is over us. Whether we accept it or not, is another matter; but that is the fact with every man in all this wide world. That is how it is that all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

Then when it is a fact that He has searched us, and known us, and does search out and know us all the time, why not accept it as a fact, and have the benefit of it? Why not present to Him the word, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts”? What for?— “And see if there be any wicked way in me.” O that sets me before His face; for His glorious eyes of light to look upon me, and to shine through me, as the fire, searching out if there be any wicked way in me! And having searched it out, and being a consuming fire, He consumes it all away, and leads me in the way everlasting. …

Therefore … let it never escape from your thought that “our God is a consuming fire;” and that the sure way to escape from that consuming fire in that great day when there will be no chance to change, and no time to choose, is to choose today the blessed change that is wrought, by welcoming freely, gladly, into the life, our God, who is a consuming fire.

I remember the word that was spoken to Moses. As Moses had come nearer and nearer to God, he said at last: “I beseech thee, show me Thy glory” [Exodus 33:18]. That is exactly what appears in the coming great day that is at hand: He comes “in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” [Matthew 24:30]. His glory covers the heavens in that day, and the earth is filled with His praise. In that day He is “wrapped in a blaze of boundless glory,” “and every eye shall see Him” [Revelation 1:7]. But who shall endure it? … Only those who have prayed, and now pray, that Christian prayer, “I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory.”

When Moses prayed that blessed Christian prayer, the Lord said: “There is a place by Me, … and I will put thee in a cleft of the rock,” “and I will make all My goodness pass before thee.” “And it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by,” I “will cover thee with My hand. And I will take away My hand,” and you shall see Me. Exodus 33:21-23. So, though every man should dread the terror of the consuming glory of the Lord in that great day, there is today a place by Him. … Come, and stand in this place by Him, in the very presence of the flaming glory. Do not be afraid. Moses was not able to bear the fulness of that consuming glory that day; but the Lord, in his love, covered him with His hand, and protected him from the effects of that glory, which he was unable to bear.

The great trouble in that great day is that the people are not able to bear the glory. The kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, the chief men and the captains, and every bondman, and every freeman flee to the rocks and mountains to hide themselves, and say to the rocks and mountains, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand” [Revelation 6:16, 17]? The blazing glory of God will shine upon the earth, and these people cannot bear it.

But today do not be afraid. He says: “There is a place by Me” there is a place “in a cleft of the rock” … and I “will cover thee with My hand,” so that you can bear the blaze, and the purifying power, of My glory. And that consuming fire of My presence shall consume away all the sin. I “will cover thee with My hand,”—I will protect you even from that weakness which, in you, makes you unable to bear the fullness of My glory. And when He takes away His hand in that great day, those who have dwelt by His side, and been purified by living in this consuming fire until they are made white and tried, can look upon His unveiled face. In the full brightness of His glory, we shall look upon Him, and see Him as He is.

And that is where we are now, to look. With open face we can look, even now, into His face. For, in the flesh of Jesus Christ, God has veiled the annihilating power of the glory of His face; for, having shined into our hearts, He gives the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. In looking into the face of Jesus Christ, we see the face of God, and “we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory, to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Then let every soul welcome the glorious message that God sends to the world, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” [John 20:22]; welcome that blessed Spirit that works this change by which we are changed from glory to glory, and made ready to meet Him in that great day of glory; and welcome not only the Holy Spirit, but covet earnestly the best gifts, which the Holy Spirit brings when He comes. Desire spiritual gifts; for these are to bring us to perfection in Christ Jesus. Only in this way shall we be made perfect in Christ Jesus; and in Christ be made ready to meet Him as He is.

God is a consuming fire; and I am glad of it. Our God is coming; and I am glad of it. He is coming in flaming fire; and I am glad of it. He is coming in all His glory; and I am glad of it. I am sorry that there will be anybody upon whom He will have to take vengeance; but I am glad that the day is coming when all sin will be swept away by our God, who is a consuming fire. …

Are you ready to meet Him in that day? If not, He says to you today, “There is a place by Me.” Come today, and stand in this place by Me. I will reveal to you all My glory; “I will make all My goodness pass before thee.” And where there is any defect in you that cannot just now bear the deeply consuming fire of this glory, I “will cover thee with My hand” until it is all over: so that I may separate you from all sin, and save you in that day of glory.

O, then, welcome Him who is a consuming fire! Dwell in His presence. Open up the life. Recognize the fact that He is a consuming fire—that He is never anything else. Then rejoice in that today. Dwell in that consuming fire today. And when that great day breaks upon the earth, in all His glory, we shall also rejoice in that day. Then we shall stand and say, “Lo, this is our God.” But what! with the mountains hurling through the air; every island fleeing out of its place; the earth coming up from beneath; the heavens departing as a scroll, with a noise that is more than deafening; and flaming fire all around, His face as the sun, His eyes as a flame of fire—in all this shall we rejoice?—Yes, bless the Lord! We shall rejoice, because “this is our God.” We have seen Him before; we have lived with Him; we have welcomed His consuming presence; we have welcomed the living flame of which His eyes are as a flaming fire, that they should pierce us through, and search out any wicked way in us. We know what blessing and joy were brought into our lives when His consuming glory purified us from sin and from sinning, and made us the servants of righteousness unto holiness. And knowing what blessedness that was, we exclaim, in the fullness of perfect joy, “Lo, this is our God” indeed. We see Him now, more fully than before. That means more blessing still. “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” Isaiah 25:9.

Sermon preached at the Battle Creek Tabernacle, October 22, 1898, and found in The Review and Herald, January 24 and 31, 1899.

Pen of Inspiration – Heaven’s Judgments on the Wicked

Sabbath [February 16, 1895] … Byron Belden, Sarah Belden, and Sister May Lacey accompanied me to my appointment at Prospect [New South Wales]. … Our meeting closed quite late.

As we left the house we saw a storm coming. The blackness grew deeper—so portentous that we drove with our colts as fast as we dared. When we were almost home the fury of the gale struck. Large hailstones began to fall—as large around as a hen’s egg, but not as long. The horses could not keep their footing and twice slipped down on their haunches, for the road was slippery clay. The great hailstones frightened the young horse, for they were striking her with terrible force. I said, “Byron, get out at once.” He had not considered this the best thing to do, thinking he could control the horse better where he was, in the carriage. I said, “Go to her head; talk to her. Let the horses know it is not you that are beating them.” He jumped out at this suggestion. I said, “May Lacey and Sarah, get out.” They did but they cannot tell how. The colt was about frantic. She is a strong, sound colt, but broken to the harness only a few months. But she did not kick, neither did she break into a run, but tried to get away from something terrible.

I got out next, May and Sarah helping me. Then they helped me, one on one side and one on the other. The wind was blowing with such force that hats were taken from our heads and cushions were blown from the wagon. The heavy carriage cushions, umbrellas, and heavy carriage robes were blown into the field, and were flying in every direction. But we were all out from the carriage, Byron firmly holding the young frightened horse. Had it known its power, it could have freed itself from his grasp and torn everything to pieces and killed itself.

What a scene! Sister Belden, May Lacey, and I reached the house hatless. I grasped my hat in my hand as it was blowing before me on the ground. All of us three women were in the home drenched. Byron was with the poor terror-stricken new horse. Sarah Belden caught up a shawl and ran out again in the fast-falling hail. We could not see them although they were in full sight of the house. The fast-falling rain made it impossible to discern anything distinctly. We could only lift up our hearts to God for His help.

Byron said afterwards he did not dare to stir up the horses, fearing my horse would become uncontrollable. The colt was finally led close to the paddock fence, and Sarah Belden tried to untackle the traces but could not. She then climbed over the fence and held the horse’s head over the fence while Byron unhitched the traces and let the horse free. He then led her down to the yard, taking her through the front yard grounds. Sarah Belden came into the house drenched to the skin. After the storm had spent its force, Byron again took the colt and attached her to the wagon and picked up the scattered things which had been blown about, and brought them to the house.

This is the sharpest experience I have ever had in a carriage in a storm. When the blackness deepened, with the clouds in the south, I supposed it would be no ordinary storm that we should have, and I thought of the day when the judgment of God would be poured out upon the world, when blackness and horrible darkness would clothe the heavens as sackcloth of hair. We have no question but our prayers were answered and the angel of God stood by the horses’ heads. Nothing was broken. The Lord preserved us, and His name shall be glorified. But I was deeply impressed. My imagination anticipated what it must be in that period when the Lord’s mighty voice shall give commission to His angels, “Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth” (Revelation 16:1). …

When the plagues of God shall come upon the earth, hail will fall upon the wicked about the weight of a talent. The hail had struck Brother Belden. One stone struck him on the back of the head, raising a large lump. Another stone struck him very near the temple. The bruise still shows upon the hands of Sister Belden. But what must it be when the hail shall be so much increased in size, falling upon those who would not care for and obey God but insulted Him and despised all His mercies? …

The Lord has a people whom He will preserve. John beheld the “four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree” (Revelation 7:1, 3) till the seal of the living God shall be placed upon those who love God and keep His commandments. …

And if we have been mercifully shielded from accident, if lightning and tempest have passed us by unharmed, if the waves that talked with death have submerged the proud vessels but have brought the one on which we sailed to the harbor, let us bow in gratitude to God and thank Him that the power of mighty angels, at His bidding, have held back the winds and waves that they did not destroy.

Manuscript Releases, vol. 15, 217–221.

Inspiration – Days of Noah

This is inspired testimony respecting the state of society in the days of Noah—an accurate description of the generation that perished in the waters of the flood. “God saw that the wickedness of man was great,” and that the “earth was filled with violence” [Genesis 6:5, first part, 11]. The fear of God had well-nigh died out of the hearts of the children of men. Lawlessness was rife, and almost every conceivable sin was practiced. The wickedness of men was open and daring, and the cries of the oppressed reached to heaven. Justice was trampled in the dust. The strong not only disregarded the rights of the weak, but forced them to commit deeds of violence and crime.

The wickedness of man was great; but this was not all. “Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” [Genesis 6:5, last part]. The purposes and desires of the heart were corrupt from day to day.

Many flatter themselves that in this enlightened age men are superior in knowledge and talent to those who lived before the flood; but those who think this do not rightly estimate the physical and mental strength of that long-lived race. In those early ages, growth was slow and firm. Men did not, as at the present time, flash into maturity early, and quickly exhaust their vital forces. Their minds were of a high order, and were strong and clear. Had these men, with their rare powers to conceive and execute, devoted themselves to the service of God, they would have made their Creator’s name a praise in the earth, and would have answered the purpose for which he gave them being. But they failed to do this. “All flesh had corrupted his way on the earth” [Genesis 6:12]. There were many giants, men of great stature and strength, renowned for wisdom, skillful in devising the most cunning and wonderful work; but in proportion to their skill and mental ability was their great guilt because of unbridled iniquity.

These antediluvians had received many and rich gifts from God; but they used the bounties granted them by Divine Providence to minister to their own selfish desires, and turned them into a curse by fixing their thoughts and affections upon the gifts instead of the Giver. They had goodly trees of great variety and almost without limit; but of these they made temples, where they reveled in scenes of pleasure and wickedness. Gold, silver, and precious stones were in abundance; but they used these also to gratify the desires of their own proud hearts.

These sinful men could not deny the existence of God; but they would have been glad to know that there was no God to witness their deeds and call them to account. They delighted to put Him out of their minds. The children were not taught to fear and reverence their Maker. They grew up unrestrained in their desires, and destitute of principle or conscience. Their minds were absorbed in devising means to rival one another in pleasure and vice; and they neither looked nor cared for a heaven beyond this world.

Yet the whole world was not corrupt. There were a few faithful witnesses for God. Methuselah, Enoch, Noah, and many others labored to keep alive on the earth the knowledge of the true God, and to stay the tide of moral evil. God declared that his Spirit should not always strive with guilty men, but that their probation should be a hundred and twenty years; if they did not then cease to pollute with their sins the world and its rich treasures, he would blot them from his creation; and these faithful ministers of righteousness gave the warning message. But the light was not heeded, and the preaching of Noah and his co-laborers impressed hearts less and less. Many, even of the worshipers of God, had not sufficient moral power to stand against the corrupting influences of the age, and were beguiled into sin by the bewitching allurements that were constantly before them.

But at length the patience of God was exhausted. By their obstinate resistance to the reproofs of conscience and the warnings of God’s messengers, that generation filled up the measure of their iniquity, and became ripe for destruction. Because mankind had perverted his gifts, God would deface and destroy the things with which he delighted to bless them; he would sweep away the beasts of the field, and the rich vegetation which furnished such an abundant supply of food, and transform the fair earth into one vast scene of desolation and ruin. And guilty man should utterly perish in the overthrow of the world upon which he had set his affections.

Is not this picture of the antediluvian world reproduced in our time? Man has not grown more pure and holy since the days of Noah. His heart has not changed; it is still “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” [Jeremiah 17:9]. The intense worldliness of that generation is exceeded by that of the generation now living. Money is lavishly spent for costly houses, fine horses and carriages, and other expensive articles of luxury and display, while the poor suffer for food and clothing. The fear of God is banished from the hearts of the children of men, and his law is treated with indifference and neglect.

Said Christ: “As in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” [Matthew 24:38, 39]. God did not condemn the antediluvians for eating and drinking; he had given them the fruits of the earth in great abundance to supply their physical wants. Their sin consisted in taking these gifts without gratitude to the Giver, and debasing themselves by indulging appetite without restraint.

It was lawful for them to marry. Marriage was in God’s order; it was one of the first institutions which he established. He gave special directions concerning this ordinance, clothing it with sanctity and beauty; but these directions had been forgotten, and marriage had been perverted to minister to passion. The godly mingled with the depraved, and became like them in spirit and in deeds. “The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose” [Genesis 6:2].

A similar state of things exists now in relation to marriage. Marriages are formed between the godly and the ungodly, because inclination governs in the selection of husband or wife. The parties do not ask counsel of God, nor have his glory in view. Christianity ought to have a controlling, sanctifying influence upon the marriage relation; but husband and wife are not united by Christian principle; uncontrolled passion lies at the foundation of many of the marriages that are contracted at the present time.

In Noah’s day there were men who laughed to scorn his words of warning. They said that nature was governed by fixed laws which made a flood impossible, and that if there were any truth in what he said, the great men, the wise and prudent, would understand the matter. There was total disbelief in Noah’s testimony in regard to the coming judgments; but this unbelief did not prevent or hinder the gathering storm. At the appointed time, “the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened” [Genesis 7:11], and the earth was washed of its corruption. Only those who found shelter in the ark were saved.

Reader, another storm is coming. The earth will again be swept by the desolating wrath of God, and again sin and sinners will be destroyed. … Says the psalmist: “Because thou hast made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation, there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” [Psalm 91:9–11].

The Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, July 1, 1887.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judgment of the Righteous Precedes the Second Coming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Investigative Judgment Announced

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

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

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

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

The Blotting Out of Sin

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

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

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

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

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

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

State of the Dead

The first deception which fastened itself upon the mind of man was the idea that man could live out of harmony with his Creator and never die. Though this assertion went directly contrary to that which God had stated, it was accepted in the place of God’s Word and acted upon. This false concept was ultimately accepted within the professed Christian church and is part of that wine of Babylon with which she had made the nations drunk. “Babylon has been fostering poisonous doctrines, the wine of error. This wine of error is made up of false doctrines, such as the natural immortality of the soul, the eternal torment of the wicked, the denial of the pre-existence of Christ prior to His birth in Bethlehem, and advocating and exalting the first day of the week above God’s holy and sanctified day.” Testimonies to Ministers, 61.

The servant of the Lord has told us that in the closing struggle of the great controversy, there are two issues on which Christendom will unite.

“Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul, and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former lays the foundation of Spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with Rome.” The Great Controversy, 588.

In view of the rapidly approaching crisis, it is imperative that each one of us be thoroughly grounded in the truth. The editors of Historic Adventist LandMarks think that it is a good idea to review, from time to time, some of our basic doctrines. This will not only be an excellent review, but will also provide an outline for marking your Bible, a help in giving Bible studies. –The Editors

Creation of man: “And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” Genesis 1:26, 27.

Question: In what condition is man in death?

Job 14:12–14—”So man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep. Oh, that You would hide me in the grave, that You would conceal me until Your wrath is past, that You would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes.” NKJV. Note: The most common definition found in the Bible is that it is a sleep.

Psalm 13:3—”Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.” NKJV.

Jeremiah 51:39, 57—”In their excitement I will prepare their feasts; I will make them drunk, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep and not awake,’ says the LORD. . . . ‘And I will make drunk her princes and wise men, her governors, her deputies, and her mighty men. And they shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not awake,’ says the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.” NKJV.

Daniel 12:2—”And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.” NKJV.

John 11:11–14—”These things He said, and after that He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.’ Then His disciples said, ‘Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.’ However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead.’” NKJV.

Acts 13:36—”For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption.” NKJV.

I Corinthians 15:51—”Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” NKJV.

Psalm 104:29, 30—”Thou hidest Thy face, they are troubled: Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth Thy spirit, they are created: and Thou renewest the face of the earth.” KJV.

Job 27:3—”All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils.” KJV.

Genesis 3:19—”In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” KJV.

Question: Is this sleep with dreams, or consciousness, or is it totally unconscious?

Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10—”For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun. . . . Whatever your hand find to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” NKJV.

Psalm 49:12–20—”Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish. This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah. Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave form their dwelling. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave; for He shall receive me. Selah. Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him. Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself. He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light. Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.” KJV. Note: A man that is given honor after he is dead has no knowledge of it.

Isaiah 38:18,1 9—”For Sheol cannot thank You, death cannot praise You; those who go down to the pit can not hope for Your truth. The living, the living man, he shall praise You, as I do this day; the father shall make known Your truth to the children.” NKJV. Note: The dead do not know God’s truth. They cannot praise God; they are unconscious; they know nothing.

Psalm 6:5—”For in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grave who will give You thanks? NKJV.

Psalm 115:17—”The dead do not praise the LORD, nor any who go down into silence.” NKJV. Note: The Bible teaches this truth over and over again. God must have known that there would be some misunderstanding on this subject.

Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20—”For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7 KJV. Note. As we have already seen, Solomon has already told us that the dead have no consciousness. Certainly he will not, a few chapters later, contradict himself. What then, is meant by the spirit returning to God?

There is one difference, however, between man and beast, according to Ecclesiastes 3:21. “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” At death, the spirit of man goes back to God so that He can preserve them in their unconscious state until the resurrection day when the righteous will be brought back to life. “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” I Corinthians 15:51, 52 KJV.

I Corinthians 15:17, 18—”For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” KJV.

Question: When do we go to heaven?

John 14:1–3—”Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” KJV. Note: Jesus said that after He prepares a place, He will come to the earth again to take the righteous to the mansions prepared in Heaven. We do to be with Christ when He returns, and not before. This is why the Second Coming of Christ is so important to the New Testament believers.

Question: What does Paul say would happen to the dead if there was no resurrection?

I Corinthians 15:12–23—”Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ: whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the Firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming.” KJV. Note; If for 4,000 years the righteous have gone directly to heaven at death, how could Paul have said that if there is no resurrection, those who have fallen asleep in Christ are perished? What need would there be for a resurrection.”

Question: What further does Jesus say about the future life?

John 5:28, 29—”Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” KJV.

John 6:39, 40—””And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise Him up at the last day.” KJV. Note: The dead are going to be raised at the last day [the resurrection]!

John 11:23, 24—”Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” KJV.

Question: What does Peter say about the future life?

I Peter 5:4—”And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” KJV.

Acts 2:29, 34, 35—”Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, for he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. . . . For David is not yet ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thy foes Thy footstool.” KJV.

Question: What did Job say about a future life after death?
Job 19:25–27—”For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” KJV.

Question: What did Paul say about the future life?

II Timothy 4:7, 8—”I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” KJV.

Acts 13:36, 37—”For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: but He, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.” KJV.

Acts 24:14, 15—Again, from the apostle Paul: “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: and have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” KJV.

I Thessalonians 4:14–17—”For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” NKJV. This describes the resurrection.

I Corinthians 15:51–55—”Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’” KJV.

Question: Will the resurrection be a secret and invisible event, or will it be noticed by all?

I Thessalonians 4:16–18—”For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” KJV.