Bible Study Guides – Spiritualism Influences the World

August 4–August 10, 2002

MEMORY VERSE: “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” 2 Corinthians 11:14, 15.

STUDY HELPS: The Great Controversy, 511–562; 582–592.

INTRODUCTION: “The last great delusion is soon to open before us. Antichrist is to perform his marvelous works in our sight. So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures. By their testimony every statement and every miracle must be tested.” The Great Controversy, 593.

1 How were our first parents deceived into sin? Genesis 3:1–6.

NOTE: “The tempter often whispers that the Christian life is one of exaction, of rigorous duties; that it is hard to be on the watch continually, and there is no need of being so particular. It was thus that he deceived and overthrew Eve in Eden, telling her that God’s commands were arbitrary and unjust, given to prevent men from becoming free and exalted, like himself. Satan’s object is the same now as then. He desires to deceive and ruin us.” Youth’s Instructor, November 21, 1883.

2 How closely did the Egyptian magicians’ counterfeit resemble the real? Exodus 7:11, 12.

NOTE: “The magicians seemed to perform several things with their enchantments similar to those things which God wrought by the hand of Moses and Aaron. They did not really cause their rods to become serpents, but by magic, aided by the great deceiver, made them to appear like serpents, to counterfeit the work of God. Satan assisted his servants to resist the work of the Most High, in order to deceive the people, and encourage them in their rebellion. Pharaoh would grasp at the least evidence he could obtain to justify himself in resisting the work of God performed by Moses and Aaron. He told these servants of God that his magicians could do all these wonders. The difference between the work of God and that of the magicians was, one was of God, the other of Satan. One was true, the other false.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 184.

3 When God would not communicate with Saul, to whom did he turn? 1 Samuel 28:7, 13, 14.

NOTE: “When Saul inquired for Samuel, the Lord did not cause Samuel to appear to Saul. He saw nothing. Satan was not allowed to disturb the rest of Samuel in the grave, and bring him up in reality to the witch of Endor. God does not give Satan power to resurrect the dead. But Satan’s angels assume the form of dead friends, and speak and act like them, that through professed dead friends he can the better carry on his work of deception. Satan knew Samuel well, and he knew how to represent him before the witch of Endor, and to utter correctly the fate of Saul and his sons.” Conflict and Courage, 172.

“[In 1 Chronicles 10:13, 14] it is distinctly stated that Saul inquired of the familiar spirit, not of the Lord. He did not communicate with Samuel, the prophet of God; but through the sorceress he held intercourse with Satan.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 683.

4 How do Satan and his evil angels deceive people? 2 Corinthians 11:14, 15.

NOTE: “God revealed to His servant the perils of the church in the last days. He writes, ‘Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.’ [1 Timothy 4:2.]” Confrontation, 92.

“In the future, Satan’s superstitions will assume new forms. Errors will be presented in a pleasing and flattering manner. False theories, clothed with garments of light, will be presented to God’s people. Thus Satan will try to deceive, if possible, the very elect.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 293.

5 In what likeness did the prophet describe the spirits that are to be in our day? Revelation 16:13.

NOTE: “We need to be anchored in Christ, rooted and grounded in the faith. Satan works through agents. He selects those who have not been drinking of the living waters, whose souls are athirst for something new and strange, and who are ever ready to drink at any fountain that may present itself. . . .” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1099.

“There will be seducing spirits and doctrines of devils in the midst of the church, and these evil influences will increase; but hold fast the beginning of your confidence firm unto the end.” Review and Herald, August 9, 1906.

6 How do these spirits deceive the whole world? Revelation 16:14.

NOTE: “Satan has long been preparing for his final effort to deceive the world. The foundation of his work was laid by the assurance given to Eve in Eden: [Genesis 3:4, 5 quoted]. Little by little he has prepared the way for his masterpiece of deception in the development of spiritualism. He has not yet reached the full accomplishment of his designs; but it will be reached in the last remnant of time. . . . [Revelation 16:13, 14 quoted.] Except those who are kept by the power of God, through faith in His word, the whole world will be swept into the ranks of this delusion. The people are fast being lulled to a fatal security, to be awakened only by the outpouring of the wrath of God.” The Great Controversy, 561.

7 What deceptive miracles will be used by evil spirits? 2 Thessalonians 2:8–12. Compare Matthew 24:24.

NOTE: “It is fondly supposed that heathen superstitions have disappeared before the civilization of the twentieth century. But the word of God and the stern testimony of facts declare that sorcery is practiced in this age as verily as in the days of the old-time magicians. The ancient system of magic is, in reality, the same as what is now known as modern spiritualism. Satan is finding access to thousands of minds by presenting himself under the guise of departed friends. . . .

“The magicians of heathen times have their counterpart in the spiritualistic mediums, the clairvoyants, and the fortune-tellers of today. . . . Could the veil be lifted from before our eyes, we should see evil angels employing all their arts to deceive and to destroy. Wherever an influence is exerted to cause men to forget God, there Satan is exercising his bewitching power. . . . The apostle’s admonition to the Ephesian church should be heeded by the people of God today: ‘Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.’ Ephesians 5:11.” The Acts of the Apostles, 289, 290.

8 Why do Satan and his angels perform miracles? Revelation 13:13–15.

NOTE: “The time is at hand when Satan will work miracles to confirm minds in the belief that he is God. All the people of God are now to stand on the platform of truth as it has been given in the third angel’s message. All the pleasant pictures, all the miracles wrought, will be presented in order that, if possible, the very elect shall be deceived. The only hope for any one is to hold fast the evidences that have confirmed the truth in righteousness. Let these be proclaimed over and over again, until the close of this earth’s history.” Review and Herald, August 9, 1906.

9 For what purpose has Satan designed the last day miracles? Matthew 24:24, last part.

NOTE: “The time is coming when Satan will work miracles right in your sight, claiming that he is Christ; and if your feet are not firmly established upon the truth of God, then you will be led away from your foundation. The only safety for you is to search for the truth as for hid treasures. Dig for the truth as you would for treasures in the earth, and present the word of God, the Bible, before your Heavenly Father, and say, Enlighten me; teach me what is truth. . . . It is important that you continually search the Scriptures. You should store the mind with the word of God . . . .” Review and Herald, April 3, 1888.

10 How will the Christian respond to Satan’s deceptions? Isaiah 8:19, 20.

NOTE: “For thousands of years Satan has been gaining an experience in learning how to deceive; and to those who live in this age he comes with almost overwhelming power. Our only safety is found in obedience to God’s word, which has been given us as a sure guide and counselor. God’s people today are to keep themselves distinct and separate from the world, its spirit, and its influences.” Fundamentals of Education, 501.

“So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures. By their testimony every statement and every miracle must be tested.” The Great Controversy, 593.

11 To meet these deceptions, how are we to prepare? 2 Timothy 2:15; Ephesians 6:11–18.

NOTE: “Those who endeavor to obey all the commandments of God will be opposed and derided. They can stand only in God. In order to endure the trial before them, they must understand the will of God as revealed in His word; they can honor Him only as they have a right conception of His character, government, and purposes, and act in accordance with them. None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict. To every soul will come the searching test: Shall I obey God rather than men? The decisive hour is even now at hand. Are our feet planted on the rock of God’s immutable word? Are we prepared to stand firm in defense of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus?” The Great Controversy, 593, 594.

The Race to Contact the Dead, Part III

The fascination with death, and the realization of the impossibility of escape from death, has led many into a race to contact the dead. The phenomenon of claiming to contact the dead is becoming almost common place. With the increased interest in afterlife, it becomes necessary for every Christian to thoroughly investigate the Scriptures to see what God’s Word teaches about what happens at death. In both the Old and New Testaments, death is referred to as a sleep. In the King James Version of the Bible, similar words such as “sleep, sleepeth, asleep” are used to describe death in no less than 60 verses. The testimony of the Bible is unmistakable. “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 finds 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.” Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10.

What happens at death? The spirit, that spark of life, returns to God, and the body decays back into dust. Man is sleeping in the grave, peacefully awaiting the resurrection.

By saying that the soul does not die, that it simply floats to eternal bliss or eternal misery, we are in reality saying that the soul is immortal. The soul is not immortal; God alone is immortal. “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, [be] honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17.

Reward Received at the Resurrection

We see all through the New Testament that the great hope of the apostles was the resurrection, and it is the resurrection that is to be our great hope as well. It is the resurrection that is to be our comfort in the time of loss.

It is the resurrection, not death, which we are repeatedly taught to look forward to—when we will receive our reward. Jesus said, “And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:14. Paul hoped, “if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:11. He was looking forward, as Jesus said, to the resurrection of the dead. Paul also said, “I have hope in God, which they themselves [the Jews, his accusers] also accept, that there will be a resurrection of [the] dead, both of [the] just and [the] unjust.” Acts 24:15.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul combats the belief that there is no resurrection (similar to today’s belittling of the importance of the resurrection) and makes some very revealing statements. “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.” “Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” Verses 13, 18, 19. If there is no resurrection, then the dead have perished. He did not say that they are in heaven without bodies, he said they are perished, and the only thing that we would have to look forward to is this life, which would be most miserable.

Paul clearly did not teach that immediately when a person dies he ascends to heaven. He taught that at the resurrection all ascend to heaven together. The babies who have died do not go to a strange place without their mother or their father; they are in an unconscious sleep until the resurrection when all can go to heaven together. God’s way truly is best.

When we rationally think about the resurrection, it is the only thing that would make sense anyway, for the Bible constantly talks about a judgment. God has an appointed time for the judgment (see Acts 17:31), and throughout the Bible it is repeatedly talked about as a future event. (See Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14; 3:15, 17; 11:9.) We are also told, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ . . . .” 2 Corinthians 5:10. If a person went directly to heaven or to hell before the judgment day, that would be incredibly unfair. Who has ever heard of a judge condemning a person to prison before he was found guilty? Yet this is what people think God is doing. What a misrepresentation of our loving God! God would never sentence a person to death, or life, before a fair trial had been given. Revelation pictures the judgment taking place (see Revelation 20:11–13) and then, after the judgment occurs, is the “lake of fire.” Revelation 20:14, 15. God is just, and the punishment will not be executed until the judgment, or trial, takes place. Thus all the dead righteous and wicked are asleep in their graves, awaiting their respective resurrections. (See John 5:28, 29.)

The Thief on the Cross

As in any subject that we study from the Bible, there are a few texts that can confuse us and make things hard to understand. We must always remember the Biblical principle of getting the weight of the evidence. “Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those [just] weaned from milk? Those [just] drawn from the breasts? For precept [must be] upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.” Isaiah 28:9, 10. “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 2:13. If we are going to understand what God is telling us in His Word about a subject, we must compare scripture with scripture. We must put precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little. We must get the entire picture to see what God is trying to tell us. We must not isolate one verse from the rest of the Bible and build a doctrine upon it. We must get the weight of evidence and allow the weight of evidence to determine our thinking upon a subject. There are always going to be a few verses that make it difficult for us to understand, but if we look upon the subject as a whole, comparing all the verses, the Holy Spirit will teach us the truth.

One such verse, that can be used to stand in contradiction to the weight of evidence of what the Bible says about death, is what Jesus said to the thief on the cross. “Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’ ” Luke 23:42, 43. At first glance it does appear that Jesus is promising the thief that he will be in Paradise that very day. There are a few problems with that interpretation, though. The first is that it contradicts the vast majority of other references on the subject. The second is that Jesus did not even go to Paradise that day!

On resurrection morning, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that Jesus was not there. She immediately ran to get the other disciples and they came and verified that what she said was correct; then they returned to their own homes. Mary, on the other hand, stayed at the garden weeping, where she mistakes Jesus for the gardener, until He calls her by name. Immediately she throws herself at His feet, but “Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, “I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and [to] My God and your God.” ’ ” John 20:17. Jesus plainly told Mary that He had not yet ascended to the Father. On Sunday morning, shortly after the resurrection, Jesus had not yet ascended to the throne of God, where Paradise and the Tree of Life are. (Compare Revelation 2:7; 22:1, 2.) How could Jesus have been with the thief in Paradise on Friday, if He had not even gone to Paradise before Sunday morning? Clearly it must not be teaching that Jesus promised that the thief would be in Paradise that very day, for that would make a liar out of Him.

What was Jesus saying? When we look back to the Greek, we find that there was no punctuation. Not only was there no punctuation, there were not even spaces or lowercase letters. The translators did a marvelous job in translating and putting in the punctuation, but they did not always put the punctuation in the right places. An example of this can be found in Acts 19:12. In the King James Version it reads that the handkerchiefs were sick and so Paul healed them, and the diseases and unclean spirits went out from them. Clearly the comma was misplaced in this instance. If it is placed after the word “sick,” it makes perfect sense. By putting the comma after “today” instead of before “today,” Luke 23:43 agrees with all the rest of scripture. It would then read, “Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.” Jesus is simply making the declaration today; even though the thief had waited until the last hours of his life, today he was guaranteed that he would be in Paradise. Jesus was saying to the thief, as he said to Zacchaeus, “Today salvation has come to this house.” Luke 19:9. The thief is now unconsciously sleeping in the grave until the resurrection, just like all the other righteous dead.

Saul and the Witch

Since we are talking about contacting the dead, we should look at another instance that is sometimes used to justify this activity and the erroneous idea that we can communicate with the dead. This instance is found in 1 Samuel 28:3–19. We find here that even though Saul had previously “put the mediums and the spiritists out of the land” (verse 3), in his apostasy he consulted a medium, an act which the Lord calls an abomination. Notice verse 6: “And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.” The Lord had left Saul. Now when Saul longed for communication with the Lord, the Lord refused to answer him. So Saul turned to the agent of Satan, one who claimed to be able to call up the dead.

Saul asks for Samuel to be brought up. Samuel was a true prophet, and verse 6 already made it clear that the Lord did not answer by prophets. When Saul asks what the woman sees, she replies, “I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth.” Verse 13. Saul did not see anything; it was only the medium who saw this spirit. It also does not say that she saw Samuel, but simply a spirit. Saul then “perceived that it [was] Samuel.” Verse 14. Saul bows down to the spirit. This is conclusive evidence that it was not Samuel, for not even good angels allow people to bow down to them. (See Revelation 19:10.) If it was truly Samuel, there is no way that Samuel would have tolerated obeisance to him. It is true that the spirit claimed to be Samuel, but would not an evil spirit follow through with its deception and claim to be the one it is impersonating? It is also true that “the spirit” told the truth about what was going to happen, but the devil tells the truth at times when it makes his deceptions more plausible. The devils repeatedly told the truth that Jesus was the Son of God. (See Matthew 8:29; Mark 1:23–25; 3:11.) Does that mean that they are good spirits? Absolutely not! The evil spirit in this instance was just telling the truth to be more deceptive.

It would have been unnecessary to try to deceive Saul anyway, for he was already a lost man. The Lord had become his enemy, and he was to die the next day. Notice one of the reasons that Saul was killed: “So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance.” 1 Chronicles 10:13.

Saul, in total apostasy, consulted a medium, which is an abomination, and he died because of it. The medium was the only one who saw anything—a “spirit ascending out of the earth,” not Samuel, although it resembled Samuel. Saul worshipped this spirit, which Samuel would never have allowed. The Lord would not answer Saul by prophets, and Samuel was a prophet. Surely it was not Samuel who was consulted, but an evil spirit impersonating Samuel.

Spirits in the Last Days

In the days in which we live, it is so important that we understand the truth about contacting the dead. Revelation tells us that it will be the spirits of devils that are going to gather the world together for the Battle of Armageddon. “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs [coming] out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, [which] go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” Revelation 16:13, 14. John sees the spirit of demons doing signs and deceiving the world into uniting on the wrong side of the Battle of Armageddon. “And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!’ ” Revelation 18:2. The last day power of Babylon is mentioned as being a habitation of demons and a prison for every foul spirit.

In the last days, these foul spirits and demons are going to play a large part in deceiving the world into worshipping the beast power. They will appear, impersonating our dead loved ones, to teach us that we need to worship the beast. Beware! Do not listen to them, for they are the spirits of demons. They may even appear as the apostles or other early Christian figures, teaching things contrary to the writings of Scripture, but beware! The apostles and early Christians are sleeping in the grave awaiting the resurrection. They will not rise “till the heavens [are] no more, They will not awake Nor be roused from their sleep.” Job 14:12.

The race to contact the dead is well under progress today, but it will grow and increase. Do not be surprised to see miraculous appearances and signs from those who claim to be deceased—they are none other than the agents of Satan to deceive the world into accepting the mark of the beast. Everything must be tested by the great test given in God’s Word: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, [it is] because [there is] no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20. It does not matter how good and wonderful a spirit may appear; if it claims to have returned from the dead, it is false, because it is contradicting the testimony of the Word of God. There is no light in it. We must know for a certainty and remember what the Word of God teaches on this crucial topic, or we will be deceived by the wiles of the devil in the last days.

We do not need to fear, though, for God is stronger than all the might of the adversary. God has promised that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38, 39. If we keep our life hid in Christ, we will be safe from the powerful delusions that will take the world captive. The ones who are deceived are those who do “not receive the love of the truth.” 2 Thessalonians 2:10. All who are carefully and prayerfully studying the Word of God, for His “word is truth” (John 17:17), and who are purifying their “souls in obeying the truth” (1 Peter 1:22), will be shielded from the deceptions of the devil. Those who are willing to follow and believe God’s Word, whatever it says, will be “kept by the power of God through faith” and will receive the end of their faith—the salvation of their souls. (1 Peter 1:5, 9.) Praise God for teaching us the truth from His Word that we need not be deceived. May each one of us be among that group who are protected from the last powerful delusions.

Prophets of Doom

Samuel had died and had been buried, and now the Philistines had come up to attack Israel. In I Samuel 28:5, it says that Saul was terrified. Fear is part of the devil’s program. The devil has three objectives, three ways to try to destroy. First, he wants to seduce you through sensual temptations. If that doesn’t work, then he reverts to deception to involve you in his counterfeit for faith—presumption. If these two attempts don’t succeed, his third method is to endeavor to terrify you.

Interestingly, when you study the three temptations of Jesus on the mount of temptations, this is the exact order that the devil followed with Christ. First he tried to seduce Him with a sensual temptation. Then he tried to get Him to practice presumption, and finally he tried to terrify Him by implying that He need not go through the suffering of the cross. The whole world was offered to Jesus if he would just worship him. Suffering, of course, is something that terrifies people. The devil tried this on Jesus to no avail; however, he is more successful when he comes to us.

In I Samuel 28, it says that Saul was terrified. Verse 6 says that “Saul asked from Jehovah, and Jehovah did not give him an answer, either by dreams, by Urim, or by prophets.” God would not answer him, so Saul became desperate. Unfortunately, there are Adventists today who are desperate and want to know the answers to certain questions, and God hasn’t answered them.

In the book, The Great Controversy, in the chapter, “The Snares of Satan,” Ellen White said that it was one of the devil’s masterful temptations to get men to ask questions that God would not answer, even through eternal ages. People get so desperate to know the answer to a certain question that God hasn’t revealed that they try to find out the answer from somewhere else. That is precisely what Saul decided to do, so he told his servants to “find me a woman that has a familiar spirit so I can go and have a séance and find this out, find out what I need to know. I need to know what to do about this battle that’s coming up.” I Samuel 28:7.

So he disguised himself and went to this witch at Endor and persuaded her to bring up for him the person that he should name. He asked to bring up Samuel, and so it says that she had a séance for him and brought up Samuel. And Samuel said, “Well, why did you bring me up?” Saul said, “Jehovah doesn’t answer me by any way I ask, and I just have to have this information.” In verses 17 and 18 and 19, it says that Samuel, in effect, told him off. He told him you haven’t listened to Jehovah. You didn’t do what He told you to do, and that’s the reason He doesn’t answer you. And not only that, the Lord has taken away the kingdom from you and he’s going to give it to your neighbor, David. Tomorrow the Lord is going to give you, and all of the armies of Israel, into the hands of the Philistines. And you are going to die tomorrow. You and your sons are going to be with me.

That sounds like a prophet of doom, and not a prophet of the Lord. It was the devil speaking; the devil and his agents are the prophets of doom. It was not God’s message. God’s message is a message of the everlasting gospel and the judgment, and you can read it in Revelation 14:6–12. God does say that if you will not listen to the warnings there are going to be some terrible consequences; however, the Three Angels’ Messages open up by saying that the angel that flies in the midst of heaven has the Everlasting Gospel. The word gospel means “Good News!”

God’s message is a message of good news. When a Seventh-day Adventist studies with somebody, they ought to find out some good news. The world has enough messages about hell and damnation and awful things, and desperately needs good news. The good news, friend, is that Jesus is coming, and He is going to get you out of this place and take you to a place where there is no more sickness. There is not going to be any war there, and there will not be any cemeteries either. There’ll be no death, and no more pain. It will be a wonderful place, and that is good news!

Friends, the Christian is duty-bound before God to give the people of this world the good news of the coming of Jesus and how to get ready for it. That is the reason we are here, and that is good news. Publicizing every awful thing that may happen will never win anybody; it will only cause panic and terror. The devil is already doing that, and he needs no help. He is flooding the world with messages of doom, and wants you to be terrified so that you will make irrational decisions and do things that are rash and reckless.

In I Samuel 28, every specification the devil made came true. The devil can often very accurately predict events that are going to happen in the near future because he has access to all kinds of information that you and I don’t have. However, just because it turns out to be true, it does not mean that the message was from the Lord. It could be the devil trying to get you terrified, so you go into a panic.

The devil’s purpose in this was to discourage Saul and bring everlasting ruin, which he succeeded in doing. Saul will not be in the kingdom of heaven. In fact, it says in 1 Chronicles, the 10th chapter, that God killed Saul because he went and sought counsel from a woman who had a familiar spirit. God’s message is good news. Our message is the gospel, which is good news, and the good news is that Jesus is coming. If people could just get a little idea of who Jesus is and what He is like, and the fact that He is coming soon, it would be the most exciting thing in the world. When Jesus came, He always brought peace and hope and joy.

We often concentrate on how awful it will be for the wicked when Jesus comes and that they are going to be destroyed with everlasting flames of fire when He comes. But look at what happens to the righteous: “When He comes to be glorified in His Holy people, or in His saints, and to be astonished at, or to be marveled at, by all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.” 11 Thessalonians 1:10. Oh friend, when Jesus comes He’s going to be glorified, and we are going to be astonished at how wonderful it is. In the Bible, that is called “the blessed hope.” Titus 2:13.

If you are one of the saved, the coming of Jesus will be more exciting than any experience that you have ever had. If you accept Him as your Savior, He has the power to take away all the guilt of your sins, and to deliver you from the power of sin in your life and to restore you, to sanctify you, and make you ready for His coming. Is that good news?

“Every man is free to choose what power he will have to rule over him. None have fallen so low, none are so vile, but they can find deliverance in Christ.” The Desire of Ages, 258. Our message is a message of good news. We are not predictors of doom. There will not be any doomsday for the righteous; that is only for the wicked, those who have rejected the message of salvation that has been offered.

The devil’s message is: first, he wants to seduce you; if that doesn’t succeed, then he wants to deceive you, and if that doesn’t work, then he wants to terrify you. Now think about this for just a moment from the devil’s perspective. If you wanted to get somebody terrified, how would you do it? You would bombard them with messages predicting doom, and that is precisely what is happening today. God’s people are more bombarded with messages talking about doomsday now than ever, and these messages have even hit the public press.

Evangelical preachers predicting Armageddon, political collapse, economic collapse, and the end of the world gain strength in their predictions through publications and the media. Many are alarmed by the status of the stock market, yet there have been over twenty stock market crashes since 1800. The stock market has crashed over ten times since the year 1900. The stock market crashed in 1973 and 1974, and it lasted over a year. Stocks decreased 45%.

People at present are scared to death that we are in a financial crisis, but the big question is, how should you react to the crisis we are in?

The first time I can remember that the public press was predicting a major stock market crash was in 1953. All the time I was growing up we’ve had all kinds of predictions of doom. When I was in high school in the United States, a Roman Catholic president was elected, which was the first time a Roman Catholic president had been elected in this country. When my mother was young, it was believed that a Roman Catholic would never be elected as president of the United States, with over 60% of the United States of America being Protestant. But we did, and that very next year, in 1961, the Supreme Court made a ruling that Sunday laws would become constitutional.

The prediction of something awful is not really the point, but how you react to it is what matters. I was just a young man at that time at the Seventh-day Adventist high school. I told my father that the people at the high school had told me that I would never get through college, that there would be Sunday laws and everything would close up. I reasoned that if I would not be able to finish college, what would be the point in even starting, and that I may as well just forget it. My father advised that if I intended to be a minister, I would need to be trained, and if Jesus came before I was trained, it would not be held against me, so I pursued my education.

While I was going to school, there was the Cuban Missile crisis, and for about 48 hours we were afraid that we were going to be in a nuclear war. Then we had the escalation of Vietnam. After that was the break-down of law and order in 1967 and 1968, and the reaction to the Vietnam War. Then in 1970 and 1971, President Nixon took us off the gold standard, and that began an interesting series of events which caused a double digit inflation. We had high unemployment. We were trying to conserve oil. People were afraid. The talk all over the Adventist community of Loma Linda at that time in 1973 and 1974 was that the Sunday laws would be passed to try to conserve oil by people not driving their cars on Sunday.

Between 1980 and 1982, we had a chairman of the Federal Reserve who decided that we had had enough of this high double-digit inflation. and decided that the problem could be cured by increasing the interest rate way up to around 14%. In the early ’80s you could get 14 to 16% interest on bonds, and that was an interesting time to go through. Right at that time, my wife and I received an invitation to go teach at Southwestern Adventist College in Keene, Texas. At the time, we were living in Washington State, so we needed to sell our house. With interest rates up at 10 to 12% not many people would qualify for a loan, and we were advised by a realtor that we would have to sell on contract because of the high interest. Some people started getting adjustable rate mortgages at that time.

We were able to sell our house on contract, but during that time, 1979, I had a friend who was a Seventh-day Adventist who came and told me that he was not going to plant his garden that year. This man owned a rototiller and for extra money used to till gardens for other people. He decided not to grow his own garden because he believed the Lord was going to come that October, which was only three months away. His belief stemmed from a new interpretation of Daniel 11, and those who could not see it were considered in a Laodicean condition. This belief just about split the church. That October in 1979 came and the world did not come to an end. Awful things were supposed to happen in 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2007, and April 2008. Many Adventists believed that the world was supposed to come to an end before the end of 2007.

What effect do all these prophets of doom have on God’s people? Many of God’s people become disheartened and discouraged. Friends, we should not be dwelling on all the awful things that are going to happen at the end of the world. We need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and what He’s going to do for His people at the end of the world. It is the devil’s business to get God’s people discouraged, and the way he does it is by sending you a constant barrage of predictions of doom. The doom either doesn’t happen at all, or it doesn’t happen the way it was predicted, so another twist and a new date is put on it.

“Look to the earth and behold distress, and trouble, gloom, and darkness. And they will be driven to darkness.” Isaiah 8:22. Is that the kind of experience you want as we approach the end of the world; distress, trouble, and gloom? Isaiah prophesied 2700 years ago, that is what they are going to do. To be driven to darkness is the devil’s program and, unfortunately, it is being very successful with God’s people.

This is what the Lord wants you to do. Isaiah 45:22 says, “Look to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth, because I am God and there is not any other.” You can’t save yourself, but if you look to God, you will be saved. The devil says look to the earth. Look at the distress. Look at the trouble. Look at all the awful things going on.

If more time is spent by God’s people reading about all the trouble that is predicted to come in the world than on reading their Bibles, is it any wonder that they are discouraged and depressed? It is exactly what Isaiah said would happen, in Isaiah 8:22. They look to the earth. There is distress. There is trouble. There is darkness, and what happens? They are driven to darkness.

Many young people have left the Seventh-day Adventist Church because they have heard so many failed predictions that they have no confidence in Adventism. This is a stated fact. Some have heard it predicted that Christ would come before 1997 or before 1996, or before 1994, or for sure before 2000. They have heard the prediction that the whole world has to come to an end before the end of 2007, and numerous other things predicted, of which 50 to 75% of them have not come true. Some of them, of course, do come true because if you make enough predictions of doom you will hit it once in a while because this world is a bad place. However, the young people in the Adventist church have heard so much of this and seen so many failed predictions that they have lost confidence.

Some young people become passive and careless. They have heard so many predictions of doom that they say, “Who cares? I can’t do anything about it anyway. So I’m just going to live my life.” They become passive, careless, and indifferent.

For an example regarding this current stock market crash, some young people have said to me that they cannot do anything about it. What am I supposed to do? There’s nothing I can do about it.

If somebody is continually given a barrage of bad news of all the terrible things that are happening, but they can’t do anything about it, the effect is that they become passive, and they say, “So what!” This has become a problem in larger society.

In 1964 a lady was stabbed to death in New York, she screamed for help, but nobody came to help her, even though, when it was investigated, the neighbors had heard the screams. This situation is shocking, that no one would go to her aid, but people have been desensitized to others’ needs.

Here is how it happens. Television and radio are constantly bombarding the people with sensational news, most of it bad. The more sensational the programs, the more audience they get; the more audience they have, the more advertisers they get and the more profits they make, and so the cycle continues. The result is that people are bombarded with sensationalism so that reality loses its significance, and the end result is that you have a population who consider that there is nothing they can do about it and are so passive that they can even hear someone being murdered and not be stirred to help. We are living in the most passive generation that has ever been, and it has negatively affected our young people.

Many are so scared with the situation in the world economically and politically that they have decided to find security and safety in the caves or in the mountains. This is happening all over the world, not just in the United States. Some people who are already living in country areas are getting out into the mountains in places so deserted that a four-wheel drive vehicle is required to get there. These places are usually quite affordable because they are so isolated, but if everyone did buy a place in an isolated place that it took hours to get to, who would be left to take the messages of the three angels to the world?

If you lived in the mountains in Colorado and most of the people live in the city of Denver, that is where you should be concentrating your effort: Denver. That is where most of the people live in the whole state. If you’re going to get your message to California, where do you need to concentrate your efforts? You need to concentrate your efforts in the Los Angeles area and in the San Francisco Bay area because that is where most of the population is.

Now I’m not saying that everybody needs to live in the middle of Los Angeles, but we do need to be somewhere that we can be of use and work. We have a message to get to the world, and we have such a barrage of prophecies of doom hitting God’s people from every direction day and night, almost seven days a week. People are so scared, they are so terrified, that instead of getting the message to the world, they don’t even want the book, The Great Controversy being distributed because they’re scared it will stir up trouble. People are scared and want to protect themselves, instead of getting the message to the world.

This reminds me of the story of Elijah in I Kings 19:9, 10. God gave him a message too, and where did God find him? He was in a cave, just where a lot of Adventists are—in a cave. So the Lord comes to him and He says, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” You know, the Lord needs to ask that question to some Adventists: What are you doing here? “Oh, Lord, I’ve been very zealous for your name and the children of Israel, they’ve broken down your altars, they’ve killed your prophets until I’m the only one who is left, and they are seeking my soul to take it away.” The Lord said to him again, “What are you doing here? What are you doing here?” Verse 13.

Don’t misunderstand; there will be a time to flee to the caves, but not until we have the Three Angels’ Messages to all the world. Our job right now is to ask the Lord, “Lord, how do you want me to relate to getting your message to the entire world? What do you want me to do? What is my part?” There is work for the retired to do also. Now some people think that when you retire you quit working, but let me tell you something. God doesn’t ever retire His people. God never retires His servants. God uses His servants as long as they live. He used the apostle Paul, and some of the most powerful books in the New Testament were written when the apostle Paul was in prison, such as Ephesians. And the book of Revelation was written when John the revelator was exiled on Patmos, and he was very, very old at that time. The Lord did not say, Well, you poor fellow, you’ve reached over sixty-five, so you can’t work for Me anymore. The Lord does not work that way. That is the way man works, but the Lord uses His people even after they get old. If your brain works and if you’re alive, God can use you if you surrender yourself to Him and say, Lord, what do You want me to do? The Lord will give you something to do. There are some who win more people to the Lord after they are retired than they won their whole life, so don’t be discouraged if you’re retired and you think you would just like to encourage one soul to Jesus. You can; the Lord might use you to raise up a whole church. Ask Him to teach you what you should do. Don’t just go off and run into a cave where you can’t work; you won’t raise up a church in a cave. No matter how bad it gets in this world, you and I are going to be here until we take the Three Angels’ Messages to all the world. Many of God’s people are trying to seek security and safety instead of taking the Three Angels’ Messages to the world.

Since a number of young people are passive and don’t even have confidence in Adventism anymore, and a lot of the older people are seeking safety and security in the mountains or the caves or somewhere, what is the net result? The net result is that the cities are neglected by the very people whom God has appointed to take to them the Three Angels’ Messages.

Hundreds of thousands of people die every day in our world who have never heard the Three Angels’ Messages. Some of them don’t even know anything about Christianity. The cities are neglected by the very people whom God has appointed to take them the message of hope. We are not going to get out of this world until we take the Three Angels’ Messages to all the world.

The sad part of it is that if you and I don’t do it, God is going to have somebody else do it. Ellen White says in the book Notebook Leaflets that God can finish His work with heathen princes if He needs to. God does not need the General Conference or the historic Adventists to finish His work. He does not need any of us. We need Him. We need to be involved in finishing His work because that is a part of the way He works out the plan of salvation in our own lives, but He does not need us. If we don’t do God’s work, the Lord can do it with somebody else.

When asked by the priests why He did not tell the children to quit crying out, Jesus said that if these children are silent, the stones will cry out, the rocks will cry out. Well, if the rocks cry out, God’s work will get finished all right, but then you and I will lose the blessing we should have had. Friend, you don’t want that to happen.

Let me just ask you this question in closing for you to think about. Where is the safest place on earth that you can be? A few years ago there was a couple who were retired, and they looked the whole world over to try to find the best, safest, most secure, nicest place they could go to retire, and they found it. The place they chose where they thought it would be the best place to go was the Falkland Islands. They moved there in 1980, and in 1981 war broke out in the very place where they thought it would be the safest, most secure place in the world.

You and I don’t know what is safe. The safest place for you in the world is the place where God wants you to be.

“He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:4.

Pastor John Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.