By Pastor Hal Mayer
Welcome to Keep the Faith once again as we explore another principle of Bible prophecy and its impact on our lives in these last days. Our faith is in Christ and it should grow and mature as we experience more and more of Christ, as we get closer to the close of probation. Many people don’t realize that their maturity in Christ must continually grow. They think that once they receive Christ, they are forgiven for all their sins and that’s all they need to worry about. But cultivating a love relationship with Christ is not really part of their plan. Consequently, they become less interested in the Bible and in reforming their lives into the image of Christ. So many people are stuck in this spiritual no-man’s-land that I’m really concerned.
Today’s message is going to look at some recent developments with evangelicals. Most of them do not have the light we have in regard to prophecy. And they are really only listening to their pastors and other leaders. They cannot discern between the right path to take and the wrong path very easily because the wrong path is so attractive. No doubt you have thought about the dangers of the evangelical influence on the White House at this time in history. We have put a lot of emphasis on this rather new alliance between the president and his evangelical advisors over the last year and it is time that we step back and see the big picture.
How should we understand our neighbors, the evangelicals? Some of us have thought about how badly needed are the changes evangelicals are openly advocating, concerning the social ills that plague our society. They want to change the laws and the courts that have so strongly offended Christians in recent years and made America unrecognizable to many of them.
So, today, I would like to share with you some things that need to be taken into consideration when we address the issues and the foundation of the end-time prophetic fulfillment of Bible prophecies. So, to start with, let us bow our heads in prayer as we seek God’s guidance for our study today.
Our Father in heaven, thank you for Your wisdom and guidance through the scriptures. We pray that Your Holy Spirit will speak to us as we study Your word. Open to us Your understanding of the things we need to comprehend about our times so that we may have a balanced view of those who are working to correct the social ills that are so prevalent. Thank you for Christ, our Lord who is our Savior and who is interested in everything necessary to our salvation. And we thank you for Your Holy Spirit who wants to impress us with the scriptures we will read. Now bless us again today, we pray, in Jesus name, amen.
Let us begin today by opening our Bibles, if you aren’t driving your car to Luke 17:20 – 25. Let us read these verses as we consider what was going on in Jesus’ day. “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
“And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them. For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.”
The Pharisees had taught the people that the kingdom of the Messiah would be literal and it would destroy the national enemies. They were looking for a temporal kingdom. They were also looking for a messiah that would advance their nation above the other nations of the earth.
But they also had more sinister motives. These that demanded of him, wanted to paint Christ as a false prophet. The prophet John the Baptist had said that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. But their understanding of the kingdom of heaven was literal and it hadn’t happened yet. Nor were there any signs telling them that it was coming soon. So, they asked Christ to set a time for the kingdom. Then, when it didn’t come to pass, which they really didn’t expect, they could accuse him of misleading the people. Their question was really about injuring the work of Christ and alienating the people from Him.
Listen to this from Desire of Ages, page 506. “More than three years had passed since John the Baptist gave the message that had powerfully moved the people all through the land. John blasted the trumpet that ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Matthew 3:2. Those religious leaders hungered for earthly, temporal power. Jesus’ message of the gospel was preached to the people, confirmed by miracles and embraced by multitudes, but it had not reached the hearts of these leaders. These Pharisees saw no indication of the establishment of the kingdom. “Many of those who rejected John, and at every step had opposed Jesus, were insinuating that His mission had failed.”
When Jesus answered these assassins of both His reputation and His life (if they could), He directed His answer first to the Pharisees, and then to His disciples, both of which apply to us in our day.
“The kingdom cometh not with observation (or with outward show).” In other words, you can’t see it with your eyes. You can’t feel it with your hands. You can’t understand it with your mind unless you are a spiritual person, because it is a spiritual kingdom. It is not an external literal, physical kingdom, but an internal one. “The kingdom of God is within you,” Jesus concluded in verse 21.
Earthly kingdoms advance themselves by wars, revolutions, strife and bloodshed. These are the things that fill the newspapers and are taken notice of by nations. One current example is the way in which the United States and North Korea speak to each other.
But, not so with the kingdom of Christ. His kingdom comes silently into your heart. It comes in without pomp, without noise, or with outward show. It comes in quietly and works in the heart to change the way you think, the way you speak and the way you live.
Jesus did not answer the Pharisee’s direct question. He wanted to elevate their minds to think more deeply. He wanted to rectify their mistakes by explaining the nature and character of His kingdom.
It is not for us to know the time when the kingdom of heaven will be established. That is a secret thing. What we do need to understand is the great intentions of this kingdom. That is what is revealed.
In those days, wherever the king was, that was his court. Some will say, speaking of Christ, He is here, or He is there. But don’t you go after these rumors. Those are just manifestations of the enemy that are trying to deceive you into thinking materially, not spiritually. Christ kingdom will not be set up in this or that particular place.
Those who confine Christianity and the church to this place or that place, this political party or that political party are saying “lo here, and lo there.” Prosperity, political power, or popularity has never been a mark of the true church.
They may say unto you, see here is a party that is working right, and there is a party that is working wrong. They may say, see there, we need to follow that person because he is working with the powers that be and can change our society in a way that supports our plans and agendas.
Lo, there is one that will deliver the Jews from the oppressing Romans, and lo, here is one that will deliver Christians from the hands of the oppressing secular rulers.
What did Jesus say about all of them? “Go not after them.” They will lead you to misunderstand the true meaning of My words. They will lead you down a path that will eventually cause you to reject Me and make you unfit for the true kingdom of heaven.
The kingdom of God “is within you,” Jesus said. “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” John 18:36. In other words, Jesus was saying that sword fights, or political fights, are not going to assist in establishing His kingdom in the hearts of men. Politics and war only stir up the sinful passions of the soul and lead to eternal destruction.
Christ’s kingdom has power over the lives of those it influences. It has power over their souls and their consciences. And it receives their homage, and not from their bodies only, but from their minds and hearts. When Christ’s kingdom is set up, it changes you inwardly so that your outward life is modeled after the life of Christ who lives in you. He is our example. And we must do what He did, or would have done.
The kingdom of God does not change man’s outward condition, but His kingdom comes when it renovates him inwardly. Just because you follow Jesus doesn’t mean you will be rich, or that you’ll avoid or be protected from persecution of other problems. Jesus was not a prosperity preacher. Look for the kingdom of heaven to produce a revolution of the heart not a revolution of the pocketbook, or of the civil government.
Jesus answered, “The kingdom of God cometh not with outward show;… behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” The kingdom of God begins in the heart. Look not here or there for manifestations of earthly power to mark its coming.
“The days will come,” He said, turning to His disciples, “when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.” Because it is not attended by worldly pomp, you are in danger of failing to discern the glory of My mission. You do not realize how great is your present privilege in having among you, though veiled in humanity, Him who is the Life and the Light of men. The days will come when you will look back with longing upon the opportunities you now enjoy to walk and talk with the Son of God.
“Because of their selfishness and earthliness, even the disciples of Jesus could not comprehend the spiritual glory, which He sought to reveal unto them. It was not until after Christ’s ascension to His Father, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the believers, that the disciples fully appreciated the Savior’s character and mission. After they had received the baptism of the Spirit, they began to realize that they had been in the very presence of the Lord of glory. As the sayings of Christ were brought to their remembrance, their minds were opened to comprehend the prophecies, and to understand the miracles, which He had wrought. The wonders of His life passed before them, and they were as men awakened from a dream. They realized that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. Christ had actually come from God to a sinful world to save the fallen sons and daughters of Adam. The disciples now seemed, to themselves, of much less importance than before they realized this. They never wearied of rehearsing His words and works. His lessons, which they had but dimly understood, now came to them as a fresh revelation. The Scriptures became to them a new book.” That’s Desire of Ages, page 506.
Don’t you want that experience, my friends? Don’t you want the scripture to be a new book to you? It can happen. “As the disciples searched the prophecies that testified of Christ, they were brought into fellowship with the Deity.” And don’t you want that! “They recognized the fact that in Him dwelt knowledge, which no human being, unaided by divine agency, could comprehend.”
But they had been so dim in their understanding, so feeble of mind that they often missed the true and deepest meaning of the words spoken by the One who was wiser than Solomon and they painfully reflected on their faithlessness in disbelieving and even denying Him who was the Light of the world.
“As priests and rulers combined against them, and they were brought before councils and thrust into prison, the followers of Christ rejoiced, “that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.” Acts 5:41. They rejoiced to prove, before men and angels, that they recognized the glory of Christ, and chose to follow Him at the loss of all things.”
“It is as true now as in apostolic days, that without the illumination of the divine Spirit, humanity cannot discern the glory of Christ. The truth and the work of God are unappreciated by a world-loving and compromising Christianity. Not in the ways of ease, of earthly honor or worldly conformity, are the followers of the Master found. They are far in advance, in the paths of toil, and humiliation, and reproach, in the front of the battle “against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12, R. V. And now, as in Christ’s day, they are misunderstood and reproached and oppressed by the priests and Pharisees of their time.” That’s Desire of Ages, page 508.
But what did Christ mean when He said that “the kingdom of God comes not with outward show.” I’m reading on from Desire of Ages.
“Today in the religious world there are multitudes who, as they believe, are working for the establishment of the kingdom of Christ as an earthly and temporal dominion.” By the way, this is known as dominionism. Its intentions are to establish Christ’s kingdom on earth in our day. I’ll read on.
“They desire to make our Lord the ruler of the kingdoms of this world, the ruler in its courts and camps, its legislative halls, its palaces and market places. They expect Him to rule through legal enactments, enforced by human authority. Since Christ is not now here in person, they themselves will undertake to act in His stead, to execute the laws of His kingdom. The establishment of such a kingdom is what the Jews desired in the days of Christ. They would have received Jesus, had He been willing to establish a temporal dominion, to enforce what they regarded as the laws of God, and to make them the expositors of His will and the agents of His authority. But He said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ John 18:36. He would not accept the earthly throne.” That is page 509.
We can appreciate the desires and efforts of many religious leaders, evangelical pastors and Catholic priests, for instance, to correct certain abuses that have plagued the nation such as abortion, the restoration of religious liberty, and other matters of importance. We can often identify with these things. We want them too. We can even vote in support of issues that impinge on these matters. We can support them in their efforts to turn back the tide of murder of thousands upon tens of thousands of babies. We can stand with them in restoring religious liberty from those who have determined to tear it down. But listen carefully to the next, rather famous paragraph on page 509 of Desire of Ages.
“The government under which Jesus lived was corrupt and oppressive; on every hand were crying abuses,—extortion, intolerance, and grinding cruelty. Yet the Saviour attempted no civil reforms. He attacked no national abuses, nor condemned the national enemies. He did not interfere with the authority or administration of those in power. He who was our example kept aloof from earthly governments. Not because He was indifferent to the woes of men, but because the remedy did not lie in merely human and external measures. To be efficient, the cure must reach men individually, and must regenerate the heart.
“Not by the decisions of courts or councils or legislative assemblies, not by the patronage of worldly great men, is the kingdom of Christ established, but by the implanting of Christ’s nature in humanity through the work of the Holy Spirit…”
We have a higher work to do, my friends, a nobler mission. We are to teach people how to come out of Babylon, not join it by mixing church and state. Our mission is not to engage in political action to establish an earthly law. Our work is to bring Christ and His law into their hearts wherever there is an opening. God has called us to a very high and holy work. Listen carefully to the next part of this very important statement from Desire of Ages.
“Now, as in Christ’s day, the work of God’s kingdom lies not with those who are clamoring for recognition and support by earthly rulers and human laws, but with those who are declaring to the people in His name those spiritual truths that will work in the receivers the experience of Paul: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Galatians 2:20…” Desire of Ages, page 509.
Here is another statement from Acts of the Apostles, page 68. “This principle we in our day are firmly to maintain. The banner of truth and religious liberty held aloft by the founders of the gospel church and by God’s witnesses during the centuries that have passed since then, has, in this last conflict, been committed to our hands. The responsibility for this great gift rests with those whom God has blessed with a knowledge of His word. We are to receive this word as supreme authority. We are to recognize human government as an ordinance of divine appointment, and teach obedience to it as a sacred duty, within its legitimate sphere. But when its claims conflict with the claims of God, we must obey God rather than men. God’s word must be recognized as above all human legislation. A “Thus saith the Lord” is not to be set aside for a “Thus saith the church” or a “Thus saith the state.” The crown of Christ is to be lifted above the diadems of earthly potentates.”
Today, America and many other nations are divided by a wide gap between political parties and it is getting wider. In fact, never before, except, perhaps during the civil war, Americans stand at political polar opposites. And the political divide is in other Western countries as well. Many political leaders are frustrated that they can achieve almost nothing. And when one side is in power, it takes advantage of its position to get as much done as possible to support its agenda, while the other side tries to take back the power it has lost. Then when the other side is in power, which inevitably happens, they reverse it and take the nation as far in the opposite direction as possible.
Eventually, it is the dominionists that will gain the day, especially since the Bible predicts that there will be religious laws enacted to stay the tide of wickedness. See Revelation 13.
The enemy of souls has created this political divisiveness, not the Russians. Once upon a time, America was as protestant as any nation could become. But those days have changed. The ecumenical movement has made huge inroads into the protestant churches, which now avoid the term protestant. The Catholic bishops taught the Protestants how to put aside their differences so that they can work together. They taught them that if they wanted to accomplish some social achievement, that they should place their religious opinions and distinctive doctrines on hold, and join hands with the Catholic Church to politically accomplish it.
This method of working is exactly the opposite of the way Christ worked. Christ did not try to overthrow the evils in society because He knew that would not save men eternally.
And today, it doesn’t worry the Catholic Church that Protestants, or former Protestants are now working together. When they were really protestant, they would have worried, because their efforts would have been against the Roman Catholic Church. So, they put their emphasis on reducing resistance to Rome’s doctrine and practices, and they have been largely successful. But Protestants are now so compromised with the ecumenical spirit, that they are no longer protestant and are very friendly with the Catholic Church and its agenda. They are all so involved with the Catholic Church politically speaking that they will essentially do what the Catholic Church wants them to do.
In the same spirit of ecumenism, the Evangelicals have learned their lessons. They have learned to lay aside their denominational and doctrinal differences, which are many, and work together. It was so effective in 2016, that they could elect Donald Trump as president of the United States. And now they are working together to transform the US federal judiciary into a strongly conservative bench. They are working to scale back abortion. They are working to restore religious freedom and other matters.
In fact, Paula White, a mega-church pastor from Florida, and a close advisor to President Trump said, “If we thought we did some things last year, boy, wait until this year (2018).”
While many of God’s people have been looking for the Catholic bishops to visibly engage in political activity, and promote a Sunday law, which is their underlying agenda, they have missed that it is now the Protestants that are on the front lines and are the ones running much of their religious agenda in the American administration. They have even gotten President Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a favorite evangelical goal that sets up certain false interpretations of Bible prophecy to be fulfilled – perhaps. Evangelicals know they only have so much time, so they are working with all diligence to accomplish as much as possible of their legislative agenda before the house or senate changes hands, as it mostly likely will, eventually.
What has happened to the Catholic bishops? They were all over the George W. Bush White house. Well, they are still around. But they have backed off of the front lines, and let the Evangelicals take the lead and pursue their religious agenda by reshaping federal laws according to their ideals. The bishops know that eventually, they will be able to use the Protestants to get a Sunday law movement going.
There are two statements that I would like to read to you. They are almost identical. But there is a very small change in one phrase that confirms this point about the Bishops pulling back. The first statement is from the book The Great Controversy, page 607. Listen carefully.
“As the controversy extends into new fields and the minds of the people are called to God’s downtrodden law, Satan is astir. The power attending the message will only madden those who oppose it. The clergy will put forth almost superhuman efforts to shut away the light lest it should shine upon their flocks. By every means at their command they will endeavor to suppress the discussion of these vital questions. The church appeals to the strong arm of civil power, and, in this work, papists and Protestants unite.”
That’s the important phrase; “papists and Protestants unite.” As the movement for Sunday enforcement becomes more bold and decided, the law will be invoked against commandment keepers.
Now, the other statement is from the Spirit of Prophecy volume 4, page 425. The Spirit of Prophecy is a precursor to The Great Controversy. It was written to help God’s Sabbath keeping people understand what is coming in the future. But when it was revised under the new title, a slight change was made to make it more readable and acceptable the general public. The earlier statement makes a more detailed point about the uniting of Roman Catholics and Evangelicals.
Listen carefully. “As the controversy extends into new fields, and the minds of the people are called to God’s down-trodden law, Satan is astir. The power attending the message only maddens those who oppose it. The clergy put forth almost superhuman efforts to shut away the light, lest it should shine upon their flocks. By every means at their command they endeavor to suppress the discussion of these vital questions. The church appeals to the strong arm of civil power, and in this work, [now here it is] papists are solicited to come to the help of Protestants. The movement for Sunday enforcement becomes more bold and decided. The law is invoked against commandment-keepers.”
Did you get that? It gives us the interesting detail that Roman Catholics are invited to join with Evangelicals to accomplish their mission to enact a Sunday law. In other words, Evangelicals will think that they need help in this massive effort. And of course, they probably will. After all they will be fighting against heaven in this matter, and they have to overcome considerable resistance, both from Sabbath keepers and from secular people as well.
But this statement, by only a few words, explains why the bishops are pulling back from the front lines, and letting the Evangelicals take the lead. They are still involved. Make no mistake about it. But they are keeping a low profile for the time being while Evangelicals consolidate their power in legislative halls of Congress, in the oval office and in the churches. They need the Evangelicals to work out their dominionism. They need Evangelicals to help strengthen the cause of Sunday observance in the United States and in other places. So, they let them take the lead for the time being. And when the Evangelicals get so far along that they need the help of the Catholic Church, they will be ready to lend a hand as soon as they are invited.
Now, listen to this statement about what is happening behind the scenes. There is much that we should understand about the hidden agenda and what we are to do about it. Did you know that we are to do something about the Sunday law movement? Here it is from Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, page 452. “While men are sleeping, Satan is actively arranging matters so that the Lord’s people may not have mercy or justice. The Sunday movement is now making its way in darkness. The leaders are concealing the true issue, and many who unite in the movement do not themselves see whither the undercurrent is tending.”
So, we don’t know which leaders are concealing the true issue. But certainly, the Catholic bishops would have the Sunday law in mind. They’ve had it as part of their agenda for many, many years. And they have been working on it openly, particularly in Europe, but also in other countries as well. But in America it is hidden in the shadows. It is shrouded in darkness. All of this is making it difficult for Evangelicals to understand the real purpose in cooperating with political powers. They just don’t see the danger.
And this is the crux of what the enemy is trying to do. He has blinded the Evangelicals to the true nature of the movement to use the government to establish Christian dominionism. Evangelicals at the top of the power echelons are very passionate about this and will work with anyone who will help them to accomplish their purpose.
Many see the good things that they are doing to bring America back to the religious underpinnings on which it was founded. They rejoice that finally the leftward, liberal bent of American law and jurisprudence is being corrected. They are so thankful that religious liberty is being restored and they can have their voice heard in the market place. We can appreciate this too. The left has pushed so hard with their secularism, their gender identity, their same-sex marriage, and their insistence that homosexuality be endorsed and celebrated even by Christian businesses by forcing them to comply with laws designed to promote these things; to many Christian people, it is like a breath of fresh air to see at least some of them being reversed.
Now, I will continue reading from this important statement from Testimonies, Vol 5. “Its professions are mild and apparently Christian, but when it shall speak it will reveal the spirit of the dragon.”
Did you get that? It looks very good. It is outwardly Christian in its profession. And all Christians should be able to join in and make the nation righteous again, so they say. But, is this the right thing to do? That is Christian dominionism. They want to reconstruct America, not only as a Christian nation, but to make America ruled by Christians and biblical law, as defined by those who rule.
You see, the enemy has constructed a set of circumstances that will make it very difficult for God’s Sabbath keeping people to oppose the movement to establish a legal kingdom of Christ on the earth. This has been Rome’s agenda for a long time. Now that Rome has gotten the Evangelicals on side, and now that they are doing the heavy lifting, Rome stands on the sidelines and waits for an invitation to join the Evangelicals to enact and enforce their dominionism through Sunday laws.
What is our duty, my friends, in light of this amazing prophecy? I’ll continue reading from Vol. 5 of the Testimonies.
“It is our duty to do all in our power to avert the threatened danger. We should endeavor to disarm prejudice by placing ourselves in a proper light before the people. We should bring before them the real question at issue, thus interposing the most effectual protest against measures to restrict liberty of conscience. We should search the Scriptures and be able to give the reason for our faith.”
Wow! We are not to mute our voices, but to set ourselves in the best light before the people. We should bring before them the real question. Wouldn’t that be the question or issue that the leaders are hiding? We should once again become the advocates of true religious liberty. Yes, we can encourage and support certain things but ultimately, we are to place the hidden things openly before the people!
So, let us summarize the things in this statement from volume five of the Testimonies for the Church. First, Satan is working so that God’s true people will not have justice or mercy. That’s serious, my friends. And he’s doing a good job of it, especially since 9/11. He’s putting all the elements in place in the name of fighting terrorism, so that the ultimate target, God’s Sabbath keepers, will not have justice or mercy, just as those terrorists who endure torture in secret prisons, indefinite detention, trial by tribunal not by jury of peers, massive surveillance over every citizen on the planet, extra-judicial killings and the list goes on and on.
Second, the Sunday movement is making its way in darkness. Maybe it is not on the surface in the USA like it is in Europe. But, it is still there according to this prophecy. Every once in a while, it pops up. But it will remain quiescent until the time is right and everything is in place.
Thirdly, we learn that the leaders are actually concealing the true purpose of their actions – perhaps instinctively, but deliberately. They do not want to be understood to be promoting Sunday laws, particularly while they are laying the foundation for them. Once there is no turning back, then they will come out in the open. Getting the various evangelical denominations working together would be a very important step in preparing for the final assault on God’s people. So, we can safely assume that those who are seeking the approval of secular rulers and who are uniting church and state are, in the background, working to establish a religious worship law. That’s what is predicted in Revelation 13.
Fourthly, we are to understand that, while for the moment, the movement of these protestant leaders to reshape the US government appears very Christlike in its purposes. The matters they are trying to shape in America, every Christian should whole-heartedly support. They are good, for the most part. But just as the national leaders used the war on terror to enact laws that essentially shredded the constitution, so now, the church leaders are working with government officials, to consolidate their power and work to transition as smoothly as possible from the good Christian things they are openly working on, to the things that will remove religious freedom from God’s people. And the nation will speak as a dragon. The dragon is Satan who persecutes those who do not agree to join his ranks.
Lastly, we are to do all in our power to disarm prejudice by placing ourselves in a proper light before the people. In other words, we can support many of the plans of these Evangelicals to stay the tide of evil in our nation. We are to help them with Ten Commandment level issues that we can support. And in the process, we are to help them see where the undercurrent is tending.
So, how are we going to disarm prejudice? Well, there is an example back in the 1880s through to the second decade of the 20th century. There was a movement called the “Prohibition movement,” in which efforts were made to close saloons, speak easies, and other drinking houses because of the terrible effects of alcohol on families and society. This movement was very important to social stability. Of course, today, there is nothing left of that movement, as the alcohol industry is booming and alcohol including wine and beer as well as hard liquor, is sold in every grocery store as well as in bars, night clubs and other worldly places.
We are advised during this time that God’s people are to join wherever possible or appropriate with those who are promoting the temperance movement, as the prohibition movement was called by its advocates. Today, the ones that are promoting temperance in all things, are mostly Seventh-day Adventists.
We’ve learned that we are to join with the temperance movement whenever possible, speaking at their meetings when asked, and promoting issues with which we can agree. Temperance is a moral issue, and therefore to join with those who promote the temperance movement would give us opportunity to show that we stand with them on such an important issue. It would also help to disarm prejudice and open opportunities to share God’s last message with its leaders.
Some of the most prominent leaders among us gave speeches at temperance rallies, and other meetings in support of the temperance movement, or prohibition (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, pages 274 and 275). We were instructed to stand shoulder to shoulder with those in the temperance movement (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 6, page 110) and to unite with them whenever we can (Review and Herald, February 14, 1888).
But it was not an unlimited support that we were to give. We were cautioned from joining those who were superficial and inconsistent, who call themselves reformers, but who also use tobacco, tea and coffee, and who use harmful foods. We are not to grasp at everything that calls itself temperance, but we are not to be exclusive either. Obviously, we are to join those who are sensible, consistent in their lifestyle in other areas of temperance as well. We are to let them know that we heartily support the temperance work (Letter 1, 1882).
We were told not to speak against temperance by making a “raid” on the leaders of the movement (Letter 107, 1900), and that we are to give temperance talks in various denomination’s churches when opportunity presents itself (Letter 107, 1900). We are to generally use temperance to work for the salvation of others involved in the movement and introduce them to our work.
The Women’s Christian Temperance Union was one such organization that was heartily supported (Review and Herald, June 18, 1908). We were to take a decided interest in the work of this organization. We were to invite their speakers into our camp meetings and other places, to make presentations to our people on the subject of temperance and to train our women how to work for temperance reform (Review and Herald, October 15, 1914).
But again, the advice to engage with the advocates of prohibition were not unrestricted. “There is to be no sacrifice of principle on our part.” That’s from the book Temperance, page 222. When the WCTU began to exalt the false day of rest, we were advised not to go along with that but invite them to consider the true Sabbath. You’ll find that in the book Temperance, page 224.
And when it comes to voting on temperance referendums, we are told, “‘Shall we vote for prohibition?’ she asked. ‘Yes, to a man, everywhere,’ she replied, ‘and perhaps I shall shock some of you if I say, If necessary, vote on the Sabbath day for prohibition if you cannot at any other time.’”— 3 BIO, p. 160.1 (Lonely Years)
Today, the coordinated nationwide temperance movement is mostly non-existent, though there are a few organizations that have influence in this area. But the principle still applies. We are to engage with men and women who work for other reforms that are needed, so long as it does not compromise our faith, or that we are called upon to sacrifice a principle in doing so.
This whole period of history in relation to the temperance movement is important for us to understand as we consider our evangelical friends. When they push for moral improvements in society, we are to join them, encourage them and participate with them in any way that does not compromise our high and holy principles.
In other words, we can encourage the Evangelicals in scaling back the killing of babies, otherwise known as abortion, for this is a ten commandment level issue. We can even stand with them and encourage them in the restoration of religious liberty in our nation and recovering what was lost by the affordable care act. And we are to join with them in their efforts against the so-called “equality” movement for same-sex marriage that was approved nationally by the Supreme Court.
These are issues with which we can heartily agree and support. It is refreshing to have some attempts at the national level to correct these terrible abuses that will certainly bring on the wrath of God in due time.
But we even have a higher responsibility. We are to warn evangelicals and others of the danger of going too far with their agenda to make America Christian. God ordains the government and the laws of the land. The government has the responsibility to legislate concerning the last six of the Ten Commandments. We are to obey them, so long as they do not violate our conscience. But when they do, we cannot go along with them and must faithfully discharge our duty before God.
The government of Israel was a theocracy, that is, government by God directly. When Israel and Judah repeatedly violated God‘s law and rejected His rulership, the Lord finally withdrew from them His direct government and left them to what they desired—subjection to man. Thus they came under the successive dominion of Babylon, Medo-Persia, the Greek Empire, and finally Rome.
Since then, there has been no government anywhere to which God has delegated the authority that He gave to the king of Israel in the days of the theocracy. The Bible actually teaches a separation of church and state and therefore religious liberty for all.
Let me show you where. Turn to Matthew 22:17-22. When the Herodians came to Christ, they had been sent by the Pharisees to trap Jesus with what they concealed under flattery and deception. “What thinkest thou?” they said, “Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?”
They were trying to place Jesus in great difficulty no matter which way He answered the question. If He said no, they would condemn Him to the Romans. If he said yes, they would alienate him from the people because of their prejudice against the Romans.
But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said “Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
Jesus, by saying this, was introducing a new principle of government that would give freedom of conscience to all citizens in nations that adopted it. He was essentially separating church and state. And in doing so, He was laying down the great principle of true religious liberty.
Earthly governments may not force the conscience or usurp the place reserved to God alone in the theocracy of Israel. Not until the second coming of Christ will God again establish His theocracy. Until then, men must not take to themselves authority over the human conscience that God has not entrusted to them.
Now listen to this interesting statement from The Great Controversy, page 610. “But so long as Jesus remains man’s intercessor in the sanctuary above, the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit is felt by rulers and people. It still controls to some extent the laws of the land. Were it not for these laws, the condition of the world would be much worse than it now is. While many of our rulers are active agents of Satan, God also has His agents among the leading men of the nation. The enemy moves upon his servants to propose measures that would greatly impede the work of God; but statesmen who fear the Lord are influenced by holy angels to oppose such propositions with unanswerable arguments. Thus a few men will hold in check a powerful current of evil. The opposition of the enemies of truth will be restrained that the third angel’s message may do its work. When the final warning shall be given, it will arrest the attention of these leading men through whom the Lord is now working, and some of them will accept it, and will stand with the people of God through the time of trouble.”
As you can see, we need men in government who fear the Lord. We may not know who they are, but God does. He is the One who has placed them there. And while the angels of heaven give permission to the enemy to develop his strategy and try to undermine the principles of truth, God has his “statesmen” in place where they will do the most good.
The true issue, that most Evangelicals have no idea about, and for which many of them are unwittingly working – that is, the exaltation of Sunday – is going to come especially if God’s true people live fully in Christ and have victory over their sins and over the enemy’s temptations. They will advocate the Bible Sabbath and this will stir opposition among pastors of denominations that have a vested interest in keeping Sunday. While we are to respect the men and women who are working for the good of the nation, and while we recognize that some of them are placed their by God to hold back the restrictions the enemy would place on God’s people, we must also realize that there are unseen powers working to coopt them into doing things that would be against the law of God and against God’s true Sabbath-keeping people.
This next statement is from Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, page 450 and 451. “The same masterful mind that plotted against the faithful in ages past is still seeking to rid the earth of those who fear God and obey His law. Satan will excite indignation against the humble minority who conscientiously refuse to accept popular customs and traditions. Men of position and reputation will join with the lawless and the vile to take counsel against the people of God. Wealth, genius, education, will combine to cover them with contempt. Persecuting rulers, ministers, and church members will conspire against them. With voice and pen, by boasts, threats, and ridicule, they will seek to overthrow their faith. By false representations and angry appeals they will stir up the passions of the people. Not having a “Thus saith the Scriptures” to bring against the advocates of the Bible Sabbath, they will resort to oppressive enactments to supply the lack. To secure popularity and patronage, legislators will yield to the demand for a Sunday law. Those who fear God cannot accept an institution that violates a precept of the Decalogue. On this battlefield comes the last great conflict of the controversy between truth and error. And we are not left in doubt as to the issue. Now, as in the days of Mordecai, the Lord will vindicate His truth and His people.”
Have you ever really studied the story of Esther in light of the prophecies relating to our time? It is a truly amazing study. What went on then is a prophetic prototype of what God will do for His people in the last days right down to many of the details.
The Sunday law is found in the story of Esther too. Did you know that? It is in chapter three, verse 2. Notice what it says. “And all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bowed and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him.” This was worship, my friends, and it was by an executive order. Haman represents the enemy of God and his people. Notice that the decree to worship him involved everyone including the Jews, or Sabbath keepers. It was Satan who wanted the world to worship him. And he is still working to that end.
This is a type of the end times. Listen to the following statement from Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, page 451. “By the decree [there’s the executive order again] enforcing the institution of the papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.”
So, we are to understand that Protestantism, or rather evangelicalism is going to take the lead in reaching across the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism and will also grasp the hand of the Roman power. That, by the way, is speaking of the ecumenical movement, my friends. The ecumenical movement has essentially stripped the Reformation Protestants of their distinctive voice of protest. They now snuggle up to Rome as if she is their long lost friend.
Many of them are sincere people with good intentions. But the enemy is very adept at using sincere people with good intentions to accomplish his purposes. And if they aren’t loyal to the Bible and its teachings, he will use them for sure.
I’ll continue reading from the fifth volume of the Testimonies. “As the approach of the Roman armies was a sign to the disciples of the impending destruction of Jerusalem, so may this apostasy be a sign to us that the limit of God’s forbearance is reached, that the measure of our nation’s iniquity is full, and that the angel of mercy is about to take her flight, never to return. The people of God will then be plunged into those scenes of affliction and distress which prophets have described as the time of Jacob’s trouble. The cries of the faithful, persecuted ones ascend to heaven…
“The Lord is doing His work. All heaven is astir. The Judge of all the earth is soon to arise and vindicate His insulted authority. The mark of deliverance will be set upon the men who keep God’s commandments, who revere His law, and who refuse the mark of the beast or of his image.
“God has revealed what is to take place in the last days, that His people may be prepared to stand against the tempest of opposition and wrath. Those who have been warned of the events before them are not to sit in calm expectation of the coming storm, comforting themselves that the Lord will shelter His faithful ones in the day of trouble. We are to be as men waiting for their Lord, not in idle expectancy, but in earnest work, with unwavering faith. It is no time now to allow our minds to be engrossed with things of minor importance. While men are sleeping, Satan is actively arranging matters so that the Lord’s people may not have mercy or justice.”
Oh, my friends. Think about the incredible issues that are before us. We are facing the most important moments in history and certainly the most important decisions of our lives. Here is another statement that should show us that we are on the brink of massive changes in religious liberty. This one exactly pinpoints what is happening at the moment in preparation for the final crisis. It makes it clear what will happen when “Christians” gain control of the government. It is from The Great Controversy, page 443.
“Whenever the church has obtained secular power, she has employed it to punish dissent from her doctrines. Protestant churches that have followed in the steps of Rome by forming alliance with worldly powers have manifested a similar desire to restrict liberty of conscience.” This was speaking about a time in the late 19th century when there was an attempt to establish a Sunday law. Protestants united with the government to accomplish it.
Have Evangelicals formed an alliance with worldly powers today? They are in this process right now. President Trump has essentially handed the churches in America, through their pastors, enormous power by uniting with them for political support. In turn they get him to support their plans and agendas in government both in domestic affairs and foreign affairs. So, we can see from prophecy where this is all headed. Once this political power is consolidated, it will lead to the persecution of those who don’t go along with the religious laws that some of them are working to establish.
I’ll read now from The Great Controversy, page 581. “God’s word has given warning of the impending danger; let this be unheeded, and the Protestant world will learn what the purposes of Rome really are, only when it is too late to escape the snare. She is silently growing into power. Her doctrines are exerting their influence in legislative halls, in the churches, and in the hearts of men. She is piling up her lofty and massive structures in the secret recesses of which her former persecutions will be repeated. Stealthily and unsuspectedly she is strengthening her forces to further her own ends when the time shall come for her to strike. All that she desires is vantage ground, and this is already being given her. We shall soon see and shall feel what the purpose of the Roman element is. Whoever shall believe and obey the word of God will thereby incur reproach and persecution.”
How is Rome silently growing into power? She is working through the ecumenical movement, which she initiated. She works behind the scenes in the legislative halls of Congress, Parliament, other legislative bodies and she is quietly urging her members to run for public office at all levels.
Reading on, “Protestants are losing the mark of distinction that distinguished them from the world, and they are lessening the distance between themselves and the Roman power. They have turned away their ears from hearing the truth; they have been unwilling to accept light which God shed upon their pathway, and are therefore going into darkness.”
Friends, let us not be confused by the surface issues. We must understand that we are up against principalities and powers who use human agencies, organizations and people, to accomplish their purposes. The enemy is working diligently to get everything organized to try and ruin God’s people. But those who are faithful to Christ; those who live by His principles; those who establish the kingdom of heaven in their hearts, will give the warning message, and God will work with them to give them His Holy Spirit in latter rain power for the salvation of souls, including some of these former protestants, and others.
Let us pray. Our Father in heaven, Thank you so much for giving us so much inspired counsel to guide our understanding of the unique and difficult circumstances of the times in which we live. We pray that we will have Your Holy Spirit in our lives; Your power in our hearts and minds, that the kingdom of heaven will shine from within, and be seen on our faces. Thank you for showing us what to expect in the future through prophecy. Please help us discern the signs of the times that we may prepare for the coming crisis. We want to be Your people. So take us today, mold and shape us according to Your kingdom. Gives us victory over the enemy, we pray, in Jesus’ name, amen.