By Pastor Hal Mayer
Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry once again. It is so good to know that you and your families are often praying for us, and that many of you are sharing your CDs with others like your family members and fellow church members. We need to reach out to those who do not understand our times and help them grasp the momentous times in which we live. Every day brings fresh revelations of fulfilling prophecy and every day brings fresh urgency to prepare to meet our God. Thank you for your prayers and gifts. They mean so much to us as we seek to do God’s will and glorify His name through Keep the Faith.
As we begin our time together today, let us pray. Our Father in heaven, thank You for giving us such clear expressions of the future in the Bible. Thank You for providing our salvation, so full and free, yet so costly to self. Today, we pray that Your Holy Spirit will teach us how to live for You a little better, so that we will be prepared for the coming end-time difficulties. As we open Your word today, please send Your Holy Spirit into our hearts that we may hear Your voice and open our hearts to hear and respond to Him. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Turn with me in your Bibles, my friends, to the book of Revelation, chapter 14, verse 14. As we open our study today, it is important that we understand that this verse represents the culmination of centuries of history in the second coming of Christ. Listen carefully.
“I looked and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud, one sat like the Son of Man having on his head a golden crown and in his hand a sharp sickle.”
This cloud is a living cloud. It is a cloud of angels who adore Christ their king and that attend Him as He descends to earth for His second coming. Revelation 13 tells us about Satan’s final and most successful effort yet to control the world though globalism, including religious globalism. The seven previous verses in Revelation 14 present a dire warning to all who refuse to resist the popular trends of the last days, particularly Sunday worship. This is the final message before the Second Advent of our Lord Jesus.
This verse describes Christ’s return to earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Verses 6-12 describe the final warning that will compel all, under the powerful influence of the Holy Spirit in the later rain to make a choice and decide whether they are going to follow Christ and keep all His commandments, including observance of the sacred seventh day Sabbath established by God at creation or whether they will follow the pope’s alternative day, otherwise known as Sunday.
The Lord promises His people something very special. It is found in Amos 3:7. “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, except He reveal his secret to his servants the prophets.” Notice that the Bible says “surely.” This means that it is certain that God will reveal to His servants the prophets what He will do. In other words, He will reveal to the prophets the events that are coming upon the world, and we can rely on the prophets to give us an understanding of our times. Isn’t that wonderful? God loves us so much that He has told us what to expect so that we can be prepared.
Think about these words from the book The Great Controversy, page 640 and 641 for a moment. “Soon there appears in the east a small black cloud, about half the size of a man’s hand. It is the cloud which surrounds the Savior and which seems in the distance to be shrouded in darkness. The people of God know this to be the sign of the Son of man. In solemn silence they gaze upon it as it draws nearer the earth, becoming lighter and more glorious, until it is a great white cloud, its base a glory like consuming fire, and above it the rainbow of the covenant. Jesus rides forth as a mighty conqueror… With anthems of celestial melody the holy angels, a vast, unnumbered throng, attend Him on His way. The firmament seems filled with radiant forms—“ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.” No human pen can portray the scene; no mortal mind is adequate to conceive its splendor. “His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise. And his brightness was as the light.” Habakkuk 3:3, 4. As the living cloud comes still nearer, every eye beholds the Prince of life. No crown of thorns now mars that sacred head; but a diadem of glory rests on His holy brow. His countenance outshines the dazzling brightness of the noonday sun. “And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords.” Revelation 19:16… Not now a “man of sorrows,” to drink the bitter cup of shame and woe, He comes, victor in heaven and earth, to judge the living and the dead. The King of kings descends upon the cloud, wrapped in flaming fire. The heavens are rolled together as a scroll, the earth trembles before Him, and every mountain and island is moved out of its place.”
Seeing that such a tremendous and magnificent event as the Second Advent of Christ is soon to come up on us, God, in His merciful justice, must make a special announcement about it. He urgently needs His people to get real with Him and allow Him to overcome their sins so that they can be part of those who wait eagerly for Him and who will witness that dazzling scene of glory. He has told us about it so that we can have confidence that He will, in fact, come in the clouds of glory one day as promised.
The Three Angels’ Messages are connected with the 144,000 saints that are translated when Jesus comes. In Revelation 14:1-5 the 144,000 are shown to us in considerable detail. That number represents the final product of the Three Angels’ Messages and tells us how they are produced. So, let us consider the Three Angels’ Messages and try to understand their mission and message, starting with Revelation 14:6. The apostle is in vision.
“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people…”
Notice that Revelation 8:13 says that the apostle saw an earlier angel flying in the midst of heaven who pronounced three woes on mankind. Often Revelation uses the principle of “repeat and enlarge.” The woes are connected to the Three Angels Messages and are meant for those who reject it. They will have a serious problem.
Angels, who fly in the midst of heaven, fly quickly. This suggests urgency. He is proclaiming the everlasting gospel. Angels in Bible prophecy are a symbol of people who are called to give the message the angel is to proclaim. The everlasting gospel is an interesting term. It is the only time in the whole Bible where the gospel is described as everlasting. The truth of God’s word, His gospel, has survived the centuries in spite of attempts to destroy it, pervert it or persecute its followers. It has survived intact. It is still the gospel. Even though there have been those who have tried to change the Bible and pervert its meaning, it remains like a solid rock on the shore of the sea, beat by the waves.
The gospel may also be everlasting because the fruit it produces in the lives of the followers of Jesus is also everlasting and it produces everlasting life. And it may be everlasting because the tremendous truths and principles of the gospel, such as God’s love for man, Christ’s suffering to save him, and the plan of salvation, will be the theme of our study throughout eternity.
But in a special sense, the “everlasting gospel” is a term that summarizes the Three Angel’s Messages of Revelation 14. It is the great, end-time international, world-wide message. It goes to “every nation, kindred and tongue and people.” It is the fullest and most advanced expression of the gospel ever given to mankind. Throughout the centuries, the gospel of salvation has been proclaimed, but never has there been a time when it is so full and complete, and so mature as it is in our day. Remember that in the dark ages of papal rule, much of the truth was lost by the deceptions and misrepresentations of Catholicism. Many of the main features were restored during the Protestant Reformation. And as time went on, other features and principles were restored as light was shed on the path of the followers of Jesus Christ.
But now, in the last days, under the gospel expression in the Three Angels Messages, it all comes together and is presented in its maturity and completeness. And it includes elements never before so fully understood such as the ministry of Christ in the most holy place, for instance. Though some of the features of the message were understood at least partially by some previous generations or individuals, they were not understood throughout the centuries by all. But at the end of time, all people on the earth, everywhere, will have the fullest example and expression of the fullness of the gospel, in the fullness of time, as the scripture says. These lost articles of faith are brought into the everlasting gospel of the Three Angels Messages and magnified for the world to hear.
Notice that the everlasting gospel calls on God’s people to give glory to Him in verse 7. “Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”
Giving glory to God does not mean with your mouth only. It means with your actions, your character. “Glory” in the Bible refers to character (See Exodus 33 and 34). We are to live the character of God in our own lives. In other words, we are to have Jesus dwelling in our hearts full time, 24-7-365.
And that includes living healthfully. Think about the prophet Daniel for a minute. He who is a prophetic prototype of the last generation, was very conscious about his diet because he knew that he was called to glorify God in his body, mind and soul and therefore his diet was very important to him because it would affect all three. It wasn’t merely that he did not want to symbolize allegiance to a foreign god by eating food offered to them, though that was certainly one reason. He knew that if God was going to use his mind to reach the king and those around him, he would need to have clarity of thought and a clear channel for the Holy Spirit to speak to him openly. So, today, if we are going to be given the latter rain, we have to be a pure vessel through which the Holy Spirit can work.
You are responsible for your health. Your mind and body are affected by your diet. It is not just what comes out of your mouth that matters, but the things you put in your mouth. That affects your mind and it affects your ability to hear the Holy Spirit. If you really want a sharp sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and you want purity of life, you have to pay attention to the food and drink that you consume. There is a direct relationship there.
The apostle John said, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” 3 John 2. If you are not in health, how are you going to minister for the Lord? If you are diseased and crippled because of your diet, how can you glorify the Lord in your body? If you want mastery over yourself and over the enemy, you must take this issue seriously and discipline yourself to eat only that which will build up the body and prevent disease.
The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.”
Friends, if you are still eating flesh foods, for instance, or sweets, which are known to cause disease, you will not be able to open your heart and mind to all that the Holy Spirit has to share with you. Furthermore, you will have difficulty in overcoming the enemy, because the enemy knows that if you are eating flesh, you are weakened in your physical and mental power to overcome him.
Let me read on from 1 Corinthians. “Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.”
If an athlete disciplines his body into tip top shape for a temporary victory in some earthly race, how much more should we, who are living at the end of time, and who seek an eternal crown, do all we can to pursue the purity of holiness in the fear of God, and make sure that we are in tip top physical and mental shape.
Now verse 26 and 27. “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
You see, my friends, even the most spiritual of us need to pursue excellent health because it is such an important part of spiritual maturity. It gives glory to God, because it gives evidence that He possesses your body as well as your heart and mind. It also gives glory to God because it makes you a more acceptable sacrifice to be used in His service. Don’t you want the best health you can get? Disease is miserable. Sickness is not pleasant. The best life is the one that is disciplined in lifestyle including what is eaten, how exercise is taken and how all the eight principles of health are applied to your life. It is the constant pursuit of purity of heart.
Another important truth that has been upheld by faithful followers of Jesus down through the centuries is the seventh day Sabbath. It was not accepted generally by the Christian world from the time of Constantine right through the beginning of the 19th century. Think about it. The Sabbath was only kept by isolated individuals here and there and was never really understood other than by those few. Now in the time of the end, when the everlasting gospel is to be given, the Sabbath takes on a prominence and significance as you will see.
This is in contrast to the way the world thinks. In Revelation 13:8 we see the contrast. “All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him” (the beast).” God’s people will worship Jesus on His appointed day – the seventh day Sabbath, while the world will worship the Papacy on its appointed day – Sunday. Verse 7 tells us that the beast will overcome God’s people for a period of time. In other words, it will persecute them. So, in the last days, instead of fearing the beast and giving glory to him and the dragon (or Satan), we are to fear God and give our characters over to Him and let Him defeat the enemy and the beast in our lives.
Hebrews 12:28 and 29 says, “Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.”
Today, there is a big problem in the world. Godly fear does not exist in the carnal heart for it is not under the control of Christ. Many people see God has harsh and cruel, especially in secular societies. Satan essentially blames God for the evil that he brings into the world. And in contrast to that Christian ministers often picture God as being so loving and forgiving of our past, present and future sins that he will shut his eyes to almost anything and will not punish the wicked for their rebellion. They teach that it does not matter what a person does, so long as he is sincere and he loves God.
If you are going to be ready for translation at the second coming, you must have a correct attitude toward God and His law. This is the teaching of scripture.
“Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13.
The expression “give glory to him” in Revelation 14:7 is an appeal to the sincere soul to winsomely represent the character of God in their own characters. This cannot be done without Christ living within. That means that they must be so united to Jesus that He has taken up residence in their hearts by His Holy Spirit. It means obedience from the heart out of love to Christ, not from compulsion.
But why must Christ’s character be seen in the lives of His followers? By the way, it is truly Christ’s character that is superimposed upon the life of the true believer. Their own character will never reflect His. Even their good is no good. They have to take on His character through His transforming grace. And what a transformation that is!!!
The reason they must have Christ’s character instead of their own is because “the hour of his judgment is come.” What judgment is this? Ultimately, the real issue at stake is God’s character. Lucifer, through his defection, raised grave questions throughout the unfallen universe in regard to God’s justice and character, but these questions were all addressed for all the unfallen beings at Calvary. All their sympathies with the enemy were severed.
But Satan has also misrepresented God’s character to man to the point where people think much of the evil in the world is because of a belief in God. So, when God’s people truly reflect Christ’s character, they are vindicating Him and exposing Satan’s lies. When you are godly and don’t get upset when provoked severely, you are saying, “This is what Christ, my Lord is like.” When you keep the law of God, and do not commit adultery, even in your mind, you are showing the world that even though the temptation may be great, this is what Jesus is like. He doesn’t think of human beings as sex objects. He sees them as precious treasures and respects their dignity. And so it goes. The judgment is really ultimately about God’s character.
But the hour of his judgment in verse 7 is not so much referring to vindication of God’s character as the main point. It is about the judgment of us. It concerns us. That is very clear from the context of the verse. It says that the message about the judgment is to go to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. If it did not concern us, it would not be given to us as a message to give to the world.
So what judgment is this? Sometimes in scripture, judgment is used to describe a visitation of God’s justice or punishment, and in this it means recompense. The coming seven last plagues on Babylon are called God’s judgments, as is reveled in Revelation 18:10 in which the kings of the earth distance themselves from Rome because of her punishment or plagues. This judgment of punishment will also occur on all the wicked at the end of the millennium. It is called the executive judgment.
John 5:28-29 says, “…all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth, they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, until the resurrection of damnation [or judgment].”
Another meaning of judgment is investigation, or an examination to determine guilt or innocence. And the message of Revelation 14:7 says that the judgment “is” come. It is here now, before Jesus comes. This is undoubtedly the investigative type of judgment.
But let me ask you. Does God, who knows everything, including all our thoughts and even your intentions need an investigation to determine whether you are guilty or not? Not at all! That is not the significance of this verse. Nothing is hidden from God. He doesn’t even need a judgment during the millennium.
You see, my friends, the investigative judgment is for our benefit and for our sake. It is also for the sake of the universe to make sure that sin will never rise again. God has to reveal his justice to everyone confused about God and His law here on earth. You see, God must not only BE just, He must be SEEN to be just. This is why there is more than one type of judgment, first the trial, then the execution of the sentence. This is the same as it is here on earth. Justice must be SEEN to be done when a crime has been committed. God must be SEEN to give all a fair trial.
Some claim that believers do not come into judgment; that there is no trial, or examination for those who are “in Christ.” They say that if a person is justified he does not come into judgment. While it is true that when a man accepts Christ as his Savior, he is judicially acquitted. He is seen by God as righteous. But then the claim is made, and by very sincere Christians at times, that there is no further need of a judgment. They use the following verses to support their view.
John 3:18 says, “He that believeth on him, [Christ] is not condemned.”
And also John 5:24 which says, “He that believeth on him shall not come into condemnation.”
But this is not the complete picture. Those who are truly in Christ will never be condemned. They will be vindicated. The trouble is that so many Christians are taught a false idea of what it means to be “in Christ.” If you are in Christ, you strive to be like him. You cannot continue in your old way of life. You cannot be engaged in fornication, perversion, stealing, killing, breaking the Sabbath or any other commandment. If you love Jesus, you would not want to do those things anyway. Yet, church ministers tell their congregations that they really don’t have to concern themselves with right living according to the commandments, because they are justified. They can love Christ, in other words, without obeying Him. But, my friends, this is not truly loving Jesus, who plainly said, “if ye love me, keep my commandments.”
But the judgment brought to our understanding in Revelation 14:7 is one of the great and powerful ways in which God must deal with Satan’s lies. Let us read what the scripture says about whether believers will be judged in the great final judgment. Will born again people be judged?
Here is one verse in Ecclesiastes 3:17. “God shall judge the righteous and the wicked.” Here is another in 2 Corinthians 5:10. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether they be good or bad.” And here is another, in which Paul includes himself. And he was a justified man. Romans 14:10-12, “For we shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ… every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” And here is yet another clear statement concerning the standard of judgment to be used in the heavenly court. It is from James 2:12. Paul is speaking to believers when he says, “So speak ye and do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” But the following verse from 1 Peter 4:17 should settle the question forever. “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God [which is the church], and if it first begin at us, [believers] what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel.”
Friends, these are very solemn words. Every intelligent, responsible person will stand before the judgment bar of God.
So, is there an examination of the saints to determine whether they are guilty or innocent? Let us read about it in Daniel 7. The word Daniel means “God is my judge.” So the book of Daniel has a special emphasis on judgment. Daniel 7 describes the rise of the “little horn,” which is the Papacy who would rule 1260 years after the four universal kingdoms would end. This 1260-year period ended in 1798. All of this provides the context and historical roots of the judgment during the time of the end. These facts of history lead us to the judgment hour message. And then this court scene is introduced. Daniel is in holy vision and he describes the awe-inspiring Supreme Court trial of the universe in verses 9-10.
“I beheld till the thrones were cast down [or put in place], and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.”
This is unquestioningly talking about a court in session. And it is in heaven. It is held in the most holy place in that awesome heavenly temple. This is a great religious court. And it involves the saints. Listen to what happens to them in verse 18. “But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even for ever and ever.”
The saints who live for Jesus, entirely consecrating their whole heart, their whole mind, their whole soul, and all their strength to serving God are not condemned. Judgment is made in favor of the saints. Listen to it from Daniel 7:22. “Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” Various Bible translations make this clearer than the King James Version, in this case. The NKJV says, “Judgment was made in favor of the saints.” Why is that? It is because Jesus is our advocate, my friends. He has more powerful arguments than the enemy does. He is able to defeat the prosecution merely by showing his hands and telling the judge that this person has been forgiven and has forsaken his sins by His power. “He is mine,” Jesus says. “I will not let him be left out. He loves me, and I love him. I gave my life for him and he has overcome the enemy even as I overcame him.”
Friends, if you are determined to live for Christ He will sustain your decision and open the door of success through His grace and power. You cannot overcome your sins. Only Christ can. But, He promises to do it for you if you cooperate with Him.
Daniel is talking about the great investigative judgment and it involves an examination of the lives of the saints as well as other professed Christians that have not been faithful to Christ. And the final result is already clear. The true followers of Jesus will be vindicated and exonerated. After all, Satan accuses them of sin and wickedness, but since they have lived in Christ and confessed their sins, and turned from them, Christ’s blood cleanses them from all sin.
This judgment also involves the “little horn,” which comes up on the beast that devours and breaks in pieces. This is their archenemy on earth. The horn represents a power, and this power is described as speaking great things against God (see verses 7-8). There is no entity quite so qualified to meet this description than the Roman Catholic Church with her idolatrous Mass and blasphemous worship.
After 1798 the court session in heaven was to begin. The first angel’s message, which became prominent after 1798 declares to the whole world that “the hour of his judgment is come.”
The exact date of the beginning of that judgment is explained in Daniel 8:14. “Unto [or until] 2300 days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”
These 2300 days [or years] can be shown to conclusively end in the year 1844, which is also the beginning of the court session we’ve been talking about. The beginning of the first angel’s message would then begin in the year 1844 as well.
Why is it so essential to conduct a trial, or an examination of the life record of the saints? It is to publically display to the universe that those who are to be saved in the eternal kingdom of God, have met the conditions laid down by heaven. To show that the saints not only started out as saints, but that they ended up as saints. There are millions of people who commence the Christian way, but fall away from Christ. Multitudes begin, but do not continue. Vast numbers claim to be Christians but are not born-again. Therefore an examination is essential, a public audit, so to speak, in order to reveal who can rightfully and justly be granted eternal life at the Second Advent.
But is not eternal life a gift? Oh, yes it is; but the gift may be lost, because the gift of eternal life is conditional. The believer must continue in the faith. Some believe in what is commonly called, “once saved, always saved,” but the scripture teaches the opposite.
Matthew 24:13 says, “But he that endures to the end, the same shall be saved.” Revelation 3:5 says, “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not blot his name out of the book of life.”
So, it is possible for us to have our names blotted out of the Book of Life if we do not overcome in Christ. Eternal life is conditional. We are to be faithful even unto death. After all, Christ, our example, promises that His grace is sufficient.
“Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10.
We are told that we are to “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” 1 John 2:15-17.
And “whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4.
This overcoming the world by faith means something far more than most people think. This is not a superficial concept. This is referring to true overcoming by the power of Christ through our faith in His ability to throw Satan out of our lives.
Listen to how this is expressed in the book The Great Controversy, page 352. “In the typical system, which was a shadow of the sacrifice and priesthood of Christ, the cleansing of the sanctuary was the last service performed by the high priest in the yearly round of ministration. It was the closing work of the atonement—a removal or putting away of sin from Israel. It prefigured the closing work in the ministration of our High Priest in heaven, in the removal or blotting out of the sins of His people, which are registered in the heavenly records. This service involves a work of investigation, a work of judgment; and it immediately precedes the coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; for when He comes, every case has been decided. Says Jesus: ‘My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.’ Revelation 22:12. It is this work of judgment, immediately preceding the second advent, that is announced in the first angel’s message of Revelation 14:7: ‘Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.’”
What kind of experience is this? Friends, this is the experience of joy in Jesus who lives in the hearts of the saints through the Holy Spirit and gives them victory over every temptation and sin. It represents the fullness of overcoming power. And it enables the saints to live through the time when there is no mediator.
You see, the only reason we need a mediator is when we sin. And because we have sinned, we need a Savior. But these are two different roles. When Jesus leaves the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, and ceases His mediatorial work, there will be a short period of time before he returns to earth. Christ’s true followers will be free of sin, and sealed in their hearts and minds so that they will not sin again, forever and ever. Christ does not abandon them. He stands by their side and continues to provide His overcoming power and grace in their lives so that they do not sin, even under the greatest and most intense temptations that will be thrown at them during the time of trouble. And this is His purpose. God must demonstrate to all the universe that He can have a group of people that reflect His character so fully, clearly and boldly that they are more concerned about their witness to God’s character than they are their own lives. They will NEVER under any circumstances yield a millimeter to the enemy. This truly glorifies God. When this happens, Christ can complete His work in the heavenly sanctuary. He can leave the Most Holy Place and His mediatorial work for them because they no longer need it.
Friends, that is powerful. It is amazing, when you think about it. God’s purpose is to bring all of His fullness into your life, so that you can live in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. I want that, don’t you?
Now listen to this solemn warning found in Early Writings, page 71. “I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful and were looking to the time of “refreshing” and the “latter rain” to fit them to stand in the day of the Lord and to live in His sight. Oh, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter! They had neglected the needful preparation; therefore they could not receive the refreshing that all must have to fit them to live in the sight of a holy God. Those who refuse to be hewed by the prophets and fail to purify their souls in obeying the whole truth, and who are willing to believe that their condition is far better than it really is, will come up to the time of the falling of the plagues, and then see that they needed to be hewed and squared for the building. But there will be no time then to do it and no Mediator to plead their cause before the Father. Before this time the awfully solemn declaration has gone forth, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” I saw that none could share the “refreshing” unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action. We should, therefore, be drawing nearer and nearer to the Lord and be earnestly seeking that preparation necessary to enable us to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. Let all remember that God is holy and that none but holy beings can ever dwell in His presence.”
You see, my friends. Jesus stands ready to give you victory. We must earnestly draw near unto Him. That preparation is to develop the experience of having Jesus live in our hearts all the time, not just some of the time. For when Jesus lives in our hearts, sin is put out. Satan is put out. And we do not sin, because Jesus reigns over our whole being. Our thoughts and imaginations will be His. Our words will be His. Our actions will be His. The court in heaven is meeting now. We must not neglect the preparation of uniting with Christ in an overcoming experience that will take us out of our lethargy and inspire us with Christ’s love.
Here are a few more very practical sentences from Early Writings, page 72. “I have frequently seen that the children of the Lord neglect prayer, especially secret prayer, altogether too much; that many do not exercise that faith which it is their privilege and duty to exercise, often waiting for that feeling which faith alone can bring. Feeling is not faith; the two are distinct. Faith is ours to exercise, but joyful feeling and the blessing are God’s to give. The grace of God comes to the soul through the channel of living faith, and that faith it is in our power to exercise.
“True faith lays hold of and claims the promised blessing before it is realized and felt. We must send up our petitions in faith within the second veil and let our faith take hold of the promised blessing and claim it as ours. We are then to believe that we receive the blessing, because our faith has hold of it, and according to the Word it is ours. “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11:24. Here is faith, naked faith, to believe that we receive the blessing, even before we realize it.”
When does this court wrap up its business? While ever Jesus is in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary, that courtroom continues to work. But when that work is done, Jesus will make a declaration and the court session will be over.
So, by the time Jesus returns to earth, He will have determined who has been a true follower of Jesus and who has not. It all happens prior to the second coming. So, before Jesus comes, we must become true followers of Jesus. For there is coming a time when there will be an end, the close of probationary time. When that happens everyone will have made a final decision and will not change their decision.
Jesus declares an end to probation, which is found in Revelation 22:11-12. “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
Since 1844, according to the time prophecies of Daniel, the investigative judgment has been going on and the first angels’ message is being proclaimed to the world. We now see that it will end at the close of probation when there is no further chance that the loyal will be disloyal, and no further chance that the disloyal will turn to loyalty.
But there is another very important part of the first angel’s message that is essential to understand. Let us read the last part of verse 7. “And worship him that made heaven and earth, the sea, and the fountains of waters.”
The call to worship has some distinct instructions. We are to worship the one who made all things. It is a special invitation from heaven to worship the Creator in the last days. Why this invitation? There are several reasons.
First, the world in general has forsaken belief in creation. The philosophy of evolution dominates the thinking of scientists, academics, and philosophers. Atheism, the belief that there is no God, is rampant, especially among intellectuals. It is extremely interesting that the modern form of evolution taught by Charles Darwin, began in the year 1844. It is ironic that in the very year that the enemy presents a false theory designed to cause men to forget God, and live in darkness, God raised up the last message that would elevate creation before the whole world and bring great light. How perfect is God’s timing?
But the two sides in the controversy continue to compete for the loyalties of the human race. One gets the children of men to live for themselves and reject the merciful appeals sent to them by God. The other appeals to the hearts of the human race to restore that which has been lost, and the worship of the Creator in whom all fullness dwells.
The second reason why the call is given to worship the creator is because the world is being lured into the worship of the beast. Revelation 13:8 says, “all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life…”
Unconsciously and unwittingly, mankind is being enticed and deceived into the worship of the beast and his image. So, how do we know what is Creator worship? After all, some forms of worship, Christ said, are vain and worthless. So, how do we recognize someone who worships the Creator vs. someone who doesn’t? Here is an important verse from Matthew 15:9.
“In vain they do worship me,” he said, “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
So, here we see another set of commandments – the commandments of men. They are pitted against the commandments of God. If we are going to be eternally in the kingdom of heaven, we must be loyal to the commandments of God, and reject the commandments of men. Jesus commands us to worship him correctly, not just in any old way. The standard for true worship is the first four commandments of the Ten Commandments that God revealed to Israel at Sinai. These four lay down the principles of worship. This is the first table and it comprises man’s complete duty to God. The second table comprises man’s duty to his fellow men.
There are eight conditions of true worship in the first table. The first one reads, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3.
This verse makes it very clear that we are to worship the God of heaven, the God of the Bible. God created the human race to worship. If they are not going to worship God, the creator, they are going to worship themselves, or some aspect of themselves. Evolutionists and atheists, for instance, worship their intellect. Hedonists worship their sexuality. Materialists worship their ability to get money. Some people worship their religiosity. And so it goes.
Also, a god is anything or anyone in which you place your trust. In Matthew 4:10 during His temptation in the wilderness, Jesus told His enemy, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and him only shalt thou serve.” And in Matthew 6:33 he said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” If we are to seek first God’s righteous, that doesn’t mean that we can then do what we want after we have sought God’s righteousness. Seeking God’s righteousness means that it is to be first on our minds at all times. Seeking the righteousness of God is a lifelong quest. It is not something that you do for a little while each day and then live the way you want the rest of the day. We are to place the righteousness of God first in priority, first in precedence. It is to be our main interest and concern in everything we do.
God requires exclusive loyalty. He does not share worship with anyone or anything else. This is obvious from the words of these verses. The Creator is the only one in whom we are to place our complete trust.
The second commandment lays down at least three principles of true worship. Listen carefully. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.” Exodus 20:4-5.
This command forbids the use of any material object as an aid in worship. God forbids the use of any statue, picture, relic, cross, alter, angel, crucifix, or whatever, as a way to visualize God in our worship. Why is that? Because using such things involves the senses, whereas true worship must be spiritual.
John 4:24 says, “God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
How do we worship God in spirit? It is through the exercise of the mind, by the aid of the Holy Spirit. So, the second commandment concerns our method of worship. Why is God so particular?
False worship is harmful because affects the character; whereas true worship uplifts and ennobles; false worship degrades. That is why God insists on true worship. He loves His creation, and He knows where false worship will end up. One of the great lessons of history is that every nation, every group of people that has persisted in false worship has finally sunk into degradation and generally becomes extinct.
In summary, the second commandment lays down three important principles of worship. It must first be spiritual, it must also be direct, and lastly, it must be simple. This is in exact contrast to the worship of Rome. Ritual is not spiritual. Images are not a direct form of worship. Nor is confession to a priest. The whole system of the Mass places a man in between the soul and Christ. And lastly, it is definitely not simple. One look at the Vatican in Rome, and it is clear that Rome’s worship is not simple. Even little country Catholic churches are not simple with all the statuary, icons and other paraphernalia.
True worship also concerns our attitude. And this is the emphasis of the third commandment. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Exodus 20:7.
We are to reverence and respect our Creator. While I don’t think I need to repeat common hard-core curse words in this sermon, God’s holy law also forbids using God’s name lightly or unnecessarily. Remember God’s name is His character, which is most holy. Even derivatives of swear words, like gosh and gee are milder forms of swearing and are really referring to the name of God. “Oh my God,” is also and expression that takes God’s name in vain. Most people say many of these words without even thinking about it.
When we use God’s name in vain, we disrespect who He is. Remember this verse, “Let us serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29. Friends, do you remember any instances in the Bible in which people who disrespected God were destroyed. I can. How about Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s two sons. These two men disrespected the worship of the Lord and were cut down by the sword in one day, both of them.
Even complaining, which almost all of us do at one time or another, is an offence to God. God permits difficulties and trials to come our way so that we can learn to rejoice even in them. Even inconveniences are ordained of God to help us develop a cheerful heart that is undaunted by these things. I’m preaching to myself here now too.
Listen to this verse from Numbers 11:1. God had to stop the rebellion of complaining… “And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.”
And do you remember what happened when the people murmured against Moses and against Joshua and Caleb after the 12 spies returned from their espionage of Canaan? What is murmuring? Friends, murmuring is complaining. And all the people had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years more while all but Joshua and Caleb died.
You see, my friends, complaining shows a lack of confidence in God. It is confidence and trust in Him that He wants to develop in us. So, we are not to complain when difficulties arise. We are to look for God to work by calming your restless spirit so you can endure to the end of the inconvenience. Ask yourself, what does God want to accomplish by this inconvenience? What does God want to achieve in my life by this trial? Then ask for a cheerful heart and the Lord will give it to you. Your attitude has a lot to do with your character. It affects it very much indeed. If we have a godly attitude, we will develop a godly character. Oh, my friends, this is really quite big, and it is directly related to the Ten Commandments.
And what about criticism? Does criticism of someone else make us more Godly? Think about it. How easy is it to find fault with someone else that is a child of God. It pains me to see this, my friends. How are we ever going to become like Christ if we have to build ourselves up at the expense of someone else. Or how often do we blame shift when we actually have some responsibility in the matter. Those we criticize are God’s blood-bought heritage. Do we not criticize God when we criticize our colleague, or our spouse, or our associates? Would not criticism then be a form of taking God’s name (His character) in vain? Do we not expect God to be merciful with us? How then can we be so unmerciful to others?
If we are truly going to worship God, we must be conscious of His greatness and His holiness. We are all but dust before the mighty God of Creation, yet He stoops to lift up fallen humanity and suffered on the cross so that we may live eternally with Him. How can we then treat so great a God with disrespect even in the small things?
If we are conscious of the greatness and holiness of our Creator we will understand that “the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” Habakkuk 2:20 Our reverence and love for Him will silence the soul and the tongue. It will elevate the language we use and remove and disrespectful and ungracious words.
That brings us to a good stopping place for our time is up for today my
friends, We will continue this series on the Three Angels Messages in a future message. So, stay tuned.
Let us pray. Our Father in heaven, thank You for the first angel’s message of Revelation 14. It leads us to understand the sovereignty and love of our Creator. It shows us that the end of all things is nearly at hand, and that we must take our salvation seriously. It shows us that we will all come to the judgment bar of God, even though we may not be present, we will still have our lives investigated. Thank You for Jesus who stands as our advocate and mediator, our representative. His blood stands in place of our own. Now, we pray that You will come live in us so that we may reflect Your character fully and by Your grace, we may glorify God in our bodies and through our worship and loyalty. In Jesus’ name, amen.