We are blessed this year to begin the first two Sabbaths together as a family having Elder Gettys remind us of those foundations of our Christian walk, and that is, remember the first Sabbath, we talked about Bible study, in essence being the food of the soul. And last Sabbath he opened the Word of God to us and explained to us again the importance of prayer, which is the breath of the soul. And today, Elder Gettys has invited me to share with you that third component that makes for a vibrant and real walk with Christ, and that is, witness. Sharing our faith. What you could say is the exercise of the soul.
We're excited here at McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist church to have organized eight different outreach teams who are working relationally to build relationships in the community and we’re hoping to develop these and have eight different house meetings, reaping events in April. So be praying for us. And if you're interested in joining, the door is always open in this focus on evangeliving. Evangelism as a way of life.
This morning I want to take you to the Word of God and ask the question, we are to witness because it's important to our spiritual life, but what exactly does that mean? What are we to witness to? But before we go any farther, let us stop, bow our heads, and ask the Holy Spirit to be here with us.
Lord again we come into your presence. We understand that spiritual things are spiritually discerned. So we invite your presence here, your Holy Spirit to come to our heart, to make known to us that which will draw us closer to Christ. That will help us be a more healthy member of your family. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.
About this time, a hundred and five years ago, our denomination was faced with a major crisis. You see, in February of the year 1902, the Battle Creek Sanitarium, the flagship of Adventist institutions, the center you might say, of our denomination, this huge building was consumed by fire. Then a few months later on December 30 of 1902, the Review and Herald, also located in Battle Creek, went up in flames. What was behind all this was that both those institutions as well as the General Conference itself were facing amazingly humongous debts. They had expanded the church and its institutions so rapidly that they had tremendous indebtedness. The 67,000 members of the church around the world did not know how to face this. Add to this was the growing spread of this theology called pantheism through the leadership of John Harvey Kellogg, one of the preeminent leaders of the church at the time. And it was splitting the leaders of the churches. And to make matters worse, most of the Seventh-day Adventist institutions of the day; universities, colleges, hospitals, were not legally even in the hand of the church.
And so when the church gathered there in Washington, DC on March 27, 1903, to convene their General Conference session, many were worried. Never before had the church been faced with such gigantic problems. What were they to do? And it's very interesting to me as I read history to see that instead of bringing in the lawyers to discuss how best to wrest control of our institution, instead of bringing in the accountants and studying the budget and figuring out where we could cut and amend our financial ways, that is not what happened. The first item of business of that General Conference in the year 1903, in this time of great crisis, was to take the delegates back to the Word of God, and to the mission of the Church. And so history tells us, the General Conference bulletin says that for three separate meetings, the church took their Bibles and turned to the book of Revelation, chapter 14, verses six through 12, what we call the three Angels messages, and reminded themselves why they were there. What we were as a church. What our purpose. What is our destiny. For three sessions they went back to the Word of God to remember their mission.
You know, we etch the three Angels in these beautiful stained-glass windows. Many churches have them etched. We even have them artistically embossed in our logo as a church. We talk about them. We throw the words around. Three Angels this. Third Angels. But tragically, I need to say, most Adventists, if you were to ask them, what is the second Angel’s message. What is the third Angel’s message. In fact, a more fundamental question, “So what? What do they mean?” I'm afraid that most of us would not be able to come up with a clear answer. But yet, in these three Angels lies the reason of why we are. Who we are. Why we are. Who we are. In these three Angels is the core, the foundation of the witness and the message that we are called to share. You see, we are called to trumpet these messages at this time in world history, when, as never before, modern society is lulled asleep by their own accomplishments. We are so enamored with our own scientific knowledge, and we are so put at ease with our entertainment industry. However, in many Adventist pulpits, unfortunately, these trumpets of the three Angels lie silent. At times, replaced by kind of a pop psychology. A desire to ‘fit in’ with the general Christian community. There's often a move to become a generic denomination. But God, I believe, is calling us to trumpet these messages. Loudly. At this time more than ever before.
You know, I remember playing Risk as a kid. Have you ever played Risk? Risk is really an interesting game, and when my kids got older, we were living in Hong Kong, we went out and bought the game of Risk for them. Now the game of Risk, this one even has Chinese. I bet you don't have one that has Chinese on it. This is a game of Risk, and the idea of Risk is you have a map, and you try to conquer the world. But when we bought this new version of Risk I came to the realization that they've added a few more dimensions to this game. Now when you start you can either play the game like world domination, or you can be handed a special mission card. And on this special mission card, and this is one of the cards, at the beginning of the game, before you start, you take this card and this is your mission. This one says, "Occupy 24 territories of your choice." Now the first person to accomplish their mission, guess what? Wins. And I remember when I first came face to face with this little card, it hit me, it hit me, it was one of those ‘aha’ moments. Interesting how the Lord speaks through different voices. It was a Risk game that talked to me.
And I said, you know, that is exactly what the concept of the remnant is. As a church, as a movement of history, God has handed us a special mission card. And He's saying to us as a movement, as a church, I want you to proclaim the three Angel’s message, to prepare the world for My soon coming. That's our mission. Becoming a Seventh-day Adventist is not a free ticket to heaven. Did you hear me? Becoming a Seventh-day Adventist, having your name on some church books, does not a holy person make. But what we have as a remnant is a mission and a message about a soon coming Messiah. And I want this morning, just briefly, due to time, review with you these three Angels again. So take your Bibles, and let's turn together to Revelation, chapter 14. Revelation, chapter 14, and we're doing this in the hopes that we each will understand the meaning behind these messages. That we will become more committed than ever to proclaim them personally in our own associations.
Let's start with Revelation, chapter 14, verse six. We have the first angel. "Then I saw." Are you there with me? Revelation 14, verse six. "Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth, to every nation, tribe, tongue and people." The first thing that kind of yells out at me is these Angels are flying through the midst of heaven. They're not sitting around the table sipping postum. There's movement. There's urgency. There is a direction. There's purpose. Sometimes we become very placid. We go to church. We are part of the church, and it's almost as if success is paying the light bill. But the reality is here, that the church of God should have a purpose, a mission, a destination, and I believe we're getting closer to that destination than ever before. There needs to be a purpose, a momentum here. So this angel is flying through heaven, and then it's saying what, verse seven? "Saying with a" soft voice, "loud voice," what? "Fear God and give glory to Him for the hour of His judgment has come and worship Him Who made heaven and earth and the sea and the springs of water." Interesting. Worship here.
If you start reading in chapter 13 of Revelation, and then you go into 14, which these are related, you will see that the word ‘worship’ is used seven times. Worship is the theme. It is the main issue at the end of time, and here the first Angel clearly reminds us that we are to worship none other than Him who is the Creator God Himself. Amen? And so the preaching of this everlasting gospel is intertwined with worship. Notice it says, it’s preaching the everlasting gospel. This is not a new gospel. This is the same gospel that Jesus proclaimed of the kingdom of God. This is the same gospel that Peter and Paul proclaimed. It's the gospel summarized in John, chapter three, verse 16, that anyone who, anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved because of His son Jesus Christ. In fact, I believe in Revelation, chapter 14, verse six and seven, this first Angel is a fulfillment of the promise given by Jesus Himself in Matthew 24, verse 14. Remember where it says, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached to the whole world and then" what? "The end will come." Here is an end-time movement preaching that very same gospel right before the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Why is it that we are to fear God? Why does this messenger call out to fear God? The reason is because the hour of His judgment has arrived. Is here. It's now. And we understand that that judgment hour message began there at the end of the 2300 days when the hour of His final judgment began. And you know, it's interesting, when you go back and look at Adventist history, you see that this first Angel’s message began to be preached there in 1843 as Miller and those Adventists understood what this was. That Jesus was coming soon. That there was a judgment. That Christ needed to be preached and His soon coming proclaimed to everyone far and near. And I believe that we need to continue to sound this message. Do you believe that? Jesus is coming soon.
And the whole idea of worship. It's not worship for no reason at all. It is worship Him Who made". Folks, this is an inoculation against atheistic or theistic evolution. When we recognize that as we worship, we worship Him Who is the Creator. And not only is He our Creator, because He is our Creator, He will be our re-creator in the twinkling of an eye.
Let's go to the second Angel, verse eight. "And another angel followed saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city. Because she has made all the nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’" You know, it's interesting, verse eight is definitely connected to the first Angel’s message. Number one, you say ‘another angel.’ In other words, this is following after the first, and then it said, it uses the word ‘follow’. These are connected. In fact I believe these are complementary. When you look at the first Angel’s message, it is inviting people to worship and to submit themselves completely to God. And then in the second Angel’s message, there is an invitation to abandon all false pretenses of worship, amen? To turn aside from that which is wrong. To turn aside from that which is man-made, and to turn to God. When we submit ourselves to God, we leave the world behind. They go hand in hand.
This word Babylon. Interesting. First place it's mentioned in Revelation, by the way. Right here. Babylon is often referred to or associated with the idea of confusion. Confusion. Kind of goes back to that time when the languages were all kind of mixed up at the Tower of Babel. In fact, if you go back to Genesis 11, let's go look at that. Genesis, chapter 11. Genesis, chapter 11, verse four. You see, the story here is in the context of the flood. Remember the flood destroyed the world, and now the new society that was building itself and coming together in a city, they didn't trust God anymore. They didn't believe the promise that He would not destroy the world by water again, and so they began to decide, “Well how can we, us, I, take back control of our own destiny?” And in verse four of Chapter 11 we read there we kind of have an insight to their conversations, and they said, "Come, let us build OURselves." Number one, notice it says, "Let us build for OURselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heaven. Let us make a name for OURselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth." You see, folks, in total disregard for God's Word they’re now leaning on their own word. On their own strength. On their own doctrine. On their own eschatology. They're trying to rewrite everything. It's us against Him. It's our way, not God's way. This group represented there in the second Angel's message of Babylon stands in total contrast to what we see as God's last day people, who have the patience of the saints and also who are following God by keeping His commandments. Amen? Total difference. One is my way. It is human traditions. And the other is, well, God's way, since He is my master and my re-creator.
You know this message is echoed by Paul himself. If you look at Second Corinthians, chapter six, verse 16. Look at that with me. Sometimes we say, well this whole idea of coming out from confusion, separating ourselves, that’s such an apocalyptic event, but look at what Paul says there in Second Corinthians, chapter six, starting with verse 16. Are you there? Second Corinthians, chapter six, verse 16, and it says, "And what agreement has the temple of God with" what? "With idols." What does God have to do with that which is anti-God? What does righteousness have to do with unrighteousness? Here it’s saying what does God have to do with man-made gods. And then it goes on to say "For you are the temple of the living God, and as God has said, I will dwell in them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they shall be My people." At the core of any gospel is a relationship between us and Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. There is always a personal aspect to religion.
I was sitting on the plane heading to Wisconsin this last Tuesday. And anytime I'm sitting in a plane, or going places, I try to see what the Lord is leading, but you know the airplane etiquette is not to talk people's ear off. If you didn't know that, let's learn it right now, okay? It's not nice to sit down and just start talking, but I introduced myself and she introduced herself, and she asked me a question and then I asked her a question, she asked me another question, I says, "I don't have time for you right now, I got to read." I didn't say that. I said... we began a conversation, two-hour conversation, and in the middle of it she said, "Religion. I don't really like religion." “Religion. I don't really like religion.” And as we unpacked that, you see, in many people's minds and hearts, religion is devoid of relationship. It's cold. It's tradition. But at the heart of Christianity is a relationship with the real God that loves us. Amen? And here, God is saying, “Listen, I want to be with you, I want to put My presence with you every single day.” And that's what the three Angel’s message is all about. “Come worship, enter into a relationship with Me.” Then verse 17 goes on to say, "’Come out from among them and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you’." Verse 18. "’I will be a Father to you and you shall be my sons and daughters’, says the Lord Almighty." Is there anything more tender than a parent taking their children in their arms? This is the picture of a God that asks us, "can you please separate yourself so that I can hug you? Can you come to Me, so that I can be with you?" That is what Revelation, chapter 14, is saying. Come out of her. Babylon is fallen. She's ruined. Give your heart completely to Me. Come and worship Me. The message began to be preached, this second Angel’s message began to be preached in the spring of 1844, and I believe with all my heart, that message still must be preached today. It's an invitation to fellowship with an authentic and loving God.
Let’s go to the third Angel. The third Angel. "Then a third Angel followed them saying with a loud voice." Are you there in Revelation again, 14, verse nine? "If anyone worship," there's that theme again, "the beast and his image and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hands, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full measure into the cup of His indignation. And he shall be tormented with fire and with brimstone in the presence of the holy Angels and in the presence of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment ascends for ever and ever, and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image and whoever receives the mark of his name." Period. Next sentence. "But here is the patience of the saints. Here are those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus."
Why is, and folks, if you read the Bible from cover to cover, this is probably the most severe language you will ever find regarding the wrath and indignation of God. Would you agree with me? Serious. And I've often wondered, I mean, isn't God love? We see that? First John tells us. God is love. I mean where is the love here? What is happening? Why is it painted with such brilliant colors? What will happen if we reject this authority of God in our life? Why? Folks, I'd like to suggest to you an answer, and that is we are living at the end of time. As the saying goes, the gloves are off. There's no time to pause between two opinions. It is time, the final bell has rung in this great controversy between Christ and Satan, and God must be absolutely clear. He cannot waffle here.
Have you ever taken one of those tests, and if there are any teachers here I apologize in advance for what I'm going to say. Did you ever take one of those tests where they give you the multiple choice, and they ask you a question and then they say the answers are ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘All of the above’, ‘None of the above’, ‘A and B’, ‘C and D’. Have you ever seen those? I did not like those. It's like you think you know it then all of a sudden you see all of the above, and then you sit there saying, “Well maybe, if I look at it from this way, and then you look at it from that way, then it just really, it’s really…” When it comes to the great controversy, I praise God, there are no ‘All of the above’ or ‘None of the above’. ‘C’, ‘D’, ‘A’, ‘B’, whatever. Here God lays it out plainly to us, and He says, it's ‘A’ or ‘B’. It's Me or the adversary. It is the seal of God or it is the mark of the beast. It's simple. ‘A’ or ‘B’. And you see, that's why I believe this whole idea of this mark of the beast, must be something that's clearly understood. Something definite. God would not pour out His wrath, and utter such terrible words about something that is abstract, something that is vague. Something that somebody is going to wake up at the end of time and say, "Well I didn’t know that. Boy that was a little vague there." Folks, the mark of the beast must be something totally in opposition to, I believe, what is written in Revelation, Chapter seven, which is the seal of God. Which I believe is a sign of His creative power, which is the Sabbath. And it follows then that the mark of the beast would be man's attempt to build his own edifice to his own power and to his own authority.
Folks, when you look at the third Angel’s message in particular, which is something that we are called to preach with utmost urgency today, it simply means this. Who is your boss? Who are you submitting to in every aspect of your life? Who is your Creator, and who are you worshiping? Sister White, in the sixth volume of the Testimonies, tells us that we don't fully understand what and how things will transpire in exact chronological order regarding the mark of the beast. But this morning, we must be clear about this one thing. It all has to do with who is calling the shots in your life. Who is Lord of your life.
It is in this context that sister White writes this. She says, "Several have written to me inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third Angel’s message, and I have answered, ‘It is the third Angel’s message in verity.’" Now when I’ve read that, and I've read it many times, I've always wondered, as you compare the third Angel’s message, and you compare this statement about righteousness by faith, justification by faith, you sit there and you say, how do these two go together? One is wrath and burning and smoke and suffering, and one is the righteousness of Christ given to you and me through faith. Why would she say that? And I believe the answer is at the heart of this message, and that has to do, once again, with conversion.
At the core of any ability that the Holy Spirit has to regenerate you, to re-create us into a person, is our total sacrifice of the will to Jesus Christ. We must be completely His. Who is the boss of your life? When we are converted, truly converted, we are saying, “Not I, but Christ.” We are saying, “Wholly Thine, wholly Thine”, in every aspect of our life. And folks, it is this gospel message, and notice, did you notice, the three Angel’s message begin with the proclamation of the everlasting gospel, and they end at the end of the third Angel’s message with this representation of those who have the patience of the saints and are keeping the commandments of God. Those who are following Christ. Have the faith of Jesus. That is why Ellen White says this third Angel’s message is to be regarded as of the highest importance. “It is a life and death question”, she says. “The impression made by this message will be proportionate to the earnestness and solemnity with which it is proclaimed. It is the gospel message to the end time.” Prepare, like Amos says, prepare to meet thy God. That's it in a nutshell. And we have been called to help this generation prepare to meet a soon coming Christ. How committed are you to this message, and to this mission? He has given us this responsibility.
You know, we are in the middle of a very interesting election season, are we not? And we watch the debates. We look at the polls. We're surprised by the outcomes. Whatever it might be, I am reminded that we live in an incredible country where freedom was bought at a great price. And when you look at the history of this country, you realize that it was founded by a group of men and women who truly believed in what it meant to be America. And they paid dearly for it. Because the mission that they embarked in by signing that Declaration of Independence, they understood, was much bigger than just themselves. You know, 56 men signed that document called the Declaration of Independence. And that small, little movement of their hands, putting their names to that document, completely changed their lives. Of the 56 men that signed, five of them were captured by the British and tortured before they died. 12 had their homes ransacked and burned. Two of them lost their sons in the revolutionary army. Another two had their sons captured by the British. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or the hardship of war. Nine of them. Carter Braxton of Virginia, he was one of the signers. He was a wealthy planter. He was a trader. And he saw every single one of his ships, trading ships, sunk by the British. He sold his home and all his properties to pay his debts, but he died in abject poverty. You know, at the Battle of Yorktown, that famous battle, the British General Cornwallis took over a very nice house there in Yorktown, and it belonged to one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. His name was Thomas Nelson, and Washington called Nelson and said, "You know, Cornwallis is in your house." And Nelson gave Washington permission to open fire with his cannon upon his own home, and his home was completely destroyed. And history tells us that Nelson died bankrupt.
Now folks, what I'm saying is, this is commitment to a mission that was dear to their heart. And we have been given a mission of much greater proportions. We have been given a mission to proclaim, I believe, an incredibly important message to the world. And so the question this morning is, “Are we willing, basically, to risk all for the sake of the Kingdom?” Are we willing to proclaim it? Are we willing to introduce people to Christ, and most importantly are we willing to personally embrace this Jesus, and let Him be the complete Lord of our life. The re-creator of our lives, and to receive, happily, His seal upon us that says Bob, Sam, Jill, you belong to me, completely. I pray that you will respond affirmatively to this invitation. I pray that you will say, “Lord, here I am. You are my God. I give You my all.” Because when it all comes down to it, it's all about authority. Who is Lord of your life.
I believe Jesus is coming soon, and I want to invite you to trumpet these messages together. Fulfill our destiny. And trumpet them louder than ever. Louder than ever. Amen.
Hymn of Praise: #21, Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise Scripture: Revelation 14:6-12 Hymn of Response: #365, O Zion, Haste
Return to McDonald Road Sermons Index
Sermon at McDonald Road transcribed by Steve Foster 1/18/08