Sermon delivered January 30, 2010 by Ed Reid

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Dual Citizenship

Responsive Reading #825 - Our Civic Duties

(RealAudio Version available)

I really hesitated to put this picture in here, but I do want to give you an illustration.  This past week I got my W-2 form for last year.  Probably most of you did.  All of you are workers contemplating, between now and April 15, filing your income tax, aren't you?  And everyone says, "Yes".  Not eagerly. 

I remember I was at a worker's meeting and two pastors were in line ahead of me at lunchtime, and one of them said to the other one, "You know, I just read this real interesting book about taxes.  And this guy's saying that taxes are not really mandatory by the Constitution and you don't have to if you don't want to and I just decided I don't want to."  And the other guy said, "Well, can I look at the book when you're done," because he was kind of interested as well.  Wouldn't it be neat if we didn't have to pay taxes.  I don't try to listen to people's conversations, but these guys were right in front of me and they weren't trying to keep it a secret.  So I went over to them and I got them right close together and put my arm on their shoulder and my head in between their heads, and I said, "Guys, let me tell you something.  Don't ever mention this to anybody again as long as you live, and please don't talk about this to your church members."  And they looked at me so funny, and they said, "What are you saying this for?"  And I said, "Well, most people that write these kind of books, write their second book from jail."  It's true.  I asked them, "Have you ever heard of Al Capone?"  Al Capone, if you study American history, was one famous gangster from Chicago area in the roaring 20s of the last century, and with forensic evidence that we have available today, was likely responsible for the deaths of at least 54 people.  So he would be a mass murderer by anybody's standards.  Wouldn't that be true?  Why did he spend the last six years of his life in Alcatraz?  Tax evasion.  This is an interesting situation when you think about it. 

People were wondering in the days of Jesus, "You know, are we really into this tax business?"  "So the Pharisees and Herodians asked Jesus one day, 'Tell us therefore, what do you think?  Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?'"  Well you know, because it's after the fact, when we read this, they were trying to trick Jesus into whether His loyalty was with the Romans or with the Jews.  "So Jesus perceived their wickedness and said, 'Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?'  And then He said, 'Show me the tax money.'  So they brought Him a denarius," a coin of that day, "and He said to them, 'Whose image or superscription is this?'  And they said to Him, 'Caesar's.'  And so He said to them, 'Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's'." 

Over and over again, from what we read for example in our responsive reading, it's from Romans 13, every soul should be subject to the governing authority and there is no authority except from God.  Now believe me, many of the leaders in the world are not godly people, but God has allowed them, for whatever reason, to be in the position they're in.  So whether you're a Democrat or not, Barack Obama is our president, and we should show him respect.  Isn't that true?  Therefore, it says whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.  Now I'll show you a few things about this in just a minute.  Render therefore to all their due, we read this so nicely in the responsive reading, taxes to whom taxes are due, custom to whom customs, fear to whom fear and honor to whom honor. 

So, good citizens will practice tax avoidance.  This is a term in law and also in accounting.  What is tax avoidance?  Tax avoidance is using the deductions that are legitimately due you.  Or we even call it tax deference where you put your money into a 401(k) or something like that, where you don't pay the taxes on it til you draw it out, those kind of things.  Sometimes I've had people talk to me in my stewardship work and say, "You know, I don't deduct my tithe and offerings from my income taxes because I don't believe it's essential.  It's a spiritual thing that I do," but my understanding is that if you can get a tax credit for, why not do it?  I encourage people to take that deduction if you can.  We practice tax avoidance, but not tax evasion.  And by the way, we're going to look at some other ones. 

"Those who feel that they are God's servants," Ellen White noted in Messages to Young People, this is page 329, "will be men who can be trusted anywhere.  Citizens of heaven will make the best citizens of Earth."  This means that Seventh-day Adventists, all of us who claim to be citizens of God's kingdom, will be the best citizens on this earth.  I mentioned in the first service, if I was your neighbor and I was your only neighbor, you would never need to lock anything you own, because you could be assured that I would not steal it.  This is not always true where you are. There are places where you cannot even leave your purse in your car and lock the door, someone will break the window out of it and get your purse. Now the idea is, Christians should be model citizens, and she goes on to say, "A correct view of our duty to God leads to a clear perception of our duty also to our fellow men." 

Frequently, in the early church, when people were preaching, the leaders, the civic leaders wanted to bring them in and question them.  "When the Sanhedrin saw the boldness of Peter and John," this is from Acts the fourth chapter, "they called them and commanded them not to speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus."  Well it's interesting, Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God you judge, for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen."  So they went out preaching again and the second encounter with the Sanhedrin, recorded in Acts the fifth chapter, "and they said, 'Didn't we strictly command you not to teach in His name, and look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine and intend to bring this Man's blood on us.'  Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, 'We ought to obey God rather than man.'" 

Now a real interesting thing is developing and you'll be able to see this as I go forward and that is, in consequence of the preaching of the apostles, Ellen White noted in Acts of the Apostles, page 178, that the teaching of Paul and Barnabas tended to make men virtuous, law-abiding citizens.  Not anarchists and not terrorists.  In other words, when you have the Beatitudes in the first part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, He says, "Blessed are you when they say all manner of evil against you."  What's the next part?  "Falsely."  It's not true.  You're going to be model citizens and the city would improve if the truths taught by the apostles were accepted, and Peter says, "Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God and honor the king." 

Now something interesting happens in Adventist churches.  I noted when I came in here today, I'd already prepared this slide, but you have both of these flags, the United States flag and the Christian flag in this church.  I have heard over the years, some people think we shouldn't have the United States flag in church.  We're citizens, but what we do here is honor God.  But remember what we studied in Romans the 13th chapter.  If we are citizens of God's kingdom, how do you act also as a model citizen of the country of which you are a member?  And that's why we do this.  That's why I call it 'dual citizenship'.  We have the United States flag and the Christian flag as well.  Paul says in Ephesians, "Now therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.  Our citizenship is in heaven, from whence we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."  Now I'm goimg to show you something interesting.  I'm trying to point out that we're dual citizens.  They confessed they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  These were the faithful people from the Faith Chapter in Hebrews 11. 

Now this is something that's difficult for us to practice.  I'm going to read it to you from Fundamentals of Education, 478.  "Those who stand as educators, as ministers, as laborers together with God in any line, have no battles to fight in the political world."  Now that is an interesting statement.  Like you, I stayed up and watched the president's speech on Wednesday evening.  I even stayed up long enough to hear the Governor of Virginia give the Republican response.  When election time comes, I always vote.  In fact, I stay up, if necessary, all night to see who won.  You could always learn in the morning, but you understand, I'm really interested in that.  As an attorney I'm very interested in politics, but I will just tell you something.  That's. not. my. job.  Our job as Christians is to preach the three angels messages.  We want to be good citizens, but we don't have an ax to grind so much out there with the politicians.  "The people of God, the true Israel, though scattered throughout all the nations, are on the earth but sojourners whose citizenship is in heaven." 

Now I really like this because to me it's very, very humbling.  "God can bestow no higher honor upon mortals," that's us, "than to adopt them into His family, giving them the privilege of calling Him Father."  This is really, really something.  So I found this idea and it put me on to something that I want to share with you.  Second Corinthians says we are ambassadors for Christ, and you are all the sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ.  So we represent the royal family.  We're princes and princesses for God, King of the universe, and we're also told in Romans 8 that we are children of God, heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him. 

Now Kathy and I, for the past 20 years, have lived in Washington, DC area, and you frequently see this kind of license plate.  It's a diplomatic license plate.  It's very significant because, I'll tell you a little bit about it.  Diplomatic immunity is given to diplomats.  In D.C., there's whole areas of Washington, D.C., where the embassies of foreign countries are and you can go there and usually they have big houses or big buildings, and they have guards and all that, but all the cars that come and go there have this kind of a license plate on them.  Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal immunity and a policy held between governments, which ensures that the diplomats are given safe passage.  In other words, some of the people who have embassies in Washington are not really our friends, but we have exchanged diplomats with them, but in addition to that, they are not considered susceptible to lawsuits or prosecution under the host country's laws.  So I thought, wouldn't it be wonderful if, as Christians, under this flag, we could have diplomatic immunity and no one could stop us for anything.  Wouldn't that be wonderful?  It just doesn't work that way. 

The real interesting part is, we are a part of two kingdoms, and it's very interesting also, the three Hebrew young men were asked to bow down and worship this large golden image.  You remember that from Daniel the third chapter.  Apparently a huge crowd was there on this big parade grounds or whatever and everybody knelt down and worshiped except these three guys.  Now, they could've actually knelt down and recited the Lord's prayer or done something like that, but they said, "No, we're not going to do that.  We're not going to fool anybody.  We're not going to worship this great big image."  And I put down there, see Exodus 20:3,4.  You know what that says.  It's part of the 10 Commandments.  "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."  And then it says, "You shouldn't make any image of it or bow down yourself to them or worship them."  So these guys had that in mind.  "We're not going to do it.  Even if it means death, we're not going to do it." 

I'm going to show you another important one.  Daniel.  I often read through the book of Daniel.  I love the book of Daniel and I will just tell you something about it.  I've wondered many times, when Daniel proved himself so faithful over the years.  I mean when you read Daniel 1, he would've suffered the wrath of the King for vegetarianism.  Is it true?  It is.  What I'm going to tell you now is amazing.  He had already proven himself faithful, and God allowed him to be thrown into the lion's den in his 80s.  You see a guy with gray hair like me, I'm not in my 80s, but you understand.  Old guy.  Why?  Why was he even willing to do it?  I'm going to show you something now.  We're going to look at this verse so let's open up to Daniel 6 and we'll see something very interesting.  Daniel 6:4,5.  This is the Bible's basic religious liberty passage, and you'll see it now.  Remember Daniel was promoted because he was so faithful and so honest, and it says in verse 4, "The people that were jealous of him, the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom, but they could find no charge or fault because he was faithful, nor was there any error or fault found in him." 

Now I'm going to stop here and tell you something amazing.  Whenever the President-elect selects his cabinet, as president Obama did, something amazing happens.  He gets to nominate the person, but they're not automatically confirmed to the position until they are vetted by the Senate.  The Senate has to approve the position.  Interestingly enough, four of the people that President Obama nominated seemed on the surface to be great folks until they were investigated and found out they were not faithful with their taxes.  Including the person who is presently the Treasurer of the United States.  Now I'm not going to get into politics, I'm just going to tell you, the other three didn't make it but the fact is something interesting.  When they investigated Daniel they found nothing.  Did you hear that word?  Nothing.  Do you think they turned over every rock they could find to look under to see?  It's pretty interesting.  They want to know everything about you.  From the day you were born.  How many jobs you've had.  All those kind of things.  Nothing could they find, so what did they do?  And here comes the religious liberty text.  "Then these men," this is verse 5 of Daniel 6, "said, 'We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God."  Now this is incredible.  At some time in the future, though we are blessed to either be citizens of or living in the United States, to be in the best country in the world, and I believe that.  The United States, blessed of God, is not a democracy.  We would not want a democracy.  In a democracy, the majority wins every vote.  Isn't that true?  What we have is a constitutional republic where we use the democratic process to elect our leaders, but once they are in office they are duty bound to uphold the Constitution and that gives rights to individuals. 

Now the interesting part about all of this is in this case, most of the time there would not be a conflict between the laws of the United States and the laws of God, but we know someday there will be.  You know, the United States is a champion of civil and religious liberty around the world and people always ask me, "How could this ever happen in America?"  The Bible itself says, the United States is spoken of in Revelation 13 starting with verse 11, that at first it looks gentle with horns like a lamb, but later it begins to speak like a dragon.  Something interesting happens. 

So we're going to look at some of these.  Most of you have read about Martin Luther.  There are several good DVDs that you can get through PBS and other places.  Amazing man who was willing to stand, and I choose my words carefully, alone before the greatest men of Earth from the Holy Roman Empire and the greatest men from the Roman Catholic Church.  He stood alone for his principles.  That's why he was such a great man.  In the Middle Ages, many Christians in Europe were burned as heretics for not compromising their beliefs.  By the way, God had said, even in Old Testament times, when you walk through the water I will be with you, whatever the troubles, I'm going to be with you.  If you read history, many of the people who were burned alive, which would likely be one of the worst ways you could possibly die, did so with hymns on their lips.  It's an incredible thing to think about.  So the Sabbath/Sunday controversy is predicted.  It is predicted in Daniel the seventh chapter that the little horn power "shall speak great words against the Most High and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, think to change times and laws, and they will be given into his hand until a time and times and dividing of times."  We have, probably most of us, understood that.  You also understood that Revelation 13, the first ten verses, are pretty much a parallel from Daniel 7, little horn.  The descriptions are almost identical. 

Even Isaiah is an amazing place.  Isaiah is called which prophet?  Does anybody know?  The gospel prophet.  And the reason is, he understood things way out there.  Most of you know that though there is a historical setting for the books of the Bible, in many cases their real application was for the end time, for our time, and this is one of those.  I'm going to read just what I have on the screen here.  Isaiah 58:12,13.  "Those from among you shall build the old waste places.  You shall raise up the foundations of many generations and you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in," and then to give it the Sabbath context,  "If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways or finding your own pleasure nor speaking your own words."  You know the next verse talks, "Then I will set you on high and feed you with a the heritage of Jacob," and so on. 

So we're seeing what I call early warning signs today.  I'm going to give you a little introduction to this.  All I've given you so far is the basic introduction to this part that's going to happen now. 

Critics have accused Seventh-day Adventists of being paranoid about Sunday laws.  They say that we see a Sunday law behind every rock and every bush.  I respond that we are not paranoid, we are watchful as Jesus commanded us to be.  We have solid evidence for our beliefs that Sunday laws will come, and I'm going to show you.  We have the Bible evidence from Daniel and Revelation, the gospels from Isaiah and so on.  We have the Spirit of Prophecy, Ellen White's counsel and predictions from the book the Great Controversy and other places.  You have history like the Council of Trent, the Augsburg confession, St. Thomas Aquinas.  I call him St. Thomas Aquinas because he is called so by the Roman Catholic Church.  He lived in the Middle Ages.  He is the most famous of all the Roman Catholic theologians.  He wrote a five volume work called Summa Theologica.  In the third volume, he was asked, "should the Sabbath be in the 10 Commandments or should it be in the ceremonial law" because it talks about time and it's a question-and-answer thing.  He uses about 40 pages to come to the conclusion the Sabbath rightfully belongs in the 10 Commandments because it's the only one of the 10 that identifies Jesus Christ as the Lawgiver, Who gave the law to start with, and the basis upon which the law came and why we obey, as the Creator of heaven and earth.  The next question, and the obvious question to follow, why don't we keep Sabbath then?  His answer is, the church changed the day.  Not Jesus and not the disciples.  It's amazing how we have this good evidence. 

I'll show you many of these things later this afternoon, but I want to focus on also current events, most of them within the last 18 months.  We're going to go really quickly into some of these.  Most of you are probably aware of a lot of this but I'm sure there'll be some things that you have not been aware of. 

In November of last year, the Catholic bishops of Europe met with the political leaders of the European Union.  This I got from the Catholic European bishops website and they expressed their wish to these civil leaders to see a Sunday rest day being better protected in national legislations.  That is by laws in the various, they say "legislations" plural, because there are a number of nations in the European Union, as well as in the future European Union working time directive.  Now the reason I mention this is by what they said two weeks after that initiative failed.  "Sunday was not included in this year's revision, but the bishops and the trade unions will stay mobilized to push for Sunday rest in the future."  In other words, those are the two powers that are doing it.  Many of you are aware that the Croatian Parliament passed a law last year, it was actually passed July 15, 2008, but it went into effect January 1 of this past year, forcing shops to close on Sunday in a concession to the Roman Catholic church.  These are not my words, this is from the Associated Press.  "The church has campaigned for years for Sunday to be devoted to family or Mass in Croatia," which is almost 90% Catholic. 

Now here's one that's very, very recent.  Just about six weeks ago, on December 1, 2009, Germany's Constitutional Court ruled that all shops must close on Sunday and that laws in Berlin that allowed shopping on 10 Sundays a year, including the 4 before Christmas, were unconstitutional.  The case was brought to the court by the Catholic and Lutheran churches and the labor unions.  It was not a new law, but it was reaffirming a 1919 basic Law.  There are only eight justices in the Supreme Court of Germany.  You have to have a super majority, that means 5 or 6 to be a winner.  The German Constitutional Court is the equivalant of the U.S. Supreme Court.  It's December 1, 2009 ruling reaffirmed the 1919 German basic law, which is article 39 of the Weimar Constitution, which set aside Sunday as a day of rest from work and for spiritual improvement.  Since it's an old law, it's no big deal except as the significance of this ruling is that the case was brought by the Catholic church and labor unions.  That's why Germany has a Sunday law right now. 

I subscribe to Our Sunday Visitor, which is a weekly Roman Catholic publication.  I noticed on December 14, 2008 that they had a cover article, Sunday, A Day For Families.  Now many people in the Roman Catholic church use Sunday and Sabbath as synonyms, which of course they're not, but the Sabbath, going on to quote here, "Sunday, a day for families   The Sabbath is neither a time for gloom or a day to catch up on errands or work.  God created a day of rest for us so we can worship, relax and spend quality time with family and loved ones."  The article quotes Kimberlee Hohn, who is the wife of a man named Scott Hohn, who for many years was a Presbyterian minister, but he was reading Thomas Aquinas and convinced himself that the mother church was right, so he left his Presbyterian pastorate, so he and his wife joined the Roman Catholic Church a number of years ago, and now he teaches Roman Catholics to become priests.  At any rate, his wife is quoted in this article as saying, "Christians need to observe some form of Sabbath rest on Sundays because it is one of the Big 10.  The 10 Commandments that is.  We don't just set aside the prohibition against adultery, and we shouldn't set aside the Lord's day either."  This is in Our Sunday Visitor.  Now, the article goes on to say, when it comes to how we spend our Sundays, "Attending Mass is an absolute must for Catholics.  Failure to do so ranks as a mortal sin."  There are two kinds of sin, if you're Roman Catholic.  You have a venal sin, which is like a mistake or small, little thing, or a mortal sin.  A mortal sin, in this case not attending Mass on Sunday, according to the belief of the Roman Catholic Church, is a sin that unless it's confessed or absolved, it condemns a person's soul to hell when they die. 

Now this is an interesting book.  I actually have the book in my library.  Mine is an English edition printed in 2005.  Originally it was printed in French in 1866, called The Liberal Illusion.  In other words, they're saying there's no such thing as a liberal Catholic.  That's just an illusion because you have to understand what the real basic stuff is.  But it's reprinted and distributed in English in 2005 by the Angelis Press which is a conservative Catholic organization that promotes the return to the Tridentine or Latin mass.  This book promotes the church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Pope as superior to the state and to be served by the state, but notice this amazing statement on page 92.  "When the time comes for truth to prevail and for the social edifice to be rebuilt according to the eternal rules, whether it be tomorrow or centuries from now," remember it was written 2 1/4 centuries ago, "Catholics will organize all things as they would for themselves.  They will set up the laws of life.  They will impose religious observance of Sunday on behalf of society as a whole and for its good."  This has been reprinted and sent to Catholics around the country.

Now you're seeing a picture of the United States Supreme Court.  Through the power of PowerPoint, we can determine who are Catholics.  This is not because we're paranoid, it's because we're watchful.  Does everybody understand that?  This is important that you do.  Many years ago, Antonin Scalia became the first current Roman Catholic on the court, followed by Clarence Thomas and then Anthony Kennedy, and of course Chief Justice John Roberts.  By the way, the number I have on him, 54, that's his age.  He is the youngest member of the Supreme Court.  Harvard Law school graduate.  Had many cases before the Supreme Court as an attorney and is a very smart guy.  Then Samuel Alito is also Roman Catholic and just recently Sonia Sotomayor became a U.S. Supreme Court justice as well.  Now here's something unusual about all this.  I have '89' here.  This is not his football jersey number.  This guy, John Paul Stevens, is 89.  In April of this year he will become 90 years of age.  He is the only Protestant on the U.S. Supreme Court.  This is interesting because the other two, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer are both Jewish. 

I actually have a copy of this from USA Today in the pulpit with me here if you'd like to see it, but this is like a halfpage picture in USA Today.  When Sonia Sotomayor was nominated by President Obama to be on the Supreme Court, the, listen carefully now, not paranoid Adventists, but USA Today put this picture in there.  Does everybody understand that?  This is interesting because they said, "A yawn greets the Catholic court," and they say it's so Catholic they put a rosary right over the top of the building.  Here's the reason.  "If Sotomayor is confirmed," which she was, "six of the nine members of the Supreme Court will be Catholic.  As such, religious diversity in America these days might mean finding a Protestant nominee."  They go on to say in the article, "Catholics cannot help but interpret the Constitution in light of their own traditions." 

There are two reasons why Sonia Sotomayor was put on the Supreme Court, and everybody should know what they are.  One of them is that she is a female and the other one is that she is Latina. We want to support that and I would support that myself.  It may have been incidental that she was also a lifetime Roman Catholic. 

Now the Internet is kind of an interesting place to go.  There's a lot of foolishness out there as you may know, but I'll just tell you that if you would like to know how many people live in America, you can turn on your Internet browser and go to the Google search engine or whatever one you use, and type "US population", which I did, and here comes up a big digital counter thing and it says 308,500,000, and then it will say, every seven seconds a new baby is born in America and every 14 seconds somebody dies, and every 26 seconds someone is immigrating into the United States whether legally or illegally, and it just tells you how many people live here.  So we know there's 308 million people. 

The publication that I just showed you, Our Sunday Visitor, this is the one from December 15 of this past year, "Where in the world are Catholics today?" and it tells that in Brazil, for example, there are 159 million Roman Catholics.  It's the largest concentration of Catholics in the world, but they're growing rapidly around the world.  In fact, there are 1.3 billion Catholics, but in the United States, they say, there are 68 million.  If you divide the big number into the little number, that is divide 308 into 68, it comes out 22.0%.  So if you multiply nine Supreme Court judges by .22 it comes out to 1.98.  There ought to be almost 2 Justices, based on the general population, who are Roman Catholic.  How many are there?  6.  66%, which is exactly 3 times what the general population sample would include.  This is no accident, my friends.  The whole point is, when the Sunday law comes.  I didn't say 'if', I said 'when' the Sunday law comes, somebody will take it to the Supreme Court, saying it's unconstitutional.  It might be Adventists, it might be the ACLU, who knows.  But when it gets there, it's going to be greeted by six Roman Catholics, a super majority of the U.S. Supreme Court. 

The entire final crisis explodes into action as soon as the national Sunday law is enacted in the United States.  That event will catapult the entire world into the wind up of human affairs.  All other final events find a reference point in that moment in time. 

Now this is one of my favorite statements with regard to what's happening in the future.  It is not a time to be afraid.  It is a time to be excited, I think. That's where we're living.  And we found in six Testimonies, 401, and it's quoted also in Last Day Events, page 152, this amazing statement.  "When the storm of persecution really breaks upon us, the true sheep will hear the Shepherd's voice.  Self-denying efforts will be put forth to save the lost and many who have strayed from the fold will come back to follow the good Shepherd."  That's awesome stuff.  I don't think there's a person in this room today, who doesn't know somebody who used to be a faithful follower of God who strayed away.  Many of us have family members, even.  The idea is, God says many of these people will come back.  I love that and it's going to mean that they will be willing to join us even in a difficult time.  "The people of God will draw together and present to the world a united front in view of the common peril.  Strife for supremacy will cease.  There will be no disputing as to who should be accounted the greatest." 

So today, remember the story of the big image in Daniel 3 and those 3 faithful people is not just a bedtime story.  What it means is that everybody who's alive in the end time is going to have to say which flag they're going to stand under if there's a conflict.  Faithful as long as you can, and there's no conflict, but if there's a conflict, I am on the Lord's side.  That's the important thing to understand.  So Ellen White noted, "Important are the lessons to be learned from the experience of the Hebrew youth on the plain of Dura.  In this our day, many of God's servants, though innocent of wrongdoing."  Remember that, if they say something bad about you falsely.  "Though innocent of wrongdoing will be given over to suffer humiliation and abuse at the hands of those who, inspired by Satan, are filled with envy and religious bigotry."  This is from Prophets and Kings, page 512.  Let me finish it.  "Especially will the wrath of men be aroused against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and at last, the universal decree will denounce these as deserving of death."  Now this to me is amazing.  There's a lot of good encouragement in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy.  "The season of distress before God's people will call for a faith that will not falter.  His children must make it manifest that He is the only object of their worship and that no consideration, not even that of life itself, can induce them to make the least concession to false worship.  To the loyal heart, the commands of sinful, finite men will sink into insignificance beside the Word of the Eternal God.  Truth will be obeyed though the result will be imprisonment, exile or death." 

Everybody here understands that unless you have your mind fortified with the Word of God you won't be able to stand at the end, so we need to be spending more time in the Bible.  Really fortify yourself.   And I know that the Bible is in some places deep and hard to understand, but I can tell you that the more you study, the more you'll understand, and God can bless you, even if you don't understand the words all the time.

We're going to look at a couple more points.  This is from Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, page 130.  "Deny your children anything rather than the instruction, which if faithfully followed, will make them good and useful members of society and will prepare them for citizenship in the heavenly kingdom.  Heaven is our home.  Our citizenship is above and our lives must not be devoted to a world that is soon to be destroyed." 

Now, as Seventh-day Adventists, all Christians have this cause it's in the Bible, we have what I call inside information.  Now in the financial the world, you're not supposed to trade on, or act upon, inside information.  The Martha Stewart scenario and so on.  But we have inside information, and it's found in Second Timothy 3:10 where it says, when Jesus comes back, this earth and all the stuff in it is going to be burned up, and that will reduce its value considerably, as you can imagine. The whole idea is, we don't want to be tied down to this earth.  The bottom line is, we're told in Counsels on Stewardship, page 60, as it's near the end we should be cutting back on our stuff and getting as close to compact as possible, so not much of our stuff is burned up at the end.  And it would make sense to me.  It's very practical. 

The apocalyptic prophecy of Revelation 13 is being fulfilled.  There are many signs that the protections of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution are being eroded.  The signs are also that Revelation 14 is being fulfilled, because the Gospel is going to all the world.  This is amazing stuff to me.  Ways that I don't even understand.  With podcasts and Internet and all kinds of things.  Kathy and I travel a good bit and I can just tell you, wherever we go, people will say to me, I've seen you on 3ABN, and I don't care whether it's Norway or South Africa or Japan or anywhere in the United States, the message is getting out there and I'm very happy.  Thousands of people are joining the Adventist church. 

So here's my final appeal.  As we await our Lord's return, let's commit to being good citizens, whatever country we're from, of our own country and also of God's kingdom. 

Our closing hymn is number 368.  Watchman, Blow the Gospel Trumpet.

Hymn of Praise: #221, Rejoice, the Lord is King
Scripture: Responsive Reading #825 - Our Civic Duties
Hymn of Response: #368, Watchman, Blow the Gospel Trumpet

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Sermon at McDonald Road transcribed by Steve Foster 2/10/10