Are Adventists Still Preaching the Three Angels Message?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

After Evangelist Steve Wohlberg held some meetings at our church, we had several baptisms. One of those was “Wayne.” Wayne and I started hanging out as he loved to talk to me about prophecy. More specifically he liked talking about the mark of the beast. Okay, all he wanted to talk about was the mark of the beast. Even more specifically he just wanted to talk about how it would be distributed. Would it be a computer chip? An ID card? Would it be injected like a vaccine? These questions went on for weeks as we hung out at our favorite hang-outs.

It finally started sinking in that Wayne was not really interested in Jesus. He was interested in conspiracy theories. Finally one day, while Wayne was rehashing his usual questions again about exactly how the mark would be administered, I stopped him, and asked, “Wayne suppose you knew exactly how the mark would be administered. How would that knowledge make you more like Jesus?” Wayne looked at me like I had four heads and four wings! While we preach Jesus every Sabbath at our church, Wayne soon left in search of conspiracy theories that were not being preached at our church.

Sometimes people get so wrapped up in prophecy they forget it’s all about Jesus! To them, Daniel and Revelation is nothing more than a science fiction novel. So when they hear Jesus preached instead of conspiracy theories, they think that preaching Jesus instead of conspiracy theories is part of the conspiracy! They forget that the mark of the beast has a counterpart which is the seal of God. The seal of God is the character of God. We learn about the character of God and the seal of God by studying the life of Jesus.

Some complain the church preaches too much about day-to-day living instead of the Three Angels’ message and prophecy. But it is the day-to-day living that reflects the character of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit that seals Christ’s people to Him. The Sabbath is only the outward sign of the inward faithfulness.

I have been in homes where there was domestic abuse, but everyone in the home was satisfied that they were good Christians because they all knew the Taco Bell logo was satanic, and a sign that the Illuminati were taking over the world and bringing in Sunday laws. I have talked to men who were addicted to pornography but were sure they had the seal of God because they no longer ate cheese. These folk need to be instructed on day-to-day practical Christian living first, before they start getting all wrapped up in prophecy and last day events.

 

When people ask why we are no longer preaching the Three Angels’ message, I am baffled because we are preaching the Three Angels message of Revelation 14:6-12. I just preached it as a guest speaker last Sabbath. The first angel has the everlasting gospel. According to 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 the gospel is the cross. So whenever we preach the cross, we preach the message of the first angel. The second angel tells us Babylon is falling. The king of Babylon thought he had earned his dominion while Daniel 4:32 tells us it was given to him. Babylon represents trusting ourselves and our own system of worship to save us, instead of keeping our eyes on Jesus who will save us. So when we preach salvation by grace instead of works we are preaching the message of the second angel. The third angel warns us against trusting in our own works to save us, and gives us the Sabbath as a sign that we rest our faith in Jesus and not in man or the works of man. Ellen White says this about the third angel,

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.” -Ellen White, Review and Herald, 1890.

So when we preach justification by faith we are preaching the message of the third angel.

So when I hear Adventists say we are not preaching the third angel’s message, I wonder what exactly are they expecting. Fire and brimstone? Turn or burn? Keep the Sabbath or you go to hell? If so, they won’t find that in the Three Angels’ message. Yes the third angel mentions fire and brimstone, but only for those who rejected the cross. They show they have rejected the cross when they trust in their own works to save them instead of resting on the Sabbath, as a sign that God’s grace will sustain them, and not the mark of the beast. They end up drinking the cup that Jesus drank for them in Gethsemane. By rejecting the Sabbath rest and God’s grace they choose to drink that cup themselves. It is their own choice!

As Seventh-day Adventists, let us proclaim the everlasting gospel of the three angels. Let’s let the world know about God’s amazing grace that turns abusive homes into heaven on earth. Let’s let everyone know there is a love that not only conquers your desire for cheese but also takes away your desire for porn. The three angels message will change our day to day lives and fit us for His soon coming.

You may study this week’s Sabbath school lesson here.

“Occupy Till I Come”

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I was running my shift at UPS early one morning, trying to beat the clock, as we loaded the package cars, and prepared them for their busy day. In the midst of our hustle and bustle an alarm sounded. A sorter spotted flames on a conveyor belt. We safely evacuated the building and made sure everyone was okay. The fire was actually extinguished before the distant sirens arrived. Later, I recollected how we were focused on getting our job done, in time for all the brown package cars to deliver their thousands of packages, all over a waking city, preparing itself for business. In a split second, our important task meant nothing and we were all prepared to quickly walk away and let the building, and all of our business burn to the ground if need be.

We were dedicated to our jobs at UPS but we still had enough sense to know when to walk away. I think this is the kind of balance we need when we hear the words,

Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.Matthew 24:42

and,

Occupy till I come. Luke 19:13

Some people complain that our church is not preaching enough about the second coming. They complain we just preach about day to day living. Yet these sermons are still very Biblical as Jesus taught us about day to day living. He did not teach us to sit around waiting for Him to come. He also taught us how to live in the here and now. The Bible says, “occupy” (do business in the NKJV) until He comes.

While our church is focused on the prophecies of the second coming, and rightfully so, we must also remember those words in Luke, “Occupy till I come.” Remember the purpose of the gospel is to make people whole. This means more than just telling people what the mark of the beast is, when we can’t buy and sell. It also means teaching people Biblical stewardship and money management, while we occupy and can buy and sell. Making people whole means more than just telling them dead people are dead. It means helping them to become whole again as they deal with grief day to day until the resurrection.

Making people whole involves more than just telling people adultery is wrong. It also means ministering to and healing those scarred by divorce. A friend who had just joined the Adventist church, had emotional scars from divorce. He told me he was glad he had found the Adventist doctrines, but complained that there was nothing in our church to help with the daily pain of divorce. He went to a divorce recovery workshop the local Methodist church shared with the community. He asked me why we had nothing like that in our church.

Is it the job of other churches to help with day to day life while the Adventist church just tells people about the mark of the beast and second coming? No! The first angel in Revelation 14 carries the everlasting gospel to the entire world. The everlasting gospel is a holistic gospel designed to make the entire person whole, body, mind and soul. I am very proud that today I work with the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist church, which like many other Adventist churches today, is ministering to the entire person. Like many other Adventist churches, my local church has “Life groups” on Wednesday nights. On Wednesday nights people come to our church and can join a prophecy seminar I am leading out in, or they can choose between a griefshare group, parenting group, divorce recovery group and spiritual gifts workshop. We have had many workshops ranging from finances to sexual purity.

The Adventist Church proclaims a holistic gospel which brings healing in our every day lives while preparing for the second coming.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here. 

Jesus Won’t Forget to Pick You up

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

A family I had studied with called me late one afternoon, asking me to meet them ASAP at the hospital. Their mother was dying, and they wanted prayer. Now I believe that God can hear your prayers for your sick loved one, just as easily as He can hear an elder’s prayer. Nevertheless, I met the family in ICU. They told me they were praying for a miracle. One son told me they knew God was going to work a miracle for his mother. He explained that God was going to raise her up right now, or He would heal her, like He did Lazarus, by letting her sleep and then waking her up at the resurrection. Either way it would be a miracle.

We admire people who have the faith to heal a loved one, but what about having enough faith to just let them go to sleep? The son had faith in the miracle of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves.  Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.

A few days later his mother fell asleep in Jesus, and his family is encouraging each other with the promises of the greatest miracle yet to come.

There are more Bible prophecies about the Second Coming than any other event. While many prophecies have already been fulfilled, we are certain the prophecies pertaining to the second coming are just as sure.

I understand that while we sleep, when we enter the REM (rapid eye movement) stage, we are actually very close to death. Yet each morning when we wake up, we don’t realize the miracle that has just taken place. I understand there are many mysteries about sleep that medical science is still researching. Could it be that sleep is just our “rehearsal” for the resurrection? That God is just getting us used to falling asleep and trusting Him to wake us up when it is time?

I walked into the church lobby after worship service to find a very distraught elderly lady. She has Alzheimer’s disease, and had forgotten who had driven her to church. She was afraid she was going to be left. I put my arm around her and assured her that even though she may have forgotten who had taken her to church, whoever they were, they had not forgotten her. I told her we all loved her and would not leave her alone. She began to cry like a little girl, as she told me “Thank you very much!” Sure enough her ride found her. She had forgotten them, but they remembered her.

This elderly lady felt like a little child left all alone. When we face the grave of a loved one, or even our own, do we feel like a little child left all alone? We needn’t be afraid. Our Ride to heaven will remember us even if in death we forget Him as we sleep. The same God who wakes you up every morning, the same God who remembered to create you and remembered to redeem you on the cross, is the same God responsible for waking you up when He comes again. Don’t worry, even when in death you forget Him, He won’t forget you!

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here. 

I Am Not Afraid

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

13 years later, I still can not believe some people took some airplanes and did what they did. They day after 9-11 I wrote this poem and emailed it to some friends. Somehow a Christian radio station in Dallas Texas got a hold of it and read it on the air. In memory of 9-11 I am sharing it again here.

On 9-11-01 Satan manifested himself in the terrorists who were glad to die if they could destroy someone else. On that same day God was manifested in the rescue workers, who were glad to die if they could just save someone else.

               I Am Not Afraid

I am not afraid of bigotry and hate in the terrorists’ hearts.

I am afraid of the bigotry and hate in MY heart.

I am not afraid to die as a Christian in a terrorist attack.

I am afraid to live without Jesus even in times of peace.

I am not afraid to die at the hand of a terrorist tomorrow, having shared God’s love with someone today.

I am afraid to live to be a hundred and ten, never having shared God’s love.

I am not afraid to walk through the valley of death with my Jesus.

I am afraid to walk over the highest mountain without Jesus.

I am not afraid of my loved ones dying in an explosion tomorrow.

I am afraid of my loved ones living without Jesus.

I am not afraid of a terrorist taking my life away from me.

I am afraid of me taking my life away from Jesus.

I am not afraid of terrorists exhibiting hatred.

I am afraid of Christians not exhibiting love.

1 John 4:4   Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

1 John 4:18 -21 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

John 16:33   These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Psalms 91:5 tells us if we love God we do not need to fear terror. There were some that day who died, knowing they were saved and would see Jesus. For these precious souls the would be terrorists totally failed to terrorize.

Twice His

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. Genesis 2:1-3 NLT

I can imagine God walking Adam and Eve through the garden that very first Sabbath. Having been created the day before, Adam and Eve didn’t have a long week where they needed a physical rest. As God showed them all His works, that first Sabbath, they rested in the fact that it was God who made them and not they themselves. See Psalms 100:3

“It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit. John 19:30 NLT

When God had finished our creation He rested and gave us the Sabbath as a sign that He created us. We mark a year by the sun. We mark a month by the moon. We mark a day by the earth’s rotation. What do we have to mark a week? The Sabbath, which takes us to creation and reminds us that we have a Creator.

When Jesus finished the work of our redemption He again rested on the Sabbath, this time in a tomb. The Sabbath is not only a sign of God’s power to create, but also a sign of His power to redeem and make us holy.

Be careful to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you from generation to generation. It is given so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. Exodus 31:13 NLT

The story* goes of a little boy who had built a wooden sailboat and took it down to a creek by his home. He had tied a string to it so he could watch it float, and then reel it back in, but the string broke. His boat went sailing down the rapids and out of sight.
After doing several chores the boy earned the money to buy his boat back. He walked out of the story, clutching the boat to his heart, and was overheard saying, “Little boat you are twice mine. First I made you. Then I bought you.”A few days later the boy went window shopping with his father downtown, and he saw his boat in a toy store window. “That’s my boat!” The boy exclaimed. He went inside and told the store keeper, who informed him, that since he had no way to verify the boy’s story, if the boy wanted the boat back, he would have to buy it.

Today the Sabbath is a sign from God that we are twice His. Once, at creation He made us, then on the cross He bought us.

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

You can study more about the Sabbath here.

Triniti and Destini’s Baptism Pictures and Stories

There was much rejoicing in heaven and at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church today when Triniti and Destini both gave their entire lives to Jesus. Instead of waiting till they got old, and just give Jesus what is left of their lives, both Triniti and Destini have been taught in their home and church about Jesus giving all of Himself for them, and so they chose to give all of themselves to Him.

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Rachelle, was the Bible Worker who studied with Triniti and Destini’s mother, Gail, when she got baptized, and so it was a wonderful privilege for Rachelle to also get to study with Triniti and Destini as they prepared for their baptism.

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Pastor Brad went over the baptismal vows with Tiniti and Destini, as well as with Alexander who was already baptized at the pathfinder camp in Oshkosh, but was welcomed into membership today with the girls.

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Triniti writes: The main reason why I want to get baptized is that I finally came to realize,  I don’t live forever. Also it’s not guaranteed I’m going to wake up tomorrow. It’s a gift. So I want to live my life in honor of the man who died for me and helps me wake up every morning. I’m glad I’m getting baptized. I know it’s time. I also know it is the kingdom of the bronze and clay and when the boulder strikes the statue I want to go with God to heaven.

Right before Triniti’s baptism we prayed a special prayer for her, and asked God to baptize her with the Holy Spirit as I baptized her with water. 

Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him.  I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’  I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.” John 1:32-34 NLT 

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Destini writes: I wanna get baptized because I want to start a fresh new life. I want to start a new life with my Savior so when He comes He’ll take me with Him. 

Right before Destini’s baptism we prayed that God would always be with her, drawing her close to Him each and every day. Today Destini chose to follow Jesus, but God never turns us into a robot, so every day we are free to choose who we want to serve. Our prayer is that Destini will always choose to follow Jesus, just like she did today, and every day while preparing for this moment. 

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23 NLT 

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We had a special fellowship lunch today, where we prayed for those being baptized and awarded them with their baptism certificates. Liam, who was baptized in Camp Kulaqua, received his certificate as well today.

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Please don’t let the sun set on you today before you too make your decision to follow the only One who died to save you. Maybe you chose a long time ago to follow Jesus but have not been making that choice lately. I invite you to make that choice again today. Maybe you have never made that choice but would like to make it now, or would like to learn more about Jesus before you make that choice. I would love to hear from you. You can reach me at laypastor@TampaAdventist.net

If You Love Me…

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

When the officer heard about Jesus, he sent some respected Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his slave.  So they earnestly begged Jesus to help the man. “If anyone deserves your help, he does,” they said,  “for he loves the Jewish people and even built a synagogue for us.”  Luke 7:2-5 NLT

 

This story illustrates the difference between the gospel and legalism. Legalism tells us the officer has given so much that he deserves special treatment from Jesus. Meanwhile the gospel teaches us that Jesus helps those who need His help, regardless of who they are.

 

 So Jesus went with them. But just before they arrived at the house, the officer sent some friends to say, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor. Luke 7:6 NLT

 

While the Jewish elders thought the officer had earned special favors, the officer himself understood the gospel. The officer had no sense of entitlement because of his works. You may read on how Jesus heals his servant, but my point is that the officer was not giving for the sake of a reward or special treatment, but out of love.

Jesus says, 

 

 If you love me, obey my commandments.John 14:15

 

Notice Jesus does not say, “If you don’t want to go to hell, keep my commandments!” or “If you want to go to heaven, keep my commandments.” He says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

 

Keeping God’s commandments to get a reward does not make you a good person. Many people disobey God’s commands to get rewards. They cheat on their income tax reports to get a larger refund. They lie about achievements they have never attained to get praise from man. People who obey God for the sake of a reward will also just as easily disobey God if they could achieve a greater reward. Being motivated by the hope of a reward does not make you a good person fitted for the unselfish society of heaven.

 

Keeping God’s commandments out of fear of punishment does not make you a good person either. Remember in Daniel 3 the three Hebrew children were threatened with punishment if they did obey God! While they told the king that God would protect them, they also made it clear that was not the point.

 

He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”Daniel 3:17-18 NLT

 

The Hebrew children were obeying God out of love, no matter what. They were not motivated by hope of reward or fear of punishment. In the same way,

 

We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19 NKJV

 

Love to God is the very foundation of religion. To engage in His service merely from hope of reward or fear of punishment would avail nothing. -Ellen White, Patriarch and Prophets, Page 523.

 

It is not the fear of punishment, or the hope of everlasting reward, that leads the disciples of Christ to follow Him. They behold the Saviour’s matchless love, revealed throughout His pilgrimage on earth, from the manger of Bethlehem to Calvary’s cross, and the sight of Him attracts, it softens and subdues the soul. Love awakens in the heart of the beholders. They hear His voice, and they follow Him. -Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, Page 480.

 

Once, I was in a literature evangelist meeting with our conference president. We were discussing which book to promote. The Great Controversy or the Desire of Ages? Some people said the Great Controversy because it warns us about last-day events. I suggested the Desire of Ages because it helps us fall in love with Jesus, so that when last-day events occur, we will make the right choices for the right reasons – because we love Jesus. Unless we are in love with Jesus, knowledge about last-day events will avail nothing.

 

Here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:12 NKJV

 

All those who have faith in Jesus’ love keep His commandments.

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