Revelation 10; Spreading the Good News

I am writing this morning from the beautiful Tampa First SDA Church.

And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. Revelation 10:11

 We are to give the last warning of God to men, and what should be our earnestness in studying the Bible and our zeal in spreading the light! Let every soul who has received the divine illumination seek to impart it. Let the workers go from house to house, opening the Bible to the people, circulating the publications, telling others of the light that has blessed their own souls. Let literature be distributed judiciously, on the trains, in the street, on the great ships that ply the sea, and through the mails.  {9T 122.3} 
     A great work is to be done, and those who know the truth should make mighty intercession for help. The love of Christ must fill their own hearts. The Spirit of Christ must be poured out upon them, and they must be making ready to stand in the judgment. As they consecrate themselves to God, a convincing power will attend their efforts to present the truth to others. We must no longer sleep on Satan’s enchanted ground, but call into requisition all our resources, availing ourselves of every facility with which Providence has furnished us. The last warning is to be proclaimed before “many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings,” and the promise is given, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Revelation 10:11; Matthew 28:20.  {9T 12} 

 The Lord will fit men and women–yes, and children, as He did Samuel–for His work, making them His messengers. He who never slumbers or sleeps watches over each worker, choosing his sphere of labor. All heaven is watching the warfare which, under apparently discouraging circumstances, God’s servants are carrying on. New conquests are being achieved, new honors won, as the Lord’s servants, rallying round the banner of their Redeemer, go forth to fight the good fight of faith. All the heavenly angels are at the service of the humble, believing people of God; and as the Lord’s army of workers here below sing their songs of praise, the choir above join with them in thanksgiving, ascribing praise to God and to His Son. {7T 71}

As well as carrying out my regular responsibilities as a Bible Worker at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, I have also been teaching the young people at Tampa Adventist Academy to mark their Bibles and give Bible studies. This week I have begun a baptism class with about 28 kids. Seven of them have already been baptized but wanted to take the class as a “refresher course.” I decided to let them attend but to also have them help Pastor Brad and me in actually doing some of the presentations! I have made Power Point Presentations out of the In Light of The Cross Bible study guides, so each baptized student will have an opportunity to give a lesson in the baptism class. I was amazed how excited the kids were to do this!

Revelation 8; Praying Families

 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.  And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer [it] with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, [which came] with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast [it] into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.  Revelation 8:1-5

Like the patriarchs of old, those who profess to love God should erect an altar to the Lord wherever they pitch their tent. . . . Fathers and mothers should often lift up their hearts to God in humble supplication for themselves and their children. Let the father, as priest of the household, lay upon the altar of God the morning and evening sacrifice, while the wife and children unite in prayer and praise. In such a household Jesus will love to tarry. 

     Let the members of every family bear in mind that they are closely allied to heaven. The Lord has a special interest in the families of His children here below. Angels offer the smoke of the fragrant incense for the praying saints. Then in every family let prayer ascend to heaven both in the morning and at the cool sunset hour, in our behalf presenting before God the Saviour’s merits. Morning and evening the heavenly universe take notice of every praying household.  {Child Guidance, p. 519} 

Revelation 7; The Seal of God

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.  And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: [and there were] sealed an hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.  Of the tribe of Juda [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar [were] sealed twelve thousand.  Of the tribe of Zabulon [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin [were] sealed twelve thousand.  After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;  And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and [about] the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, [be] unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.  Revelation 7:1-17

Before Christ returns, He seals His people with His character so they can stand when he appears. The tribes represent different characteristics. People will come from all walks of life and have their characters sealed with the character of Christ. These do not merely follow a church, they follow the Lamb wherever He goes. The lamb feeds them His righteousness so that they do not hunger and thirst for righteousness anymore. He leads them to the living water of life. He wipes away the tears from their eyes.

Many people get wrapped un in the number of the 144,000. Will it be a literal number or is it a symbolic number? I believe it has to be a symbolic number while others argue that if God is going to save 144,000 in the last days, after only saving 8 in the flood, that He sure has his work cut out for Him! I believe in the power of the cross and that a numberless multitude will be saved. Either way I believe, as we study Revelation, we should pay more attention to the character of the 144,000 and not so much the number.

Garments of Grace; In The Loom of Heaven

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

To download the SS lessons to your cell phone click here.

This week’s SS lesson brings out the wonderful balance of the gospel. I will never forget the night long ago now, that I was at the bedside of a dying saint. Her pastor told her over and over to rest in Jesus and His love. While she was dying she would smile a gentle smile when the pastor mentioned Jesus. As the pastor told her to rest in God’s grace, he never mentioned once all the wonderful works this lady did for the church and community. She died that night clinging to the cross alone. Yet she did do many wonderful things while alive, not to be saved, but because she was saved!

While we can never earn salvation by our goodness, we must not get the idea that the robe of righteousness which Jesus gives us to wear is a cloak to cover un-confessed sins. In Zechariah 3, Joshua has his filthy garments removed before the robe of Christ’s righteousness is put on him. While Joshua could do nothing to make himself clean, God could and did.

Thursday’s lesson deals with two extremes, cheap grace and legalism. I would like to share some comparisons I put together a few years ago to help us understand this important topic.

First, the Gospel Versus Legalism: 

Legalism: We make sacrifices to obtain God’s love. 

The Gospel:  God provided a sacrifice to obtain OUR love.   Romans 5:10-12:  “ For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only [so], but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” In pagan religions the sacrifice enables the god to love the humans, while in Christianity the cross enables the humans to love their God.

 

Legalism: We keep the commandments in order to be saved. 

The Gospel: We keep the commandments because we love Jesus.  John  14:15:  “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

 

Legalism: We want to get sin out of our lives because of the investigative judgment. 

The Gospel: We want to get sin out of our lives because sin crucifies Jesus.  Isaiah  53:4-6:  “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

 

Legalism: We want to give our heart to Jesus today because He is coming soon. 

The Gospel: We want to give our heart to Jesus today because He loves us. 1 John 4:19:  “We love him, because he first loved us.”

 

Legalism: Good behavior is motivated by a hope of reward or fear of punishment. 

The Gospel: Good behavior is motivated by our love for Jesus regardless of consequences.  2 Corinthians 5:14:  “For the love of Christ constraineth us.”

 

 

Legalism: God’s grace is a response to our faith. 

The Gospel: Our faith is a response to God’s grace. Ephesians 2 :8-9:  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

 

 

Legalism:   Me plus Christ. 

The Gospel:  NOT I, BUT CHRIST.   Galatians 2:20:  “ I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet NOT I, BUT CHRIST  liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

 

Legalism: Self- centered. Obedience according to my own standards, in my own power, for my own glory. 

The Gospel: God- centered. Obedience according to God’s standards, in His power for His glory. “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:11

 

 

Legalism: All about pride and rewards. 

The Gospel: All about love and humility.  

The Gospel Versus Cheap Grace

 

In Matthew 24:14 Jesus says “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Inspiration tells us that at the end of time every wind of doctrine will be blowing.  Even in the days of Jude, He tells us, “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness…” Jude 4. So, how can we tell the Gospel of grace that Jesus and Jude talk about from the lasciviousness or “cheap grace” that has ”crept in unawares” ? Let’s take a look: 

 Grace: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people FROM their sins.” Matthew 1:21

 Cheap Grace: And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people IN their sins.

 

 

Grace: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2: 8-10

 Cheap Grace:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: 

Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Cheap Grace leaves out verse 10.)

 

 

Grace: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Titus 2: 11, 12 

Cheap Grace: For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, we can only deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, live soberly, righteously, and godly, NOT in this present world but after the Second Coming of Jesus.

 

Grace: “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name.” Romans 1:5 

Cheap Grace: By whom we have received grace and apostleship….

 

 

Grace: “The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17

 Cheap Grace: The UNjust shall live by faith.   Note: The just are those who are obedient and right with God. Paul says they maintain their obedience and relationship with God by faith. That is how they stay just. If faith and grace covered those who continue to live in disobedience, then Paul would have to say the UNjust shall live by faith.

 

 

Grace: “Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.  And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.” Zechariah 3:3-4   Note: In the genuine gospel the angel is instructed to take away the filthy garments before the clean garments are given. God’s grace is not a cloak for sin.

 Cheap Grace: Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.   And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, I will cover your filthy garments with white raiment.

 

 

Grace: “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Hebrews 5:9

 Cheap Grace: And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all who just believe.

 

 

Grace: “[There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1 

Cheap Grace: [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, even if they continue in the flesh.

Revelation 4-6; Worthy is the Lamb!

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Revelation 4-6.

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.  And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?  And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.  Revelation 5:1-4

In Bible times a seal was also a title or a deed. The title in question is the destiny of this earth. The people of earth had put their destiny in Satan’s hands and who could reverse it?

And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.  And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four [and] twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.  And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.  Revelation 5:6-10

Jesus is the Lamb who has taken our destiny out of the hands of Satan! Jesus, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, (Rev.13:8) controls your destiny now. Sure, we never become robots, and you can choose at any time to place your destiny back in the hands of Satan if you want, but Jesus, on the cross has totally undone all the damage caused in the Garden of Eden and has redeemed you!

Revelation chapters 6-8 cover the seven seals. The seventh seal is the second coming of Jesus. For more commentary on these chapters, may I suggest the book, Daniel and Revelation, by Uriah Smith?

And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;  And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:  Revelation 6:14-16

I cannot imagine anything more heartbreaking or tragic, than for me to want to ask for rocks and stones to fall on me and hide me from the One who saved me! I want to run to Jesus when He comes and thank Him for dying for me! I do not want to run and hide from the One who gave everything to save me. Friend, Jesus died for you. He loves you! Please do not run and hide from Him!

Revelation 6 ends with the question, “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:17 This question is answered in chapter 7 of Revelation. In Chapter 8 the seventh seal is completed, which is the second coming.

Revelation 3; Why Are We Lukewarm?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.     Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.  Revelation 3:14-21

This is the last of the seven churches, and represents the last church of the Christian era. In every letter to every church, Jesus asks them to overcome, but in His letter to His last day church, He asks them to overcome, “even as also I overcame.” He is asking His last day church to do something beyond what He has ever asked any church to do before. He is asking them to perfectly reflect His character to a world dying for the hope only He can bring. This can only be done by casting away our so called righteousness for His true righteousness. That is what makes us so lukewarm, we are trying to be like God while still trying to be filled with self. We buy God’s gold and white raiment, by trading in our pride and self-righteousness.

We see in this letter, that there is hope! While Jesus does not paint a pretty picture of our condition, He implies that through His grace He expects to see us overcome! I remember when working at UPS once as a part time supervisor, my full time supervisor was rebuking me for a mistake I made. He seemed to be a little rough on me, but he ended the conversation by saying, “When you become a full time supervisor you will understand what I am talking about.” So while my boss did not paint a pretty picture of my current situation, he also implied he expected me to perform better and get promoted! If we study this letter to Laodicea carefully, we can see all the things Jesus can do for  and through us once we put self away.

God’s ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This command is a promise. The plan of redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan. Christ always separates the contrite soul from sin. He came to destroy the works of the devil, and He has made provision that the Holy Spirit shall be imparted to every repentant soul, to keep him from sinning.  {Desire of Ages, p. 311}