The Type of Kingdom That Lasts Forever

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Daniel 2:1-48 is a prophecy that assures us God’s Kingdom is coming, and that it is coming soon. But that is not all it teaches. It also shows us the character of the people who make up God’s kingdom.

When the wise men could not tell Nebuchadnezzar his dream, Nebuchadnezzar orders all the wise men to be killed, and that included Daniel. When they went for Daniel this was the first he had heard about it and asked for time to tell the king his dream. When God showed Daniel the same dream the king had, notice Daniel’s response.

Then Daniel went in to see Arioch, whom the king had ordered to execute the wise men of Babylon. Daniel said to him, “Don’t kill the wise men. Take me to the king, and I will tell him the meaning of his dream.” Daniel 2:24 NLT

If I had been Daniel my first reaction would probably be to just get myself down to the king, tell him the dream and save my own neck! Not Daniel. His first reaction was to save the other wise men who were actually phony wise men. And so it is, that the wicked will never know how much they owe to the righteous for all the blessings they receive.

Remember when the disciples were with Jesus on that boat in the storm? They pleaded for Jesus to calm the storm and He did. When Jesus calmed the storm He did not just calm it for the disciples little boat. All the boats on the water in that storm enjoyed the peace and calm that the disciples requested.

It reminds me of a parable Jesus told about someone needing bread.

 “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.” Luke 11:5-8 NLT

The lesson here is not about persistence only. Jesus is telling us that God blesses our prayers when we are seeking to be a blessing to others. The person in the story is not just asking for bread for themselves. They are asking for bread to share with their friend. The disciples’ request on the stormy sea secured safety for everyone. Not just themselves.  Likewise Daniel’s prayer not only saved his life. It saved all the lives of the wicked wise men too. Now I wonder to myself. I realize these are Babylonian wise men, and it was actually the Persian leaders who had Daniel thrown in the Lion’s den, but is it possible that some of those men could possibly be some of the same men Daniel saved in Daniel 2? If so, then it shows us how God cares for us, even when we make ourselves vulnerable in caring for others.

Either way Daniel was being selfless in his prayer life and attitude towards others. His first concern was the wise men and not just saving his own neck. A careful Bible study of the image in Daniel 2, teaches us several things about the kingdom of God. It teaches us that while other nations rise and fall, that the kingdom of God will never fall. It is the only thing that is sure to last for ever. Spain won the world cup in 2010 but this year has already been eliminated. Fame and fortune is fleeting in this world. Even though the men tried to kill Daniel he was the lone survivor. Likewise while people try to destroy God’s kingdom, it is the only kingdom which endures forever.

 Those who are righteous will be long remembered. Psalms 112:6 NLT

Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor. The wicked will see this and be infuriated. They will grind their teeth in anger; they will slink away, their hopes thwarted. Psalms 112:9-10 NLT

Daniel 2 also teaches us that we are living in the days of the toes. The next event in this prophecy is the coming of God’s kingdom, and we can be sure, that just as accurately as every other kingdom in this prophecy has come and gone, that God’s kingdom is surely coming and will never end.

Just as importantly as the accuracy of the prediction about the nearness of the kingdom is the description of those who make up the kingdom. All who make up the kingdom of God will be like Daniel. People whose first thoughts, even in the face of death, is for the welfare of others and not just their own. People who have a prayer life that seeks to bless others and not just themselves. Those are the people who will last forever.

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

Who is The “Man of Sin?” Could it be you?

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Monday’s section of this week’s SS lesson asks the question, “In what subtle ways are each of us susceptible to having the same kind of attitude as we see revealed here in this “man of sin”?

As Adventists, we often think of the anti-Christ as the leader of a system reveled in the book of Revelation. While Revelation does identify a specific leader within a specific system, setting himself up as God, and thus an anti-Christ, John the revelator also tells us in 1 John 2:18, “even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” So the Scriptures warn of many anti-Christs.  So who are all these anti-Christs?

To answer this question, let’s back up a little bit. In studying the three angels message, we see that a so called religious system, Babylon falls. Again we know from studying Revelation that this is a specific system. However, we also see that this system has an attitude. That attitude is legalism. Man- made laws, man- made day of worship, leading to a man -made way of salvation, outside of trusting in the merits of Jesus and His blood.  While Revelation pinpoints this system, that fact is clear, that this attitude can be found in other systems as well, and history has proven it has been. Were not the Sadducees and Pharisees making their own laws and trusting their own works for salvation? Yet they were not Babylon. So could it be that if I am not careful to crucify self and die daily, that this same attitude of Babylon could be found in my heart too?

So, if it is possible for me to have the attitude of Babylon, would it also be possible for me to have the same attitude as the anti-Christ, thus making me one of many anti-Christs? An anti-Christ is someone who sets himself up as Christ, just as the man of sin mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”  Here we see that the man of sin, or anti-Christ sits in the place of God. So how could I possibly be an anti-Christ, sitting in the place of God? Isaiah 33:22 tells us; “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver.” Our Lord God is our lawgiver and judge. So, when I set myself up as judge of other peoples motives, or think that I can interpret the law for everybody, I am usurping the seat of God and setting myself up as God, and thus becoming an anti-Christ!

Like Babylon, Anti-Christ is more than a system. It is an attitude. In the book, Great Controversy, Pages 292-3, Ellen White explains, that while the pilgrims came to the new world, to escape the anti-Christ, that they carried the attitude of anti-Christ with them to the New World. “It was the desire for liberty of conscience that inspired the Pilgrims to brave the perils of the long journey across the sea, to endure the hardships and dangers of the wilderness, and with God’s blessing to lay, on the shores of America, the foundation of a mighty nation. Yet honest and God-fearing as they were, the Pilgrims did not yet comprehend the great principle of religious liberty. The freedom which they sacrificed so much to secure for themselves, they were not equally ready to grant to others. “Very few, even of the foremost thinkers and moralists of the seventeenth century, had any just conception of that grand principle, the outgrowth of the New Testament, which acknowledges God as the sole judge of human faith.”–Ibid., vol. 5, p. 297. The doctrine that God has committed to the church the right to control the conscience, and to define and punish heresy, is one of the most deeply rooted of papal errors.”

2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that the Scriptures are profitable for doctrine and correction. I can only define God’s law by what is in the Scriptures , but not by my personal opinions or traditions, like the Pharisees in Christ’s time, and religious leaders in the dark ages did.  I am not the interpreter of the law for the whole world, nor, can I think to change times and laws to meet with my own opinions or inclinations. Simply put, I am not the lawgiver, and cannot judge people by my own standards. Also, while open sin must be dealt with, according to 1 Corinthians 6, as a church we may have to address outward actions, but I as an individual cannot judge inward motives. In judging outward actions we must still be careful. Joseph almost put poor Mary away thinking he had all the evidence of an affair. Even with his overwhelming evidence he was wrong! Even with all his evidence he tried to put her away privately without any public embarrassment. What a great example for us to imitate. Even with his overwhelming evidence, Joseph was not going to judge Mary’s heart.

In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul teaches churches, not individuals to judge open and outward actions very carefully. Paul teaches no one to judge the heart and inward motives. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us God and the Scriptures alone tell us what is right and wrong. I am not the lawgiver or the interpreter of the law for the rest of the world.  The Lord our God is our lawgiver and judge. When we judge people according to our own standards, opinions and understanding, we usurp the throne of God and become an anti-Christ.

Worship: Revelation 13-14;The Three Angels Message and the Gospel’s Triumph Over Babylon’s Legalsim

Cruise Ship 002I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The Three Angels’ Messages in Light of the Cross

 

Thoughts on this week’s SS lesson.  Download App. for cell phone here. 

And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,  Revelation 14:6 

Who is this first angel and who are the three angels? Revelation 1:20 says that the seven stars are the seven angels of the seven churches. So an angel would be like a leader or messenger to a church. Therefore an angel according to Revelation could be extra-terrestrial or terrestrial. I believe the three angels in Revelation 14 are terrestrial and even more specifically they make up the message that the Seventh-day Adventist church has to give to the world. These angels are sent out after the rise of the United States in Revelation 13, so this would also fit the time prophecy. The Seventh-day Adventist church has a very important message to give to the world so let’s see what it is.

 

The first angel has the everlasting gospel. Now don’t all churches have the gospel? Yes they do. Many people will be in the kingdom because a Baptist, Methodist, Catholic or Lutheran etc. missionary shared the love of God with them. However, as the book of Revelation changes scenes from the dark ages to the earth being “lightened with His glory” the gospel will be shining brighter than ever before. The brightness of the gospel casts away the shadows of legalism. The everlasting gospel which the Seventh-day Adventist church shares, overcomes the legalism of Babylon as it is filled with grace and the glory of God and not the works of man. It is void of man’s traditions and inventions and shows the love of God more clearly than the gospels presented by most other churches. First of all many churches preach that Jesus died for us then turn around and tell us you don’t really die. If that is the case then Jesus did not die for us. Many churches preach that sinners will be eternally tormented in hell while John 3:16 which is the crux of the gospel says, no, sinners will perish. Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death, not eternal torment in hell. Its hard to fall in love with a God who has a love me or I’ll kill you or torment you for eternity in hell mentality. While sin and those who cling to it at any cost must perish, God will not be delighting in their eternal torture. The punishment, which is death is eternal, the punishing is not.

 

Many churches focus on the physical torture Jesus endured which was terrible, but do not realize that Jesus endured way more than a six hour pain endurance marathon. Hebrews 2:9 tells us Jesus tasted death for all men. It obviously was not the death of the righteous that He tasted, we all taste that first death for ourselves. Obadiah 16 tells us the wicked will be as though they never were. Jesus faced more than nail scared hands and feet on the cross. He tasted the death of the wicked which means He was facing going into total oblivion and being as though He had never existed. This could be why He was crying out, “My God My God why have You forsaken me” instead of singing hymns of praise while He died like John Huss did. You see, Jesus died a totally different death than John Huss. John Huss died the death of the righteous while he burned at the stake for his faith. Jesus was dying the death of the wicked.

 

Many teach that Jesus saves us in our sins while Matthew 1:21 tells us clearly that Jesus will save us from our sins. We can’t call Jesus a Savior unless He actually saves us, and according to Ephesians 2:1-10 we are saved by grace. What His grace saves us from is our sinful lifestyle.

 

So we see, Seventh-day Adventists not only teach a different day of worship, we teach the fullness of the cross. 

Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.  Revelation 14:7

 

This angel is telling us of the judgment which began in 1844. Interestingly the angel says the hour of His judgment has come. What does this mean? It means God is the one being judged! The judgment is not to see if God will accept us, Ephesians 1:6 tells us we are already accepted in Beloved. The judgment is to see if we will accept God. Seventh-day Adventists preach a time of probation, but many do not realize that it is actually God who is on probation. He is being judged by the world. Is God a mean control freak tyrant that Satan makes Him out to be or He is a God of love? Is God a good God or some psychopath saying “love me or I’ll kill you”?

 

Satan first attacked the character of God in heaven. Revelation 12 says there was war in heaven, but not with machine guns and tanks, it was a battle of the minds. Satan wanted God’s power but not his character. I can see Satan playing mind games with the angels. I can see him going up to one of the other angels and saying, “You did a great job on that project God gave you. Did God give you any special recognition for it? He didn’t? Why that’s too bad. You know if I was God I would have thrown a banquet in your honor.” And so Satan started these mind games trying to make the angels believe that he should be God and that God was not a God of love who was interested in their welfare. Satan gets a third of the angels to buy his lie. There may have been some angels who stayed in heaven but were not convinced who was right or wrong, until the cross, where the whole universe saw the true character of Satan who was willing to kill anyone who got in his way of being number one, and the true character of God who was willing to die on a cross and say goodbye to life forever is He could save others.

 

This is why Satan does not want us to understand the everlasting gospel. The everlasting gospel tells the truth about the character of God and the character of Satan. In the hour of His judgment those who clearly understand the everlasting gospel, free of legalism will be able to judge that God is indeed a God of love and accept Him. By the way, when we accept God we accept more than eternal life, we accept God Himself along with all of His righteousness and goodness and power to live a victorious life.

 

The second half of this verse, “: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” reminds us of the language used in the fourth commandment about the Sabbath. Many times we quote the fourth commandment from Exodus 20: 8-11 but let’s take a look at it in this formant from Deuteronomy 5:12-15. “Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day [is] the sabbath of the LORD thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and [that] the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.” God is reminding Israel that He saved them from the slavery of the Egyptians and that it was not their works that saved them. Likewise God Himself will save us from the slavery of sin, by His grace and not by our works. The Sabbath is clearly a sign that it is God who sanctifies us and not our own works. We see this also in Exodus 31:13. We rest from our works on the Sabbath remembering that our salvation comes from resting our faith in His amazing grace and not in trusting our works to save us.

 

The Sabbath also reminds us of our Ceator whom Satan wants us to forget. If the Sabbath had never been forgotten atheism would never exist. For example we use the sun to mark a year, the moon marks a month and the earth’s rotation marks a day, but what do we have to mark a week? The only thing we have to mark a week by is the creation week which ends with the seventh day Sabbath. So how do atheists explain the seven day week?  During the reign of terror the French tried to do away with the seven day week and replace it with a ten day week. This did not work. The Sabbath reminds us that we have a Creator who did all the work in creating us and that we did not make ourselves by our own works. The Sabbath even more so reminds us that we were redeemed by the works and sacrifice of our Creator and not by our own works.

 

And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.  Revelation 14:8

 

Many say that Babylon means confusion. Well it may, but it is not so much confusion about certain doctrines as much as it is about the gospel itself. Legalism mixes our works with God’s grace and it gets confusing. In Galatians 2:20 Paul gives us the pure gospel when he says, “NOT I but Christ.” So many of us want to make it a combination of me plus Christ. Problem is, anytime I make “me” a part of the gospel I have a corrupt gospel because “me” is corrupt. Does this mean doing away with good works? Not at all! It just means realizing that it is God who is working in us and not us. Philippians 2:13

 

Babylon actually means “gate to God” or works, or better yet legalism. Seventh-day Adventists often teach that Babylon is a religious system which it is, but it is more than that, it is an attitude, and attitude that can be found in any system. Babylon is the attitude that I can save myself by my own works. It began with the tower of Babel. Babe meaning gate and El meaning God. At the tower of Babel man decided they could work and build their own way to heaven. They did not think they could trust God to save them from another flood so they decided to build a tower and by their works save themselves. Cain had the attitude of Babylon when he brought the works of his field and offered them as a system of worship while God could only accept Abel’s sacrifice which was a lamb, pointing to the Lamb of God who could only save. Since then man has been presenting his own system of worship and even day of worship thinking he can save himself by inventing his own religion instead of accepting the gospel.

 

Years later Daniel chapter one tells us that God gave Jerusalem into Nebuchadnezzar’s hands, but in Daniel Chapter four Nebuchadnezzar says “is this not Babylon which I have made?” And God says, “No! I made it and gave it to you.” But here is the attitude of Babylon again that it is my works that are saving me. During the dark ages people were taught that their works would save them instead of the gospel. People were taught they could buy and work their way to heaven. They were also given a work day to worship instead of the Sabbath day of rest. So they were like Cain, worshiping their works instead of our Creator and Redeemer. When the everlasting gospel is proclaimed in all its glory Babylon will fall! Man will see that we are not saved by our own religious works and inventions but rather are saved by the grace of God alone!

 

The third angel’s message assures us of the victory of grace over the legalism of Babylon.

 

Christ’s humble servant writes: 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.”– The Review and Herald, April 1, 1890. {1SM 372.2}

If you are like me, your first glance at the third angel’s message does not make you think of justification by faith. As a matter of fact many people get wrapped up in works over this passage. Let’s take another look and see why Its not about works but rather justification by faith.

 

Revelation 14:9-12 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive [his] mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

 

The beast is the papacy. The mark is Sunday observance as opposed to the seal of God, which is Sabbath observance. The third angel’s message is justification by faith in verity because those who refuse the mark of the beast will not be allowed to buy or sell or do any business to provide for themselves or their families. They will be resting on the Sabbath and not working. Therefore they trust God to provide for them, and not their own works. This is justification by faith. Those who accept the mark so that they can buy and sell are not resting in Jesus or trusting Him to provide for them. Rather they are saying, “I do not trust Jesus to provide for me, so I am accepting the mark so that I can work and provide for myself. This is salvation by works.

 

It is very important to notice that the ones who accept the mark and are trying to be saved by their works are rejecting the cross of Christ. The “cup of His indignation” is the cup that Jesus asked to be passed from Him, in Gethsemane. However, He drank that cup for us, at Calvary. Those who reject the seal of God, and the Sabbath are really rejecting the cross. They say, “I will accept the mark of the beast and provide my own salvation.” When they do this they reject the Salvation provided at Calvary, and instead of letting Jesus drink that cup for them, they must drink it themselves!

 

After all, if you do not trust Jesus enough to provide your daily bread, but rather accept the mark so that you can do business and put bread on the table yourself, how can you trust Him to provide for your eternal salvation? On the other hand, by rejecting the mark (works) and keeping the Sabbath and seal of God we are accepting the cross and justification by faith. Jesus drinks the cup mentioned in the third angel’s message so we don’t have to! We can all exclaim with Abraham at Moriah, “Jehovahjireh” My Lord Will provide!”

 

The third angel’s message is the climax of the battle between faith and works. For centuries man has been taught by tradition to save himself by worshiping a man made religion and even a man made Sabbath which is Sunday. Those who put their faith in Jesus triumph over the legalism of man made religions as they rest their faith in the One who gave all to save them. They cherish His Sabbath which is a sign that we are not saved by works but rather by His amazing grace!

Garments of Grace; Elijah and Elisha’s Mantle

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This week’s SS lesson, (download the SS app here) dwells on one of the low points of Elijah’s life when he was discouraged and actually asked to die! (1 Kings 19:4). Kewl thing is, God did not grant Elijah’s request. Instead of giving Elijah what he asked for, God takes him to heaven in a chariot. Elijah, who asked to die, is one of only three men who have ever left this world without ever having to die first! I am glad God deals with us in the same way, often giving us something much better than what we are asking for ourselves. While Elijah’s prayer  was indeed foolish, let’s not be too critical. Consider what he was up against.

 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, [Art] thou he that troubleth Israel?  And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim. 1 Kings 18: 17-18

“In every generation God has sent His servants to rebuke sin, both in the world and in the church. But the people desire smooth things spoken to them, and the pure, unvarnished truth is not acceptable. Many reformers, in entering upon their work, determined to exercise great prudence in attacking the sins of the church and the nation. They hoped, by the example of a pure Christian life, to lead the people back to the doctrines of the Bible. But the Spirit of God came upon them as it came upon Elijah, moving him to rebuke the sins of a wicked king and an apostate people; they could not refrain from preaching the plain utterances of the Bible– doctrines which they had been reluctant to present. They were impelled to zealously declare the truth and the danger which threatened souls. The words which the Lord gave them they uttered, fearless of consequences, and the people were compelled to hear the warning. 

     Thus the message of the third angel will be proclaimed. As the time comes for it to be given with greatest power, the Lord will work through humble instruments, leading the minds of those who consecrate themselves to His service. The laborers will be qualified rather by the unction of His Spirit than by the training of literary institutions. Men of faith and prayer will be constrained to go forth with holy zeal, declaring the words which God gives them. The sins of Babylon will be laid open. The fearful results of enforcing the observances of the church by civil authority, the inroads of spiritualism, the stealthy but rapid progress of the papal power–all will be unmasked. By these solemn warnings the people will be stirred. Thousands upon thousands will listen who have never heard words like these. In amazement they

  hear the testimony that Babylon is the church, fallen because of her errors and sins, because of her rejection of the truth sent to her from heaven. As the people go to their former teachers with the eager inquiry, Are these things so? the ministers present fables, prophesy smooth things, to soothe their fears and quiet the awakened conscience. But since many refuse to be satisfied with the mere authority of men and demand a plain “Thus saith the Lord,” the popular ministry, like the Pharisees of old, filled with anger as their authority is questioned, will denounce the message as of Satan and stir up the sin-loving multitudes to revile and persecute those who proclaim it. 

     As the controversy extends into new fields and the minds of the people are called to God’s downtrodden law, Satan is astir. The power attending the message will only madden those who oppose it. The clergy will put forth almost superhuman efforts to shut away the light lest it should shine upon their flocks. By every means at their command they will endeavor to suppress the discussion of these vital questions. The church appeals to the strong arm of civil power, and, in this work, papists and Protestants unite. As the movement for Sunday enforcement becomes more bold and decided, the law will be invoked against commandment keepers. They will be threatened with fines and imprisonment, and some will be offered positions of influence, and other rewards and advantages, as inducements to renounce their faith. But their steadfast answer is: “Show us from the word of God our error”–the same plea that was made by Luther under similar circumstances. Those who are arraigned before the courts make a strong vindication of the truth, and some who hear them are led to take their stand to keep all the commandments of God. Thus light will be brought  before thousands who otherwise would know nothing of these truths.”   —- Great Controversy pages 606- 607