Is Truth a Popularity Contest?

And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. Revelation 13:8 NLT

Sadly many put their confidence in popular opinion, while the Bible tells us the vast majority of the world will worship the beast.

Interestingly while Jesus claimed to be God, the majority accused Him of blasphemy and had  Him crucified for making such a claim. Later the beast claims to be God, but, instead of accusing him of blasphemy, the majority worships him. Truth is clearly not a popularity contest. 

Occasionally, at church or the Adventist school where I teach Bible and evangelism, someone will ask me, “What do we believe about such and such?” My response has always been, “I don’t know what you believe, but here is what I and many Seventh-day Adventists believe,” and I show them in the Bible what I believe and why. I am not going to tell someone what they believe. That is not teaching. That’s brainwashing.  Besides truth is not truth just because everyone in the Adventist church believes it. Truth is not a popularity contest in the church or the world. Truth is truth only if the Bible supports it. 

During the Dark Ages, when people did not have access to the Bible, people trusted their priests to tell them what they believed, and because of that there was a lot of brainwashing going on.

Even before the Dark Ages, priests abused their authority, and tried to brainwash people into believing whatever they believed. This happened in Jesus’ day when those in “authority” were trying to capture Jesus.

When the Temple guards returned without having arrested Jesus, the leading priests and Pharisees demanded, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”

“We have never heard anyone speak like this!” the guards responded.

“Have you been led astray, too?” the Pharisees mocked. “Is there a single one of us rulers or Pharisees who believes in him? John 7:45-48 NLT

The guards experienced and heard the Word of God speaking to them and believed. Since the Pharisees did not want to believe, they mocked at this. In John 7 the Pharisees misconstrued Scripture to try and prove their point, but amazingly, instead of hanging their hat on Scripture, they hung it on the fact that none of the rulers or leaders believed. Is truth a popularity contest? If everyone  else believes something is it right, and if no one else believes it, then is it wrong? Is that how it works? 

The number of people who believe something simply because everyone else believes it is staggering. Take the state of the dead for example. Years ago I attended the funeral of a dear Adventist saint. Her family believed in the immortality of the soul and asked the Adventist preacher doing her funeral to “put her in heaven now.” The pastor replied that he could not do that since it simply is not true. However he told them he believed in liberty of conscience and freedom of speech so if one of them wanted to stand up and say she was in heaven, they could. So one of the family members stood up and talked about how her grandmother was now in heaven. I remember she kept saying “we cling to this!” Very emphatically, yet she gave no Scriptural reference other than that is what everyone believes. So I am not sure exactly what it was she was clinging to other than popular belief. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul tells us to “comfort each other with these words” about the resurrection. Sadly instead of comforting each other with the words Paul told us to use to comfort each other, many people use phrases about going straight to heaven when you die that are nowhere in the Bible and Paul nor anyone else ever suggested that we use. Sadly those phrases have been used so often that people believe it  because they have heard it so many times. 

When it comes to Sabbath keeping, I have heard so many people say that Sunday must be the true day because the whole world can’t be wrong. They forget that at the time of the flood only 8 people were right! Truth is not a popularity contest. 

And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. Acts 17:11 NLT

Like the temple guards, the Bereans were interested in new ideas as long as they were found in Scripture. They didn’t believe something because Paul and Silas believed it or because a ruler did. On their own they searched the Scriptures daily to find truth.

I have heard Seventh-day Adventists telling their Baptist and Methodist friends to search the Bible for themselves because their pastors could be wrong. I have watched some of the same Seventh-day Adventists listening to their own favorite Adventist preachers, without bothering to search the Scriptures, because, after all, their pastor is Adventist, so he is automatically right, right? Wrong! We all make mistakes, as we all continue to learn and grow.

Let’s not be like the foolish Pharisees in John 7, who hung their hats on how many people believed or did not believe something. Truth is not a popularity contest. Let’s search the Scriptures ourselves to find truth. 

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

We are all Fallible

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In my ministry I have met people who claim the Adventist church is Babylon. I have also met people who think the Adventist church is infallible. Both ideas are wrong. The Adventist church is not Babylon, but it is not infallible either. Just because the Adventist  church is not Babylon does not mean it does not make mistakes. Remember at the cross it was not Babylon crying out “Crucify Him!” It was God’s chosen remnant people. The commander of the Lord’s army realized the fallibility of God’s chosen people when He met Joshua one day.

When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?” “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord’s army.” Joshua 5:13-14 NLT

“Neither one?” Seems like the Commander was taking a neutral stance on the situation. We can’t assume just because we are God’s chosen people that He is always on our side. Sometimes we are right. Sometimes we are wrong. Sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes our foes do the right thing. God loves everyone in the world, not just us. I believe it was Abraham Lincoln who is credited with saying, “The question is not if God is on my side but rather if I’m on His.”

Throughout history God had to punish His own people. Today when people tell me how “corrupt” the church has become, I ask them, when was the church ever perfect? When harlots got their business at the temple doors during Eli’s day? When God had to let Babylon destroy His holy nation because of their habitual apostasy and idolatry?  When people tell me the Adventist church has strayed too far from what it used to be, and we need to go back to how it was in the days of Ellen White, I ask them, “You mean when God had to destroy the Adventist publishing house with fire because they would not follow inspired counsel?”

In Ezra’s day it was no different.

When these things had been done, the Jewish leaders came to me and said, “Many of the people of Israel, and even some of the priests and Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the other peoples living in the land. They have taken up the detestable practices of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites. For the men of Israel have married women from these people and have taken them as wives for their sons. So the holy race has become polluted by these mixed marriages. Worse yet, the leaders and officials have led the way in this outrage.” Ezra 9:1-2 NLT

When the leaders and the majority of those in the church fall away from the truth no one detects it as apostasy because the apostasy becomes mainstream. Therefore apostasy looks normal. The only way to detect apostasy is to stop looking at the leaders and the majority, and look at the Word of God.

Years ago I attended a health seminar, where a doctor told us that many  Americans are obese and are close to having a heart attack. They don’t understand how unhealthy they are because they are no more obese than everyone around them, not realizing everyone around them is also on the verge of a heart attack. Just because obesity is mainstream in American culture does not make it healthy or any less deadly. It is the same with sin in the church.

In Ezra’s day there was a reformation as they stopped looking at those around them as role models and began comparing themselves to the Word of God. So today, we can have a reformation like never before as we compare ourselves to God’s Word instead of each other. In Daniel 9 Daniel confesses that his people have corporately sinned, and included himself as part of the sin problem. Nehemiah as well as Ezra brought about a great reformation, but even Nehemiah saw himself as part of the sin problem  when he prayed,

Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! Nehemiah 1:6 NLT

While praying for reformation in the church we must confess our individual sins as well as the sins of the church. We can’t divide the church into camps and then say God is on my camp’s side, because God is not choosing sides today anymore than He was in Joshua’s day.  Sometimes we are right. Sometimes we are wrong. That goes for all of us. We are all fallible. We all make mistakes. That is why Jesus never told us to follow Christian leaders. He told us to follow Him. For true reformation we must recognize our own guilt and apostasy. We must not set ourselves or anyone else up as an example to follow. We must follow Jesus and His Word alone.

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

When You Work For Jesus You Will Always Have Friends

 

Journalling Through Revelation in the Tampa Bay area.

Journalling Through Revelation in the Tampa Bay area.

Even in Patmos he [John] made friends and converts. –Acts of the Apostles, Page 573

It’s good to know, no matter where we end up, God will always make sure we have friends we can share Jesus with.

You may study more on Revelation here. 

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.