Is the coronavirus one of the last plagues of Revelation? Is there still time to be saved? let’s take a look at what the Bible says.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV
I often read this passage thinking of Jesus talking to the worldwide church, but reality is, verse 16 tells us Jesus said this to 11 humble fishermen. That was the worldwide church! He told 11 humble fishermen to make disciples in every nation! What an incredible command for 11 meager men! I don’t think they would have come up with such an ambitious goal on their own. Left to themselves I think they would have come up with a more realistic goal. But they weren’t left to themselves. Jesus was still with them and the Holy Spirit would help them accomplish more than that tiny group imagined possible.
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. John 14:12 NKJV
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, Ephesians 3:20 NKJV
Each one reached one like Andrew always did, as well as preaching to Crowds like Peter did in Acts 2 and they soon began multiplying as “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47. It is amazing to think that just as people today trace their family tree back for hundreds of years, that every believer today is a believer because someone was reached by someone who was reached by someone who was reached by someone etc. etc. who was reached by one of the 11 fishermen Jesus was speaking to! As a matter of fact, some have been reached today by one of those fishermen! A pastor told me when he was a teen, he found Jesus one night, when he picked up the Bible and read the book of John. Two thousand years later, John’s personal writings are still reaching millions firsthand!
Never has a group been so successful amidst such opposition!
Christ did not fail, neither was He discouraged, and His followers are to manifest a faith of the same enduring nature. They are to live as He lived, and work as He worked, because they depend on Him as the great Master Worker. Courage, energy, and perseverance they must possess. Though apparent impossibilities obstruct their way, by His grace they are to go forward. Instead of deploring difficulties, they are called upon to surmount them. They are to despair of nothing, and to hope for everything. With the golden chain of His matchless love Christ has bound them to the throne of God. It is His purpose that the highest influence in the universe, emanating from the source of all power, shall be theirs. They are to have power to resist evil, power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master, power that will enable them to overcome as Christ overcame.-Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Pages 679-680.
How it must have comforted John, when He saw Jesus in the midst of the lamp stands which represents the churches. See Revelation 1:12-19. Jesus was still with His church,and has promised to never leave His church. So don’t you leave it either! As a matter of fact, by sending the Holy Spirit we all have local access to God. A former student of mine who moved to the mountains of Chile, wrote to tell me he had begun personal Bible studies with a friend on their way home from school. When my young friend shares the gospel on the rocky roads in the mountains of Chile the same Holy Spirit is with him that is with the General conference president in Maryland. The General Conference office has no location advantage. The Holy Spirit is all over the world!
With the Holy Spirit all over the world and Jesus in the midst of His church, we can do amazing things! Greater than we even imagine possible. The good news is it is Jesus’ church and not mine. Last Summer the senior pastor at my church took another assignment. It was just me until another senior pastor came in the fall. My church had a lot going on and I almost became overwhelmed until I remembered it wasn’t my church! It’s Jesus’ church. When I was a lay pastor and Bible Worker in a small church in west Texas, the members occasionally told me they could not survive without me, and I was young and dumb enough to believe them. Fact is the membership more than doubled after I finally left! It wasn’t my church it was Jesus’ church! Also during that same time, another church I was helping had a leader who thought he owned the church, since he thought he gave most the money. He tried to manipulate me to follow him instead of the senior pastor. I told him I work for Jesus and not the richest person in the church. He laughed at me! He finally took his money and left, thinking the church would collapse without his money. He forgot it was not his church! It was Jesus’ church, and right after he left, we had some evangelism meetings and so many people started coming into the church that we had to build a bigger building!
I studied with several young people in the first church I was talking about, who were baptized. They came in the church with some new ideas. They wanted to change the times for Sabbath School and Church. The older members were upset and one of them told me, “Don’t let those kids take over our church!” She was insinuating it was her church and not theirs. Sadly every single one of those young people left! They did not want to take over the church. They just wanted to be part of the church. Sadly some try to manipulate others by telling them it is not their church, it belongs to God, when in reality they just want to do their own thing, not God’s. So don’t let anyone tell you to keep your opinion to yourself because it is not your church, unless they are also willing to keep their own opinion to themselves, because it is not their church either. Fact is we are all a part of the church and have a responsibility and voice.
Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established. Proverbs 15:22 NKJV
But over every one of us Jesus is the Head of the church. It is His church, and its success relies upon Him. John was glad to see Jesus in the midst of the candle sticks in his day, and I am glad to see Jesus in the midst of His church today. Because it is Jesus’ church and its success depends on Him, we can see amazing results today.
You can study Revelation with millions of others here.
The Bible teaches two different resurrections. Jesus spoke of one resurrection for those who are saved, and another resurrection for those who are lost.
Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. John 5:28-29 NKJV
Paul was aware of separate resurrections for the saved and unsaved when he wrote that when Christ comes the saved will rise first. This means everyone who has died will come back to life again. Some for eternity, and others long enough to see their condemnation is just, and then to die for eternity.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 NKJV
The saved will then judge the unsaved for a thousand years.
And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them….. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power…Revelation 20:4-6 NKJV
The saved only die once. When they are resurrected in the first resurrection they will live eternally. They will not die a second time. But when the unsaved are resurrected at the end of the thousand years, Satan will tempt them to try and destroy the New Jerusalem, and that is when the fire will come down from God and destroy them. They will be tormented day and night forever, or in other words for the rest of their lives-until they die, and will never live again.
Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:7-10 NKJV
Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:14-15 NKJV
The unsaved will then experience the second-eternal death, never to live again, while the saved enjoy the new earth for all eternity, never to die again. We see these concepts in the story where Jesus resurrected Lazarus.
When Jesus first heard Lazarus was sick He said,
This sickness is not unto death…John 11:4 NKJV
Yes, Lazarus died, but that was not the end of the story. Jesus raised Lazarus back to life! So we can be sure that when our loved ones, who are in Christ die, that is not the end of their story either. They will be raised back to eternal life. Another reason why Jesus may have said Lazarus’ sickness was not unto death, is because Jesus refers to the first death as sleep, since after all, after the first death everyone will be woken up again at one of the resurrections.
He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” John 11:11 NKJV
Lazarus’ sisters were disappointed, when Jesus allowed him to die. Jesus said something very interesting to his sister.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. John 11:25-26 NKJV
What did Jesus mean by “though he may die, he shall live?” I believe Jesus was referring to the first resurrection, where the dead in Christ will live to never die again. What did Jesus mean by “whoever lives and believes in me shall never die?”Remember Jesus referred to Lazarus sleeping. Jesus refers to the first death as sleep. If we live and believe in Jesus we may sleep, but we will be raised to life in the first resurrection, to live for eternity, and will never die the second death of the unsaved, which is the true and eternal death.
This is where we see the amazing love of Jesus! Jesus tasted the second death for us!
He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9 NKJV
Jesus calls the death before the resurrection, “sleep.” Hebrews 2:9 does not say that Jesus “slept” for everyone, but “died” for everyone. Revelation 14:10 speaks of the unsaved drinking from a cup. I believe that is the cup that Jesus chose to drink for us in Gethsemane. See Matthew 26:36-46. I believe the cup in Matthew 26 and Revelation 14 is the second death. Remember, Jesus does not save us from the first death, which He calls sleep. We die that death ourselves. Jesus saved us from the second death, and therefore must have tasted the second death. An inspired writer, who wrote very passionately and lovingly about Jesus’ sacrifice agrees.
Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God. -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 753.
When Lazarus died or fell asleep as Jesus called it, He told his sister Martha,
“Your brother will rise again.” John 11:23 NKJV
Because of Jesus dying the second death in our place, if you have a brother or sister sleeping in Christ, you may say with Martha,
“I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” John 11:24 NKJV
And when those who are sleeping in Christ are awaken, they will live forever never to taste the second death.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.
I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”John 8:7 NKJV
The phrase Jesus used in John 8:7 has been widely taken out of context. Please keep a couple of things in mind. Jesus was talking to the very people who participated with the woman being judged. “These would-be guardians of justice had themselves led their victim into sin.” –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 460. By saying “He who is without sin” Jesus was being specific, meaning let a witness and not a participant throw the first stone. Jesus did not mean to give the idea that to obey the law of Moses one had to be perfect. They just had to be a witness and not a participant. The other thing to keep in mind is, Jesus was not talking symbolically. He was talking about literally throwing literal stones at her.
I want to make this clear, because I have sat in nominating committee meetings, where someone’s character was being discussed in relation to their fitness for a specific church office. As concerns about their character were voiced, someone came to their defense, with the cliche, “Let He who is without sin throw the first stone.” The cliche is totally out of place and context. We were discussing whether or not this person should have an office in the church, not whether they should be literally stoned to death! Please, in a church nominating committee there is a huge difference between denying someone an office and stoning them to death, as is the context in John 8. In a church business meeting there is a huge difference between church discipline and possibly removing their names from the books, and literally stoning them to death.
The Bible gives clear and definite counsel in Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 6, among other places on how to discipline a wayward church member. Still some will deny those inspired passages, and say we should practice love instead of discipline. Yet love includes discipline! Jesus says,
I correct and discipline everyone I love. Revelation 3:19 NLT
Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness.Romans 11:22 NLT
Jesus has given counsel to His body, the church on how to rebuke and discipline in love, those who are wayward, some of which may actually include being denied a church office, or even having their names removed from the books, (hopefully to be added back again after repentance!) but none of which includes actually stoning people to death as was literally discussed in John 8. In Revelation 3:19 we see that discipline and love go together, and in Romans 11:22 we see God being severe while being kind in saving sinners from their sin.
Please understand, judging someone according to Bible counsel is not the same as throwing stones. Please understand when we truly love people, we will follow Bible counsel on dealing with their sin, which includes loving discipline. There is no genuine love without discipline, and there is not genuine discipline without love.
He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. Revelation 3:5 NKJV
I’m concerned about what Jesus is saying about me before the Father and the angels. What people are saying about me? Not so much.
Study Revelation here.
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna. This is the message from the one who is the First and the Last, who was dead but is now alive: Revelation 2:8 NLT
Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life…..Whoever is victorious will not be harmed by the second death. Revelation 2:10-11 NLT
Before Jesus tells His people they may be facing death, He tells them, He was dead and is alive now-don’t sweat it! IF we follow Jesus to the grave, we will also follow Him right out of the grave into eternal life.
This is the meaning of the mystery of the seven stars you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lampstands: The seven stars are the angels [messengers] of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. Revelation 1:20 NLT
Before Jesus tells us about all of the calamity, trials, persecutions and crisis coming to the world, He first assures His messengers who share the gospel of grace and truth, that they will always be held safely in his hand.
You may study more on Revelation here.
In the late fall of 2006 I bought a brand new car. A few days later, or nights actually, I lay in my bed wide awake. I glanced at the clock as it read 4 AM. Then the idea hit me. If I jump in my brand-new car right now, I can travel across Florida to the east coast in time to watch the sun rise. I had seen several sunsets on the west coast where I live, so wouldn’t it be novel to say I have seen the sun rise on one coast and then watch it set on the other?
Ah the joys of bachelor life! Moments later I was in my car headed down I-4 towards Daytona Beach. For my devotional and prayer time I popped a CD of the book of Revelation in my brand new car’s CD player. It was 2006 and finally I had a car that played CDs. So there I was in the middle of Florida in the middle of the night, listening to the letters to the seven churches. Finally John got to the letter to Laodicea. Jesus had nothing good at all to say about this last day church. He started out with compliments to all the other churches, and then would gradually work around to a few things they could work on. However when He got to the last day church there were no compliments to be handed out. Jesus quickly got to the crux of His message when He said,
“And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” Revelation 3:17 NLT
Not exactly a “way to go!” good ole boy pat on the back. Maybe Jesus was not passing out any compliments to this church because it had already become delusional by complimenting itself over nothing?
I remember playing on a soccer team in an intramural league at Southern Adventist University. I loved soccer and this was the first time I got to play in an organized league. For years I had watched professionals put the ball in the back of the net and then heard the crowd go wild with excitement. My dream was to do the same. In my first game, we were down 5-0 and finally that moment came. I put the ball in the back of the net, and I was ready to celebrate! My celebration quickly ended when the team captain reminded me that we were still down 4 goals and I needed to get my head back in the game and stop celebrating!
Could Jesus’ message be just that? Could He be telling us, it’s not time celebrate just yet? We still have more victories to gain, and we need to keep our head in the game? (I understand this is real life and not a game at all!)
Just because we may consider ourselves the remnant church, it in no way means we have arrived or are perfect in any way. Remnant simply means “like the original.” The original church was never perfect. As Seventh-day Adventists we pride ourselves that we are the remnant church coming out of the dark ages of the Roman church. Wait a minute! While the Romans crucified Jesus, they only did it at the insistence and demands of God’s commandment-keeping people! Just because they were God’s people and had the truth did not mean they were perfect or had arrived, and much less should be patting each other on the back like good ole boys!
But I digress. So there I was gliding down the highway in my brand new car listening to Jesus telling His church how wretched they were, when suddenly He surprised me! In Revelation 3:21 NLT just after telling the church how wretched it was, He said,
Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.”
There in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere I began to grasp what was going on. Jesus was not kicking this self-righteous wretched group of people to the curb! He totally intends for this self-righteous, miserable, poor blind and spiritually naked people to be victorious just as He was victorious over sin! Jesus is not giving up! There is hope! More than giving us hope, while Jesus is telling us our current condition He is also telling us what He intends for the end result to be. Victory! And not just any victory but the same victory He experienced.
As a man He supplicated the throne of God till His humanity was charged with a heavenly current that should connect humanity with divinity. Through continual communion He received life from God, that He might impart life to the world. His experience is to be ours. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 363 (Emphasis mine.)
While Jesus asked every church to overcome and be victorious, He asks the last day church, the one experiencing the cleansing of the sanctuary and investigative judgment, to do something He asked of no other church, to be victorious just as He was victorious. Jesus knew the church could never accomplish this in its legalistic state, so He tells the church:
I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. Revelation 3:19 NLT
Why is Jesus telling us to buy white garments when salvation is free? Jesus must be talking about the bartering system. If we trade in our filthy self-righteous robes and delusional pride, He will give us in return His white garments. If we stop trying to win over sin in our own power and for our own pride and glory, He will let us overcome in His own power and for His own glory!
There in the car I realized that the same Jesus who told us how miserable we are is also telling us what we can become and will become according to His plan.
I have been studying with a large family here in Florida for several years. When we first began studying together, the youngest was about six, and she had a children’s picture Bible, as she could not read yet. When we would look up verses, of course, all she had was pictures, but we would help her find the right picture and humor her by telling her that was the correct “verse.” Well that was several years ago, and I had pretty much forgotten about those days. That is until a few weeks ago, while we were studying, she volunteered to read a verse, which was nothing new to her now, but as she was reading a particular passage as fluently as anyone, she seemed to bring alive the rich poetic beauty of the classical King James Version. As she finished reading, my mind flashed back for a moment to the days when she brought her picture Bible to the studies because she could not read. Those days are long gone! So far gone I had almost completely forgotten about them.
Whatever your condition is now it does not always have to be that way. Just as Jesus changed my young friend’s reading experience, Jesus is ready to change your spiritual experience and give you the same victorious experience He has!
There are those who have known the pardoning love of Christ and who really desire to be children of God, yet they realize that their character is imperfect, their life faulty, and they are ready to doubt whether their hearts have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. To such I would say, Do not draw back in despair. We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God. No; Christ is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Said the beloved John, “These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1. And do not forget the words of Christ, “The Father Himself loveth you.” John 16:27. He desires to restore you to Himself, to see His own purity and holiness reflected in you. And if you will but yield yourself to Him, He that hath begun a good work in you will carry it forward to the day of Jesus Christ. Pray more fervently; believe more fully. As we come to distrust our own power, let us trust the power of our Redeemer, and we shall praise Him who is the health of our countenance. –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 64.