Adventism and Narcissism

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

A while back I wrote an article called Bible Cures for NarcissismThis morning a friend on Facebook was sharing the signs of narcissism, which I was already familiar with. However, as our Sabbath school lesson today is on the three angels message, something occurred to me just now.

One of the signs of being narcissistic is the need to feel special and superior. We feel as Adventists we have a special message and we do. But if we are not careful could that lead to narcissism? Do we think our beliefs put us in a “special” category of believers?  I heard an Adventist pastor years ago lamenting to his congregation that he was pretty much the last pastor preaching the three angels message and Bible truth. His church was scared to lose him and he had them convinced he was the last true preacher, and whoever came in after him would be a heretic! In talking to members of his congregation they felt very special to have him as their pastor, and felt superior to other Adventist congregations who were not privy to this special pastor. Were such attitudes leading to the gospel or to narcissism?

Its been a while, but I remember a few families in a church I was familiar with who formed their own study group. They were studying the Adventist message more deeply than those in the church, or so they thought. They started referring to themselves as the “remnant of the remnant.” They started isolating themselves, as they felt pretty special. Were they really becoming better Christians or just better narcissists?

Marco Torres wrote an excellent article on conspiracy theories. He writes, “Conspiracy theories have a way of making us feel like we are more spiritual than others because of the information we have.” I think he nailed it! I have talked to so many in the church who feel superior and more spiritual because they are “in the know.” I have met people who feel like they have a special understanding of our beliefs which puts them in a special class. When others don’t understand them that just makes them all the more special. Are such feelings the fruit of the gospel or narcissism?

Jesus is the Gospel. He is the opposite of narcissism. Instead of putting Himself in a special class He joined all of humanity. While James and John wanted to be in a special class in His kingdom (remnant of the remnant?) Jesus said He was the servant of all! In the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus mentions a Levi, who was a special class of Jews, (remnant of the remnant?). He mentioned a priest who was “in the know” and probably had special information. Jesus did not identify the gospel with the priest or Levi. He chose a Samaritan to represent the Gospel. A Samaritan who had no concept of caste or special creed. A Samaritan who saw everyone as his neighbor and equal.

Let’s remember the three angels message is for every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. Its not for a select privileged group. Its for everyone! Its easy to fall for Satan’s counterfeit “spirituality” which leads to feelings of being special and superior, and to narcissism. John the beloved fell for it when he asked to have a special place in the kingdom. There is a cure for narcissism and it is the gospel! John fell in love with Jesus and later wrote,

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us. 1 John 1:3

While John once felt he needed to be in a special class, once he fell more deeply in love with Jesus and the gospel he no longer felt the need to be “special” or “exclusive.” He saw all humanity as his neighbor and equal, and invited everyone into the same fellowship he had with Jesus. Narcissism sets us apart. The Gospel sends us into the world!

The Three Angels’ Messages and the Triumph of the Gospel Over Legalism Part 2

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

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. When legalism mixes our works with God’s grace, 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, any time 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

Seventh-day Adventists teach that Babylon is a religious system which it is, but it is more than that. It is an attitude – an 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.

Babel 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. Thus Babylon symbolizes salvation by our own works, or legalism. Cain had the attitude of Babylon when he brought the works of his field and offered his own system of worship. But God could only accept Abel’s sacrifice – a lamb which pointed 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 1 tells us that God gave Jerusalem into Nebuchadnezzar’s hands, but in Daniel 4 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 save me.

During the Dark Ages people were taught that their works would save them. 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.

Ellen White comments:

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 it’s 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 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!`

The Three Angels’ Messages and the Triumph of the Gospel Over Legalism Part 1

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Journaling Through Revelation in the Beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Here is a post I shared on the Sabbath School Network a few years ago.

“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?1

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. Jesus begins His message to each church with, “Write unto the angel of the church of…” so He must be referring to an angel as being a terrestrial leader. When John saw the seven stars in Jesus’ hand, those stars were the angels, or ministers and leaders of the church.

Jesus calls us all to have a ministry in the church and a message to share with the world, and it’s comforting to know, that while we are messengers for Jesus,  He holds all of us in His hand. Wherever in the world you are reading this – whether in a country with few Christian churches, and even persecution, or whether you are trying to share Jesus with your family members who all seem opposed to your message – rest assured, Jesus has you right in His hand and you are very special to Him! He will take care of you and make your ministry prosperous. You may find your ministry in a difficult place, but it is right in Jesus’ hands.

I believe the three angels in Revelation 14 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 fit the time prophecy. Thus I believe that the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church are the three angels in Revelation 14, and, even more specifically, the three angels are you and I.

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, 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 everlasting gospel which the Seventh-day Adventist church shares overcomes the legalism of Babylon. This last message is filled with grace and the glory of God and not the works of man. It shows the love of God more clearly than the gospel presented by most other churches.

Many churches preach that Jesus died for us, and then they turn around and tell uspeople don’t really die. If that is the case, then Jesus did not really die, and if He did not really die, then He 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 that sinners will perish. Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death, not eternal torment in hell. It’s impossible to fall in love with a God who has a “love-me-or-I’ll-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. The physical torture  was terrible, but Jesus suffered 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-scarred hands and feet on the cross. He tasted the death of the wicked, which means He experienced total separation from God. 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 actuallysaves us, and according to Ephesians 2:1-10 we are saved by grace. What His grace saves us from is our sinful life.

So we see, Seventh-day Adventists not only teach a different day of worship, we also teach the fullness of the gospel. Our job description, in being messengers for Jesus, is to let the whole world know the love of Jesus.

You don’t have to be a TV evangelist to have a ministry and share this message. This gospel is so amazing that many will not even believe it when they hear or read about it. However, they will believe it when they see these principles of self-sacrificing love manifested in your life.

I remember a story about a man who was married for 50 years. At breakfast he always insisted on having the heel of the bread loaf for toast. He acted as though it was his favorite part of the bread. Fifty years later after his wife died, he stopped eating the heel. His nephew asked him why he didn’t like it any more. The old man explained that he never did like it. He just knew his wife did not like it either, so for fifty years he pretended he loved it so she would not have to eat it. That made a great impact on the nephew, and it helped him understand the gospel better than any evangelist preacher ever could.

The first angel teaches about judgment

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 the 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. God is being judged by the universe: Is God the mean control freak and tyrant that Satan makes Him out to be, or is He 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 got 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. Then the whole universe saw the true character of Satan, who was willing to kill anyone who got in his way of being number one, contrasted with the true character of God who was willing to die on a cross and say goodbye to life forever to 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 demonstrate that God is indeed a God of love. 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 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.”

In Egypt the king made all the Hebrew slaves work so he could rest. God delivered the Hebrews from their works and gave them the Sabbath, explaining that it was God who created and made everything and did all the work so they could rest. 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 Creator 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 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. It reminds us that we did not make ourselves by our own works. Even more, the Sabbath reminds us that we were redeemed by the works and sacrifice of our Creator and not by our own works. By resting on the Sabbath we show that the gospel is practical and not just a theory. He literally rested, and we literally rest our faith in Jesus, believing that He literally saves us.

Faithfulness by Thankfulness

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 2 Timothy 3:1-2 NKJV

Being unthankful is more than just bad manners. It is one of the perils of the last days. Being unthankful goes right along with disobedience and being unholy.

So what goes along with being obedient and holy? Thankfulness does.

Luke 7:1-50 tells a story of a woman who anoints Jesus’ feet with a bottle of perfume, which costed her all she had. At the end of the story, Jesus tells the woman,

 “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Luke 7:50 NKJV

What was this faith that saved her? This faith went deeper than belief.

 Even the demons believe—and tremble! James 2:19 NKJV

This woman more than believed Jesus would die for her. She appreciated it! InJohn 8:1-11 this woman could have been killed for her sin, but Jesus took her place. Jesus gave all of Himself for her, and so in that bottle of perfume she gave all of herself to Jesus. It was her way of saying thank you. Her faith was her thankfulness.

Mary Magdalene was so thankful for this love, that her thankfulness perfected her faith.

As Paul said in our opening verse, in the last days many will be unthankful. They will have no appreciation for the cross or grace of God. Their love for money, and willingness to blaspheme God will make them disregard the Sabbath and accept the mark of the beast, so they can buy and sell and put food on the family table. They will not thank God for anything because after all, it was their own works that put that bread on their table.

Another group will not take the mark of the beast. They will rest their faith in Jesus and honor the Sabbath. They will be willing to give up the right to buy and sell because of what Jesus has already given up for them. And when they eat they will give thanks, because they know it was not their works that put bread on the table but rather God’s grace. Thankfulness will perfect their faith, just as thankfulness perfected the faith of the woman, who gave everything to the One who gave everything for her.

Jesus says of the woman who poured that perfume all over Him,

wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” Matthew 26:12 NKJV

The first angel of Revelation 14:6-12 takes the everlasting gospel into all the world, and Jesus says wherever that angel takes the gospel this woman’s story is to go along. Her thankfulness led to her faithfulness and righteousness. Thankful people will not take the mark of the beast. Like this woman, they will be too much in love with Jesus to consider such a thing. They will give all of themselves to Jesus because He gave all of Himself for them.

We find this woman at the tomb on Sunday morning. Fear of the Jews may have kept the disciples away, but fear could not keep her away! Nor did any hope of reward lead her there. She did not expect to find Jesus risen. She came only expecting to anoint His body once again. Love alone drew her to Jesus’ body that morning. In that tomb was a Man who loved her like she had never been loved before. She was there to show her thankfulness for that love even if no reward came with it. This is the story that must be preached wherever the gospel and three angel’s message is preached. God does not wish for any legalistic hope of reward or fear of punishment to mar the gospel and three angels’ message. He wants His love alone to draw us to Him the way it drew Mary Magdalene to Him. Perfect faith has but one agenda, and that is to give all of ourselves to Jesus just to say “thank you” for giving all of Himself for us.

May Jesus find in us a thankful heart, so He may say to us,

 “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Luke 7:50 NKJV

you may study this week’s SS lesson here. 

Are Adventists Still Preaching the Three Angels Message?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third angel’s message, and I have answered, “It is the third angel’s message in verity.” –Ellen White, Review and Herald, 1890.

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

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

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

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

Glimpse of the Cross Day 5; The Gospel Versus Legalism

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

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 get a reward.

 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.

Galatians 5:4-6  (The Message)  “I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.”

Escape Legalism and discover the gospel at theTampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, or a gospel loving church near you.

Read how the gospel message in the three angels message destroys the legalism of Babylon.

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.

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!