Sabbath, July 19, 2014
“If we have correct ideas of the mission of Christ on earth, and of what our work is, we shall not become discouraged because we are few. Said Christ, when asked if there be few that shall be saved, ‘Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.’ Now He gives the reason: ‘Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.’ Matthew 7:13, 14.” –Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, p. 232.
General state of society
1. Who is leading the majority of people on earth? How do you know?
Ephesians 2:2, 3 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
1 John 5:19, margin And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth under the wicked one.
“If numbers were an evidence of success, Satan might claim the pre-eminence; for in this world his followers are largely in the majority.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 143.
“The spirit of the world is no more in harmony with the spirit of Christ today than in earlier times, and those who preach the word of God in its purity will be received with no greater favor now than then. The forms of opposition to the truth may change, the enmity may be less open because it is more subtle; but the same antagonism still exists and will be manifested to the end of time.” –The Great Controversy, p. 144.
2. What is the general condition of society today?
Romans 3:10-18 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
“We are living in the midst of an ‘epidemic of crime’ at which thoughtful, God-fearing men everywhere stand aghast. The corruption that prevails is beyond the power of the human pen to describe. Every day brings fresh revelations of political strife, bribery, and fraud; every day brings its heartsickening record of violence and lawlessness, of indifference to human suffering; of brutal, fiendish destruction of human life. Every day testifies to the increase of insanity, murder, and suicide.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 89.
Cause of overwhelming iniquity
3. What is the cause of so much suffering in the world?
Isaiah 24:5, 6 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. 6 Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.
“We are living in an age of great wickedness. Multitudes are enslaved by sinful customs and evil habits, and the fetters that bind them are difficult to break. Iniquity, like a flood, is deluging the earth. Crimes almost too fearful to be mentioned are of daily occurrence. And yet men professing to be watchmen on the walls of Zion will teach that the law was designed for the Jews only, and passed away with the glorious privileges that ushered in the gospel age. Is there not a relation between the prevailing lawlessness and crime, and the fact that ministers and people hold and teach that the law is no longer of binding force?” –Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 219, 220.
“Because of transgression, the curse of God has come upon the earth itself, and upon the cattle, and upon all flesh. Human beings are suffering the result of their own course of action in departing from the commandments of God. The beasts also suffer under the curse.” –Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 411.
4. Why does sin have such power over all humanity?
Romans 7:14, 15, 19; 6:16 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I…. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do…. 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
“Fallen man is Satan’s lawful captive. The mission of Jesus Christ was to rescue him from his power. Man is naturally inclined to follow Satan’s suggestions, and he cannot of himself successfully resist so terrible a foe, unless Christ, the mighty conqueror, dwells in him, guiding his desires, and giving him strength. God alone can limit the power of Satan.” –Messages to Young People, p. 51.
Other representations of masses of people
5. With what is this widespread condition compared?
Isaiah 60:2, first part For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people:…
John 1:5; 3:19 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not…. 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
“As error is fast progressing, we should seek to be awake in the cause of God, and realize the time in which we live. Darkness is to cover the earth, and gross darkness the people. And as nearly all around us are being enveloped in the thick darkness of error and delusion, it becomes us to shake off stupidity and live near to God, where we can draw divine rays of light and glory from the countenance of Jesus. As darkness thickens and error increases, we should obtain a more thorough knowledge of the truth and be prepared to maintain our position from the Scriptures.” –Early Writings, pp. 104, 105.
6. What other symbol illustrates the power controlling multitudes, nations, and people?
Revelation 17:1, last part, 2, 15 … I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication…. 15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
“In Revelation 17 an angel explained that waters represent ‘peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.’ Winds are a symbol of strife. The four winds of heaven striving upon the great sea represent the terrible scenes of conquest and revolution by which kingdoms have attained to power.” –The Great Controversy, p. 440.
“… Wine of error is made up of false doctrines, such as the natural immortality of the soul, the eternal torment of the wicked, the denial of the pre-existence of Christ prior to His birth in Bethlehem, and advocating and exalting the first day of the week above God’s holy and sanctified day. These and kindred errors are presented to the world by the various churches, and thus the Scriptures are fulfilled that say, ‘For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’ ” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 61, 62.
A remnant will be saved
7. What calamity befell the people on earth in Noah’s day? How does that time compare to today?
Genesis 6:5, 7, 11-13 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…. 7 And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them…. 11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. 13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
“It was not multitudes or majorities that were on the side of right. The world was arrayed against God’s justice and His laws, and Noah was regarded as a fanatic…. ‘The threatenings of God,’ they said, ‘are for the purpose of intimidating, and will never be verified. You need not be alarmed. Such an event as the destruction of the world by the God who made it, and the punishment of the beings He has created, will never take place. Be at peace; fear not. Noah is a wild fanatic.’ ” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 96.
“The world is increasing in wickedness as in the days of Noah.” –(Letter 279, 1905) A Call to Medical Evangelism and Health Education, p. 22.
“The same sins that brought judgments upon the world in the days of Noah, exist in our day. Men and women now carry their eating and drinking so far that it ends in gluttony and drunkenness. This prevailing sin, the indulgence of perverted appetite, inflamed the passions of men in the days of Noah, and led to widespread corruption. Violence and sin reached to heaven.” –Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p. 11.
8. Even if God’s professed church numbered in the millions today, only what portion would be saved? Why?
Romans 9:27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved.
“The majority of nominal Christians, while they profess to be living for Christ, are really living for the world. They do not discern the excellence of heavenly things, and therefore cannot truly love them. Many profess to be Christians because Christianity is considered honorable. They do not discern that genuine Christianity means cross-bearing, and their religion has little influence to restrain them from taking part in worldly pleasures.” –Messages to Young People, p. 374.
“Not all, however, would be ensnared by the enemy’s devices. As the end of all things earthly should approach, there would be faithful ones able to discern the signs of the times. While a large number of professing believers would deny their faith by their works, there would be a remnant who would endure to the end.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 535, 536.
The strait way
9. When it comes to matters of faith and truth, in what can no trust be placed? Why?
Exodus 23:2 Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment.
1 Corinthians 1:19, 20 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
“The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority–not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ in its support….
“The multitudes do not want Bible truth, because it interferes with the desires of the sinful, world-loving heart; and Satan supplies the deceptions which they love.” –The Great Controversy, p. 595.
10. How is the way of salvation presented in the Bible? How many will walk that way?
Matthew 7:13, 14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Jeremiah 21:8 And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.
“God sets before man life and death. He can have his choice. Many desire life, but still continue to walk in the broad road. They choose to rebel against God’s government, notwithstanding His great mercy and compassion in giving His Son to die for them. Those who do not choose to accept of the salvation so dearly purchased must be punished…. After the wicked are destroyed from off the earth, all the heavenly host will say, ‘Amen!’ ” –Early Writings, p. 221.
“There are thousands who are traveling the road of darkness and error, the broad road which leads to death, who flatter themselves that they are in the path to happiness and heaven; but they will never find the one nor reach the other.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 438.
“If we take Christ for our guide, He will lead us safely along the narrow way. The road may be rough and thorny; the ascent may be steep and dangerous; there may be pitfalls upon the right hand and upon the left; we may have to endure toil in our journey; when weary, when longing for rest, we may have to toil on; when faint, we may have to fight; when discouraged, we may be called upon to hope; but with Christ as our Guide we shall not lose the path to immortal life, we shall not fail to reach the desired haven at last.” –Our Father Cares, pp. 134, 135.