Sabbath, October 22, 2016
“The deadly lethargy of the world is paralyzing your senses. Sin no longer appears repulsive because you are blinded by Satan. The judgments of God are soon to be poured out upon the earth. ‘Escape for thy life’ is the warning from the angels of God. Other voices are heard saying: ‘Do not become excited; there is no cause for special alarm.’ Those who are at ease in Zion cry ‘Peace and safety,’ while heaven declares that swift destruction is about to come upon the transgressor.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 233.
Hesitation and uncertainty
1. What does the cry of “peace and security” really mean?
1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
“If the leading men in our conferences do not now accept the message sent them by God, and fall into line for action, the churches will suffer great loss. When the watchman, seeing the sword coming, gives the trumpet a certain sound, the people along the line will echo the warning, and all will have opportunity to make ready for the conflict. But too often the leader has stood hesitating, seeming to say: ‘Let us not be in too great haste. There may be a mistake. We must be careful not to raise a false alarm.’ The very hesitancy and uncertainty on his part is crying: ‘ “Peace and safety.” Do not get excited. Be not alarmed. There is a great deal more made of this religious amendment question than is demanded. This agitation will all die down.’ Thus he virtually denies the message sent from God, and the warning which was designed to stir the churches fails to do its work. The trumpet of the watchman gives no certain sound, and the people do not prepare for the battle. Let the watchman beware lest, through his hesitancy and delay, souls shall be left to perish, and their blood shall be required at his hand.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 715.
2. What spirit soothes the consciences of those who cry “peace and security” as judgment looms over the world?
2 Corinthians 11:3, 4, 13, 14 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 3For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him…. 13For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
“God has not changed toward His faithful servants who are keeping their garments spotless. But many are crying, ‘Peace and safety,’ while sudden destruction is coming upon them. Unless there is thorough repentance, unless men humble their hearts by confession and receive the truth as it is in Jesus, they will never enter heaven. When purification shall take place in our ranks, we shall no longer rest at ease, boasting of being rich and increased with goods, in need of nothing.
“Who can truthfully say: ‘Our gold is tried in the fire; our garments are unspotted by the world’? I saw our Instructor pointing to the garments of so-called righteousness. Stripping them off, He laid bare the defilement beneath. Then He said to me: ‘Can you not see how they have pretentiously covered up their defilement and rottenness of character? “How is the faithful city become an harlot!” My Father’s house is made a house of merchandise, a place whence the divine presence and glory have departed! For this cause there is weakness, and strength is lacking.’ “ –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 250.
Satan tries to control people’s minds
3. What is Satan’s intention in calling evil good?
Isaiah 5:20, 21 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
Jeremiah 9:8, 9 Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait. 9Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?
Colossians 2:4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
4. Why do even those who say that they belong to God’s people enjoy fables?
John 3:19-21 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.
“These reproofs and warnings disturb the quiet of these sleepy, ease-loving sentinels, and they are not pleased. They say in heart, if not in words: ‘This is all uncalled for. It is too severe, too harsh…. Why don’t they prophesy smooth things, and cry: Peace, peace? Then everything would move on smoothly.’
“These are the true feelings of many of our people. And Satan exults at his success in controlling the minds of so many who profess to be Christians. He has deceived them, benumbed their sensibilities, and planted his hellish banner right in their midst, and they are so completely deceived that they know not that it is he.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 440.
5. What will be the end of those who were given an abundance of light but did not love it or walk in it?
Ezekiel 9:5, 6 And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: 6Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.
“Here [Ezekiel 9:5, 6] we see that the church–the Lord’s sanctuary–was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust. They had taken the position that we need not look for miracles and the marked manifestation of God’s power as in former days. Times have changed. These words strengthen their unbelief, and they say: The Lord will not do good, neither will He do evil. He is too merciful to visit His people in judgment. Thus ‘Peace and safety’ is the cry from men who will never again lift up their voice like a trumpet to show God’s people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. These dumb dogs that would not bark are the ones who feel the just vengeance of an offended God. Men, maidens, and little children all perish together.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 211.
6. What will be the fate of those who may be compared to the foolish virgins? What loving admonition does the Lord give to His people?
Matthew 25:6-13 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
“The class represented by the foolish virgins are not hypocrites. They have a regard for the truth, they have advocated the truth, they are attracted to those who believe the truth; but they have not yielded themselves to the Holy Spirit’s working….
“This is the class that in time of peril are found crying, Peace and safety. They lull their hearts into security, and dream not of danger. When startled from their lethargy, they discern their destitution, and entreat others to supply their lack; but in spiritual things no man can make up another’s deficiency…. But character is not transferable. No man can believe for another. No man can receive the Spirit for another. No man can impart to another the character which is the fruit of the Spirit’s working.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 411.
Prepare to meet your God
7. Therefore, what call will God’s people heed so as not to fall into deadly lethargy?
1 Thessalonians 5:4-6 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
Luke 21:34-36 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
Amos 4:12 Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.
“The attitude of watching is to designate the church as God’s people indeed. By this sign the waiting ones are distinguished from the world and show that they are pilgrims and strangers upon the earth.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 205.
“There are in the world today many who close their eyes to the evidences that Christ has given to warn men of His coming. They seek to quiet all apprehension, while at the same time the signs of the end are rapidly fulfilling, and the world is hastening to the time when the Son of man shall be revealed in the clouds of heaven. Paul teaches that it is sinful to be indifferent to the signs which are to precede the second coming of Christ. Those guilty of this neglect he calls children of the night and of darkness. He encourages the vigilant and watchful….” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 260.
For personal study
“Shirkers can never wear the laurels of victory. Those who are true and loyal will not conceal the fact, but will put heart and might into the work, and venture their all in the struggle, let the battle turn as it will. God is a sin-hating God. And those who encourage the sinner, saying, It is well with thee, God will curse.
“…They are not in harmony with right. They despise the straight testimony that reaches the heart, and would rejoice to see everyone silenced who gives reproof.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 272.
“The message preceding the public ministry of the Son of God was, Repent, publicans; repent, Pharisees and Sadducees, ‘for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Matthew 3:2. Our message is not to be one of ‘peace and safety.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:3. As a people who believe in Christ’s soon appearing, we have a work to do, a message to bear–‘Prepare to meet thy God.’ Amos 4:12. We are to lift up the standard, and bear the third angel’s message–the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” –Selected Messages, book 2, p. 150.
Last Day Events, p. 233.
Selected Messages, book 1, p. 410.