Sabbath, December 2, 2017
“There is a cause for alarm in the condition of the religious world today. God’s mercy has been trifled with.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 166.
“The condition of the world previous to the first appearing of Christ is a picture of the condition of the world just previous to His second advent. The same iniquity will exist; Satan manifests the same delusive power upon human minds…. He is securing his army of human agents to engage in the last conflict against the Prince of life, to overthrow the law of God, which is the foundation of His throne. Satan … will turn his forces against those who are loyal to God; but though he may cause pain, distress, and human agony, he cannot defile the soul.” –Christ Triumphant, p. 259.
Persecution and backsliding
1. According to Jesus, what will happen in time of persecution?
Matthew 24:9, 10; 10:21, 22 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. 10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another…. 10:21And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. 22And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
“On every occasion when persecution takes place, those who witness it make decisions either for Christ or against Him. Those who manifest sympathy for the ones wrongly condemned show their attachment for Christ. Others are offended because the principles of truth cut directly across their practice. Many stumble and fall, apostatizing from the faith they once advocated. Those who apostatize in time of trial will, to secure their own safety, bear false witness, and betray their brethren. Christ has warned us of this, that we may not be surprised at the unnatural, cruel course of those who reject the light.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 630.
2. What experience did the apostle Paul make with some believers in Asia? How will the same situation be repeated when the storm breaks upon God’s people?
2 Timothy 1:15; 4:16 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes…. 4:16At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
“As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel’s message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls. They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren. When Sabbathkeepers are brought before the courts to answer for their faith, these apostates are the most efficient agents of Satan to misrepresent and accuse them, and by false reports and insinuations to stir up the rulers against them.” –The Great Controversy, p. 608.
3. Especially what types of people will arise, and with what result?
Matthew 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
2 Peter 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts.
Jude 1:18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
“Looking down through the ages to the close of time, Peter was inspired to outline conditions that would exist in the world just prior to the second coming of Christ. ‘There shall come in the last days scoffers,’ he wrote, ‘walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.’ But ‘when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:3. 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.
4. What prophet suffered terribly from persecution? How intense will the deceptions be right before Jesus appears?
Jeremiah 23:13, 14, 21, 16 And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err. 14I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing:… they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness:… 21I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied…. 16Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.
“There will be counterfeit messages coming from persons in all directions. One after another will rise up, appearing to be inspired, when they have not the inspiration of heaven, but are under the deception of the enemy. All who receive their messages will be led astray. Then let us walk carefully, and not open wide the door for the enemy to enter through impressions, dreams, and visions. God help us to look in faith to Jesus, and be guided by the words He has spoken.” –Selected Messages, book 3, pp. 404, 405.
Carefully tending the flame of love
5. What alarming conditions will be rampant throughout the world? What will happen to many?
Matthew 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
Revelation 2:4, 5 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
“He [Jesus] speaks of a class who have fallen from a high state of spirituality…. The love of the world, the love of some darling sin, has weaned the heart from the love of prayer and of meditation on sacred things. A formal round of religious services is kept up; but where is the love of Jesus? Spirituality is dying.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 538.
“In the closing work of God in the earth, the standard of His law will be again exalted. False religion may prevail, iniquity may abound, the love of many may wax cold, the cross of Calvary may be lost sight of…; plot after plot may be formed to overthrow the people of God; but in the hour of greatest peril the God of Elijah will raise up human instrumentalities to bear a message that will not be silenced…. The voice of stern rebuke will be heard. Boldly will men of God’s appointment denounce the union of the church with the world.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 186, 187.
The necessity of endurance
6. Under such circumstances, how will the faithful child of God escape from the flood of wickedness in the world? To what heavenly counsel will he cling?
Matthew 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Revelation 2:10, last part, 11 … Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. 11And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
“The work of salvation is not child’s play, to be taken hold of at will and let alone at pleasure. It is the steady purpose, the untiring effort, that will gain the victory at last. It is he who endureth to the end that shall be saved. It is they who patiently continue in well-doing that shall have eternal life and the immortal reward…. All who are engaged in this warfare with Satan and his host have a close work before them. They must not be as impressible as wax, that the fire can melt into any form. They must endure hardness as faithful soldiers, stand at their post, and be true every time.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, pp. 101, 102.
“A religion formed after the divine pattern is the only one that will endure. Only by striving to live the life of Christ here can we prepare ourselves to live with Him through the eternal ages.” –Our High Calling, p. 342.
Spreading the good news
7. Before this world as we know it comes to an end, what good news will reach every corner? What mission will impel God’s people forward in all the world?
Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
Mark 16:15, 16 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
“ ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature’ (Mark 16:15), is Christ’s command to His followers. Not that all are called to be ministers or missionaries in the ordinary sense of the term; but all may be workers with Him in giving the ‘glad tidings’ to their fellow men. To all, great or small, learned or ignorant, old or young, the command is given.” –Education, p. 264.
“The waste places of the earth are to be cultivated, that they may bud and blossom as the rose. New territories are to be worked by men inspired by the Holy Spirit. New churches must be established, new congregations organized. At this time there should be representatives of present truth in every city and in the remote parts of the earth. The whole earth is to be illuminated with the glory of God’s truth. The light is to shine to all lands and all peoples. And it is from those who have received the light that it is to shine forth.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 24.
For additional study
“The days in which we live are solemn and important. The Spirit of God is gradually but surely being withdrawn from the earth. Plagues and judgments are already falling upon the despisers of the grace of God. The calamities by land and sea, the unsettled state of society, the alarms of war, are portentous. They forecast approaching events of the greatest magnitude. The agencies of evil are combining their forces, and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis. Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 11.
“Hundreds, yea, thousands, who have heard the message of salvation are still idlers in the market place, when they might be engaged in some line of active service. To these Christ is saying, ‘Why stand ye here all the day idle?’ and He adds, ‘Go ye also into the vineyard.’ Matthew 20:6, 7. Why is it that many more do not respond to the call? Is it because they think themselves excused in that they do not stand in the pulpit? Let them understand that there is a large work to be done outside the pulpit by thousands of consecrated lay members.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 110, 111.