Reading No. 5 – Wednesday, December 10, 2008
THE THIRD ANGEL’S MESSAGE IN VERITY
by Raúl Escobar, Mexico
The last message of grace that God, in His mercy, is imparting to the world is the third angel’s message that is the present truth. The third angel is represented as flying in the midst of heaven in order to show that the message has to reach all the breath and length of the earth, since it is the most solemn message ever given to mortals.
The elements of this solemn message are: the beast, its image, its mark, God’s wrath, the characteristics of the redeemed, and their blessing.
Understanding The Context of The Message
Scripture describes the beast of Revelation 13 as having several identifying characteristics. The first clue to the beast’s identity is found in Revelation 13:2: The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. On May 11, 330, Emperor Constantine decided to move the seat of his empire from Rome to Byzantium, later known as Constantinople. He turned over the control of the city, a treasury and an army to the bishop of Rome. Thus the popes inherited their power, prestige, and titles from paganism—the dragon power. Another characteristic of the beast is that it received the power to continue for forty-two months–1,260 prophetic days–or 1,260 literal years. By A.D. 538 the papal government had conquered the last of the three major powers that were in conflict with it, and the bishop of Rome had secured his throne, marking the beginning of papal supremacy. The 1260-year prophetic period ends in 1798 when, according to Revelation 13:3, one of the heads of the beast “seemed to have a mortal wound.” In Revelation 13:11 John describes another beast coming up out of the earth, which marks the beginning of the time of the end.
The image of the beast will be consolidated before the end of the time of grace and will constitute a test for the people of God through which their eternal destiny will be decided. “The first and third angels’ messages are proclaimed with a ‘loud voice’ (vs. 7, 9). The message concerning the fall of Babylon is later proclaimed with a loud voice (see on ch. 18:1, 2).” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 828.
“Babylon is a comprehensive term that John employs to describe all religious bodies and movements that have fallen away from the truth. This fact requires us to view this ‘fall’ as progressive and cumulative.
“This prophecy of the fall of Babylon finds its fulfilment in the departure of Protestantism at large from the purity and simplicity of the gospel. Historically, the message was first preached by the advent movement, known as Millerism, in the summer of 1844, and was applied to the churches that rejected the first angel’s message concerning the judgment. The message will have increasing relevance as the end draws near, and will meet its complete fulfilment with the union of the various religious elements under the leadership of Satan. The message of ch. 18:2-4 announces the complete downfall of Babylon and calls upon God’s people who are scattered throughout the various religious bodies comprising Babylon, to separate from them.” –Ibid., vol. 7, p. 830.
The mark carries the characteristic feature of the beast and its image, namely the transgression of the commandments of God, as shown by this quotation.
“The pope is of so great dignity, and so exalted that he is not a mere man, but as it were God, and the vicar of God …. Therefore, if it were possible for the angels to err in regard to their faith …. they could be judged and excommunicated by the pope.” –Lucius Feraris, Ecclesiastical Dictionary, art. “Papa.”
Regarding the wrath of God, it is written, “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.” Revelation 14:9, 10. In this regard, the Spirit of Prophecy comments:
“God will not break His covenant, nor alter the thing that has gone out of His lips. His word will stand fast forever as unalterable as His throne. At the judgment this covenant will be brought forth, plainly written with the finger of God, and the world will be arraigned before the bar of Infinite Justice to receive sentence.
“Today, as in the days of Elijah, the line of demarcation between God’s commandment-keeping people and the worshipers of false gods is clearly drawn. ‘How long halt ye between two opinions?’ Elijah cried; ‘if the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him.’ 1 Kings 18:21. And the message for today is: ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen. . . . Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.’ Revelation 18:2, 4, 5.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 187, 188.
The Message of The People of God
Besides the admonishment to the worshipers of the beast, the inspired report speaks about the divine message and the characteristics of those who remain faithful in the struggle. Here reference is made to the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, which we have been considering during all this Week of Prayer. “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Rev. 14:12.
Referring to this verse, the Testimonies state:
“A banner has been placed in our hands, upon which is inscribed, ‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ This is a distinct, separating message–a message that is to give no uncertain sound. It is to lead the people away from the broken cisterns that contain no water, to the fountain of living water.–Letter 60, 1898.” –Counsels to Writers and Editors, pp. 102, 103.
“The third angel is flying in the midst of heaven, heralding the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. This represents the work which is to be done in these last days. The message loses none of its power in its onward flight. John sees the work increasing in power till the whole earth is filled with the glory of God…
“Today we need men of thorough fidelity, men who follow the Lord fully, men who are not disposed to be silent when they ought to speak, who are as true as steel to principle, who do not seek to make a pretentious show, but who walk humbly with God, patient, kind, obliging, courteous men, who understand that the science of prayer is to exercise faith and show works that will tell to the glory of God and the good of His people.” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 207.
“The third angel’s message, embracing the messages of the first and second angels, is the message for this time. We are to raise aloft the banner on which is inscribed. ‘The commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ The world is soon to meet the great Lawgiver over His broken law. This is not the time to put out of sight the great issues before us. God calls upon His people to magnify the law and make it honourable.” –Testimonies for the Chruch, vol. 8, p. 197.
The Third’s Angel Message in Verity
Faith in Jesus together with the message of justification that gives us His righteousness and holiness should not be considered as a doctrine like any other, but should be the center of our preaching and experience and an essential part of the third angel’s message. The inspired writings emphasize this:
“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.
“This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel’s message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 91, 92.
“Christ has not been presented in connection with the law as a faithful and merciful High Priest, who was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. He has not been lifted up before the sinner as the divine sacrifice.” –The Review and Herald, November 29, 1892.
“We must preach Christ in the law, and there will be sap and nourishment in the preaching that will be as food to the famishing flock of God. We must not trust in our own merits at all, but in the merits of Jesus of Nazareth.” –Ibid., March 11, 1890.
The Characteristics of The Redeemed
Furthermore, according to the holy word, God’s commandments and the faith of Jesus are the central points of the message and characterize the remnant people.
“In describing the remnant people of God, John says, ‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ (Rev. 14:12). This is the law and the gospel.” –Selected Messages, Book 2, p. 385.
“In Revelation 14, men are called upon to worship the Creator; and the prophecy brings to view a class that, as the result of the threefold message, are keeping the commandments of God.” –The Great Controversy, p. 437.
“Not all in this world have taken sides with the enemy against God. Not all have become disloyal. There are a faithful few who are true to God; for John writes: ‘Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ Revelation 14:12. Soon the battle will be waged fiercely between those who serve God and those who serve Him not. Soon everything than can be shaken will be shaken, that those things that cannot be shaken may remain.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, pp. 15, 16.
The blessing in Revelation 14:13 says: “from henceforth”. “This doubtless refers to the period of the three angels’ messages, which embraces the period of persecution by the beast and its image, when the boycott is imposed and the death penalty passed (see on ch. 13:12-17). Those who go to their graves in this period rest, as it were, a little moment until the indignation be overpast.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 833.
A Call to Be Justified by Faith
Dear brothers and sisters, it is only through the righteousness that Christ imparts and only when the divine nature is implanted in us that we may keep the commandments. Therefore, let us not waste time but approach the throne of grace to receive this great heavenly gift of Jesus’ righteousness.
On the one hand, we read “All are to hear the last message of warning. The prophecies in the book of Revelation, chapters 12 to 18, are being fulfilled. In the eighteenth chapter is recorded the very last call to the churches. This call is now to be given.” –The Upward Look, p. 277.
“The message of Christ’s righteousness is to sound from one end of the earth to the other to prepare the way of the Lord. This is the glory of God, which closes the work of the third angel.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 19.
“The question was asked, ‘Do you believe the truth? do you believe the third angel’s message? If you do believe, then act your faith.’ . . . Probationary time will not permit of long-protracted years of drill. God calls; hear His voice as He says, ‘Go work today in My vineyard.’ Matthew 21:28. Now, just now, is the time to work. . . .” –Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 415.
On the other hand, it is written that “the class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 211
“The nearer we come to Jesus, and the more clearly we discern the purity of His character, the more clearly shall we see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the less shall we feel like exalting ourselves.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 561.
The total crucifixion of our ego will be worthless once the destiny of souls has been decided; this work has to be done now.
“It is now that self is to be crucified–when there is work to do; when there is some use to be made of every entrusted capability. It is now that we are to empty and thoroughly cleanse the vessel of its impurity. It is now that we are to be made holy unto God. This is our work, this very moment. You are not to wait for any special period for a wonderful work to be done; it is today. I give myself to God today. . .
“Are you ready to make the surrender now? You are to put away your sin right now when you see it. . . . Do not make leeway that you are going to overcome by degrees; you are going to try little by little to give up sin. Now, while it is called today, heed the invitation and harden not your hearts.
“Oh, my soul, why not leave the cursed thing today? Sin crucified my Lord. Why not turn from it with loathing? Why not love the things that Christ loved, and hate the things that Christ hated? He has made provision ample enough for you that you can, through Him, be more, yea, more than overcomers.–Manuscript 35, Sept. 26, 1891, “Work and Baptism of Holy Spirit Needed.” –The Upward Look, p. 283.
May the Lord help us to constantly surrender to Him and to put aside our dirty rags of self-rigtheousness in order to live the true third angel’s message and receive His grace, righteousness and holiness so that we may be heirs of His glory in eternity.
“The time of test is just upon us, for the loud cry of the third angel has already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer. This is the beginning of the light of the angel whose glory shall fill the whole earth. For it is the work of every one to whom the message of warning has come, to lift up Jesus, to present Him to the world as revealed in types, as shadowed in symbols, as manifested in the revelations of the prophets, as unveiled in the lessons given to His disciples and in the wonderful miracles wrought for the sons of men. Search the Scriptures; for they are they that testify of Him. If you would stand through the time of trouble, you must know Christ, and appropriate the gift of His righteousness, which He imputes to the repentant sinner.” –The Review and Herald, Nov. 22, 1892.