A severe earthquake occurred on December 26, 2004, off the north-western coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The quake measured 8.9 on the richter scale and triggered massive tsunamis which hit the coasts of more than 10 countries around the Indian ocean. The death toll exceeded 270,000. Such a powerful earthquake reminds us of the signs of the end time. In Matthew 24:7, we read, “... and there shall be ... earthquakes, in divers places.” This verse tells us of one of the signs of Christ’s second coming, and of the end of the world. See verse 3.
“How frequently we hear of earthquakes and tornadoes, of destruction by fire and flood, with great loss of life and property! Apparently these calamities are capricious outbreaks of disorganized, unregulated forces of nature, wholly beyond the control of man, but in them all God’s purpose may be read. They are among the agencies by which He seeks to arouse men and women to a sense of their danger.” – Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, page 277.
“The time is now come when one moment we may be on solid earth, the next the earth may be heaving beneath our feet. Earthquakes will take place when least expected.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, page 421.
1. The Three Angels’ Messages of Revelation 14:6-12
God’s last day message may be briefly summarised in the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14:6-12. God’s work is symbolised by an angel clad in beauty and girt with power. The three angels in these verses symbolise the people who are commissioned to make known to their fellow men the special truths which constitute the burden of these messages.
The people symbolised by the three angels of Revelation 14:6-12 are those found in God’s last day church described in Revelation 12:17. We shall examine the characteristics of God’s last day church in the next section of this article.
2. God’s Last Day Church
God’s people keep His commandments.
“God has a church on earth who are lifting up the downtrodden law, and presenting to the world the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world ...
“There is but one church in the world who are at the present time standing in the breach and making up the hedge, building up the old waste places ...
“Let all be careful not to make an outcry against the only people who are fulfilling the description given of the remnant people, who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus .... God has a distinct people, a church on earth, second to none, but superior to all in their facilities to teach the truth, to vindicate the law of God .... My brother, if you are teaching that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is Babylon, you are wrong.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pages 50, 58, 59.
They have the testimony of Jesus.
“As the end draws near and the work of giving the last warning extends, it becomes more important for those who accept present truth to have a clear understanding of the nature and influence of the Testimonies, which God in His providence has linked with the work of the third angel’s message from its very rise.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies, vol. 5, page 654.
“Men may get up scheme after scheme and the enemy will seek to seduce souls from the truth, but all who believe that the Lord has spoken through Sister White and has given her a message will be safe from the many delusions that will come in these last days.” – Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 3, pages 83, 84.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church was organized in 1863 with 3,500 members, half a dozen local conferences, about thirty ministerial labourers, and a General Conference committee of three. The General Conference president was well able to provide the leadership and counsel required by such a small organization. He could personally attend every important meeting and in addition give personal attention to much of the business connected with the publishing work. However, by 1896 the work of the church had greatly expanded in the United States, and extended to Europe, Australia, and Africa as well. It was no longer possible for one man to give adequate supervision and direction to such a widespreading work. Ellen White urged a division of the field, so that our church members around the world would not look to just one man for counsel. This was accomplished by the creation of union conferences and world divisions.
3. The Church Militant and the Church Triumphant
At the present time, we are still the church militant.
“The church militant is not the church triumphant, and earth is not heaven. The church is composed of erring, imperfect men and women, who are but learners in the school of Christ, to be trained, disciplined, educated, for this life and for the future, immortal life.” – Ellen G. White, The Signs of the Times, Jan. 4, 1883.
“Some people seem to think that upon entering the church they will have their expectations fulfilled, and meet only with those who are pure and perfect. They are zealous in their faith, and when they see faults in church members, they say, ‘We left the world in order to have no association with evil characters, but the evil is here also;’ and they ask, as did the servants in the parable, ‘From whence then hath it tares?’ But we need not be thus disappointed, for the Lord has not warranted us in coming to the conclusion that the church is perfect; and all our zeal will not be successful in making the church militant as pure as the church triumphant.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, page 47.
The church triumphant will be Christlike.
“The work is soon to close. The faithful members of the church militant who have proved faithful will become the church triumphant.” – Ellen G. White, Evangelism, page 707.
“The life of Christ was a life charged with a divine message of the love of God, and He longed intensely to impart this love to others in rich measure. Compassion beamed from His countenance, and His conduct was characterised by grace, humility, truth, and love. Every member of His church militant must manifest the same qualities, if he would join the church triumphant.” – Ellen G. White, Fundamentals of Christian Education, page 179.
4. God’s Church is not Babylon
In spite of the fact that there is apostasy in the church, even in the time of Ellen G. White, a new denomination is not needed.
“You will take passages in the Testimonies that speak of the close of probation, of the shaking among God’s people, and you will talk of a coming out from this people of a purer, holier people that will arise. Now all this pleases the enemy .... Should many accept the views you advance, and talk and act upon them, we would see one of the greatest fanatical excitements that has ever been witnessed among Seventh-day Adventists. This is as Satan wants.” – Ellen White, Selected Messages, Book 1, page 179.
“The Lord has not given you a message to call the Seventh-day Adventists Babylon, and to call the people of God to come out of her. All the reasons you may present cannot have weight with me on this subject, because the Lord has given me decided light that is opposed to such a message ...
“I know that the Lord loves His church. It is not to be disorganized or broken up into independent atoms. There is not the least consistency in this; there is not the least evidence that such a thing will be.” – Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, Book 2, pages 63, 68, 69.
“I tell you, my brethren, the Lord has an organized body through whom He will work .... When anyone is drawing apart from the organized body of God’s commandment-keeping people, when he begins to weigh the church in his human scales and begins to pronounce judgment against them, then you may know that God is not leading him. He is on the wrong track.” – Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, Book 3, pages 17, 18.
God will set everything in order.
“There is no need to doubt, to be fearful that the work will not succeed. God is at the head of the work, and He will set everything in order. If matters need adjusting at the head of the work God will attend to that, and work to right every wrong. Let us have faith that God is going to carry the noble ship which bears the people of God safely into port.” – Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, Book 2, page 390.
“Has God no living church? He has a church, but it is the church militant, not the church triumphant. We are sorry that there are defective members, that there are tares among the wheat .... Although there are evils existing in the church, and will be until the end of the world, the church in these last days is to be the light of the world that is polluted and demoralized by sin. The church, enfeebled and defective, needing to be reproved, warned, and counseled, is the only object upon earth upon which Christ bestows His supreme regard.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pages 45, 49.
“The bullwarks of Satan will never triumph. Victory will attend the third angel’s message. As the Captain of the Lord’s host tore down the walls of Jericho, so will the Lord’s commandment-keeping people triumph, and all opposing elements be defeated.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, page 410.
5. God works with Those Who are Faithful to Him
“The Lord Jesus will always have a chosen people to serve Him. When the Jewish people rejected Christ, the Prince of life, He took from them the kingdom of God and gave it unto the Gentiles. God will continue to work on this principle with every branch of His work.
“When a church proves unfaithful to the word of the Lord, whatever their position may be, however high and sacred their calling, the Lord can no longer work with them. Others are chosen to bear important responsibilities. But, if these in turn do not purify their lives from every wrong action, if they do not establish pure and holy principles in all their borders, then the Lord will grievously afflict and humble them and, unless they repent, will remove them from their place and make them a reproach.” – Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 14, page 102.
Our main church leadership may be defective at the present time but God will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reins in His own hands.
“There will be those among us who will always want to control the work of God .... [But] God will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reins in His own hands. The workers will be surprised by the simple means that He will use to bring about and perfect His work of righteousness.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, page 300.
May the Lord bless you richly.
Prayer: “Our Father in heaven, thank You for taking control of Your church, defective as she may be at the present time. We know that we are truly living in the time of the end. Please help us to be prepared. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
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Questions for Thought:
1. What are two characteristics of God’s last day church?
2. What is the church militant and church triumphant?
3. Is God still in control of His last day church even though she may be defective at the present time?