Our topic this week, God's Everlasting Gospel, is an exciting topic to study at this point in Earth's history. Why? --- Because, as scripture tells us in 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." "Adventist" means the soon coming of Christ and so as Adventists we believe that His second coming is near at hand.
Two key parts to that scripture verse are that it is the "gospel of the kingdom" that is to be preached which is telling us that it is indeed God's Everlasting Gospel which in Matthew 28:19 Christ tells His disciples (both then and now) we are to teach all nations. Secondly, God's gospel is to be preached "in all the world".
One issue that I struggled with as a new Adventist was why has Christ not already come to take us home? A logical follow-up question to this is: Is it because He is not ready or is it because His last day church (His bride) is not ready? Generally, most Christians including many Adventists will tell you that Christ is not ready and provide a variety of reasons why.
Let's now look briefly at the Spirit of Prophecy and see what EG White has to say on this topic as we look back at our history. Multiple times she states that Christ would have come prior to 1900.
For example, in 1900 we see the following statement:
"Had the purpose of God been carried out by His people in giving to the world the message of mercy, Christ would, ere this, have come to the earth, and the saints would have received their welcome into the city of God." 6T 449.4 (1900)
Note that "would have" suggests that Christ was indeed ready to come as opposed to "might have" or "wanted to". This all ties in with her statements that we had the beginning of the Loud Cry and the Latter Rain in the 1890's as well. The Groom has been ready and waiting on His bride, the last day church for a long time.
This causes us to turn to the "message of mercy", God's Everlasting Gospel that we are to give to the world! Are we sharing the true everlasting gospel? Most Christian churches believe they are sharing God's gospel and even in Adventism there are different perspectives on the gospel we are preaching but there can only be one true Everlasting Gospel.
Some additional EG White quotes might give us more guidance on this issue:
"The church of God is to shine as a light to the world, but Jesus is the illuminator, and He is represented as moving among His people. No one shines by his own light. The Lord God Almighty, and the Lamb, are the lights thereof. The message given us by A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner is the message of God to the Laodicean church, and woe be unto anyone who professes to believe the truth, and yet does not reflect to others the God-given rays. Letter 24, 1892. Par. 36
"Wherever this message comes, its fruits are good. A vigor and a vital energy are brought into the church, and where the message is accepted, there hope and courage and faith beam in the countenances of all those who open their eyes to see, their understanding to perceive, and their hearts to receive the great treasure of truth." —Manuscript 24, 1888.
Spirit of Prophecy tells us repeatedly that we are the Laodicean church, God's last church, and the above quotes further state that we have been given a "message of God" by Waggoner and Jones so that our church may "shine as a light to the world with Jesus as the illuminator." Also, where the message is accepted hearts will be open to "receive the great treasure of truth!"
However, at the same time as we can see below there has been resistance to truth that has hindered the sharing of this message to the world:
"I state truth. The souls who love God, who believe in Christ, and who eagerly grasp every ray of light, will see light, and rejoice in the truth. They will communicate the light. They will grow in holiness …..The word of God speaketh truth, not a lie. In it is nothing strained, nothing extreme, nothing overdone. We are to accept it as the word of the living God …..The world is polluted, corrupted, as was the world in the days of Noah. The only remedy is belief in the truth, acceptance of the light. Yet many have listened to the truth spoken in demonstration of the Spirit, and they have not only refused to accept the message, but they have hated the light. These men are parties to the ruin of souls. They have interposed themselves between the heaven-sent light and the people. They have trampled upon the word of God and are doing despite to His Holy Spirit." TM 90.3
To further clarify the message that we as Seventh-Day Adventists are to share with the world let's look at another well-known EG White quote:
"The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the 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 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.
The uplifted Saviour is to appear…, sitting upon the throne, to dispense the priceless covenant blessings…Christ is pleading for the church in the heavenly courts above….
God gave to His servants a testimony that presented the truth as it is in Jesus, which is the third angel's message in clear, distinct lines…. This testimony…presents the law and the gospel, binding up the two in a perfect whole. (See Romans 5 and 1 John 3:9 to the close of the chapter).
This is the very work which the Lord designs that the message He has given His servant shall perform in the heart and mind of every human agent. It is the perpetual life of the church to love God supremely and to love others as they love themselves." TM pgs.91-92.
So what are some of the things we can learn from this inspired passage?
-First, the Lord sent us this message and He sent it "in His great mercy" because we desperately needed it both then and now.
- "most precious message" suggests it was the most precious gift He could send us, having already sent His Son to redeem us, "this message points us back to God's agape love and Christ's infinite sacrifice on the cross: "to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour".
-This message was sent to "His people", His last day church both then and now. Why? –because in our Laodicean condition, we need it! We think we are rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing spiritually. (Revelation 3:17). The truth is that we need Christ, our Saviour. We need His faith and His righteousness to take us through the times ahead!
-We are told this message presents "justification through faith in the Surety". This genuine faith is the faith of Jesus and it's His gift to us—we are all given the "measure of faith."(Romans 12:3). It is what we need and when exercised, we receive the "priceless gift of His own righteousness". Righteousness by faith, Christ our righteousness—the core of this most precious message!
-Sanctification--Christ as our High Priest, is "pleading for the church in the heavenly courts above". This is also a key aspect of this message as our Saviour cleanses His people and "dispenses the priceless (new) covenant blessings" as hearts are changed and the law is written on the heart. Having been justified by faith and received the gift of Christ's righteousness, both of which are an ongoing experience, we are no longer motivated by fear of punishment or hope of reward. In response to His love and His gifts, our desire is "to love God supremely and to love others as they love themselves."
-We are told "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." First, note that God did not suggest but commanded, that we His people give this message to the world suggesting that this is indeed The Everlasting Gospel and the third angel's message that we and the world need to hear!
Let's now take a look at some insights on God's everlasting gospel from the messengers themselves starting with two quotes from A.T. Jones:
"This word is spoken of the people of God at the time when the church is to be clothed with the "beautiful garments" of His righteousness and endued with His power (Isaiah 52:1); when she is entirely separated from the world and all worldliness; and when she is entirely loosed from the captive bonds of sin (verse 2); and when she is to know the full redemption of the Lord. verse 3. It is the time when, again, as in Egypt, His people will be "oppressed without cause" (verse 4); when "they that rule over them make them to howl," and themselves "continually every day blaspheme" the name of the Lord. verse 5. It is at such a time as this, and "therefore" that the Lord declares, "My people shall know My name." verse 6. ARSH September 24, 1895, p. 618.1
And that time is now…. And now God will be revealed in power as He was then. Now as then the Lord will make "bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God." verse 10. "Therefore my people shall know My name; therefore they shall know in that day that I am He that doth speak; behold, it is I." ARSH September 24, 1895, p. 618.2
His name is "merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin." To know His name is to know all this. It is not merely to know about it, but it is to know it; it is to know it, by the "hearing of faith"—to know it with the heart. As His name expresses what He is, to know His name is to know Him—not merely to know about Him; but to know Him. His name expresses His nature, and to know His name is to know His nature. ARSH September 24, 1895, p. 618.3
He is merciful. This is His name; and to know His name is to know mercy. It is to know what it is always to manifest from the heart treatment better than they deserve to all offenders. It is only by knowing Him, the fountain of mercy that this can be done. "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful." Luke 6:36. ARSH September 24, 1895, p. 618.4
He is gracious. This is His name; and to know His name is to know what it is to be extending favor always to all people. Not favor for favor; but pure favor. Not selfishness; but graciousness. ARSH September 24, 1895, p. 618.5
He is long-suffering. His name, even as He says, is continually every day blasphemed; His law is trampled underfoot; His authority is defied; He Himself is abused and outraged; yet He suffers it long, He endures it long, and is still abundant in goodness and truth even toward all those who are doing all these evil things. He is long-suffering thus toward all, because He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. This is His name; and to know His name is to know what it is wrongfully and unjustly to suffer contempt, injury, abuse, and outrage, to suffer these things long and still manifest abundance of goodness and truth to all, that if by any means they may be brought to repentance. "Charity suffereth long, and is kind." And "if I have not charity, I am nothing." "Charity is the bond of perfectness." ARSH September 24, 1895, p. 618.
He is forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. This is His name; and to know His name is to know the forgiveness of iniquity and transgression and sin. It is to know this, each one for himself in his own, individual case; and then because of this, manifesting it to all people always. "Condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven." Luke 6:37. It is not condemnation that men in this world need. They have that already in abundance. It is not condemnation but salvation that the people of this world need. "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved." And "as my Father sent Me, so send I you." He does not send us to condemn anybody; but that they may be saved. His name is "forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin," and His people are to know His name—they are to know what it is to be this to all. ARSH September 24, 1895, p. 618.8
God is love. This is His name; and to know His name is to know love—His love. It is to know Him as He is Himself. And "he that loveth not, knoweth not God." ARSH September 24, 1895, p. 618.9
This promise that the Lord's people shall know His name, is therefore in reality a promise that they shall know another nature. His name expresses His nature. To know His name is to know His nature. Therefore the promise that we shall know His name, is a promise that we shall know and be partakers of—and know by being partakers of—the divine nature. ARSH September 24, 1895, p. 618.11
"My people shall know My name." His name shall be manifest in His people. His nature shall be manifest in His people. Divinity and humanity shall again be united. God will again be manifest in the flesh. This is the mystery of God that in these days of the voice of the seventh angel is to be finished. Revelation 10:7. This is the everlasting gospel, and thus it is to be preached with a loud voice to every nation and kindred and tongue and people." ARSH September 24, 1895, p. 619.2
"Now let us glance again at a summary of the lessons we have had. We have found that there is nothing that will hold us up in this time but the power of God. We have found that nothing will satisfy us, nothing will do for us, but the character of God. We have found in the matter of means and business affairs so far as this world is concerned, that we cannot depend upon any of these any more, but only upon the things that God gives. We have found that as to life itself, we cannot count on that anymore; the only thing that will satisfy, the only thing that we can depend upon, the only thing that will meet our demand—the demand of the people who will now stand for the Lord—is that life that is better than this one—the life that is eternal, the life of God. GCB/GCDB 1893, p. 147.2
Well, then, first, nothing will support us but the power of God. And where do we find the power of God? In Jesus Christ. "Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God"; that is what He is. Where do we find the character of God? In Christ. Where do we find all things, the great things of God? In Christ. Where do we find a better life than this? The life of God, in Christ. GCB/GCDB 1893, p. 147.3
Well, then, what in the world have we to preach to the world, but Christ? What have we to depend upon but Christ? Then what is the third angel's message but Christ? Christ the power of God; Christ the unsearchable riches of God; Christ the righteousness of God; Christ the life of God; Christ is God! That is the message that now we are to give to the world. Is it not? Then what does the world need? Christ. Do they need anything else? No. Is there anything else? No. "In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in Him." GCB/GCDB 1893, p. 147.4
Well, then, Christ the power of God; Christ the wisdom of God; Christ the unsearchable riches of God, and Christ the life of God. That is what we are to preach. Well, what is that all summed up in one thing? What expresses it? The Gospel. What is it to preach the gospel? It is to preach the mystery of God, which is Christ in men the hope of glory. What has God given to us to give to the world but "the everlasting gospel to preach unto every kindred and nation and tongue and people"? Revelation 14:6. Is not that what the message starts with? And then, when men will not receive the everlasting gospel nor worship Him who made heaven and earth and the sea and the fountains of waters—whom did they worship? The beast and his image. "Babylon is fallen, is fallen"; and then the third angel's message says they will worship the beast and his image. So that now, men worship the beast and his image, or else they will worship God. That is settled. According to the message as it is, and the time in which we are, the only thing that people in this world can worship is Him that made heaven and earth, the sea and the fountains of water, or else the beast and his image; there is no half-way place. The three messages are simply one three-fold message. In the special testimonies, is one that is addressed, "To Brethren in Responsible Positions," we read on page 15: GCB/GCDB 1893, p. 147.7
"While you hold the banner of truth firmly, proclaiming the law of God, let every soul remember that the faith of Jesus is connected with the commandments of God. The third angel is represented as flying through the midst of heaven, symbolizing the work of those who proclaimed the first, second, and third angel's messages; all are linked together." GCB/GCDB 1893, p. 148.1
So that the opening thing, and the one thing of all, that which covers all of these messages, is the everlasting gospel." GCB/GCDB 1893, p. 148.2
Just looking at these samples from A.T. Jones, we see the everlasting gospel pointing to God's love, His character and His sacrifice, all in Christ. Continuing on, we have two quotes from E.J. Waggoner that also share this most precious message:
"The first thing to be thought of in every case is the message. In fact, we may say that the only thing that we as Seventh-day Adventists need to know is what is termed among us the third angel's message, which is but another name for the closing up of the everlasting gospel. Paul determined to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified; and that was what gave him success. ARSH January 2, 1894, p. 4.1
Even so will it be in these days. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth. All men are in the same condition, having the same need; for God "hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth" (Acts 17:26), and hath fashioned all their hearts alike. Psalm 35:15. "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), and all who believe are alike justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Since there is no difference in men, no matter in what part of the earth they dwell, God puts no difference between them in the matter of salvation, but purifies the hearts of all alike, by faith. ARSH January 2, 1894, p. 4.2
What is known as the third angel's message, or, better still, the threefold, closing message of the gospel, is simply the announcement that the Lord is soon coming, and of the power of God to prepare men for that event…. This is the message: Man is nothing, but God is everything; man is weakness, but God is strength; man is sinful, but God is righteousness; man is ignorant, but God is wisdom; man is as frail as the grass, but God is wisdom; man is as frail as the grass, but God has life in Himself; and all that God is, He gives to everyone who will accept Him; for He "gave Himself for us." ARSH January 2, 1894, p. 4.3
The message, then, is the announcement of the power of God, as contrasted with the weakness of men, and as working in weak and sinful men. It is the setting forth of the mind of Christ, and showing that as God was manifest in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, Who emptied Himself that the Father alone might be revealed in Him, so He will reveal Himself in the flesh of every one who will yield himself to God, that he may be emptied of self. Now the power of God is always the same. It cannot be measured, for it is infinite. To create the smallest thing, or to cleanse the least sin, requires nothing less than the power of God, and to create the entire universe, or to save the world, requires nothing more than that same power. All things are alike to God. Nothing is too hard for him.Jeremiah 32:17-19. With a word all things are accomplished by Him, and it requires no more effort for Him to speak the word that brings the universe into existence than to speak the word that causes a single blade of grass to grow. The same word that cast the devil out of Mary, a Jewess, also cast the devil out of the daughter of the Syro-phenician woman. "The same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him." Romans 10:12. ARSH January 2, 1894, p. 4.4
"That is to say, ever since the creation of the world, men have been able to see the eternal power of God, if they would use their senses, for it is clearly to be discerned in the things which He has made. Creation shows the power of God. So the power of God is creative power. And since the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, it follows that the Gospel is the manifestation of creative power to save men from sin. EVCO 21.3
But we have also learned that the Gospel is the good news of salvation through Christ. The Gospel consists in the preaching of Christ and Him crucified. The apostle says: "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel; not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:17, 18. EVCO 21.4
And still further: "We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." 1 Corinthians 1:23, 24. EVCO 21.5
This is why the apostle did as he says: "And I brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified." 1 Corinthians 2:1, 2. EVCO 22.1
The preaching of Christ and Him crucified is the preaching of the power of God, and therefore it is the preaching of the Gospel, for the Gospel is the power of God. And this is exactly in harmony with the thought that the preaching of the Gospel is the setting forth of God as the Creator; for the power of God is creative power, and Christ is the one through Whom all things were created. No one can preach Christ without preaching Him as the Creator. All are to honour the Son even as they honour the Father. Whatever preaching fails to make prominent the fact that Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things, is not the preaching of the Gospel. EVCO 22.2
Creation and Redemption
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth." John 1:1-14. EVCO 22.3
"In Him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things have been created through Him, and unto Him; and He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." Colossians 1:16, 17 EVCO 22.4
Let us give particular attention to the last text, and see how creation and redemption meet in Christ. In the verses just before it we read that God "hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son, in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins." And then, after a parenthetical remark as to who Christ is, the apostle tells us how it is we have redemption through His blood. This is the explanation: "For in Him were all things created," etc." EVCO 23.1
Our apologies for the length this week, but we felt a burden to share this most precious message which is indeed The Everlasting Gospel, as expressed by God's messengers, Jones and Waggoner, and Spirit of Prophecy. It is a message of hope, redemption and love for God's last day people to give to the world. The world and our church need this message. Our Saviour is waiting to take us home!