Sermon, Sabbath, August 12, 1989
what of the night?”
"The hour has come, the hour is striking and
striking at you,
"THE SPIRIT SPEAKETH EXPRESSLY"
If there is one message above another which the book of Acts conveys, it is that the Holy Spirit speaks to the believers in Jesus. Observe in Acts 8:29 what the Spirit said to Philip, and it expresses the fact that it was the Spirit that spoke. "Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot." The Spirit spoke just as expressly to Peter as recorded in Acts 10:19-20: "While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them."
In Acts 13, we find the Spirit speaking to the pneumatikoi of Antioch. The record reads: As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them." (verse 2) We find that as Paul and his companions were on his second missionary tour, the Spirit intervened in their plans: "Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia [the province], after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not." (Acts 16:6-7) You will also find as one comes to the closing events of the book of Acts that the Spirit is still speaking. In Chapter 21, it reads: "And finding disciples, we tarried seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem." (verse 4) Then when Agabus came down to Caesarea, the record reads: "He took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Spirit, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles." (verse 11)
That Spirit, which spoke so pointedly and so expressly in the days of the Apostles, speaks to us today. And I want you to notice carefully what the Word of God says the Spirit declares. Turn to I Timothy 4:1: "Now the Spirit, speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils."
I would have you note that the Spirit does not say that some would depart from the church, but some shall depart from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils! They will apostatize from the truth. They will step aside from the faith. They will give heed to seducing spirits and we are told that these seducing spirits will not be in the appearance of demons but transformed into ministers of righteousness and angels of light. (II Cor. 11:13-15) They will give heed to teachings of demons that would manipulate truth, that would manipulate the Scriptures, that would manipulate the Writings, ignoring "time and place" of the contents.
The intensity of this deception will be inversely proportional to the time remaining. If you'll turn to Revelation 12 and note the "b" part of verse 12, it reads: "Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea for the devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." Now if you believe, if you understand, that we are living in the very closing hours of human history and that the end of all things is upon us, then what can you understand from this text? You can know that the wrath of the enemy to deceive is even greater now than it was ten years ago. The intensity of the deception is greater but that intensity will not be that which is obvious. It is a deception, a camouflaged deception! And if you understand the terms, "sea" and "earth" -"Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and the sea" - in a prophetic sense and compare it with Revelation 13 where two beasts come up, one out of the sea, and the other out of the earth, you can understand where the intensity of the deception is to be focused. You are living in that area described as the beast that cometh up out of the earth.
Furthermore, we are told that there are going to be manifest miracles. Turn to Revelation 16, and I want you to take a good look at verses 13 & 14:
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the south of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils. working miracles which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
First let us focus our attention on the word, "miracles." In our English understanding of *miracles," we usually perceive of them as a manifestation of cures and healings. But the Greek word is semeia, and means signs by which the one performing attests to his genuineness. In other words, these "demons" are going to give "signs" by which they attest their genuineness, not as demons, but as ministers of righteousness. Through this deception and under this false guise, they will deceive the nations and the kings of the earth and bring them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty.
The final battle of earth is over truth versus error. This is the picture portrayed in Revelation. Go back to Revelation 13, to the work of the beast that comes up out of the earth. It says - "And he doeth great wonders... and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth ["Woe to the inhabiters of the earth...for the devil is come down unto you."] by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast." (verses 13-14) Here is the same word for "miracles" as in Rev. 16 - semeia, a word which means a manifestation by which one attests to the genuineness of his message.
There is something else. Besides the prophesied deception, there is a promise. Turn to the word of Jesus in John 14:16-17. Jesus, anticipating his role as the great High Priest, said, "I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you - (How long?) -forever; even the Spirit of truth;..." How long will the Spirit of truth abide with us? Forever! There never will be a time that we will not need the Spirit of truth and there will never be a time when the Spirit of truth will not abide with us. Even though Jesus shall step aside from His High Priestly intercession in the presence of the Father, and even though the Spirit of God will be withdrawn from the earth, it never says anywhere, nor is it even mentioned anytime that the Spirit of God will be withdrawn from His own. "I will: He says,"abide with you forever."
We may no longer have a divine-human Intercessor when probation's hour closes for no man can enter in, but the all-divine Spirit maketh intercession before the Father in groanings which cannot be uttered.(Rom. 8:26¬27) We can know when probation's hour closes that if we are in the truth that the Spirit of truth will still be abiding with us and will keep us when the enemy would seek to destroy us. Likewise, even now as he comes down with great wrath of deception, we can have the Spirit of truth to keep us from being deceived.
Recently a fellow minister sent me an article from the Christian Inquirer (April, 1985) This article was the first of a series of feature articles by David Hunt. You recognize the name? He is the author of the Godmakers, and The Seduction of Christianity, - and an authority on the new-age movement. He captions his first article - °The Delusion." I am going to read several paragraphs from this article, and I want you to listen very, very carefully. He wrote:
Are we living in the last days? For much of my Christian life I considered that question to be an invitation to fruitless speculation. The prophetic visions in Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation seemed impossible to unravel, and the best proof of that was the many conflicting views held by equally devout and sincere Christians.
Consequently I avoided those parts of the Bible that dealt with the 'end times," not wanting to join the ranks of those who, it seemed to me, kept crawling out on the limbs of doubtful interpretations that inevitably broke off beneath them.
Some years ago, however, I began to see that our Lord and His apostles, as well as Old Testament prophets, described the last days as though they expected that some generation would eventually recognize the prophesied "signs of the times”' and on that basis take appropriate action.
Indeed, I noticed that Jesus specifically rebuked the Jewish people and their leaders in His day for failing to recognize the days in which they lived: “You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?” (Luke 12:56)
If He so severely criticized them for not being alert to the time of His first coming, would He not criticize us even more if we fail to recognize this time of His Second Coming?
There can be no reasonable doubt that the Bible describes the "last days' with the obvious intent that some generation at some time would thereby be able to recognize that Christ's coming “'is near, right at the door." (Matthew 24:32-33) If we are that generation, how would we be able to know?
There is a standard list of “signs” that is usually given, which includes such things as wars, famine, pestilence and earthquakes. Attention is directed to the Middle East, the threat of World War III, a nuclear holocaust and Armageddon. While such things are indicated in the Bible, there are signs of the "last days” that I consider to be far more important for us to recognize.
When asked for the signs of His return, the first thing Jesus said was: “See to it that no one misleads you.” (Matthew 24:4) He went on to warn that the “last days” just prior to His return would be characterized by the greatest deception the world has ever known; and it would involve three specifics: (1) false Christs, (2) false prophets, and (3) false miracles. (Matthew 24:5, 11, 24)
Moreover, Christ and His apostles emphasized these signs more than any others, because the consequences of being deceived by the forces of antichrist are far worse than being victimized by famine, disease or war. (p. 4, emphasis his)
Now think about what this is saying. To be victimized by war, victimized by famine, victimized by disease, what would that do? Kill the body! But what about deception? It would kill the soul! You can survive in eternity should famine, war or disease overtake you; but you cannot survive in eternity if deception overtakes you!
Why is this issue of truth and error so basic? To the Pharisee, to the Jews, Jesus said:
Ye are of your father the devil. and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44)
The devil abode not in the truth. Why is this so basic? Those who are following their father the devil likewise do not “abide" in the truth. What does it mean to "abide"? To rest in; to be immersed in; to be a part of; to let truth become literally a vital part of one's life. But to let the devil be your father is to abide in error, to be immersed in error, to let it guide your life.
When this reign of sin has ended and time shall be no more, all will abide in the truth, for affliction shall not arise a second time. Isaiah writes - "Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in." (26:2) What will have happened then? Only those who keep the truth will be there. The Scriptures are clear - the rest will have been cast out!
Turn to Matthew the 13th chapter. There is recorded a parable Jesus told. "The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one." (verse 38) Now verse 41:
The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them that do wickedly.
Not only will those be cast out who do wickedly, but also those that "offend." So that you can get the force of this word and what it means, I want you to note the Greek word for "offend" - skandala. It is in the plural form and means - all things that create a scandal. While we have a certain meaning for this word when transliterated into English, I want you to notice its use in Romans 16:17. Here Paul writes:
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
The same word in its plural form is used here for "offences" as was used by Jesus in Matthew 13:41. But here it is defined as that which is "contrary to the doctrine" which was taught by the apostles. Not only are we to avoid such doctrine but those also who teach it. "Offences" - all that is contrary to sound doctrine; the doctrines of devils, that which the Spirit expressly states some will give heed to, all will be cast out. The error and those that cling to it as well as those who teach it will have no part in the city of truth and light.
The separation between truth and error and those that embrace either will be an eternal separation. Now I hope this morning as we are studying together this issue, we will fully realize the seriousness of the separation involved, for the Spirit speaks expressly that some shall depart from the faith. There is not only a separation now, but an eternal separation is the end result.
This seriousness is emphasized by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians. There in Galatians 5:19, it reads:
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness. lasciviousness. idolatry, witchcraft, hatred. variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies...
What company is "heresy" in? Adultery, fornication, idolatry, and witchcraft! Our word, heresy, is transliterated from the Greek word, hairesis. Thayer in his Greek lexicon defines this word as meaning
that which is chosen, a chosen course of thought and action; hence one's chosen opinion, tenet - an opinion varying from the true exposition of the Christian faith.
What is heresy then? It is a personal opinion that cannot be supported by a plain, "Thus saith the Lord." It is a teaching contrary to the faith, a doctrine of devils.
I want you to notice what the Apostle Paul says about these "works of the flesh." He continues the list -
Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which
I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do
such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." (verse
Now that ought to be clear enough for us. Those that are involved in heresies, opinions contrary to the faith, will not inherit the kingdom of God. They will be cast out with those who do iniquity. Only those who compose the nation which keepeth the truth will enter into the kingdom of God.
It is sad when an individual whom we consider as of "Babylon" can come to the conclusion that the most dangerous thing at this present hour is the deception of being misled, and we, with all the light and warning we have, continue to imbibe every wind of doctrine blowing through Adventism today. We who profess to be among the "concerned" Adventists ought to be foremost in being able to discern truth from error, and "avoid" those who are teaching for truth their own opinions of what constitutes truth. Not only does the Spirit speak expressly in the Scriptures concerning the departure from the faith in the latter times, but that same Spirit through the Writings speaks to us. Hear what it says in Series B, No. 7, p. 56:
One thing it is certain is soon to be realized. – the great apostasy, which is developing and increasing and waxing stronger, and will continue to do so until the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout. We are to hold fast the first principles of our denominated faith, and go forward from strength to increased faith.
This was written in 1905. Does this promise a "turning around"? The apostasy will continue to increase until the Lord Jesus comes the second time. We are to hold fast to the first principles of our denominated faith and go forward to an increasing perception of that faith. Now my brother, my sister, just because someone takes a name and says they are on the firm foundation does not make them on that foundation. Sadly, you can today garnish anything with the Writings of Ellen G. White and expect it to be accepted as the truth, when in reality these Writings can be mixed with deadly error.
Now let us note another warning. It reads:
I have been shown that Satan has not been stupid and careless these many years, since his fall, but has been learning. He has grown more artful. His plans are laid deeper, and are more covered with a religious garment to hide their deformity. The power of Satan now to tempt and deceive is ten-told greater than it was in the days of the apostles. His power has increased, and it will increase, until it is taken away. His wrath and hate grow stronger as his time to work draws near its close. (Spiritual Gifts, Vol. II, p. 277)
Now my friends, if we really are at the end-time, if we really believe that, if you truly believe that we have reached the last hour, then what do you know? What can you know? That the devil has multiplied deceptions and these deceptions are not going to be obvious, but rather presented as present truth. And the messengers he will use will come as messengers of righteousness - angels of light. The "doctrines of devils" will be robed and garbed in the Writings; they will be garbed in the messages of Jones and Waggoner, yes in anything but pure, unadulterated truth.
The deception is camouflaged with the truth given to us in the Writings. It is put on the front; it is put within; it is put on the back. It is used to cover deadly concepts of error. What have we been told? What did Paul tell those in his day who wanted to remain in the faith? "Avoid them"! Yet what are we doing? Supporting them, reading avidly what they are writing. Then we wonder why we are so confused, and many do not know how confused they really are.
Let us read another warning. It is from the Review & Herald, Dec. 13, 1892:
After the truth has been proclaimed as a witness to all nations, every conceivable power of evil will be set in operation, and minds will be confused by many voices crying, "Lo here is Christ. Lo he is there. This is the truth. I have the message from God, he has sent me with greet light."
Yesterday, as we concluded the studies in the book of Acts, we drew a time-line of the last four decades - 1948-1988 - and noticed plainly and specifically the sign that God gave which marked the close of probation for corporate bodies, nations and churches. This warning tells us that after the truth has been proclaimed as a witness, then there will be confusion of mind by "many voices." Our own publications have told us [Zurcher, Christ of the Revelation, p. 72] that this does not mean that the nations had to be converted, but only that the truth be given as a witness to them. We can know by the prophecy of Jesus when the times of the nations are up. [Luke 21:24] Let me tell you this. You take the date - 1980 - the date when Israel moved its capitol from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the date when the Church voted at Dallas, Texas, to change its doctrines, -and you go down the line noting everything you get in the mail, - everything you can hear on cassette tapes, and ask yourself the question - "When did that voice begin?" -you will find that 98% of those "many voices" began after 1980.
Think back on your own church experience. The confusion that has come within the community of Adventism has come since that date. I can document this and have done so in the publications of the Foundation and in "Watchman, What of the Night?" You know we profess to believe the Writings. In them as well as in the Scriptures, God has warned us. Why do we not accept the warning and order our reading and listening habits in accordance with that warning? The Spirit speaketh expressly that some shall depart from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.
Not only this, we are not left in
darkness as to the devil's method of operation. Turn to Genesis 2, verse 16. In
the Garden of Eden, "the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of
the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in
the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely
die." This is historic fact read back
Now the serpent was more subtil then any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman. Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden. God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.
The serpent said, "You're not going to die. Take a look at the tree, it looks pretty good." So when Eve saw that the tree was good for food, and something to increase her wisdom, she took of the fruit and ate, giving also to her husband to eat. What was it that caused the first sin? A mixture of good and evil! That which looked good, and professed to give knowledge, resulted only in sin and death. That is what God is trying to tell us by putting the name - The Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil* - on that tree which caused the downfall of our first parents.
There is an interesting statement in the book, Evangelism taken from the Review & Herald, of October 22, 1895. It reads:
Satan has wrought with deceiving power, bringing in a multiplicity of errors to obscure the truth. Error cannot stand alone, and would soon become extinct if it did not fasten itself like a parasite upon the tree of truth. Error draws its life from the truth of God. The traditions of men, like floating germs, attach themselves to the truth of God, and men regard them as a part of truth. Through false doctrines, Satan gains a foothold, and captivates the minds of men, causing thee to hold theories that have no foundation in truth.
What does the devil do? What does error do? It attaches itself to the tree of truth, and as the vine winds itself around the tree with its branches, it looks pretty beautiful, doesn't it? It ultimately not only kills the tree but those that partake of it. This mingling of truth and error has been the devil's masterpiece of deception. He used it with mother Eve, and he still finds it very successful with all of her children. While the issue is truth versus error, it has been so disguised that it is in reality truth versus error mixed with truth.
There is no doubt that the message we need today is the message of righteousness by faith which results in Christ's righteousness revealed in the life. But do you know what righteousness by faith really is? Is it the message of 1888, or was it a message prior to 1888, or is it a message that has come since then through Wieland and Short? What really is righteousness by faith - the righteousness of Christ? Let me read it to you. Testimonies to Ministers, p. 65. It says:
And because the Spirit is to come.
not to praise
men or to build up their erroneous theories, but to reprove the world of sin
and of righteousness, and of judgment, many turn away from It . . . They are
not willing to exchange their own righteousness, which is unrighteousness, for
the righteousness of Christ, which is pure, unadulterated truth.
What is righteousness by faith? What is the righteousness of Christ? Pure and unadulterated truth! My brother, my sister, the devil doesn't care if you have an "Ivory Soap" religion - 99 and 99/100% pure. He doesn't care if you drink 99 and 99/100% pure grape juice providing that juice is laced with 1/100 part of cyanide. The closer his deceptive wrath comes to the truth, the greater its power to deceive. Keep in mind that we are living in an hour when the power of deception is ten times greater than in the days of the apostles. That deception will increase as time decreases.
Where are we taking our stand today? Are we content with a mixture? Are we content just to go along, read this, read that, listen to this, listen to that, or are we willing to heed the counsel of what the Apostle Paul gives in regard to that which is contrary to sound doctrine – “Avoid” it. Unless your mind is razor sharp to differentiate between that which is truth and that which is error, you had better not risk it. Some of us are playing with our eternity, and are not conscious of it. It is time we awakened, and faced the reality of the warnings given.
Turn now to the second chapter of II Thessalonians, and let’s begin reading with the seventh verse:
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work...
It was working in Paul's day, and as we studied this week from the book of Acts, we found it working in that early period of the Church.
...only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish.
The word translated "Wicked," in the Greek is anomos, and is defined by Thayer in this instance as "he in whom all iniquity has fixed its abode." Fenton translates the ninth verse stating - "This outlaw's arrival will be accompanied by the energy of Satan with all powers, and signs, and terrors of falsehood." Here is an example of the deceptive power of apostasy. The Bible describes the man clothed in white as he in whom all iniquity has fixed its abode, yet millions hail him as the "holy father." It is the deception that will take the world captive. But why? Paul states clearly why.
Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
As Paul sets forth these principles which apply to the world in general as they are deceived by the "Wicked One," the bottom line is very clear and applicable to us as we face the "many voices" within the community of Adventism. The reason for the delusion is that we have not a genuine love for the truth that we might be saved from deception.
We prefer to have our ears tickled with something sensational, or we prefer to be lulled to sleep with the pleasing prospect that God is going to turn things around, and that it is all right to abide in apostasy. Because genuine truth is unvarnished, and sometimes rough, we do not love to have it disturb the veneer of our complacency. Therefore, we are willing to believe lies mingled with some truth and set forth as "opinions." For this cause God will permit strong delusion to overtake all who so believe.
Now my friends, this brings us to a critical juncture. I, in this last hour, and I do not care if I have believed what we have called "the Truth" for 25 or 35 years, if I do not have in my heart a love for that Truth, God is going to permit me to come under strong delusion so that I will believe a lie, and I will be damned. Hell will not only be filled with wicked people - adulterers, murderers and those who practice witchcraft, but also those who receive and teach heresy. I would rather have a man call me a heretic than to have God judge me as a heretic. I would rather have a man call me today an offshoot than to have God cast me out.
The strong delusion is upon us, and I do not care how sincere you may be, or how sincere I may be, if the love of truth does not dominate our thinking and completely control our lives, we will be overwhelmed by the fatal delusion and not know it. If I am not willing to avoid that which is error and ask God on my knees, if necessary, to show me what I should read or not read, even though it looks or sounds good, I am going to be caught in the delusion that's going to send me where I do not want to go. The Scripture is clear, the Scripture is plain, and we have had repeated warnings from the servant of the Lord over and over again as to what we face. Then how can we go on realizing that we are at the end, and that the deception of the enemy is ten times greater now, and will continue to increase in intensity, and then expect to be in the kingdom unless we are actually going to make some changes in our relationship to the "many voices" that are confusing our minds.
The cross is the emblem and the end objective of truth. Was not Jesus the truth? Did He not say - "I am the truth"? And what was His end? The Cross! The end of truth in this world is the cross. The objective to which truth leads is indeed the crucifixion of self.
I have several books of "quotations" and in noting some quoted from James Russell Lowell all from the same poem, I was anxious to acquire the whole poem. It is called - "The Present Crisis" written in December, 1844, and while focused on a particular objective which Lowell had in mind, it does speak to what we have been talking about this morning. Note with me a few of the thoughts:
Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side: ...
Though the cause of Evil prosper, yet 'tis Truth alone is strong,
And, albeit she wander outcast now, I see around her throng
Troops of beautiful, tall angels, to enshield her from all wrong, ...
Truth forever on the scaffold, Error forever on the throne, -
Yet the scaffold sways the future, and, behind in the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own, ...
Then to side with Truth is noble when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit. and 'tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses, while the coward stands aside,
Doubting in his abject .spirit, till his Lord is crucified, ...
By the light of burning heretics Christ's bleeding feet I track,
Toiling up new Calvaries ever with the cross that turns not back.
Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me." And if you and I ever see the Father's face, the way of the cross, we must take. The bottom line is simply - Have we opened our hearts to receive the love of truth? Since the cross is the emblem and the end of truth in this world, may I ask you a question? Do you love to be crucified? And there is not an individual speaking from the viewpoint of the flesh that would say, "Yes." But it is the only way to life. Paul declared - "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ" - the way, the truth, and the life -liveth in me: and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me."
Let us sing together - "Jesus, I my cross have taken; all to leave and follow Thee. Perish every fond ambition" and His truth alone will bring this about.