The Third Angel's Message in Verity
When I began my experience as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian in heart, I remember I would turn to the passage of Revelation 14:6-12, and I would just read it over and over. The event I longed for came after those messages went forth. I wanted to be with Jesus so badly, yet I knew there was a work for us as a people both in reaching the world and getting ourselves ready. In my reading of the Great Controversy, I knew the first and second angel’s message had been proclaimed, but the third was either being proclaimed or just simply hadn’t been proclaimed by virtue of the fact we were still here on this earth. In the verses following the Three Angels’ message we read of the reaping that Christ will do at His return. So what is the hold up? The third angel’s message has not been correctly understood, and it has not been presented before all the world.
About a year following giving my heart to the Lord, I came to learn more about a message that was given in 1888 at a General Conference Session held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I heard and read statements like these:
“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.’” Review and Herald April 1, 1890.
“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 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 91.
In my amazement, I read that the message had come to the church, and then I wondered why we were still here.
You would think that if the Lord had sent messengers that bore the message that it would have gone to all the world, but it didn’t.
“An unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions, and to accept this truth, lay at the foundation of a large share of the opposition manifested at Minneapolis against the Lord’s message through Brethren [E.J.] Waggoner and [A.T.] Jones. By exciting that opposition Satan succeeded in shutting away from our people, in a great measure, the special power of the Holy Spirit that God longed to impart to them. The enemy prevented them from obtaining that efficiency which might have been theirs in carrying the truth to the world, as the apostles proclaimed it after the day of Pentecost. The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted, and by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world.” Selected Messages Book 1 p. 235.
It was through our brethren of the time that the light of that message was kept from the world. We were meant to be the keepers of the message and its preachers, but instead we became its greatest opposition. Notice how that came about. It was in an unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions.
When it comes to this topic, there is such a diversity in positions that it has retarded to a great degree the proclamation of the third angel’s message. There used to be a time when we as a people agreed on things such as perfection and the nature of Christ but not so now. We have different positions on justification being only legally declared righteous to it meaning being made righteous, and there are probably other positions. Some say we will keep on sinning up until the second coming of Christ while others have the position that victory is possible in the here and now. Most of the issues that we have today, they did not have in 1888. The preconceived opinions had more to do with the law in Galatians and whether it was the Huns or the Alamanni that were apart of the ten Germanic tribes of Europe depicted in the book of Daniel. If we are going to understand this message and proclaim it in the way God would have us to, we are going to need to be willing to yield our opinions and ideas. If we don’t, we may either delay the second coming of Christ, or the Lord may have to pass us by as messengers and raise up others to fill our place.
Our primary problem has been that we do not understand the message, and the evidence for that is in all the varied opinions we hold. This quotation is very enlightening and startling:
“We need also much more knowledge; we need to be enlightened in regard to the plan of salvation. There is not one in one hundred who understands for himself the Bible truth on this subject that is so necessary to our present and eternal welfare.” Selected Messages Book 1 pp. 359, 360.
This one in one hundred is not simply all of humanity, but the context of this statement is pertaining to a report of a camp meeting in Rome, New York during 1889. Among our people of that time, not one in one hundred understood for himself the truth concerning the plan of salvation, or to be more specific, justification by faith. We often think this doctrine is so simple that we can move on to more advanced subjects such as prophecy, the Sanctuary, etc. To be honest, I believe we understand more of the other topics than we do this one, and none of the other topics matter if we don’t understand how we may be saved. You may disagree, but what use is that knowledge if it perish with you? For a generation of people that lived during the 1860s and 1870s, of whom Sister White wrote to ministers that often their congregations knew more than they did, and not one in one hundred of these people still living knew the Bible truth on this subject. How about today? Is it one in a thousand? Is it one in ten thousand? One in a hundred thousand? I think we all know the number might be far lower than we wish.
In this series we want to consider from Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy this great and grand truth that is so essential now. Point by point needs to be examined as we yield our opinions to the utterance of God in inspired writing. Jesus is truth, and there is only one of Him. There is no room for all these different views being right. The society we live in tries to tell us that there is truth that is different for you, and that there is truth that is different for me. To reiterate it again there is only one Christ, one faith, one baptism. Scripture testifies of Christ, and therefore it testifies of the one truth so essential to every soul.
This all important study deserves our attention, for in understanding it and proclaiming it we will be prepared for the second coming of Christ, the world will be reached in a generation just as it was in days of old, and our Lord’s coming will be hastened rather than delayed. Much is to be gained in the time spent here. May we each approach this subject with open hearts to the teaching and influence of the Holy Spirit, not leaning to our own understanding but in every line that we read seeking the knowledge that God would give.