Gospel Issues in Adventism
by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira
When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpents reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring those who obey Gods commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. [Revelation 12:13-17]
Before God will bring this wicked world of ours to an end, Jesus prophesied that this gospel of the kingdom will be preached into all the world for a witness [Matthew 24:14]. When this prophecy is fulfilled, every living person on this earth who has reached the age of accountability will have made up his or her ultimate choice, either for Christ or against Him.
At this time, the whole world will be polarized into only two distinct camps: believers and unbelievers [read 1 Jn. 5:19]. The Bible describes these two groups in many different ways the sheep and the goats; those who have build their houses on the rock Jesus Christ and those who have build their houses on the sands of their own self-righteousness; those who are totally God-dependent and those who are totally self-dependent; those who have received the mark of the Beast and those who have been sealed with the seal of God.
As a result of this polarization, the closing events of this worlds history will culminate with the final showdown in the great controversy between Christ and Satan. According to Revelation 12, this controversy began in heaven when Lucifer, referred to as the dragon, and one third of the angels rebelled against God. Following their defeat, Satan and his angels usurped dominion over this world at the Fall and, as a result, this controversy between Christ and Satan was transferred to this earth [read Rev. 12:7-9].
In this final showdown, which the book of Revelation describes as the war of Armageddon, the battle of that great day of God Almighty, the conflict will be between Gods people, the last generation of Christians who are living under the banner of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and Satans people, those who have deliberately and ultimately rejected Christ and have chosen to be under the banner of Satan, the enemy of the gospel [read Rev. 16:12-16].
At this time, the faith of these last generation of Christians will be tried and tested to the utmost, in a way that no other generation of believers has ever been tested. This final conflict is what we covered in our last study, the great tribulation or the time of trouble. It will take place just before the second coming of Christ and the end of the world.
This final generation of believers, who will endure this great time of trouble and will triumph over the full force of Satans attacks, are referred to in our Scripture reading, Rev. 12:17, as the Remnant in the King James Version. In verse 11 of this same chapter, they are described as those who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and who love not their lives unto death. In other words, they are mature Christians and have experienced the full power of the everlasting gospel. This is how Paul describes them [read Eph. 4:14-16].
According to Bible prophecy and the signs of the times, we are presently living in the Day of Atonement the closing events of the plan of salvation and this earths history. Therefore, it is Gods purpose that every believer living in these last days be part of that last generation of mature Christians who will vindicate Him and the power of His gospel. This is what this final showdown between Christ and Satan is all about. This study and the next, which will conclude this series of studies on the gospel issued in Adventism, will center around this last generation of fully developed or mature Christian believers called the Remnant or referred to as the 144,000.
In this study, our attention will be on the Remnant and we will begin with the primary meaning of the word, especially as it is used in the New Testament. Two texts that clearly reveal what the Bible means by the word REMNANT are both found in my favorite book, Romans:
Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved.... [Rom. 9:27]
I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Dont you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah how he appealed to God against Israel: Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me? And what was Gods answer to him? I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal. So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. [Rom. 11:1-6]
These are those who remain faithful to God in spite of persecution.
When the Bible applies this word remnant to the last generation of Christians, it is talking about those who will endure the great tribulation or the time of trouble I spoke about in our last study: a people whose faith does not falter even though they feel forsaken by God as Christ did at the cross. In other words, these believers will manifest the faith of Jesus and, therefore, vindicate the power of the gospel, which is able to totally delivered us from the problem of self, the fundamental principle of sin.
Having establish this fact, we must now consider how this word remnant is used in Revelation 12:17:
Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring [or remnant, in the King James Version] those who obey Gods commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. [Rev. 12:17]
Here we immediately face a problem. Normally, we have applied this word remnant to refer to the Seventh-day Adventist church. However, the Greek word John used does not refer to a church or a denomination, but rather a special people that are a part of the church, those who have reached maturity (which I believe are the 144,000, our next study).
Let me explain. The Greek word normally used in the New Testament to describe the remnant is either leimma or hupoleimma. These are the two words Paul used in the two texts we read from Romans. But the word John used in Rev. 12:17 is hoi loipoi, which really means the rest of her seed. This is how the word is translated in most of the translations, except the King James Version. The Revised Standard Version, the New International Version, and the New American Standard Bible accurately translate this word as the rest of the offspring.
In Revelation 12:7-17 we have a overall description of the great controversy between Christ and Satan.
In verses 7-9, the war between Christ and Satan is described as it took place in heaven and how Satan and his angels were defeated and cast out of heaven:
And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down that ancient serpent called the devil, or Stan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. [Rev. 12:7-9]
Then in verses 10-16 we have a description of this controversy as it continues on earth between Satan and the church, especially after the cross when Christ redeemed the world from Satans hands:
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short. When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpents reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.. [Revelation 12:10-16]
First Satan tried to destroy the church by persecution and then by infiltrating it and corrupting the gospel.
However, before the end comes, Jesus predicted that the gospel of His kingdom will be fully restored and proclaimed [Matt. 24:14]. As a result, God will produce a people who will experience the full power of the everlasting gospel and who will fully reflect Christ. This is the whole purpose of the three angels message:
This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey Gods commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. [Rev. 14:12].
When this happens, Revelation 12:17 will become a reality:
Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring those who obey Gods commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. [Rev. 12:17]
In this final showdown, Gods people will triumph and Christ and His gospel message will be vindicated. How then are we to apply this verse 17 to our church? I believe the statement found in the [SDA publication] Insight Magazine, 13 March 1979, represents a more accurate interpretation of this text than our traditional interpretation. Here is what it says:
Technically, two movements must occur before God will have a remnant.... First, many SDAs will decide to leave the church and will join Babylon (ref. Great Controversy, page 608).... Second, a great number of people who are not now SDAs will be convinced that God is truthfully perceived by this church, and will join (ref. Great Controversy, page 390). This blending of Gods friends at the end time is what will make up the remnant.
As I have expressed and demonstrated it many times from the pulpit, I believe God raised the Adventist Movement with the purpose of fully restoring the everlasting gospel, which the Reformation began, and proclaiming it to the whole world. When this happens, and the three angels message will be proclaimed with a loud voice, this earth will be lightened with the glory of God by that fourth angel of Rev. 18:
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted: Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries. Then I heard another voice from heaven say: Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.... [Rev. 18:1-5]
At this time those who have fully surrendered to the demands of the cross of Christ and whose minds have been fully settled into the truth of Christ our Righteousness, will have developed the faith of Jesus. This faith is what will carry them through the time of trouble because it is unshakable. This last generation of believers will be the remnant who will fully vindicate Christ and the power of the gospel.