A Fourth Identifying Characteristic
Right now I would like to add a fourth crucial mark of identification to our list. We have found this church to be the last, end-piece of historic truth. It will be proclaiming the final message of God just before Jesus returns. In fact, if God has any kind of special counsel or warning for the world at the end of time, He would surely give that message through His last-day remnant church. I think we can all see the logic of this conclusion.
Does God indeed have such a message, and is it identified clearly in the Bible? Jesus indicated that the proclaiming of a certain definite truth would immediately precede the conclusion of human history. Listen to His words: "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" (Matthew 24:14).
The last sign of Christ's coming will be a worldwide preaching of the "gospel of the kingdom." After that, the end will come. Now follow me closely. John the Revelator actually saw in vision the fulfillment of Christ's words. He wrote, "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice . . ." (Revelation 14:6, 7).
The next few verses describe precisely what that special last proclamation of the gospel will consist of. Then immediately John said, "And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle ... and he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped" (Revelation 14:14-16).
Did you catch that? The end comes just as soon as this particular "gospel" message has gone to every nation on earth. Jesus said the same thing, "this gospel... shall be preached in all the world ... and then shall the end come."
I submit to you that whatever this message is, it has to be the most urgent and compelling one that human ears have ever heard. Both John and Jesus testify that upon completion it will usher in the glorious kingdom of Christ.
Can we know what that final warning will contain? John spelled it out so simply that none need be in doubt. "Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him;for the hour of his judgment is come" (Revelation 14:7). Notice that a part of this last call of God will be announcing that the judgment has already started. "Is Come," not "will come." We must look and listen for the preaching of such a pre-advent judgment message to all nations of the earth.
The next part of the first angel's message is this: "And worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of water" (Revelation 14:7). Does that sound familiar? It should, for it is quoted almost word for word right from the fourth commandment of the decalogue, which strongly indicates that the Sabbath will be a part of the "gospel" proclamation which must go to the whole world just before the end.
How do you worship God as the Creator? Right in the heart of the Ten Commandments God wrote the answer: "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it" (Exodus 20:11).
True worship stems from a recognition of God's creative power and authority, and the Sabbath is God's own established sign that He is the maker of everything. Over and over throughout the Bible God claims worship Because He created all things, "thou are worthy, 0 Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: For Thou Hast Created All Things" (Revelation 4:11).
God challenged the false gods repeatedly because they could not create. "The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth . . . He hath made the earth by his power" (Jeremiah 10:11,12)."God himself... formed the earth and made it ... I am the Lord; and there is none else" (Isaiah 45:18).
The Sabbath was instituted by God as a great reminder-sign of His sovereign authority as the only God to be worshiped. The Creator set in motion the arbitrary cycle of the seven-day week to mark off the true Sabbath, so that the world would be without excuse in knowing whom to worship and when. Thus the first angel's message called for men to "worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea"—a call to true Sabbath-keeping.
The second and third angels' messages described by John can be summarized briefly: "Babylon is fallen ... If any man worship the beast ... and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God" (Revelation 14:8-10). Contrary to the opinion of many, this plain, bold preaching of the beast message is included in the everlasting gospel of God's kingdom. Even warnings against the mark of the beast will be heralded to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. Then the End Will Come!
We are now prepared to add a fourth characteristic to the list of three others. The true remnant church of the last days will surely be used of God to carry His final warning message to all inhabitants of planet earth. That message will include (a) the judgment hour is come, (b) true Sabbath worship, (c) the fall of spiritual Babylon, and (d) the mark of the beast.
This completes the amazing array of specific characteristics of the present day's true church:
1. Arises After 1798
2. Keeps All Ten Commandments
3. Has the Spirit of Prophecy
4. Preaches the Message of Three
Angels (Revelation 14) on a World-Wide Scale
Could any thinking person be indifferent toward what we have discovered thus far? We have in our hands right now the key to unlock one of the most fantastic spiritual secrets in the world. God has concentrated all the clues in this one, tremendous, prophetic chapter of Revelation. Look at the marks of identification. This is God's list, not mine. I simply lifted them from the inspired pages of God's Book. What do they tell us about the true church today?
First of all, it could not have arisen before 1798. This eliminates most of the great popular Protestant churches of the world. Practically all of them were formed before 1798. Secondly, it would have to be a church which keeps all the Ten Commandments. At first glance, this would seem to be a very poor definitive test for discovering which church is right. Surely all of them would teach and practice obedience to the great moral law of God— or would they? The fact is that very few contemporary denominations even lay claim to keeping all the Ten Commandments. Most of them admit freely that they do not observe the seventh-day Sabbath required by the fourth commandment. They observe the first day of the week instead of the Sabbath.
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