October 2, 2020

ME AND THE ANGELS

Eight Seventh-day Adventists reflect on the meaning of a phrase: “three angels’ messages.”

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The following pages feature personal testimonies from random Adventists of multiple generations about what the phrase “three angels’ messages” means to them. The writers are united by a single requirement: they speak from the rank and file of Adventist membership rather than the church’s trained theological class. From teenagers to elders thrice their age, these voices of  candor and courage deserve our ample admiration. Rather than critique their doctrinal precision or sophistication, we pray that you, their colleagues and friends, their brothers and sisters, will be challenged to ask yourselves that probing question and respond with proper urgency to the angels’ insistent call.—Editors.

I Still Have Questions

When I hear the phrase “three angels’ messages,” I think of end-time events and the message that Jesus is trying to spread to the world before His return. This message is a call to obedience, specifically in regard to worship. Jesus is calling His people to worship Him, the Creator God, and to worship Him in truth, in the way that He has directed us through the Scriptures.

When I hear this phrase, I think of the Sabbath and the decisions that many will have to make regarding worship. I also often have questions and even doubts about how God would use seventh-day Sabbath worship as an indicator of His true followers. I know God and have a deep trust in Him, but I still have questions at times, and I don’t always understand. But I am grateful for His Word, and I will keep searching for answers!

Carolina Cruz, 21 years old, studies religion at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States.

THREE ANGELS’ MESSAGES: MY TAKE

Revelation 14:6-11 contains the three angels’ messages. The messages of these angels are meant for everyone living on earth. We Seventh-day Adventists believe that there is an urgency to helping everyone understand these messages. Thus, proclaiming them, and what is entailed within them, has become an urgent mission of our Adventist movement. I share my church’s belief in this mission. I truly believe them to be three warnings given to those living during the time of the end.

First

The first angel’s message says to “fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come” (Rev. 14:7, NKJV).* This is a wake-up call for us to give serious thought to whom our lives are honoring—whom our lives are worshipping—God or the prince of this world.

The picture that comes to mind from the phrase “fear God” is that of a child obeying because they know their parent loves them and would not steer them wrong, even though they do not fully understand why their parent would tell them to do something or not do something. God has given us His Word, the Bible, which outlines what is right for us to do and how we ought to live. Though it clashes with human philosophies and may not always make sense to us, we ought to still trust and obey Him. By doing so, we give glory to Him.

With strong distractions of this present age to lure us away from God, coupled with the fact that God has begun His pre-Advent judgment of the world and there isn’t much time left, these three messages have become urgent in nature.

Second

The second angel’s message says essentially that Babylon is fallen because she has made all nations partake in her fornication. Babylon, a symbol of human glory, self-achievement, and human worship, contrasts with the glory we ought to give to God. Thus, Babylon equates to living our lives apart from fearing and obeying God, apart from worshipping and giving glory to Him.

We are reminded that just as God was instrumental in bringing down the powerful city of Babylon in Nebuchadnezzar’s day, the worldly beliefs and philosophies built upon false doctrines, including false worship, have already fallen and been defeated. Thus, the second angel’s message comes as a warning to steer clear of false human doctrines.

Third

The third angel’s message lays plainly before us the issue of whom we worship and the consequences of that decision. Worshipping the beast and his image and receiving his mark on our foreheads and on our hands will bring down God’s wrath of eternal death upon us. As Adventists, it is imperative that we help others understand this issue of worship, upon which everyone living during the time of the end will be judged. It is my mission, and an urgent one, to help steer all people to fear, to give glory to God, and to worship Him as He has ordained.

*Bible texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Andy Hunte is an elder at the Bayanihan Seventh-day Adventist Church, building up God’s kingdom in the city of Queens, New York, United States.

Angels of Prophecy and Promise

The three angels’ messages are where prophecy meets promise. They prophesy the glorious return of Jesus Christ, and they promise their believers that the Savior will take them home one day.

As members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, we believe that Jesus will return one day and take His people home. Therefore, it is our mission to make believers of every man, woman, and child, so they can share in the joy of Christ’s return.

Throughout history, Christ has made and kept promises to His children. The three angels’ messages are yet other promises that God is destined to keep. The evidence of fulfillment in the past legitimizes this. By sharing these messages with others, we can provide clear evidence for the basis of our faith, and we can spread this good news and build upon the growing community of believers that is waiting eagerly for the day when Jesus Christ will make good on His promise and take us home with Him.

Daniel Morton is a sophomore animation major at Southern Adventist University.

UNDERSTANDING THE THREE ANGELS’ MESSAGES

Growing up Seventh-day Adventist, and in a church interested in prophecy, I remember learning certain topics at a young age.

Blackboard and Beyond

I still recall one of our elders rolling a rickety blackboard out onto the stage. On that board there were drawings and terms I had come to know well, such as “the mark of the beast,” “the 144,000,” and, of course, “the three angels’ messages.” As a child I remember it being a frightening topic, since it was usually brought up during a sermon on the end of days and was accompanied by strong imagery of tragic events. Once I heard the scripture reading for that Sabbath was found in Revelation, I knew to brace myself for things I did not understand.

As I grew older, I had the chance to study more on my own. Sadly, I was not interested in learning more about the three angels, because to me it just meant the end of the world. I knew that the three angels’ messages were integral to my faith and my religious beliefs, but I felt no connection to them and did not find them relevant to my spiritual growth. For years I could not have told you what exactly the three angels’ messages were. All I knew were the basics: three angels, they have messages, and Adventists care about them a lot.

Today

I finally understand the meaning of the messages and why they are so important. They are finally relevant to my Christian walk. In Revelation 14:7 the first angel reminds us to give glory to our Lord. Every day, I strive to worship my God, my Creator, and live a life that is according to His will. I don’t just limit my good works to the Sabbath day, but recognize that if I am to give Him the glory, I must do so with my thoughts and actions each and every day. I seek to obey God and remain faithful even when it is not the easiest task to achieve.

As I strengthen my relationship with God, He helps me to come out of sin and not let it have its grip on me, because I have been made free through Jesus Christ. While on earth, Jesus commanded us to preach about His Father’s kingdom, and as I flee Babylon, as I flee sin, I accept Jesus’ command to tell others to flee sin and enter into His kingdom. Putting these things into practice on a daily basis, I can rest assured that by His grace, I won’t receive the mark of the beast (Rev. 14:9), but instead I will receive “the seal of the living God” (Rev. 7:2) and be marked for salvation.

That is what the three angels’ messages mean to me. They means salvation. Not something frightening, not irrelevant, not tragic, but a calling to walk in His ways and wait patiently for my Father’s soon return.

Kenia Reyes-de León, senior editorial assistant for the General Conference Youth Ministries Department, Silver Spring, Maryland. She also cohosts Bible HelpDesk on Hope Channel.

My THREE ANGELS’ PICTURE

When I hear the phrase “three angels’ messages,” the first pictures that come to mind are “Get your life together or you will suffer with the wicked!”

A Scary Message

When I was a child, the three angels’ messages seemed to be the message of spreading the gospel and recognizing the soon coming of Christ. But as I continued to grow in the Seventh-day Adventist Church environment, it turned into a message of gloom and doom, of angels and horses with plagues, of “Michael standing up” and the sealing of the righteous. Somehow the messages and prophecies of Revelation seemed to run together with the last messages of the three angels.

I remember horses of different colors, especially black and pale horses. These horses came with death and destruction to those who did not follow the law or the Ten Commandments. Of course, this all made me desire heaven instead of hell.

But desiring a God of love was the last thing on my mind. In fact, I felt that God was looking at me from “above” and telling the angels to write down every bad thing I did. I was distant from God. My relation to God was one of fear and trembling. I just wanted to make it and wanted to be in the number. Oh! You know that number, the 144,000. The number of those who will be saved in the last days. Doesn’t that have something to do with the three angels? Who knows?

As I continued to grow in my Seventh-day Adventist faith, I served God with all my heart. My relation to God was becoming works. I didn’t want to be caught up in the plagues that would come as a result of not listening to the three angels. I wanted to live a life pleasing to God, even if that meant “working out [my] own salvation.” My works-based relationship was empty and exhausting. I didn’t know what it meant to be free in Christ. I didn’t know a God of love. Even if I heard of God being loving, or read about a loving God, the scary visions of prophecy and the three angels’ messages overshadowed that love.

Later

As a young adult I saw the three angels’ messages as a network for legalists who utilized the message to their advantage in order to “scare” people into following God. I became callous to the message and ascribed it all to loveless conspiracists.

Now, after walking with God over the years as an adult, I know that God is a God of love; that His purpose is to save as many people as would come to Him. The messages in His Word I now see as a love letter. I no longer have to worry about “hellfire.” I no longer have to live in fear. I just live hoping that no one else gets the wrong side of the message, and hope for God to give me the opportunity to let them know that they are set free.

Anna Miller, ESL teacher, pastor’s wife, mother of three boys and a baby girl, lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

HOW I HEAR THE THREE ANGELS

As we wait for Jesus’ return, I understand that I have a responsibility to let those in my sphere of influence know that true worship is important to God and that it can determine our eternal destiny. According to the “three angels’ messages” articulated in Revelation 14:6-12, it is my responsibility to prepare people for Christ’s second coming by letting them know that God is Creator of heaven and earth, and everything in it, including humans, and that only the Creator deserves our worship. The Bible teaches that God is jealous and is serious about His created beings worshipping only Him. True worship is reserved exclusively for God because He is Creator.

Endgame

The devil knows that worship is the exclusive purview of God the Creator, but in order to deceive humanity and rob us of the salvation that God freely provides, the devil developed a counterfeit system of false worship, in which people worship the beast and his image, implicating the Papacy and the United States.

As a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, I have a responsibility to tell people that God is judging the world and people are being separated into two groups, each with different destinies. Those who worship the beast and his image and receive his mark in their foreheads or hands will reap God’s wrath. Those who choose to worship God, keep His commandments, and have the faith of Jesus will inherit His kingdom.

Sometimes when we look around it seems as if the devil is winning the worship game. But then I am reminded of the good news that this system of false worship (aka Babylon) is destined for failure and defeat. To God be the glory!

Businessman Owen Carryl loves starting new projects that bless God’s cause, whether internationally or at his home church in Plano, Texas, United States, where he serves as head elder.

WHAT DOES “THREE ANGELS’ MESSAGES” MEAN TO ME?

The three angels’ messages are given by a God with infinite love for His creation. He gave these as warnings for His remnant people, who live in the last days of earth’s history.

First

The first angel’s message is an assurance that God is fair. His judgment began in 1844 with the righteous, to ultimately determine who will be happy in heaven and who will not be. God will not force anyone to go to heaven who would not want to be there. Whether people have fully submitted their hearts and lives to Him will determine their eternal destination.

Second

The second angel’s message was a warning for God’s people who believed in His judgment to come out from the churches that rejected the first angel’s message. This group of people who believed that Jesus was going to come in 1844 had already been disappointed when He had not appeared in 1843. They had returned to the Scriptures to find where they had made a mistake, and discovered that the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary would happen in 1844, not 1843. Their hopes were once again revived, yet still without fully understanding the cleansing of the sanctuary. Once again the hopes of Christ’s followers were crushed. Nonbelievers began scoffing and ridiculing them.

Third

The third angel’s message is a solemn and grave warning with instructions for God’s people to avoid receiving the mark of the beast. It clearly indicates the importance of keeping God’s commandments, and in particular the fourth commandment, because of Satan’s great work to deceive so many into believing that the law of God was done away with at the cross.

But to those who seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first, the Holy Spirit will reveal the importance of keeping God’s immutable law, including the fourth commandment. Those who cherish a false belief system serve only themselves and Satan, and they will perish.

Those who cling to the Word of God and determine in their words and actions to keep His law holy will be empowered to do so through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. These are God’s righteous people, His remnant. Some will never taste death. These special people in whom Christ’s character will be fully replicated will stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator at the end of time.

God’s law is His character and the foundation of who He is; His law cannot be changed. If I love Him, I will want to live my life in a way that will vindicate His character against the false claims that Satan has made against Him. My love for God makes me want to share with others His true character. Sharing the three angels’ messages helps others to see God’s true character in the great controversy between Christ and Satan.

Hunter Sorensen is a 2018 graduate of Southern Adventist University.

THREE GOSPEL ANGELS

The three angels’ messages speak of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They speak of His love and His truth. They are an urgent warning for all who choose to believe in Jesus and His love. Their message is that we must all proclaim to the world the love that God has for everyone. This is our own preparation for the day of His coming. It is the very means by which we are preserved from Satan’s clutches, and at the same time kept from wandering off the path God has offered to us.

Shortly after the creation of the human race, we lost our holiness through Satan’s temptations and fell from our perfect state. Since then, we have all chosen our own paths. And in life there are only two: one leads to evil; the other leads to life eternal—the way of Christ. Those who commit to being faithful will obtain eternal life. So, let’s preach the gospel and understand as we preach that we are proclaiming God’s love and truth, giving hope to the world, the hope of life, the opportunity to return to the path that all need to follow.

The first and second angels cry out in a loud voice: “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Rev. 14:7, KJV). And “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (verse 8, KJV).

This is a message on the judgment of God and the fall of Babylon the Great. Babylon the Great is the city of perdition. Rather than worship the great Babylon, we should go to God with joy and rejoicing, loving Him as He has loved us.

The alternative to loving God is drinking the wine of His wrath. Such will be the lot of all who prefer the way of evil and will not accept Jesus Christ as their Savior from sin.

The message of the third angel makes the option clear. It speaks of the fate of those who choose adoration of the beast, who is God’s opposite: they shall “drink of the wine of the wrath of God” (verse 10, KJV). Evidently, choosing to follow the way of evil, choosing not to do the will of God, means choosing a hopeless option. It is choosing to bear the punishment for our own sins.

But for those who choose the Lord, there is the hope of salvation and eternal life. This is the hope of those who strive in faith, supporting themselves by every word that proceeds from the mouth of our God. If we desire God’s salvation instead of His wrath, we must resolve to endure whatever adversity may come our way. Our faithfulness in trial will help to proclaim the love of God, the truth of the gospel.

Melvin Alexis Ayala, 20 years old, of Columbia, Maryland, directs his church’s sound team and a small group. He is also a church and Sabbath School secretary.

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