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Sabbath: Jesus Wins – Satan Loses — 27 Comments

  1. For as long as I can remember, Seventh-day Adventists have claimed a special relationship to the "Three Angels' Messages". It is almost as though it is part of our DNA. We learned the scripture off by heart as kids in JMVs (Junior Missionary Volunteers, for those who are not old enough to remember). We extol its message when we run evangelistic programs. And we draw attention to it when we think the Seventh-day Adventist Church is straying from its mission.

    I hope that as we study these messages this quarter we do not just catechistically recite church doctrine but rather respond to the challenge of making the messages relevant to us in the 21st century. We need to remember that most of our thinking on this topic was done in the 1800s and we are now in the 2000s. So much has happened in those 200 years and I wonder if we really understand the impact of those changes.

  2. Just curious ... what do you think will make the message clearer now that we are not in the 1800s? How would you present it in the present 21st century?

    • The short answer is that I think we need to revise our language. We are talking to a different audience now. The longer answer is that hopefully, we will explore the idea of communication a bit more during this study. I don't have all the answers and I want others to add their conversation to this.

      The three angels' messages are essentially about the communication of ideas, not the justification of belief.

    • Errol Nembhard preached a sermon titled "Metrix Unplugged: The Exodus" in which he used analogies between the film "The Matrix" and the gospel to appeal to young people. In my opinion, it brought the gospel closer, made it clearer, and made it more appealing to the things that are relevant to our young without compromising the doctrine.

      Nemrad noted in his sermon;
      "The gospel is not heard until it comes to people within their own context" (Jon Paulien, Present Truth in the Real World, Boise, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1993, pp. 18, 25)

      Recently, I delivered a Bible study on temperaments and how they effect our Christian faith, and I found it helpful to employ the Avatar cartoon characters. I have never seen pathfinders and pre-adventurers more enthusiastic about bible study than they were on that day.

      In his time, Christ utilized parables to explain complex subjects.

      My thoughts

  3. What do you think will make the message clearer now that we are not in the 1800s?

    Then another angel followed him through the sky, shouting, “Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen—because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality.” (Revelation 14:8 NLT)

    The “message” will be made crystal clear by the antithesis of passionate immorality, that is, passionate godliness as we deal with those with whom we interact in our daily lives.

    I am giving you a new command: that you keep on loving each other. In the same way that I have loved you, you are also to keep on loving each other. Everyone will know that you are my talmidim [disciples] by the fact that you have love for each other. (John 13:34-35 CJB)

    Especially those with whom we disagree.

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:38-43 NASB1995)

  4. Perhaps we need a better understanding of the message ourselves so that we can give it to the world in a way that they can understand as we have learned to understand it. The message doesn't change but we may need an attitude adjustment.

  5. Somehow, I wonder if we ever really understood the message. Sure we recited the words as kids, and got the idea it's about going to church on Saturdays instead of Sunday, but did we really understand the great battle between Christ our Savior, and the dragon for the very souls of people this was addressing?

    It is an urgent message much needed today in our time. It seems there has been attempts to water it down to match the spirituality and philosophical methods in the world so that it basically loses its urgency, and becomes merely a good devotional topic that won't upset anyone, and more or less lulls us into a false security and merges us into a friendly companionship with Babylon, not calls us out.

    The message is for the last days -- it should be getting clearer and clearer as we see what's going on in the world. I find there are many outside of Adventism that see that something is going on. Things are taking place today, that back sixty years ago we thought seemed totally impossible.

    This has not made the message irrelevant or outdated, but rather has made it more obviously true!

    Yes, Jesus wins!
    That's clear in Revelation.
    That's where we, with all our friends and loved ones want to be! With Christ on the winning team. Working with Him!

    We need to understand this message better and live it and share it from an experimental knowledge, and yes, a strong belief in the urgent message for these last days.
    Remember Noah.

  6. It's fascinating to read the comments under this day's lesson. The lesson itself suggests that we are heavily involved in what appears to a losing battle, for Christ's sake, and assures us that Jesus wins and Satan loses. It seems to simply assume that we readers already know what the fight is all about.

    Similarly, at least a couple of the comments have suggested that we need to really understand the message, that perhaps we have never properly understood it before. Fair enough, but then what is the essence of the message, so that we can now begin to understand it?

    Richard seems to be addressing this question. Shall I also dive in?

    The message of the first angel announces the pre-advent judgment, the purpose of which (according to Daniel 7) is to distinguish the "saints" of God -- the true believers -- from the spurious Christians who persecute or oppose them. The second angel announces the fall of the apostate Christian churches, those that have turned away from God while claiming to love and serve Him. The third angel calls for true worship versus false, with the true Sabbath versus the false one, as a sign.

    So, if I'm reading this right, the essence of the message is about calling people to true religion. My understanding is that true religion, at its core, is justification by faith. Our sins are forgiven, we give ourselves unreservedly to God, and we enter into a close connection with Jesus, by the agency of the Holy Spirit, which fills our hearts with joy and love and motivates us to share His love with others. As a result, we are now wholeheartedly on Jesus' side in His great controversy with Satan, which is about righteousness versus sin, benevolence versus selfishness. Of course we now cherish His commandments, which are a transcript of His character of love.

    Am I getting anywhere close to the right answer?

  7. Memory Text: “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17, NKJV).

    Why a dragon? What does this metaphor teach us about our enemy?

    (1) Eve was tempted by Satan through a serpent. Dragons and serpents are both reptiles. What are some things we know about reptiles?

    A. Reptiles are cold-blooded. Is there any act more cold-blooded than killing all infant boys age 2 and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem? More cold-blooded than bashing babies against trees in the Killing Fields of Cambodia (the blood stains are still there...I saw them). Satan is a beast pressed on hurting and killing everyone.

    B. Reptiles twist and coil. Satan twists the truth, the Father of Lies (John 8:44). He is twisted. He is crooked (Is. 27:1, here Satan is likened to "leviathan", the sea serpent.). He mixes just enough truth in with the lies to be a skilled deceiver.

    I discovered this profound text today, 2 Cor. 11:3 (KJV). It says that one way Satan deceives is to "corrupt the mind from the simplicity that is in Christ". Isn't that beautiful? What God offers us is so pure and simple, enough for even a child to take in. What Satan pedals is so confusing and distorted and chaotic.

    C. Reptiles often have forked tongues. Satan is the accuser. He coaches people to have forked tongues too - to be two-faced - to gossip and use the tongue for sweetness and for cruelty and all sorts of evils. (James 3:8-18; 1 Tim. 5:13; Prov. 10:18; 17:4; Ps. 15:3; 2 Cor. 12:20; Col. 3:8)

    D. Reptiles can be beautiful. Ok, I think so. Snakes shimmer with so many colors. They are sleek. We are told that one way Satan deceives is that he can still reflect the image of his former life as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14-15). He can make vices look so appealing, even healing. He can make false teachers be so charming.

    (2) Dragons in literature show up in the genre "fantasy". They are often the antagonist and feared. Sometimes a dragon is made to be a sympathetic character. But whether lovable or contemptible, they are not in "realistic fiction" or other genres. So is it realistic or fantasy to believe there is an unseen Dragon monster? We Christians of course do believe there is an unseen enemy...

    For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph. 6:12)

    How is Satan like the dragons of fantasy novels?

    A. We cannot war and wrestle against this creature with our own strength. He is too powerful for us (Rev. 13:4,7). The human mind is insufficient in dealing with the realms of spiritual light and darkness (1 Cor. 2:14). On our own strength, we fail at recognizing and resisting the Dragon's deceptions, over and over again. It is only the goodness of God that helps us to see the reality of evil and bring us to repentance (Rom. 2:4)

    B. The Dragon's tail is still flailing causing havoc, but Satan is still under the control of our sovereign God. (Job 41:1,10-11). Looks like Tuesday's lesson will be an encouragement, reminding us how through Christ we can have victory over the Dragon right now. We don't have to wait for the End of Time. We need - and have - a conqueror in Jesus, who has crushed the Dragon's head.

    C. God assures His kids that evil, no matter how monstrous, will be completely eradicated one day. (Ps. 74:14; Luke 10:17-18; James 4:7; Is. 14:7-15)

    D. The fire-breathing dragon will be destroyed by his Lake of Fire. What comes out of Satan eventually destroys him (Matt. 15:11). The results of sin is death. There will be no more external temptation for us because Satan will be gone. There will be no more internal temptation in us because we will be fully sanctified, wearing the Lamb's robe of righteousness. Thank You, our dear God, thank You!

    • Very interesting, and thought provoking commentary, Esther.

      Just like to add a little.

      D) Dragons in literature:
      Yes, when we were growing up any fictional stories about dragons were just that -- fantasy, the dragon was almost always evil. But more recently they are presented to the young as cute, cuddly and enticingly magical. But even more alarming, in working with young people more recently, I found there was a whole new genre of fiction (both in books and online) that was quite popular among them in which the dragon (and they used the term) is the force that is pictured as saving the world from annihilation from an incoming force from outer space. The heroes were people who were working with the dragon and against great difficulty were able to "save the world" from this incoming force that would put an end to human civilization.

      I was really quite appalled and amazed that the young were being fed these fictional scenarios, as it was obvious to anyone who believed the Biblical account, that this new emphasis had taken the Biblical account and turned the Biblical account completely upside down, reversing all the characters.

      To me it almost shouted out the message that Satan was already very busy preparing people to think they can actually win against Christ, and that he, the dragon was both the rightful and better ruler, fighting for his rights.

      Rev. 19:19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.

      Rev. 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings:

      C. Reptiles often have forked tongues --
      Lucifer (Satan) is not only filled with evil and hate, but he also seeks worship. He wants, for himself, the worship due only to God. Isaiah 14:13,14 tells us that. In this his manifestations become "forked," two-faced. He plays both sides -- extreme evil, -- and savior bringing goodness and love. We are well aware of the first "face", his extreme evil, violence, and hate, but are generally ill prepared to meet his second "face" appearing under a cloak of goodness and love and saving the world from evil.

      Yet it's this second "face" that will deceive the world, and if possible even the very elect, because it closely simulates the true. The deceptions come with a host of miracles.

      Your statement here is extremely important

      A. We cannot war and wrestle against this creature with our own strength. He is too powerful for us (Rev. 13:4,7). The human mind is insufficient in dealing with the realms of spiritual light and darkness (1 Cor. 2:14). On our own strength, we fail at recognizing and resisting the Dragon's deceptions, over and over again. It is only the goodness of God that helps us to see the reality of evil and bring us to repentance (Rom. 2:4)

      Jesus wins and those with Him will also win. He is the truth, and the light and only TRUE and wonderful Savior!!

      • Thank you so much for adding on, Ulrike! So important what you are saying about Satan's forked tongue, with one fork pretending to be "light and love", a common phrase in the world now...."sending you light and love".

        Makes me think of another one of Satan's forks....being all our friend and flattering while he's tempting us...and then all accusatory and brutally condemnatory (e.g. our self-loathing thoughts) after we take the bait and fall.

        Here's one more tidbit I'm eager to share about the reptilian metaphor. I continued reading the poetic image of Leviathan in Job and came across this in Job 41:15-17:

        His rows of scales are his pride, shut up tightly as with a close seal. One is so near to another that no air can come between them. They are joined one to another, they stick together and cannot be parted.

        Wow, isn't that so powerful, the Bible actually interprets the symbolism of "scales" for us....as pride. Sealed up. Unable to be humbled or taught. Defensive armor.

        Also wanted to share a meaningful study. I'm taking each of the reptile metaphors - cold-blooded, forked tongue, twisted/coiling, scales, shimmering - and searching the Scriptures for how God is the opposite of those things, how He overshadows those things. How God helps us to meet the enemy's tactics with His own greater power. For example, rather than cold-blooded, God is warm-hearted..."Love each other with a warm love that comes from the heart...." 1 Pet. 1:22 GW. May God's Holy Spirit continue to guide, instruct, and transform us as we study His Word!

  8. It's interesting that the lesson talks about us being outnumbered in this fight. I won't speculate on how many people are on the "right" side since that is impossible to know, but we know there are two of God's angels for every fallen angel. So in one sense, at least, we are not outnumbered.

    • Thanks for highlighting this, Christina. I thought the same thing...do the forces of evil outnumber the forces of good? The lesson talks about "incredible odds" and what to human eyes looks like "certain loss". As you point out, only 1/3 of the angels fell from heaven with Satan, leaving 2/3 loyal to God.

      While it appears righteous angels outnumber defectors, Jesus indicates that unfaithful humans outnumber the faithful, especially as the Time of the End nears. I'm thinking of the wide path leading to destruction and many on it, and the narrow gate with few finding it (Matt. 7:13-14). Also Matt. 24:10-13 is interesting if we count the "many's" (It's a list prefaced by "many" so I've added the adjective each time in vs. 10, for emphasis).

      And then shall many be offended, and many shall betray one another, and many shall hate one another, and many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold....

      • Very true, though there are many verses that talk about "many" being saved too. For example, I have been studying Mark in my devotions and noted that Mark 10:45 mentions Jesus giving His life as a ransom for "many".

        Many does not have the same meaning as most. It's a word that indicates a lot but not necessarily a majority. It can go in many ways. Perhaps the Bible uses that word to keep us from speculating too much about how many will be on the right side. We do frequently quote the verse about the narrow rode to argue that only a few will be saved and it does seem that is the case. But if we look at some of Jesus' parables of the end, the proportion varies a lot. Of the virgins, 50% are found righteous. Of the servants, 2/3 are faithful. There is no exact proportion for the sheep and the goats. I'm not saying we can predict how many people will be saved based on this because they are parables, but it perhaps points to more people being saved than we might think. Perhaps we are left with some vague words so we realize that it is our choice whether we are in that number or not. It's not as if there's a quota that fills up.

        • "It's not as if there's a quota that fills up."


          Thank you, Christina, for finding these hopeful examples in Scripture,...and thank You, Jesus/Father/Holy Spirit,for longing for all of us to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4), for not being willing that any should perish (2 Pet. 3:9)! Jesus told Nicodemus that He would take on the wages of death for all, as a free gift, because God so loves the whole world (John 3:16). Can you imagine the party in heaven if not one person was lost?!!

    • Hi, Paul. Good question! According to Revelation 19:10, the angel who was speaking to John in vision considered those who had the testimony of Jesus to be the "brothers" of John. The angel goes on to clarify that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Who has the spirit of prophecy? Of course, that would be anyone divinely inspired in the highest sense, as were the prophets of old and as were John and his "brothers" such as Peter and Paul -- those who were thus imbued with the qualifications to speak for God. In other words, Jesus speaks (or testifies) through them in a special sense.

      That brings us back to the memory text. The rest of the offspring of the woman, in this context, would have been the remaining followers of Jesus, which raises the question of whether or not they were all going to have the prophetic gift or calling.

      Historically, Seventh-day Adventists have identified themselves as this group, citing the remarkable fact that we have had Ellen White among us, and still have her writings, with all of the evidence of her supernatural gift, visions, and dreams of the most uplifting and insightful kind. Being a Sabbath-keeping group also helps us to fit the description as commandment keepers.

      Nevertheless, we must be careful not to get conceited nor get too sure of ourselves, as those who think they are standing need to take heed lest they fall. (See 1 Corinthians 10:12.) Even if we do find ourselves a part of this special group, that is a privilege and a responsibility, not a cause for self-satisfaction nor for looking down on others.

      I hope this helps.

    • Just some of my thoughts on this.

      We've often cited Revelation 19:10 which tells us that the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy.

      What is the Spirit of Prophecy which reveals to us the testimony of Jesus? It is Jesus' prophetic testimony concerning His work and dealings throughout history and into the future to save and redeem mankind amid great opposition. Prophecy is about Jesus.

      Now what does it mean to have the Spirit of prophecy?
      I'm thinking it means, to have a special Spiritual gift to give a correct understanding of prophecy.

      Have we noticed, in Revelation, that a "False Prophet" is one of the main characters? (Rev. 16:13, Rev.19:20, 20:10) Who is the False Prophet? We generally link him to the second beast in Revelation 13:11-12 who starts with lamb like characteristics and turns into a representative for the dragon.
      America. (Comp. Rev. 13:13-14 with Rev.19:20)

      Is the false prophet the opposite of the spirit of prophecy?
      The false prophet works with the beast.
      The Spirit of Prophecy is with God's followers.

      But where is the remnant of the woman with the prophetic gift that gives a correct understanding of prophecy?
      Protestant America seems to be called the "false prophet" in the Bible. So it would seem the main line of prophetic interpretation in America may very well be false.
      Protestant America seems to have a lot of so called prophets these days. There are books of predicated prophecies, and failed prophecies, and still more coming out, from numerous charismatic type of people called prophets.

      Is there a remnant somewhere with a consistent line of Prophecy that agrees with the bible?
      The ones with the "Spirit of Prophecy" also keep the commandments according to Rev. 12:17.

      So wouldn't it be wise to look for the spirit of prophecy in a prophetic interpretation which also encourages the keeping, by God's grace and love, God's ten commandments?

      I find Ellen White's prophetic gift to be that testimony of Jesus, but everyone needs to be convinced in their own minds.

  9. I like the information on the qualifications for the Spirit of Prophecy. I also thought the warning given for the Seventh-day Adventists was appropriate. YHVH will reveal himself to those who diligently seek him. He has done so throughout history. Too many of us tend to think that proximity to truth gives us the truth, and fail to do that which pleases YHVH and compels Him to reveal His truth and purpose to us.

  10. The message is the same today as when it was written in the Revelation. People may change but not God! Communication evolves with time and social movements, thus I do not have to be worried if I get the right mode, the central core is still the same, and if we don't speak the rocks will do it! Who is responsible for the understanding of the message? The touch of the Holy Spirit in all, if people are not open, "they will hear and won't understand"!

  11. I might add a thought. Ellen G. White defines the 3rd Angel’s message as righteous by faith “in verity”. We may make the same “mistakes” as previous generations because we would prefer her to use terms that suggest sanctification. At the risk of being thought a “heretic” by some, the focus should not be on a day and how we keep it or even upon a prophet that we “say is the spirit of prophecy”, but on Christ alone. If anything is clear from Matthew 25 it is relationship and how we treat others because our lives are changed.

    I would echo Maurice that I hope this is not Adventist catechism 101, but is focus on Christ in us.

    • Yes, Douglas, we do want to avoid those same mistakes, but perhaps they were more subtle than your comments might appear to suggest. After all, if the keeping of the right day in the right way is a sign of our loyalty to Jesus, and of our connection with Him, as the Bible certainly seems to suggest, then it's hard for me to see how anyone who is aware of this fact, and who loves Him, could feel that these things are unimportant.

      The same goes for a humble prophet who shared with us communications from Jesus, manifested His spirit in her life, and encouraged us to know Him better and love Him more. How could we not love, admire, and honour her as one of the finest and most brilliant people with whom we have ever been familiar?

      I am not inclined to regard you as a heretic, Douglas. No, not at all. But I'll admit to feeling a bit hurt by your remarks.

  12. Here is three takeaways from the texts in this week's lesson:

    1. The battle between good and evil continues: As described in Revelation 12, the conflict between God and Satan is ongoing, and believers are still called to resist evil and remain faithful to God. In a world where many forces may seek to distract or divert our attention from what is right, it is important to remain vigilant and stay committed to living according to God's principles.

    2. Christ's Love is Sacrificial: the passage in Ephesians emphasizes Christ's sacrificial love for the church. In the same way, believers are called to love and serve one another in a selfless manner, putting the needs of others before their own. This can be a powerful way to demonstrate God's love and build strong, healthy relationships with others.

    3. Faith in Christ brings Righteousness: The passage in Philippians highlights the idea that righteousness comes through faith in Jesus, rather than by our own efforts or observance of the law. This can be a comforting message for those who may struggle with feelings of guilt or inadequacy. At that same time, it also underscores the importance of placing our trust in God, rather than relying solely on our own strength or abilities.


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