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Thursday: Grace for Obedience — 16 Comments

  1. Take a look at this graph:
    Australian Religious Demographic

    In the most recent census (2022), the "no religion" sector became the largest religious sector in Australia. And, given that many who reported Christian affiliation are not church goers and have only listed Christianity because of historical family connections rather than active belief, the static shows that Christianity is fast disappearing from the Australian scene. I know that there are some countries that are different but in Europe and Northern America, my guess is that the trends are somewhat similar.

    I don't really know how the final events will unfold. I know we have our stories about last day events, but I think that focusing on them draws us away from the real crisis that we face today. Christianity is becoming extinct now. If these trend continue there will not be any Christians with either true or false doctrine to persecute or be persecuted. Preparing for final events seems a bit pointless when we have a huge task of relevance right now.

    As my Father-in-law use to repeat many times in his final years, "We don't have tomorrow; we have only got today!"

    Jesus said:

    Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matt 6:34 KJV

    I know I risk being accused of quoting out of context, but I think it fits the situation we are in currently.

    (50)
    • Hi, Maurice. I guess the question of whether or not preparing for final events is pointless depends on what kind of preparation we mean. If working ourselves up into a frenzy of fear and apprehension, and strengthening our will to resist, is our chosen approach, then I don't believe that was ever going to do us any good, anyway.

      On the other hand, if getting close to Jesus is how we mean to prepare, there is always a point to that. And I doubt that we have any time to lose. God's remnant of faithful believers will never become extinct, and seeing there are no atheists in foxholes, I believe the whole world could easily become nominally Christian overnight, if things got scary enough.

      (38)
      • Getting close to Jesus is the way to prepare. Absolutely! The other way is called working for your salvation. How do we get close to Jesus? Simply put, we spend time with Him letting Him live out our lives within us. We let Him be the answer to all our questioning. We patiently wait, for when He has need of us. We let His glory shine from within.

        We are told of the latter rain. We prepare in the same way. In the same way we fight the devil. He can't get through the shield of Christ's righteousness we have, and are, putting on.

        Good day, gentlemen.

        (13)
  2. The last events will bring the world to decision between two camps. And no, it won't be divided by denominations, it will be -- whom do they worship?

    One camp will believe in God, worshipping the literal Creator, Sustainer and Judge of all things; they will be keeping God's commandments (including the 7th day Sabbath) and they will have a strong faith in Jesus their Savior and coming King.

    The other camp will be a grand mixture of beliefs, being pulled together under an umbrella of believing in some supreme "force" or "cosmic power" which some will call God. Paganism (New Age mysticism) will be a large part, evolution, spiritualism, along with a mixing in of Christian ideas, moral reforms, that will give it a Christian flavor. We see it taking shape right now in the ecumenical movement in which the pope and leaders from many other religions get together. They meet together to talk about bringing peace to the world, as well as how to combat climate and save mother nature. And yes, even carbon free Sundays have been suggested. It's about "let's all get together" and end religious and international strife. It's not something hidden.

    This last controversy involves the whole world, all nations -- India, China, Russia, Europe, Africa, South America, as well as Australia and North America. Too many think the last crisis is only traditional type Christians persecuting other traditional type Christians with slightly different doctrines?? No, it's a gathering of all nations with the papacy as the acting spiritual leader.

    It's true that real Christianity is fading, as a more spiritualistic/pagan concept is infiltrating Christianity and fitting them more into world religions. There's a seeking for common ground. And yes, the papacy, as the spiritual head, is working to try and achieve this. They will all be pieces fit together in the apostate world religion that will reign for a short time. When we read Revelation 18:1-4 we see this movement full of spiritualism and evil spirits. This isn't conventual Christianity, but an apostate Christianity that has embraced and reduced itself to some kind of amalgamated confederation under the spiritual head of the papacy.

    But now -- what else do we read in Revelation 18:1-4? Another angel, symbolizing those giving the three angels' message. Empowered by the outpouring of the latter rain, there will be a people with a message, calling people out of Babylon.

    Most of God's people are out there in other churches. They love the Lord and want to serve Him. They are appalled by the apostacy of what is being promoted as the religion that will cure the nations' problems.

    This message -- the three angels' message, will be proclaimed with an urgency that will lighten the earth. Thousands will respond as the message is made clear to them!

    Remember-- the three angels' message will lighten the earth. Everyone will be brought to decision. Will they follow the papal led ecumenical gathering, to save the earth and get rid of all divisive things like internationalism, fundamental beliefs, in a we can all worship together religion in love and peace?

    Or to follow Christ, to stand up and say there is right and wrong, and we will worship our Creator and live by His Commandments, having a strong faith in Christ's saving and sustaining power and a deep faith in His promises?

    It is our God given duty to warn the world. To shine the light of truth in the gathering darkness of apostasy.

    It's not about saving our own skin when persecution comes; it's about seeing the forces gathering and going out and warning people -- by God's grace, lighting the earth with His glory..

    There are many sincere, honest Christians in the various churches. Some believe Revelation 7:4's 144,000 are the ones who received the latter rain and went out to proclaim that last call in Rev. 18:1-2, and the result will be a great multitude Rev. 7:9. joyfully awaiting the Lord's coming to take them home.

    (14)
  3. Personally, I believe that "The Last Days," started as soon as Jesus bled for "All Sin" at Calvary. I have this idea simply because Isaiah mentions "A New Name," that would be given to the "True Believers" of God and I think this took place in the account in the book of Acts where it says that the believers were called "Christians," in that scenario of Jesus' first Apostolic thrust via the Power of His Holy Spirit and His Apostles etc.

    And I also think that here was God's first "Last Day People," going forth without the "Old Testament," requirements of animal sacrifices and Priests etc. and etc. and even the needing to be "Works Oriented," anymore but mainly "Faith Oriented," in what Jesus had fulfilled for "All People" of the Earth at Calvary with His Spilled Blood then.

    So here we are now 2,000 plus or minus years since then and we still have only as even before because of Abrahams' Call from God to be a "Friend of God," and we still have that "Call" ourselves individually from God as soon as we claim what was done in our behalf by His Son Jesus at Calvary even now to be "Friends of God," etc. and etc. when we choose by faith as Abraham did by faith too we can do also by faith now and wait patiently now for His Sons' soon return and live by faith and bless others etc. and etc. even now "By Faith."

    (3)
  4. Here’s my paraphrase of Proverbs 29:25:

    To fear man is a wretched way to live but to fear God is a life of peace.

    (10)
  5. There is a need for us to consider the relevance of our interpretation of prophecy as it compares with the events that are happening in our world today. As leaders in our church, we must be in tune with the needs of our membership in order to be effective shepherds. In developed countries, we need to honestly ask ourselves the question, "what is drawing our young people away from church?" We are losing our young people at a staggering rate once they reach the age of 18 years of age. As a church, how are we responding to this crisis? Have our current efforts shown success? If not, should we just ignore it and continue to self-evaluate that we are great leaders? The Bible says that the Holy Spirit looks at the church, sees its needs, and gives gifts for the work of the ministry. It also says that when the church embraces this management method, the members will be edified, the members will rise to God's standards; they will not be running to and forth, and will not be deceived by every wind of doctrine.

    How should we interpret this in light of what is happening in our church today? How welcoming are we as a church, to spiritual gifts that the Spirit has given to our church? And I am not referring to our university-trained clergy.

    (5)
  6. Hi, Maurice

    Revelaion 12:6 refers to the church in the wilderness, as symbolised by the chaste woman. The statistics you have shared would appear to paint a dismal picture for the survival of the Church of Christ in the end times.

    The good news is that we already know the end of the story, which declares the triumph of Jesus over the enemy, when Christ shall gather His bountiful harvest.

    We, as 7th-day Sabbath Christians, have an enormous task to do for the sake of the Gospel. I believe God expects us to act with diligence in fulfilling our role, and to leave the rest to Him to fulfill His Divine Will. The Church of Jesus Christ can never die. As the Lord declared to Peter, in Matthew 16:18, "...[O]n this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

    (4)
    • So what is that "Rock?" Was it the Apostle Peter, was it a representation of the Apostle Peter? No!, It was and is the believers' "faith" on the Son of God Jesus, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit, all these three personalities of the Godhead, to teach us to truly understand God's Words in the Bible, to help us in overcoming our defects in our characters and also our sins, and to guide us individually for living for them and to bless others along the way and eagerly and patiently await The Son of God's soon return.

      (3)
  7. Hello Maurice,

    Thanks for your thought-provoking response regarding today's lesson. While I share your concern about an overemphasis on last-day events, I do think there is justification for a reasonable level of "focus"—the primary benefit being that we as Adventists are able to offer insight that helps others think about Christ in ways that they may not have thought about before, which could lead to their salvation. Additionally, it is a safeguard against last-day deception, assuming one believes the Adventist interpretation to be biblically sound.

    I do want to respectfully push back on your assertion that Christianity could become extinct in the last days. You stated that "If these trends continue there will not be any Christians with either true or false doctrine to persecute or be persecuted." If this is true, then there will also be no saved for Jesus to gather to the clouds as depicted in 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17, so clearly extinction is not a possibility. In our effort to construct valid arguments, we should be careful not to arrive at conclusions that don't align with the clear teachings of the Bible.

    Additionally, the statistical rate you cited regarding the religious affiliation of Australians is quite different from what I could find concerning Americans. Here is a graph that I retrieved from the Gallop Institute, titled Americans' Religious Preferences:

    https://news.gallup.com/poll/358364/religious-americans.aspx
    While there is clearly a shift away from Christianity in America (which is not easy to miss these days), it is not, according to this poll, at the same rate among Australians. No religious affiliation represented 21% of Americans, whereas it was about 50% among Australians. Now we can debate the accuracy and sample size of the poll responses, but taking them at face value, it would seem that there is a demonstrable difference. And even assuming the shift away from Christianity in America is as pronounced as it is in Australia, I would EXPECT that outcome based on Matthew 24:11–12. This is simply further validation of the Bible's description of last-day events.

    Again, I share your concern regarding an unhealthy focus on or fear of last-day events. None of us knows how things will play out exactly, so we shouldn't be dogmatic. And I'm not saying an understanding of last-day events guarantees or is even necessary for salvation—I don't—but it would seem to me that there is a reason that God allowed this content to be included in our Bibles, which we should explore and leverage to our benefit and that of those with whom we engage.

    (11)
  8. How can a 'believer' exercise faith if he/she does not love their Creator, Lord and Savior, and their fellow man? How can one believe and still conduct one’s life straddling the line between darkness and light? In my opinion, this is impossible. If anything can help the Christian Church, it is the return to a fervent love of the Redeemer who brought us from darkness into the Light of His Father's Word – Rev.2:3-5.

    If we walk in His Light, we will always be His children, but if we never fully received the grace for the forgiveness of our sin, never asked for the Holy Spirit to make its home in our heart and mind, we will continue in ignorance – just a little less obvious. How can one ‘step out by faith’, if this person has not developed a personal faith-relationship with his God, calling Him Abba - Father - Rom.8:14-16; Mark14:36?

    If we 'occupy' until He comes – what does this mean for us who are a new creation, existing as a new person entirely dedicated to express the Glory of God throughout our life. We cannot maintain a dual citizenship, one for this world and one for the kingdom of God - Eph.2:8-10; Rom.12:1; Col.3:17.

    The oil in the lamp of those not fully committed to walking with our God daily in an intimate, loving relationship will draw low. The heart and mind needs to long for this closeness, and separation, even for a moment, does not even enter this relationship as a possible way of life. The ‘believer’ who seeks to compromise his faith for convenience sake is not walking with Him by faith at all – Matt.7:21-23; Rev.3:15-18.

    Maybe, because of God’s infinite Grace and Mercy, He will give another chance for those that slumber and wake them up to realize that they never fully and whole heartedly believed in Him and applied His Saving Grace to their life. For them, taking this difficult stand to ‘come out of Babylon’, will be the last chance to accept God’s Grace and Forgiveness before the end comes – Rom.6:23.

    For those waiting too long, thinking there is no urgency, still living a compromised life of participating in the ‘sins of this world’ through unbelief, they will find themselves without the Holy Spirit's oil having prepared them to welcome Christ’s return. Our life ought to reflect our readiness by the anticipation of the arrival of the bridegroom at any time – Matt.24:42.

    (4)
  9. The very existence of Laws is what keeps the Universe in function. Human greed defies Nature's balance and destroys it. What else are we going to learn? What else to quit blindness? When will we wake up from this illusion we have created for ourselves? May the Consciousness from above fill our souls today because we act like worms. Let's not build a Babel Tower but walk in the (yet) open stairway to Heaven! We have fallen from our very destiny, but now is the time to pick up the pieces and move on! There is no more time to waste! Because at last, there is Hope, a loving, hyper-creative Master that can restore us to the image we once lost!

    (4)
  10. The believer who exercises their faith upon what the third person of the Godhead did 2,000 plus or minus years ago at Calvary's Cross and lives by this faith with the third person of the Godhead (The Holy Spirit's) help and trusting that God the Father also helps him or her in doing this each and every day of their lives until the Son of God appears to restore all things as in the Garden of Eden, is also a person that lives in the wilderness of Babylon as part of the woman in that wilderness and also until Jesus appears in the clouds to marry that woman in the wilderness of in the wilderness of Babylon.

    (0)
  11. Maurice wrote: Christianity is becoming extinct now. If these trend continue there will not be any Christians with either true or false doctrine to persecute or be persecuted. Preparing for final events seems a bit pointless when we have a huge task of relevance right now.

    I do find that statement troubling.

    You see, one big difference between North America and Australia is that in North America, Christian nationalism is pretty strong.

    Christian nationalism is affiliated with Christianity, but its primary focus is not really a Christian relationship with Christ, rather more a patriotic stand to bring the country back to what they suppose was a "Christian nation". The primary focus is on the internal politics of society, such as legislating civil and criminal laws that reflect their view of Christianity and the role of religion in political and social life. There are different arms of Christian nationalism, some more evangelically focused, with others who are not really concerned with the spiritual part of it, but quite adamant with the political side of things.

    The danger which these lessons, I believe, are trying to point out, is that the world is coming to crises. Satan is real, and he realizes he is running out of time. He will make a last desperate effort to turn all worship for God into worship of Satan's kingdom. The biggest deception is he will make counterfeits seem like the real thing. He not only deals in immoral evil; he can mimic morality and appear as an angel of light.

    The world is being pushed into immorality and evils that disgust a lot of moral people who may or may not be Christians. The backlash is already showing signs of coming in America. It really doesn't take much imagination to think of what will happen when the backlash gets teeth in legislative halls.

    No, it's NOT enough, if we don't want to be deceived, to just focus on Jesus, (what do we mean by that phrase?), to walk by the Spirit (what do we mean by that phrase?), and to love others.

    1. The Bible warns there are many false Christs, who will deceive many. When Jesus says many will come "in my name" saying "I (Jesus) am Christ", will, by their profession of believing in the true Christ, deceive many. (Matt 24:5)

    2. As for "spirits," there are many false spirits whose messages are all about love, and even about Jesus. Just read a couple of "Mary's" messages, or Alice Bailey's messages. (Though don't spend too much time in those messages from the false spirits, just enough to realize the deceptions they are bringing, and how much the world has bought into those messages, thinking they are truth.)

    Yes, we desperately need the true Jesus, and the true Holy Spirit, and to find the "true" we need the Word of God, the Scriptures. We need to understand His Word, and to spend much time in prayer.

    Only those who have been diligent students of the Scriptures and who have received the love of the truth will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive. By the Bible testimony these will detect the deceiver in his disguise....Are the people of God now so firmly established upon His word that they would not yield to the evidence of their senses? Would they, in such a crisis, cling to the Bible and the Bible only? Great Controversy, page 625

    To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, there is no light in them. Isaiah 8:20

    Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. Isaiah 8:16

    Psalms 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

    (2)
  12. A number of folk have mentioned the differences between Australian and USA religious demographics. Here are a couple of studies done in the USA during a similar period.
    null

    Although there are some differences, I think the trends are similar enough. Christianity is declining at an alarming rate and "No religious affiliation" is rising rapidly. While I don't want to deny the church's picture of end-time events, it is undeniable that Christianity currently has a serious problem in communicating meaningfully to a large part of the population. Our current "persecution" is that we are being ignored. Or, are we preaching the Gospel in a language that cannot be understood?

    I would like to remind ourselves that the biggest threat to our membership today is the attractiveness of no religious affiliation, or to put it in theological terms, unbelief.

    (1)

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