Dilemma and Deliverance

Scripture: John 17:17, Psalm 11:3, Daniel 3:1-30
The focus of this talk is on encouraging us to think about our priorities. What is the purpose of life? What is truth? We are all dying. Is there a way out?
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Well, friends, I am very excited about this program, and I solicit your prayers. We are going to be doing something unique in these presentations. Before I go any farther, I want to begin by thanking everybody who has been helping. 3ABN has been just doing an outstanding job. They’ve sent at least 12 or 13 of their team. They’ve been working so hard. I just want to thank them for the wonderful job. What a professional crew. Also, will you indulge me while I tell Mrs. Batchelor hello? She couldn’t come. She has made being a mom a priority. We still have the youngest of the Batchelor tribe in school. As a matter of fact, I can say hi to Steven. He’s up in Canada right now, and I’m just silly enough to think he might even be watching his father. But, just in case, “Hi Steven!” So, I want to thank everybody from both Amazing Facts and 3ABN that has brought this together.

This series is unique. It’s something of a hybrid. Not that it will get you better gas economy, but it is a combination of a revival, and I believe it has evangelistic potential. You see, I believe we’re entering the last days. We know that when Jesus ascended to heaven, He had one church. He said, “All men will know that you are my disciples by your love for one another.” But right now the Christian church is very fractured and divided. We know that there is going to be a polarizing movement in the last days. Everybody is going to be part of one of two primary groups. One group, as we all know, is going to worship the beast and its image and will receive the mark of the beast. The other group will receive the seal of God and worship the Lord. That means something is going to happen between now and then so that people are going to coalesce into these two groups.

I am a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. I have not always been. When I first became a Christian, I fellowshiped with another persuasion. I believe the greatest part of Christ’s true followers don’t happen to be members of my church. But I think that many of them will be before the end comes. I believe this is a revival movement that is inviting people to return to the Bible. We need to be standing on the rock of God’s Word because a storm is coming.

So, the focus of this meeting is really two-fold. If you happen to be a member of God’s remnant church, or a Seventh-day Adventist, I hope that it will encourage you in our unique beliefs, and that your roots will get down a little deeper and more firmly established. Those Christians who may be watching from other persuasions and you are just wondering about all the confusion of doctrine, I pray that you’ll listen with an open mind and an open Bible in your hands, and see if what you hear makes sense. So that’s really what we’re talking about. We’re nearing the end. This is an appeal for revival among God’s people and among Christians anywhere to take a close look at what it is Seventh-day Adventists believe. We’re going to highlight quite honestly some of the unique beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists, and we would like you to consider those things.

We have a special message tonight, and we’re starting with some of the basics. The title of the message is “Dilemma and Deliverance.” We’re going to be talking about the priorities. I’d like to start at the very beginning. First of all, I think most of us will recognize—we’re going to be very basic, we’re here. Take a deep breath. You’re still alive. If you’re not sure, pinch yourself. If you’re not sure of the person next to you, don’t pinch them. But, all right, let’s start with the basics; we’re alive.

Something else we know is we’re not alive for very long. I was listening just a couple of weeks ago, and the oldest woman in the world just had her birthday. Her name is Edna Parker. I think it was August 14 she was 114 years of age. She lives in Indiana. I don’t mean to be disrespectful (I’m assuming she is still with us), but when you’re 114, people don’t usually try to sell you life insurance. Why am I saying that? We know we’re here, but we’re not here for long. Maybe three score and ten is the average. If you live in Japan it’s higher. If you live in Nigeria it’s lower. We’re not here for long.

So we’ve got to ask a very important question. We know we’re here. We know we’re not here for long. Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? I was consumed with this question as a young man, and I searched through all the different religions and tried to figure out what the purpose of life was.

There’s a book I saw… I was doing some research. There is a book you can buy for $449. It’s actually a pair of two books, and it’s called “The World Christian Encyclopedia.” It deals with all the different major religions of the world and their adherents, not just Christianity, and how many members they might have in their church. Notice this, for instance. There are 10,000 distinct religions in the world; 150 of those religions have more than a million adherents. Islam, for instance, has 1.5 billion. There are 1.5 billion agnostics or atheists, probably talking about former Soviet Union and China. There are 1.1 billion Hindus, 900 million Chinese Confucianism, 394 million Buddhists, 376 million from the indigenous tribal religions, <_____about 500 million of them,_____> and 14 million Jews. Christianity is the largest group, 2.1 billion.

Why is it the largest group? Within that group of 2.1 billion—catch this, there are 33,830 denominations. And I think that has doubled in the last 15 years, because so many churches are starting as community churches. They organize their own denomination, they pay their tithe right into their local church—congregationalism. Thirty-three thousand! All their beliefs might be a little bit different. There is sort of the generic variety of Christianity.

So, what is the truth? How do you know? Where do you go? Well, after my life search—the early part of my life, studying all the different religions—and I came from a Jewish mother… My father was raised Baptist. I pretty much grew up agnostic or atheist. I was wide open. I just wanted to know, “What is the truth?” And I came to the very firm conclusion that the Bible was true, it was unique and different from every other book, and that it was the Word of God. But here’s the problem. There are so many different interpretations for the Bible.

So what are we going to do? Are we going to evaluate 33,000 different denominations, and try to find out? Do you have a lot of time tonight to go through them one by one? No. You know, I understand that those who are experts in studying some of the counterfeit currencies, they don’t specialize in studying the counterfeits. What they do is become so beautifully acquainted with the genuine currency that when they see a counterfeit, they recognize it right away. We’re going to be looking at the genuine. We’re going to be looking at what the Bible teachings are and especially accenting some of the foundational teachings that have been lost by Christianity. Tonight will be one of them.

So, we want to know, What is truth? This is the question that Pontius Pilate asked Jesus—kind of cynical. What is truth? Can anyone know what truth is? People are like that now. They say, “Your truth is your truth, and my truth is my truth, and everybody has their own truth.” Is that how it works? What if a pilot was to take off from point A to point B, and every pilot says, “I’m just going to go where ever the spirit leads. I’m not going to follow a specific course heading. And as far as the laws of aviation are concerned, well, perhaps they have changed for me today.” Does anyone want to get on a plane with a pilot who thinks like that? Or are there certain absolute rules of flying regarding wind speed and lift and fuel consumption, and those rules are “definites" that you need to use to calculate—they don’t change? It’s a truth.

Just for fun. You know this will be fun. Get an audience shot here for our producers—I want to give them a little warning. All right. Are you ready? When I count to three, I want everyone here to point north. One, two, three. Ha! Ha! You’re going every which way. Now, it seems to be if I was going to go with the audience majority—some of you have probably got that built-in gyro—you’re pointing kind of that way. I saw some of you pointing that way, some of you pointing that way, and some even pointed over their heads. So, when we leave, we’re all just going to kind of go our own idea of north home? Or is there a true north? Yes, there is, and we can use a GPS or we can use a compass and find out what that is. Well, our compass in discovering what truth is during this series is going to be the Bible. Amen?

Now, if you don’t believe the Bible, you probably won’t enjoy these meetings. But for those who believe the Word of God, it will make sense to you. And if you believe in Jesus, then you should believe the Bible, because the Bible tells us that Jesus declares, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The Word of God is the truth. We can trust Him that, if we follow Him, if we become like Him, we’re going to get there.

As a matter of fact, just to solidify that point about what is truth, in the Bible, Jesus says in John 17:17, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” The Word of God is truth. It is that solid foundation that we need. So, I would like to encourage everybody to believe that the Bible is going to be our foundation through this series, and we’re going to base everything on this. There is a way that seems right to a man. But what does it say? The end of that way is death. And a lot of people are going their own idea of what truth is. There is an absolute truth. We need to know what that is. Do you know why? The Bible says, “The truth will set you free.”

The title of this message is “Dilemma and Deliverance.” We all have a dilemma. Our dilemma is that we are dying. And we are dying because of sin. The penalty of sin is death. But there is a way out. Jesus is offering everlasting life. When you really think about it, of all the things that might be going on in Lansing, Michigan, or all over the world, nothing is as important as what we are talking about. We’re talking about the purpose of life and how to live forever, and nothing is really more important than that.

A foundation scripture for our series is Psalm 11:3 [KJV]. It says, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Our foundations have been under attack. The foundational teachings of the Bible are under attack. Now think about this. When Jesus came the first time, did the church that He was a part of have Bibles? Yes. Did the Jewish people have Scriptures? Yes. Did they have prophecies? Were there prophecies that talked about Christ coming the first time? Were they ready? Was the majority of the church ready for His first coming? They went to church, they had a lot of ritual, they had a lot of fellowship, they had a lot of rules, a lot of programs, but they were off track on the truth. I understand that in the length of one railroad tie, if the two tracks are off one quarter of an inch, then after you go one mile they are off 200 feet. Just getting off that little bit in that first length of track will send it way off as you go down the road. And what has happened to the Christian church today is that the foundations have been attacked. Some of those foundational teachings are regarding to the Word of God and the law of God, and we’re going to be talking about that.

Let me give you a quote. This is from the book Selected Messages, Vol. 1, page 201. I see this as an inspired commentary on what we are talking about tonight. “As a people, we are to stand firm on the platform of eternal truth” (that’s why we are calling this “Here We Stand”) “that has withstood test and trial. We are to hold to the sure pillars of our faith. The principles of truth that God has revealed to us are our only true foundation. They have made us what we are. The lapse of time has not lessened their value. It is the constant effort of the enemy to remove these truths from their setting, and to put in their place spurious theories.” That’s what has been happening. Satan “will bring in everything that he possibly can to carry out his deceptive designs. But the Lord will raise up men of keen perception, who will give these truths their proper place in the plan of God.” The truth has been under attack because it is the truth that sets us free, and the devil hates the truth. Jesus is the Truth. The devil hates Jesus. Did that make sense?

I always like to share amazing facts during our meetings. The race is on among the major cities and countries of the world for the tallest building. They’re all reaching a little higher up into the heavens to scrape the sky—the skyscrapers. Of course, the Empire State Building was the first grand old lady that reaches up over 1400 feet. Then it was the World Trade Center, Sears Tower, the Taipei 101 building, the building in the capital of Malaysia. And right now on the drawing board of China, South Korea, Russia—they all have super skyscrapers. They’re all trying to trump one another for the tallest building in the world. Well, right now it appears that the people in Dubai, United Arab Emirates are going to be holding the prize for a while. They are building a building that is called Burj Dubai. This is a picture of it actually under construction.

Let me read some of the facts to you—get it straight here. You can see it right now from about sixty miles away, and it’s not half done yet. They expect it will be done about 2009. It will have 160 floors, 56 elevators, with luxury apartments, corporate suites, swimming pools. The final height has been kept top secret, but inside estimates are it will top 2600 feet, meaning that it will be twice as tall as the Empire State Building. Oh, by the way, are you wondering why gas is so expensive? This building is going to cost about $1 billion. It seems like money was no object. And that’s with very inexpensive labor. That’s a lot of money. I always thought it was kind of interesting, though, as I read this amazing fact, that it’s going to be twice as tall as the Empire State Building. But the Empire State Building is built on the solid rock of Manhattan Island. They’re building this on the sand of Dubai. So you wonder.

When I read my Bible, it makes me think about the first skyscraper. Do you know where you find that? Only a few hundred miles north of where they are building this one. You read in Genesis chapter 11; this is echoes of Babel. The Bible tells us there that man was trying to make a name for himself. And he was building this tower that would reach unto the heavens to save himself. And God looked down and He wasn’t very happy with what they were doing, and He confounded their project, and He confounded—He confused—the languages of the world. You wonder if, as we near the end of time and man is moving one more time toward a one world government and a one world economy, trying to make a name for himself, if we are just seeing that what happened back at the beginning is starting to repeat itself. History seems to be repeating itself, except in reverse.

Well, you know that tower of Babel, it disintegrated. Some historians tell us that for many centuries after, the rubble of the tower of Babel was still in the vicinity there by the Euphrates River. Years later another great king came along, by the name of Nebuchadnezzar, and he built the most beautiful city that ever existed on earth. It was called the golden empire of Babylon during its heyday. And Nebuchadnezzar, in the middle of that city, built the temple of Marduk. And the historian Herodotus says that it was a virtual skyscraper. It was probably not as tall as Burj Dubai, but it was circular; it had a circular staircase and places to rest along the way and an altar at the top. He used some of the rubble from the original tower of Babel for the core of the temple of Marduk.

It was during this time of King Nebuchadnezzar, when he was in the height of his power, that he conquered Jerusalem. He led away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon a number of captives. He destroyed the temple. He brought them back. He tried to indoctrinate all of the captives and representatives from these different empires with the teachings of Babylon. One of the things he did that was sort of the pinnacle of this effort was to create a one world religion. You see, he was a king over many different nations, and he knew you can’t really unite people based on languages. It’s difficult. And everyone has their customs, and people are very jealous for their soccer teams and their culture. But you can unite people based on religion. People from many different cultures may have the same religion. So he tried to incorporate this one world religion.

The way he planned on doing it (and you find this in the book of Daniel chapter 3), he built this great idol, 60 cubits high, 6 cubits wide. One theologian I read says if they don’t give you the depth, then you can assume it’s the same as the width, meaning it was 60 x 6 x 6. Isn’t that interesting? And he told everybody that they were to worship. Here it is from Daniel 3:6, “Whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.”

Now it just so happened that in the kingdom of Babylon Nebuchadnezzar had in his kingdom, and he had on his payroll, three very dedicated, devoted employees. And they worshipped Jehovah. They worshipped the God of the Bible. When they perhaps didn’t know what was happening, they came out of obligation to this inauguration, and when they heard the mandate that when the music played they were supposed to bow down, they resolved within themselves that they would not bow down. And the king said whoever didn’t bow down—what was the penalty? Death. What would you do? Well, you see, it says in God’s law, Exodus 20:4 (it’s very plain), “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.”

Now I suppose the temptations for them were very numerous. Friends who were maybe standing around them—there were other Jews that must have been in the crowd that day, and they knew how devoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were, and they were probably saying, “What are you going to do? We’ve all heard the decree. Soon the curtain is going to drop and expose the image, and the music is going to play.” They probably had quite a band. It would have inspired you to want to get involved in the worship. “What are you going to do?”

They said, “We’re going to put God first. We’re going to stand.”

“Oh, you’re out of your mind! You’ll lose your job! If you obey, you’ll lose your job.”

They said, “Well, it’s not optional. It’s not something we can discuss. God commands it.” They’re not called the Ten Suggestions. They’re not the Ten Good Ideas, or the Ten Great Recommendations.

Now this is one of the truths that has been lost by Christianity. It’s something as basic as the law of God. It’s something that we need to understand, because the way I read my Bible, this is very similar to Revelation 13, where it says another law is going to be made, and whoever does not worship according to this beast power is going to be killed. If you don’t know where you stand, and if you’re not willing to stand for God’s truth, His Word, His law, then what are you going to do? In order to protect your convenience or your comfort—or maybe what you’ll do—.

I’ll bet there were people in the crowd who said “Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego” (and their Hebrew names were Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah), “tell you what, when the music plays, don’t pray to the image, but you should bow down and pray to Jehovah. You’ll know in your heart who you’re praying to, and that’s all that really matters. Man looks on the outside. God looks on the heart. In your heart you pray to Jehovah; then there’ll be no problems. Just think how mad the king’s going to be. You’re going to ruin the whole celebration. When in Rome, do as the Romans. When in Babylon, do as the Babylonians.” You hear all these arguments, right? Or they could have said, “Don’t pray to the statue. Just notice that your sandals are loose, and just kneel and don’t make a spectacle. Strap up your sandals when the music plays.” I bet there were a thousand different rationalizations that the devil was offering them. But they had a lot of backbone, and even though they knew they were going to lose their position, they were going to lose their retirement, they were going to lose their jobs, they were going to lose their lives, no matter what they were going to lose, they were not going to shame their God by disobeying Him.

They had been trying to witness there on the courts of Babylon to everybody about Jehovah. What would it mean now if they bowed down now and compromised? What does it do to our witness when we compromise? You know how they were prepared to stand that day?

I knew I should have packed my umbrella when I came to Lansing, but I looked online and it wasn’t raining that day. So I’ve have about 20 umbrellas at home on a shelf from all of my trips because I seem to wait until I get somewhere before I think about it. You don’t want to wait until the storm comes to be prepared for the storm.

Years ago in 1964, I was living with my father in Miami Beach. I don’t know if anyone remembers Hurricane Betsy. It not only went through Miami, it came and it hit the Gulf Coast as well. Everybody was frantically lined up at the hardware stores getting plywood and everything. But my father, knowing that that’s storm country, he had in his garage storm shutters. And he said, “It looks like we’re going to have to put up the storm shutters.” He didn’t say, “I’m going to have to go buy some.” He had them.

I’m telling you right now, friends, that there is a storm coming that will test your faith. If you want to pass that big test, you need to be faithful now in the little things. If we are bowing down now when we need to stand, what do you think you’re going to do when that incredible pressure comes from everybody around you? Now we need to be faithful in the little things if we’re going to have a faith that will stand during that time. Is this some weird denominational theology, or is this just clean Bible teaching? We have to learn what it means to obey God and do what He says. These are the heroes in the Bible.

So the music played. They pulled the string that held the curtain up, and the curtain dropped, and probably the setting sun was shining off this golden image, and it was so glorious, and everybody was worshiping, and the music—it was inspiring! You probably even felt like worshiping. But they did not go with what they felt like doing. Nobody feels like going to a furnace. They stood when everyone else bowed down. I expect they might have had people tugging on their trousers, and they swatted them away and they said, “Here we stand. God said, ‘Do not,’ and we will not!”

Finally it was so obvious that they had disobeyed (some of their enemies probably observed that), they were brought before Nebuchadnezzar. He gave them a very clear guideline. He said, “Look, I recognize you. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you’re some of my top advisors. You’re in the cabinet of wise men in my kingdom. You’re brilliant. I respect you for your integrity. Perhaps you did not hear the command. I know it’s a second language for you, but I’m going to repeat it. I’m going to give you another chance,” because the Devil’s really not big on making martyrs out of the faithful. He’d much rather have them capitulate their faith. “I’m going to play the music again, give you another chance. And if you don’t bow down, see that furnace over there? They’re tossing the wood in right now. It’s seven times hotter than we need to melt gold down.”

They said, “King, you don’t need to play the music again.” It was probably the wrong kind of music anyway. There is Babylonian music, which we have in a lot of churches today, not only our churches. “You don’t need to play it again. Our God that we serve is able to deliver us.” Don’t forget that. “Our God is able.” You know what that means? They believed! Notice this. Were they saved by works or by faith? They were saved by faith. “We believe He is able. But even if He doesn’t, we’re not going to bow down.” Their faith was demonstrated in obedience. We like to separate the two, and when someone starts talking about obeying the commandments, we call them legalistic.

I have a question for you. Is obedience legalism? Everywhere I go I say pretty much the same thing, and I get a lot of narrow looks even from within our church, because folks are being brainwashed by Babylonian theology to think that if you talk about the commandments of God and obey the commandments of God, you’re a legalist. Well, if I put away all the background noise and I read my Bible, I don’t know how you can arrive at any other conclusion, but that God wants us to obey His law. Whenever you’re in doubt, do the safe thing. They said, “Even if He doesn’t deliver us, He said don’t bow down, and we’re not bowing down. If we get in trouble, it’s His fault. We’re doing what He said.” God wants more people to stand up for His word.

So the king said, “Enough of you!” The strongest men in the kingdom threw them in the fiery furnace, tied them up with their clothes, just as they were. If you wonder if the fire was hot, the fire was so hot that it incinerated the soldiers that threw them in. God always reinforces His miracles. They were not some Fijian fire walkers that just managed to walk across some hot coals as a trick. It was an inferno that they were thrown into. Of course you know the story. The king looked at a distance, and he expected to see them just vaporized. Instead, he saw them get up. The ropes were burnt. They’re walking around, except he saw there were four in there, and One had the appearance like the Son of God.

You may go through fiery trials for your faith, but the good news is when you pass through the fire, he says, “I will be with you. When you go through the waters, I will be with you.” He doesn’t say there will be no trials in being a Christian. But it’s still a lot easier to take up the yoke of Jesus. Isn’t that what He said? “My yoke is easy.” It’s a lot heavier to bow down to Babylon.

Now, it didn’t just happen there, if you have doubts about it. These are great stories in the Bible. Daniel chapter six—a little different slant, but a similar story. The king of Medo-Persia gets roped into making a law. The law says that if you’re caught praying to anybody but the king for 30 days, you’re going to the lion’s den, which is another kind of fiery furnace. It was a death penalty, not a very pleasant one. You notice he said, “We’re not asking you to go against your conscience for ever, just for 30 days. There is a time measurement on it here. You don’t have to do it forever, but just during this emergency. We’ve got martial law. Everybody needs to work together.” Are you listening? He makes this national law. He knew the same thing Nebuchadnezzar knew. If you can’t get your people together through common government or customs or language, you can unite them in a one world religion through common worship.

There’s not going to be a one world government in the last days. The Bible says, “He makes all the world worship.” Daniel 2 says, “They will not cleave one to another.” Politically, they’re never going to get it together. Culturally, there are always going to be differences. There will always be unique languages and customs. But they’re going to try and unite the world through common religion.

So they make the law. Maybe King Darius didn’t know what he was getting into. Here’s what it says in Daniel 6:7. It’s very clear. “Establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.” Death decree.

Now, Daniel prayed three times a day. If you read in Daniel 6:10, it says he had a custom. Why did Daniel have that custom? Because Daniel read the Bible, and Daniel read in Psalm 55 where King David said, “Morning, evening and at noon will I pray.” So Daniel prayed three times a day. Everyone knew he prayed three times a day. As a matter of fact, his enemies had the king sign the law because they wanted to get rid of Daniel. His goodness made their badness stand out, just like the enemies of Christ wanted to get rid of Jesus because His goodness made their badness stand out. They even had spies following Daniel around. They said, “We’re not going to find anything against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”

What’s going to be the big issue in the last days? The law of God. What’s happening to the Christian church today? They’re getting really sloppy about the law of God. “We’re not under the law. We’re under grace. We don’t need to obey, just in your heart, in your mind, in your spirit. It doesn’t have to be actual; that’s legalism. It’s the spirit; it’s not the letter.” Have you heard these things before?

Daniel was very clear. The first commandment says you are not to worship other gods, and that would include other monarchs. Daniel probably could have thought, “This would be a good time to take the words of Jesus that say, ‘Enter into your closet and shut the door.’” But, no, no, that’s not the time to do that. Then it would look like he was ashamed of His God. Even though it was going to cost him his life, he opened his windows towards Jerusalem. Why did he do that? Because Daniel read the Bible. You read in Daniel chapter 9, he says, “While I was reading the prophecies of Jeremiah.” Daniel read in the Bible when Solomon said, “If you are carried away captive to another land because of the unfaithfulness of the people, if you pray towards this place…” So he was praying towards Jerusalem. He not only read what it said. He did what it said. Amen?

So he prayed towards Jerusalem—three times that day. He was eventually brought before the king, and the king did not want to lose Daniel. There are a lot of parallels between Daniel and Jesus in this story. They had spies following Jesus around. The Bible says the king “labored till the going down of the sun to deliver” Daniel. When he found out, he didn’t want to lose Daniel. He was the only honest man in his government. An honest politician is hard to find, amen? He “labored till the going down of the sun to deliver him.” What time of day did Jesus die? Finally, when he realized there was no other way… <_____The Father said,_____> “If there be any other way—.” There was no other way. They brought him and threw him into the lion’s den. They put a stone over the mouth. Was there a stone placed over the mouth of Christ’s tomb? They sealed it with a government seal. Was there a seal placed on the tomb of Christ? Did Jesus come out alive? Did Daniel come out alive? I like what the king says when he looks into the den the next morning. What time of day did Jesus rise? Early in the morning. He moved away the stone and he said, “Has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you…?”

He said, “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths.”

Now, maybe you’re thinking that the lions weren’t really hungry, so it’s no miracle. The fire wasn’t hot; the lions weren’t hungry. This is what all the skeptics say. If you don’t think the lions were hungry, keep reading. It’s says that the lions were so hungry that all the ones who had accused Daniel were thrown in, and the King James says, “The lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.” These were furious, hungry, ravenous Asian lions. It was a miracle. You know why? God sent His angel. Jesus was with Daniel in the lion’s den. Jesus was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. And if you stand up for the Lord and you obey the Lord, Jesus will be with you. See, you’ve got to make up your mind. Everybody just really has two choices. You’re all in trouble. You just get to decide who you’re in trouble with. You’re either in trouble with the world and you follow the Lord but you get everlasting life, or you’re in trouble with the Lord and you follow the world and you enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season and you’re lost forever. Those are your choices.

God has always had a law. It’s not something that was thought up at Mount Sinai. You can read in the Bible where God said, speaking of His servant Abraham, Genesis 26:5 [KJV], “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments”—wait, there were commandments way back there with Abraham? “My commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” God’s law is not a Jewish thing. It goes all the way back even before. Joseph refused to commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife. He said, “How can I commit this sin?” Adultery was a sin. As a matter of fact, you can go back to the two sons of Adam and Eve. God said to Cain, “Sin is at your door.” What is sin? Sin is transgression of God’s law. It is a big deal. Yet people accuse Seventh-day Adventists of being legalistic because we talk about the Sabbath. That’ll be part of our subject tomorrow night.

What was the purpose of the Messiah? I thought Jesus came to do away with the law. Is that what the Bible says? No, quite the opposite. You see, Jesus came to magnify the law and make it honorable. The devil hates the law of God. Jesus came to exalt the law of God. As a matter of fact, without the law you don’t have sin. What is sin? James 4:17. There are four definitions you’re going to find in your New Testament. “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” Romans 14:23, “Whatever is not from faith is sin.” If a person knows that something is wrong, and in their heart they know they shouldn’t be doing it, then they shouldn’t be doing it. The conscience will also guide them in that. “All unrighteousness is sin.” The best definition is in 1 John 3:4 [KJV], “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” Is there still sin in the world today? Then God must still have His law. Where there’s no law, there’s no sin.

Let me see if I can explain in simple terms why this is such an important issue. Sin is the transgression of God’s law. The beginning would be the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are of course summarized in the two great commandments. First of all, let’s start up at the top. God is love. All right. Then the Ten Commandments are divided on two tables. God used two tables for a reason. It wasn’t because He ran out of room on the first table and said, “I’d better cut another one.” There’s a distinction made. The first four commandments deal with man’s relationship with God, his obligations with God. The last six commandments deal with the horizontal relationship, man’s relationship with his fellow man. It’s this (vertical) relationship, and it’s this (horizontal) relationship. In the law is the cross. You got that? I’ve got two arms, ten fingers. I demonstrate my action with these two things. You’ve got six commandments that deal with love for your fellow man. The first four deal with love for God.

It’s all about love. Yes, two great commandments. But those two great commandments do not trump the ten. The two great commandments are the motivation for the ten. That’s just telling you that it’s supposed to spring from the heart, that they are basics. They don’t go away. Yet I hear people say everywhere I go, “Well, because of Jesus now, because of grace and because of faith, we’re free from the law.” Is that how God operates? Now that we have faith in Christ, has the law been done away with? Romans 6:14,15 [KJV]. Have you heard it said before, “We are not under the law; we are under grace now”? Listen to what Paul says. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we [continue to] sin, because we are not under the law”—shall we continue to break the Ten Commandments because we are not under the penalty of the law? “God forbid.” He says, “God forbid.” Yet some people say, “We are under grace now,” as though it means that when we are under grace, we don’t need to keep the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are the elementary part. Yet—let me see your hands.

How many of you have heard Christians say, “Now that we’re under the new covenant, we don’t need to keep the Ten Commandments any more”? You know, that is really a doctrine of devils when you think about it. There are really only two choices. Either God wants us to keep the Ten Commandments or He doesn’t want us to. God is not indifferent. He’s not saying, “Well, if you want to murder, that’s up to you. Just however you feel.” People really don’t have a problem with the Ten Commandments until they get to one in particular. You can stand up and—. I’m getting into tomorrow night’s subject. I won’t do that right now.

Did Jesus come to do away with the law, or did He come to magnify the law? You read in that prophecy in Isaiah 42:21 [KJV], “The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law.” What does magnify mean, make bigger or smaller? Bigger. “He will magnify the law, and [He will] make it honorable.” That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I’ve come to abolish the law. I didn’t come to abolish it. I came to fill it full.” Then again in Matthew 5:27, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Think about this for just a second, if you will. Some people say, “That’s the letter of the law. New Testament Christians now, we go by the spirit of the law.” The letter of the law says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” This is what Jesus is saying. The spirit of the law says, “You shouldn’t think about it. It’s not only an action, it’s an attitude. And that’s true. But here’s the big question. Once you’re keeping the spirit of the law, will you be breaking the letter? I do believe we should go by the spirit of the law. But you show me somebody who’s keeping the spirit of the law and breaking the letter of the law, and I’ll show you a liar. The Bible says if anyone says they love Him and they keep not His commandments (I’m just quoting the Bible), they are a liar and the truth is not in him.

So if a person is saying, “I believe in the spirit of the law. I’m not going to think adulterous thoughts. But I’m going to commit adultery, but just not in my mind. I’m going to keep the spirit of the law.” The letter of the law says we are not to bear false witness—to be honest. The spirit of the law says, “Don’t even swear. Don’t make these vows. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.” So if a person is keeping the spirit of the law, will they be keeping the letter of the law? Of course they will. The letter of the law says you should not commit murder. Jesus says the spirit of the law says if I am angry with my brother or my sister without cause, I am guilty of murder in my heart. Very rarely do people commit murder without at least first thinking about it in the attitudes of the heart, right?

So if a person is keeping the spirit of the law… Imagine how ludicrous it would be if a person stood before the judge and said, “You know, in my heart I was keeping the spirit of the law. I realize I murdered them intentionally, but you know, in my heart…” How can you do that? So many Christians have fallen for these—doctrines of devils is what they are. I just have to call it what it is. They’ve infiltrated the Christian church, and what it is that really worries me is that they are finding their way into the remnant church. “If the foundations be destroyed, what [will] the righteous do?” If we’re losing our footing, where is anyone going to go?

There is a trend that you can see in revival movements. The Lutheran Church was born from a revival movement. Martin Luther said, “The Bible and the Bible only.” It was getting back to the truth, and it was a tremendous titanic struggle to tear themselves away from the traditions and the false teachings of the mother church. But after you trace the Lutheran Church after three or four generations (it seems like three or four generations is sort of when it happens), they sort of lose the vision of the founders who laid their lives on the line, that stood. Martin Luther said, “Here I stand. God help me.” He stood against this monolithic institution because it wasn’t biblical. But you go three or four generations, and they started to abandon those positions, until today the hands have been stretched across the abyss. There has been a great treaty between the Catholics and the Lutherans, and they are all hugging each other. And the 95 Theses—they sort of re-enacted it in reverse. Martin Luther would have turned over in his grave.

John Wesley—the Methodist movement—they were called legalists because they were so methodical about their religion—about times of prayer and times of study and good deeds and kind of evaluating your life. “Let every man examine himself,” the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 13. It says that! Is that legalism? Am I living the life? Am I following Jesus? Is He being reflected in me? That’s not wrong. It’s not legalism. So they were called Methodists and accused of legalism. It was a godly movement. It swept across England and Europe and North America—a great revival, people turning away from sin—bars were closing, wherever Wesley and Whitefield preached. You look at the fruit and you can tell it was from God. There is a change in the life. People where putting away their sins. God was blessing. And you go three or four generations, and, with all due respect to my Methodist friends—. I used to teach Sunday School in a Methodist church. Very few read their Bible on a regular basis or know what it says anymore. They can defend the teachings. All kinds of things are coming in in order to grow the church—using worldly methods to try and grow the church and abandoning the methods of Christ.

Do you think that we are immune from that pattern? We’re right now about the fourth generation, and we are seeing a trend. People are losing their footing. They don’t even know what they believe. I meet people all the time, and they find out that I am a Seventh-day Adventist, and they say, “Oh yeah, I’m a Seventh-day Adventist.” And I can look at them right now, and I can say, “Oh, yeah?” They just don’t have that spirit about them. I’ll say, “When were you in church last?”

“Well, I’m not practicing.”

Is there such a thing? Is it genetic? I didn’t know it was genetic. I thought it was a lifestyle. I thought it was following Christ, following His Word. The foundations are under attack, friends.

It tells us in Psalms 111:7, 8, how long do all of His commandments last? “All his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever.” Do you know what it boils down to? Is God wanting us to be hearers of the word, or doers of the word?

Romans 2:13. Some people like to use Paul… It’s amazing to me that they’re not satisfied with what Jesus says about the law, so they try to get Paul to undo what Jesus says. By the way, I always thought it was interesting—if you go to 2 Peter chapter 3, one of the only times in the Bible that one apostle talks about the teachings of another apostle, and he says, “Be careful.” Peter, talking about the writing of Paul, says “Be careful,” because people use the things that Paul says—some of them are difficult to understand. They twist them as they do other scriptures to their own destruction, and they go after the way of the error of the lawless. What was the issue? Lawless. People are always trying to twist what Paul says to say that we don’t even need to keep the law.

Listen to what Paul says in Romans 2:13. “For [it is] not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but”—the what?—“the doers of the law.” Jesus said it is not everyone that says to Me, “Lord, Lord” that will be in the kingdom, but those that—what?—do the will of My Father in heaven. God is looking for people who are doers, who like Isaiah will say, “Here am I; send me. I’m willing to go where You want me to go and do what You want me to do.”

Mark 3:32-35. There was a multitude around Jesus one day. And they came to Christ and they said, “Your brothers are seeking You.” But He answered and said to them, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?” Who are My people? Listen to what Jesus said. He looked about those who were there, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.”

So those who say, “I am part of Christ’s family,” and they are not doing the will of God, they are saying “Lord, Lord.” And what does Jesus say about the multitude, the many, who in the last days will say, “Lord, Lord,” and He will say, “I don’t know you”? I am just pleading with your souls, friends, that you will not be in that group. You don’t have to be. But the Bible tells us it’s the majority that love to beat the tambourine and say, “Lord, Lord,” but they are not doing His will.

Now I have to be careful that you understand that it’s not something that we do by our own power. It’s by His grace that we do it. James 1:22-25 [KJV], “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” How many self-deceived people are out there? They’re losing their footing. If we’re going to go by what the Bible says, then it’s very clear. God’s law is still intact, and He wants us to follow it. And if we are breaking His law, we’re going against His will, because Psalm 40:8 [KJV] says, “I [love] to do thy will…: yea, thy law is within my heart.” The very simplest expression of the will of God is the law of God.

So all these people are saying, “I’m just trying to figure out what the will of God is, and I’m praying for the will of God.” Well, you can start with the Bible, and you can start with Exodus 20. You can go to Matthew 5. Look at the Sermon on the Mount about loving your enemies. That would include loving your neighbor. It’s interesting the Bible commands us to love our neighbors and to love our enemies. That’s because our neighbors become our biggest enemies. Neighbor means “nigh brother.” There are a lot of disputes and fighting even in the church—people who take the name of Christ and they can’t get along with each another. It starts with the basics. This is the will of God: to be doers of His Word.

1 John 2:15-17 [KJV], “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof:”—catch this part—“but he that doeth the will of God [will live] for ever.” So is God looking for people who will just say, “Lord, Lord?” Or people who are willing to do His will?

How can we do His will? Can we do anything without Christ, friends? No. I don’t want to just leave you with the idea that I am just telling you to start obeying God’s commandments, because it doesn’t work as easy as that. The law is there to show us what sin is and help us recognize our need of Jesus. Did you catch that? The devil hates the law of God, because without the law there is no sin. Through the law we have a knowledge of sin. If we’re not aware of our sin, then do we need a Saviour? Through the devil downplaying the law of God—he’s downplaying the problem we have—we have a dilemma. We’re holden with the cords of our sins, and we need deliverance. And as soon as we realize what the problem is, we know what the sickness is, we find out where the doctor is, and Jesus is the solution, and we go to Him for cleansing.

How can we obey God? If you look in your Bibles, in Romans 8:3 [KJV], “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh”—He came and resisted temptation using the same power that is available to you and me—God’s Spirit, the power of the Father—it will come into your life. How many of you experience victory over sin? I’m not saying all sin. I’m talking about—has God delivered you from anything? I know if the Lord can save me from stealing and drinking and drugs and cursing and all those things, that the other things that I struggle with, that “He that began a good work will perform it.” He can deliver you. When we say, “Well, we can’t really become overcomers,” what you are implying is that your devil is bigger than your God. You believe in the devil’s power to tempt you to sin. Don’t you believe in Jesus’ power to deliver you from sin? If Christ, coming in the form of sinful flesh, could live a perfect life—He’s shown us that by His coming into our lives, that He can live out that life through us. But He’s got to be on the inside.

Let me finish reading this for you. He came “in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, [and] condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

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