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A Nation of Kings

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 5:9-10, John 14:15
Why are there so many denominations? How do you know which is the right church? What does the Bible teach? One mark of God's church is that they will keep all His commandments.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Our message tonight is going to be dealing with the subject of God’s people and the church. I’d like to begin, as I often do, with an amazing fact.

The Providence United Methodist Church. Back in 1874 in Swan Quarter, North Carolina, there was a small group of Methodists. They had been meeting in a home and they decided that they wanted to purchase some property, to buy themselves a permanent place to build a church. They approached a man named Sam Saddler, who owned a beautiful piece of high ground in the middle of town, a great location, and asked if they could buy a lot that he had. But he wasn’t too fond of Christians, and he had no intentions of having this real estate wasted on a church. So he flatly turned them down.

They raised the amount that they offered. He turned them down again. They tried to negotiate any way they could, and he just flatly refused. He didn’t want to waste it on a church and on Christians. So they realized that they were going to have to try something else.

About this time, somebody offered a piece of property. It wasn’t very valuable property, but they donated it, and so they thought this was maybe what they were supposed to do. It was some low lying property about a half mile away from the other land that they wanted. The members got together and over the next two years built a sturdy, beautiful little Methodist church.

Then on September 17th, 1876, the day after they dedicated their little church, there on the Atlantic Coast, a tremendous hurricane began to brew. And it blew in and it was a record breaker. You can find it listed in some of the great storms that hit the East Coast. Well, unfortunately, this church was in a low lying spot. People battened down their hatches, and the next morning they were amazed as they opened up their windows and surveyed the damage. Among all the things that they saw, water roaring up and down the streets, they saw a church that had been lifted off of the piers where it had been built, floating up the street in Swan Quarter, North Carolina. And it looked just like it had a mind of its own.

Some of the people, who wanted to be good Samaritans, got out there with ropes and tried to secure the church and tie it off and see if they could tow it back to where it belonged. But as I said, it had a mind of its own. It actually broke its moorings, made its way up Canal Street, bumped into the General Store, turned a sharp right, went up two blocks, and made a sharp left. It went up a little farther, nudged over, and about that time the water began to recede. Guess where the church had settled? It settled directly in the middle of the property that Sam Saddler had refused to sell to the small company of Christians.

Shortly after this, Mr. Saddler came to the group and with trembling hands placed the deed to the land in the hands of the Methodist minister. Since then they have rebuilt the church, because they grew and this was over a hundred years ago. But they still called it the Providence Methodist Church, and they have a plaque out front. This is a picture, I think, of the original, and it says, “The church moved by the hand of God.” This story is confirmed by many, many witnesses in the town. It is a very well known story. It is considered a first class miracle.

But unfortunately, God’s church is not moving uphill these days. It’s not moving to the high ground; it’s been moving to the low ground. And it’s going to take a miracle to turn that trend around. I also think it’s going to take another storm. I don’t believe we are really going to see revival until there is persecution, and there is going to be a great shaking among God’s people.

It is a privilege to be a Christian. It’s a privilege to have the blessed hope, to have the knowledge of life. I was not raised with this privilege. It is amazing to me, that people who are raised in the church, who know about Jesus and know the truth, do not appreciate it more and do not want to share it more. Because I grew up the other way, and life has no purpose and it is pitiful!

We have been called to be a nation of kings. By the way, that is the title for our message this evening. It’s based upon a couple of scriptures; there are several in the Bible. We are a nation of kings when you are members of God’s family. You can read, for instance, in 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood” (it’s a regal priesthood), “a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

During this series, we’re sharing some of the pillars of truth that, many of them, have been lost by the Christian church at large. This is a marvelous light that God has given His people, He is calling people into. And the truth will set you free. Every element of truth that you embrace liberates you to that extent.

Again, in Revelation 5:9, 10, “For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood, out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.”

We will live and reign with Christ, it tells us in Revelation chapter 20. We will reign with Him. Think about this. The Almighty God, the Creator of the universe is going to move the capitol of His creation to our planet, and we will see Him face to face, and we will live and reign with Him. What a privilege is being offered to us!

But if we want to be a part of His family there, we must be part of His family here. If we want to see Him face to face there, then we need to have enough faith to get us to church here. If we don’t have enough faith to get us to church here, then how are we going to have enough to get you to heaven? We need to become part of God’s people and seek first His kingdom. Amen?

But I know what some of you are thinking. “Pastor Doug, there are so many different churches!” Why are there so many different denominations? I was going to print out a list to show you the incredible number of denominations that claim to be Christian. There are so many of them. How do you pick? What do you do? Do you play “Christian Roulette” and just spin them and throw darts and… How do you pick a church?

How do we find God’s church in these last days where there is an ever increasing number because of church splits and local community congregations that are rising up to form their own denominations, that all believe slightly deviant things? How do you know? How do you find that church?

I like to use the illustration that I heard about a gentleman from Russia who migrated to North America…

I remember when Karen and I were in Russia back in 1992 doing evangelistic meetings. We went to the supermarket there. This was before capitalism had really taken off, and they were struggling still with long lines. Someone said, “We’ll take you to the supermarket.” And I wondered if they had mistranslated it, because there were only about twenty things in the store.

I heard about this Russian gentleman who immigrated to the US, and he wanted to be like a regular American, and he asked his friends, “What do you Americans usually eat in the morning?”

And they said, “Well, we usually eat breakfast cereal. Most people eat dry cereal.” So he goes to the supermarket and someone directs him to an aisle that is longer than a terminal at an airport, just dedicated to breakfast cereal. And he was sort of dazed as he went up and down the aisles, and he’s wondering, “How shall I pick my cereal?”

Now, why are there so many different kinds of breakfast cereal? What would you guess? Someone noticed that one of those boxes says “Billy Grahams,” “Presbyterian Muffin Flakes.” Amazing Facts did this as a magazine cover a few years ago.

Why are there so many different kinds of cereal? Do you know why? Because the companies realize that there are all kinds of different people. They all have slightly different desires and needs and preferences, and they try to accommodate everybody so they can capture as much of the market as possible. There are cereals for kids, and there are cereals for old folks. There are cereals for families; there are health cereals; there are cereals with cartoons on the cover. There are cereals that are supposed to have all kinds of different benefits—just a plethora, a kaleidoscope of different kinds of cereal.

It’s that way when you go shopping for a church. The difference is… I was actually at the store today looking for cereal. I had no intention to tie it into the sermon, but it’s true. When I go to buy cereal, I don’t buy it based on the sports hero on the cover. That doesn’t impress me, because sometimes they have a sports hero on the cover and you read the ingredients, and the first ingredient is sugar. They ought to call it “Diabetic Dainties.”

And then the cartoons and the prizes on the inside, and they have all these different things to market their cereal. What I do is, I flip it around and I read the ingredients; I read the contents. I want to find out what’s in it.

How do you pick a church? Would you like to know some of the ways that people pick churches, some of the criteria? I won’t remember them all, but let me tell you what some of them are.

Number one usually is, “It’s the church I grew up in.” They pick their church based on where they grew up and where their family has gone for generations. That’s one reason.

“It’s close to our house.”

Let me just back up and ask you, is there anything wrong with being part of a church that your family is part of? It’s all nice to go to the same church. Of course, it depends on how you get along with your family. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s nice to have a church close to your house.

People pick a church because they’re friendly and loving. That’s a good thing to have in a church, don’t you all agree?

Or they pick a church because they have a good children's program. And we all appreciate churches that invest a lot of time to have good programs for training and teaching the children.

Some people pick their church with the number one criteria being, “I’m musical. I like to find a church with a good choir where I can sing or where I can play.” And that’s their criteria.

Some people pick a church because they like the looks of the building. That’s sort of like picking cereal based on the box. If you ask some people why they go to their church, they say, “Oh, the stained glass is beautiful! It just feels inspiring! I like the architecture.”

Some people pick a church because of the social prestige of the people that go to that church. I understand every week in Washington D.C., regardless of who the president is (typically they go to church from time to time), folks will call that church, and say, “Just wondering, is the president attending this week?” And the pastor has to say, “I’m not sure, but the Lord will be here.” They want to go where the important people and the influential people of the community go. And they pick their church based on the relationships that can influence business.

Some people pick a church because the minister is handsome or charismatic. I can be sure that’s not why you’re coming to this meeting.

And there are a lot of other reasons that people pick a church. Sometimes they go because it’s exciting. “Wow! What a program! It just makes you want to get up and dance! My life is so ho-hum, but I go to my church, and it makes you come out of your seat.”

Not all of those things are necessarily bad in and of themselves. None of them are the right reason to pick a church. I haven’t mentioned the right reason yet. There is only one right reason to pick the church that you are going to be a part of. It is because the foundational teachings of that church happen to be the teachings of Christ in the Bible. That’s why you go to a church. What does it believe? What does it teach? It’s the constitution; it’s the ingredients of the church.

Now, I am a Seventh-day Adventist. I am not a Seventh-day Adventist because they are necessarily the nicest people, but there are a lot of lovely people. But that’s not the reason that I picked it. And let’s face it: every church has good people in it. All kinds of denominations, even some really kooky denominations, have some nice people. Every church has that. You don’t base your decision on, “I met a person once, and they were a Baptist, and they were kooky. I’m never going to be a Baptist.” That’s not clear thinking.

But I am a Seventh-day Adventist because I don’t have a choice. I made up my mind: I want to know the Lord; I want to do His will; I want to go to heaven. I want to believe the Bible and I want to follow its teachings, and I don’t have anywhere else to go.

No one else in my family is a member of this church. I’m not talking about my wife and kids, but where I grew up. I picked the church I picked because it was the closest to the Bible. If I find one closer, that’s where I’m going. Sorry folks! Do you hear me? My allegiance is not to a denomination. But I can’t find anything closer to the Bible. If we are going to know where the Lord wants us to be in the last days, we need to find out what the Bible teaches.

My Bible says in John 17 that when Christ ascended to heaven, He prayed, “Father…, that they … may be one.” He’s praying for His people that they might be one. Did the devil hear that prayer? And He said all men will know you are My disciples by your love for one another, by your unity. The devil heard that. And the devil knew that if people are going to be drawn to Christianity by their love for one another; by their unity, it will have the opposite influence if they can’t get along. If they bicker and fight, and in the news the Protestants and Catholics are killing each other in Ireland, what kind of message does that send to the world about the teachings of Jesus?

And the devil said, “If I can divide them, I can neutralize their influence.”

I believe that Christ’s prayer is going to be answered. In the last days there are going to be two groups worshiping. One will have the seal of God and worship according to the Bible. The other will have the mark of the beast, and it will worship also. And they’ll both claim to worship God. But one will be true and the other won’t.

Remember Saul; when he was killing Christians, he thought he was serving the God of the Bible. And Jesus said in John chapter 16 the hour is coming in which those that kill you will think they are serving God. They’ll think they are serving Jesus.

So what is going to happen is there is going to be a big shaking in the last days. And there are good Christians in many different churches. There are some people in my church that are not converted and are never going to be. The sincere will be shaken in, and the hypocrites will be shaken out, but there is going to be a big shaking in the last days. Right now, God has people in many different churches. Do you hear me? Many different denominations. I know that because I visit with them. They are sincere people.

The Seventh-day Adventist movement actually is a movement people are being calling into. As a matter of fact, it is a special movement in one sense, that we are given a message to Christians of other churches. I respectfully disagree with some of my friends in ministry who think that we should avoid preaching our message to people who are already “churched” in another denomination. I believe that we do have a message for people who are the lost sheep of the house of Israel. They are God’s sheep; He says they are “My people.” But they are in Babylon, and they need to come out. And God have mercy on us when we stop giving that message because it is a part of the three angels’ message. People are being called back to the Bible.

How are we going to find God’s church, with 32,000 different denominations to pick from? Let’s use the Bible as our guide. I have a lot of scripture on the screen here, so why don’t we begin with question number one. We’re going to go to a prophecy that will help us decipher this, dealing with both the past and the future. It’s found in Revelation chapter 12; it’s the prophecy of this woman. We’re going to briefly look at that.

Question number 1. By what prophetic symbol does Jesus represent His church?

Well, typically a church is symbolized in prophecy as what? A woman. Jeremiah 6:2 [KJV], “I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman.” God’s church is compared to a beautiful woman. And again, Isaiah 51:16 [KJV], “Say unto Zion, Thou art my people.”

John says in his second letter, the elect woman is writing to her elect sister. One church was writing another. He uses these metaphors, “Husbands, love your wives even as Christ loves the church.” So the bride of Christ is often symbolized in the feminine, as a woman.

There are two primary women in Revelation. You have the woman in Revelation 12 that we are studying tonight. And there is another woman in Revelation 17 who is an unfaithful woman. She is called “the mother of harlots.” She has daughters that came out of her. One represents the true; the other represents the counterfeit, or the unfaithful. And that is the condition of the world today.

Question number 2. In Revelation 12:1, Jesus uses several symbols to identify His church. What do these symbols mean?

“Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems [or crowns] on his heads.” And he “drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.” And “she bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.”

Here we have the backdrop for the first part of our study. The woman has a number of symbolic things that help us identify her. It’s telling us that she is clothed with the sun. The sun represents Jesus. He is sometimes referred to, like in Malachi 4, “the sun of righteousness” that will arise with healing in His wings. Christ is the “light of the world.” This is the “light” of the New Testament church.

Then it says that she has the moon under her feet. Now, the moon has no light of its own, but it reflects the light of the rising sun. So the moon represents the foundation of the Old Testament, upon which the New Covenant, or the New Testament, rests. It’s the teachings she’s standing on; the church stands on the Old Testament.

One of the problems in many churches—I’ve been to these churches before. They think that because the word “old” is in front of the word “testament,” that we don’t need it anymore. You’ve probably seen this before, too. You go to the church and they even supply the Bible, but all they supply is the New Testament. To me, it’s inconceivable! I’m speechless, which doesn’t happen often. That Christians would reject the Bible that Jesus read! Ten percent of what Christ said was from the Old Testament. It is true that the sacrificing of lambs and circumcision and certain ceremonial things are no longer required; we need to recognize that. But when you add that all up, compared with the bulk of scripture and promises in the Old Testament, wow! That’s one reason why there’s so much confusion in the church.

She stands on the moon. Above her head, what does she have? A garland, or stephanos, of twelve stars, representing the leadership. “Above the head” is authority. In the Old Testament you have the twelve patriarchs and the twelve judges of Israel; in the New Testament, the Twelve Apostles. Twelve is a number that represents the church.

It tells us next that this woman is about to give birth, and she brings forth this male child. Who is the Baby that the woman delivers? It’s Jesus. It says that she brought forth a man child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron, and her child was caught up to God and His throne. It tells us in Revelation 21, Jesus will rule with a rod of iron. And Christ is that leader.

Now, I don’t know if you know, but there are seven examples in the Bible of miracle births. The wives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all barren. Through prayer, they had babies. All seven of the miracle births in the Bible were always boys, because they were all types of Christ.

Sarah gave birth to Isaac. Wasn’t he a type of Christ? His father offered him on the mountain. He was a willing sacrifice. The wood was on his back as the cross was on the back of Jesus.

Rebecca gave birth to Jacob and Esau. Jacob is a type of Christ, the patriarch of the Twelve Apostles.

Rachel is who Jacob married, and she was barren. He prayed; he had Joseph. Joseph is a type of Christ in that he forgave his brothers, he fed the whole world for free, he was sold for the price of a slave. I could go on and on.

Then you have the Shunamite woman. She has a miracle baby who dies while working in the field with his father, but he’s resurrected, like Jesus.

You have Hannah who has Samuel. He became a prophet, priest, and judge of Israel as Jesus is our Prophet, our Priest, and our Judge.

Samson’s mother. Samson is a type of Christ in that he finally lays down his life to deliver God’s people from their enemies. Betrayed and sold to the Philistines by his own people.

Then you have John the Baptist, another miracle birth who was, of course, the forerunner of Christ.

All of these births in the Bible are telling us about this final birth you find in Revelation.

Of course, our Catholic friends think that woman in Revelation 12 is Mary. You’ll often see Mary portrayed with twelve stars above her head. It’s not Mary; it’s the church all through the ages, Old and New Testament, waiting to bring forth the Messiah, because if you keep reading, what happens in the story never happened to Mary.

Question number <__________4.__________> Who is the great red dragon that tries to kill the man child?

Who is the dragon? You know that, friends. In Revelation 12:9, that “great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan.” And it says again, “the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered for to devour her child as soon as it was born.”

This was not the only time that the dragon tried to devour a child. When Jesus was a baby, King Herod sent the Roman soldiers in to kill all the babies in Bethlehem. He tried to kill Jesus in His infancy. But the devil didn’t know exactly when Christ would come; he knew He was coming.

You also remember back in the Old Testament, the story of Moses. Then, the devil thought the Messiah was coming, and he was killing all the babies. But not the baby girls. Which babies? All the baby boys, trying to prevent the Savior from coming. And that’s why Moses was put in that little basket.

You perhaps remember the story of King Joash and his wicked grandmother Athaliah, who tried to kill off the royal seed to prevent the Messiah from coming. The devil knew at that point the Messiah would be a son of David. He kept trying to stop it from happening. He was trying to devour the Child before it was even born. So it’s not just what happened with Mary. If you keep reading, you’ll find that out.

This goes back to a prophecy in the very beginning, Genesis 3:15. This is the first prophecy in the Bible. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed.” God is speaking to the serpent here. “He [the Seed of the woman] shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Christ ultimately stomps on the head of the serpent, but the progress of the church, the heel of the church, has been impeded by a wound. We have been wounded, so to speak. And Christ, of course, was wounded by the enemy.

So here you have these analogies between Genesis 3 and Revelation 12. In Genesis you have the serpent, and the dragon is also called the serpent in Revelation 12. In Genesis 3, you have the woman, and you have the woman in Revelation 12.

I’m going from cover to cover in the Bible; did you notice that? Genesis to Revelation. You have the Seed of the woman. There’s enmity, or wrath. There’s a division, and then you have wrath between the dragon and the woman, if you go to the end of Revelation 12.

This battle that you find portrayed many times in the Bible is a battle between the Seed of the woman, or Christ, and the dragon, and the woman, the church. This is the essence of the great controversy. The whole universe is watching what’s happening here on earth, because the character of God and the character of the devil are campaigning against each other.

Have you ever read the story of Job? The devil comes before the Lord, and the Lord says, “Have you considered my servant Job? There are people on the earth that are faithful. He fears Me; he obeys Me; he hates sin.”

And the devil says, “Ah, he doesn’t really love You. If You take his stuff and You punish his body, he’ll curse You to Your face.” What happened there, in the beginning of Job, is being acted out all over the world all the time. This is a great battle between God and this rebel, called Lucifer; the angels of God, and the fallen angels of Lucifer, and they’re fighting over the territory of our hearts and minds. And every time we choose to stand up for Jesus, God’s angels cheer. And every time we decide to just capitulate to the enemy, the devil’s angels cheer and God’s angels weep.

You and I cannot escape the fact that we are involved. There is no “Switzerland” in this battle. There is a battle between Christ, the Seed of the woman, the dragon, and you and I, the church. And our mission is to bring people in to this family.

Question number 5. What did Satan do after he failed in his plan to destroy baby Jesus?

This is another reason we know that this woman is not Mary, the mother of Jesus. It says in Revelation 12:13, “When the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.”

The devil especially hates Jesus. He did everything he could to afflict as much suffering as he possibly could on Christ. We all see that when we read the Bible. Jesus is out of his reach now. And the way that the devil hurts Jesus is by hurting the woman. You see, because the bride of Christ is the supreme object on earth on which He bestows His greatest regard. It is the apple of His eye; it’s His bride. And He loves the church.

If you want to hurt somebody… Well, maybe I should put it this way. It would be one thing to be tortured. I wouldn’t want to be tortured. I have a very low tolerance for pain. My hat is off to women who go through childbirth. I just praise the Lord that that was not my lot in life. I wouldn’t want to be tortured. But what would be harder for me than being tortured would be to watch someone torture my child. The devil knows that. The devil knows how much God loves us, and he wants to hurt God and Jesus by hurting His children.

When Christ ascended to heaven, he now vented his wrath on the woman. Look at what happened to the church when Christ ascended to heaven. Tremendous persecution was unleashed. The Christian religion was forbidden. Christians were told to pray to idols; do something to break God’s commandments. “If I can get you to just sin.” They were put to death, they were stoned, they were burned alive, they were fed to the lions in the coliseums, and we could go on and on talking about all the stories of how the martyrs lost their lives for their faith. Why? Because they would not deny Christ by disobeying. The church is going to need that kind of faith again before we reach the end. A faith where we really stand up for what we believe. A faith where we’ll be willing to be persecuted for our faith. It may take a storm to wake us up.

Finally, along came Constantine. The devil realized that the more he persecuted the church, instead of the church shrinking through this persecution, it grew. The blood of the martyrs was seed. So the devil went to plan B, and plan B has been so successful that I don’t think he’s ever gotten plan C.

Plan B was, If you cannot destroy the Christians by simple annihilation or killing them, or by wearing down their resolve, join them. Become a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Get them to give up their teachings so that they have the name Christian, but they’re not living the life. They have the illusion that they’re saved. And they hear “peace, peace” when there is no peace. And they’re falsely being rocked into a deadly sleep.

The church is being sedated by the devil. He’s come on into the inside. Constantine legalized Christianity, and in order for it to be more popular, a lot of church leaders sort of compromised, and all of these pagan traditions began to come into the church—idolatry and the regalia and the fanfare of the pagans. They began to rename their statues, which used to be Mercury and Jupiter and Apollo and Diana. They named them Peter, James, John, and Mary. They started praying to idols, which is clearly forbidden in the Bible. And I could go through all of the Ten Commandments and show you where there was compromise that was made.

The devil began to erode the teachings of truth from the inside. That’s happening again. Every revival movement… The Lutherans were a great revival movement and so were the Episcopalians, and so were the Methodists and Baptists, and all these great revival movements. They were movements to get back to the Bible. But after a few generations the devil gets on the inside, and worldliness comes in like cancer, and starts to eat away at the vitality of the church. My heart breaks because I see it in my own heart. I’m a pastor; I have to fight it in my church all the time. I see it in my denomination. The world is trying to come in and neutralize the effectiveness of the gospel.

The church needs to humble itself and turn from their sins. Now, instead of talking about repentance, we talk about affirming everybody, make everybody feel welcome and accepted. That’s not the gospel. When John the Baptist began preaching, what were the first words out of his mouth? “Repent!” That means recognize your sin, humble yourself, acknowledge your sin, turn from your sin.

The first words out of Jesus’ mouth were, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” You don’t hear a lot of messages like that anymore, where peoples’ sins are being identified. And listen to Jesus. He was very… You read in Matthew 21; read what John the Baptist said, calling the religious leaders a brood of vipers. You don’t get re-elected like that. We need more Elijah’s today.

Number 6. Where did the woman flee to protect herself?

The Bible says in Revelation 12:6, “Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” That’s a time period you find many times in the Bible. It’s 1,260 days, same thing as 3-1/2 years and 42 months.

In A.D. 538, Constantine basically moved the capitol to Constantinople. Justinian, the Roman Emperor at the time, gave the Bishop of Rome sort of an army to keep things under control in Rome. He left town and went to Constantinople, and pretty soon the church, instead of being a religious movement, became a political power. And people were mandated to believe. The church sent out armies to crush those that disagreed. And for the next 1,260 years, that was the only game in town. And the church had to go underground. The woman fled into the wilderness.

Where did Elijah go (I’m trusting you know your Bibles a little) for 1,260 days? Did Elijah flee into the wilderness? Did God feed him there? Miraculously? Was there a Jezebel, a woman, a wicked woman, that was manipulating Ahab, the government, and persecuting the prophets of God? That’s exactly what happened during this time period of the Dark Ages, from 538 to 1798. The church had to go into the wilderness. And God always feeds them in the wilderness. He fed the children of Israel in the wilderness. The day may come where we have to flee into the wilderness again, and our bread and water will be sure.

Jesus, after fasting 40 days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil, when He was victorious, angels ministered to Him. How do you think the angels ministered to Him? They fed Him. We need more angel’s food today.

Number 7. In Revelation 12:17, God calls His end time church “the remnant.” What does the word remnant mean?

I will give it to you right from the American Heritage Dictionary. “A remnant is something left over, a remainder.” It’s “a leftover piece of fabric or carpet after the rest has been used. It is a surviving trace or vestige, a small surviving group of people.”

If you read your Bible, you’ll never come to the conclusion that in the last days, everybody who claims to be a Christian is going to be saved. Didn’t Jesus say, “many will come to Me in that day,” speaking of the last days, “saying, ‘Lord, Lord’”?

They use His name; they know His name; they even claim that they were involved in Christian service. “We cast out devils and did many wonderful works, and we taught in Your streets.” And He says, “I don’t know you.”

It says “many.” Broad is the way that goes to destruction and many… The majority in the last days are going to claim to be Christian. But it’s a remnant that will be saved. So if you’re waiting for genuine Christianity, genuine Biblical Christianity, to be popular, friends, it never will be. If you want to be a Bible Christian and be popular, the two… Jesus said, “If they hated Me, they’re going to hate you.” Isn’t that what He said?

Paul said we’re the off-scouring of the world. “Not many wise, not many noble.” We may never look as good as some others do, but if you can point to the Bible… And you’ll see apostasy in God’s church. The Jews all through the Old Testament were God’s people. What made them God’s people? Their behavior? Think about it. What made them God’s people? Because God had given to them the Word of truth. Ever since that day they left Egypt, and God wrote things down with His finger, and Moses wrote things down, and they carried around the oracles of God, through all their ups and downs and their varying apostasies, they were God’s people.

Even when they lost faith and couldn’t enter the Promised Land, they were still God’s people, because they had the truth. That’s the emphasis of this whole program. It’s the Bible; that’s what we need to stand upon. God has a church in these last days, and it doesn’t mean they’re always faithful. But where do you go, what’s the constitution of, how do you find, a church? Based on the building? Charismatic pastor?

So a remnant… You’ve been to the store before, probably bought remnants. Sometimes it helps to illustrate this visually. Let me take a bill out of my wallet. I have a five. When fabric or carpet or something comes off of the loom at the factory, it is placed on a roll. It is rolled up onto the roll as the fabric is made. And then they take it to the store in a roll, is that right? All the ladies are nodding; men are going… Then when they sell it, they take it off the bolt or off the roll. They cut different parts, and sometimes they get down to an odd piece at the end. And someone will come to the store and they’ll say, “I just have one little pillow left, and I need some of that fabric, and I don’t want to buy a whole bolt anymore.” And they say, “Well, we have remnants. Check it; they’re on sale.”

When you buy that remnant of the fabric, it’s going to be just like the stuff that you bought, right? And you’ll notice that what comes off the bolt at the end is what went on the roll at the beginning. Did you get that? God’s church at the end of time is going to be like His church when Jesus ascended to heaven. How many denominations did He have at Pentecost? One. They were one. They were in one place, of one accord. And what is He going to have when He comes back again? One. They’re going to be united. There is going to be an outpouring of God’s Spirit. There’s going to be a revival among God’s people. The other children of the Lord out there are going to recognize that, and they’re going to come pouring in, taking a stand for the truth.

All through history, God has had remnants that He saved. Of all the people that lived back before the flood, most of them, unfortunately, were lost. Who was saved? Noah. Noah and his family were a remnant of that whole generation that lived. The human race would have been totally annihilated if it wasn’t for the remnant of Noah. God has preserved His truth in that family. It was passed on.

When they began to turn to Babel and building the tower, and all the paganism, God called Abraham out of that apostasy, and because of his faithfulness, God saved the family. They were a remnant of the truth that had been given to Adam, and given to Noah, and now given to Abraham. God’s always had His truth. Just in the same way that Lot was saved; that righteous man dwelling among the wicked. Lot was a righteous man. The Bible says so. God saved him; the rest were destroyed. He saved a remnant out of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Israel, indeed, was a remnant that was saved from the land of Egypt when all the plagues fell.

How many of you have read the story of Gideon? Gideon starts out with this massive army, and God says, “There are too many. Some of them are afraid; get rid of the fearful.” He got rid of them, and He said, “Some of them are foolhardy. Get rid of them, they’re reckless. They’re not afraid, but they’re just not smart. They’re not afraid enough.”

He whittled it down and finally gave the victory to a remnant of that original group. I just quoted a minute ago about the story of Joash, where there was an attempt to annihilate the seed of David. All of David’s descendants were killed, except one. One was saved, hidden in the temple of the Lord for six years. God raised up the seed of David, and Jesus came through that one baby that was saved in that temple.

Elijah said, “Lord, I don’t know if there are any prophets left.” How sad, that one day you have a showdown in Israel where in Israel you have one prophet of God, and some estimates are between 400 and 850 prophets of Baal and prophets of Ashtoreth. You wonder what the ratio in the world today is among genuine Christians. But there were other knees that had not bowed the knee to Baal. God had to remind Elijah of that. After they were in Babylon because of their unfaithfulness, God called them out of Babylon to go back to the Promised Land. But most of them had become so comfortable with the conveniences of Babylon. There was a Walmart nearby and a Taco Bell. They didn’t want to go back to Israel. Except for Ezra and Nehemiah. There was a remnant that came out of Babylon back to the Promised Land.

God’s people—it seems like there are always a few that are willing to follow and separate themselves from the crowd. They hear the Lord talking to their hearts, and they’re willing to be different.

Indeed, out of all the three and a half years of Jesus preaching and ministering among His people, the lost sheep of the house of Israel, the apostles and the early church were a remnant that were saved out of Israel. Are you with me so far? In the last days, of all those who claim to be Christians, God is really saving a remnant from the remnant, so to speak. There is every reason you can be part of that. All you have to do is say, “I’m going to stand on the Word of God. And by His grace, I’m going to follow Jesus.” You can’t do anything without Him, but I believe you can do everything with Him. All things are possible with God. You can live a new life!

Number 8. What two additional points does Jesus provide in Revelation 12:17 to identify His end time remnant church?

Now we’re jumping to the last verse in chapter 12 of Revelation. It says, “And the dragon was enraged with the woman.”

Now, in case you have any doubts about who this woman is in Revelation 12, clothed with the sun (that’s light that God made), standing on the moon. Who made the moon? God did. Stars above her head. Sun, moon, and stars. Who made the sun, moon, and stars? God did. All give light. God said to the church, “You are the light of the world.”

And if you have any doubts still about who that woman is, here’s a clue. If the devil hates her, then you want to be part of that group. It is almost always a sure bet that you can be for whatever the devil is against.

And he is enraged with this woman because she has the light of truth; she has Jesus. Two characteristics stand out.

“He went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God.” Is that the commandments with a 10 percent discount? Or is it 100 percent? How many here can raise your hands and say, “I keep some of the commandments some of the time”? Let me see your hands. Some of them, some of the time. Come on, don’t some of you keep some of them some of the time? That should have been every hand, right? People in prison can raise their hand for that!

Is that what God is looking for? Let me quote Deuteronomy 5:29. “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever.”

How many does God want us to keep, 90 percent? All of them. From time to time, or consistently? King Darius said to Daniel, “Your God who you serve continually, He will deliver you.” Friends, God wants more consistent performance from His people, because we can do it with Jesus. We’re so good at making excuses for falling, we give the devil all the credit. We don’t give Christ enough credit that He can keep us from falling.

John 14:15, Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My,” and what has to be the motive? Love. “Keep my commandments.” And by the way, that is in the Ten Commandments. “Showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Him and keep His commandments.”

Again, in 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” There are so many out there, even in the church; they’re wolves in sheep clothing, that are saying obedience isn’t necessary. No, we are not saved because of obedience, but we are saved for obedience. We are saved for good works, Paul says.

God’s church in the last days will keep all ten. You wonder what the Lord would think if He came to the earth today in bodily form, if Jesus Himself really did come, and He was to walk among Christians today who take His name. For one thing, He’d probably go to meet with us and talk to us. He’d go from church to church in most towns, and He’d find that they were closed—on His Sabbath day. And He’d wonder, “Are you sure this is the right address, Gabriel? This is where My people are supposed to be? Where is everybody? Closed? Hours—first day? What happened? I said the seventh day.”

By His word and by His example. And God means what He says. If He went to just about any church on any day, to the typical church in North America, I don’t know that Jesus would recognize what He had left behind. Of course, the Lord knows everything. I’m using a parable here. I don’t know if He’d recognize the church today, compared to the way the apostles were when He poured out the Holy Spirit.

By the way, do you know that early church was a little intolerant? Have you read your New Testament? They required people to stand up for their faith.

Number 9. What is the special message of the end time church?

Revelation 14:6, it’s the three angels’ messages that you find in Revelation 14. We are to be giving this to the world right now. It is another way to identify them. After these messages go to the world, Jesus comes.

“I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’”

That is an excerpt right out of the fourth commandment about the Sabbath. It’s saying to worship the Creator, and then it quotes from the fourth commandment about the Sabbath. “For in six days the Lord made the heaven, and the earth, and the sea.” God’s church in the last days is to be calling people back to worshipping God, and to embracing that sign that we belong to Him. And the Sabbath is a sign of that.

Then it tells us in verse 8, the second angel’s message, “And another angel followed, saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’”

Who is Babylon? If you go back in Genesis chapter 11, remember they built this tower. And the Lord confounded their languages there because they were rebelling. They were doing their own things. They were making a name for themselves. You see there is only really one reason for a church to exist. It’s to bring glory to His name, to exalt His name. And in so many churches… Why are there so many “de-nom-inations”? There are so many denominations because there are so many that are making a name for themselves, to draw away disciples after themselves.

We’re back in that same stage where we were before. God’s call is to come out of Babylon. This is the wine of Babylon.

I want to go to Revelation 18:2, 4. The second angel’s message includes, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen…. Come out of her, my people.” And that woman in Revelation 17 is called Babylon, and she has daughters. It represents all of the counterfeit forms of religion and Christianity. See, the devil is trying to hide the diamond of truth in all this broken glass.

God has His people. The greatest part of Christ’s true followers are not in my church. They’re in other churches. But they’re His followers; they’re His sheep. And the Lord is calling them. Part of this message, then, is that final warning going to the world.

The “third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” And we’ve learned that in the hand and in the forehead, it’s not talking about a tattoo or a barcode on your body. You read there in Deuteronomy, it’s talking about the Word of God was to be in their hand and as frontlets between their eyes. Deuteronomy 11:18.

Jesus said in John 10, “Other sheep I have that are not of this fold.” And they’re going to hear My voice. How do these other sheep hear His voice? It is through His Word, through the proclamation of the Word, through media. They are going to hear Him speaking to their hearts. And Jesus tells us there will be one fold and one Shepherd. There is one faith, one Lord, one baptism.

Question 10. As we look at the different symbols and these principles, how does Jesus tell us to find His remnant church? Is it going to fall on us?

Luke 11:9, Jesus promises what? “Seek, and you will find.” If we look in His Word, we can find it. If you go flipping through the phone book, that’s not the way to find the church you want to pick. It’s going to be going through your Bible and comparing scripture with scripture and finding out what these different churches stand for.

I’m not asking anyone to believe me just because I’m asking you to consider these things. Check everything I’m saying by the Bible. It would be fun, from night to night, for someone to tell me how many different references we’re giving from Scripture. Some are on the screen; some I’m simply quoting from memory. But I can tell you, it’s a Bible message. We’re not just taking one verse and then talking about comic books and movies for 45 minutes, are we? That happens, trust me, in a whole lot of churches these days. People talking about everything but Jesus and His Word.

There’s a storm coming, friends. And God is calling His people into His fold. Tonight I’d like to give you an opportunity to respond. As a matter of fact, for our ushers here, we have some cards for our local group. I know there are some who are watching, and if you are participating, you’ve downloaded or ordered these; you have these decision cards. Please take them out and distribute them.

If you don’t have one, I’d like to ask our ushers to pass them to you. I’d like to invite you to become royalty tonight, to become part of that nation of kings.

If you have been hearing the truth, I’m trusting that this is appealing to those who have been studying. If you believe the Seventh-day Adventist Church that we’ve been describing, these prominent differences, is the remnant church of Bible prophecy, if this makes sense to you, check that.

Second question. If you would like to indicate, “I want to be among God’s remnant people who keep His commandments and have faith in Jesus,” I hope you’ll indicate that, and mark the second box. I’d like to give you an opportunity to do something about what we’re talking about.

Number three. “I choose to follow Jesus and the truth in the Bible, not the traditions of man.” Mark that. Everyone, I hope, marks that one.

Number four. “I’d like to be baptized or re-baptized in God’s remnant church.” I think that most people know that baptism by immersion is the Biblical method, and Jesus said, “Go ye therefore and teach and baptize.”

And finally, “I choose to worship Jesus in spirit and truth, and become part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.” He said that in the last days there would be one fold and one Shepherd. God is going to have a uniting movement in these last days, and I’d like to submit to you that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is today what Israel was in the Old Testament. God has called us to be His remnant church. We have been given the oracles of truth through inspiration. I believe that every teaching that we have been sharing with you are pillars of faith that we can count on. Do you believe that, friends? Do you want to be in that ark? Do you want to be part of His people? Amen.

Loving Lord, Father, thank You for this message of truth that You are calling Your people together to take a stand on the Word, to be part of Your people, to be part of that remnant that will survive the coming storm. Help us to enter that ark of safety. Jesus is our ship of deliverance. I pray You’ll be with each person here. Bless them in their lives. Give them the courage they need to make that decision. We ask in Christ’s name. Amen.

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God's Law and God's Grace by Jim Pinkoski

God's Law and God's Grace by Jim Pinkoski
God's Promises




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