The presentation of "The Mark of the Beast" has proved to be one of the most convincing and effective means of bringing honesthearted men and women to a speedy and favorable decision on the Sabbath, and eventually to a full acceptance of our message. The preaching of this cardinal Bible truth should, therefore, never be feared or relegated to a minor or secondary place. In due time its presentation is of infinite value and of the highest importance, for it is the warning message of the third angel. (Rev. 14:9-12.)
This inspired, Heaven-sent warning, constituting the third angel's message, is unequaled in its dreadful implications. Inasmuch as the wrath of God, unmixed with mercy, is soon to be poured out upon all who worship the beast and receive his mark, is it not then imperative that at the proper time in the evangelistic series, and when other dependent truths have laid the groundwork, this subject be given the widest possible publicity, so that the masses may hear and be helped to understand the warning given ? To fail to present testing truths for fear of a drop in the attendance during a series of evangelistic meetings would be tragic indeed. Should such fears possess, control, and direct us, we would soon be led to present only such themes as please and attract. We would thus be no better than the nominal ministry and apostate churches whose soul-destroying influence calls forth this terrible denunciation from the God of heaven.
The ambassador for God, always conscious of the great responsibility placed upon him, will earnestly pray for tact, divine guidance, and a heart well filled with love; and he simply, yet intelligently and fearlessly, presents this too- often-despised truth. It takes men of judgment, courage, and deep conviction—like Elijah, Luther, and the pioneers of the Advent Movement —to arouse people and stir them out of their complacency when self-sufficiency prevails. Too often the masses are being lulled to sleep by the tame, Christless sermons of modernistic teachers and ministers who have no definite message. How solemn the thought that God has made Seventh-day Adventist ministers and laity alike the custodians of the final warning message to be heralded to the world, not to just a small group, but to all that dwell on the earth. The third angel specifically declares, "If any man." That statement is universal and not limited in scope. The following paragraphs from The Great Controversy are conclusive:
"The most fearful threatening ever addressed to mortals is contained in the third angel's message. That must be a terrible sin which calls down the wrath of God unmingled with mercy. Men are not to be left in darkness concerning this important matter; the warning against this sin is to be given to the world before the visitation of God's judgments, that all may know why they are to be inflicted, and have opportunity to escape them. Prophecy declares that the first angel would make his announcement to 'every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.' The warning of the third angel, which forms a part of the same threefold message, is to be no less wide-spread. It is represented in the prophecy as being proclaimed with a loud voice, by an angel flying in the midst of heaven; and it will command the attention of the world.
"In the issue of the contest, all Christendom will be divided into two great classes,—those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and those who worship the beast and his image and receive his mark. Although church and state will unite their power to compel 'all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond,' to receive 'the mark of the beast,' yet the people of God will not receive it."— Pages 449, 450.
The worship of the beast and his image here stated is "a terrible sin which calls down the wrath of God unmingled with mercy." It is the very climax of God-defying apostasy; and whenever the warning message against the beast and his worship is given, earnest seekers for truth will be led to study -this alarming message, as well as the other prophecies, with wholehearted interest and the ultimate acceptance of present truth. The fact that many reject the warning should not deter the evangelist from duly presenting it. It was so in the days of Noah in the preaching of a coming Flood, and these same conditions will again exist in the days of the coming of the Son of man. (Matt.24:37-390
It is true that the need of using great wisdom and seasoned judgment in the timely presentation of those truths that are the great pillars of our faith stands without question, and was never more vital than today. However, the following statement sets forth the dangers and inherent weaknesses of present-day modernistic preaching, and should be well recognized by our own evangelists.
"Those who engage in the solemn work of bearing the third angel's message, must move out decidedly, and in the Spirit and power of God fearlessly preach the truth, and let it cut. They should elevate the standard of truth, and urge the people to come up to it. ... It is the pointed testimony that will bring them up to decide. A peaceful testimony will not do this. The people have the privilege of listening to this kind of teaching from popular pulpits; but those servants to whom God has intrusted the solemn, fearful message which is to bring out and fit up a people for the coming of Christ, should bear a plain, pointed testimony. Our truth is as much more solemn than that of nominal professors, as the heavens are higher than the earth.
"The people are asleep in their sins, and need to be alarmed before they can shake off this lethargy. Their ministers have preached .smooth things; but God's servants, who bear sacred, vital truths, should cry aloud and spare not, that the truth may tear off the garment of security, and find its way to the heart. . . . Ministers of the nominal churches do, enough cringing, and wrapping up of the pointed truths which rebuke sin.
"Unless persons embrace the message aright, and their hearts are prepared to receive it, they would better let it entirely alone."—Testimonies, vol. i, pp. 248, 249.
The third angel's message is. God's special truth for the whole world in these last days. Awful as this message sounds to our ears, its phraseology is God inspired. Neither should its presentation be omitted in a series of studies or be relegated to a minor and secondary place. We dare not leave the people unwarned regarding this special truth.
"The Lord gives a special truth for the people in an emergency. Who dare refuse to publish it? He commands His servants to present the last invitation of mercy to the world. They cannot remain silent, except at the peril of their souls. Christ's ambassadors have nothing to do with consequences. They must perform their duty, and leave results with God."—The Great Controversy, pp. 609, 610.
There is urgent need that the mark of the beast, as well as other vital, testing truths, will be proclaimed faithfully and fearlessly. Just before the coming of the Lord marvelous success will attend the proclamation of this message. We have been counseled by God's special messenger:
"In every generation God has sent His servants to rebuke sin, both in the world and in the church. But the people desire smooth things spoken to them, and the pure, unvarnished truth is not acceptable. Many re- formers, in entering upon their work, determined to exercise great prudence in attacking the sins of the church and the nation. They hoped, by the example of a pure Christian life, to lead the people back to the doctrines of the Bible. But the Spirit of God came upon them as it came upon Elijah, moving him to rebuke the sins of a wicked king and an apostate people; they could not refrain from preaching the plain utterances of the Bible,—doctrines which they had been reluctant to present. They were impelled to zealously declare the truth, and the danger which threatened souls. The words which the Lord gave them they uttered, fearless of consequences, and the people were compelled to hear the warning.
"Thus the message of the third angel will be pro claimed. As the time comes for it to be given with greatest power, the Lord will work through humble instruments, leading the' minds of those who consecrate themselves to His service. The laborers will be qualified rather by the unction of His Spirit than by the training of literary institutions. Men of faith and prayer will be constrained to go forth with holy zeal, declaring the words which God gives them. The sins of Babylon will be laid open. The fearful results of en forcing the observances of the church by civil authority, the inroads of Spiritualism, the stealthy but rapid progress of the papal power,—all will be unmasked. By these solemn warnings the people will be stirred. Thousands upon thousands will listen who have never heard words like these. In amazement they hear the testimony that Babylon is the church, fallen because of her errors and sins, because of her rejection of the truth sent to her from heaven."—Ibid., pp. 606, 607.
To guide us in our proclamation of the third angel's message, let us carefully study the fol lowing counsel:
1. "The Lord will work through humble instruments."
2. "The laborers will be qualified ... by the unction of His Spirit."
3. "Men of faith . . . will ... go forth . . . , 'declaring the words which God gives them."
4. There will be no "cringing, and wrapping up of the pointed truths."
5. It is the kind, yet "pointed testimony" that stirs the people and attracts the attention of "thousands upon thousands" even to unpopular truth.
May this simple, tactful, yet definite and fear less teaching and preaching continue to characterize our ministry and laity in the presentation of the third angel's message in every city, town, and village. We may then confidently expect the outpouring of the latter rain for the work divinely entrusted to the church that keeps "the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."