Editor’s note: Due to the urgency of making sure that all Seventh-day Adventists are informed about and preparing for end-time events, I reached out to Mark A. Finley, assistant to the president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States,and asked him about a biblical perspective.
Pavel Goia (PG): The leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is encouraging a greater emphasis on the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14:6-13. Aren’t most Adventists already familiar with these messages?
Mark Finley (MF): Many Adventists are familiar with these messages, but many are not. A recent discussion with college students at one of our universities revealed an ambivalence regarding their content and relevance. A similar informal survey with Adventist elementary-school teachers also raised questions about their understanding of the significance of these messages. One could also ask the average church member to recall how many times they have heard a message on Revelation fourteen, six through twelve, in the past year.
PG: Hasn’t the Seventh-day Adventist Church from its inception emphasized the three angels’ messages?
MF: The Seventh-day Adventist Church has always emphasized the three angels’ messages. It is in these messages that we find our unique prophetic identity. But there is a danger [of] either [neglecting] them altogether or [taking] for granted that each member understands them. Just as God reminded Israel to pass on their unique heritage to the next generation, “in a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention.”1 The reason we are reemphasizing the three angels’ messages is that we have a divine mandate to do so.
PG: What do you think the average Adventist thinks when he or she hears the term the three angels’ messages?
MF: Most probably think of the mark of the beast, picturing frightening scenes of the judgment, mystic symbols, and cryptic images.
PG: What is the greatest misunderstanding of these messages?
MF: In my view, the greatest misunderstanding of these messages has to do with what I would call the “fear factor.” Many members view last-day events with fear, anxiety, and worry rather than hope. The first angel’s message begins with the “everlasting gospel”—a message of end-time hope. These are grace-filled messages leading us to trust totally in Jesus for our salvation. The first, second, and third angels’ messages speak of the magnificent love of God, the folly of human pride, the consequences of disobedience, and the eternal relevance of truth in every age. They are filled with hope, climaxing with the coming of Christ.
PG: What relationship do these messages have with an end-time revival and reformation?
MF: The three angels’ messages, rightly understood, lead to a wholehearted commitment to Christ and a decision, through His power, to live in harmony with His will. They expose the errors of all false religions and develop a people that keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus [Rev. 14:12]. In the blazing light of the sanctuary, the judgment, and the Day of Atonement, this message leads to earnest prayer, heartfelt repentance, genuine confession, and willing obedience.
PG: What key points do you see in these messages that are relevant in Adventist preaching?
MF: There are so many, but I will list a few. First, the three angels’ messages provide an opportunity to preach the gospel in the context of preparing a people for the second coming of Christ. Second, these messages of love from the heart of the Almighty call us to live godly lives in the light of heaven’s eternal judgment. They reveal a God of fairness who will set all things right one day.
In an age of evolution, they underscore the significance of the Sabbath. The Sabbath, God’s eternal sign of Creation, leads us to rest in His loving care, rejoice in His grace, and reflect on the day He will come in clouds of glory. These messages also warn against the errors of Babylon and the mark of the beast as manifest in the papacy’s attempt to change God’s law. There is so much in Revelation fourteen, six through twelve, that I recently wrote thirteen new sermons on these messages.
PG: I notice that in these sermons, you like the term “three cosmic messages.” Why is that?
MF: This is just a fresh way of expressing the three angels’ messages. It has the feel of the great controversy scene and lets you know immediately that this project focuses on the cosmic conflict down through the ages between Christ and Satan. It appeals to Adventist Church members as well as to the public.
PG: I understand that you, in partnership with Hart Research Center, have produced materials on this topic?
MF: Yes. The Three Cosmic Messages project began with a few laypeople who sensed a loss of prophetic identity among some members, pastors, and leaders in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The project includes a two-week curriculum with books, teaching resources, videos, and lesson plans for elementary children and academy-aged youth.
It also features fully illustrated sermons; sermon manuscripts; participant lesson outlines; a book titled the Three Cosmic Messages; articles in major Adventist periodicals; and a thirteen-part television series aired on Three Angels Broadcasting [Network], Hope Channel, and the HopeLives365 channel on YouTube.2 Additionally, there is an upcoming Sabbath School series on the three angels’ messages.
PG: How can pastors, who desire, access this material for Sabbath morning preaching?
MF: By going to our website, ThreeCosmicMessages.com, pastors can download the sermon manuscripts, the graphics, and the lessons to use for their members. There are thirteen sermons in the entire series—enough for one quarter of preaching. Of course, each pastor can adapt the messages to their own preaching style by using personal illustrations.
PG: Are these sermons and graphics appropriate for a short evangelistic series?
MF: Yes! We have now aired this series on multiple television and online platforms with millions of views and numerous responses from non-Adventists. This outstanding response has assured us of the general hunger in seeking minds for certainty regarding the future. The prophetic messages in Revelation fourteen, six through twelve, speak with increasing relevance to a generation looking for meaning and purpose. They are excellent for a short two-or three-week evangelistic series.
PG: Are there materials that pastors might find helpful for their members?
MF: Veteran educator Dr. Sandra Doran has prepared a complete series of age-appropriate materials for children from kindergarten to academy. These fully illustrated, engaging, interactive resources lead each child into a meaningful relationship with Christ and an understanding of the three angels’ messages. There are teachers’ instructional guides as well as participant materials for the children. These materials can be accessed at ThreeAngelsforKids.com.
PG: The General Conference has websites specifically geared to the three angels’ messages as well as revival and reformation.3 How do your materials contribute to these overall objectives?
MF: The Three Cosmic Messages initiative is a resource to facilitate revival, reformation, and global mission which [undergird] everything else the church is doing.
PG: What impact has the preparation of the materials on the three angels’ messages had on your own life?
MF: As I have prepared the materials, my own spiritual life has been enriched. Although I have preached the three angels’ messages for over fifty years, I can identify with Jesus’ statement in Matthew thirteen, fifty-one through fifty-three, that we are to bring from the treasure house of truth things “new and old.” These messages touched my heart, led me to my knees, and burned their way into my soul to make a deeper commitment to Christ. If you approach the three angels’ messages with a desire to let God speak to you through His Word, you cannot help but be deeply moved personally.
PG: Looking back from the standpoint of eternity, what do you hope this emphasis on the three angels’ message will accomplish?
MF: We hope it will heighten the awareness of each Seventh-day Adventist of the spiritual richness, prophetic depth, and all-comprehensive mission mandate of the three angels’ messages. We believe this emphasis will lead to a richer prayer life, a deeper commitment to Bible truth, a fuller comprehension of Adventist identity, and an active involvement in witness. If millions of Seventh-day Adventists grasp the significance of these messages, their lives will be transformed. We will experience a mighty last-day revival and reformation that leads to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in latter rain power and the filling of the earth with the glory of God to usher in the second coming of Jesus.
- Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9 (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1909), 19.
- For the link to 13 sermons via YouTube, visit https://hopelives365.com/three-cosmic-messages/. For information on the book, visit https://adventistbookcenter.com/three-cosmic-messages-earths-final-conflict.html.
- See https://www.threeangels.info and https://www.revivalandreformation.org.