The 144,000 - the Bride of Christ
What our Church is CURRENTLY TEACHING: It may come as a surprise to many in our Church that we "OFFICIALLY no longer believe that the 144,000 in a specific group, or a literal group of believers! I was not aware of the "CHANGE" until a friend told me about it and I investigated it for Myself. Here is what I found, and what OUR Church is currently teaching on this important subject.
I have always had a great respect for the Evangelistic Ministry of "AMAZING FACTS. I had the privilege of meeting its Founder, JOE CREWS, on several occasions and was given a personal tour of his facility when it was located in Maryland. Joe Crews is one of my personal favorite Evangelists and his books and pamphlets are STILL highly regarded as being BIBLICAL, STRAIT-FORWARD, EASY TO UNDERSTAND, and TRUTH-FILLED. Many of his materials are still available through the
Amazing Facts Website
. But I sincerely believe that Joe Crews would be ASTOUNDED to see what is being promoted TODAY through the organization that he started. And I can't help but believe that he would NOT support some of the things that are being promulgated through this organization today. Among the things that I believe he would have a very hard time accepting, is what is being taught by Doug Batchelor (perhaps our Denomination's PREMIER Evangelist) concerning the 144,000.
In Doug's latest pamphlet on the 144,000 ("Who will Sing the Song? Understanding the 144,000" which you may read "online" by clicking on the "Amazing Facts" link above, going to page 3, and scrolling down to the pamphlet "Who Will Sing The Song"), Doug puts forth the position that the 144,000 represent "the leadership of the church" (see pp. 18, 19, 21, 29 & 30). He makes the case that it is under the "LEADERSHIP" or "PREACHING" of the 144,000 that the "GREAT MULTITUDE are converted. He emphasizes his belief that the 144,000 are actually our CHURCH LEADERS when he states that: "the 144,000 are the spiritual leaders in this revival and not the only ones preaching." In other words, the LAITY will also be preaching the last warning message, BUT that it will be done under the CHURCH LEADERSHIP and that the Lord will give THEM special power to deliver the message in clear and convincing lines.
Much of Pastor Batchelor's pamphlet is a jumble of confusing logic and mathematical mumbo-jumbo (including some very TRIVIAL "amazing facts") that he uses to make his case. Pastor Doug does NOT come right out and SAY that the 144,00 are composed of the General Conference, Union, Conference or Pastoral Leadership, but the implication is there! Now, I don't know about how YOU have understood the 144,000, but I can bet that you have NOT understood that they were the LEADERSHIP of our Church! There is NOTHING in the Bible or in the Spirit of Prophecy that would indicate or support this. It may be true that the 144,000 are Christ's especially Chosen Representatives and will "LEAD" His People, but I can find NOTHING that would indicate that these "Chosen One's", or "LEADERS", represent "the Leaders in our CHURCH! Christ has almost NEVER selected "the LEADERSHIP" (those in positions of AUTHORITY) to guide and direct His Church -- or to spread the Gospel message for that matter! So where in the world does Pastor Batchelor come off saying that the 144,000 represent the LEADERSHIP OF THE CHURCH???
Perhaps MORE DISTURBING then Pastor Doug's teaching on the subject of the 144,000 is the teaching of the BIBLICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE (our most highly regarded "Scholarship base" and those responsible for digging deeply into the issues involved in the Church today). The BRI's (Biblical Research Institute) position on the 144,000 is even MORE STARTLING and MORE ABSURD than Mr. Batchelor's explanation! According to the BRI, the 144,000 are NOT A LITERAL NUMERICAL GROUP at all, but, according to the BRI: "the 144,000 and the great multitude are the SAME GROUP"!!! (see Ekkehard Mueller's paper on "The 144,000 and the Great Multitude" at
The Biblical Research Institute
). Mr. Mueller's position is that the "most convincing" arguments favor the idea that the 144,000 and the Great Multitude are "one group". In fact, Mr. Mueller states that they "OBVIOUSLY...refer to to SAME GROUP! He insists that: "It is now quite clear that the 144,000 must be understood in a symbolic way rather than in a literal way." Mr. Mueller insists that "The number is symbolic--12 times 12 times 1,000 (note: this is the same kind of mathematical mumbo-jumbo that Pastor Batchelor uses!)--and points to the fullness of the people of God."
In the "APPENDIX" of his paper, Mr. Mueller lists several quotations from the writings of Ellen White. The very FIRST one he lists is this: "The living saints, 144,00 IN NUMBER, knew and understood the voice, while the wicked thought it was thunder and an earthquake" (Early Writings, p. 15). Now, if the "LIVING SAINTS" are "144,00 IN NUMBER", I don't know HOW you can come to the conclusion that they are also the GREAT MULTITUDE ("a Great Multitude, which no man COULD NUMBER, of ALL nations, and kindreds, and people..." see Rev. 7:9). And yet, Mr. Mueller still has the audacity to to suggest that "Ellen White seems to confirm that the 144,000 and the great multitude are the same group"!!! No wonder so many people in our Church are confused as to what we believe!
The FACT is that the 144,000 ARE a LITERAL group of people AND that they do, in fact, number 144,000! They are also NOT comprised of the "LEADERSHIP" of the Church (that is, they are not the OFFICIAL LEADERSHIP - pastors, conference presidents, General Conference staff, etc. - although some of these people may be included in this group)! We will look into this very shortly. But first, we should also take a look at what many groups within our Church are teaching regarding the 144,000.
What OTHER groups within our Church are Teaching about the 144,000: There is a GROWING constituency within the Adventist Church right now who are promoting the idea that the 144,000 victorious saints who will be alive at Christ's Second Coming are the PHILADELPHIA CHURCH, and that THIS church is going to be SEPARATE FROM the Seventh-day Adventist Church (who they claim have become Babylon) and that they will have "COME OUT" of her and will be a Separate group of "PURE BELIEVERS". Believers that will make up the TRUE BRIDE OF CHRIST. They are RIGHT about some of what they are teaching, and they are WRONG about some of what they are teaching. If you haven't already done so, I would like to recommend that you read
The Message to the Seven Churches.
There is MUCH there that will add to THIS STUDY concerning the Church of Philadelphia and the 144,000. But let me "re-cap" some of the High Points of that study.
First of all, the Church of Christ (that is, Christ "REMNANT" Church) is made up of members from ALL of the Seven Churches! Now Christ's FINAL REMNANT will NOT be made up of ANY of those members who have not HEEDED HIS COUNSEL, and will NOT include members who have remained in any of the deplorable conditions described in the messages to the Seven Churches. Christ's FINAL CHURCH will be VICTORIOUS and PURE and HOLY. But Christ's TRUE CHURCH TODAY is NOT made up of people who are totally committed to Him or who have achieved HOLINESS! They are STILL STRIVING for Holiness. Ellen White says that: "The Church MILITANT is not now the Church Triumphant" (see Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers; p. 21,22). This describes OUR condition today. We have yet many tares among the wheat! We have MANY THINGS that are wrong with the Church and that need to be corrected. But this does NOT MEAN that Church has been forsaken of God or that it does not have the possibility for repentance and reform placed before it. CHRIST said: "As many as I LOVE, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent" (Rev. 3:19). This is His message throughout the messages to the Seven Churches, and it is His message to the Whole of the Church Today.
Here are some of the problems that must be faced by those who insist that the Philadelphia Church (and ONLY the Philadelphia Church) is the TRUE REMNANT CHURCH of God. FIRST: if we accept that the HISTORICAL APPROACH is the ONLY correct approach to interpreting the Message to the Seven Churches, then we are forced to conclude that the Message to the Church of Laodicea is the Message that pertains to the LAST CHURCH existing before Christ's Second Coming. This presents some very OBVIOUS PROBLEMS. If the Message to the Laodicean's is the message to God's FINAL CHURCH, then we cannot possibly suggest that the PHILADELPHIA CHURCH is the LAST and FINAL CHURCH of God! SECONDLY: If the Church of Philadelphia is the "CHURCH TRIUMPHANT" then it must obviously have been placed in the WRONG ORDER! Does that make any sense to anyone? Does anyone believe that? THIRDLY: the Church of Philadelphia is said to be made "Pillars in the Temple of My God" (Rev. 3:12) and are therefore said to be the ones that will "RULE" with Christ. But the Overcomer's from the Church of Laodicea are said to be able to "sit down with Me on My Throne" (Rev. 3:21). Certainly the "THRONE" would be the place where one would "RULE" from! So if the Church of Philadelphia is the ONLY Church that is going to "RULE" with Christ, how do we reconcile His promise given to the Church of Laodicia? Finally: If you look CAREFULLY at the "COUNSEL" given to each of the "OTHER" Churches, you will find that, if they HEED that counsel, they could easily be described in the same Commendation as that given the Church of Philadelphia! And THAT commendation deserves another LOOK!
The Church of Philadelphia: There is much that can be gleaned from the Message to the Church of Philadelphia. Here is the message that the Lord sent to this portion of His Church: "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: 'I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 'Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie--I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you. 'Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 'I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 'He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'"
The very first things that the Lord says to the Church of Philadelphia is, "I know your DEEDS. What "Deeds" is the Lord referring to here? We can find out what "deeds" the Lord commends by looking at the "Deeds" that the Lord commends in His messages to the other Churches. Christ starts off His message to the Church at EPHESUS by commending their "Deeds" also. And He is quite specific about what those deeds were. The Lord says that He approves of their "Toil and perseverance" and their willingness to "TEST" those who call themselves Apostles (ones Sent with a message--or "New Light"). They were apparently willing to EXAMINE "NEW" messages and PROVE whether they were True or not. The Lord also commends them for Persevering for HIS Names sake and for NOT GROWING WEARY. They would not allow themselves to simply "GIVE-UP" in the face of opposition! So their "DEEDS, of which the Lord approved, consisted of consistent effort in following after TRUTH and in maintaining Truth (including the willingness to look into NEW TRUTH to see if it passes the test) and also their perseverance in spreading the GOSPEL message (which included not only the message of Justification, but also the message of Sanctification - or CHRIST OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS). These are ALL "Deeds of which the Lord approves. In the messages to the Church of Smyrna we find the Lord commending them for enduring RIDICULE from within the Church. When we look at the message the Lord gave to Pergamum, we see that the Lord commends (by omission) "SOME" of those who have not given in, or accepted, the teachings of Balaam, Balak, or the Nicolaitans (all of which represent COMPROMISE and a lessening of STANDARDS -- even to the point of immorality and WORLDLY PRACTICES). In the message to Thyatira we find the Lord commending the "FAITHFUL" within this church because of their Faith, Service, and Perseverance (even though the MAJORITY of this church is guilty of Spiritual Adultery with the woman Jezebel and have slipped into idolatry and Spiritual Immorality, or the acceptance of FALSE DOCTRINES and UNHOLY acts in their worship services and their lives in general). The FAITHFUL in the Church of Sardis are commended for NOT SOILING THEIR GARMENTS and NOT becoming SPIRITUALLY DEAD. ALL of these are the "DEEDS" of which the Lord approves and for which the Philadelphia Church is praised for doing.
Include in (or add to) all this the TITLE of the Church of Philadelphia (which Means "BROTHERLY LOVE") and what you find is a people who are DOING all the RIGHT THINGS for all the RIGHT REASONS. Because they Love the Lord with all their heart and are absolutely determined to KNOW and FOLLOW the TRUTH, they are ZEALOUS in spreading the Good News of the GOSPEL of Christ and are unwilling to compromise with evil. The PERSEVERANCE for which they commended, is the PERSEVERANCE OF THE LORD - and is the patience and untiring toil for those that are LOST (including their ERRING brethren within the Church!). Their PRIMARY concern is that of RESTORATION ("The very ESSENCE of the Gospel is RESTORATION" - DA p. 824) and is expressed in a desire for the UNITY of family of CHRIST (see Eph. 4:3 "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ").
THESE ARE ATTRIBUTES OF THE CHURCH OF PHILADELPHIA! And these ARE the attributes of the TRUE CHURCH of God! For these ARE THE ATTRIBUTES OF CHRIST! And There ARE members of the Church of God who are like this TODAY!
But what of the "OTHER" members of the Church Today? Are ALL the "Other" members of the church today (that is, members described under the titles of the Churches that are NOT Philadelphia) Members of "Babylon" and DOOMED to be LOST? NO! A most resounding NO! If they were ALL doomed to be "LOST" then there would be NO POINT in the COUNSEL given by the LORD to REPENT! There would be NO REASON for the Church of Philadelphia to continue STRIVING to convince them of anything else! If ALL of the members of the Church (who don't happen to belong to the Philadelphia Church TODAY) are DOOMED to eternal destruction, then there would be NO POINT in the Lord counseling them to REPENT, or REFORM, or CHANGE THEIR WAYS! God does not say that ALL of the members of these other Churches are DOOMED! God says that there is STILL HOPE for those that find themselves believing and accepting Error and behaving in ways that displease Him! The LORD SAYS that there is HOPE - IF they will turn to HIM and renounce their ways of indifference, idolatry, and Self-Sufficiency. That is what God says, and is what WE should be saying also!
You see, the MESSAGE of CHRIST to HIS CHURCH (ALL the people in His Church Today) is the message that they MUST OVERCOME! And lest we think that the Church of Philadelphia doesn't have anything to "Overcome", remember that the LORD tells this Church that they must "HOLD FAST THAT WHICH THEY HAVE" or else "LOSE THEIR CROWN" (their Salvation!)! And the Message to ALL those who "OVERCOME" is that they will be granted Salvation! PROBATION HAS NOT CLOSED for either the WORLD or for the CHURCH - YET! The True Church of Christ is still made up of both the Wheat and the Tares! We have MANY members (and LEADERS) within the Church who are not Truly Converted, who believe UNSCRIPTURAL THINGS (including some of the errors taught by BABYLON), and who are living UNCONSECRATED LIVES in both their private and worship life. But this FACT does NOT mean that the WHOLE SDA CHURCH has APOSTATIZED or become BABYLON! We have to remember that the SDA Church is really a MOVEMENT, and NOT just a DENOMINATION, and that just because we have members and leaders who are NOT LIVING THE MESSAGE or even GIVING THE MESSAGE properly -- that does NOT make the MESSAGE or the MOVEMENT WRONG! It simply means that we have not OVERCOME yet, and that there is MUCH WORK yet to be done WITHIN THE CHURCH!
So while the Church of Philadelphia does describe the condition in which Christ wishes ALL of His Church to be in, it does NOT mean that the members of Philadelphia Church TODAY are the ONLY ONES who are to be VICTORIOUS in the battle against Satan and be granted to REIGN and RULE with Christ throughout Eternity. Please, READ the messages to the "OTHER" churches! See for YOURSELF that God intends to bring His TRUE FOLLOWERS through this great conflict and that He will grant ALL who "OVERCOME" to sit with Him on His Throne and Rule with Him throughout all Eternity. THAT is what the Messages say. How can you read them any other way? Christ intends that ALL of the members of the "OTHER CHURCHES", who ARE SINCERE in their desire to follow Christ and who are willing to HEED THE COUNSEL given them (Repenting and CHANGING THEIR WAYS) and who will FOLLOW AFTER TRUTH, through their OVERCOMING (Repentance) should BECOME members of the Church described as PHILADELPHIA.
Ellen White has quite rightly pointed out that: "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" (9T p.19:1). She also states that the Seventh-day Adventists are "God's DENOMINATED PEOPLE" and that "so long as time shall last, we are to cherish the sacred DENOMINATIONAL distinction placed upon us" (9T p.18 - she wrote those words in 1904 by the way, and repeated them again in 1906 when she said: "We are distinctly denominated as a people" - see RH August 16, 1906; par.2)! So the DUTY of the Philadelphia Church is NOT to call people OUT from amongst the body of the Church; but to seek to DRAW the "OTHER" members of the Church IN to a right relationship with Christ! They have a solemn obligation to be working for their BROTHERS and SISTERS and to help them see the ERRORS of their ways! That would be the "Brotherly" (Philadelphian) thing to do wouldn't it? That would be the PROPER thing for those who wish to bring us ALL into the "UNITY of the faith...unto a perfect man" and "unto the measure of the stature the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13), wouldn't it? But this is a HARD thing to do and is evidenced by the fact that they have "LITTLE POWER". And the REASON they have such "Little Power" is because of what they are up against in the rest of the Church! Still, they are called to "persevere" and to "hold fast" what they have (their CHRISTLIKE ways) in the midst of a "STUBBORN and STIFF-NECKED PEOPLE" -- people of whom MANY do not even SEE their Need! And it is a sad Fact that there will be very few who will either persevere through all this (from within the Philadelphia group), OR who will respond to their calling and counsel and will join with Philadelphia. One has only to look at the LAST CHURCH to see why this is true (and why there will only be a Literal Group of 144,000 who will ultimately see things through to the End).
The Church of LAODICEA: It is IMPORTANT that we consider the Church of Laodicea BEFORE we continue with the study of the 144,000 - and WHY it must be a Literal and distinct group. The Church of Laodicea MUST be addressed HONESTLY before we can consider those who will Pass THROUGH the Great Tribulation and will appear as VICTORIOUS at last. HISTORICALLY we see that the Church of Laodicea describes the OVERALL PREDOMINATE CONDITION of the Church of Christ at the time just BEFORE His Second Coming - that is, the Condition of the Church TODAY! The PREDOMINATE NATURE of the Church Today is that it THINKS that it is in a right relationship with God and that we have ALL THE TRUTH (we have "NEED OF NOTHING")! If this is the PREDOMINATE NATURE of the Church today (which is the ONLY reason that we would be described under this classification) then we can ONLY CONCLUDE that the MAJORITY of the Church TODAY is fast asleep and DOES NOT REALIZE that they are "Poor and Blind and Wretched and Naked"! The MAJORITY of the Church TODAY is classified as belonging to THIS GROUP! And that means that, even though our NUMBERS (our Church Membership) may seem to indicate that we are a LARGE NUMBER (Current membership in the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination now exceeds 14 MILLION), that MOST of that number WILL NEVER ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD -- they will be REJECTED ("Spit-OUT", Rev. 3:16)! Is there any more sobering thought than that?
When you consider that 6 out of the 7 churches which make up the WHOLE of Christ's Church (or approximately 85%) are generally described as being in a WRONG relationship with Christ, one can immediately see that Church Membership numbers are NO INDICATION as to actual HEALTH of the Church. This also brings to the front the fact that the number 144,000 is NOT such an unbelievable number! And if you add to that fact, the fact that the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of the Church TODAY falls under the category of the Loadician Church and are completely oblivious to their TRUE CONDITION and will be rejected by Christ - You can readily see that the number of Christ's TRUE FOLLOWERS is even smaller and is really quite LOW. So those who have such a HARD TIME believing that the 144,000 are a LITERAL group - 144,000 IN NUMBER - may want to consider those Facts! There is even MORE evidence that the 144,000 are, in FACT, a LITERAL GROUP and can be considered in NO OTHER WAY.
So What about the 144,000? The fullest description the Bible gives concerning the 144,000 is found in Revelation 14:1-5: "And I saw, and behold, the Lamb standing on the mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty and four thousand, having his name, and the name of his Father, written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and the voice which I heard was as the voice of harpers harping with their harps: and they sing as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the elders: and no man could learn the song save the hundred and forty and four thousand, even they that had been purchased out of the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were purchased from among men, to be the firstfruits unto God and unto the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no lie: they are without blemish. (Revised Version)."
That this is a group of VERY SPECIAL GROUP OF PEOPLE there can be little doubt! This group have the Lord's name, and the Father's name, written on their foreheads (the overcomer's from the Philadelphia Church also have this distinction! - see Rev. 13:12). This group "sings a new song" which NO OTHER GROUP can LEARN or sing (because they have come through the battle completely Victorious and without having experienced Death!) and they "Sing" this Song before the Throne. This group has not been "DEFILED WITH WOMEN" and are called "VIRGINS". Some have MISTAKENLY believed that this group will be made up of MEN ONLY, and men that have never "been intimate with a woman". But this is NOT TRUE! The UNION of a man and a woman was ORDAINED BY GOD in the Garden of Eden, BEFORE the fall, and was INTENDED as part of GOD'S PLAN for mankind. He BLESSED this relationship. So how anyone could interpret this blessed union as being "DEFILING" in any way, I cannot possibly understand. Being "Defiled with women" and being a "virgin" here is indicative of this group's refusal to be corrupted by the teachings of the woman Jezebel, or by the teachings of Balaam, Balak, or the Nicolaitans! It means that they have not Defiled themselves with FALSE DOCTRINE or with IMMORAL and FALSE PRACTICES in life or worship. This SPECIAL GROUP of people "FOLLOWS CHRIST WHEREVER HE GOES" (which I believe includes into the VERY PRESENCE of the FATHER!). And they are said to be "WITHOUT BLEMISH" or "FAULT" before the THRONE OF GOD. In other words, this group has obtained the COMPLETE VICTORY over SATAN (and their own "FALLEN NATURES"), and have allowed CHRIST to completely REPRODUCE HIS OWN CHARACTER WITHIN THEM. This sounds like a VERY SPECIAL group indeed! And if you took these QUALIFICATIONS ALONE, you can see that this is likely a VERY SMALL group! The qualifications of having NOT been DECEIVED by ANY false doctrine, and by having COMPLETELY OVERCOME the Devil and their own fallen natures, immediately DISQUALIFIES almost EVERYONE in the Church TODAY! Perhaps there are some who have achieved these things, but I have never met one (I have met some who I believe are "Close", but none who can claim to be "without sin, blameless before God!).
Reasons WHY the 144,000 will be a literally numbered Group:
One of the reasons why our Leadership is teaching that the 144,000 and the Great Multitude are part and parcel of the same group is because they have accepted the premise that the 144,000 are simply those who happen to be alive at the Second Coming of Christ. In other words, they believe that because there are so many members in the Church right now and many MORE to be added to it through the "Loud Cry" message (which calls people OUT of the "Fallen Churches", or "Babylon" -- where MOST of God's people are right now) that the number of 144,000 cannot possibly be literal -- And they mistakenly believe that ALL THESE PEOPLE will be ALIVE when the Lord returns. NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!
Here are some of the reasons why this type of thinking is FLAWED:
First: This type of thinking totally denies the REALITY of the things that are about to transpire (before the close of probation) on this earth. "Satan works through the elements also to garner his harvest of unprepared souls. He has studied the secrets of the laboratories of nature, and he uses all his power to control the elements as far as God allows. When he was suffered to afflict Job, how quickly flocks and herds, servants, houses, children, were swept away, one trouble succeeding another as in a moment....he will bring disease and disaster, until populous cities are reduced to ruin and desolation. Even now he is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hail-storms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon both man and beast" (GC 1888: pp. 589, 590).
GOD'S PEOPLE ARE NOT EXEMPT FROM THESE DISASTERS!!! Many TRUE CHRISTIANS (and many Adventists) will die because of these things. They will NOT see the END of things nor remain alive without seeing death before Christ returns. They will be resurrected and "see" Christ Return, but they will NOT remain alive up until that point. They will not be among the 144,000!
Second: We have NOT seen the end of WAR. “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold.” (Mat. 24:6-12).
Wars, terrific wars, are yet to be seen on this planet -- especially as "political strife" and economic conditions worsen! Wars are also a means for population reduction, and a means to establish a military presence in other parts of the world. 911 was a staged event, perpetrated by our own government in order to start the war in Iraq and to establish a "Middle Eastern presence for our military (we have "negotiated" for at least five PERMANENT bases in Iraq and are attempting to enlarge that number -- WHY? National Security? Get REAL folks!). If you do not believe that we could, or would, do such a thing; you need to check into it
This is NOT merely "Conspiracy Theory Propaganda"! Many, highly reputable people, including scientist, have questioned our government's "Official Version" of what happened. Even the New York Times recently printed an article "Questioning" the Government's explanation of what happened and how -- including the fact that much of the "evidence" was conveniently destroyed (not by the fires or the collapse but by the immediate removal of almost all the rubble and evidence which left investigators frustrated with nothing to work with)!
Wars are indiscriminate killers of innocent men, women, and children. Bombs do not care what "Religion" you belong to! And MANY true Christians (as well as those of other faiths) will lose their lives in current and upcoming wars!
Third: Some of the "Pestilence" that we shall see will be extremely deadly diseases (some of which will likely be purposefully orchestrated on unsuspecting populations). Regardless of HOW these "diseases" come about, they will be deadly and devastating!! Many will perish, including those "in the faith of Christ".
Fourth: Our Church Leaders, and most of our members alike, fail to recognize the fact that there is to be a "great falling away" -- or apostasy -- that will take place before the CLOSE OF PROBATION and the FINAL TIME OF TROUBLE! As laws are enacted and enforced, effectively forcing the "Mark of the Beast" upon the world and causing as many as will not accept this mark should not be able to "buy or sell or face the threat of death and be "killed" (Rev. 13:15-17), you will see many, VERY MANY people (including Church members) caving in to the political and economic pressures to conform that will leave the Faith. People will do some very unimaginable things when faced with starvation and the severe want of the "necessities of life"! Look around your church! Even a very brief conversation with MOST of our Church members today is more than enough to show that they are NOT sufficiently grounded in Bible Truth or their Faith in Christ to see them through such difficult times as are just before us. There will be a mass exodus amongst our own Church membership (leaders included!) when the times get rough enough!
While most of our membership (leaders included) seem happy to march along teaching and believing that the Church of Laodicea (the predominant condition of our church today) is going to be responsible for, and give, the final warning message to the world and miraculously be fitted for translation -- we have FAILED to take seriously (or even consider) several severe warnings that have been given us regarding our unfitness for that task AND the fact that this simply isn't going to happen! We also haven't taken to heart the messages that show that we are unprepared and that very few of us are (or are ever going to be) ready for the final trial or be saved at last! Consider theses quotes (quotes that also indicate that our numbers will be SMALL):
“It is a solemn statement that I make to the church, that not one in twenty whose names are registered upon the church books are prepared to close their earthly history, and would be as verily without God and without hope in the world as the common sinner.” (General Conference Bulletin, February 4, 1893; par. 9 – quoted in: Christian Service, p. 41:1)
That certainly whittles a LARGE CHUNK out of the picture doesn't it? And, when you consider that this statement was written in 1893 -- when the majority of the members of our church took their religion much more seriously than most of us do today -- one has to wonder what kind of numbers Ellen White would be using if she were repeating that statement to us today! ----- Hold on! It gets worse!
Fellow Adventists, you are aware, are you not, that it is "by grace you are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8) -- And that the only claim that we have to that "Grace" is "The Lord our Righteousness" (Jer. 23:6 & 33:16). And are you aware that the very last message to be given to the world, and the one that will swell into the "Loud Cry, is the message of Christ our Righteousness!: "One interest will prevail, one subject will swallow up every other,--Christ our righteousness" (RH December 23, 1890; par. 19). Now, obviously, if we are to proclaim the message of "Christ our Righteousness", and if this is the experience that is necessary for God's people to have in order to be "Saved" -- then it only makes sense that WE MUST HAVE THIS EXPERIENCE OURSELVES! Right? But this is NOT THE CASE WITH US!
"There is not one in one hundred who understands for himself the Bible truth on this subject that is so necessary to our present and eternal welfare" (RH September 3, 1889).
"Not all of our ministers who are giving the third angel’s message really understand what constitutes that message." (5T 1855; p. 715). "Justification by faith...is the Third Angel's message in verity [truth]" (RH April 1, 1890; par. 8).
Now if only 1 in 100 understand and have this experience which is so necessary for our Salvation -- using the current church membership numbers of around 14 million -- 1/100th of that number would be 140,000 wouldn't it? Remember also, that while our Church is so anxiously reporting how many people are joining our church daily -- it is NOT reporting how many are LEAVING the church daily. MANY of the names on our church books NEVER or Seldom ATTEND and many have left the faith altogether. These people are still on the books and very rarely are they ever removed. The bottom line is that our current membership totals (the number of people officially listed on our books) is NOT an accurate figure and really should be MUCH LOWER! So, when you consider ALL OF THE ABOVE FACTORS, one can readily SEE that the literal number of 144,000 is a VERY REALISTIC NUMBER and one that should be believed!
But we have not factored in EVERYTHING just yet! We still haven't considered the fact that many of our members are not converted and have even been brought into the church by Satan himself. And MANY of our members are going to "FALL AWAY" and leave the Faith (to be replaced with the TRUE CHRISTIANS of other denominations). REMEMBER, that the predominate nature of our church today is that of Laodicea! And Laodicea is in a very pitiful condition and position.
"Many are in a lukewarm condition, because they do not live by faith, increasing in the knowledge of the truth, going on from light to greater light. Such have need to be greatly alarmed lest that which the Lord has placed within their reach at infinite cost, should be taken away, and given to others who will prize the gift and use it for his glory....Our present position is interesting and perilous. The danger of refusing light from heaven should make us watchful unto prayer, lest we should any of us have an evil heart of unbelief." (RH September 3, 1890; par. 14,20).
I know that I run the risk of being labeled a fanatic and a conspiracy theorist by sharing some of these things with you. I really don't care what I may be labeled (Jesus Himself was viewed as a fanatic and a trouble-maker for speaking plainly about the things that were and are about to occur)! I suppose that I could simply say "Wait and See" -- but by the time all of this happens and we have ALL the evidence before our eyes, it will be too late! We ALL need to take the counsel of Christ and get the "eye salve" so that we may "SEE" and discern these things right now and KNOW that it is nigh, yea "even at the door"! Christ has given us sufficient WARNING so that we may not be caught unaware -- and we will have NO EXCUSE to say that we "didn't know". Ellen White aptly spoke when she said that we will ultimately be CONDEMNED and LOST not "because they honestly believed a lie, or conscientiously cherished error; but it will be because they neglected the opportunities of making themselves acquainted with truth" (Testimonies to Ministers p. 437).
WARS --- FAMINE --- DEADLY DISEASES -- POLITICAL AND FAMILY PRESSURES --- NATURAL and ARTIFICIALLY PRODUCED DISASTERS --- ECONOMIC PRESSURES and COLLAPSE --- TREMENDOUS WANT --- THE THREAT OF DEATH --- and a LACK OF SPIRITUAL PREPAREDNESS...
All of these things will cause a dramatic reduction in the Church and in the numbers of those who will "Keep the Faith"! Are we really so naive as to think that there is going to be a "GREAT MULTITUDE" of faithful believers (so many that they "cannot be numbered") standing along side of the 144,000 brave "Leaders" of the Church that will be alive and anxiously awaiting the return of Christ! PLEASE! WAKE UP FOLKS!! It just isn't going to happen! And we have been warned ahead of time that it isn't going to happen! The 144,000 are a VERY DISTINCT GROUP and a VERY LITERAL GROUP who will be the ONLY TRUE BELIEVERS who are SEALED and SURVIVE through the TIME OF TROUBLE to see Christ Return WITHOUT SEEING DEATH! Period.
More about the 144,000: The Bible has some MORE to say about the 144,000 which is a further indication that their number is LITERAL. Revelation 7:1-8 describes the 144,000 as having been SEALED. The Setting here is obviously very close to the end of time. This "SEALING" takes place just prior to the close of probation and the Seven last Plagues (see Rev. 7:3). By this time Sunday laws have already been past, severe tribulation (not the Great Tribulation) has taken place, severe want and persecution has occurred, and the "mark of the Beast" has begun to be enforced (but not to the point of the actual enforcement of the mark and the "Killing" those who have not accepted it). This IS the "Sealing" time -- and the numbers of the "Faithful" have already been greatly diminished through all of the things discussed so far, and through actual martyrdom where a great many of the "GREAT MULTITUDE" have laid down their lives as a witness for the Truth (note: their "martyrdom", their loss of life, occurs as a result of their Faith in the Truth and not as a result of the "death penalty" that is threatened as the final enforcement of the Mark of the Beast. Many people are losing their lives today in many places on this earth because of their faith in Christ -- and MANY MORE will do so as things get worse! -- see Rev. 14:13!).
At any rate, the final SEALING of the FAITHFUL REMNANT will be accomplished upon the relatively FEW who have remained faithful to God's Commandments and have the Faith of Jesus. But there is more to this "Sealing" then we have normally thought of. There is an EXPERIENCE that these people have that no other group has ever experienced and which WE have failed to grasp!
The last warning messages to be given to this dying world are contained in the Three Angel's Messages of Revelation 14:6-12 and by the Fourth angel (message) of Revelation 18. In these messages we find a call to Worship the TRUE GOD, warnings about accepting FALSE DOCTRINE and CONFUSION, a warning about accepting the MARK OF THE BEAST, and a call to "COME OUT OF HER MY PEOPLE" (indicating that many, if not most of God's people are currently in confusion and are directly or or indirectly associated with Babylon and the Beast. These are ALL important messages and MUST be given to the World before Christ can return. However, within these messages -- or the BASIS upon which EVERY ONE OF THESE MESSAGES stand and are given -- is the FOUNDATION EXPERIENCE of "CHRIST OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" (see Jer. 23:5). Ellen White wrote that the Third angel's message (which encompasses the first two - see Evangelism p. 196) is the message of Justification (or "Righteousness") by faith: "Justification by faith...IS the third angel's message in verity" or Truth (RH April 1, 1890). "The message of Christ's Righteousness is to sound from one end of the earth to the other to prepare the way of the Lord. This is the Glory of God, which closes the work of the third angel. (6T p. 19).
I believe that most
of us understand, intellectually, that this is the case. But most of us
do NOT understand this message at the level of EXPERIENCE
! And there is a WORLD of difference between having an intellectual understanding of the message and having an experiential
understanding of it!
We are told that: "All power is given into His [Jesus'] hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of HIS SPIRIT in a large measure." (Testimonies to Ministers p. 92).
It should be clear that this "message" is to be "proclaimed" not only through the use of WORDS but also through the EXPERIENCE of the people who are actually giving the message! Why we have been so slow to recognize this is beyond me. But I think that we have missed this important fact primarily because most of us have only "experienced" God through our intellects and our reason and have therefore Failed to enter into a truly meaningful and real relationship with God -- a relationship in which GOD is actually experienced in our daily lives -- because our intellects and our "reason" are dependent upon words for the framing of our intellectual reality. But "WORDS" will always fail in describing the reality of God, and can actually prevent us from EXPERIENCING HIM in a meaningful and REAL way.
It has been correctly stated that: "The Truth as it is in Jesus can be experienced, but never explained" (Christ Object Lessons p. 129, par.1). The reason for this is because any explanation of the "truth as it is in Jesus" is dependent upon words -- and "words" either have many different meanings and connotations OR fall short in describing the fullness of the "Truth". Explanations are just that, explanations -- and as such only describe our own personal understandings about God. Words and explanations often lead us into the false belief that we understand God and lull us into a False sense of Security in regards to our Relationship with God. Even my attempts here to "explain" all of this are most likely an exercise in futility because I am forced to use Words to describe an Experience which is ultimately independent of explanation!!! I will go into this conundrum much more fully, and attempt to describe the experience of God which is so necessary for our Salvation, in the page
. All that needs to be recognized, for the purpose of this study, is that GOD is the One who is on Trial here -- and God will be VINDICATED! The WAY in which God will be Vindicated is through His People. God intends to have a people who not only understand the Truth, but who have experienced it as well. God intends to have a faithful remnant in whom He totally and completely Reproduces His Character and in whom He will prove to this World, to Satan, and to the Universe -- that "IN CHRIST" human beings can KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS, OVERCOME SIN COMPLETELY, and LIVE PERFECTLY! This is the "Job", or the "purpose" of the 144,000. "When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, He will come to claim them for His own." (Christ Object Lessons p. 69, par. 1). This, and only this, is what He is waiting for right now.
I believe that the reason that the 144,000 represent the BRIDE of Christ is because of this experiential knowledge of Christ. They will "KNOW" Him in the most literal sense of Biblical Knowledge. Like a husband and wife "KNOW" one another (not speaking strictly or implicitly about the "sex act" but about the union and the intimacy and the "oneness" which is, or should be, experienced when a man and a woman come together which is an experience and a knowledge which is experiential but beyond words!). In the union of Christ with this final group of 144,000 will be realized the totality of the union between Christ and humanity for which the whole plan of Salvation was devised and for which He Sacrificed His Life. In this union Christ will be manifested in the fullness of His Glory and Power -- and the prayer of Christ in John 17:21-23,36 will be fulfilled: "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me....that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them."
When the 144,000 are completely "SEALED" with Christ's Holy Spirit they will receive the "Outpouring of His Spirit" in full measure and will be like Him because HE will be living IN THEM to such an extent that it will be no longer THEY that live, but it will be "CHRIST [living] IN THEM" (Gal. 2:20), and it will be CHRIST who "doeth the works" that will be performed through them. They will be a perfect representation of Christ -- they will be "perfect" men and women (Eph. 4:13) having overcome the world and sin and Satan. They will have EXPERIENCED GOD! And they will be His vindication.
I pray that this will happen soon! And I pray that you will be among those that have the courage and the stamina and the desire to follow Christ wherever He leads and wherever He goes (Rev. 14:4)! I pray that the outpouring of the "Spirit of Christ" will rest upon you and me -- and that WE may be counted among those who will be His "Bride", that small group known as the 144,000. But whether we a called to LIVE or DIE, may we be FAITHFUL until the end -- Saved in His Kingdom!