The Third Angel


Chapter 14 of Revelation depicts three angels flying across the sky, each with a different message to prepare the world for the return of Jesus. On April 27 I will deliver a sermon that covers the third angel’s message. If you’ve been in our church for a while, you may have heard people say a lot about the third angel’s message but still be confused about exactly what it says, what it does not say, and what it means. If you’re new to our church, you might not have heard about the third angel’s message at all. Either way, this is your chance to acquire a clear understanding of this important message.

“The Third Angel’s Message in Verity”

In preparation for this sermon, I recommend reading “Repentance the Gift of God” by Ellen White. She wrote this article in the wake of controversy that had erupted a year and a half earlier at the 1888 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Minneapolis.

At the conference, Alonzo T. Jones presented a series of lectures on prophecy. Jones was 38 years old and had become a member of the Seventh-day Adventist church just 14 years earlier. His comprehensive knowledge of the Bible and history immediately made him an effective evangelist and author. He and Ellet J. Waggoner had recently become professors at Healdsburg College and co-editors of Signs of the Times, one of the church’s leading publications.

During the conference, Professor Jones announced his readiness to question established church teachings by quoting I Corinthians 8:2 at the beginning of each lecture: “And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.” Jones had never been especially diplomatic, and he did not hold back at all on this occasion. Many older and more experienced conference delegates were offended by his confrontational style.

To Jones it was important that we examine the evidence for everything we teach. He questioned how the Huns came to be on the church’s standard list of ten kingdoms that arose out of the Roman empire. According to his research the Alemanni should have been on the list instead. Delegates took to calling themselves “Huns” or “Alemanni” to show where they stood on the issue. Those who opposed change warned that Jones was on a path to overthrowing everything the church had taught for the past 40 years.

These opponents were further alarmed that Jones and Waggoner called for renewed attention to the topic of justification by faith. Professor Waggoner argued that the law’s only role in salvation is to show us our need of a Savior. His opponents argued that was only true of laws regulating sacrifices in Jewish worship. They feared that if it were applied to moral laws, people would feel free to reject the Sabbath, threatening the Seventh-day Adventist mission to call Christians to return to Sabbath observance.

Although the majority of conference delegates endorsed the positions of Jones and Waggoner, those who did not remained influential. Some worked behind the scenes to undermine them after the conference. The influence of these unreconciled opponents has affected us ever since.

In her article Ellen White affirmed the importance of justification by faith and stated, “It is the third angel’s message in verity.”

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