Three Angels' Messages

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The "three angels' messages" is an interpretation of the messages given by three angels in Revelation 14:6–12. The Seventh-day Adventist church teaches that these messages are given to prepare the world for the second coming of Jesus Christ, and sees them as a central part of its own mission.

Contents

Messages

Summary paraphrases of the 3 Angels' messages:

The Three Angels' messages of Revelation 14 are highly significant to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In the SDA Church's official mission statement, the Three Angels' Messages are prominent: The mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is to proclaim to all peoples the everlasting gospel in the context of the Three Angels' messages of Revelation 14:6–12. [1]

Adventist interpretations

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has traditionally believed that it is the remnant church of Bible prophecy, and that its mission is to proclaim the three angels' messages which it uses in its signs and logos.

Official views

"The universal church is composed of all who truly believe in Christ, but in the last days, a time of widespread apostasy, a remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. This remnant announces the arrival of the judgment hour, proclaims salvation through Christ, and heralds the approach of His second advent. This proclamation is symbolized by the three angels of Revelation 14; it coincides with the work of judgment in heaven and results in a work of repentance and reform on earth. Every believer is called to have a personal part in this worldwide witness."
Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church [2]
"In accordance with God's uniform dealing with mankind, warning them of coming events that will vitally affect their destiny, He has sent forth a proclamation of the approaching return of Christ. This preparatory message is symbolized by the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14, and meets its fulfillment in the great Second Advent Movement today. This has brought forth the remnant, or Seventh-day Adventist Church, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."
Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual [3]

The Mission Statement of the church declares:

"The mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is to proclaim to all peoples the everlasting gospel of God's love in the context of the three angels' messages of Revelation 14:6–12, and as revealed in the life, death, resurrection, and high priestly ministry of Jesus Christ, leading them to accept Jesus as personal Saviour and Lord and to unite with His remnant church; and to nurture believers as disciples in preparation for His soon return." [4]

The image of three angels circling a globe is the church's former symbol. The current logo of the Seventh-day Adventist church has three flames encircling the globe, representing the Holy Spirit; the threefold flame is also a symbol of the three angels. [5]

Millerite interpretations

According to the understanding of the Adventist pioneers, the first angel's message occurred during the two decades prior to the spring of 1844. The message of the imminent second coming of Jesus preached by the Millerite movement then fulfilled the prophecy of the first angel's message.

The second angel's message was then preached during the (northern-hemisphere) summer of 1844, which was preceded by a significant number of Millerites leaving the movement, and resulted in large numbers of Christians leaving their churches ("Babylon") and joining the Advent movement. [6]

The third angel's message is based on the idea that the "Seal of God" (Revelation 7:2) is the Sabbath commandment of the decalogue. Therefore, the "mark of the beast" is the opposite, or the keeping of Sunday as the Sabbath. Hence the close of the message, "here are they that keep the commandments of God." It is a point of emphasis among Adventists that the mark of the beast has not yet been given out.

(The Millerites generally interpreted "Babylon" in the Book of Revelation as the papacy, up through summer 1843. This position aligned with that of most Protestants.[ citation needed ] Millerite preacher Charles Fitch expanded the idea of "Babylon" to include all Catholics and Protestants who rejected the Adventist teaching. His message was "Come out of her, my people" - based on Revelation 18:2,4 (see also 14:8). This had followed a shift in 1843 when the Millerites received more ridicule, and were increasingly disfellowshipped by their churches. The Millerites came to see themselves as a separate group, increasingly so as many of them experienced disfellowshipping.

Most of the eastern leaders did not initially accept Fitch's pronouncements, yet many laypeople did. Eventually and reluctantly Joshua V. Himes came to advocate Fitch's interpretation of the message in autumn 1844. William Miller himself never affirmed it, despite being disfellowshipped from his church.) [7]

Stained-glass depiction of the Three Angels' Messages 3AngelsMessage.jpg
Stained-glass depiction of the Three Angels' Messages

Standard view

When Jesus did not return in 1844 as expected by the Millerite movement, the resulting Seventh-day Adventist movement came to see itself as the remnant of God and believed that their mission was to preach the three angels' messages again.

The first angel's message is the "everlasting gospel", namely the "good news of God's infinite love". It is also a warning that the investigative judgment has begun and a call to worship the Creator of the world, specifically in the keeping of the Sabbath commandment. "The first angel's message ... calls for the restoration of true worship by presenting before the world Christ the Creator and Lord of the Bible Sabbath [which is] the sign of God's Creation." [8]

The second angel's message is a call to those in Babylon to “depart from her” (cf. Revelation 18:4). Adventists traditionally believe that Babylon represents the apostate church, which they identify as Roman Catholicism as well as Protestants who have rejected the truth. "This prophecy of Babylon's fall especially finds its fulfillment in the departure of Protestantism at large from the purity and simplicity of the everlasting gospel of righteousness by faith that once so powerfully impelled the Reformation." This explains why Adventists often aim their evangelism at Christians in other churches as well as non-Christians. "The message of the fall of Babylon ... calls on those of God's people who are still in the various religious bodies comprising Babylon to separate from them." [9] However, Adventists have also made it clear that there are currently many true believers in “Babylon” who worship God sincerely, including Roman Catholics. [10] [11]

Theologian Ángel Manuel Rodríguez explains the mission of the remnant in terms of the second angel's message: "The end-time remnant is described in Revelation as having a God-given mission and a particular message to the whole world. They are to call the people of God to come out of Babylon, that is to say, to join the historical, faithful and visible end-time remnant of God.' [12]

The third angel's message is a solemn warning against observance of Sunday as a sacred day, which Adventists have historically interpreted as the mark of the beast. "Those who reject God’s memorial of creatorship—the Bible Sabbath—choosing to worship and honor Sunday in the full knowledge that it is not God's appointed day of worship, will receive the 'mark of the beast.'" [13] Adventists believe that the mark of the beast will only be received at a future date, when every person on earth is made aware of their obligation to keep the Sabbath; in other words, Christians who currently worship on Sunday do not have the mark. [14]

Alternate view

Some in the more liberal wing, Progressive Adventists, typically reject the claim that the three angels' messages find a fulfillment in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Mainstream Adventists believe that God has led the Christian movements in history, [15] but progressives tend to not hold to that view or at all.

Progressive Adventists such as Steve Daily have challenged the traditional understanding of the Remnant, preferring to widen the concept to include Christians in non-Adventist churches. [12]

Culture

The concept appears in the title of the Three Angels Broadcasting Network (3ABN).

This illustration of the angel of Revelation 14:6 is from the title page of Luther's Bible. Biblia.svg
This illustration of the angel of Revelation 14:6 is from the title page of Luther's Bible.

Lutheran interpretation

Siebert Becker of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod explained that some have held the angel in verse 6 to be Martin Luther. This is an example of historicism. Becker preferred the idealistic interpretation that the angel's work was not limited "to one specific time and one specific event." [16] This is in contrast to P. E. Kretzmann, who wrote: [17]

This passage has been understood by Lutheran commentators, to apply to Doctor Martin Luther and the Reformation. For he, as the angel of the Lord, different from the other angels spoken of in the previous chapters, brought back and preached the eternal Gospel of the justification of a poor sinner through the merits of Jesus Christ alone, by faith.

Kretzmann does not give a name to the other two angels.

See also

Related Research Articles

Adventism religious denomination

Adventism is a branch of Protestant Christianity that believes in the imminent Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It originated in the 1830s in the United States during the Second Great Awakening when Baptist preacher William Miller first publicly shared his belief that the Second Coming would occur at some point between 1843 and 1844. His followers became known as Millerites. After the Great Disappointment, the Millerite movement split up and was continued by a number of groups that held different doctrines from one another. These groups, stemming from a common Millerite ancestor, became known collectively as the Adventist movement.

Seventh-day Adventist Church Protestant Christian denomination

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination which is distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the seventh day of the week in Christian and Jewish calendars, as the Sabbath, and its emphasis on the imminent Second Coming (advent) of Jesus Christ. The denomination grew out of the Millerite movement in the United States during the mid-19th century and it was formally established in 1863. Among its founders was Ellen G. White, whose extensive writings are still held in high regard by the church. Much of the theology of the Seventh-day Adventist Church corresponds to common evangelical Christian teachings, such as the Trinity and the infallibility of Scripture. Distinctive teachings include the unconscious state of the dead and the doctrine of an investigative judgment. The church is known for its emphasis on diet and health, including adhering to Kosher food laws, advocating vegetarianism, and its holistic understanding of the person. It is likewise known for its promotion of religious liberty, and its conservative principles and lifestyle.

Millerism Christian movement founded by William Miller, which held that the Second Coming would come in 1844

The Millerites were the followers of the teachings of William Miller, who in 1831 first shared publicly his belief that the Second Advent of Jesus Christ would occur in roughly the year 1843–1844. Coming during the Second Great Awakening, his beliefs were taken as predictions, spread widely, and were believed by many, leading to the Great Disappointment.

Great Disappointment Failed event, predicted by William Miller, on 22 October 1844, during which Jesus Christ would return

The Great Disappointment in the Millerite movement was the reaction that followed Baptist preacher William Miller's proclamations that Jesus Christ would return to the Earth by 1844, what he called the Advent. His study of the Daniel 8 prophecy during the Second Great Awakening led him to the conclusion that Daniel's "cleansing of the sanctuary" was cleansing of the world from sin when Christ would come, and he and many others prepared, but October 22, 1844, came and they were disappointed.

James Springer White

James Springer White, also known as Elder White, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and husband of Ellen G. White. In 1849 he started the first Sabbatarian Adventist periodical entitled "The Present Truth", in 1855 he relocated the fledgling center of the movement to Battle Creek, Michigan, and in 1863 played a pivotal role in the formal organization of the denomination. He later played a major role in the development of the Adventist educational structure beginning in 1874 with the formation of Battle Creek College.

History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

The Seventh-day Adventist Church had its roots in the Millerite movement of the 1830s to the 1840s, during the period of the Second Great Awakening, and was officially founded in 1863. Prominent figures in the early church included Hiram Edson, Ellen G. White, her husband James Springer White, Joseph Bates, and J. N. Andrews. Over the ensuing decades the church expanded from its original base in New England to become an international organization. Significant developments such the reviews initiated by evangelicals Donald Barnhouse and Walter Martin, in the 20th century led to its recognition as a Christian denomination.

Last Generation Theology

Last Generation Theology (LGT) or "final generation" theology is a religious belief regarding moral perfection achieved by sanctified people in the last generation before the Second Coming of Jesus. Although not a part of official Seventh-day Adventist theology, some hold that there will be an end-time remnant of believers who are faithful to God, which will be manifest shortly prior to the second coming of Jesus, as suggested by the 144,000 saints described in the Book of Revelation of the New Testament.

Investigative judgment

The investigative judgment is a unique Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, which asserts that the divine judgment of professed Christians has been in progress since 1844. It is intimately related to the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was described by one of the church's pioneers Ellen G. White as one of the pillars of Adventist belief. It is a major component of the broader Adventist understanding of the "heavenly sanctuary", and the two are sometimes spoken of interchangeably.

Remnant (Seventh-day Adventist belief)

In Seventh-day Adventist theology, there will be an end time remnant of believers who are faithful to God. The remnant church is a visible, historical, organized body characterized by obedience to the commandments of God and the possession of a unique end-time gospel proclamation. Adventists have traditionally equated this "remnant church" with the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.

Seventh-day Adventist eschatology

Seventh-day Adventist eschatology is based on their interpretation of the prophecies of Daniel, Revelation and other prophecies in the Bible. They hold a unique system of eschatological beliefs. Adventist eschatology, which uses historicist interpretation of prophecy, is characterized principally by the premillennial Second Coming of Christ. Traditionally, the church has taught that the Second Coming will be preceded by a global crisis with the Sabbath as a central issue. At Jesus' return, the righteous will be taken to heaven for one thousand years and the unsaved remain dead. After the millennium, the unsaved are resurrected to face the final judgment and then be punished by annihilation, while the saved will live on a recreated Earth for eternity.

Seventh-day Adventist theology

The theology of the Seventh-day Adventist Church resembles that of Protestant Christianity, combining elements from Lutheran, Wesleyan-Arminian, and Anabaptist branches of Protestantism. Adventists believe in the infallibility of Scripture and teach that salvation comes from grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The 28 fundamental beliefs constitute the church's official doctrinal position.

1888 Minneapolis General Conference

The 1888 Minneapolis General Conference Session was a meeting of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in October 1888. It is regarded as a landmark event in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Key participants were Alonzo T. Jones and Ellet J. Waggoner, who presented a message on justification supported by Ellen G. White, but resisted by leaders such as G. I. Butler, Uriah Smith and others. The session discussed crucial theological issues such as the meaning of "righteousness by faith", the nature of the Godhead, the relationship between law and grace, and Justification and its relationship to Sanctification.

Hiram Edson

Hiram Edson (1806–1882) was a pioneer of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, known for introducing the sanctuary doctrine to the church. Hiram Edson was a Millerite adventist, and became a Sabbath-keeping Adventist. Like all Millerites, Edson expected that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ would occur on October 22, 1844. This belief was based on an interpretation of the 2300 day prophecy which predicted that "the sanctuary would be cleansed" which Millerites took to mean that Christ would return on that day.

Sabbath in seventh-day churches

The seventh-day Sabbath, observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening, is an important part of the beliefs and practices of seventh-day churches. These churches emphasize biblical references such as the ancient Hebrew practice of beginning a day at sundown, and the Genesis creation narrative wherein an "evening and morning" established a day, predating the giving of the Ten Commandments. They hold that the Old and New Testament show no variation in the doctrine of the Sabbath on the seventh day. Saturday, or the seventh day in the weekly cycle, is the only day in all of scripture designated using the term Sabbath. The seventh day of the week is recognized as Sabbath in many languages, calendars, and doctrines, including those of Catholic, Lutheran, and Orthodox churches. It is still observed in modern Judaism in relation to Mosaic Law. In addition, the Orthodox Tewahedo Churches uphold Sabbatarianism, observing the Sabbath on Saturday, in addition to the Lord's Day on Sunday.

Shut-door theology

Shut-door theology was a belief held by the Millerite group from 1844 to approximately 1854, some of whom later formed into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It held that as William Miller had given the final call for salvation, all who did not accept his message were lost. The door of salvation was shut, hence the term "shut door". They later understood it was concerning the sanctuary and not the events on earth so abandoned their earlier understanding. As an interpretation of the year "1844", it was connected to the investigative judgment belief, which forms one of the official 28 Fundamentals beliefs today.

Sabbatarianism View within Christianity that advocates the observation of the Sabbath

Sabbatarianism advocates the observation of the Sabbath in Christianity, in keeping with the Ten Commandments. The observance of Sunday as a day of worship and rest is a form of first-day Sabbatarianism, a view which was historically heralded by nonconformist denominations, such as Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists, as well as many Episcopalians.

John T. Walsh (Adventist)

Dr. John T. Walsh was a minister and Millerite who after the Great Disappointment, led a group of Adventist Millerites. They believed that Christ had returned on October 22, 1844, only invisibly, and that the Millennium had begun on that date. This group organized as the Life and Advent Union in 1863, which later became part of the Advent Christian Church.

Seventh-day Adventist Church Pioneers

The Seventh-day Adventist Church pioneers were members of Seventh-day Adventist Church, part of the group of Millerites, who came together after the Great Disappointment across the United States and formed the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In 1860, the pioneers of the fledgling movement settled on the name, Seventh-day Adventist, representative of the church's distinguishing beliefs. Three years later, on May 21, 1863, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was formed and the movement became an official organization.

Roswell F. Cottrell

Roswell Fenner Cottrell is a preacher, counselor, writer, hymnist and poet who came from a family of Seventh Day Baptists. He was the son of John Cottrell (1774–1857) and Mary Polly Stillman (1779–1852) After joining the sabbatarian Adventists who eventually organized the Seventh-day Adventist Church, he became one of their leading advocates.

Pillars of Adventism

The Pillars of Adventism are landmark doctrines for Seventh-day Adventists; Bible doctrines that define who they are as a people of faith; doctrines that are "non-negotiables" in Adventist theology. The Seventh-day Adventist church teaches that these Pillars are needed to prepare the world for the second coming of Jesus Christ, and sees them as a central part of its own mission. Adventists teach that the Seventh-day Adventist Church doctrines were both a continuation of the reformation started in the 16th century and a movement of the end time rising from the Millerites, bringing God's final messages and warnings to a world.

References

  1. Archived June 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  2. "Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church". Adventist.org. Retrieved 2007-04-28.
  3. "Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual". Adventist.org. Archived from the original on 2007-04-08. Retrieved 2007-04-28.
  4. "Mission Statement of the Seventh-day Adventist Church". Official statement approved by the General Conference Executive Committee at the Spring Meeting in Silver Spring, Maryland, April 1993; and amended on October 10, 2004
  5. "The Logo and its Meaning". Adventist.org/. Archived from the original on 2007-04-05. Retrieved 2007-04-28.
  6. Ellen G. White. The Great Controversy. pp. chapters 20 & 21, pages 355–390.
  7. George R. Knight (1999), A Brief History of Seventh-day Adventists, p20 : "While most Eastern Millerite leaders initially responded coolly to Fitch's call for separation, the aggressive reaction within the various denominations made it acceptable to many Advent believers as they faced increasing opposition and loss of membership. Himes did not become an advocate of separation until the autumn of 1844, and then only reluctantly. Miller could never bring himself to urge separation, even though the Low Hampton Baptist Church, where he was a member, eventually expelled him."
  8. Seventh-day Adventists Believe (2nd ed). Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. 2005. pp. 192–194.
  9. Seventh-day Adventists Believe (2nd ed). Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. 2005. pp. 194–195.
  10. Questions on Doctrine . Review and Herald Publishing Association. 1957. pp. 197–202.
  11. "How Seventh-day Adventists View Roman Catholicism". General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Administrative Committee (ADCOM). April 15, 1997.
  12. 1 2 Ángel Manuel Rodríguez (2002). "The Remnant and the Adventist Church". Biblical Research Institute.
  13. Seventh-day Adventists Believe (2nd ed). Ministerial Association, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. 2005. p. 196.
  14. Questions on Doctrine . Review and Herald Publishing Association. 1957. pp. 183–186.
  15. For example, George Vandeman's book What I Like About...: The Lutherans, The Baptists, The Methodists, The Charismatics, The Catholics, Our Jewish Friends, The Adventists: Rescuers of Neglected Truth, in which he sees many groups restoring certain of God's "truths"
  16. page 4 of An Isagogical Treatment of the Revelation of St. John the Divine by Siegbert W. Becker
  17. Popular Commentary , page 14

Further reading