The Great Controversy
Between Christ & His Angels & Satan & his Angels
An easy to read and fast moving panorama of the Story of Redemption!
Disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem. The word of God increased, and many of the priests were obedient unto the faith. Stephen, full of faith, was doing great wonders and miracles among the people. Many were angry; for the priests were turning from their traditions, and from the sacrifices and offerings, and were accepting Jesus as the great sacrifice. Stephen, with power from on high, reproved the priests and elders, and exalted Jesus before them. They could not withstand the wisdom and power by which he spoke, and as they found that they could prevail nothing against him, they hired men to falsely swear that they had heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God. They stirred up the people, and took Stephen, and, through false witnesses, accused him of speaking against the temple and the law. They testified that they had heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth would destroy the customs which Moses gave them.
All who sat in judgment against Stephen saw the light of the glory of God in his countenance. His countenance was lighted up like the face of an angel. He stood up full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and, beginning at the prophets, he brought them down to the advent of Jesus, his crucifixion, his resurrection and ascension, and showed them that the Lord dwelt not in temples made with hands. They worshiped the temple. Anything spoken against the temple filled them with greater indignation than if spoken against God. The spirit of Stephen was stirred with heavenly indignation as he cried out against them for being wicked, and uncircumcised in heart. Ye do always resist the Holy Spirit. They observed the outward ordinances, while their hearts were corrupt, and full of deadly evil. Stephen referred them to the cruelty of their fathers in persecuting the prophets, saying, Ye have slain them which showed before the coming of the Just One, of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers.
The chief priests and the rulers were enraged as the plain, cutting truths were spoken; and they rushed upon Stephen. The light of heaven shone upon him, and as he looked up steadfastly into heaven, a vision of God's glory was given him, and angels hovered around him. He cried out, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. The people would not hear him. They cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him. And Stephen kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.
I saw that Stephen was a mighty man of God, especially raised up to fill an important place in the church. Satan exulted as he was stoned to death; for he knew that the disciples would greatly feel his loss. But Satan's triumph was short; for there was one standing in that company, witnessing the death of Stephen, to whom Jesus was to reveal himself. Although he took no part in casting the stones at Stephen, yet he consented to his death. Saul was zealous in persecuting the church of God, hunting them, seizing them in their houses, and delivering them to those who would slay them. Satan was using Saul effectually. But God can break the Devil's power, and set free those who are led captive by him. Saul was a learned man, and Satan was triumphantly employing his talents to help carry out his rebellion against the Son of God, and those who believed in him. But Jesus selected Saul as a chosen vessel to preach his name, to strengthen the disciples in their work, and more than fill the place of Stephen. Saul was greatly esteemed by the Jews. His zeal and his learning pleased them, and terrified many of the disciples.
See Acts 6; Acts 7.
As Saul journeyed to Damascus with letters of authority to take men or women who were preaching Jesus, and to bring them bound unto Jerusalem, evil angels exulted around him. But as he journeyed, suddenly a light from heaven shone around him, which made the evil angels flee, and caused Saul to fall quickly to the ground. He heard a voice saying, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? Saul inquired, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And Saul trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said, Arise and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
The men who were with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but saw no man. As the light passed away, and Saul arose from the earth, and opened his eyes, he saw no man. The glory of the light of heaven had blinded him. They led him by the hand, and brought him to Damascus, and he was three days without sight, neither did he eat or drink. The Lord then sent his angel to one of the very men whom Saul hoped to make captive, and revealed to him in vision that he should go into the street called straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus; for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hands on him, that he might receive his sight.
Ananias feared that there was some mistake in this matter, and began to relate to the Lord what he had heard of Saul. But the Lord said unto Ananias, Go thy way; for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. Ananias followed the directions of the Lord, and entered into the house, and putting his hands on him, said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Immediately Saul received sight, and arose, and was baptized. He then preached Christ in the synagogues, that he was the Son of God. All who heard him were amazed, and inquired, Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem? and came hither on that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests. But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews. They were again in trouble. Saul told his experience in the power of the Holy Spirit. All were acquainted with the fact of Saul's opposition to Jesus, and his zeal in hunting out and delivering up to death all who believed on his name. His miraculous conversion convinced many that Jesus was the Son of God. Saul related his experience, that as he was persecuting unto the death, binding and delivering into prison, both men and women, as he journeyed to Damascus, suddenly a great light from heaven shone round about him, and Jesus revealed himself to him, and taught him that he was the Son of God. As Saul boldly preached Jesus, he carried a powerful influence with him. He had knowledge of the scriptures, and after his conversion a divine light shone upon the prophecies concerning Jesus, which enabled him to clearly and boldly present the truth, and to correct any perversion of the scriptures. With the Spirit of God resting upon him, he would in a clear and forcible manner carry his hearers down through the prophecies to the time of Christ's first advent, and show them that the scriptures had been fulfilled, which referred to Christ's sufferings, death and resurrection.
See Acts 9.
The chief priests and rulers were moved with hatred against Paul, as they witnessed the effect of the relation of his experience. They saw that he boldly preached Jesus, and wrought miracles in his name, and that multitudes listened to him, and turned from their traditions, and looked upon them as being the murderers of the Son of God. Their anger was kindled, and they assembled to consult as to what was best to be done to put down the excitement. They agreed that the only safe course for them was to put Paul to death. But God knew of their intention, and angels were commissioned to guard him, that he might live to fulfill his mission, and to suffer for the name of Jesus.
Paul was informed that the Jews were seeking his life. Satan led the unbelieving Jews to watch the gates of Damascus day and night, that as Paul should pass out of the gates; they might immediately kill him. But the disciples in the night let him down by the wall in a basket. Here the Jews were made ashamed of their failure, and Satan's object was defeated. And Paul went to Jerusalem to join himself to the disciples; but they were all afraid of him. They could not believe that he was a disciple. His life had been hunted by the Jews in Damascus, and his own brethren would not receive him; but Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
But Satan was stirring up the Jews to destroy Paul, and Jesus bade him leave Jerusalem. And as he went into other cities preaching Jesus, and working miracles, many were converted, and as one man was healed who had always been lame, the people who worshiped idols were about to sacrifice to the disciples. Paul was grieved, and told them that they were only men, and that they must worship God who made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein. Paul exalted God before them; but he could scarcely restrain the people. The first knowledge of faith in the true God, and the worship and honor due to him, were being formed in their minds; and as they were listening to Paul, Satan urged on the unbelieving Jews of other cities to follow after Paul to destroy the good work wrought through him. The Jews stirred up, and inflamed the minds of those idolaters by false reports against Paul. The wonder and admiration of the people now changed to hate, and they who a short time before were ready to worship the disciples, stoned Paul, and drew him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But as the disciples were standing about Paul, and mourning over him, to their joy he rose up, and went with them into the city.
As Paul preached Jesus, a certain woman possessed with a spirit of divination, followed them, crying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation. Thus she followed the disciples many days. But Paul was grieved; for this crying after them diverted the minds of the people from the truth. Satan's object in leading her to do this was to disgust the people, and destroy the influence of the disciples. But Paul's spirit was stirred within him, and he turned to the woman, and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her, and the evil spirit was rebuked, and left her.
Her masters were pleased that she cried after the disciples; but when the evil spirit had left her, and they saw her a meek disciple of Christ, they were enraged. They had gathered much money by her fortune-telling, and now the hope of their gain was gone. Satan's object was defeated; but his servants caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the market place, unto the rulers, and to the magistrates, saying, These men being Jews do exceedingly trouble our city. And the multitude rose up together against them, and the magistrates tore off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely, who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison and made their feet fast in the stocks. But the angels of God accompanied them within the prison walls. Their imprisonment told to the glory of God, and showed to the people that God was in the work, and with his chosen servants, and that prison walls could be shaken, and strong iron bars could easily be opened by him.
At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sung praises unto God, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and I saw that immediately the angel of God loosed everyone's bands. The keeper of the prison awoke and was affrighted as he saw the prison doors open. He thought that the prisoners had escaped, and that he must be punished with death. As he was about to kill himself, Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm, for we are all here. The power of God convicted the keeper. He called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. The jailer then assembled his whole household, and Paul preached unto them Jesus. The jailer's heart was united to those brethren, and he washed their stripes, and he, and all his house, were baptized that night. He then set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God, with all his house.
The wonderful news was spread abroad of the glorious power of God which had been manifest in opening the prison doors, and the conversion and baptism of the jailer and his family. The rulers heard of these things, and were afraid, and sent to the jailer, requesting him to let Paul and Silas go. But Paul would not leave the prison in a private manner. He said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? Nay, verily; but let them come themselves, and fetch us out. Paul and Silas were not willing that the manifestation of the power of God should be concealed. The sergeants told these words unto the magistrates; and they feared when they heard that they were Romans. And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.
See Acts 13; Acts 16.
Shortly after Paul's conversion he visited Jerusalem, and preached Jesus, and the wonder of his grace. He related his miraculous conversion, which enraged the priests, and rulers, and they sought to take his life. But that his life might be saved, Jesus appeared to him again in a vision while he was praying, saying unto him, Get thee quickly out of Jerusalem; for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. Paul earnestly plead with Jesus, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee. And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. Paul thought the Jews in Jerusalem could not resist his testimony; that they would consider that the great change in him could only be wrought by the power of God. But Jesus said unto him, Depart, for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
In Paul's absence from Jerusalem, he wrote many letters to different places, relating his experience, and bearing a powerful testimony. But some strove to destroy the influence of those letters. They had to admit that his letters were weighty and powerful; but declared that his bodily presence was weak, and his speech contemptible.
I saw that Paul was a man of great learning, and his wisdom and manners charmed his hearers. Learned men were pleased with his knowledge, and many of them believed on Jesus. When before kings and large assemblies, he would pour forth such eloquence as would bear down all before him. This greatly enraged the priests and elders. Paul could readily enter into deep reasoning, and soar up, and carry the people with him, in the most exalted trains of thought, and bring to view the deep riches of the grace of God, and portray before them the amazing love of Christ. Then with simplicity he would come down to the understanding of the common people, and in a most powerful manner relate his experience, which called forth from them ardent desires to be the disciples of Christ.
The Lord revealed to Paul that he must again go up to Jerusalem; that he would there be bound and suffer for his name. And although he was a prisoner for a great length of time, yet the Lord was carrying forward his special work through him. Paul's bonds were to be the means of spreading the knowledge of Christ, and thus glorifying God. As he was sent from city to city for his trial, the testimony concerning Jesus, and the interesting incidents of his conversion were related before kings and governors, that they should not be left without testimony concerning Jesus. Thousands believed on him and rejoiced in his name. I saw that God's special purpose was fulfilled in the journey of Paul upon the water, that the ship's crew might witness the power of God through Paul, and that the heathen also might hear the name of Jesus, and many be converted through his teaching, and by witnessing the miracles he wrought. Kings and governors were charmed by his reasoning, and as, with zeal and the power of the Holy Spirit, he preached Jesus, and related the interesting events of his experience, conviction fastened upon them that Jesus was the Son of God; and while some wondered with amazement as they listened to Paul, one cried out, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. Yet they thought that at some future time they would consider what they had heard. Satan took advantage of the delay, and as they neglected that opportunity when their hearts were softened, it was forever. Their hearts became hardened.
I was shown the work of Satan in first blinding the eyes of the Jews so that they would not receive Jesus as their Saviour; and next in leading them, through envy because of his mighty works, to desire his life. Satan entered one of Jesus' own followers, and led him on to betray him into their hands, and they crucified the Lord of life and glory. After Jesus arose from the dead, the Jews added sin to sin as they sought to hide the fact of the resurrection, by hiring for money the Roman guard to testify to a falsehood. But the resurrection of Jesus was made doubly sure by the resurrection of a multitude of witnesses who arose with him. Jesus appeared to his disciples, and to above five hundred at once, while those whom he brought up with him appeared unto many declaring that Jesus had risen.
Satan had caused the Jews to rebel against God, by refusing to receive his Son, and in staining their hands with most precious blood in crucifying him. No matter how powerful the evidence given of Jesus' being the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world; they had murdered him, and could not receive any evidence in his favor. Their only hope and consolation, like Satan's after his fall, was in trying to prevail against the Son of God. They continued their rebellion by persecuting the disciples of Christ, and putting them to death. Nothing fell so harshly on their ears as the name of Jesus whom they had crucified; and they were determined not to listen to any evidence in his favor. As in the case of Stephen, as the Holy Spirit through him declared the mighty evidence of his being the Son of God, they stopped their ears lest they should be convinced. And while Stephen was wrapped up in God's glory, they stoned him to death. Satan had the murderers of Jesus fast in his grasp. By wicked works they had yielded themselves his willing subjects, and through them he was at work to trouble and annoy the believers of Christ. He worked through the Jews to stir up the Gentiles against the name of Jesus, and against those who followed him, and believed on his name. But God sent his angels to strengthen the disciples for their work, that they might testify of the things they had seen and heard, and at last in their steadfastness, seal their testimony with their blood.
Satan rejoiced that the Jews were safe in his snare. They still continued their useless forms, their sacrifices and ordinances. As Jesus hung upon the cross, and cried, It is finished, the vail of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom, to signify that God would no longer meet with the priests in the temple, to accept their sacrifices and ordinances; and also to show that the partition wall was broken down between the Jews and the Gentiles. Jesus had made an offering of himself for both, and if saved at all, both must believe in Jesus as the only offering for sin, and the Saviour of the world.
While Jesus hung upon the cross, as the soldier pierced his side with a spear, there came out blood and water, in two distinct streams, one of blood, the other of clear water. The blood was to wash away the sins of those who should believe in his name. The water represents that living water which is obtained from Jesus to give life to the believer.
See Acts 24-26.
I was carried forward to the time when the heathen idolators cruelly persecuted the Christians, and killed them. Blood flowed in torrents. The noble, the learned, and the common people, were alike slain without mercy. Wealthy families were reduced to poverty because they would not yield their religion. Notwithstanding the persecution and sufferings those Christians endured, they would not lower the standard. They kept their religion pure. I saw that Satan exulted and triumphed over the sufferings of God's people. But God looked with great approbation upon his faithful martyrs, and the Christians who lived in that fearful time were greatly beloved of him; for they were willing to suffer for his sake. Every suffering endured by them increased their reward in heaven. But although Satan rejoiced because the saints suffered, yet he was not satisfied. He wanted control of the mind as well as the body. The sufferings those Christians endured drove them closer to the Lord, and led them to love one another, and caused them to fear more than ever to offend him. Satan wished to lead them to displease God; then they would lose their strength, fortitude and firmness. Although thousands were slain, yet others were springing up to supply their place. Satan saw that he was losing his subjects, and although they suffered persecution and death, yet they were secured to Jesus Christ, to be the subjects of his kingdom, and he laid his plans to more successfully fight against the government of God, and overthrow the church. He led on those heathen idolators to embrace part of the Christian faith. They professed to believe in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, without a change of heart, and proposed to unite with the followers of Jesus. O the fearful danger of the church! It was a time of mental anguish. Some thought that if they should come down and unite with those idolators who had embraced a portion of the Christian faith, it would be the means of their conversion. Satan was seeking to corrupt the doctrines of the Bible. At last I saw the standard lowered, and the heathen were uniting with Christians. They had been worshipers of idols, and although they professed to be Christians, they brought along with them their idolatry. They changed the objects only of their worship, to images of saints, and even the image of Christ, and Mary the mother of Jesus. Christians gradually united with them, and the Christian religion was corrupted, and the church lost its purity and power. Some refused to unite with them and they preserved their purity, and worshiped God alone. They would not bow down to any image of anything in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath.
Satan exulted over the fall of so many; and then he stirred up the fallen church to force those who would preserve the purity of their religion, to either yield to their ceremonies and image worship, or to put them to death. The fires of persecution were again kindled against the true church of Jesus Christ, and millions were slain without mercy.
It was presented before me in the following manner: A large company of heathen idolators bore a black banner upon which were figures of the sun, moon and stars. The company seemed to be very fierce and angry. I was then shown another company bearing a pure white banner, and upon it was written Purity, and Holiness unto the Lord. Their countenances were marked with firmness and heavenly resignation. I saw the heathen idolators approach them, and there was a great slaughter. The Christians melted away before them; and yet the Christian company pressed the more closely together, and held the banner more firmly. As many fell, others rallied around the banner and filled their places.
I saw the company of idolators consulting together. They failed to make the Christians yield, and they agreed to another plan. I saw them lower their banner, and they approached that firm Christian company, and made propositions to them. At first their propositions were utterly refused. Then I saw the Christian company consulting together. Some said that they would lower the banner, accept the propositions, and save their lives, and at last they could gain strength to raise their banner among those heathen idolators. But some would not yield to this plan, but firmly chose to die holding their banner, rather than lower it. Then I saw many of that Christian company lower the banner, and unite with the heathen; while the firm and steadfast seized the banner, and bore it high again. I saw individuals continually leaving the company of those bearing the pure banner, and joining the idolators, and they united together under the black banner, to persecute those bearing the white banner, and many were slain; yet the white banner was held high, and individuals were raised up to rally around it.
The Jews who first started the rage of the heathen against Jesus, were not to escape. In the judgment hall the infuriated Jews cried, as Pilate hesitated to condemn Jesus, His blood be on us and on our children. The race of the Jews experienced the fulfillment of this terrible curse which they called down upon their own heads. Heathen and those called Christians were alike their foes. Those professed Christians, in their zeal for the cross of Christ, because the Jews had crucified Jesus, thought that the more suffering they could bring upon them, the better could they please God; and many of those unbelieving Jews were killed, while others were driven from place to place, and were punished in almost every manner.
The blood of Christ, and of the disciples, whom they had put to death, was upon them, and in terrible judgments were they visited. The curse of God followed them, and they were a by-word and a derision to the heathen and to Christians. They were shunned, degraded and detested, as though the brand of Cain was upon them. Yet I saw that God marvelously preserved this people, and had scattered them over the world, that they might be looked upon as especially visited by a curse from God. I saw that God had forsaken the Jews as a nation; yet there was a portion of them who would be enabled to tear the veil from their hearts. Some will yet see that prophecy has been fulfilled concerning them, and they will receive Jesus as the Savior of the world, and see the great sin of their nation in rejecting Jesus, and crucifying him. Individuals among the Jews will be converted; but as a nation they are forever forsaken of God.
It has ever been the design of Satan to draw the minds of the people from Jesus to man, and to destroy individual accountability. Satan failed in his design when he tempted the Son of God. He succeeded better as he came to fallen man. The doctrine of Christianity was corrupted. Popes and priests presumed to take an exalted position, and taught the people to look to them to pardon their sins, instead of looking to Christ for themselves. The Bible was kept from them, in order to conceal the truths which would condemn them.
The people were entirely deceived. They were taught that the popes and priests were Christ's representatives, when in fact they were the representatives of Satan; and when they bowed to them, they worshiped Satan. The people called for the Bible; but the priests considered it dangerous to let them have the word of God to read for themselves, lest they become enlightened, and their sins be exposed. The people were taught to look to these deceivers, and receive every word from them, as from the mouth of God. They held that power over the mind, which God alone should hold. And if any dared to follow their own convictions, the same hate which Satan and the Jews exercised towards Jesus would be kindled against them, and those in authority would thirst for their blood. I was shown a time when Satan especially triumphed. Multitudes of Christians were slain in a dreadful manner because they would preserve the purity of their religion.
The Bible was hated, and efforts were made to rid the earth of the precious word of God. The Bible was forbidden to be read on pain of death, and all the copies of the holy Book which could be found were burned. But I saw that God had a special care for his word. He protected it. At different periods there were but a very few copies of the Bible in existence, yet God would not suffer his word to be lost. And in the last days, copies of the Bible were to be so multiplied that every family could possess it. I saw that when there were but a very few copies of the Bible, it was precious and comforting to the persecuted followers of Jesus. It was read in the most secret manner, and those who had this exalted privilege felt that they had had an interview with God, with his Son Jesus, and with his disciples. But this blessed privilege cost many of them their lives. If discovered, they were taken from reading the sacred Word to the chopping block, the stake, or to the dungeon to die from starvation.
Satan could not hinder the plan of salvation. Jesus was crucified, and arose again the third day. He told his angels that he would make even the crucifixion and resurrection tell to his advantage. He was willing that those who professed faith in Jesus should believe that the laws regulating the Jewish sacrifices and offerings ceased at the death of Christ, if he could push them further, and make them believe that the law of ten commandments died also with Christ.
I saw that many readily yielded to this device of Satan. All heaven was moved with indignation, as they saw the holy law of God trampled under foot. Jesus and all the heavenly host were acquainted with the nature of God's law; they knew that he would not change or abolish it. The hopeless condition of man caused the deepest sorrow in heaven, and moved Jesus to offer to die for the transgressors of God's holy law. If his law could be abolished, man might have been saved without the death of Jesus. The death of Christ did not destroy the law of his Father; but magnified and honored it, and enforces obedience to all its holy precepts. Had the church remained pure and steadfast, Satan could not have deceived them, and led them to trample on the law of God. In this bold plan, Satan strikes directly against the foundation of God's government in heaven and on earth. His rebellion caused him to be expelled from heaven. After he rebelled, in order to save himself, he wished God to change his law; but God told Satan, before the whole heavenly host, that his law was unalterable. Satan knows that if he can cause others to violate God's law he is sure of them; for every transgressor of his law must die.
Satan decided to go still further. He told his angels that some would be so jealous of God's law that they could not be caught in this snare; that the ten commandments were so plain that many would believe that they were still binding; therefore he must seek to corrupt the fourth commandment which brings to view the living God. He led on his representatives to attempt to change the Sabbath, and alter the only commandment of the ten which brings to view the true God, the maker of the heavens and the earth. Satan presented before them the glorious resurrection of Jesus, and told them that by his rising on the first day of the week, he changed the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week. Thus Satan used the resurrection to serve his purpose. He and his angels rejoiced that the errors they had prepared took so well with the professed friends of Christ. What one might look upon with religious horror, another would receive. The different errors would be received, and with zeal defended. The will of God plainly revealed in his word, was covered up with error and tradition, which have been taught as the commandments of God. But although this heaven-daring deception was to be suffered to be carried on down through time until the second appearing of Jesus, yet through all this time of error and deception, God has not been left without a witness. There have been true and faithful witnesses keeping all of God commandments through the darkness and persecution of the church.
I saw that angels were filled with amazement as they beheld the sufferings and death of the King of glory. But I saw that it was no marvel to the angelic host that the Lord of life and glory, who filled all heaven with joy and splendor, should break the bands of death, and walk forth from his prison house a triumphant conqueror. And if either of these events should be commemorated by a day of rest, it is the crucifixion. But, I saw that neither of those events were designed to alter or abolish God's law; but they give the strongest proof of its immutability.
Both of these important events have their memorials. By partaking of the Lord's supper, the broken bread and the fruit of the vine, we show forth the Lord's death until he comes. By observing this memorial, the scenes of his sufferings and death are brought fresh to our minds. The resurrection of Christ is commemorated by our being buried with him by baptism, and raised up out of the watery grave in likeness of his resurrection, to live in newness of life.
I was shown that the law of God would stand fast forever, and exist in the new earth to all eternity. At the creation, when the foundations of the earth were laid, the sons of God looked with admiration upon the work of the Creator, and all the heavenly host shouted for joy. It was then that the foundation of the Sabbath was laid. At the close of the six days of creation, God rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made; and he blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because that in it he had rested from all his work. The Sabbath was instituted in Eden before the fall, and was observed by Adam and Eve, and all the heavenly host. God rested on the seventh day, and blessed and hallowed it; and I saw that the Sabbath would never be done away; but the redeemed saints, and all the angelic host, will observe it in honor of the great Creator to all eternity.
See II Thessalonians 2:7; Daniel 7:25.
Satan commenced his deception in Eden. He said to Eve, Thou shalt not surely die. This was Satan's first lesson upon the immortality of the soul; and he has carried on this deception from that time to the present, and will carry it on until the captivity of God's children shall be turned. I was pointed to Adam and Eve in Eden. They partook of the forbidden tree, and then the flaming sword was placed around the tree of life, and they were driven from the Garden, lest they should partake of the tree of life, and be immortal sinners. The tree of life was to perpetuate immortality. I heard an angel ask, Who of the family of Adam have passed that flaming sword, and have partaken of the tree of life? I heard another angel answer, Not one of the family of Adam have passed that flaming sword, and partaken of that tree; therefore there is not an immortal sinner. The soul that sinneth it shall die an everlasting death; a death that will last forever, where there will be no hope of a resurrection; and then the wrath of God will be appeased.
It was a marvel to me that Satan could succeed so well in making men believe that the words of God, The soul that sinneth it shall die, mean that the soul that sinneth it shall not die, but live eternally in misery. Said the angel, Life is life, whether it is in pain or happiness. Death is without pain, without joy, without hatred.
Satan told his angels to make a special effort to spread the deception and lie first repeated to Eve in Eden, Thou shalt not surely die. And as the error was received by the people, and they believed that man was immortal, Satan led them still further to believe that the sinner would live in eternal misery. Then the way was prepared for Satan to work through his representatives, and hold up God before the people as a revengeful tyrant; that those who do not please him, he will plunge into hell, and cause them ever to feel his wrath; and that they will suffer unutterable anguish, while he will look down upon them with satisfaction, as they writhe in horrible sufferings and eternal flames. Satan knew that if this error should be received, God would be dreaded and hated by very many, instead of being loved and admired; and that many would be led to believe that the threatenings of God's word would not be literally fulfilled; for it would be against his character of benevolence and love, to plunge beings whom he had created into eternal torments. Satan has led them to another extreme, to entirely overlook the justice of God, and the threatenings in his Word, and represent him as being all mercy, and that not one will perish, but all, both saint and sinner, will at last be saved in his kingdom. In consequence of the popular error of the immortality of the soul, and endless misery, Satan takes advantage of another class, and leads them on to regard the Bible as an uninspired book. They think it teaches many good things; but they cannot rely upon it and love it; because they have been taught that it declares the doctrine of eternal misery.
Satan takes advantage of still another class, and leads them still further to deny the existence of God. They can see no consistency in the character of the God of the Bible, if he will torment a portion of the human family to all eternity in horrible tortures; and they deny the Bible and its Author, and regard death as an eternal sleep.
Then Satan leads another class who are fearful and timid to commit sin; and after they have sinned, he holds up before them that the wages of sin is not death, but an eternal life in horrible torments, to be endured through the endless ages of eternity. Satan improves the opportunity, and magnifies before their feeble minds the horrors of an endless hell, and takes charge of their minds, and they lose their reason. Then Satan and his angels exult, and the infidel and atheist join in casting reproach upon Christianity. They regard these evil consequences of the reception of popular heresy, as the natural results of believing in the Bible and its Author.
I saw that the heavenly host was filled with indignation at this bold work of Satan. I inquired why all these delusions should be suffered to take effect upon the minds of men, when the angels of God were powerful, and if commissioned, could easily break the enemy's power. Then I saw that God knew that Satan would try every art to destroy man; therefore he had caused his Word to be written out, and had made his designs to man so plain that the weakest need not err. Then, after he had given his Word to man, he had carefully preserved it, so that Satan and his angels, through any agent or representative, could not destroy it. While other books might be destroyed, this holy Book was to be immortal. And down near the close of time, when the delusions of Satan should increase, the copies of this Book were to be so multiplied, that all who desired it might have a copy of God's revealed will to man, and, if they would, might arm themselves against the deceptions and lying wonders of Satan.
I saw that God had especially guarded the Bible, yet learned men, when the copies were few, had changed the words in some instances, thinking that they were making it more plain, when they were mystifying that which was plain, in causing it to lean to their established views, governed by tradition. But I saw that the word of God, as a whole, is a perfect chain, one portion of scripture explaining another. True seekers for truth need not err; for not only is the word of God plain and simple in declaring the way to life, but the Holy Spirit is given to guide in understanding the way of life revealed in his Word.
I saw that the angels of God were never to control the will. God sets before man life and death. He can have his choice. Many desire life, but continue to walk in the broad road, because they have not chosen life.
I saw the mercy and compassion of God in giving his Son to die for guilty man. Those who will not choose to accept salvation which has been so dearly purchased for them, must be punished. Beings whom God created have chosen to rebel against his government; but I saw that God did not shut them up in hell to endure endless misery. He could not take them to heaven; for to bring them into the company of the pure and holy would make them perfectly miserable. God will not take them to heaven, neither will he cause them to suffer eternally. He will destroy them utterly, and cause them to be as though they had not been, and then his justice will be satisfied. He formed man out of the dust of the earth, and the disobedient and unholy will be consumed by fire, and return to dust again. I saw that the benevolence and compassion of God in this, should lead all to admire his character, and to adore him; and after the wicked shall be destroyed from off the earth, all the heavenly host will say, Amen!
Satan looked with great satisfaction upon those who professed the name of Christ, and were closely adhering to these delusions formed by himself. His work is to still form new delusions. His power increases, and he grows more artful. He led on his representatives, the popes and the priests, to exalt themselves, and to stir up the people to bitterly persecute those who loved God, and were not willing to yield to his delusions, introduced through them. Satan moved upon his agents to destroy Christ's devoted followers. O the sufferings and agony, which they made the precious of God to endure! Angels have kept a faithful record of it all. But Satan and his evil angels exulted, and told the angels who administered to, and strengthened those suffering saints, that they would kill them, so there would not be left a true Christian upon the earth. I saw that the church of God was then pure. There was no danger of men with corrupt hearts coming into the church of God then; for the true Christian, who dared to declare his faith, was in danger of the rack, the stake, and every torture which Satan and his evil angels could invent, and put into the mind of man.
See Genesis 3; Isaiah 47:13-14, John 17:17; John 3:16; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 12:7.