Can an individual really be sure of truth? Does God have a true church on earth today? Is it possible to know which church is His true church?
The book of Revelation is designed to give certainty. It provides definite, concrete answers to these questions.
1. Can an individual really know what is truth? John 8:32.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
2. Some feel one can never be certain about anything, yet what counsel does Luke give Theophilus regarding the purpose of his gospel? Luke 1:3, 4.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "It seemed good to me . . . to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed."
The book of Revelation contains three specific chapters designed to give certainty regarding the identity of the true church. Revelation 14 clearly reveals that the true church will proclaim the message of the three angels. Revelation 12 describes the true church as having the identifying feature of arising sometime after 1798.
It would lead men and women back to obedience to the commandments of God. It would have the presence of the prophetic gift.
Revelation 10 describes the historical rise of the true church. Thus, as each of these chapters is considered, there can be no doubt regarding the identity of the true church.
3. In Revelation an angel descending from the presence of God represents a heavenly message of utmost importance for all inhabitants of planet earth. What does this angel have in his hand? Revelation 10:2
MY BIBLE SAYS: "And he had a little book open in his hand."
4. Which is the only Bible book ever said to be closed until the time of the end? Daniel 12:4.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end;. ."
5. What particular portion of. Daniel's message does the angel of Revelation emphasize? Revelation 10:6.
MY BIBLE SAYS: ". . . that there should be delay no longer, . . ."
The little book opened reveals that "there should be delay no longer." Therefore, it clearly focuses on the time prophecies of Daniel. Yet, since no man knows the day or hour of Christ's coming (Matthew 24:36), the expression "delay no longer" cannot relate to a literal date for Christ's return.
6. What time prophecy in Daniel points to the time of the end? Daniel 8:14.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "And he said to me, 'For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.' "
As we have noted in a previous study, the 2300 prophetic days of Daniel 8:14 equal 2300 literal years. The expression "then the sanctuary shall be cleansed" refers to the opening of the judgment in the year 1844.
2. When the little book (Daniel) was eaten (studied)—particularly the 2300-year prophecy pointing to 1844—what experience would occur for those who studied these prophecies? Revelation 10:10, 11.
MY BIBLE SAYS: ". . . and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. And he said to me, `You must prophesy again about many peoples, . . .' "
When did this bittersweet experience occur? In the early 1800s, independent of one another, scores of religious leaders around the world began a renewed study of the prophecies of Daniel. This interest in prophecy led honest-hearted men and women of God to abandon the popular belief that the world would soon enter a 1000-year period of peace known as the millennium. They saw that prophecy clearly taught the destinies of all were decided before Christ's return. Consequently, they understood there is no second chance for salvation when Jesus comes.
Overjoyed with prophecies which seemed to indicate the coming of Jesus, they went forth to warn the world. Among them were men like Edward Irving and 300 preachers of the Church of England; Joseph Wolf, missionary to India; Manual Lacunza, a serious Bible student from South America; Johann Benzel of Germany, and many others. Foremost in the United States was William Miller.
In a period of personal despair, he began to study the Scriptures. There he found new hope and courage as an uplifted Saviour was presented before him. Accepting Jesus as his personal Saviour, Miller began to carefully study the Scriptures.
Dispensing with all Bible commentaries and using only his Bible and a concordance, Miller began at Genesis and studied the Scriptures verse by verse, comparing scripture with scripture. As he studied the prophetic portions of Daniel, he arrived at the same conclusion as did a host of other serious Bible students. Independent of each other, they arrived at the conclusion that Jesus was coming, and coming soon.
As Miller studied the 2300-year prophecy of Daniel, chapter 8, he saw that it was explained in Daniel 9. Amazed at the precision of Daniel 9:24-27, he concluded Daniel 8:14 was just as accurate. When he discovered that, according to Daniel 9:24-27, Jesus was to be baptized in 27 A.D., crucified in 31 A.D., and that the gospel was to go to the Gentiles in 34 A.D., and that these events were fulfilled exactly on time, he marveled. He reasoned that since these events have been fulfilled, and since Daniel 9 is an explanation of Daniel 8, both prophecies start at the same time.
Since Daniel 8 begins at the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, in 457 B.C., Daniel 9 begins there also. Thus computing 2300 years from 457 B.C., Miller arrived at the date 1844. Misunderstanding the subject of the sanctuary, he understood the term "then the sanctuary shall be cleansed" to refer to the cleansing of the earth by fire.
Thus he thought Christ would return in 1844. The specific preaching of a date for Christ's sparked one of the greatest religious revivals in American history. Thousands were converted. Church bells throughout America tolled for noon prayer meetings. In anticipation of the coming of the Lord, debts were paid, family differences settled, and saloons closed. The moving of the Spirit of God led to deep repentance for sin, earnest prayer, and serious Bible study.
As multitudes anticipated the arrival of Jesus, they settled on the date October 22 1844. As Revelation 10 predicted, a study of Daniel's prophecy was "sweet . . . in my mouth," yet when Jesus did not return it was "bitter." Their bitter disappointment of 1844 left them downhearted and discouraged. As they rechecked the prophetic evidence they realized that the date was right.
The hour of their disappointment was the hour of God's appointment. The sanctuary to be cleansed was not the earth, but rather the heavenly sanctuary. The term "then the sanctuary shall be cleansed" refers to Christ's work of judgment preliminary to His return to earth.
8. In what work does the prophet Daniel describe the Father and Son participating before Jesus' return? Daniel 7:9-11.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "I watched till thrones were put in place, . . . The court was seated, and the books were opened."
The heavenly judgment deals with the final solution to the sin problem. As the heavenly record books are opened, God's mercy and justice, His love and law are seen in His dealing with every human being.
Just as the early disciples anticipated Christ setting up an earthly kingdom in 31 A.D. and were bitterly disappointed at His crucifixion, His last-day followers anticipated His coming to earth in 1844 and were bitterly disappointed. Notice these strikingly similar parallels:
|Early Church||Last Day Church|
|1. Students of prophecy||1. Students of prophecy|
|2. Believed Christ would set up an earthly kingdom||2. Believed Christ would set up an earthly kingdom|
|3. Bitterly disappointed||3. Bitterly disappointed|
|4. Directed attention to ministry of Christ in sanctuary||4. Directed attention to ministry of Christ in sanctuary|
|5 Preached message of Christ's ministry to world||5. Preached message of Christ's ministry to world|
9. What message was given to Christ's disappointed followers after 1844: Revelation 10:11.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "And he said to me, 'You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.' "
According to Scripture this disappointed group would be molded into Christ's last-day church to carry His message to the world.
10. What was the key that unlocked their disappointment? Revelation 11:18, 19.
MY BIBLE SAYS: "The nations were angry, . . and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, . . . Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple."
These disappointed followers sensed that the temple in heaven was opened. Jesus had begun a special work in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary preliminary to His return to earth. They now realized the reason for the delay of the advent.
In the light of the judgment hour all men and women must see the necessity of obedience preliminary to Christ's return. The law that Jesus died to preserve must be upheld and kept by His earthly followers.
Following the disappointment in 1844, Jesus raised up a divine movement on earth. A movement that ultimately would span the globe. It would proclaim that Jesus is coming again and urge men and women to surrender their lives to Him and respond in loving obedience.
It is indeed thrilling to sense that God has such a divine movement of destiny in the last days of earth's history. This divine movement of destiny which God miraculously raised up after the disappointment of 1844 is directing the attention of men and women to the heavenly sanctuary where Christ is ministering in their behalf. Thus, sincere Christians sensed the significance of God's law and went out ti proclaim His unique message to the world.
MY DECISION: I believe that Jesus has raised up a movement in the last days of earth's history to lead men and women to Christ, to prepare them for His coming and to lead them to obedience to His law.