“The 3 Angels’ Messages & Justice Activism”

by Bryan Bissell

==================================
COMPELLING THOUGHTS:
“I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people.  “Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.” Then another angel followed him through the sky, shouting, “Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen—because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality.”  Then a third angel followed them, shouting, “Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or on the hand must drink the wine of God’s anger. ” Rev. 14:6-10

“I cannot too strongly urge all our church members, all who are true missionaries, all who believe the third angel’s message, all who turn away their feet from the Sabbath, to consider the message of the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. The work of beneficence enjoined in this chapter is the work that God requires His people to do at this time. It is a work of His own appointment…I have no fears of workers who are engaged in the work represented in the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. The third angel’s message is not to be given a second place in this work, but is to be one with it. ” Ellen White, Welfare Ministry p. 33

=================================

Many times, when biblical Adventists speak out against injustice based on over 2,000 verses in the Bible on this issue and with compassion for the mistreated, some other Christians or well meaning Adventists (often ones who are deeply involved with certain political parties) say it is not our business to protest injustice because we should be focused on evangelizing the lost, sharing the 3 angels’ message or similar sentiments. I spoke on this in a sermon recently (and part of it was inspired by a discussion between Claudia Allen, Ty Gibson and a couple others on the Bible and justice as well as some people Adventists for Social Justice, but I added quite a few more additional thoughts). As I will show below, both the Bible and especially Ellen White make it quite clear that being very active for justice for the oppressed is one of the most crucial essences of the 3 angels’ messages and cannot be separated from that message.

But this problem keeps on happening at all levels of our church and we need to deal with it seriously. When the SDA North American Division made a very non-partisan statement of concern about children, separated families, the border crisis and asking both parties to solve it, SDAs had wildly differing reactions:

“If your religious ideology does not compel you to advocate for the voiceless and the oppressed, throw the WHOLE thing away. You’re doing it wrong.” Eva W

“It is mostly false, first of all, that children are being separated from their families. Tim E.

“I did not give [the NAD] permission to speak for me…We should stay out of “politics”.” Linda T.

“Thank you for speaking truth!!”

“The North American Division of the SDA have no business making statements like this! These parents broke our law by coming to the US illegally!… “I am dismayed you have taken this stand.” Judy H.

“We must continually as Christians speak out against the injustices that occurred in our country.”Uba Ogbuehi

 “I wish the Adventist church would refrain from speaking out on political issues. By doing so, you divide your membership, and speak in opposition to many of their political beliefs.” Eric A

“I’m more concerned when our hospitals rip the children from wombs before they are born.” Terry S.
https://www.facebook.com/NADAdventist/posts/10158539212614409

If all SDAs had a correct understanding of truth, would we see this disunity and serious disagreement on an issue involving the welfare of innocent children? Since John 17:17,21 indicates that truth brings unity and Ellen White explicitly states that ““truth is God’s basis for the unity of his people.” {GW92 391}, I suggest we would not see disunity on this topic and many others if all SDAs had a solid understanding of how to find truth objectively by the biblical ways (which academia borrowed and uses when not corrupted. See this link for more on this issue: http://blog.truth-is-life.org/truth/).

My response is that work for justice has always been intrinsic to godliness because:
A) THE GODLY PROTEST & ACT FOR JUSTICE: Throughout the Bible, one of the primary essences of godliness is that we treat the poor and oppressed as if they were us, and as if Jesus was each one of those suffering people (and we are rewarded especially for these kinds of actions). In fact, we can’t be godly, but will be wicked if we don’t care about the oppressed.

“The godly care about the rights of the poor; the wicked don’t care at all.” Proverbs 29:7

The Bible tells us that righteous people speak out and act for justice in Proverbs 31:8,9, true religion means caring for the oppressed at least at individual levels (James 1:27), but many times godly people protested to government leaders and insisted that they act with justices, both in Israel (Neh. 5:1-13), and in pagan nations (the whole book of Jonah, Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:27) and others. In Jesus’ first known sermon (Luke 4:18-9), He said He came to people who were oppressed in several ways free, stating that this is the year of the Lord, referencing the year of Jubilee in Leviticus 25. A little before His death, Jesus told people that at the end of the world, God will ask how we treated the least of these, and that the way we treat them is actually the way we are treating Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46). There are 1000s of other verses like these.

Is it wicked people with no concern for justice who are sharing the 3 angels’ message before Jesus comes? Of course not. It is godly people who are doing that.

B) JUSTICE PROMOTES FASTER EVANGELISM: Working for justice is one of the most significant aspects of the full 3 angel’s message because we can’t evangelize people when they are being abused and a church says and does nothing about changing that condition of abuse or injustice. Throughout history, the most effective and fastest times of evangelism were when Christians protested vigorously and opposed injustice at all levels of society. I saw this personally in S. Korea where 1/2 of the freedom fighters there were Christians and their actions and sacrifice was still impressing people and drawing them to Christianity decades later.

C) LAST DAYS CHRISTIANS ARE EXPOSING EVIL: If you look at the Bible sections that deal with the last days, godly people are exposing evil powers as beast powers involved in greed, and various forms of corruption and cruelty. Our early SDAs were doing this very frequently.

James Standish, director of the Adventist department of religious liberty for many years, writes:
“From our earliest days Adventists fought crucial battles to preserve religious liberty,2 led in the movement for prohibition of alcohol, urged the abolition of slavery (and adamantly refused to obey the Federal Fugitive Slave Law),3 advocated for the rights of the poor, and firmly opposed war. Explaining the rationale for Adventist public policy activism in 1892, Ellen White wrote: “Many deplore the wrongs which they know exist, but consider themselves free from all responsibility in the matter. This cannot be. Every individual exerts an influence in society.”
James Standish. “A Voice on the Hill: NARLA and the New Congress.”
https://www.churchstate.org/index.php?id=125


Dr. Benjamin Baker, Dr. Kevin Burton, and Dr. Doug Morgan discuss this with pastor Ivor Myers in a brilliant and very informative discussion on how early SDAs were extremely active in social justice of many kinds.

Adventist History: Protestantism & Abolitionism

So many early SDAs came into the church from abolition and other justice movements, that Dr. Burton comments that the SDA church could not exist, at least not in its current form, without this strong position of social justice. Early SDAs also stated openly and vociferously that America was the 2nd beast of Revelation 13 and it’s treatment of Native Americans and African slaves was proof of this and that you couldn’t get more beastly than this injustice. Dr. Burton points out that this was toned down a lot and “Bible readings for the Home” was changed to make it look like America would only become a beast in the distant future when the Sunday law occurred right after Ellen White’s death and that this was partly due to a massive FBI investigation of SDAs and the FBI secretly threatening leaders in very serious ways if they did not change…sadly, with Ellen White gone, they capitulated some.)

Dr. Benjamin Baker points out that most of the critics of justice aren’t witnessing for Jesus or promoting biblical justice. They’re just keyboard warriors.

Dr. Kevin Burton in comparing this attitude to the incredibly vibrant activism of our early SDA pioneers, most of whom came into the SDA church from the abolition movement, says

Dr. Burton points out that people who say they would have been abolitionists in the past and aren’t speaking out against racism now, they are hypocrites. If you aren’t speaking out now, you aren’t following our SDA heritage, esp. because it was much riskier to do that in the past than it is now.

Adventist History: Protestantism & Abolitionism https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoOQkwjZiDE

What are the 3 Angels’ Messages about? Aren’t they about giving God’s good news of all kinds, eternal life and justice on earth, in EVERY nation (which implies that we must fight injustice that harms the spread of God’s truths)?

“I saw another angel flying in mid–heaven with the everlasting Good News to proclaim to those living everlasting Good News to proclaim to those living on the earth on the earth ——to every nation, tribe, language to every nation, tribe, language and people (Rev. and people (Rev. 14:6).

Who are we to proclaim God’s message to? EVERYONE. The 3 angel’s message tells us to spread “the everlasting Good News to proclaim to those living on the earth — to every nation, tribe, language and people (Rev. 14:6).

Can we do that well if people are being abused, mistreated, treated unjustly, enslaved? Will they listen and think God is love if we don’t protest abuse being done to them? Will they even have time to listen? Our SDA pioneers realized that people don’t listen to the gospel if Christians are on the side of injustice and cruelty and are silent and this is precisely why they fought hard against slavery and worked to change the US governments laws on this issue. The Bible says this and history shows this conclusively.

My friend, GC historian Dr. Benjamin Baker explains on “The Adventist Pioneers and Slavery https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkOQfmD0qtE

“Our SDA pioneers…… had to reach the black American slaves and how could you reach them with infrastructure of slavery in place? It was against the law in many states to teach slaves how to read. So they can’t get the gospel this how to read.…as war time approached, they became very strident and vocal and outspoken in their publications against slavery… On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give them a 10.”

The 3 angel’s message points us back to creation saying,
“Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.” Rev. 14:7.

Creation has for 1000s of years been the primary doctrinal basis of equality and the inspiration why Judeo-Christians pioneered nearly all major human rights and justice movements because God created all equal (see some here: (http://blog.truth-is-life.org/rights/bible-rights/)

The 3 Angels’ Messages–Oppose False Doctrines

•“Babylon is fallen,…because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality.” Rev. 14:8

What is the wine of Babylon? This refers to when Belshazzar used the cups from the temple, which were to be used in ritual sacrifice, to worship pagan gods. It is idolatry. It is replacing God’s truths with deceptions. And what could be more deceptive than replacing God’s justice with injustice and inhumanity to God’s created beings?

Babylon was famous in the Bible and history for its injustice, corruption and brutality. So the most serious way to follow Babylon is to support injustice and corrupt doctrines which makes it easier to mistreat, abuse and exploit people.

All sin is evil and all evil comes from greed. So to preach the 3 angel’s message, we HAVE to oppose injustice and greed. Or else we ARE NOT following the most crucial aspects of the 3 angel’s message at all. The 3 angel’s message is intrinsically about opposing injustice and cruelty of all kinds and pointing people back to God’s ideals and true doctrines which protect people from injustice and evil.

As a major part of spreading the gospel (which by definition means all of Jesus’ words and instructions, including the 3,000+ verses about justice), they point the way to eternal life, the most valuable gift of God. But the Bible and history both show that people don’t take claims about eternal life seriously if God’s church ignores the crucial issue of justice and follows the Babylonian wine of injustice. It just doesn’t happen.

Creation points to Sabbath. Sabbath points to Creation.

Creation focuses attention on equality that all are created by God and have basic God given rights to a decent life free from abuse. This is why creation inspired most human rights movements in history. Belief in a Creator who created us equal means we must care about justice.


Babylon false doctrines reject creation, Sabbath, justice and more. Why? Sabbath and creation are symbols that God designed people to be free and equal and that He sets people free people free (Deut. 5:15) . This is one of many reasons why they are such massive threats to Satan and his deceptions.


Ellen White talks a lot about justice work being crucial for the church to do at all levels.

“I have been instructed to refer our people to the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. Read this chapter carefully and understand the kind of ministry that will bring life into the churches…When you meet suffering souls who need help, give it to them. When you find those who are hungry, feed them…

“All our praying and abstinence from food will our praying and abstinence from food will avail nothing unless we resolutely lay hold of this avail nothing unless we resolutely lay hold of this work.” Welfare Ministry p. work.” Welfare Ministry p. 29–30

…I cannot too strongly urge all our church members, all who are true missionaries, all who believe the third angel’s message, all who turn away their feet from the Sabbath, to consider the message of the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. The work of beneficence enjoined in this chapter is the work that God requires His people to do at this time. It is a work of His own appointment. Welfare Ministry p. 33

…I have no fears of workers who are engaged in the work represented in the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. The third angel’s message is not to be given a second place in this work, but is to be one with it. Welfare Ministry p. 33

When the church accepts its God-given work, the promise is: “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward.”—Testimonies for the Church 6:265-267


Finally, supporting God’s doctrines of justice vs. Satan’s injustice is a very serious matter.

•“Anyone who worships the beast…will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb.” Rev. 14:9


All who refuse to follow God’s principles of justice will harm people and themselves…and many will lose eternal life. It tells us to reject the wine of Babylon. It points to Sabbath which God made as a symbol that He sets people free (Deut. 5:15).

The 3 angel’s message warns us not to be duped by the wine of Babylon and that those who are will experience God’s wrath and will die in hell.

“Babylon is fallen,…because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality.”…“Anyone who worships the beast…must drink the wine of God’s anger…they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb.” Rev. 14:8-10.

Babylon was famous in the Bible and history for its injustice, corruption and brutality. So the most serious way to follow Babylon is to support injustice and corrupt doctrines which makes it easier to mistreat, abuse and exploit people.

All sin is evil and all evil comes from greed. So to preach the 3 angel’s message, you HAVE to oppose injustice and greed or else you ARE NOT following one of the most crucial aspects of the 3 angel’s message at all. The 3 angel’s message has a major focus on opposing injustice and cruelty of all kinds and pointing to the God who is always against injustice which abuses His people and pointing all people back to God’s true doctrines which protect people from injustice in many ways and helps people avoid the ultimate evil of eternal death.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Experiencing how God’s truth energizes life!