Righteousness by faith and the third angel’s message are closely related. It is only through experiencing righteousness by faith in Christ alone that one will avoid being deceived by the last-day antichrist power.
Revelation 14 gives a serious warning about not worshipping the beast or antichrist: “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation’” (Rev. 14:9, 10).
The third angel’s message calls men and women to obey God’s commandments, including the fourth commandment, which admonishes us to keep holy the seventh-day Sabbath. The message includes a warning to all who turn from God and receive the “mark of the beast,” which is Satan’s counterfeit day of worship. Those who receive the mark of the beast will experience the seven last plagues and be lost (Rev. 14:9-11).
The purpose of the message of righteousness by faith in Christ is the same. Righteousness by faith leads men and women to obedience of God’s commandments as they, in faith, allow Christ to live out His life of righteous obedience to God’s law in their lives. Righteousness by faith leads to keeping God’s commandments. This happens not by man’s efforts but by faith in Christ to manifest His commandment–keeping in one’s life.
Ellen White understood this when she wrote of God seeking to bring the message of righteousness by faith to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1888:
“The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God” (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 91, 92, emphasis added).
She knew that reception of the message of righteousness by faith would lead to “obedience to all the commandments of God.” Therefore, the message of righteousness by faith in Christ and the third angel’s message are proclaimed to achieve the same goal—obedience to Gods’ commandments.
The message of righteousness by faith must be proclaimed to the world as the third angel’s message is proclaimed. This is necessary for the full gospel of a delivering Savior to be proclaimed, thus preparing a people for Christ’s second coming. It is only as individuals understand and experience righteousness by faith in Christ alone that they will be able to remain faithful to God through the time of trouble and stand in the presence of Christ in all His glory at His return. It is only as righteousness by faith is understood and experienced that Jude’s words will be true for us:
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24, 25).
“Therefore, since the Seventh-day Adventist Church was raised up by God to give the last warning message to the world in preparation for Christ’s second coming, it is essential that the message of righteousness by faith be an integral part of our teaching and preaching. By proclaiming the warning of Revelation 14:9-11, we present prophetic facts of coming events. However, that alone will not give the hearers what they need in order to be ready for those final events. The message of righteousness by faith must also be proclaimed so they will learn how to let Christ live out His commandment–keeping in and through them. Otherwise, their obedience will actually turn into legalism, because they will be seeking to keep God’s commandments through their own efforts, which is a meritorious, legalistic obedience. When righteousness by faith is understood and experienced, Christ is actually doing the obedience in the life. Therefore, Christ alone gets the glory:
“That no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord’ ” (1 Cor. 1:29-31).
Personal Reflection and Discussion:
1. What serious warning does God give to the world in the third angel’s message of Revelation 14?
2. What does that warning call the inhabitants of the world to do?
3. How is righteousness by faith closely related to this third angel’s message?
4. How does understanding and experiencing righteousness by faith in Christ enable God’s children to be ready for Christ’s second coming?
• Call your prayer partner and discuss this devotional with him/her.
• Pray with your prayer partner:
1. Pray for God to baptize you with His Holy Spirit.
2. Pray for God to revive you and His church.
3. Pray for God to write His law on your heart.
4. Pray for Christ to live out His life of victory in your life.
5. Pray for the individuals on your prayer list.
Excerpt From: Dennis Smith. “40 Days.”