The Third Angel’s Message.
What Is It in Spirit and in Truth?
WE have found that in word, in form, and in arrangement the Third Angel’s Message is a great threefold message, which ripens the harvest for the end of the world, and makes ready a people prepared for the Lord. And now we are to study what that message is in spirit and in truth.
In the first place, it is the everlasting gospel; and that gospel is "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." It "is Christ in you, the hope of glory." It is "God manifest in the flesh." "Therein [in the gospel] is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith." And it calls men to the worship of "him that made heaven and earth, the sea, and the fountains of waters."
This preaching of the everlasting gospel, which is the third angel’s message, is, therefore, the preaching of "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." It is the preaching of Christ in men the hope of glory. It is the preaching of God manifest in the flesh. It is the preaching of the righteousness of God, which is by the faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.
And since the gospel is the "power of God unto salvation" to them that believe; since Christ dwells in the heart, and God is manifest in the flesh, only "by faith;" since the righteousness of God is "by faith of Jesus Christ," and is revealed only "from faith to faith;" and since true worship of God is only of faith, because "without faith it is impossible to please him," it is perfectly plain that the Third Angel’s Message, in spirit and in truth, is all of faith. And since whatsoever is not of faith is sin, then whatsoever is of faith is righteousness. And since the Third Angel’s Message is all of faith, the Third Angel’s Message is righteousness by faith.
Further: this everlasting gospel is preached, calling all people to the worship of God, in view of the fact that "the hour of his judgment is come." And since men are to be judged by the law of God, in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to the gospel (Rom. 2:12, 16), it is certain that this preaching of the everlasting gospel in the Third Angel’s Message, in warning all men concerning the judgment, is to prepare for that judgment every soul who is willing to be prepared. And since the only preparation for the judgment is perfect harmony of life, in body, soul, and spirit, with the law of God, this message inevitably calls all people to the keeping of the commandments of God. And, in very truth, the sole purpose of the gospel, which is altogether of faith, is the keeping of the commandments of God; for in Christ Jesus nothing avails but faith, which worketh by love,—the love of God: and "this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments;" and "love is the fulfilling of the law." And so the closing words of the third angel are but the sum of the great threefold message, so far as it pertains to the saints and to those who are prepared to meet the Lord, in its declaration: "Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." And thus the beginning words, and the closing words, and all between, of the Third Angel’s Message, as it pertains to the saints, is summed up in the three words "righteousness by faith."
Thus, justification by faith is the Third Angel’s Message: the preaching of righteousness by faith is the preaching of the Third Angel’s Message. It is true that this threefold message announces the fall of Babylon, and calls out of her God’s people. It is true that this message also warns people against the worship of the beast and his image. But what could the announcement of the fall of Babylon, and the warning against the worship of the beast and his image, amount to, simply as such, without the power of God to save the people from Babylon, and from the worship of the beast and his image? Therefore the everlasting gospel, the preaching of righteousness by faith, is the Third Angel’s Message in spirit and in truth; because this is the very thing, and the only thing, that can make effective the announcements and warnings of the message.
Will it, by any, be thought too strong a statement that justification by faith is the Third Angel’s Message? Lest, by any possibility, any should think thus, we set down here some statements of authority, as to that truth. In the first-page article of the REVIEW of April 1, 1890, are the following words:—
Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the Third Angel’s Message; and I have answered, "It is the Third Angel’s Message in verity."
In a Testimony, dated Hobart, Tasmania, May 1, 1895, and published Nov. 18, 1896, are the following words:—
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 Savior, 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. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to his divine person, his merits, and his changeless love for the human family. All power is given into his hands, that he may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of his own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the Third Angel’s Message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of his Spirit in a large measure. . . . This message of the gospel of his grace was to be given to the church in clear and distinct lines, that the world should no longer say that Seventh-day Adventists talk the law, the law, but do not teach or believe Christ. . . .
It has been Satan’s determined purpose to eclipse the view of Jesus and lead men to look to man, and trust to man, and be educated to expect help from man. For years the church has been looking to man and expecting much from man, but not looking to Jesus, in whom our hopes of eternal life are centered. Therefore God gave to his servants a testimony that presented the truth as it is in Jesus, which is the Third Angel’s Message, in clear, distinct lines. . . . .
This is the testimony that must go throughout the length and breadth of the world. It presents the law and the gospel, binding up the two in a perfect whole. See Romans 5 and 1 John 3:9 to the close of the chapter.
Thus it is plain, and is repeatedly confirmed, that the Third Angel’s Message in spirit and in truth, is righteousness by faith; the everlasting gospel; the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith in the keeping of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
A person may announce to the world the fall of Babylon, and may proclaim the warning against the worship of the beast and his image; and yet, if that person is not justified by the faith of Jesus Christ, and has not in him and upon him the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ, he himself will be a part of Babylon, and will worship the beast and his image. The Third Angel’s Message is not a message in mere word: the message consists in the spirit and the truth of the gospel of God, which is righteousness by faith: the very keeping, in heart and life, of "the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." And when he who would preach the Third Angel’s Message has that message in his life, and when that message is his life; when he is justified by faith, and lives by faith, and is clothed with the righteousness of God, which is by faith, and THEN announces the fall of Babylon and the warning against the worship of the beast and his image, there will be power in his message to deliver souls from Babylon, and to hold them back from worshiping the beast and his image. In his message there will be power to deliver souls from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God, which is the only true religious liberty.
And this is why the book of Galatians is so fully a part of the Third Angel’s Message.