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Home » Resources » Religious Liberty Sermons » The Battle for the Gospel

The Battle for the Gospel

By Alan Reinach

In 1992, Pat Buchanan gave a speech at the Republican National Convention in which he declared that America is in the midst of a culture war, a war for the soul of America. When Americans think of culture war, they often think of issues like abortion, gay rights, school prayer or the public display of the Ten Commandments. I am convinced that these are only surface issues. The real battle is for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Read Luke – "'Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.'"

In the 4th century, two things happened that are very interesting. First, the church pushed the Jews out of the church by rejecting the Sabbath, changing the Sabbath to Sunday, and telling the Jews that in order to be saved, they would have to abandon the Torah. This made no sense to the Jews, and for more than fifteen centuries ever since, very few Jews have ever considered Christianity a serious spiritual option for them.

At the same time, Augustine was battling the heresy of the Donatists. Augustine interpreted the command to go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in to mean that it was acceptable for church authorities to use the power of the state to punish the Donatists, to persecute them, in order to win them to the truth. The church could use civil law to compel people to accept her orthodoxy. Although Augustine was opposed to torture and the death penalty, his position lay the foundation for the church state alliance of the middle ages, for the Inquisition, and for what became the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the Prophet.

Centuries later, the great theologian, Thomas Aquinas carried Augustine’s reasoning further, justifying the death penalty for heretics. During the Inquisition, this theology was carried to extremes, when heretics were tortured and killed in the twisted logic that it was o.k. to destroy the body if possibly, some souls could be saved.

Do you see how this is a total perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Does anyone here want to go to heaven? Does Jesus need to drag you kicking and screaming into the kingdom? Is anyone going to be dragged into the kingdom against their will? Of course not. If God could have used force to compel people to be saved, he could have changed our brain chemistry and simply fixed the sin problem. Jesus would not have had to die for our sins. The gospel of Jesus Christ respects our human freedom because love must be free. Freedom and the gospel are inseparable. And of course, in the Bible, there is no true freedom without the gospel, because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. The gospel sets us free from slavery to sin. If the Son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed!

The church’s corruption of the gospel led to her increased reliance on the civil power, and produced the abomination of desolation. Turn with me to Matthew 24.

This passage has a three fold fulfillment. The first fulfillment is clear from Luke’s rendition: when the Roman armies stand in the holy place, surrounding the holy city of Jerusalem. So the first instance of the abomination of desolation is when the civil authority, when the armies of Rome intrude into the sacred precincts of the city and the temple, where they don’t belong.

In the middle ages, the civil authority was commandeered by the church to advance the interests of the church. Religious and civil authority were blended, church and state were united. As a result, crusades were launched against Jews and heretics as well as the so called infidel Muslims. Just as in the first instance, when Roman armies attacked the city and people of God in Jerusalem, so again the abomination of desolation in the middle ages marshaled military force against the people of God, as a result of an alliance between church and state.

There is one final fulfillment of the abomination of desolation, and this is described in Revelation 13. Three times, a beast with lamb like horns that speaks as a dragon is said to form an image of the first beast. The first beast was the church state union of the middle ages. This second beast is the United States.

The symbolism of forming an image of the beast is the same thing as setting up the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel. The abomination is when the church unites her spiritual authority with the civil power of the state, in a misguided effort to enforce truth and to advance the kingdom of God.

In verse 11, it declares that this new beast arising from the earth would have two horns like a lamb. The lamb is a symbol of Christ, and horns symbolize power. The church state union of the middle ages is symbolized in Daniel chapters 7 and 8 by a single horn. Civil and religious authority are blended, united, so there is only one horn. In Revelation 13, the United States has two horns, and it is this characteristic that is said to be lamb like. This is the secret of her meek, mild, Christ like character.

The two horns symbolize, first and foremost, the separation of powers. The United States was the first nation to separate the civil and religious authority, to separate church and state. But we also have this dusty constitutional doctrine of the separation of powers, in that we divide power among the branches of government, and between federal, state and local government, why? To protect the rights of the people. We are a republic. Power is supposed to reside in the people. Government is only supposed to exercise limited, delegated power given to it by the people. Among the powers never given to the state is the power to exercise religious authority. The First Amendment acknowledges this by declaring that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. This is a plain statement that Congress cannot exercise any religious authority.

So when the United States reunites civil and religious authority, and at the bidding of the church, uses the power of the state to punish religious dissent, America will form an image of the first beast, and will bring in the final manifestation of the abomination that makes desolate.

How does this come about? It happens because the church corrupts the gospel, loses the power of God, and becomes cozy and intimate with the power of the state. In Revelation, this is described as adultery and fornication. The church is supposed to be the bride of Christ. The church is supposed to become intimate only with Jesus. So when the church abandons Christ in favor of state power, this is spiritual adultery. The church is symbolized as a harlot, riding on the beast. It is the church who is on top, holding the reins. She is calling the shots.

But today in the religious world there are multitudes who, as they believe, are working for the establishment of the kingdom of Christ as an earthly and temporal dominion. They desire to make our Lord the ruler of the kingdoms of this world, the ruler in its courts and camps, its legislative halls, its palaces and market places. They expect Him to rule through legal enactments, enforced by human authority. Since Christ is not now here in person, they themselves will undertake to act in His stead, to execute the laws of His kingdom. The establishment of such a kingdom is what the Jews desired in the days of Christ. They would have received Jesus, had He been willing to establish a temporal dominion, to enforce what they regarded as the laws of God, and to make them the expositors of His will and the agents of His authority. But He said, "My kingdom is not of this world." John 18:36. He would not accept the earthly throne. {DA 509.2}

Paul declares in Romans 1 that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.

Has the church in America corrupted the gospel of Jesus Christ? Indeed, sadly, it has.

History is repeating. Remember what happened in the 4th century? The church rejected the Sabbath and the law of God, and then reached out to use the power of the state to punish religious dissent?

The same thing happened in 19th century America. The annual feasts celebrated by Israel were types of the ministry of jesus Christ. Jesus fulfilled the spring feasts at his first coming, and died on Passover as the true Passover lamb. In the second great awakening, the feast of trumpets found fulfillment as the news went out to the whole world to prepare for the coming of Christ. Then, in 1844, Jesus entered into the final phase of his ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. Yom Kippur had come. It was judgment day. The third of the fall feasts is the feast of tabernacles, and this will be fulfilled after Jesus returns, when we have a great big marriage feast in the kingdom. We will party with Jesus, and celebrate.

When Jesus entered into his Yom Kippur ministry, there was a light shining on the law of God. We read about it in Revelation 11:19: Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple.

The ark of the covenant was in the Most Holy Place. It was only seen when Christ entered the Most Holy Place to perform his Yom Kippur ministry.

It was at that time in history that the Lord restored the law of God and the Sabbath to His church on earth. There had always been Sabbath keepers, but it was in the latter part of the 19th century that God’s church began to understand and to widely preach that the law of God is the standard in the judgment, and that there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. Do you need a Sabbath rest? I do. I’m so glad God made the Sabbath for me. The Sabbath is for you, and if anyone finds it to be a burden, then you haven’t experienced the Sabbath.

Now, when the early Adventists began to widely preach and call attention to the Sabbath and the law of God, what happened? The Protestant churches reacted by rejecting the Sabbath, and they began to declare that God’s law had been nailed to the cross, and that believers are no longer under law, but under grace. This is a perfect parallel with what happened in the 4th century. In the 4th century, remember, the church rejected the Sabbath, turned away from Torah, the law of God, and grasped the power of civil law to enforce religious truth. The rejection of the Sabbath led to the setting up of the abomination of desolation.

In the 19th century, this history was repeated. The church again rejected the Sabbath, rejected the law of God, and immediately began to turn to the civil law to enforce religious truth – to compel Sunday observance. They began to set up the abomination of desolation at that time, they began to form an image of the beast, to use the expression from Revelation 13.

America did not meet her prophetic destiny in the 19th century, and there is a simple explanation: God’s people did not embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. We did not grasp the truth of righteousness by faith, and we did not give this truth to the world.

Today, the American churches, both Protestant and Catholic, are wholly and completely Babylon, and they are falling hard into the arms of the state. If you have any doubt about this, you need to read the book, Tempting Faith, by David Kuo. Kuo was a high ranking official in the Office of Faith Based Initiatives. He writes:

“I have seen what happens when well meaning Christians are seduced into thinking deliverance can come from the Oval Office, a Supreme Court chamber, or the floor of the United States Congress. They are easily manipulated by politicians who use them for their votes, seduced by trinkets of power, and tempted to turn a mission field (politics) into a battlefield, leaving the impression Jesus’ main goal was advancing a particular policy agenda. I know: I’ve seen it, I’ve done it, I’ve lived it, and I’ve learned from it.”

Despite this seduction, Kuo admits that Christians have real power in Washington: referring to groups like the Christian Coalition and the Family Research Council, Kuo declares that “these groups would go from “wanting a seat at the table” to sitting at the head of the table as the single most important political constituency in America since the height of the labor movement in the 1950s.”

Babylon is falling as we watch, brothers and sisters. What are we doing? What are we to do?

We must recover the gospel of Jesus Christ! The real battle is not political, it is not over abortion or gay rights or immigration or the environment or poverty or civil rights. The real battle is for the gospel.

Here me now: the second angels message warns us against the union of church and state. Babylon is a church in utter confusion because she has traded the power of God for the power of the state, and she seeks to do what she imagines to be God’s will through civil power. This is why it is so confusing and deceptive – because it is done in the name of God.

The only remedy for this is found in the First Angels Message, the call to revival, the call to repent in light of the impending judgment, to repent and recover a genuine gospel experience – the experience of righteousness by faith.

Logically, it seems to me, there are only three possible outcomes.

1. If God’s people fail to recover the gospel, as we did in the 19th century, we will continue to wander in this dark world and delay the coming of Christ. If we remain comfortable in our spiritual slumber, we may be dozing for another couple of generations!

2. If God’s people recover the gospel, and experience genuine spiritual revival, it is entirely possible that this revival can catch fire, spread throughout the nation, and turn the church away from the power of the state, and back into the arms of Christ. If this happens, America will not fulfill her prophetic destiny in this generation, and will be given a new lease. While this may seem undesirable because this, too, will delay the coming of Christ, it will also lead to great joy in heaven, because many more souls will be in the kingdom.

3. There is one final possibility. If God’s people recover the gospel, but the world turns her back on the gospel, there will be a polarization. Prophecy will be fulfilled. The American church will continue to set up an image to the beast, she will fully embrace the abomination of uniting the authority and respect of the church with the power of the state, and this will lead to complete and utter spiritual desolation, and the mark of the beast. In this last option, Jesus will return very quickly, once God’s people embrace the gospel.

So what is this gospel that God’s people must recover? What is this experience that we have lost? What is it that we need?

I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich;

First, we must recognize our spiritual poverty. We are living without Christ.

The gold refined in the fire is faith working through love. This faith is the gift of Christ. It is the faith of Jesus that saves us, friends, not our faith in Jesus. The translators are butchering the Greek, and imposing their own ideas when they say we are saved by faith in Jesus.

In Romans 3:22, Paul declares that the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe:

It is Jesus’ own faith that He gives us, and with that faith, He gives us His righteousness. It is all of Christ. It is not your own faith anymore than it is your own works.

I counsel you to buy from ME gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich, and white garments that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness may not appear.

These garments are Christ’s righteousness. Today, the Christian world is satisfied simply to believe in Christ. While some are hungering and thirsting for righteousness, the preachers aren’t teaching that this righteousness is even necessary. It is enough simply to believe, or to recite the sinner’s prayer, or to speak in tongues, or to give a big fat check to the church and vote a certain way, and then, you’re on Jesus’ team. You’re in, baby. Where is righteousness?

Righteousness is what other people are supposed to do, and we’re going to pass laws to make them!

This is nakedness. This is shameful.

Anoint your eyes with eyesalve, be zealous and repent.

The message today on the eve of Christ’s second coming is the same as it was when Jesus came the first time: Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand.