by Pastor John Anderson
1. Where can we find answers to life’s greatest questions?
The Holy Bible, confirmed by fulfilled prophecy and authenticated by archeological evidence, has the answers to our hardest questions and satisfies our deepest longings. The Bible opens our minds to a wider view of the seen and unseen realities of life. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” II Timothy 3:16
2. Why is our world in such a state of chaos and turmoil? Why does evil exist and where did it come from?
The Bible reveals that a high-ranking angel named Lucifer, while in heaven, rebelled against God’s government and, with the angels who followed him, was evicted and cast to this earth. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you;…you were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.” Ezekiel 28:14, 15. “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Revelation 12:7-9.
Because God gave to all of His creatures the ability to make a free-will choice whether to be loyal to Him or not, and wishing to give Adam and Eve an opportunity to make such a decision, a warning message was given to them in love. All God wanted to know was whether they were willing to be loyal citizens of His kingdom. So, a very simple test was established, by which Adam and Eve could express their allegiance to their Maker. The specific subject of the test had to do with not eating the fruit of one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Among the numerous trees in the Garden of Eden, there were then, we can see, two trees of supreme importance; the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Their obedience to His command, conveyed by His word, was the sign of their allegiance to Him. Satan was ready to argue that it didn’t really matter; one tree was just as good as another. But God had commanded, and the story of Genesis 3 demonstrates that it does make a difference. God is particular about obeying Him in every detail. Though this tree might have looked like the others, God’s word declared it to be off-limits. Because the issue was a life and death matter, the message was startling and clear. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” Genesis 2:16, 17.
Tragically, they disobeyed God’s express commandment, eating the forbidden fruit, opening the door to sorrow, guilt, suffering and woe. All the troubles this world has ever known have come through sin, inspired by the author of sin, Satan. God made a perfect world; sin brought chaos and suffering. “Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men.” Romans 5:12
Though man sinned, God made a provision for redemption by Jesus, the Creator God, One fully equal with the Father, becoming a human being and giving us an Example of how to live and then offering His life on the cross as an atonement for our sins. A divine law was broken, and only a divine sacrifice could atone. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” I Corinthians 15:3. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” II Corinthians 5:21. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8.
Receiving by faith the free gift of salvation, we can be reconciled to Him, be free from guilt and have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
Though we are not saved by our works (only the blood of Jesus can redeem us), we are called to love and obey God, keeping His commandments as an expression of our loyalty to Him. It makes sense that if we accept Him as our Lord, we would be willing to be compliant citizens of His kingdom. Obedience to all of His commandments is the sign of our allegiance to Him. “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15. “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him….This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” I John 2:3, 4; 5:3.
Jesus promised that He would come back, and take His faithful ones to heaven and bring the sin-filled story of Planet Earth to a close. However, He can’t take rebels to heaven! Like in Eden, a simple test will be put in place, by which every person on earth can express allegiance to God and His kingdom. Like in Eden, the word of God gives a loved-based warning message against violating the commandments of the Lord on pain of death. The Ten Commandments are the law of God, written by His own finger in stone. But Satan has attempted a change in the law, substituting for the seventh-day Sabbath of the fourth commandment, the divinely instituted memorial of creation, another day, the first day of the week. We could say that the test in Eden, at the beginning of time, was the “test of the two trees.” The test at the end of time will be the “test of the two days,” the day of God’s establishment, the only day Scripture authorizes as a holy memorial, the seventh-day Sabbath, and Sunday, the day of man’s appointment, with only human authority supporting it. Though the test of the last days involves a different subject, the issue and the principle are the very same. God is asking us the very same question He asked Adam and Eve; will we be loyal to your Creator? It will be in response to this test that all will make their final choice, to love and obey God, keep His commandments and live, or to disobey and follow the great rebel, Satan, and die. Satan argues that it doesn’t make a difference; one day is just as good as another, just as he said long ago that one tree was just as good as another. But we know from what the Bible teaches that it does make a difference. Obedience to all His commandments is critical. “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.” James 2:10-12. “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water. Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’” Revelation 14:6, 7, 12.
Though similar in principle, the two tests are different, not only in subject matter but also in this respect: mankind failed the first test, the “test of the two trees” in Eden, and was graciously given another chance. By contrast, in this final test, the “test of the two days,” there will be no second chance. Eternal destinies will be determined by each one’s choice. No, we weren’t in the Garden of Eden to make a choice back then, and what we would have done if we were in the place of Adam or Eve, we can’t say. But we can make the right choice today. We belong to Him, by creation and by redemption. Make the right choice! Love and obey your Creator God! Demonstrate your loyalty by willing compliance to His just law, the Ten Commandments, including the one which specifies the seventh-day Sabbath as His reminder of creation. Soon Jesus will return and take His children to heaven. You want to be among those saved forever, don’t you? God loves you supremely and has invested His life blood in your salvation. “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Hebrews 2:1, 2.
Sin has caused this world and God’s heart unbelievable pain. He wants it to be over quickly, so that the original design, a universe where love and peace reign supremely, will exist. He wants to know if you’re willing to be a part of that plan, and live forever with Him where pain, suffering, sorrow and death no longer intrude. That’s what it’s all about! “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband….And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:2, 4. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20.