Satan knows the power of error to harm. We have been warned that “Error is never harmless. It never sanctifies, but always brings confusion and dissension. It is always dangerous.
The enemy has great power over minds that are not thoroughly fortified by prayer and established in Bible truth” (Ellen White, Vol. 5, Testimonies, 292).
“Satan has the same power and the same control over minds now, only it has increased a hundredfold by exercise and experience. Men and women today are deceived, blinded by his insinuations and devices, and know it not” (White, Vol. 3, Testimonies, 328).
God would have us be aware of precisely how Satan is sweeping away the Christian economy of the Gospel so that we will not be caught up and lost by deceptive doctrines.
Since the alpha of Scripture depicts the brief outline of Satan’s deceptions now exposed, what might we find in the omega of Scripture regarding the same? Using the descriptive schematic applied to Christ and Scripture, let’s give closer scrutiny to the alpha and omega of the seven churches of Revelation.
The alpha church is Ephesus, to which the True Witness said,
“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate” (KJV 2:2-6).
Note how effective and patient the alpha church was in exposing the false liturgy and theology of lying professed apostles, even hating the mysticism and resulting deeds of the Nicolaitans. Yet despite the unwearied labor performed with patience, God plainly rebukes Ephesus for leaving their first love! Love cannot be left behind unless replaced by another—a counterfeit! God calls Ephesus to remember their first position, and exhorts them to repent because of a moral fall—the Law of Love has been transgressed!
“The losing of the first love is specified as a moral fall. The loss of this love is represented as something that will affect the entire religious life. Of those who have lost this love, God says that unless they repent, He will come to them, and remove their candlestick out of its place” (Ellen White, Manuscript 1, 1906). “There can be no abatement of this love without a moral fall. God calls for unity among His people in these last days, but there cannot be unity without firm adherence to right principles” (White, Vol. 10, Manuscript Releases, 46).
“How was it with Ephesus? She knew not the time of her visitation. She did not heed the solemn admonitions of God. She did not maintain a vital connection with Christ, and grievous wolves entered in, and spared not the flock. The church, once beloved of God, that might have sent her bright rays amid the moral darkness to enlighten many souls, permitted her light to go out” (Ellen White, Vol. 16, Manuscript Releases, 103, 104).
Simply put, the alpha church had accepted an erroneous concept of love giving the false impression that sin is put away by hearing and believing the Word of God, but that obedience was no longer necessary. The apostle Paul perceived this was happening in his lifetime, when he wrote:
“And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way” (KJV, 2 Thessalonians 2:6, 7).
From the alpha church to the omega churches of Revelation, we see the great need to adhere to the counsels given to each one. But let us scrutinize that which is most pertinent to our situation as described in the strongest terms:
“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (KJV, 3:15-19).
“We must have the love of God, with living, abiding faith. This is the gold tried in the fire” (Ellen White, Vol. 5, Testimonies, 105).
If we think that we are rich with God’s love, increased with the goods of Truth as it is in Jesus, and in need of nothing because all we need is to believe, then we start to comprehend why the True Witness would say otherwise! God desires to awaken us to our true condition! God has great expectations of His professed people to proclaim His last warning to the world embodied in the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14 followed by the mighty angel’s message of Chapter 18.
So we are given this admonition:
“If we would have the spirit and power of the third angel’s message, we must present the law and the gospel together, for they go hand in hand. As a power from beneath is stirring up the children of disobedience to make void the law of God, and to trample upon the faith of Christ as our righteousness, a power from above is moving upon the hearts of those who are loyal, to exalt the law, and to lift up Jesus as a complete Saviour. Unless divine power is brought into the experience of the people of God, false theories and erroneous ideas will take minds captive, Christ and his righteousness will be dropped out of the experience of many, and their faith will be without power or life. Such will not have a daily, living experience of the love of God in the heart; and if they do not zealously repent, they will be among those who are represented by the Laodiceans, who will be spewed out of the mouth of God” (Ellen White, Gospel Workers, 103, 104).
Unconditional love is a satanic, antinomian concept that sweeps away the economy of the gospel we are to proclaim. If love were truly unconditional, then there is no condition by which love can be offended or provoked. Yet God said of those rebellious unbelievers who witnessed mighty miracles associated with the exodus from slavery in Egypt that they had provoked Him ten times (Numbers 14:22; Psalm 106:7, 21, 29, 40). If love could not be provoked, then there would be no freedom choice to forgive and pardon or utterly destroy. There could be no such thing as an unpardonable sin! A love without conditions would never require a Savior acting as a substitute for our punishment. The claims of the spiritualist and universalist would then be true—there is no punishment—only unconditional freedom and unconditional choice. There would never be a condition by which anyone could be separated from God and His love.
However, the Bible contradicts these notions! Because of sin, we are separated from God and His love (Isaiah 59:2). It is possible to commit the unpardonable sin (1 Samuel 3:14; Matthew 12:32).
To those who repent, we have this promise:
“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet I will not forget thee” (KJV, Isaiah 49:15). But this promise is conditional!
To those who refuse to repent, especially of lying messages calculated to lead God’s people into dangerous error and fatal deception, we have this terrible warning:
“Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord…. Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence” (KJV, Jeremiah 23:32, 39).
We are at a crossroads. We have a decision to make:
“Satanic influences are all around us, to be met and resisted. The tares are mingled with the wheat, error with truth, coldness with zeal, darkness with light. There must be a returning to our first love. We must battle nobly with tribulation and danger, in the midst of trials, tests, and provings of God. We must be rich in faith and good works. The message to the Laodicean church is applicable to those who have been made the repository of rich truth” (Ellen White, Review and Herald, January 1, 1889).
Without a doubt, the “alpha and omega” heresies and deception are implicitly and contextually linked to a proper understanding of God’s love. As professed people of God, let us strive to obtain that purified gold, and may we never surrender it to our bitterest foe—Satan.
David Thiele is an author, and lives in Berrien Springs, MI.