A Moment to Decide
BEFORE the creation of this earth, the eternal unity of
the universe was split apart by the leader of the angels—Lucifer.
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the
morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the
nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I
will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the
mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above
the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:12–14)
In the form of a snake, Satan succeeded in destroying
the loyalty of earth’s first inhabitants to God.
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the
field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath
God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said
unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but
of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath
said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And
the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth
know that in the day ye shall eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened,
and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw
that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and
a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and
did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Genesis
The issue, in the Garden of Eden, was a simple one—Eve
had the choice to accept the Word of God or the word of the deceiver.
Since then, that has been the issue. Today, humanity faces the same
decision—whether to accept the Word of God, the One who is the truth
(John 14:6) and cannot lie (Titus 1:2), or the word of Lucifer, Satan, the
father of lies (John 8:44). The destiny of every human being rests on this
In one sense, Satan has always had an advantage over
God. God can present only truth, unadulterated and unmodified. Satan can
present an almost infinite combination of truth and error. The battle is
between the truth of God on the one hand, and the mixture of truth and
error of Satan on the other. One willful step away from the truth of God
places us upon Satan’s territory, and is sure to lead us further into
error of thought and action. There is only one way to be totally committed
Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that
proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Deuteronomy 8:3)
Many today have not understood that rejecting the Word
of God, even a small part of it, is dangerous to their eternal salvation.
While concentrating upon the mercy of God, they have failed to give due
acknowledgment to mercy’s twin sister—justice. A just God could never
trust a man or woman who has not been loyal to His Word to be a loyal
citizen of heaven of or the new earth. The characteristics of the saints
that will enter heaven are simply defined in Scripture.
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that
keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)
Placed in the setting of the time of the end, this text
offers three unequivocal characteristics of those who accept the saving
grace and mercy of Jesus. First, they have patience, or, as we would say
today, endurance or perseverance. They do not yield their loyalty to God
by compromising truth or Christian practice. They daily appropriate Christ’s
strength to obey everything that God says. These saints keep both the
commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. While the antichrist has
sought to change and depreciate the law of God, the saints cherish and
obey it because they recognize that it is an exact transcript of the
character of God. When we have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5), His
character is revealed in us through the keeping of His commandments. But
Paul reminds us that we cannot keep the commandments of God unless we also
have the faith of Jesus.
Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)
This faith enables us to believe that Jesus is
completely able to save us, from sin, for His kingdom. Such a faith leads
to victory over sin as our lives are constantly submitted to Jesus Christ.
This faith is always demonstrated by obedience.
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent
sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous,
God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen
as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by
the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness
which is by faith. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a
place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he
went out, not knowing whither he went. (Hebrews 11:7, 8).
By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to
be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer
affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for
a season. (Hebrews 11:24, 25)
Throughout human history, millions have suffered
persecution, deprivation, torture, imprisonment, and death rather than
give up their loyalty to God. Such ultimate decisions are not hurriedly
made, nor are they impulsive. God’s faithful children have always been
those who have developed the habit of daily submitting their wills and
lives to Christ. They have allowed Jesus to guide them in every decision
that they have made. As the Lord has permitted them to be tested on the
little issues, they have leaned upon His strength for victory. The same
strength is appropriated as more difficult tests come. Jesus has always
been their strength and comfort because they fully believe the promises of
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is
common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted
above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to
escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Those who fail in the days of severe test and trial
have also failed earlier in the simple tests of life. They are often
oblivious to the fact that they are making decisions of eternal
consequence. They frequently wish to delay the day of commitment, but such
is usually a commitment that is never made.
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation.
Knowing our tendency to indefinite delay, He encourages
To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your
hearts, as in the provocation. (Hebrews 3:15)
Our minds immediately recall two tragic rulers who
sought to delay their response to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.
As Paul during his trial (following his arrest in Jerusalem) presented
opportunities for salvation to these leaders, their hearts stirred within
them. Felix was the first to witness Paul’s powerful appeal.
And as he [Paul] reasoned of righteousness, temperance,
and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this
time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. (Acts 24:25)
Tragically, there is no record that Felix ever made a
decision to follow Jesus during any convenient season. This was
Felix’s only opportunity to decide.
Soon afterward, King Agrippa had his moment of
King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that
thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to
be a Christian. (Acts 26:27, 28)
Again, there is no record that Agrippa was at a later
time fully persuaded to be a Christian. His eternal destiny was sealed at
that moment. There is never an "almost." We either are under the
banner of Christ or we are serving with the legions of the arch-rebel,
The importance of one decision can be seen in the lives
of Daniel, Mishael, Azariah, and Hananiah. These four captives from Judah
were destined for slavery; however, the most powerful potentate of the
day, King Nebuchadnezzar, made the enlightened decision to train the elite
of the captives for positions of rulership. The king even provided for
these young trainees the same food and wine of which he partook. This
decision of the four Jewish youths not to violate their conscience was to
have profound implications throughout their lives. Daniel was obviously
the leader in this decision.
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not
defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine
which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that
he might not defile himself. (Daniel 1:8)
If these four men had not made this decision then, the
book of Daniel would never have been written. The experiences in chapters
3 and 6 would never have taken place as recorded. Hananiah (Shadrach),
Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abednego) would never have refused to bow
to the golden image on the plain of Dura, with their lives at stake, if
they had not earlier made their dietary decisions. Neither would Daniel
have continued to audibly pray in front of his open window in defiance of
the command of King Darius that all who worshiped any other than the king
would be thrown into the lions’ den.
While God delivered His faithful servants in both these
tests, deliverance may not always be God’s plan. But whenever men and
women have made the ultimate sacrifice, God has provided the strength to
face even the cruelest of deaths. To the true Christian, loyalty to Christ
has no conditions.
During the persecutions of the Middle Ages and the time
of the Reformation, many nobly faced imprisonment and even martyrdom in
their unswerving loyalty to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. John
Bunyan, famed author of Pilgrim’s Progress, spent many years in
prison because he refused to acknowledge the right of any human authority
to sanction his preaching of the precious Word of God. A sympathetic judge
did all he could to save Bunyan from prison. Aware of Bunyan’s blind
two-year-old daughter, the judge offered to pardon him for preaching
without ecclesiastical permission on condition that he agree not to do it
again. But Bunyan said that he must preach by the authority of God. The
judge then volunteered to arrange with the Anglican Church for him to
receive approval to preach. Bunyan insisted that God had delegated this
authority to no man except Jesus Himself. Sadly, the judge enforced the
law of the day, and the faithful Bunyan was to endure many years in the
dreary prison of Bedford.
Even more moving is the faithfulness of the
sixteenth-century English martyr, Thomas Arthur. Arthur, too, was summoned
for preaching without the permission of the Roman Catholic Church. His
words crystallized the courage that the proclaimers of the everlasting
gospel will have at the end of time.
Let our adversaries preach by the authority of the
cardinal; others by the authority of the university; others by the popes;
we will preach by the authority of God. It is not the man that brings the
Word which the man brings. Neither bishops nor popes have the right to
forbid any man to preach the gospel; and if they kill him he is not a
heretic, but a martyr. (D’Aubigné, The English Reformation, vol.
1, p. 291)
Jesus foretold that God’s faithful people will indeed
face fearful persecution.
If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute
you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. (John 15:20)
In many countries, this persecution has already taken
place. Whenever freedom of religion is violated, men and women have had to
make quick decisions that have evidenced their loyalty or disloyalty to
God. Frequently, the seventh-day Sabbath of the fourth Commandment in the
Decalogue has been at stake. Only a small number have remained faithful to
their Sabbathkeeping under threats of confiscation, separation from
family, imprisonment, torture, death, and when civil authorities have
demanded that they send their children to school on Sabbath or work on God’s
holy, sacred day.
In 1972, a woman in East Germany faced the ultimate
decision—send her eight-year-old daughter (her only child) to school on
Sabbath or have her removed by civil authorities. In spite of her prayers,
the child was taken away. But God had not forgotten her. When a plaque
declaring her an unfit mother was posted in the center of the woman’s
village, the villagers rallied to her plight. They proclaimed her to be
one of the finest mothers in the village; also, they forced the officials
to return the girl to her mother by refusing to perform any work
assignment for the government until it was done. The child was returned to
her mother. What a great God we serve!
In another country swept by revolution, a Christian
press was taken over by the revolutionaries. Immediately, the
Sabbathkeeping staff was required to work on Sabbath, at the risk of
execution if they refused to obey. All workers capitulated except one
pressman who placed his loyalty to God above his own life. When he
reported to work on Monday, he was given one more chance to show his
loyalty to the revolution by working the next Sabbath. He refused, and
immediately the execution squad was summoned to take him to the place of
execution. As he was being roughly taken out of the door of the press
building, the revolutionary chief abruptly called him back and informed
him he had his Sabbaths free from work. When the other workers heard about
what had happened, they entreated the chief for the same consideration,
but were greeted only by the angry response, "Get out of here!"
They had lost their moment to decide for Christ.
In recent times, we have seen efforts to establish
Sunday laws. It has been a characteristic of communist countries to
require work and school attendance every day of the week excluding Sunday.
This requirement has created untold hardships for faithful Sabbathkeepers.
As a result, many were imprisoned. Some had their children taken from
them. And some died as martyrs to their faith. Two islands in the free
world (Fiji and Puerto Rico) led the way in the late 1980s in legislating
Sunday laws that prevented normal activities on Sunday. It has been well
known that Sabbath observance will become the final test of loyalty to God
just prior to the Second Coming of Jesus.
During September 1989 in the United States, a chilling
warning was given to Sabbathkeeping Christians when the First Circuit
Court of Appeals, in Boston, upheld the validity of the Puerto Rican
Sunday closing laws. Once again, the court system of the United States
demonstrated its readiness to enforce legislation designed to place
special significance upon the pagan day of the Sun. This court opinion
certainly renewed the intention of activist groups, such as the Lord’s
Day Alliance, to apply pressure for Sunday closing laws to be enacted by
legislatures on the mainland of the United States. It is more likely that
such laws will be enacted in a time of great national need or crisis.
People of other races have a much tougher mentality
than those in the Western cultures. It will require a total commitment to
Christ in order for faithful people to stand the tests and trials that are
just ahead of us. Only those who daily study God’s Word and, under the
power of the Holy Spirit, apply these truths to our lives will prove
faithful. Now is the time to make your decision for Christ. Even though
the test of loyalty will encompass every facet of our lives, the Sabbath
test will rivet the attention of the world to the challenge to God’s
authority and rulership. As we approach the time when the image to the
beast is fully formed, now is a time to make decisions for truth and
righteousness. As the fury of the antichrist reaches its apex, only those
who are secure in the power of Jesus Christ will stand faithful. The
decision made then will depend upon the decisions made now. There can be
no neutrality then, any more than God allows neutrality now.
He that is not with me is against me; and he that
gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. (Matthew 12:30)
We realize that this book will bring, to many readers,
the challenge of their lifetime. We believe no one can read it without
being brought, like Felix and Agrippa, to a decision in his or her life.
We pray that your decision, renewed every day, will be to join the
faithful group of God’s loyal remnant. The King’s return is close at
hand. Be ready "to meet the Lord in the air." (1 Thessalonians
4:17) Be ready to join the triumphant band in their shout of victory.
And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God;
we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have
waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation. (Isaiah