One thing I have found, as I
travel, is that God’s people are the same the world over. They all have a great desire to hasten the
day of Jesus’ return. I think this has
always been the desire of Seventh-day Adventists. As Adventists came out of the period of the
Great Disappointment in 1844, it was a time of struggle
for them. With the Millerite movement,
there had been a great number of believers looking for the near return of Jesus
that was to culminate October 22,
1844. When that day came and Jesus
did not return, disappointment took place and thousands fell away. It got to where there were only about 300
of tens of thousands across the land and many more thousands around the
James and Ellen White felt the burden to try to gather these
believers into some form of unity, because it was not that they were wrong that
Jesus was coming; it was the fact that they did not understand the
circumstances and the time frame. So the
movement began to build, until today there are many Adventists all around the
world that are looking forward to Jesus’ Second Coming. We never want to lose sight of that; we want
to always have the focus of Jesus ever in our hearts and in our minds, because
that is what is going to see us through the times that are yet ahead of
The name Seventh-day Adventist declares two facts about our
beliefs. First, we observe the seventh
day as the day of rest that God outlined in the fourth commandment of
Scripture. Second, the other part of the
name, Adventist, means that we believe in the Second Coming of Jesus. The interesting part about this is that we
have concentrated in these areas almost to the neglect of what has been
revealed to us concerning the great controversy between Christ and Satan. We believe in preaching about the Second
Coming of Jesus; we believe in preaching about the Sabbath-Sunday issue and how
it focuses on the papacy. But, somehow,
we do not really understand, as we should, about the great controversy. Indeed, we have a message that is to unfold
the work of Satan in this world as well as proclaim the Sabbath and the truth
about the Second Coming of Jesus.
Ellen White has written a book entitled The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan. We have a tendency to read
certain portions of the last chapters of this book that deal with what is going
to transpire relative to the Sunday law and those kinds of things. We neglect to see the connecting theme that
goes all through the book that is centering upon the struggles between Christ
and Satan for the souls of men and women in this world.
If we are going to make it through these last days, we must
have a better understanding of the great controversy—not just an understanding
of the Second Coming, as wonderful and as beautiful as that is; not only an
understanding of the Sabbath-Sunday issue, as important as that is; but an
understanding of how the devil is attempting to make shipwreck of the
Seventh-day Adventist faith. If you do
not think that the devil is trying to make shipwreck of the Seventh-day
Adventist faith, then you are not fully aware of what is going on in the world
today. He is doing everything he can to
make shipwreck of our faith.
An Express Warning
The last letters we can chronologically put in the
perspective of the writings of the apostle Paul are 1 and 11 Timothy. Timothy was a young preacher who was to carry
on when the apostle Paul was no longer able to minister because of the
sacrifice of his life in Rome, so Paul wrote some very
specific counsel to Timothy.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times
some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and
doctrines of devils.” 1 Timothy 4:1. As we study this text, we want to see if we
can identify what it is that Paul is really saying. Often we have a tendency to read a text and,
because we have a certain bias of the word or the words that are found there,
we do not really dig much deeper, thinking that the meaning is self-evident. Look at this text a little more deeply.
Paul says, “the Spirit.”
Who is the Spirit referred to here?
It is the Holy Spirit. For what
time frame is the Holy Spirit giving this information? It says, “the Spirit speaketh expressly, that
in the latter times . . . .”
When are those times? They are
now. If Jesus would have come in the
year a.d. 700, this text would have
applied then. “Latter times” always
applies to just before Jesus’ return. So
if we really believe the prophecies, if we really believe the times in which we
are living, Jesus is coming very, very soon.
Some Shall Depart
This text, I believe, applies specifically to the time in
which we are living. The Spirit said
that in the latter times a warning needs to go out. “Some shall depart from the faith.”
In the last ten years, we have seen a lot of things taking
place in historic Adventism. We have
seen a lot of things taking place in the mainstream denomination of Seventh-day
Adventists. We have seen some, much to
my disappointment, who have left the faith.
Now let me tell you that anytime you see a person leave the faith, it is
not just happenstance. It is through the
direct working of seducing spirits. This
is what causes those kinds of things to take place.
The devil is not just seated in an office somewhere in a
large building, answering the phone once in awhile. He is out, the Bible says, “as a roaring
lion.” (1 Peter 5:8.) He is on the track of every person who is
trying to be faithful to the precepts of Scripture and inspiration.
Paul says that there are going to be some who are going to
depart from the faith. They “depart from
the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” I want to emphasize that something like that
happens through the process of seducing spirits. This is why we need to constantly be on
guard. The only way that we are going to
be able to know is through Inspiration.
That is the knowledge that we must have to make it through to the time
when Jesus comes.
Persuade to Disobedience
Look at the word seduce. Many times, when we hear this word, we have a
tendency to use the application of the second definition in Webster’s
dictionary—“to entice to unchastity.”
That is usually what comes to our minds, but that is not the first
meaning of the word, according to Webster.
The first meaning is “to persuade to disobedience or to
disloyalty.” That is how it is used in
this text. That is how the devil
works. The whole purpose of seducing
spirits is to get people off the track into disobedience and into
disloyalty. This is what they are
determined to do.
The Bible says that the Spirit of God—that Person of the
Godhead that was given after Jesus returned to heaven—is to guide us into all
truth. He is to be our Comforter; He is
to be our Helper in all things.
The first verse of 1 Timothy 4
says that, in
the last days, the devil is going to work in such a way as to do his utmost to
persuade to disobedience and to disloyalty.
I have been in ministry for over 30 years, and I have to confess
that I have not always preached the great controversy as it centers in this
text—the devil doing everything he can to persuade to disloyalty and to
disobedience. I have come to understand
more fully in these last few years that this, indeed, is a reality and that we
need to forewarn God’s people, because I believe to be forewarned is to be
Look even deeper into this text, because we have to receive
the impact of what is being said here before it really registers with us as to
what is taking place. Paul could have written,
“Well, you know, just kind of be aware, people, that in the last days the devil
is really going to work.” But he chose
some very specific words. He says that
“the Spirit speaks expressly.” That
needs to grab our attention. He is not
just talking in small talk. He is trying
to get a point across. “The Spirit
According to Webster, expressly
means “to set forth, to make clear the meaning of; directly and distinctly
stated, explicit, exact, precise.” The
second definition says that “it is the dispatch conveyed by a special
Do you ever receive an express package? The delivery person usually comes to the door
and knocks on the door to deliver an express package. In reality, this is what the Holy Spirit is
doing. He is knocking on the door, and
He says, “I have an express message for you.
I am speaking expressly.”
If you think that I am repeating myself, I am, because I need
to get the message across. Seducing
spirits are going to do their utmost to persuade us to disobedience. They will try to draw us away from the
doctrines of God to the doctrines of devils.
The Spirit gives some very explicit warning to this end.
It may be that you, who are not sitting behind a desk at
Steps to Life, find this strange. But
many of the phone calls I receive day after day consist of people wanting Steps
to Life to endorse some strange doctrine.
A large amount of my time is spent responding to people who send in
manuscripts, full-published books, cassette tapes, and videos. They say, “Please review these things, and
then let us know if you can give some endorsement to them.”
I can tell you that every wind of doctrine is blowing. They are blowing, because the devil has his
helpers out across the land in every way causing those winds to blow. But those winds are not yet blowing
fully. They are giving little gusts here
and there, but they are not blowing in full.
I count it a very serious responsibility on my part to review
the things sent to Steps to Life. I read
everything, and I try to match it with Inspiration. Sometimes that can be very, very
difficult. The reason that it is
difficult is because the track of truth lies very close to the track of
error. The most successful deception is
when there is a great amount of truth coupled with a little bit of error. The Spirit gives some very explicit
We know that God’s true church and Satan’s counterfeit church
have been growing side by side for some 6,000 years. The angels are holding the winds so that they
do not blow. Once the angels release
those winds, the doctrines of devils are going to go out, and the people from
all corners of the earth will be gathered into one of two camps—either in the
camp of God or in the camp of the devil.
That is why we urgently work to convey God’s truths to the
people, so they will be so grounded that they will not be taken in by the
devil’s deceptions. There are two
camps—one with truth and love as the impelling force and the other built upon
lies and deceit, one upholding God’s government and His Law and the other
rebelling against it with a malignant hatred.
Good angels have been sent to Adam and all of his descendents
to enlighten, to counsel, and to plead with them to look by faith to their Creator
and their Redeemer. Satan’s angels have
been sent to ensnare these offspring of Adam with innumerable schemes, so they
will despise or neglect or ignore the salvation that is made possible by Jesus
Christ. In all of this, God spreads out
the issues of the great controversy between Christ and Satan in such a way that
every individual is to be enlightened so he can choose whom he is going to
If we read this text carefully, we can see that it is a
challenge for us to know what is going on and what is going to take place. If we are going to make it through to the
end, we are going to have to know what the issues are. Ellen White makes it very plain that this
deals with spiritualism. (See Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 951, 952.)
More than Masquerades
I would like to suggest to you that spiritualism is more involved than evil
angels masquerading as dead people. It
is much more profound than that. It has
to do with everything that is devil-inspired.
If, indeed, this is the case, then we need to have a firm basis for
every decision we make. We need to know
with exactness what is going to take place in this area of deception, because
this is how God’s Holy Spirit has spoken to us.
He has spoken to us expressly to get the point across.
What this text is saying to us is that this is very serious
business. It is not something with which
to toy. It is not something that we can
ignore. The devil has been playing and
practicing this game of deception for thousands of years in an effort to try to
persuade to disloyalty and to disobedience.
That is his whole plan and purpose.
We need to have some inside information so we do not get caught up in
what the devil is trying to promote. If
any-one does get caught up in it, it is because they have not paid clear
attention to the counsel God has given.
It is a disappointment to me to hear that the Adventist Book
Centers are not carrying Ellen White’s books as they should, because there is
no longer a call for them. Supply and
demand is what is important. That is the
business world. But we are not in a
setting where business is to go on as usual.
We are here to spread a message.
A Little Con Game
It is easy to be deceived, if we do not have the right
information at our fingertips or if we are innocent to circumstances or if we
are naive about various issues. A number
of years ago, a carnival came to town and set up shop right across the street
from where my wife and I lived. We, at
that time, were not Christians. Neither
of us had been brought up in a Christian home.
We were not wicked people, but we did not have a Christian
background. So, when the carnival came
to town, I went over to it.
I wanted to see all the
lights and all the things that were going on.
There were many people there. My
attention, as I walked through the various booths that were set up, was drawn
to one booth that was a con-type gambling game.
I will not go into all the details of it, but I got drawn into
gambling. The interesting part was that
it started out with a dime. Ten
cents. Before I knew what was happening,
I had $300
sunk into that game.
Forty years ago, $300 was like $1,500 today. Minimum wage back then was $1
per hour. Can you imagine being drawn into some-thing
like that? I had taken that money out of
our monthly budget, and I lost it. I
lost every dime of it. The whole month
was yet ahead of me. Do you know what I
had to do? I had to go down to the bank
and borrow $300, because we did not have any reserve. We were just newly wed. It took me a year to pay back that $300 loan.
Heed the Warning
The interesting thing was that, having lost my money in such
a quick, slick con game, I was determined that I was not going to let someone
else lose their money in the same way.
It was a deception. I knew it was
a deception. So I decided that I was
going to stand right by that booth and, as people came along, I would tell them
what kind of a game it was. I will never
forget one lady who came by. She was a
waitress, working for $1 an hour, and older than I. She had her whole paycheck with her, which,
for a 40-hour
week, was a grand total of $32 after taxes. She stood and watched this con artist pour
the balls into the little pans that had
numbers on the bottoms of them, and as she watched, she was getting into her
purse to fish out a dime. I told her,
“This is a con game. I just lost $300
here. Do not let him take your money.” I warned her, “Listen to me.” I warned her expressly, “Do not get involved
in this kind of con game.” Do you know
what? She listened to me and walked on
down the fairway. The fellow running the
booth called me every conceivable name, but I was determined that I was going
to stand there and not let other people get drawn into that con game.
Little did I know that down the fairway and around the corner
was another booth exactly like the one where I had taken my stand. It was not too long before I heard a woman’s
voice cry, “Oooooooooh! You have taken
all of my money.” I could hear it clear
across the fairway. So I walked down
there, and who do you suppose was there?
The very woman whom I had expressly warned. She was crying and weeping that they had
taken her whole paycheck. Her whole
paycheck for that week was gone. She was
raising such a ruckus that a short, fat man came out of a nearby trailer. He tried to talk to this lady, but she would
not listen. She was out of control. Finally he reached into his wallet and pulled
out a wad of bills. He handed her $32, and told her that it was
time for her to leave the grounds. It
was really quite pathetic.
I am convinced that there will be many people in the last
days who will be just like this woman.
They have been given a clear warning, but they have decided, for
whatever reason, that they do not want to give heed to the warning. Their hearts have never truly been
converted. They may listen to the
warning and pass by one of the devil’s traps, only to later disregard the
warning. That seems, to a great extent,
to be the lot of humanity, but it does not have to be that way—not when the
Spirit has given express warning. We
need to pay attention. We need to heed
Two Great Errors
“Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul
and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former lays the foundation of
spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with Rome.” The
Great Controversy, 588. I do not know which one is worse. They are both bad news—two great errors that
will bring people under deception.
The driving force of Seventh-day Adventists is to get the
messages of warning to the world. Not
everyone is going to listen, but Jesus says, “This gospel of the kingdom shall
be preached in all the world for a witness.”
Matthew 24:14. He does not say the
whole world is going to respond, but the message has to be given for a
This is one of the reasons Steps to Life is on Internet
radio, because it has the potential of reaching the entire world. This is why we have a television
program. This is why we send out
containers of literature. It is in an
effort to try to get this witness, this warning, out to the world.
To be continued . . .
Pastor Mike Baugher is Associate Speaker for Steps to Life. He may be contacted by e-mail at:
firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.