“To Every Nation, Kindred, Tongue and People”
"And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people," (Rev. 14: 6)
Throughout all ages the faithful servants of God have delighted to share the knowledge of the mighty saving acts of their God with their fellow men. The impelling power of the Holy Spirit has pulsated through every nerve and fibre of their bodies. Enoch and Noah were such messengers in their day, Elijah and Elisha in theirs, and John the Baptist in his. Especially have God’s messengers intensified their witness at times of great moment such as the flood and at the first advent of Jesus. But none of these witnesses equal the unprecedented awakening around the entire world that heralds the return of Jesus in resplendent triumph to gather home His elect.
“And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31).
This gathering cannot take place until the members of God’s church are united in the truth, have been sealed, and have been empowered by the latter rain, but there is no way human agencies will take the message of salvation to the farthest corners of the earth, except they are strengthened by divine power.
The presentation of the gospel of Christ is a necessary prerequisite for the return of Jesus. In the Spotlight of the great controversy, the relevance and genuineness of God’s love have been despicably denied by Satan. In the world at large are hundreds of millions who have never heard the name “Christian,” let alone “Seventh-day Adventist.” Some countries do not permit the faith of Jesus to be practiced at all. Others have great restrictions. In others, the government has infiltrated and eroded the church’s independence. In yet others, laws prohibit proselytizing.
While it might be expected that God will open the doors when His people receive latter-rain power, it must not be taken for granted that the gospel will be given without great opposition and persecution. Indeed many of those proclaiming the message may lose their lives, for the final call of the gospel is given during the little time of trouble just prior to the close of probation. It may well be that legal doors will not open. Paralleling the experience of the apostles ministering under Pentecostal power, the final generation will many times require courage and boldness, even in the face of death, to move forward in the proclamation of the gospel. If Peter, John Paul, and the other apostles had waited for doors to open or for government permission to be granted, much of their most effective work would never have been accomplished. Thus Peter and the apostles, when commanded to refrain from preaching Christ, declared:
“We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
“Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard”. (Acts 4:19,20).
Further, those who are empowered by the Holy Spirit will not take account of their own safety or personal security. They are propelled by a love for souls and the urgency of the times in which they live. They are confident that so long as God has a work for them to do, their lives will be preserved, but when God determines that their work is accomplished, they will willingly lay down their lives for the glory of their God.
“And they overcame him by blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death” (Revelation 12:11).
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
The loving invitation of God transported by His living saints will reach the farthest bounds of the earth. The similarity between Christ’s declaration of the gospel commission and John’s presentation in the first angel’s message cannot be mistaken.
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).
“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6).
In both proclamations there is an assurance that all the world will hear the gospel. But there is no assurance that all will accept and obey it. Those who reject God’s grace intensify their hatred of God and His servants, thus increasing the fury of their persecution of the saints.
The prototype of the final proclamation is to be found in apostolic times. With the limited transportation and communication of that era the gospel then went to the whole world.
“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister “ (Colossians 1:23).
Speaking of these early Christians who proclaimed the news that the infinite price had been paid to redeem us from our sins, Sister White reveals the secret of their success.
“One interest prevailed; one subject of emulation swallowed up all others. The ambition of the believers was to reveal the likeness of Christ's character and to labour for the enlargement of His kingdom”. (Acts of the Apostles, p. 48).
“Then the glad tidings of a risen Saviour were carried to the uttermost bounds of the inhabited world. The church beheld converts flocking to her from all directions. Believers were reconverted. Sinners united with Christians in seeking the pearl of great price.” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 120)
“In a single generation the gospel was carried to every nation under heaven” (Testimonies for the Church, p. 26).
“By the co-operation of the divine Spirit, the apostles did a work that shook the world. To every nation was the gospel carried in a single generation”. (Acts of the Apostles, p. 593).
“So untiringly did they labour for their Master that in a comparatively short time, notwithstanding fierce opposition, the gospel of the kingdom was sounded to all the inhabited parts of the earth.” (Acts of the Apostles, p. 578)
This universal gospel thrust, which was a necessary condition prior to the fall of Jerusalem, is a prototype what God’s people will accomplish before He returns when the conditions will be met, Christ’s character will be reflected by His servants. Only thus can the gospel commission reach its fulfilment. This is the reason why we have been told.
“When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own”. (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 69)
God’s remnant people not only shout the triumph of the cross, but they also present the last great warning message. This message is designed to woo every sinner, who is willing, into the haven of Jesus’ fold. It is this final warning which must precede the second advent. There was, however, one great difference. It is estimated that there were up to six million Christians by the end of the first century. While there were great numbers of sincere Christians, many of whom laid down their lives for the glory of their lord, yet the apostolic outreach did not bring together a united body of believers.
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ”. (Galatians 1:6, 7).
“So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.” (Revelation 2:15).
“The apostle lived to see the gospel he loved preached far and near, and thousands eagerly accepting its gracious offer of pardon. But the joy of seeing sinners brought to Christ was not unmixed with sadness as he saw many come into the church who were not thoroughly converted, and who brought with them pernicious errors. Some were deceivers. While professing to believe the gospel, they denied Christ, and taught false doctrines; and the times were full of peril for the infant church. Some claimed that faith in Christ released them from the necessity of obedience to the law. Others held that the law was binding, also the Jewish customs and ceremonies, and that the observance of these was sufficient to insure salvation without the blood of Christ. They held that Jesus was a good man, like the apostles, but denied his divinity”. (Signs of the Times, January 29, 1885)
However, the believers who will embrace God’s invitation at the end of time will be united in the truth and love, and Satan can gain no entrance into their lives. They are righteous and holy, and live only to fear God and to give glory to Him. They are fitted for translation, to live with holy beings.
“Only those who have been diligent students of the Scriptures and who have received the love of the truth will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive. By the Bible testimony these will detect the deceiver in his disguise. To all the testing time will come. By the sifting of temptation the genuine Christian will be revealed.” (Great Controversy, p. 625).
God’s character has been vindicated by His people throughout the entire world, and now He is ready to redeem all who have responded to His gracious invitation.
“Adventism Proclaimed” by Standish and Standish, pp 34-38.