Regarding spiritual matters, you can ask any atheist and they will admit that they do not believe in God. Many of them will give some kind of excuse like the fact that they have seen no evidence of His existence. So, what you cannot see how can you believe, they argue.
The reality is, what would happen if we removed God and His presence with all His holy angels from this earth? “Angels are belting the world, refusing Satan his claims to supremacy, made because of the vast multitude of his adherents. We hear not the voices, we see not with the natural sight the work of these angels, but their hands are linked about the world, and with sleepless vigilance they are keeping the armies of Satan at bay till the sealing of God’s people shall be accomplished.” –Maranatha, p. 266
When these angels let go, and the spirit of the Lord is withdrawn from the earth, then the reality will be seen of what life is without God. It will be total chaos. During the time of the French Revolution, France outlawed any worship of God and instead, raised up the god of reason. The chaos that ensued in that country was just a small foretaste of what will come in the future to the entire world. France later had to admit that the presence of God was necessary for a well-ordered society.
Then you ask any and every Christian, and they will state that, yes, they do very much believe in God. Many worldly people, who do not practice any form or religion, also state that they believe in God. They believe in the existence of an Almighty Being. Some have stronger beliefs and believe in His day-to-day presence in the affairs of their lives and on this earth. Others have a more distant belief stating that He is some Being up in the sky, far away; far removed from the affairs of this earth. When things go wrong, they blame God. Where was God when all these disasters happened? Where was God when innocent people suffered at the hands of the evil one?
Do you believe God is here and now? With you everywhere you go? “If you will do everything as if you were in the immediate presence of God, you will be saved from yielding to temptation, and may hope to be kept pure, spotless, and undefiled till the last. If you hold the beginning of your confidence firm unto the end, your ways will be established in God; and what grace has begun, glory will crown in the kingdom of our God.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 332
Would your life be any different if you could physically see Jesus by your side, and see your recording angel with book in hand, writing down every word, thought and action? Do you believe He is here, or are you unbelieving; thinking that you can hide any secret sins or thoughts you may be harbouring? We do live every day in the immediate presence of God. When people go to listen to some famous person, or go before kings and emperors, the utmost respect is shown. They are quiet and listen well. Is the same respect shown in the house of God—the church on earth when we are in the presence of the King of kings? Are children permitted to make noise? Do we talk and whisper?
It is said of the nation of Israel—God’s chosen people, “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Hebrews 3:19. This was not written about Atheists or heathen people. It was written about the nation of Israel—God’s chosen people. What were they unbelieving about? Did they believe there was a God? Yes, they did. His immediate presence was seen daily with the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. How could they not believe? They had seen the miracles He did in the wilderness, at the crossing of the Red Sea, the daily Manna, the water from the rock. What did they not believe?
“It was not the will of God that Israel should wander forty years in the wilderness; He desired to lead them directly to the land of Canaan and establish them there, a holy, happy people. But ‘they could not enter in because of unbelief.’ Hebrews 3:19. Because of their backsliding and apostasy they perished in the desert, and others were raised up to enter the Promised Land.” –The Great Controversy, p. 458
“They acknowledged that the land they went up to see was a good land, but they declared that the inhabitants were strong, the giants were there, and that they themselves were in comparison as grasshoppers in the sight of the people and in their own sight. All the difficulties were magnified into insurmountable obstacles. They made it appear as folly and presumption to think of going up to possess the land. . . . They exaggerated the difficulties until all the congregation was crazed with discouragement and fear.” –Christ Triumphant, p. 370
Although they were on the borders of the Promised Land and were prohibited from entering, it was not an arbitrary act on the part of God or because Moses had failed to provide strong and able leadership. Moses had been faithful, and therefore could not be charged with the responsibility for their failure. Their lack of faith, demonstrated by their disobedience, made it impossible for them to enter. They did not believe that the God who had been leading them in the wilderness and did many mighty works, could help them defeat the giants in the land.
“Shall it be then in these last days, just before we enter into the heavenly Canaan, that God’s people shall indulge the spirit that was revealed by ancient Israel? Men and women full of doubts and criticisms and complaints can sow seeds of unbelief and distrust that will yield an abundant harvest.”—Ibid, p. 123
In the spirit of Prophecy this verse (Hebrews 3:19) is used also in reference to God’s people in and around the year 1890. “In like manner, it was not the will of God that the coming of Christ should be so long delayed and His people should remain so many years in this world of sin and sorrow. But unbelief separated them from God. As they refused to do the work which He had appointed them, others were raised up to proclaim the message.” –The Great Controversy, p. 458
The reason we are still on this planet today was not because of the unbelief of the Atheists, or worldly loving Christians. It was because of the unbelief of the Adventist people. God’s chosen people–His church. What were they unbelieving about? There was a crisis in the church in 1888 regarding the Christ Our Righteousness message. The majority of the ministers and leaders rejected this all-important message. They strongly emphasized work righteousness. They took Christ out of the equation. As the quote above stated, they refused to do the work and others were raised. Similarly, as in Ancient Israel, the first generation refused to do the work so another generation was raised who did the work.
“For forty years did unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion shut out ancient Israel from the land of Canaan. The same sins have delayed the entrance of modern Israel into the heavenly Canaan. In neither case were the promises of God at fault. It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among the Lord’s professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years.
“Had the church of Christ done her appointed work as the Lord ordained, the whole world would before this have been warned and the Lord Jesus would have come to our earth in power and great glory.” –Last Day Events, p. 38
In both cases, with Ancient Israel and with the Adventist Church in the early 1890’s, there was unbelief in the power of God. The Israelites did not believe that God was powerful enough to help them drive the giants out of the land of Canaan. They were thinking on human terms; human strength. They saw their size and the size of their army and did not believe it possible. The Adventist believers were depending on their own strength in the keeping of the commandments. They took the power of Christ out of the equation.
When Jesus walked this earth, many of the Jews—His own countrymen—did not believe. Although the prophecies were very clearly written in the Old Testament, they refused to believe. “And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Matthew 13:58. “And He marvelled because of their unbelief. And He went round about the villages, teaching.” Mark 6:6. The people in the village of Nazareth where He grew up and the Jewish leaders strongly disbelieved Him to be the Messiah.
An Israelite man, whose son Jesus healed, cried this when Jesus asked if he believed Jesus could heal his son. “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.” Mark 9:24. This man was a believer in God. He had a measure of faith. What did he mean by “help my unbelief”? “It is not an abundance of light and evidence that makes the soul free in Christ; it is the rising of the powers and the will and the energies of the soul to cry out sincerely, ‘Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.’” –Testimonies to Ministers, p. 518. This man desired to believe and recognized his need; his lack of faith. He strongly desired more. Do you desire for more faith? Faith grows by practice.
In the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25) why did five not enter? They were members in the church of God alongside the five wise virgins. They did not enter because of unbelief. They did not believe they needed an extra supply of oil—the Holy Spirit. Thus they did not enter. We very much need an extra measure of the Holy Spirit today in order to be prepared for Christ’s soon coming.
The disciples even did not believe when they first received news that Jesus was risen. “Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen.” Mark 16:14
Why was the nation of Israel cut off? “Because of unbelief they were broken off.” Romans 11:20
Many nominal Christians do not take God’s word seriously as written. The one obviously apparent issue is that of the Sabbath commandment. They do not believe that God is serious about the seventh day. As long as it is one day, then it does not matter which one they keep. God is not that particular. But if you read your Bible carefully, God is very particular; not only in the necessity of the keeping of the fourth commandment on the 7th day, but also on how it is kept. The deeds we should and should not do; the conversation we are to have; and even the thoughts we are to think. Do we believe God is that exact and particular about your Sabbath observance?
Even the 6th commandment about killing. Surely God cannot mean that killing in time of war is wrong. In time of war it is perfectly fine to take another human life as it is merely self preservation—protection. In the Old Testament, God directed the nation of Israel in battle, so surely it is not breaking the 6th commandment by killing in time of war. And neither is abortions on demand. Most state hospitals and even church hospitals that are funded by the state take part in this killing practice.
Although we can clearly see and understand that this reasoning is incorrect, there are genuine Christians who honestly believe this is correct.
What about in God’s church? Are there some who will be lost due to unbelief? This comes down to you and me.
I am sure all of us who are reading this believe in God. We may claim to believe all the doctrines in the Bible; we may claim to believe the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation; We may claim to believe that the Seventh-day Adventist Church Reform Movement is God’s remnant church today; we may live up to the standards outlined in the Bible . . . but can it still be said of us, we cannot enter because of unbelief?
Why have we not entered the heavenly Canaan? Is it the fact that there are still some prophetic events in Daniel and Revelation that need to be fulfilled? Is it because the corruption of the world has not reached its climax? It has nothing to do with the people in the world—nothing to do with Atheists and the nominal Christian church. It has nothing even to do with the nominal Seventh-day Adventist church. It has everything to do with you and me.
Why? Is there any possibility that it could be because of our unbelief?
There was a young man I met in the church more than 25 years ago. He was baptized. He was asked what led to him making the decision for baptism. He simply stated that he went through the Bible Studies with the Missionary in the church and the evidence was so strong. The prophecies in the Bible were clear in pointing out where God’s church was. The prophecies were fulfilled exactly as they were written. With such evidence how can any refute the truths of the Bible? This man was baptized clearly on the evidence provided in prophecy. No mention was made about a personal relationship with Jesus and the sacrifice on Calvary. Sadly, this man is no longer a member in the church. Why? He believed. Yes, He believed in the accuracy of the Biblical record, but he did not believe in the power of Christ to overcome sin.
Some may start to question God and His leading in His church; they do not like the leaders and the decisions they are making. They believe that they, or their friends, could do a better job. The Israelites did this. How many times did they accuse Moses of leading them into the wilderness to perish? On the very borders of Canaan, they doubted. They went as far as to set up a rebellion with Korah, Dathan and Abiram because of Moses’ “bad” leadership (Numbers 16). This has happened many times in the past, in God’s Church.
How seriously do we take God at His word? In order to be baptized, we have to understand and accept the basic doctrines of the church and our lifestyle must be corrected and changed.
“Many who, like ancient Israel, profess to keep God’s commandments have hearts of unbelief while outwardly observing the statutes of God. Although favored with great light and precious privileges, they will nevertheless lose the heavenly Canaan, even as the rebellious Israelites failed to enter the earthly Canaan that God had promised them as the reward of their obedience.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 162
How strict is God in regards to your diet? Can we interpret the dietary guidelines as we wish? “Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.” 1 Corinthians 6:19. Would you bring rubbish into the church? Why would you put rubbish—albeit, it is not meat or a meat product—into the temple of your body? Some believe as long as it is not flesh, it is acceptable. This shows their unbelief. Anything harmful is not acceptable to God; in other words—sin. Good and evil cannot dwell together. And the Holy Spirit may not want to dwell in a polluted environment. Yes, He is patient with those who are ignorant, but those that know? There is no excuse. The spirit of the Lord is grieved.
What happened to the nation of Israel when they cried for meat? The Lord gave them their meat (quail), but, oh, how sick they also became (Numbers 11). Their bodies were polluted. The nations around them were likely meat eaters and eating all kinds of unclean meats also but did not get sick. Why? Unbelief on the part of the nation of Israel. Unbelief on how strict God expects us to be in our dietary habits will cause many to lose their way. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.” Acts 17:30
To be an unbelieving Christian is very dangerous; to claim to worship and obey the Lord outwardly, while inwardly dwells the evil heart of unbelief. The punishment will be greater for those who know better.
It can be with any minor violation of God’s law. I heard one young person say “God can’t be that strict”, He will be a little lenient. Is this true? How strict is God? One small sin. . . “No sin is small in the sight of God. The sins which man is disposed to look upon as small may be the very ones which God accounts as great crimes. The drunkard is despised and is told that his sin will exclude him from heaven, while pride, selfishness, and covetousness go unrebuked. But these are sins that are especially offensive to God. He ‘resisteth the proud,’ and Paul tells us that covetousness is idolatry. Those who are familiar with the denunciations against idolatry in the word of God will at once see how grave an offense this sin is.” –Counsels to the Church, p. 259–260
In many areas, we are tempted to set up our own standard since the standard in the church is often a mere guideline, as it is not possible to make strict laws on every small detail of life. People set their own standards on diet, on dress, on Sabbath keeping, how they spend their time and money, etc. Some people consider some of these issues as “grey areas”. There is no black and white—each is free to make interpretations as suits them. “There is a place for every penny that you do not actually need for comfortable food and clothing. . . . If you have money, do not spend it for extra ribbons or trimmings or articles of adornment, but let the rivulets flow into the treasury of God, to be registered to your account in the books of heaven.” –The Review and Herald, August 11, 1891
Many will be lost because of unbelief. They did not believe that God expected them to be “this” strict in adhering to His commandments. The grace and mercy of God will enable you to overcome every sin. It is possible to he who believes.
“Their history of unbelief and rebellion is left on record as a special warning that we should not follow their example of murmuring at God’s requirements. How can we pass on so indifferently, choosing our own course, following the sight of our own eyes, and departing farther and farther from God, as did the Hebrews? God cannot do great things for His people because of their hardness of heart and sinful unbelief.” –Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 378
Many will be lost because they did not believe the coming of Christ was this close. “But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth His coming;” Matthew 24:48. This servant believes that Jesus will come, but believes there is a delay so he can live his life as he chooses for now.
“It is the privilege of every Christian, not only to look for, but to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Were all who profess His name bearing fruit to His glory, how quickly the whole world would be sown with the seed of the gospel. Quickly the last harvest would be ripened, and Christ would come to gather the precious grain.” —Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 22–23
“Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief.” Hebrews 4:6. The generation of Israelites that left Egypt entered not into the literal Land of Promise, but the following generation did. There was a delay due to their unbelief.
“The land to which we are traveling is in every sense far more attractive than was the land of Canaan to the children of Israel. . . . What stayed their progress just in sight of the goodly land? . . . It was their own willful unbelief that turned them back. They were unwilling to risk anything upon the promises of God. . . . The history of the children of Israel is written as a warning to us ‘upon whom the ends of the world are come.’ We are standing, as it were, upon the very borders of the heavenly Canaan. We may, if we will, look over on the other side and behold the attractions of the goodly land. If we have faith in the promises of God we shall show in conversation and in deportment that we are not living for this world, but are making it our first business to prepare for that holy land.” –That I May Know Him, p. 169
The counsel for us is: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” Hebrews 3:12
“Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” Hebrews 4:11