Luther held up his Sword and said, “You can get forgiveness of sins alone through the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ..Then all Germany was aflame, and all France, and Spain, and Holland, and England, and that flame came across the seas to America in the Mayflower, and with the followers of Luther himself, until today we have in all the world living seventy million Lutherans, to say nothing of the other Protestants who are living and enjoying the liberty which that man of God, by the help of his Master and the holy angels, brought into existence three hundred and eighty-seven years ago.
What better time than Easter Sunday to remember the glorious heritage of the Lutheran Reformation? May God bless you richly today with a love of His Word. And may that light never be extinguished in our land. Amen.
John’s Vision Of The Reformation. Rev. 14:6-11.
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, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Sanctify us, O Lord, through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth. Amen.
Dear Sons and Daughters of the Reformation: –
God’s great mind is always full of great thoughts. The angels; the heavens; the sun, moon and stars; the earth; man: these are but sparks of God’s thoughts. As the thoughts, so the plans. Men of great minds lay deeper plans than men of weaker minds. What plans the great mind of God must lay! What a universal time-piece that must be of which the earth with her icy poles, jealous oceans, crushing weights and monumental mountains, and the sun with his endless burning fingers, and the moon on her nightly journeys, and the stars in countless numbers, are but jewels! And how much greater must the great mind of God be, that planned our salvation in Christ as the hour-hand of the clock of the universe before it was made! For four thousand years the sun gave a good morning kiss to the now lost garden of Eden, before it kissed the Son of man; but the Son of God, and the sun in the heavens, and the Pentecostal fires, did not prevent the Dark Ages; but the ages were never so dark, even from the close of the fifth to the close of the eleventh century, that God did not ask the question: “Is not My Word like as a fire? Is not My Word like the hammer which breaks the rock in pieces?” Jer. 23:29. “The Word of God,” says Paul, “is not bound.” It never was bound. It lay smoldering under the ashes of centuries, but it burned then as now. In lonely cloisters it was laboriously copied; it took years to finish single copies, which now make famous the cities possessing them. It was the regret of all who knew God’s Word then, that all might not know it. It was not necessary then to lay an interdict on the reading of God’s Word; it was too expensive for man to possess. Yet it was known in communities outside of the Church of Rome. The fire and hammer of God’s Word had kindled and broken the hearts of the Albigensian and Waldensian martyrs before their funeral pyres were kindled.
"Those slaughtered saints whose bones Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold; Even those who kept God's Truth so pure of old, When all our fathers worshiped stocks and stones."
The Word of God is not bound. Sail out, Christopher Columbus, and discover God’s hidden America for the oppressed! Come into this world, chosen Reformer, Martin Luther! Take those rags and make paper of them; throw down those pens and make type for the printing press. Rejoice, ye nations, the first Book printed is the Bible, God’s holy Word. Take it down to the library at Erfurt and chain it to the shelf, and do not let visitors see it. Who is that eighteen year old student coming into the library hungry for truth? It is Martin Luther, who knew the Gospels and the Epistles for every Sunday in the year. Watch him run his finger along every shelf until he comes to “Biblia Sacra.” It is chained. He wonders why. He knows that Book by heart, and would not look at it were it not for that chain. He thinks it contains nothing but the Gospels and Epistles contained in the Church service. The Book opens. First Samuel and the first chapter. The story of Hannah consecrating her son to the Lord. What book is this? “Biblia Sacra.” What! is this all God’s Word? He reads. He admires. He forgets himself. It is night and he sighs as he rises: “Oh, that this Book of books might one day be mine.” The flame of the Reformation was kindled, and three hundred and eighty-seven years ago tomorrow, God began to fulfill what He showed John on the Isle of Patmos nearly two thousand years ago. I now call your prayerful attention to
John's Vision Of The Reformation.
Tomorrow it will be three hundred and eighty-seven years since immense crowds were pouring into an ancient city of Germany, bearing in its name “Wittenberg,” the memorial of its founder, Wittekind the Younger. What should draw the masses? Certainly not the weather-beaten dingy little building. Strange as it may seem, it was an old church – the “Church of all Saints” – to which the masses were flocking from every direction. It was a wonderful church inside. Just think of it: There were nineteen thousand relics to be seen, among which a fragment of Noah’s ark; some soot from the furnace in which the three Hebrews stood; a piece of the Savior’s crib, and some hair from Saint Christopher’s beard, were found. But this was not the greatest delusion. The Pope in Rome had granted indulgences to all who would visit that Church on the first of November. In the language of Krauth: “Against the doors of that church of dubious saints, and dubious relics, and dubious indulgences, was found fastened on that memorable morning a scroll unrolled. The writing on it was firm; the nails which held it were well driven in; the sentiments it conveyed were moderate yet very decided; the material – parchment – was the same which long ago had held words of redemption above the head of the Redeemer; the contents were an amplification of the old theme of glory – Christ on the cross the only King. The Magna Carta which had been buried beneath the Pope’s throne, reappeared on the Church door. The key-note of the Reformation was struck full and clear at the beginning: ‘Salvation through Christ alone.‘” This was the beginning of one of the greatest events by one one of the greatest men since the apostolic times. A great scene in the great drama, planned by the great mind of God, was now to be enacted by three angels, seen by John the Evangelist from the Isle of Patmos. No man will understand the Reformation without keeping in mind that God and His angels did the work through Dr. Luther. In these words of our text this morning we have John’s vision of the Reformation carried out by three holy angels. Some one will say, Was that angel Dr. Luther? No. Dr. Luther was a man, a sinner saved by grace, just the same as any other man. Let us not forget this morning that when God does great things He makes use of His holy angels. When He created the world it is said that the morning stars sang together. The angels were there. This morning in the Sunday-school lesson we found that when Elisha and his servant were surrounded by the Syrian army, the prayer of Elisha to God was to open the eyes of his servant that he might see; and lo, there were chariots of fire – holy angels, more in number than the enemy. You remember that when the angel flew over the valley of Sennacherib, one hundred and eight-five thousand fell on that battle field; you will remember that when an angel flew over Egypt, the first born the next morning were dead; you will remember that when John the Baptist and Christ were to be born, an angel came and announced their coming; you will remember that when Christ was born there was a song, and that song was delivered by the heavenly host: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” You will remember that the angel of God was down in Gethsemane when Christ was sweating drops of blood, and strengthened Him; you will remember that when the stone was rolled away, the angel was there and sat upon that rock; you will remember that when Christ arose the angels of God were with Him, and will be with Him when He conies again to judge the quick and the dead; you will remember that when the apostles of old were in prison, the angel of God shook the prison until Peter was delivered. Do not think for a single moment that this great Reformation of the sixteenth century would take place without the angels of God. There were three angels, according to the text this morning; each one had a special message, and it is to these messages that I now direct your attention:
I. The message of the first angel
“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, saying with a loud voice, Fear God and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” It was necessary in that day that the true worship of God should be restored, but I will show you later on this morning what the worship of that day was. The real truth is that the people had lost their Savior; they had lost the Bible; they had lost true worship; they were living amid the fruits of the Dark Ages, and had found another taking the place of Jesus Christ. Oh, before those Dark Ages, the messenger of God tells John, there is one coming who shall proclaim the everlasting Gospel again. What is the Gospel? I never could find a better definition than I found in Luther’s catechism: “The Gospel is the glad tidings that Jesus Christ has come into the world to save sinners, and through faith to make them forever blessed.” What is the Gospel? The Gospel is the good news that you and I, condemned by the holy law, have a Mediator between God and man, – Jesus Christ, on Calvary, dying for our sins, paying the debt, asking us to come to Him and accept Him as our Savior, putting on us the cloak of His righteousness, if we believe in Him – that is the Gospel; and that is the Gospel, says the first angel, that shall be proclaimed again after the Dark Ages, when people had forgotten to fear God, and feared the Pope more than their Maker. It is not often that I say anything about other churches, but it is simply impossible to preach a Reformation sermon without referring to the Romish Church; and the Romish Church itself is saying things today that only substantiate every word that I shall declare this morning.
How was this Gospel to be preached? According to this first angel, it was to be preached to the living; to those that are on the earth, everywhere; in all lands; in all tongues, and to large congregations. “Having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth.”
During the Middle Ages the Pope took upon himself the authority to introduce purgatory. St. Peter’s Church was to be built; there was no money in the treasury, and the Pope made up his mind that the way to do is to make the people believe that they can get their own lost and damned out of purgatory if they will pay for it, and the result was that messengers were sent all over Europe to proclaim forgiveness of sins for money, and buying the prayers of the priests and the Pope to get those out of purgatory that were there. The money came into the coffers, and the great St. Peter’s was built, but there was an error taught there, and there are people still holding to that error, and that is that people may be saved after they have passed out of this life into the life beyond. The angel of God knew better. The angel of God knew very well that if man is to be saved at all, he must be saved somewhere between the hour of birth and the hour of death; consequently this angel flew through the midst of heaven saying that the time is coming when there shall one arise who shall proclaim an everlasting Gospel, free salvation to the people, – not in the grave, not under the earth, not down in the sea – but to the people that are living on God’s earth.
2. Preached Everywhere
Not only was the Gospel to be preached to the living people, but it was also to be preached everywhere. “. having the everlasting Gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth” – not only down at Rome. Little did Rome care in that day whether other parts of the world had the truth or not. The missionary spirit was dead, A few people still knew of Rome and went down there year after year with their flagellations, but the great masses of people on all sides of the globe did not know of Christ. God Himself had preserved on the other side of the ocean a land called America, It was God’s plan that this land should be discovered just at the right time, just at the time that the people who shall be oppressed on account of Rome, shall find here a refuge. There was a plan in God’s mind that there shall be a shore on the other side for the Mayflower, where the public schools shall be established and where the people may have freedom, in the great land of liberty – America. And so that great Divine Mind was planning things, and the time would come when this Gospel that shall be discovered again and brought to light by Dr. Luther shall become the missionary message all over the world. Long before the Dark Ages Jesus had said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” But they had forgotten that message during these Dark Ages. The world was lying in darkness; the Church was asleep; only a few people down in hovels and convents still knew something about the old Truth. “Now,” says God, “it is time to give the world this Gospel again; it is time to spread this Gospel from shore to shore,” and you will remember it only took a very short time during the Reformation until this Gospel went throughout Germany, and France, and Spain, up into Holland, and England, and came across the waters to our own land, to all the earth.
3. To All Ages
Not only was this Gospel to be preached to all people, but also to all ages, to every nation and kindred. In those days a few people thought if they had the truth that was enough. Little did they care whether children had schools or not; little did they care whether the people could read or write or not; little did they care whether the Bible was in the hands of the people or not, except that they would turn the people that read the Bible. Do you realize, my friends, that it is only three hundred and eighty-seven years ago that there was not a public school in the world? Do you realize it is only three hundred and eighty-seven years ago that priests could not read the Bible and did not know the Apostles’ Creed any more? Do you realize that that little catechism which Dr. Luther wrote was penned for the very purpose that Christian schools might be established, and that that little catechism brought forth the public school system in the world? I tell you this first angel had a message to deliver that meant something. It meant that little children should hear the Gospel; it meant that mothers should have the Bible; it meant that boys and girls should have the Word of God; it meant that it should be a Gospel for all ages.
4. To Every Nation, Kindred, Tongue
“Preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue.” In those days the Bible was either Hebrew, or Latin, or Greek, and the people did not understand it. The Lord God never intended that His Word should be closed up in languages that could not be understood; it was His intention that this Bible should be translated. I know very well that Spain gave to the world a polyglot Bible in the same year that Luther nailed the theses to the door of Wittenberg castle church, but the world has never read that polyglot Bible; it was a miserable affair. I know very well there were thirteen or fourteen German translations of the Bible given to the world before Luther’s, but they were such miserable translations that the world never saw the books. It remained for Dr. Luther to be put into the Wartburg as a prisoner on account of his faith, to translate the Bible into the language of the common people, and by that translation he not only gave the Bible to the world, but he gave the best translation that the world has ever found. I do not care what minister of the Gospel you ask, if he is a reader of the German Bible and the English also, he will tell you that the English Bible may be more literal, but that Dr. Luther’s translation has given the best meaning of the original text ever given. And there never has been a very important translation made into any of the four hundred languages of the Bible today, without laying down by the side of the translator Dr. Martin Luther’s old German Bible, and whenever they come to a verse that they do not get the right sense of, they say, “Dr. Luther, what does it mean?” No one who is acquainted with history, and the translation of the great Bible, can ignore the fact that the angel announced to the world the miner’s son, versed in law, versed in theology, converted after a fearful struggle, finding the truth after mighty prayers; that this man gave to the world the Bible in a language that shall stand; and what has surprised me more than any one thing is this, when it is a fact that the Lutheran Church was born in the sixteenth century, in a language that was not then the popular language, why is it that so many of our German Lutheran congregations are not willing to have English preaching? I have wondered time and again how parents could put their language above the Church of Christ. In my travels through twenty-nine States of the Union, I have found Episcopal churches, and Methodist churches, and Presbyterian churches with their very best members having come out of the old German Lutheran Church, and when I went to those men and said, Why did you leave your church? the answer invariably was, because they would not give us the Gospel in English, and we cannot talk German as well as our forefathers did. May the day be past when any church on earth will put the Gospel of Jesus Christ below language. I am glad to announce that in our own United States the Gospel is being preached today by the Lutheran Church alone, in seventeen languages. When the day of Pentecost came, the apostles spoke in the languages of all nations in Jerusalem, and I hope the day will come when the grand old Church of the Reformation will proclaim the Gospel in all the languages of the world.
Not only was this Church of the Reformation to proclaim the Gospel in many tongues, but to large congregations. “ . . and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue and people.” In the days before Dr. Luther usually a man preached a sermon to a few students, or a few professors. The masses knew nothing about the Gospel. “Now,” says the angel of heaven, “that will never do; the time must come when this Gospel must be preached in its purity to large multitudes; to the people.” You who are professed Christians this morning, and genuine Christians, will realize that there is a blessing in the Christian congregation that you cannot get at home. Just as little as you can make a fire with one chip, just so little can you keep the flame of God’s love in your hearts if you are going to dwell alone in the world. Put the chips together and apply the match to them, and you have a fire; bring the men, women and children and the multitudes together, and there is a flame of love and Gospel going through us and in us that we cannot find elsewhere. Now the angel from heaven said, this great Church of the Reformation must kindle a flame, and it did kindle the flame. Dr. Luther on his journeys often stood on the balcony of some hotel and preached to twenty and thirty thousand people, with tears rolling from his eyes, and from the eyes of the multitude. The people rejected their idolatry and began to worship the true and living God again; they threw down their false religions and established churches of the pure Gospel. I am right here this morning to say that the Lutheran Church must demand large audiences and she will have them, if she does not follow in the path of many churches that are afraid to proclaim the truth. Why would twenty or thirty thousand people follow Luther, when not twenty or thirty people were following other men intellectually just as great? Because Luther dared to stand alone; because he dared to say what God wanted him to say; because he dared to stand before Europe and the king and say, “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise. God help me!” Luther, like Elijah of old, understood that one with God is a majority. Dr. Luther understood that he need not be afraid of Pope nor priest, of no man on earth; that, as a messenger of God, he must proclaim the truth. And do you not know that the people are hungry for the truth? Do you not know that the old Gospel as confessed in the Lutheran Church is a power that is bound to grow? The day that I was ordained in this church, as I heard last night, one of the ministers said: “It is a new broom, and in a short time the church will be empty.” Is it empty? Look around you. Is it empty? Will it be empty? Yes, it will be empty as soon as he ceases to give you God’s whole truth. Whenever my church is empty it is nobody’s fault but my own; and I am here this morning to say that if all the ministers of the Gospel in Mansfield and elsewhere would come out and say everything that God wants them to say, the churches would be crowded to the doors. The only reason there are a few vacant chairs in this house this morning is because your pastor needs just a little more boldness. May God help me to become bold as a proclaimer of the everlasting Gospel.
II. The Second Angel
In John’s vision of the Reformation we have a second angel. “And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Babylon was a great city, as you all know. Babylon had a wall that was 156 miles long, and 65 feet high and 120 feet wide, and on that wall stood two hundred magnificent towers. That city of Babylon was the most noted city in all the Orient, and yet, my friends, Babylon of old was no more existing when this angel flew through the heavens; that angel could not have referred at all to the Babylon of old; but let us not forget that there is a spiritual Babylon called Rome; and let us not forget that the city of Rome was also great, and the message of the second angel is this: “Rome is great, but the Word of God is greater.”
1. Babylon is Fallen
“Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Am I sure now that this Babylon was Rome? Let me read you a few verses from the Bible: Rev. 13: “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things, and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dAvell in heaven.‘Surely there is the illustration of a wonderful power. Where was that power located? It is said here “I saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.” What were those seven heads? The Bible is a wonderful book, and it always explains itself if you know just where to look for the explanation. Rev. 17:9. “And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.” There we learn what the seven heads were. Every child here knows who the woman is. Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom, and the Church is His bride, and this bride – the woman – was sitting on the seven hills. And which city of the world sits on seven hills? There is only one, and that is Rome. And it is the great Pope that uttered words of blasphemy. What are those words of blasphemy? We are not guessing at things this morning; we are giving you history. If you were to go to Rome this morning and had the privilege of meeting the Pope wearing the pontifical crown, and could see the words that have been there for centuries and will stay there as long as the world stands; they are not written in Greek, nor Hebrew, nor English, nor German; but in a language that never will change, written in the Latin language, and that is the only language we use in this country, to count. On that pontifical crown you will find the words which I have put on this blackboard: “Vicarius Filii Dei.” In a congregation of this size we certainly have Latin scholars, and in order that no one may think I am giving a wrong translation, I will ask some one to tell me what those words mean. Dr. Davis, as you have studied Latin, will you tell us?
Dr. Davis: – “The vicar of the Son of God.”
We have here then the words: “He is the vicar of the Son of God.” If that is not blasphemy, for a man to claim that he is the vicar of the Son of God, I do not know what blasphemy is. That name stands on that crown, and if we count the number of that name we will soon find out what it is. I think I gave this in this church once before, but I give it again in order that our stenographers may take it, and give it to the world. You understand that we were taught to count in the schools: One I, one; two IIs two; three III’s, three, etc. Taking the same principle, we count:
Vicarius Filii Dei V = 5 I = 1 C = 100 A = 0 R = 0 U or V = 5 S = 0 F = 0 I = 1 L = 50 I = 1 I = 1 D = 500 E = 0 I = 1 -------------- 666
Add them up and you have the number, 666. The Lord did not put a single verse in the Bible not to be understood by man. So we find these words: “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred three score and six.” Rev. 13:18. In other words, we find this great truth proclaimed by the second angel, that Babylon on the seven hills is a mighty power; has there one who calls himself the vicar of the Son of God, while the Bible teaches plainly that there is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus; and when any man on earth tries to take the place of Jesus Christ, he becomes guilty of blasphemy. Let me read a few of these words again: “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.”
2. Babylon Must Fall
This second angel not only proclaimed the greatness of the Babylon on the seven hills of Rome, but proclaimed the great fact that Babylon must fall. “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” When a man lives a dual life, we say he is guilty of fornication; and when the Church of God goes away from the true and living God, to a false worship, she commits spiritual fornication. Rome was great on that day when Luther nailed his theses to the door of Wittenberg castle church, for in those days the Pope not only ruled the Church, but he ruled the governments of the world. They all fell down at his feet. Now stop and think of a poor miner’s boy, with nothing in his hands but the Sword of the Spirit, shaking the seven hills of Home and wounding that Pope. Did he do it? Listen: “And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.” And do you want to know how he wounded that beast? Listen: “. . that they should make an image to the beast which had the wound by a sword, and did live.” In other words, Dr. Luther found that the Sword of the Spirit in his hand was more powerful than the Pope at Rome. The Church on the hills of Rome had taken away from the people their Savior. Luther proclaimed Christ to the world again. The Pope at Rome had said, If you want forgiveness of sins you have got to pay for it. Luther held up his Sword and said, “You can get forgiveness of sins alone through the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ;” and cut into his head. The Pope said, “You shall worship Mary, and the saints, and fall down before them.” Luther held up his Sword and said: “Thou shalt worship the Lord Thy God, and Him only shalt Thou serve.” The Pope said, “Take the cup away from the communicant.” Luther said, Here is the cup. Jesus said: “Take eat, this is My body” and “Take drink, this is My blood.” The Pope said, There are seven sacraments. Luther read through his “Biblia Sacra” and found only two. The Pope said, I am the highest authority; and Jesus, through Luther said: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man cometh to the Father but by Me.” And thus, one by one, he took up the errors of Rome and struck them with the mighty Truth of God’s Word. Then all Germany was aflame, and all France, and Spain, and Holland, and England, and that flame came across the seas to America in the Mayflower, and with the followers of Luther himself, until today we have in all the world living seventy million Lutherans, to say nothing of the other Protestants who are living and enjoying the liberty which that man of God, by the help of his Master and the holy angels, brought into existence three hundred and eighty-seven years ago.
So Rome fell, but remember, she did not die. “And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed.” Rome did not die. She still exists, but she has lost her power. It was not very long after this Reformation that the people drove one of the Popes right out of the city of Rome; he has lost his temporal power and he is no more what he was before, but now without his former power, he still exists.
III. The Third Angel
The third angel comes and proclaims a vision of the future after the Reformation announced by the first and second. “And the third angel followed them, saying, with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever: and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”
Dear Christian friends, this third angel has proclaimed what would take place today, and from now on to the end of the world: and the sum and substance of this message is twofold: False religions are not yet ended; and worshipers may be damned as well as heathen. Oh, it is a very solemn message, my friends. Weigh it carefully. I am bound to speak of a few matters this morning that some of you would rather have me keep silent on, but I am going to be true to my God, if the heavens fall.
1. Two False Religions Proclaimed
There are two false religions proclaimed in those last three verses that are going to be known, by a mark in the forehead; and by a mark in the hand. We can not say that we will pay no attention to this chapter. When there is a chapter in the Bible you do not want to hear, you do not want to hear God’s Word any more; and the person who does not want to hear God’s Word preached any more, is worse than an infidel. This religion, false as it may be, is always known by its beastly character. Whenever you get away from the true religion, you get into the religion of the beast. Whenever you get away from the true and living God, you get to be more beastly than before. We are told that in the latter times shall be beastly religions, known by the mark in the head and in the hand. What religion is known by the mark in the head? I am told that old wounded Rome makes her mark in her forehead every time she goes to the house of God. You have possibly seen the good Roman Catholic make the cross, sometimes on his breast, usually in his forehead. Whether this means Rome in her wounded and healed state or not, I am not quite sure; if I were I would say so; but this much I do know, that we are living now in an age of rationalism; we are living in an age when men think they are just a little too smart to be Christians; we are living in an age when people think because they went to school a few years, and possibly to some academy a little while, they know more than the preachers. There is a certain lawyer in this town who has always posed, ever since I have been here, as a “smartie.” I made up my mind that he must have gone to school at Ada, and it was not long ago I talked with him and I said, “Where did you go to school?” He said, “Ada.” Not that I am casting any reflection on Ada. Ada has given some very good students to the world, but Ada has given more boys to the world that have gone six weeks and knew it all, than any school I ever heard of. So we have a class of people that have gone to school just a little while, thinking they know it all, and saying, “What do I care for the old Bible? What do I care for the old Church? What do I care for the Sunday-school? I am beyond all that. I am one of America’s bright young ones.” And there you have the young man that has the mark in his head and is going to be a beast before long; there you have the young man who is not ashamed, if found drunk some night and carried home; there you have the man who is not ashamed to stand around in the saloon and then go home beastly drunk; there you have the man who is not ashamed to eat like swine; there you have the man going out into the world and doing all the meanness he is capable of; there you have the man who is not safe in your homes, in whose presence you would not want to have your daughter. We have a great deal of that beastly religion in the present day, and I say the world is going wrong, and the angel of God – the third angel – told us what was coming.
Now that is right, whether I speak of the sign in the forehead, the cross, or whether it is the other. Everybody knows that the Romish Church has paid little attention to sanctification; everybody knows that when the average Roman Catholic goes to church in the morning, he does not care very much how he spends Sunday afternoon; everybody knows that where the Romish Church has total sway, the people cannot read or write; everybody knows that the Romish Church thrives best on ignorance; everybody who is well informed knows that the country having the most people reading and writing, is Norway and Sweden, the Lutheran country. And so I say I am not wrong, no difference which one of those interpretations you accept, the heady religion, the beastly religion, known by the sign in the forehead, instead of a religion by regeneration and sanctification, is the beastly religion that we are going to have after the Reformation until the end of the world.
2. The Right Hand
Another great false religion is to be known by the right hand. That is the subject some of you do not want me to talk about. Why did you not tell the Holy Spirit to keep it out of the Bible, and then I would keep quiet. In the text of today it does not say whether it is the right hand or the left hand, but the Word of God is always plain; if you come over to the thirteenth chapter you will find just which hand it is: “And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark – ” – in the foot? No, sir. In the forehead? Yes. In the left hand? No. “ – in their right hand, or in their forehead.” Now you can go around in this world and pick up a man’s right hand, and you cannot see the mark, and yet it is there. When I was a boy, when we met we shook hands, and everybody shook hands alike; but now when I shake hands, about nine men out of ten take a finger and crawl around over my knuckles and it fells like a snake. What is the trouble? Why, I am sure it does not make any difference where you put your finger, but that finger means something. It means that you know each other by the grip you give each other with the right hand; the Mason knows the Mason; the Odd Fellow knows the Odd Fellow; the K. of P. knows the K. of P. It goes on in this way, that just because father and mother have that mark, the boys and girls want the mark. It goes on further, because a man who has enough money to spend to be a Mason, has the mark, the man who butchers wants a mark; so the butchers go together and they have a mark. Then the man who handles the razor wants a mark, and we have the Barbers’ Union; then the man who handles the plane wants the mark, and we have the Carpenters’ Union; this union and that, and every man knows the other by the mark in the right hand. What do these people do who do mark themselves with the right hand? I am not holding up before you this morning this order or that order; little do I care about your secrets; that is not the thing; but I am holding up to you this morning an institution as old as the garden of Eden; it was started down in that little hole where Adam and Eve were hiding when God said, “Where art thou, Adam?” and it has been going on down through history until the present day; and this institution has bred other institutions that have known each other by the mark, and they have come together and determined that if others have not the same mark, they must be killed. Is this guess-work? Did this angel know anything, or not? Haven’t men been killed up here in Chicago because they haven’t had the mark in the right hand? I am not referring to our own school house, but to the high school at North Broadway in North Columbus. The foundation was laid, I am told, by men who have not got the mark in the right hand; the walls were built, and when it came to the roof there wasn’t a slater in Columbus that didn’t have the mark in the right hand and there wasn’t one of them who would put that roof on, but they, all said, “We will never do it, because the foundation was laid by men that have not got the mark in the right hand.” Suppose I were a slater, and some morning I should go down to that high school and begin to put on the roof, what would the other men do? They would do just what they did in New York, in Colorado, in Chicago, – they would knock S. P. Long off of there with a stone. Why? Because he is not a man? That does not make any difference; man or no man, he hasn’t got the mark. Brethren, the man that will stand up for that thing is not a child of God, I do not care who he is. That is the truth that was proclaimed by the third angel of the Reformation. This third angel said, nearly two thousand years ago, that false religions, known by the mark in the forehead and in the right hand, would not only interfere with buying and selling, but bring about persecution and murder. Rev. 13:15-17. The great war of the future will be between the devil’s church and God’s Church, and I tremble for the preachers and professed Christians who today are helping along the army of the devil. God have mercy on them the day “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever, and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”
I say these things with love, my friends, but I fear that some professed Christians, even ministers of the Gospel, are, like that servant of Elisha of old, saying, “Look at the enemy!” My prayer this morning is, O God, open their eyes to see that they which are with us are more than they which are with them. Dr. Luther in those days had to flee to the Wartburg to escape the enemy; they sought his life. In the estimation of the world at that time there was not a bigger fool in the year 1517 than Dr. Luther. Today the world admires him. Today every Church on earth must say that he was the greatest man from the days of the apostles to the present time. What do I care what anybody thinks of me, just so God says, You are carrying out the message! And so I say this morning, dear friends, open your eyes and look at the angels; they are hovering around us, watching over us. God’s truth is so great we are always safe, if we are on the right side. Oh, I will not ask God to strike you blind because I know you are children of God, and I know you want the truth, and I know you will abide by the truth. If this congregation did not love the truth it would have driven me away long ago. I believe you are going to abide by the truth, and you are glad this morning that I am telling what I find, and all I ask of you is, not to follow me – I do not ask you to do anything to please any man; but I ask you to settle these questions on your knees in prayer. I ask you to keep your eyes open and see the great truth in all things that God has revealed in His mighty Word. We are living now in the closing age of the great message of the third angel. May we all so live that when all the angels come, with the Son of God, in glory, we may be found on the side of the righteous. Amen.
O God, our heavenly Father, we thank Thee for the great Reformation. We thank Thee that Thou hast seen fit to take an humble sinner like Dr. Luther and through him give the Church of God that standing in this world that it has today. We thank Thee that Thou hast seen fit through him not only to set the conscience of the people free, but that Thou hast established the Church of God, and the schools which today are such a wonderful blessing to the world. We ask Thee to bless the Christian schools. We ask Thy special blessing upon the public schools of our country, and may they, legitimately born from the Bible, never forget that grand old Book. God forbid that that child should ever forget its mother. We pray Thee that Thou wilt bless all the superintendents, and all the principals, and all the teachers of our country, and we pray Thee to give them that great love for the truth of God, that they may stand as Thy children always should stand, for truth. We pray Thee to give Thy special blessing upon all who have assembled in this house. Bless each father and mother who shall hear God’s Word only a few Sundays more. Bless the sick who would love to be with us and cannot. Bless the dear little children, and help them to see that the soul must be fed as well as the body. Heavenly Father, listen, to all the prayers which Thou wouldst love to hear from us, in substance in Thine own prayer:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
– Long, S.P. The great gospel; an address to theological graduates, lectures on the gospels for the church year, and “that remarkable lodge sermon.” Lutheran Book Concern, Columbus, OH, 1904. Lutheran Library edition to be released in 2018.