“And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever! ’” Revelation 5:13.1
Over the last several articles, we have seen the twists and turns in the story of the universe. We have seen how God laid out a beautiful life for all His creations. He desired good for all, including you and me. But with hearts turned from God in heaven and on earth, everything changed. Our world was plunged into the darkness of sin. And so God devised a plan to rescue us from sin and its effects. Because of Christ we are given the opportunity to live a different life. But even after we have accepted Christ’s desire for our lives, even as the Holy Spirit works within us to sanctify us, we still find ourselves living in a broken world. We still see tragedy when we watch or read the news. We are still horrified to hear the atrocities taking place all over the world. However, Christ’s ministry is still active and alive here on earth. Because of Him we have a hope assured in His return and the re-creation of all things. Even in the face of pain and hardship, we know how the great controversy ends.
“For six thousand years the great controversy has been in progress; the Son of God and His heavenly messengers have been in conflict with the power of the evil one, to warn, enlighten, and save the children of men. Now all have made their decision; the wicked have fully united with Satan in his warfare against God. The time has come for God to vindicate the authority of His downtrodden law.”2
This war has been waged between Satan and God for far too long. The accusations the fallen angel leveled against God will one day soon be made plain as the lies they are. Soon the entire universe will be put to ease, having seen God’s character vindicated.
THE VINDICATION OF GOD’S CHARACTER
Finally, after millennia of lies and deceit, there will at last come a time when everyone will acknowledge the truth of who God is—the champion of fairness and mercy, love and grace. It is Christ who will vindicate God’s character, and at last the whole universe will agree. “In the end, all will acknowledge the justice of God in exalting Christ as Lord. In this way all creation will acknowledge the character of God, which has been at the center of the great controversy, as just and faithful. Even Satan, the archenemy of Christ, will acknowledge God’s justice and bow to the supremacy of Christ.”3 The truth will be made plain of who God is and who we are. Each sinner will recognize their own guilt in the light of God’s goodness and they will confess their Maker just.4 It is this realization and this declaration from everyone, even Satan, that will make it clear once and for all that God is who He says He is. “For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God’” (Rom 14:11; see also Phil 2:10–11; Rev 1:7).
With God’s character fully vindicated before the entire universe, His character of goodness and truth will be undeniable for the rest of eternity. Titus recognized the truthfulness of God when he wrote about “hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (Titus 1:2). We began this series of articles with a basic assumption of the truth of God’s Word, using it as a foundation for discovering meaning and understanding. This final component of the great controversy will put a capstone of confirmation upon this assumption: God’s Word is good and faithful. In Him is all truth.
As God will be recognized for His true character, Satan, consequently, will be recognized for his character as well. Satan himself will realize what he has done and what lays before him. Ellen G. White writes, “Satan sees that his voluntary rebellion has unfitted him for heaven. He has trained his powers to war against God; the purity, peace, and harmony of heaven would be to him supreme torture. His accusations against the mercy and justice of God are now silenced. The reproach which he has endeavored to cast upon Jehovah rests wholly upon himself. And now Satan bows down and confesses the justice of his sentence.”5 He will recognize who God has been the entire time: righteous, good, and above all love. All of Scripture testifies to this. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8); “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph 1:4–5); “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (Ps 107:1).
All throughout the story of the great controversy, God’s love was made evident.
God is love. Those are the first and the last three words of Ellen G. White’s epic Conflict of the Ages series, beginning with Patriarchs and Prophets and ending with The Great Controversy, and everything in between testifies that God’s character is love. . . . It is God’s work in the plan of salvation that manifests His righteousness and love, finally eradicating every doubt in the universe that God is indeed love and that His moral government is entirely just and above reproach.6
God’s love can be seen in the creation of the world, each intricate petal and paw a delight to His heart and declared “good.” God’s love can be seen in the fall through the freedom He offered His creations to choose to trust and love Him or believe the enticing lies of the deceiver. His love can be seen in the sending of His Son to die to provide redemption for all of humanity, a death offered even for those who would not choose to believe in Him. God’s love can be seen in the complete re-creation of the universe, demonstrating His benevolent heart maintained throughout the entirety of history. “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). All throughout the story, God has been demonstrating His love.
THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE
From the time we are born, a primary task for any individual is to sort out and make sense of the world so as to best operate within it. We seek order, meaning, and understanding, because without it we struggle to successfully function. In other words, we seek to find answers to basic worldview questions. While answers can be found and determined through a variety of means, it seems to us that the one who is “the way, the truth, and the life” provides the best answers (John 14:6). Within the story of the great controversy, the answers to life’s deepest and most troubling questions are found. The truth contained in the pages of Scripture helps us make sense of ourselves and the world around us.
Questions of origin, metaphysics, and anthropology are found in our Creator: where we came from and who we are can be seen in the Garden of Eden. Questions of evil and ethics are found in the clash between God and Satan: the reason for suffering and the purpose for moral behavior can be seen in the introduction of sin into the world and God’s response to it. Questions of epistemology and redemption are found in our Saviour: real truth as well as freedom from suffering are what Jesus offers. Questions of theology and afterlife are found in our loving Lord: answers concerning the divine and supernatural as well as mortality and immortality are bound up in who God is and what He has planned. Every question can be answered in this, the greatest epic of the universe.
This meta-narrative of the great controversy shows us that we have come from God and our destiny is to return to God. We have moved from creation to the fall to redemption and are headed towards glorious re-creation where we will forever be reunited with God. This is His plan for our lives. We were made to give God glory and to demonstrate His loving service to one another. This is His purpose for our lives. We see this clearly in Scripture. “All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name” (Ps 86:9). Paul adds to this, saying, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31; see also Phil 4:4; Rev 4:11). The Westminster Catechism summarizes this idea when it states eloquently that “man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”7 While awaiting Christ’s return and in the ages to come, we are to give God praise for who He is and what He has done in our lives from now until the day He makes all things right. “All the perplexities of life’s experience will then be made plain . . . [there] will be seen a grand, overruling, victorious purpose, a divine harmony.”8
Ellen White tells us that for all of eternity we will have signs to remind us of our story and point us back to our redemption. We will live joyfully in perfect harmony with one another and with God for all of eternity. “There we shall know even as also we are known. There the loves and sympathies that God has planted in the soul will find truest and sweetest exercise. The pure communion with holy beings, the harmonious social life with the blessed angels and with the faithful ones of all ages, the sacred fellowship that binds together ‘the whole family in heaven and earth’ all are among the experiences of the hereafter.”9
God has declared that this will all be so. Here is where the great controversy will end and the rest of eternity will begin. “And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son’” (Rev 21:6–7).
1 All biblical quotations are from the NKJV.
2 Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1911), 680–681.
3 Ibid., 670–671.
4 Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1890), 393.
5 White, The Great Controversy, 670–671.
6 John C. Peckham, “The Triumph of God’s Love,” in God’s Character and the Last Generation, ed. Jiří Moskala and John C. Peckham (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press, 2018), 281.
7 The Westminster Shorter Catechism, 1648.
8 Ellen G. White, Heaven (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press, 2003), 150.
9 Ibid., 152.
Joseph Kidder, DMin, is professor of Christian ministry and discipleship at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, MI, USA.
Katelyn Campbell Weakley is an MDiv and MSW student at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, MI, USA.