It was August 1950. The Korean War had been going on for more than a month now. Communist North Korean forces, like a juggernaut, steamrolled through South Korean defenses and seemed on the verge of a decisive victory. A mere five years after the end of World War II, Americans were weary of war, but the alarming growth of communism proved too threatening.
The newly formed United Nations implemented a plan to keep South Korea from being wiped off the map. The troops of the United States and other nations were sent, and war broke out. The South Koreans were pushed into the Pusan Perimeter and almost into the sea. But the UN forces began to slowly and painfully push back.
This push-back was made possible only by the resilience of the coalition troops. Notable in the effort was a corps of student soldiers, hastily recruited as regular South Korean infantry units retreated in disarray. Drafted into poorly armed companies right out of the middle of their high school years, they were ready and willing to fight and die to protect their homes and way of life.
The most famous of these young men, known as the P’ohang 71, were commanded to defend the P’ohang Girls’ Middle School. Knowing this meant fighting under-equipped and outnumbered, they still held their ground and kept a well-trained and well-armed North Korean regiment from capturing the town for a full 11 hours while the United Nations forces regrouped. (1)
The 71 students were armed with just a M1 rifle each and some grenades. After repulsing several North Korean attacks and running low on ammunition, the survivors fell back. Only 23 survived. One of those teenagers was Kim Man-Kyu. He was captured by the North Koreans and faced an execution squad twice. But the Lord had other plans for this man. The two times he faced the firing squad were interrupted, the first time by a fighter jet that strafed the communist soldiers, forcing them to flee. The second time his would-be executioners took shelter as a heavy downpour of rain made them reschedule the execution.
Kim didn’t meet that second appointment. He and another student soldier were able to escape in the middle of the night. He survived the war. He later became a Christian minister and fought a different kind of battle, one against unseen forces of darkness (Eph. 6:12), and brought many to Christ. (2)
Like the outnumbered student soldiers who faced seemingly insurmountable odds, God’s remnant people face a very difficult battle. It is so difficult that overcomers in this battle are given crowns that last forever and betoken privileges unimagined by beings on a fallen planet.
Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Revelation 2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Revelation 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
Revelation 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
Revelation 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
Revelation 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
Revelation 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Revelation 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
The work of refining metal is not an easy task. The process is such that all impurities need to be removed. Once completed, however, the finished product is fully worth the procedure.
You can be sure our God’s work with us is similar. He is depicted in the Bible as a Refiner to our impure metal, the Potter to our miry clay. God desires to have a remnant of saints that keep His commandments and have the faith of His Son Jesus Christ (Zeph. 3:13; Rev. 12:17; 14:12).
Ever wonder why God allows certain trials and events to occur in your life? Sometimes certain things are a result of our own misdoings, but other things come up that seem to make life more difficult. It is tempting to think the Lord has left you to the mercy of the Devil.
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” – Hebrews 13:5
It is a solemn time to live in—an age of technological advancement that a mere few decades ago would have been unfathomable. We are in an age of unprecedented political turmoil. Social upheaval is no longer an aberration but a normal way of life. We are advanced in our understanding of psychology and neurology, yet there is no medical or scientific solution to the growing madness of crime perpetuated by today’s humanity.
We have witnessed 9-11, the War on Terror, rampant crime, school shootings, racial tension, political mudfights, earthquakes and other natural disasters that have claimed the lives of millions in a window of less than two decades. The social, political and spiritual outlook of our world seems bleak, and only seems to drain deeper into a bottomless abyss.
Yet while the rest of the world retreats in agony, in the final throes of sin’s last hurrah, God’s remnant few hold on, determined to defend the government of God to the last man, woman and child. And they overcome by the blood of the Lamb.
“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” – Revelation 12:10, 11
This is quite a stand we see here. Like the 71 student soldiers that stood against a ferocious enemy at P’ohang-dong that outnumbered them, God’s few, a band of brothers, triumph against all odds. To those young men it was their baptism of fire, and while they stood to protect those they loved, their struggle brought to all of them hardship, pain, suffering and to most, death.
Yet the cause was just, and while their victory was in holding out until reinforcements could keep the enemy at bay, it was a stand to remember.
“But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” - Malachi 3:2-3
Every day the Adversary’s darts are hurled towards us, seeking to topple us through our weak points. We must realize that the Lord is allowing us these tests to equip us for the task ahead. Yes, we are weak, we are feeble and can do nothing of our own, but this is the very reason we can endure and overcome!
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9
Christ becomes our strength. He becomes our healing, He becomes our life.
While God refines us as individuals, He also refines His Church. Impurities will be cast out, and Laodicea will finally heed her calling as the final Church in Christian history. She sleeps at the present moment, but you and I can help her awake out of slumber to meet the Bridegroom with oil in our lamps!
It is no secret that Satan hates this church. He has thrown all manner of attacks from its inception. The Alpha of Apostasy crippled but did not destroy the ministry of the Church. Pantheism and panentheism died a natural death, and it never saw any significant success. More subtle attacks were conducted to test the weak points of the church, and while Satan tried to destroy the Sanctuary message in the era leading up to Glacier View (1980), he was thwarted. (3)
The shaking and refining continues. There are many well-intentioned Adventists that chase after a pet theory here and there, being brought about by “every wind of doctrine”. These doctrines seem attractive and plausible, but the Devil has been using them to distract from the three angels’ messages. Erroneous ideas lure the faithful away from the truth, such as the anti-Trinitarian heresy that has lately taken sincere souls captive. Other aberrations could be mentioned.
We expect to see such attacks against God’s Church because Satan wants the remnant to fail in its mission. With distractions and errors abounding, our focus must truly be upon Christ, the Logos, or Word. God stands as Refiner of His Church.
Perhaps you feel dismay at seeing corruption and error being taught and imbibed at every level in the church organization. Don’t call the church Babylon or preach despair. Pray for and be accessory to a purging of God’s floor.
“Just how soon this refining process will begin I cannot say, but it will not be long deferred. He whose fan is in His hand will cleanse His temple of its moral defilement. He will thoroughly purge His floor. God has a controversy with all who practice the least injustice; for in so doing they reject the authority of God and imperil their interest in the atonement, the redemption which Christ has undertaken for every son and daughter of Adam.” (4)
God’s remnant will return and fulfill her destiny. It’s not a question of whether it will happen, but when.
16 Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire.
17 And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day;
18 And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth.
19 And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them.
20 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.
21 The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.
22 For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.
23 For the Lord God of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land. – Isaiah 10
When God’s sealed remnant—the saints that keep His commandments and have the testimony of His Son—are ready to stand against all odds, they will do so by the power of the blood of the Lamb. Don’t worry about being outnumbered. Don’t fret about being unpopular. Worry only about being right with God through Jesus Christ.
On October 25, 1415, King Henry the V of England surveyed the troublesome sight before him. He had a motley array of longbowmen and men-at-arms numbering at most 7000. But the approaching French army had at least four times his number. Far from home, and with no easy retreat available across the English Channel, King Henry decided to make a stand. (5)
Confident, the French army advanced in formation. A large portion of their numbers consisted of armored knights on horseback. The ground was muddy and wet, and the French were bogged down in the mud. The vast majority of the English army were equipped with the longbow which they used with deadly efficiency. Within three hours the French army were reeling, and utterly defeated. Heavily outnumbered and seemingly assured of defeat, the “band of brothers” as immortalized by William Shakespeare accomplished the impossible.
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon [this] day.” (6)
May we, a small band of brothers led by a Monarch mightier than Henry, fight the good fight of faith, refined by the Refiner’s fire, ready to claim victory for our blessed Savior in the great controversy with evil.
1. The Battle of P’ohang-dong. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_P%27ohang-dong> Accessed 3 March 2018.
2. Student soldiers who were wounded fighting Korean War warn of complacency in South today. <http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/06/24/student-soldiers-wounded-fighting-korean-war-warn-complacency-south-today.html> Accessed 3 March 2018.
3. W. H. Johns. The ABC’s of Dr. Desmond Ford’s Theology. <http://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/materials/independent-ministries-and-others/abcs-dr-desmond-fords-theology> Accessed 3 March 2018.
4. Ellen G. White. Testimonies to Ministers, pg. 373.
5. This Day in History: The Battle of Agincourt. <http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/battle-of-agincourt> Accessed 3 March 2018.
6. William Shakespeare. “St. Crispin’s Day Speech”, Henry V. Act IV, Scene III.
Lemuel Sapian is a graduate student pursuing a Masters in Divinity through online coursework at the Seventh-day Adventist Seminary in the Far East, in the Adventist International Institute for Advanced Studies (AIIAS). His paternal great-grandfather Gil de Guzman was a Conference President in the Philippines during the Second World War, and his maternal grandfather and grandmother were instrumental in the founding of Mountain View College in the southern Philippine province of Bukidnon. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History at the University of North Texas and lives in the North Texas area with his wife, Pamela and their three children.