A Trip Out of This World

Have you ever thought about being an astronaut? Not just being a stargazer with your feet firmly planted on the ground, but to actually travel among the stars and galaxies? The Bible tells us of a few good men who have been given this privilege. Who were they and what qualified them to be the world’s first space travelers?

A Life of Continual Perfecting

Enoch was the first man to travel in space. This is what the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy tell us about him.

“And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” Genesis 5:24

“Enoch continued to grow more heavenly while communing with God. … The Lord loved Enoch because he steadfastly followed Him and abhorred iniquity and earnestly sought heavenly knowledge, that he might do His will perfectly. He yearned to unite himself still more closely to God, whom he feared, reverenced, and adored. God would not permit Enoch to die as other men, but sent His angels to take him to heaven without seeing death.” The Story of Redemption, 59

“His faith waxed stronger, his love became more ardent, with the lapse of centuries. To him prayer was as the breath of the soul. He lived in the atmosphere of heaven. …

“For three hundred years Enoch had been seeking purity of heart, that he might be in harmony with heaven. For three centuries he had walked with God. Day by day he had longed for a closer union; nearer and nearer had grown the communion, until God took him to Himself. He had stood at the threshold of the eternal world, only a step between him and the land of the blest; and now the portals opened, the walk with God, so long pursued on earth, continued, and he passed through the gates of the Holy City, the first from among men to enter there.” Reflecting Christ, 320

What qualified Enoch for translation? He abhorred iniquity and continually grew more heavenly, earnestly seeking to perfectly do God’s will. He purposed to unite himself more closely to God.

We also find that Mrs. White had occasion to meet and talk with Enoch during one of her visions.

“Wings were given me … . Then I was taken to a world which had seven moons. There I saw good old Enoch, who had been translated. … I asked him if this was the place he was taken to from the earth. He said, ‘It is not; the city is my home, and I have come to visit this place.’ He moved about the place as if perfectly at home.” Early Writings, 39, 40

A Life Restored

For 40 years, God had prepared Moses to lead His children out of Egypt into the promised land of Canaan. For another 40 years, he led the children of Israel through the wilderness. He withstood their rebellions, their whining, and their anger. And through it all, he remained faithful and obedient to God, until he, the meekest man in the world, was driven by frustration to strike the rock in disobedience to God’s instruction. With a contrite heart, Moses confessed his sin, and he was forgiven, but denied the privilege of leading the people into the promised land.

He stood before the congregation and spoke to them his last words.

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live. That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey His voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto Him; for He is thy life, and the length of thy days. That thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” The Signs of the Times, March 24, 1881

That same day God commanded Moses to go to Mount Nebo.

“When Moses had ended his last words to Israel, he turned from the congregation, and in silence and alone he made his way up the mountain side. … To Nebo, the highest point on that ridge. Upon that lonely height he stood, and gazed with undimmed eyes upon the scene spread out on every side. …

“Angels of God presented to Moses a panoramic view of the land of promise. Every part of the country was spread out before him, not faint and uncertain in the dim distance, but standing out clear, distinct, and beautiful to his delighted vision. …

“As the glories of the promised land faded from his sight, a scene of deeper interest passed before him. He was permitted to look down the stream of time, and to behold the first advent of our Saviour. He saw Jesus as a babe at Bethlehem. He heard the voices of the angelic host break forth in that glad song of praise to God and peace on earth. He beheld Christ’s humble life in Nazareth, His ministry of love and sympathy and healing, His rejection by a proud and unbelieving nation, the agony in Gethsemane, the betrayal, the cruel mockery and scourging, and that last crowning act of nailing Him to the tree. Moses saw that as he had lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of God must be lifted upon the cross, to give His life a sacrifice for men … .

“Then, like a tired warrior, he lay down to rest. ‘So Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord.’ …

“Satan exulted that he had succeeded in causing Moses to sin against God. For his transgression, Moses came under the dominion of death. Had his life not been marred with that one sin, in failing to give to God the glory of bringing water from the rock, he would have entered the promised land, and would have been translated to heaven without seeing death. But the servant of God was not long permitted to remain in the tomb. Christ Himself with the angels who buried Moses, came down from heaven, and called forth the sleeping saint, and bore him up in triumph to the city of God.” Ibid., March 31, 1881

Romans 5 tells us that death reigned from Adam to Moses. Moses was the first human being to die and be resurrected. He was also given an immortal, sinless body at his resurrection.

Moses didn’t need a spaceship. Christ Himself woke Moses and took him, with a retinue of angels to the city of God.

A Life of Perseverance

“Elijah the Tishbite … entered upon his mission confident in God’s purpose to prepare the way before him and to give him abundant success. The word of faith and power was upon his lips, and his whole life was devoted to the work of reform. His was the voice of one crying in the wilderness to rebuke sin and press back the tide of evil. And while he came to the people as a reprover of sin, his message offered the balm of Gilead to the sin-sick souls of all who desired to be healed.” Prayer, 133

A man of prayer and enduring faith, God used Elijah to deliver—during one of the most grave crises in the history of the children of Israel—a message of much-needed repentance among His people and judgment to King Ahab. We all know the Bible account of Elijah and the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel, and the extraordinary and miraculous display of God’s power.

“Elijah had walked with God. His work had been painful and trying, for the Lord through him had reproved the sins of Israel. Elijah was a prophet of God; yet he was compelled to flee from place to place to save his life. His own nation hunted him like a wild beast that they might destroy him. But God translated Elijah. Angels bore him in glory and triumph to heaven.” Early Writings, 162

“In the desert, in loneliness and discouragement, Elijah had said that he had had enough of life and had prayed that he might die. But the Lord in His mercy had not taken him at his word. There was yet a great work for Elijah to do; and when his work was done, he was not to perish in discouragement and solitude. Not for him the descent into the tomb, but the ascent with God’s angels to the presence of His glory.” Heaven, 102

“Suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them [Elijah and Elisha]; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” 2 Kings 2:11

Elijah didn’t need a spaceship. God sent a band of angels in a whirlwind to carry him up to heaven.

The Perfect Example

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, He went back to heaven to present His sacrifice to His Father. That same day, He returned and remained 40 days with His disciples before He was taken up from the Mount of Olives.

“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men [angels] stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’ ” Acts 1:9–11

“They saw Moses, representing those who will be raised from the dead at the time of the second advent; and there also stood Elijah, representing those who at the close of earth’s history will be changed from mortal to immortal and be translated to heaven without seeing death.” Heaven, 103

Christ ascended from Olivet. He didn’t need a spaceship. He slowly began to rise, not subject to the law of gravity. He engaged in interplanetary travel without any worldly assistance. Jesus was received into a cloud, disappeared from sight, and went up into the kingdom of heaven.

Soon-to-Be Space Travelers

Jesus is coming again soon, in clouds of glory surrounded by an innumerable number of angels to take His children home with Him for eternity. What do the examples of Enoch, Moses, Elijah, and Jesus tell us about this glorious event?

The purpose of this 6,000-years-long controversy is two-fold:

  • to prepare a people, restoring the image of God in those whom He created, and
  • to demonstrate the heinousness of sin and its ultimate and utter destruction.

“The Lord here teaches a lesson of the greatest importance by the translation of Enoch, a descendant of fallen Adam, that all would be rewarded, who by faith would rely upon the promised Sacrifice and faithfully obey His commandments. …

“Enoch, separating himself from the world, and spending much of his time in prayer and in communion with God, represents God’s loyal people in the last days, who will be separate from the world.” The Story of Redemption, 59, 60

“To such communion God is calling us. As was Enoch’s must be their holiness of character who shall be redeemed from among men at the Lord’s second coming.” Reflecting Christ, 320

“God shut Moses out of Canaan, to teach a lesson which should never be forgotten—that He requires exact obedience … .” Heaven, 101

“Moses was a type of Christ. He received the words from the mouth of God, and spoke them to the people. God saw fit to discipline Moses in the school of affliction and poverty, before he could be prepared to lead the armies of Israel in their travels from Egypt to the earthly Canaan. The Israel of God who are now passing on to the heavenly Canaan have a Captain who needed no earthly teaching to perfect Him for His mission as a divine Leader. He manifested no human weakness or imperfection; yet He died to obtain for us an entrance into the promised land.” The Signs of the Times, March 31, 1881

When Jesus returns to this earth, the Bible says that all of His children, those who have died and those who are living, are going to take a space trip. It says, “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Those who have died in Christ, those who were His disciples and followers, will rise first. “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” Verse 17

Notice that when He comes, there will be a shout, and when Jesus shouts, graves all over the world will open and the dead in Christ will be alive again. Jesus said, “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” John 5:28, 29

Paul said, “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 15:50, first part. A person cannot go to the kingdom of God in their present and sinful body. His body must be changed to an immortal, sinless body. He said, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep [we will not all die], but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Verses 51, 52

This immortal, sinless body is not bound by the law of gravity and will be able to lift off and travel into space. “Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” Philippians 3:20, 21

There are just two things needed to make this trip—a sanctified character and a new, transformed body. There is no need for reservations, visas, tickets, luggage, rental cars, planes, ships, or trains. The perfecting of character will have been done, and that perfect character will be carried in the heart as the new body rises up into the clouds to meet Jesus.

“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:30, 31

People who look to the world do many things to look better. They visit their barber or beautician, they go to a tailor or dressmaker, buy cosmetics, and maybe even have a face lift or some other cosmetic surgery. All this is done to make the outward man look more pleasing. All the while they remain inside the sinful, mortal creatures they are.

But God offers a new, sin-free character and a new body that will never age to everyone who is willing to believe in and surrender their will to Him. “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” John 1:12

Friend, sin does not have to control your life. You can be free from your evil habits and sinful ways. The Bible says that if you receive Jesus, He will give you the power to be victorious. The Holy Spirit will transform you, on the inside, to become a new person, and that changes everything. If you want to be a space traveler, you must surrender your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and ask Him for a new heart and a perfect character. Only God—because of His Son, and through the working of the Holy Spirit—can do this for you.

Have you opened the door of your heart to let in the heavenly Guest who wants to transform you into His likeness as you cooperate with the Holy Spirit? To experience the greatest space trip ever, we must be born again. The kingdom of God, a land with no sorrow, no sickness nor death, no pain, no suffering, no disappointment, is awaiting its citizens.

“A character formed according to the divine likeness is the only treasure that we can take from this world to the next. Those who are under the instruction of Christ in this world will take every divine attainment with them to the heavenly mansions. And in heaven we are continually to improve. How important, then, is the development of character in this life.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 332

“The character we cultivate, the attitude we assume today, is fixing our future destiny. We are all making a choice, either to be with the blessed, inside the City of Light, or to be with the wicked, outside the city. …

“When Christ comes, the balances of heaven will weigh the character, and decide whether it is pure, sanctified, and holy. …

“Happiness is the result of holiness, and conformity to the will of God. Those who would be saints in heaven, must first be saints upon the earth; for when we leave this earth, we shall take our character with us … .” Reflecting Christ, 303

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at 316-788-5559.

That You May See

“I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.”

Revelation 3:18

In the above text, there are three items mentioned that we are counseled to use in our walk along the narrow way: gold, white raiment, and eye salve. All have their role in our walk, and without the use of all three, we are unlikely to cross the Jordan successfully. However, I want to investigate the specific role that the eye salve plays in our Christian journey. It’s the only one of the three that we apparently do not need to buy. Perhaps that is an indication that we already possess it.

Why does Christ tell us to anoint our eyes with eye salve? The scripture clearly answers that question: “that you may see.”

One of the dictionary definitions of the word see is to “discern or deduce mentally after reflection or from information; understand,” which the context of the word in Revelation 3:18 would lead us to accept as the intended use of the word.

But then the question becomes, What does Christ want us to see, to understand?

A study in the Spirit of Prophecy reveals that, as we walk the narrow way, there is more than one thing, aided by holy eye salve, that Christ would have us to see and understand. Note that these blessings found in the Spirit of Prophecy are in no particular order here.

In Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, there is an eye-opening account of an incident that occurred at Cooranbong, Australia, in 1900. It gives us a good understanding of one of the things that we are to “see” once our eyes have been anointed with holy eye salve.

“In April, 1900, a holiday was appointed at the Avondale school for Christian workers. The program for the day provided for a meeting in the chapel in the morning, at which I and others addressed the students, calling their attention to what God had wrought in the building up of this school, and to their privilege and opportunities as students.

“After the meeting, the remainder of the day was spent by the students in various games and sports, some of which were frivolous, rude, and grotesque.

“During the following night I seemed to be witnessing the performances of the afternoon. The scene was clearly laid out before me, and I was given a message for the manager and teachers of the school.

“I was shown that in the amusements carried on at the school that afternoon the enemy gained a victory, and teachers were weighed in the balances and found wanting. I was greatly distressed and burdened to think that those standing in responsible positions should open the door and, as it were, invite the enemy in; for this they did in permitting the exhibitions that took place. As teachers, they should have stood firm against giving place to the enemy in any such line. By what they permitted they marred their record and grieved the Spirit of God. The students were encouraged in a course the effects of which were not easily effaced. There is no end to the path of vain amusements, and every step taken in it is a step in a path which Christ has not traveled.

“This introduction of wrong plans was the very thing that should have been jealously guarded against. The Avondale school was established, not to be like the schools of the world, but, as God revealed, to be a pattern school. And since it was to be a pattern school, those in charge of it should have perfected everything after God’s plan, discarding all that was not in harmony with His will. Had their eyes been anointed with the heavenly eye salve, they would have realized that they could not permit the exhibition that took place that afternoon, without dishonoring God.” Op. cit., 348, 349

If they had understood what they were permitting, if they had had the anointing of the heavenly eye salve, they could have avoided allowing activities that grieved the Spirit of God. They would have been able to discern that the conduct that went on that afternoon was contrary to God’s will. In short, they would have been able to distinguish error in even its most subtle and disguised form.

This spiritual discernment of subtly-disguised evil is perhaps one of the most important things that the application of heavenly eye salve enables us to accomplish.

Another ability granted by this anointing is explained in the following passage:

“Discussions may be entered into by mortals strenuously advocating creature merit, and each man striving for the supremacy, but they simply do not know that all the time, in principle and character, they are misrepresenting the truth as it is in Jesus. They are in a fog of bewilderment. They need the divine love of God which is represented by gold tried in the fire; they need the white raiment of Christ’s pure character; and they need the heavenly eye salve that they might discern with astonishment the utter worthlessness of creature merit to earn the wages of eternal life.” Faith and Works, 23

Here is the second thing that the eye salve of spiritual discernment enables us to perceive: that creature merit or believing that I or any other creature has inherent or innate or acquired worthiness, is totally false. It is Christ’s merit alone, acquired by faith, that offers the believer safe passage to Canaan.

The third thing that heavenly eye salve does for us: It gives us a clear vision of the narrow way that we are to tread—the path that leads directly to Canaan, as explained in the following statement.

“Those who think that they can receive the blessing of God at this meeting [a council meeting in Michigan] without humiliation of self will go away just as they came. They will have as much perplexity as they had before. But, brethren and sisters, we cannot afford this. Let us humble our hearts before God. Let us allow Christ to anoint our eyes with the heavenly eye salve that we may see. We do not want to be blind; we want to see everything distinctly. We do not want to be marching one day toward Canaan, and the next day back to Egypt, and the next day toward Canaan, and then back to Egypt again. Day by day we are to march steadily forward. It makes my heart ache, it fills me with the keenest sorrow, to think of the precious blessings we are losing because we are so far behind the light.” Mind, Character, and Personality, Book 2, 727

The fourth thing that the application of heavenly eye salve does for our spiritual vision is it enables us to distinguish between truth and error. “The eye salve, [is] the power of clear discernment between good and evil … .” Our High Calling, 351

It is explained in more detail in this passage:

“Christian strength is obtained by serving the Lord faithfully. [We] should realize that to be one with Christ is the highest honor to which [we] can attain. By the strictest fidelity [we] should strive for moral independence, and this independence [we] should maintain against every influence that may try to turn [us] from righteous principles. Stronger minds may, yes, they will, make assertions that have no foundation in truth. Let the heavenly eye salve be applied to the eyes of your understanding, that you may distinguish between truth and error. Search the word; and when you find a ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ take your stand.” My Life Today, 73

A fifth blessing given by application of spiritual eye salve is the ability to discern the “indications of the divine will,” enabling us to walk the narrow way without becoming confused by erroneous winds of doctrine that are blowing with more and more frequency as we approach the end of time.

“Whatever path God chooses for us, whatever way He ordains for our feet, that is the only path of safety. We are daily to cherish a spirit of childlike submission, and pray that our eyes may be anointed with the heavenly eye salve in order that we may discern the indications of the divine will, lest we become confused in our ideas, because our will seems to be all-controlling. With the eye of faith, with childlike submission as obedient children, we must look to God, to follow His guidance, and difficulties will clear away. The promise is, ‘I will instruct thee and teach thee … : I will guide thee with Mine eye’ (Psalm 32:8).” Our Father Cares, 134

Closely akin to the fifth blessing is the sixth: the ability to discern the wondrous providences of God.

“Great possibilities, high and holy attainments, are placed within the reach of all who have true faith. Shall we not anoint our eyes with eye salve, that we may discern the wondrous things here brought before us? Why do we not with persevering earnestness, work out this prayer, advancing onward and upward, reaching the standard of holiness? We are laborers together with God, and we must work in harmony with one another and with God, ‘for it is God which worketh in … [us] both to will and to do of His good pleasure.’ (Philippians 2:13).” Ibid., 260

The ability to “see all things in the light of God’s word” is the seventh blessing that the application of eye salve provides.

“A deceiving crookedness is discernible in the minds of those whose eyes are not anointed with the heavenly eye salve that they may see all things in the light of God’s word. The will becomes enslaved, bound to pursue a course which the word of God will not justify.” Ibid., 268

The depth of meaning in the following passage, which details our eighth blessing, is from Our High Calling, 315, and requires a bit of analysis to fully comprehend the ninth blessing.

“The worker for God often regards the activities of life as essential to the advancement of the work. Self is mingled with all that is said and done. … The worker looks upon himself as a necessity. God says, ‘This poor soul has lost sight of Me and My sufficiency. I must cast My light and My vitalizing power into his heart. I must prepare him to receive truth by anointing him with the heavenly eye salve. He sees too many things. His eye is not fastened on Me.’ ”

First, God says that the application of eye salve enables us to perceive the truth, but then He adds that by perceiving the truth, our vision will be focused on God. When we perceive God with the aid of heavenly eye salve, we understand His loving character more and more.

“But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in mercy and truth.” Psalm 86:15

As we seek to advance the cause of truth, the use of eye salve is essential so that our “spiritual eyes are anointed with holy eye salve, that they may discern clearly what will be for the advancement, not the detriment, of the cause.” Publishing Ministry, 225. Clear spiritual vision will enable us to be effective workers as we seek to hasten the end of Satan’s rule and the return of our Lord and Saviour.

A common theme in the counsel we are given in the Spirit of Prophecy regarding studying sacred and inspired writings is to “mine” for hidden gems.

“Those who desire to find the treasures of truth must dig for them as the miner digs for the treasure hidden in the earth. No halfhearted, indifferent work will avail. It is essential for old and young, not only to read God’s word, but to study it with wholehearted earnestness, praying and searching for truth as for hidden treasure. Those who do this will be rewarded, for Christ will quicken the understanding.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 111

Thus we have the tenth benefit of the application of holy eye salve: “When our eyes are anointed with the holy eye salve, we shall be able to detect the precious gems of truth, even though they may be buried beneath the surface.” Reflecting Christ, 111

The eleventh and last benefit we will look at is enabling us to distinguish the true from the counterfeit.

“It would be surprising if there were not some, who, not being well-balanced in mind, have spoken and acted indiscreetly; for whenever and wherever the Lord works in giving a genuine blessing, a counterfeit is also revealed, in order to make of none effect the true work of God. Therefore we need to be exceedingly careful and walk humbly before God, that we may have spiritual eye salve that we may distinguish the working of the Holy Spirit of God from the working of that spirit that would bring in wild license and fanaticism.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 142

In one sense, even though there may be subtle or situational differences between these eleven points, all can be lumped together by recognizing that the heavenly eye salve simply gives us the ability to distinguish truth from error, right from wrong, the leadings of God from the deceptions of Satan, the real from the counterfeit, to distinguish between good and evil. Given that, we can easily recognize that the application and use of eye salve is essential in our Christian walk. Therefore it is also essential that we recognize what this eye salve is and how to obtain it. Inspiration clearly tells us.

“The eye is the sensitive conscience, the inner light, of the mind. Upon its correct view of things the spiritual healthfulness of the whole soul and being depends. The ‘eye salve,’ the word of God, makes the conscience smart under its application, for it convicts of sin. But the smarting is necessary that the healing may follow, and the eye be single to the glory of God.” Our High Calling, 350

We see, then, that the eye salve is the word of God. Indeed, we do not need to “buy” it. It is a free gift. And when we study that word, we are applying the heavenly balm to our thinking, our reasoning, our understanding, so that we may have the clear spiritual vision that the Lord wants all of His children to have.

Note: In the Spirit of Prophecy, our subject word is written eye salve, eyesalve, and eye-salve. For consistency, we have used eye salve throughout this article.

John R. Pearson is the office manager and a board member of Steps to Life. He may be contacted by email at johnpearson@stepstolife.org

Coming of the King

At creation God gave to man a beautiful world. “And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31. This earth was to be inhabited by a loyal, happy people, whose joy and delight would be to honor and obey the Giver of all the wonderful bounties of earth, sea, and sky.

Then entered Satan, and all was changed. Through sin, man became a rebel to the government of God. The dominion of the earth was lost to him, and Satan became the ruler. Again and again has the earth been cursed as man sinks lower and lower in his service of Satan, and departs farther and farther from God.

But this condition will not always maintain. In the outcome God’s purpose will be carried out. “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.” Isaiah 45:18

And although man has sinned, and the earth is cursed, yet they will be redeemed, brought back to their loyalty to God, and the first dominion will be reestablished. Through Christ the blessings of Eden will be restored. “And Thou, O Tower of the flock, the Stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto Thee shall it come, even the first dominion.” Micah 4:8

The First Advent of Christ

The only hope of salvation for a lost race was centered in the mission of Christ to earth at the first advent. The penalty for the sins of the saved must be met, and Jesus alone had wherewith to pay the price. As one with the Father, as Creator and Lawgiver, His sacrifice alone could meet the requirements of a broken law, and man could be redeemed.

Christ, the desire of the faithful of all ages, could purchase back the lost dominion. He could restore man to the vantage ground which he had lost. With longing anticipation patriarch and prophet looked forward to the coming Messiah. This was the keynote of all their hopes.

The Second Coming of Christ

Prophets have foretold, and Christ when on earth distinctly taught, that He would again come to earth and bring redemption to His faithful people.

Before the flood, Enoch, “the seventh from Adam,” testified, “Behold, the Lord cometh … to execute judgment upon all.” Jude 14, 15. This can refer only to the second coming of Christ.

In the depths of affliction, Job looks down the ages to the coming of the Lord, the resurrection and final deliverance, and exclaims, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.” Job 19:25–27

Of the final rescue of this world from the thrall of sin and Satan, the inspired David sings, “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord: for He cometh, for He cometh to judge the earth: He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth.” Psalm 96:11–13

In glowing words, the prophet Isaiah tells of the joy of the saints as they catch a glimpse of their Lord coming in the clouds. They exclaim, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” Isaiah 25:9

Just before the crucifixion the Saviour comforted the disciples with the promise, “In My Father’s house are many mansions. … I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:2, 3

And as the sorrowful disciples stood with uplifted eyes striving to discern the form of their Lord as the cloud “received Him out of their sight,” two men in white apparel appeared by their side, and said, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9, 11

How will He come? In answer to the question of the disciples as recorded in Matthew 24, our Saviour said, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” Verse 4. This certainly indicates that there will be a great deception abroad in regard to the second coming of Christ.

No event which ever has transpired, or ever will take place in this world, is so offensive and hateful to Satan as the second coming of Christ. At that time our Lord will come to break Satan’s hold upon this world, and redeem the faithful and true. Then will be destroyed forever the power of the enemy. Hence every deception which he can use will be employed to deceive the world as to the nature and importance of this great event.

To meet the popular belief that the second coming of Christ occurs at death, at conversion, or in any other than the literal way, He says, “As the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Verse 27

To the spiritualist, who proclaims that Christ has come in the private seance; to those who claim that the senseless jargon of Christian Science is the second advent of Christ; to all the pretenders in all time who claim to be Christ, the apostle John says, “Behold, He cometh with clouds [of holy angels]; and every eye shall see Him.” Revelation 1:7

And our Saviour warns us, “If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, He is in the desert; go not forth: behold, He is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” Matthew 24:23–26

No one will be left to question and doubt when our Saviour really appears. John describes His appearance when He returns to earth: “His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. … And His name is called The Word of God.” (See John 1:1.) “And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.” Revelation 19:12, 13, 16. He is not then the lowly man of Calvary, but the King coming to His kingdom.

Yes, Jesus is coming again. And while this fact rouses the hate and fury of Satan, and is a source of uneasiness and terror to the unprepared, it is the theme of joy and rejoicing to the few who “love His appearing.” Paul writes, “Unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:28

The apostle says that our Lord will come with salvation “unto them that look for Him.” Jesus said, “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” Mark 13:37. When Jesus comes, all who are thus watching will swell the glad shout of victory, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us.” Isaiah 25:9

But the wicked will not be able to endure the glory of Jesus as He comes to earth. They will hide themselves “in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains.” They will call to the mountains and rocks to fall on them and hide them from the glory of the face of Jesus. (See Revelation 6:15, 16.)

Can we know the time of His coming? Our Saviour said, “Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” Matthew 24:36

No, the day and hour have not been revealed, and hence all who set a definite time for the Lord to come are sure to be mistaken. But are we left in absolute uncertainty? The twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew gives us many signs which mark as near at hand the day of His appearing. To the student of prophecy He says, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” Matthew 24:33. Then comes the watching period. Then comes the time of waiting for our Lord. We do well to study our Saviour’s great second advent prophecy.

But the question is asked, “Does not Paul say that ‘the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night?’ ” Yes, and he also says that some will say, “ ‘Peace and safety,’ there is no danger that the Lord will come in our day.” But this is a dangerous position for any to occupy, for Paul says of such that “sudden destruction cometh upon them, … and they shall not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3

But there is no need for any to be overtaken unprepared. We may understand and know when the Lord “is near, even at the door.” The waymarks are plain and the mileposts are sure. For Paul adds, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” Verses 4, 5

Jesus is coming soon. Paul, writing to those who are looking for and expecting the Lord, said, “For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” Hebrews 10:37

When Jesus comes, He will bring the reward to the righteous. In the last chapter of the Bible, addressed to those in the last days, our Saviour says, by the mouth of John, “Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:12

Past, Present, and Future, James E. White, ©1909, 416–423

[All Scripture taken from the King James Version.]

The Beginning of Religion – A Lie About the Immortal Soul

Religious diversity in the world is vast. From the very beginning of civilization, religions have played a significant role in the lives of both societies and individuals. Specific beliefs have determined the understanding of the metaphysical reality, which has always had its impact on the way of life and its quality for individuals.

Despite the multitude of different religions in the world, there is a certain religious doctrine that has exerted and continues to exert a profound influence not only on the religious world, but also on the broader cultural landscape. This common element, a denominator that connects almost all Christian denominations, Judaism, Islam, as well as Eastern and pagan religions, is the belief in the immortality of the soul. This belief dates back to the very beginnings of human civilization. Therefore, if we want to understand the origins of human religious systems, we need to go back to the dawn of humanity—to the garden of Eden—specifically to the conversation between Eve and Satan.

The Primordial Lie of Satan

God had instructed the first humans that their lives depended on obedience to the rules of life established by Him as their Creator. God said “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16, 17 ESV. However, when Eve was confronted by Satan in the form of the serpent, he questioned God’s direction, saying, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Eve’s response was that God had told them to eat freely of all the trees of the garden except for this one tree. And if they ate, or even touched, the fruit, they would die. But Satan then replaced what God had said with a lie of his own, “You will not surely die.” Genesis 3:1–4 ESV

Contagious Idea

Satan’s lie became the beginning of the theory of unconditional human immortality. The adversary of God was the creator of the idea that humans can live eternally independent of God, regardless of divine law. When deceived by Satan’s lies, humans sinned by rebelling against God, choosing independence from Him. God was no longer at the center of human life; instead, it was human ego. Convinced by the devil of their uniqueness and the greatness of their own “self,” humans believed that the ego could survive the death of the body, that it was something distinct from their physical tissue, which was subject to degradation and ultimately death, and therefore, that the ego is and must be immortal. For the tainted human nature influenced by sin, the idea that the immaterial “self” is immortal is incredibly tempting, attractive, and highly contagious. Consequently, the majority of Christianity did not resist it. How did it happen that the idea of the immortality of the human soul, which contradicts the words of God, became part of Christian doctrine?

Ancient philosophy

In the realm of Western civilization and culture, the concept of a self-existent, immaterial, spiritual, and immortal soul, which is widespread in, among others, the Roman Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations, appeared in Christianity primarily through Greek philosophical concepts, specifically through the philosophy of Plato.

Theories and Views

Plato argued that a human being consists of two fundamental elements: an immortal soul and a mortal body. Therefore, Plato’s concept of the soul is a form of dualism. Dualism suggests that a human being is not a homogeneous entity but rather composed of multiple elements, specifically that the structure of a human being consists of two fundamental components: the soul or spirit and the body.1 The issue is that Plato’s concept of the soul is not solely a product of his philosophical reasoning but has its origins in the mystical religious beliefs of Orphism, which Plato refined and elaborated upon. Hence, Plato’s concept of the soul has a distinctly (false) religious origin.

Mysteries of the Mysteries

The word mystery comes from the Greek mysterion, which originally meant “dedicated rite” and later became associated with “secrecy” or “hidden knowledge.” The Romans translated myein as initiare, which means “to introduce to something” (from initium, meaning “beginning”). The process of initiation was called initiatio. Therefore, initiation was understood as receiving knowledge, and by extension, transitioning into a new form of religiosity. Initiation distinguished mystery cults from the commonly accepted and practiced religion.2 Mysteries were, therefore, rites of passage or entry—an initiation into another reality, a spiritual reality.

Mystical Platonism

In ancient Greece, alongside the official state religion practiced publicly and privately, there existed ancient mystery cults with pre-Greek origins. These cults showed influences from Egyptian and Eastern spirituality. Mystery cults had a significant impact on shaping Greek spirituality and philosophy because Greek philosophy is an integral part of Greek spirituality. What distinguishes Greek philosophies is their specific experiential foundation, rooted in a particular kind of experience. Philosophical experience defines the spirit of philosophy. Therefore, it can be said that the philosophy of Plato, as well as the entire Platonic philosophy, is profoundly mystical and, as such, adopts and continues the tradition of Greek mysteries.3 It was the Orphic mysteries in particular that allowed Plato to recognize the spiritual essence in humans above all else, with all the consequences that follow. According to Plato, “… if any one of us is to have pure knowledge of anything, he must get rid of the body and contemplate things by themselves with the soul by itself. Then, I suppose, it will be plain that we shall attain to that which we desire and shall achieve that goal which we have in view, if there is a goal of this kind.”4

Updating an Old Lie

The Orphics held a doctrine of the immortality and divinity of the soul, a motif that is very clearly present in Plato’s teachings about the soul. Plato describes the soul as being most similar to what is divine and immortal, accessible only to thought, having a single form, indivisible, and always self-identical.5 The Orphics believed in an immortal, divine soul trapped in an impure body. According to Orphic belief, the body is merely a prison and a tomb for the true, spiritual human being. Liberation from this bodily imprisonment is necessary to return to the divine sphere of the universe. Orphic mysteries promised humans a return to the world of the gods, provided they purify themselves from bodily attachments.6 When we explore Orphic beliefs, it is easy to hear echoes of the devil’s lie in the garden of Eden. After all, Orphic beliefs contain the conviction that the immaterial essence of humans—the soul—certainly does not die because it is immortal. Through mysteries, the human soul can attain enlightenment and recognize its divine nature. “The serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ ” Genesis 3:4–5 ESV. Just as Greek mysteries updated Satan’s old lie in the ancient world, the New Age movement has, through its beliefs, updated the devil’s lie for our modern times. Consequently, contemporary culture and popular culture are permeated with the belief in the immortal soul, as observed almost daily in news articles, social media posts, and common entertainment venues.

Platonic dualism

All elements of the mysterious religion of the Orphics can be found in Plato’s philosophy except for the Orphic cult and rituals. Plato simply rationalized Orphic mysticism to fit the needs of his philosophy. In Plato’s view, reality always had a dualistic structure. In the world of Platonic thought, there is a duality of ideas and things, and even more significantly, an anthropological dualism of the soul and the body. Such an approach causes the soul, as immaterial and immortal, to be in sharp contrast to the mortal and material body. The union of the soul with the body is unfavorable for the soul because the body is its prison and tomb. This opposition is extremely radical because the body is a punishment for the soul, a place where it undergoes penance as in a prison. The body becomes the worst enemy of the soul, serving as its tomb. With death, the liberation of the soul from the body begins. According to Plato, the body undergoes decay, but the soul is independent of it and exists eternally after its destruction. The existence of the soul is both eternal and everlasting because it has no beginning or end.7 Therefore, Plato presents himself as a deeply religious man who, fascinated by the world of Orphic mysteries and beliefs, appears more as a mystic than a philosopher dealing with the realm of reason.

Death in Plato’s Philosophy

For Plato, death is the separation of the soul from the body. To put it more vividly, it is the liberation of the soul from the body. Therefore, for Plato, death is a good thing to strive for because only through death can the soul return to the divine realm. It would be amusing, as the philosopher says, “for a person who has worked on himself all his life to be as close to death as possible while alive, to then recoil when it comes to him? Isn’t that funny?”8 There can be no greater contrast between Plato’s view of death as a good thing, as a friend, and the perception of death in the Bible.

Death in the Bible

Death is described in the Bible as evil (Deuteronomy 30:15 ESV), a curse (Deuteronomy 30:19 ESV), bitterness (Ecclesiastes 7:26), terror (Psalm 55:4, 5), darkness and shadow (Psalm 107:10), and an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26 ESV). Death, as the opposite of life, is portrayed as an adversary and something foreign to God. The Bible addresses death because it is a profound issue intertwined with life. In the Hebrew Bible, death is understood as the end of life’s symptoms, the end of existence. It is essential to emphasize that death was not perceived merely as the act of dying, but primarily as a state. Death elicited fear because in death, a person lost their relationship with God, which was most terrifying for the Hebrews.9

What is the state of the deceased according to the word of God? The deceased do not possess any of the three attributes that define existence: mind, emotions, and will. In the deceased, there are no cognitive processes: “When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.” Psalm 146:4 ESV. Therefore, “the dead know nothing.” Ecclesiastes 9:5 ESV. The deceased have no emotions: “Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 9:6 ESV. The deceased have no will because after death: “in Sheol, where you are going, there is no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.” Ecclesiastes 9:10 BSB. This state of nonexistence is euphemistically referred to as “sleep” in the Bible.10 Furthermore, the meaning of the word Sheol is “grave” or “burial place” in the sense of the state of death, not a place for the spirits or souls of deceased people.11 Death as the “sleep in the dust of the earth” is a direct consequence of the biblical understanding of the mortality of the soul (nefesh), which is a psychophysical unity of a person.

Biblical Anthropology

What characterizes the Hebrew concept of a human being is the absence of a dualism between the soul and the body. In Genesis 2:7 KJV, we find the fundamental biblical definition of a human being, a paradigm that is characteristic of the entire Hebrew thought on humanity. “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” This text does not state that God breathed a soul into the man’s nostrils but “the breath of life.” Similarly, it does not say that the man became an immortal soul but a “living being” or a “living soul.” Thus, human beings do not possess a soul as a substantially different entity from their body; a human being is a living soul. According to the Bible, God first formed the body of the human being from the dust of the ground, which includes material and organic elements. Later, He breathed life into it, and in this way, the human being began to exist, becoming a living being.

Biblical equation

The way God created humans can be presented as a biblical equation as follows: dust of the earth (material elements) + breath of life = a living being, a living soul, a living body, a human. In the Hebrew language, “living soul” and “living body” are synonymous.12 Therefore, the Bible conceives of a human being as a holistic entity comprising the body, mind, and spirit. Just imagine the far-reaching implications that the Platonic concept of a human being has for theology, psychology, epistemology (philosophy of knowledge), and popular culture. On the other hand, consider how the biblical holistic concept of a human being could impact the understanding of these areas of life if it had not been rejected by nearly all of Christianity.

Death as a friend versus death as an enemy

To ensure that our considerations of Plato’s and the Bible’s concepts are not too tedious and overly academic, let me present to you, dear readers, two radically different approaches to death by two historical figures: Socrates and our Lord Jesus Christ. Oscar Cullmann described it as follows in his excellent essay: “Is there a greater contrast than that between Socrates, who, like Jesus on the day of His death, is surrounded by His disciples but full of sublime calm, discusses with them the topic of immortality, and Jesus, who a few hours before His death trembles and shudders and begs His disciples not to leave Him alone? The Letter to the Hebrews, which, more than any other New Testament text, emphasizes the full divinity (Hebrews 1:10) and full humanity of Jesus, surpasses even the synoptic accounts in its description of Jesus’s fear of death. In chapter 5:7, it states that Jesus, with loud cries and tears, offered up prayers and supplications to the One who could save Him. Therefore, as the Letter to the Hebrews says, Jesus cried out and wept before His death! There, serene and composed Socrates, discussing the immortality of the soul; here, Jesus, crying out the words of the psalm, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ And He dies with an inarticulate cry (Mark 15:37). This is not death ‘as a friend.’ This is death in all its horrifying dread. It is truly ‘the last enemy of God,’ as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:26, and that is exactly where the complete opposition between the Greek world on one hand, and Judaism and Christianity on the other, reveals itself … . Nothing better illustrates the radical difference between the Greek doctrine of the immortality of the soul and the (Hebrew) Christian doctrine of resurrection than this [contrast] between Socrates and Jesus.”13

Hope of Christians

The word of God does not teach that humans have immortal souls. The Bible teaches that only God is immortal and possesses immortality: “Now to the King eternal, immortal, and invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17 BSB. All other beings have life solely through Him. Scripture says, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:12 BSB. The alternative to this truth is Satan’s lie: “You will not surely die.” Genesis 3:4 BSB. Through this lie, the immortality of the soul became the cornerstone of all non-biblical (and therefore devil-inspired) religions. It is a fundamental element of spiritualism. Without it, there would also be no doctrine of hell and purgatory, the hidden purpose of which is to portray God as a cruel monster. Jesus clearly said that the alternative to eternal life is death (“to perish”): “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 ESV.14 Immortality can only be obtained through the resurrected Jesus Christ, “who has abolished death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:10 BSB). This will happen at the resurrection of the dead: “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must be clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 BSB


1  M. Jędraszewski, Antropologia filozoficzna Prolegomena i wybór tekstów, Saint Wojciech Library, Poznań 1991, p. 151

2  M. Giebelova, Tajemství antických kultů, published by Dialog, Liberec 2009, p. 12

3  P. Świercz, Jednośc wielości – Świat, człowiek, państwo w refleksji nurtu orficko-pitagorejskiego, published by Silesian University, Katowice 2008, p. 19

4  Platon, Dialogi, Fedon, trans. W. Witwicki, Publishing Union Verum, Warsaw 2007, p. 237

5  Ibiden, p. 235B

6  K. Pawłowski, Misteria i filozofia, Scientific society KUL, Lublin 2007, p. 29

7  Platon, Dialogi, Fedon, trans. W. Witwicki, Publishing Union Verum, Warsaw 2007, p. 238

8  Ibiden, p. 238

9  R. Rumianek, Rozumienie śmierci w Starym Testamencie, Warsaw Theological Studies XIV 2001, p. 31, http://fides.org.pl/dlibra/doccontent?id=242&dirids=1

10  J. Dunkel, Apokalipsa, Orion Plus 2001, pp. 110, 111

11  Ibiden, p. 297, cf. L. E. Froom, The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers, Review and Herald,Washington, D.C. 1966, t.1, p. 162

12  R. L. Odom, Czy twoja dusza jest nieśmiertelna, tłum. R. Jarocki, published by Signs of the Times, Warsaw 2000, p. 8

13  E. Piotrowski, T. Węcławski, Praeceptores Teologia i teologowie języka niemieckiego, wydawnictwo Poznańskie, Poznań 2005, p. 402 cf. O. Cullman, Unsterblichkeit der Seele und Auferstehung der Toten, trans. E. Pieciul, Tcheologische Zeitschrift 12 (1956), p. 134-136

14  J. Dunkel, Apokalipsa, Orion Plus 2001, pp. 299

Marcin Watras lives in Katowice, Poland. He is interested in the philosophy of religion and trends in society. He works for the European Union.

The Adoption of God

Over six thousand years ago a terrible thing happened. Mankind, in the form of Adam and Eve, gave over their kingdom to Lucifer, the deceiver and liar called Satan and the devil. Adam was the first king of earth appointed by God. He gave him dominion over everything on earth. “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ ” Genesis 1:26

What a wonderful place the world must have been. No disease or death, no hate or war. A place of peace and tranquility. Our little blue orb of a world, set far from the rest of the universe, was a place of goodness and virtue. God visited often, walking and talking with Adam and Eve in the garden. He gave them instruction and answered their questions. But because of Satan, our world took a turn toward destruction and disaster. When Eve was deceived by the wiles of Satan in the form of a serpent, she never imagined what her “little” sin would mean for the world. It seems little to us, but to God, it was a test of obedience, and selfishness was the true name of that sin.

Selfishness is an invasive sin. We do not realize that our selfishness will have great repercussions, not only on ourselves but on others around us. It was selfishness that led Eve to take the fruit and eat it. She thought she would gain more than what God had already given them. She was not happy with all that God had given them, and like Satan, wanted more. After all, the fruit did look delicious. That fatal step caused a cascading affect that permeated the world with sin. God said, “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:17. This truth was not believed by Eve. If it had, she would never have eaten the fruit of the tree. She allowed her own thoughts and the promptings of Satan to sway her to follow her own way. She gave into unbelief and selfishness. As Eve did, how often do we allow our own desires and the promptings around us to turn us from the path of God onto the path of Satan?

We can see after all these years that God was true to His word. Billions of people have died over the centuries since Eve’s fateful encounter with Satan. Yet this truth has not yet been fully realized. God spoke not only of physical death, but of a spiritual death yet to take place when the judgment of God has been concluded.

People today are all mixed up about death and the afterlife. Many think that we will live on after physical death. They mistakenly believe that all are spiritually immortal, yet God said, “Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me. … For I raise My hand to heaven, and say, ‘As I live forever.’ ” Deuteronomy 32:39, first part, 40

Paul writes, “I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power.” 1 Timothy 6:13–16. If we all had eternal life, if we were all going to be saved, why would the rich young ruler ask Jesus, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” Matthew 19:16

No, the lie that Satan told from the beginning was that we would not die. There was not a single “good” thing the rich young ruler could do to inherit eternal life. There is no merit in any of our actions. This is why the ultimate plan of redemption had to be set into motion. From the beginning, God planned for every human being to be in heaven. Paul writes that we were “preordained” or “predestined” to be with God. Yet because of sin, not all will be with God in the end, only those who have been “conformed to the image” of Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Romans 8:29, 30

Every person must decide if he or she will be one of these predestined sons of God or if they will remain a son or daughter of Satan. God sees the end from the beginning, but we must move forward with our choice only seeing the beginning of the end. If we make that choice to be one of God’s people, we will become adopted by God as one of His own. “Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” Ephesians 1:5

God wants every person to become one of His sons and daughters. God loved us so much that He sent His only Begotten Son. “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4, 5

In the beginning, Adam and Eve needed no Saviour. They were created sinless, without blame. They were not “born under the law” since there was no law broken. But when sin had abounded, our first parents were now “under the law” of God and needed to be “redeemed” as “those who were under the law” to be adopted back into the family of God. They gave away their citizenship to heaven and their dominion over earth when they fell for the temptations of Satan and sinned. As their descendants, we are born under the law of God since sin is in the world. We are not born as Jesus who was a blend of the divine and human. We are born fully human into the family of Satan, “among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” Ephesians 2:3. Like all of us, Adam and Eve needed to be adopted back into God’s family as “sons of God.”

Mankind does not realize the peril they are in today. When born into the world, we are born under the condemnation of God’s law. We are born as sinners who need a Saviour. Like Adam and Eve, we, too, are a part of the wrong family and we must reject this family of Satan and sin if we are to join the family of God. Sin is pervasive. We inherit the degradation of sin in our bodies from the lineage of our parents. We are inundated with sinful acts, sinful scenes, and sinful talk all around us. Our minds are polluted by daily living, even if we are not partaking in sinful practices. This world has become so corrupted by Satan that even the most devout Christian struggles because of the onslaught of sin around them. How can we endure this terrible daily trial?

The answer is in Jesus. He had all our human traits. He understood human failings. Yet He was also the God of heaven. With this mixture of human and divine traits, He is well able to understand and sympathize with our weaknesses. When in the wilderness of temptation, He endured great hunger and thirst, given His divine nature, He could have stopped His suffering any time He desired, yet He suffered as any other human. This is the reason Jesus qualifies to be our High Priest who can remediate our sins. “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14–16

To become part of God’s family, our actions, attitudes, speech, eating habits, and views must be like that of God. In heaven, when Lucifer sinned, it was because his views and attitudes changed. He let selfishness and pride dominate his character. This was opposite to the rest of the angels of God. Heaven was a happy, peaceful, busy place. All enjoyed their work and loved God and knew God loved them. But after pride raised its ugly head in Satan, dissatisfaction was felt in heaven. As Satan (Lucifer) nurtured these feelings, he began to entice other angels with his dissatisfaction. Sin is like a noxious weed sowing its way through a garden. It only takes one weed to start, but that one weed produces more weeds until the whole garden is filled with them. That is how Satan worked in heaven and now works in us.

Jesus is different in character. He is like His Father in heaven. “I and My Father are One.” John 10:30. “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48. Jesus tells us we must be like the Father if we are to be adopted into His family. We must like the same things. We will enjoy the foods God gave us in the beginning of earth’s history. We will speak like God speaks with love and compassion. We will have attitudes that reflect the Spirit of God in all we do. If we have these traits, we will no longer be in bondage to sin. “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:15–17

If we accept Christ as our Advocate before the Father, we must first accept His grace that was given to us. As children of the devil, there is nothing good in us, but through Jesus Christ a new life can be nurtured. We do not have to stay children of the devil because through the sacrifice of Jesus we can claim the promises of the redeeming love of God. “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1

Paul writes extensively about this “filthiness of the flesh” in his letters to the churches. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” Ephesians 4:31. Most people will recognize adultery, stealing, and other sins as traits we must overcome to be adopted into the family of God, but Paul lists the things of the heart that must be changed. He encourages us to replace them with virtues of godliness. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Verse 32

The life that Jesus lived on this earth taught us that we must live to be like God in our thoughts, actions, and speech. It was not enough to just sacrifice His life for our sins; He also came to show us how to live by setting an example for us to follow. Adam and Eve knew the character of Jesus. They had talked with Him many times. After they sinned, they were crushed by their actions, and were deeply sorrowful. They would have done anything to once again enjoy the face-to-face fellowship with their holy God. Over time, we have lost spiritual fellowship with God. We do not see our sins in the same light as our first parents, but that does not make them any the less grievous.

The good news is we can regain that connection, that spiritual fellowship, if we put our trust in Jesus. He has made provision for us to know and to love His good will toward us.

We have something that ancient Israel did not have. We have the Bible complete with the history of the mistakes of Israel on through the endurance and godliness of Joseph, Daniel, Elijah, and Moses. We have the writings of the prophecies of Amos, Habakkuk, Obadiah, and more. And to complete the fullness of God, we have the teachings of Jesus and the witness of His disciples who, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, wrote down for us the great wonders and works of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. What more could God have done! Yet, He went even further.

To ensure that we who come to Jesus and claim His promises will not falter, He gave us the Helper of heaven. The Holy Spirit is given to every man, woman, and child that will commit to following Jesus with all their heart. The Spirit is only given to those who are dedicated to God. He cannot live in those who are double-minded. James admonishes us, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8. Jesus promises we will never be alone. Prayer, the study of His promises, and active duty are the staple of a good Christian character.

Thousands of years have passed since the time of our first parents. They rest today in the grave awaiting the great day of deliverance. They committed their lives to be obedient to God and His law. Perfect obedience is the principle of the followers of Jesus. Many have turned back because of selfishness, and not all were, or will be, adopted into the family of God. But those who are called and will be called the “sons of God” are found to be in perfect obedience to His law and its principles.

Time is growing so short. The road may be rocky, and the trials may be many, but the reward of following through to the end is an everlasting life that we can hardly imagine. We must be ready for that great day of God, ready to meet Him in the clouds, ready to sing with the angels in adoration and thankfulness for the love of God.

Michael C. Wells is the director of Anointing Oil Ministries.

Let Love Have Its Perfect Work

What does it mean to love one another? When David said to Jonathan, “Your love to me was wonderful, surpassing the love of women,” (2 Samuel 1:26, last part), what did he mean? We often talk of love in many contexts, but rarely have a true understanding of it. The Bible talks a great deal about love.

“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8

This text establishes the foundation of true love: God is love. The whole world and everything in it, though tarnished by sin, shows forth the love of God. It was because of the love of God that the world, the entire universe, was created. It was love that walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the garden. It was love that put into effect a plan to restore man if he should turn away from God’s love. It was love that brought Jesus to this world as a babe. It was love that sustained Him under the crushing weight of the sin He bore for us and that separated Him from His Father. It was love that took Jesus to Calvary, and consequently, moved Him to give up His life for every man, woman, and child. And it is love that has pleaded with mankind for 6,000 years.

The love of God for man is a favorite subject of many a minister preaching from the pulpit. But what about our love for God? While we may not have a full understanding of God’s love, we have but to open our eyes, breathe the air, hear the birds sing, or sit down to eat to be aware of it. God abundantly shows His love for us, even in a sinful world. How do we know and show that we love God? How do we increase our love for Him?

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4–8, first part. The very foundation of Christ’s character is love. Jesus was always kind and patient. He was not proud, nor was He selfish. Jesus did not seek to do evil, but rather He rejoiced in the truth.

Jesus could have decided not to endure the pain and suffering inflicted upon Him in the judgment halls of Caiaphas, Herod, and Pilate. He could have walked away from the pain and agony of the cross and returned to His Father. But He didn’t. Why? Because love does not fail. The Father and His Son had a plan to save the world, to offer salvation to all who would accept it, and in this, love would not fail. What a rebuke to all of us! So the most important question we must ask ourselves is, “How can I be like Him?”

We often talk about keeping the commandments of God, and this is very important to our salvation, because perfect love will have perfect results—complete compliance with all of God’s commandments. In Mark 10:17, a young rich ruler came to Jesus and asked a question. “Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’ ” This is a question we should all be asking the Lord. What must I do to enter the kingdom of heaven? Jesus responded with a list of criteria. The criteria he used to test this young man was specific. “ ‘You know the commandments: “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not bear false witness,” “Do not defraud,” “Honor your father and your mother.” ’ ” Verse 19. There are two very notable items in what Jesus said. First, He reminded the young man that he already knew what he must do. Second, He did not quote all the commandments of God, only those that dealt with love for mankind.

The young man was sure he had kept these commandments, but Jesus gave Him a further test in response to his statement. “And he answered and said to Him, ‘Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth,’ Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.’ ” Verses 20, 21. What did the rich young ruler lack? It was love. Remember 1 Corinthians 13 says that love “does not seek its own.” If we have selfishness in our hearts, we do not have love. The young man went away from Jesus lost because he loved himself more than his fellow man, and consequently, he did not love Jesus.

It is also recorded that Jesus was approached by a scribe who had been listening to Him and was impressed by His understanding of the things of God. He “asked Him, ‘Which is the first commandment of all?’ Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ ” Mark 12:30, 31 The greatest commandment is that we are to love Him with all our being. Yet, Jesus was not satisfied with the scribe’s question and added, as a second commandment, that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus made a point of saying “There is no other commandment greater than these.” It is not enough to claim to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind; it is necessary to prove it by our love for our fellow man.

Jesus was pointing out in these two examples that it is impossible to love God without loving your neighbor. It is through unconditional love that Jesus was born into the world to redeem mankind. God loved us, even in mankind’s fallen state, with such a fervent love that He was willing to sacrifice His human existence to save us. Jesus said to His disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13. Who were Jesus’ friends? The entire human race, every sinner on this planet, before He came, during His stay, and to the end of time. He loved them despite their fallen nature.

As an answer to the opening question, David loved Jonathan with a godly, brotherly love. He felt the kindness and caring Jonathan had for him, and he reciprocated that love. God wants us to reciprocate His love for us by showing our love for others. Jesus is impartial in His love for sinners. He does not care how bad a sinner we may be, He loves us all. He did not die for the righteous, but for the sinner. His love is unbounded. He loved and died for each one of us. He did not wait for us to become righteous before loving us. No, He sat with the sinners and talked with them and cared for them. There is no partiality with Him. People hated Jesus because of His unconditional love for all, calling Him all sorts of names, yet He did not back away from His love. Jesus does not condone our sins, yet His love is perfect, lacking nothing, while He works tirelessly to save every sinner.

In addressing this subject, Peter shows us a process whereby we can gain this perfect love that is required to enter heaven. “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.” 2 Peter 1:5-7. First, we must have faith that God can create in us this perfect love. All the apostles talk about the faith that we must have in the Lord. That faith that “comes from hearing [reading], and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

As we study God’s word, He adds knowledge of what He says about love. That knowledge solidifies our understanding of the conditions of salvation. Then comes the harder area to conquer—self-control and perseverance. Perfect love will have our emotions under control. It will make us meek and lowly, humble. Perseverance in this humility molds our character, forming a godly character within us. But don’t be fooled. Many today think they have reached this plateau of harmony, but it is hard to obtain. It takes much prayer and contrition. Godliness is not totally formed until we complete the next step in our search for perfect love. As Jesus pointed out to the rich young ruler—as He does also to us today—godliness is formed through brotherly kindness and love.

Because of our heritage, we are weighed down by the life that has molded us into what we are as we come to Christ. Thank God in heaven that He did not hold that against us. Paul writes, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:10, 11. Jesus said to His disciples on the day before His crucifixion, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34, 35. If we cannot love one another within the church, with our faults and defects, how can we love our fellowman and work to bring them out of the world?

Jesus has called us to have love for each other in the church. As we examine self, we will find more flaws which will require prayer and repentance. Perfect love is the perfect reflection of Jesus. As Jesus is longsuffering with us, should we not be longsuffering with others? That is love according to 1 Corinthians 13, “Love suffers long and is kind.” Oh, if we could see ourselves as Jesus sees us, we would be ashamed. But we should not fear, for love will cast out all fear of failure. If we have perfect love, all fear will be cast out. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18. When our love is tried and tested by God, we must remember that it is to bring us into complete harmony with His love for us, that our love for Him and others will be perfected.

“ ‘There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.’ This is an important statement; for there are many who desire to love and serve God, and yet when affliction comes upon them, they do not discern the love of God in it, but the hand of the enemy. They mourn and murmur and complain; but this is not the fruit of love to God in the soul. If we have perfect love, we shall know that God is not seeking to injure us, but that in the midst of trials, and griefs, and pains, He is seeking to make us perfect, and to test the quality of our faith. When we cease to worry about the future, and begin to believe that God loves us, and means to do us good, we shall trust Him as a child trusts a loving parent. Then our troubles and torments will disappear, and our will will be swallowed up in the will of God.” The Youth’s Instructor, January 6, 1898

The apostle John explains our condition with God in the absence of love for others. Here are a few statements he makes concerning love. “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now,” “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him,” “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” 1 John 2:9; 3:15; 4:20

Would you agree that if you hate or dislike someone, it is from a lack of love? We are told to hate sin but love the sinner, yet most of the time we seem to do the opposite. It is time to learn the lesson of perfect love; to love the sinner and cherish his or her soul as Jesus did.

“Jesus bears with the perversity of the children of men, and pities them in their wrong course. If He felt as some who claim to be His followers feel, He would be filled with continual disgust and hatred as He looks upon those who are abusing His mercy, despising His grace, refusing to obey His commandments, and trampling upon His authority. He has bought them soul and body, and though they give their allegiance to Satan, His bitterest enemy, He loves them still.

“No one can hate his brother, or even his enemy, without placing himself under condemnation. We ever receive from the hand of our Maker and Judge a reward in harmony with the nature of our conduct toward Him and His creatures. It is written: ‘If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.’ Again we read: ‘With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright; with the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward.’ ” The Youth’s Instructor, January 13, 1898

Jesus has given us the example of true love for His creation. He bears long with our iniquity. Should we not also bear long with others? Jesus does not care what their sins may be. He seeks to help them, and us, to overcome and be part of His kingdom. We must look to self and examine our own motives to see if, by our unloving attitudes, we are doing Satan’s work.

None are perfected yet, but if we look closely at Jesus, see His loveliness, His kindness and gentleness, watch as He does not condemn but guides, He will perfect us in perfect love. Whether it be our neighbor next door, the homeless man on the street, our leaders in power, or our brethren in the church, our love should not waver for any of them.

Jesus loved the people (Jews), the church leaders (Pharisees) and the world leaders (Romans) who crucified Him. His statement on the cross relayed a message to us today. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34. Should we do less than He?

If we are to go boldly to the throne of God for our salvation, we must, as Jesus taught us, learn perfect love for those in this world. Love does not condemn or look down on, speak evil of, or gossip about others, no matter who they might be. Love will change our thought patterns and soften our hearts to feel pity for all people. Let love have its perfect work, lacking nothing.

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Joshua and the Angel

Matthew 25:1–13 records the parable of the ten virgins. From this parable, we learn that not everyone who believes they are saved will actually be saved. Nor will just claiming to be a Christian save you.

Our eternal destiny is a very personal and important, awesome and serious subject. It is difficult for you and I to comprehend just how important because we only live a few years in this world. The question we must ask ourselves is, “What must I do in order to have eternal life?”

There is a common belief throughout most Protestant denominations that we will all, ultimately, go to the same place. But the Bible is very clear that this is not true. In fact, there is no other truth so clearly taught in Scripture than this. In the parable of the ten virgins, did they all end up at the same place? They all expected to be at the bridegroom’s wedding, but only the five wise virgins were allowed entry.

So, let’s see what the Bible does say regarding where we will go and how we will get there.

“And anyone not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15

There will be people in this world, some living right now, who will be cast into the lake of fire.

“But there shall by no means enter it [heaven] anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:27

Only those whose names are written in the book of life will be allowed to enter the holy city.

So we see that the Bible clearly states that there are two completely different places that the people of this world will go, depending on whether or not their names are recorded in the book of life. The tragedy is, in our modern world, that so many who expect to be saved will discover in the end that they are lost.

After studying all the texts in the Gospels that talk about wailing and gnashing of teeth, I found that Jesus wasn’t talking about atheists, infidels, or unbelievers. He was talking about Christians who thought they were going to be saved, but who had come right up to the end, and were not saved.

And so, I want to study with you about our eternal destiny. There are many Bible passages that we could use to introduce this subject, Matthew 25, speaking of the ten virgins, is one. But I want to start with a prophecy that concerns the spiritual condition of God’s people in the last days, just before Jesus comes. A startling prophecy that reveals our condition on the inside.

Zechariah 3 contains a prophecy concerning the spiritual condition of God’s people in the last days, just before Jesus returns. Here we read of those who do not have the wedding garment on and are not ready to be part of the wedding feast.

“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him.” Verse 1

The word Satan is one of the very few words in the English language that is a direct transliteration from a Hebrew word meaning the adversary. This name was given to Lucifer after he fell, because he is the adversary of God. He is also the adversary of all who chose to follow God.

“And the Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’ ” Verse 2

Only God can have an argument with Satan. In fact, the Spirit of Prophecy tells us that Jesus Christ Himself refused to argue with Satan, referring him to His Father.

The brand that is plucked from the fire is you and me and those who, because of their sins, are about to be destroyed, but the Lord says, “No, I will save you.”

So, Joshua has been pulled out of the fire, but notice his condition. “Now Joshua was clothed in filthy garments.” Verse 3

“Joshua the high priest, ‘clothed with filthy garments,’ stand[s] before the Angel of the Lord, entreating the mercy of God in behalf of his people who are in deep affliction. Satan stands at his right hand to resist him. Because Israel had been chosen to preserve the knowledge of God in the earth, they had been … the special objects of Satan’s enmity, and he had determined to cause their destruction. He could do them no harm while they were obedient to God; therefore he had bent all his power and cunning to enticing them into sin. Ensnared by his temptations they had transgressed the law of God and thus separated from the Source of their strength, and had been left to become the prey of their heathen enemies. … Yet they were not forsaken of the Lord. …

“As Joshua humbly pleads for the fulfilment of God’s promises, Satan stands up boldly to resist him. He points to the transgressions of Israel as a reason why that people should not be restored to the favor of God. He claims them as his prey and demands that they be given into his hands to be destroyed.

“The high priest cannot defend himself or his people from Satan’s accusations. He does not claim that Israel are free from fault. In his filthy garments, symbolizing the sins of the people, which he bears as their representative, he stands before the Angel, confessing their guilt, yet pointing to their repentance and humiliation, relying upon the mercy of a sin-pardoning Redeemer and in faith claiming the promises of God.” Testimonies, Vol. 5, 468, 469

We know that we cannot be part of the wedding feast if we remain in our filthy garments, but because of our sins, that is our condition. Throughout the Bible, filthy rags represent an imperfect character. We can try to clothe ourselves with any manner of covering, but to no avail as God sees everything in our hearts.

Finding Joshua clothed in filthy garments, the Angel said, “Then He answered and said to those who stood before Him, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’ And to him He said, ‘See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.’ And I said, ‘Let them put a clean turban on his head.’ So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the Lord stood by.” Zechariah 3:4, 5

The removal of the filthy garments represents the taking away of iniquity. The Lord says that it is He who provides the change of clothing, a royal robe, one that can be worn to a royal wedding.

“Then the Angel of the Lord admonished Joshua, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you will walk in My ways, and if you will keep My command, then you shall also judge My house, and likewise have charge of My courts; I will give you places to walk among those who stand here.

“ ‘Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, you and your companions who sit before you, for they are a wondrous sign … .’ ” Verses 6–8, first part

As a young preacher, I assumed that God’s people would know what causes them to be clothed in filthy garments, but I’ve learned lately the necessity of going over the basics so that we will understand exactly what is involved when we talk about a biblical subject. So, this is the question: “What is it that causes God’s people to be clothed in filthy garments?”

A filthy garment is a polluted and defiled garment, and if you find yourself still clothed in them when probation closes, you will be lost.

“He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.” Revelation 22:11, 12

The one who is filthy will remain filthy. But those who are saved will have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:14

Wearing filthy garments represents a sinful character. “And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Revelation 19:8. This is one of the clearest verses in all the Bible showing that our garments represent our character.

The Bible tells us of many ways by which our characters can be defiled. Here are just a few:

  1. The way we eat. Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14

These chapters tell us how to distinguish between clean and unclean foods, and instructs us “to consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Leviticus 11:44

  1. Lewdness and immodesty. Leviticus 18

This includes pornography, dress, music, what we read, television, movies, videos, the internet, and social media. “Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you.” Verse 24

In particular, the entertainment industry has had a profound effect upon man’s character. In a single movie or television program, you can experience nudity, lewd and coarse language, and the actors are being dishonest simply by virtue of pretending to be someone they are not. The clothing that is worn excites the sexual senses and does not modestly cover the body. The lyrics of the popular music styles today encourage violence, disobedience, immodesty, disrespect, and often, outright blasphemy. These entertainers are put before our children as role models, someone to emulate to prove that they are successful and well-liked.

If we want to have our character perfected, if we want to reflect Christ’s character, then we must remove these influences from our life. It is time to go to the Lord, and with deep contrition of heart, pray, “Lord help me.” This is why historic Adventist preachers spend so much time preaching about how to overcome sin. If these influences remain in our lives, then it would do no good for the Lord to give us new raiment for we would just get it dirty again.

  1. Sexual immorality/unrestrained passion. Exodus 32

“Your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.” Verse 7

The God-ordained restraint between a man and woman has been broken. There is an intended respect between the genders that should be maintained. In this world, there is a certain familiarity in touching and speaking between men and women that should be preserved only within the bonds of marriage between husband and wife. People today say, “Oh, that’s just the way I am. I don’t mean anything by it.” Or “That’s just the way it is in our culture. We’re friendly people.” But these activities can cause the minds of God’s people to be filled with lust, desire, and envy, resulting in filthy garments.

  1. Deuteronomy 25 and Leviticus 19

“You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure.” Deuteronomy 25:13–15, first part

The Lord wants us to be strictly honest in all that we do.

“These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord [strife] among brethren.” Proverbs 6:16–19. All these things will make our garments filthy.

Remember, “But there shall by no means enter it [heaven] anything that defiles, or causes an abomination … .” Revelation 21:27, first part

  1. Evil surmising/stirring up strife/gossip. 1 Timothy 6:3–5

In 1 Timothy, Paul talks about people who engage in evil conjecturing or evil suspicioning. Gossiping and carrying tales, even if they are true, is not an activity that a child of God should be involved in. Reputations are ruined, particularly if the tale isn’t true, souls are scarred and driven from the church—both the subject of the gossip as well as the one carrying the gossip.

  1. The content of the heart and mind.

There are many scriptures that speak to this form of defilement. What is in our hearts directs our actions.

“ ‘You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.” But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.’ ” Matthew 5:21, 22

God is not suggesting that it is okay for you to be angry at your brother if you have a good reason. Anger begins in the heart and mind of a man. God is telling us that being angry is so bad that it can cause us to desire evil things and make us filthy with sin.

“ ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour, and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.’ ” Verses 43, 44

Hatred grows in the heart and mind. When we allow it a place there, it can take control of our lives.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Verses 27, 28

There are people who believe that the consequences of thinking about doing something are not the same as actually doing it. So, if I dream of having relations with someone other than my spouse, but I don’t really do it, then I am not guilty of committing adultery. This is one of the devil’s lies. The truth is, lust is found in the heart and mind, and if we look upon another person with evil desire, then we are guilty of making our garments filthy.

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

Because evil lives in my heart and mind, if I want to wear clean garments, then I must have my heart and mind cleansed and purified; only then can I be delivered from my filthy garments.

Friends, we must now get serious about changing from our filthy garments and putting on Christ’s robe of righteousness. Our very nature requires a complete overhaul. First, we must recognize our true condition. Then, we must go to the Source of all power, the One who is mighty to save.

The Lord says that if we will walk in His ways and keep His commandments, then we will one day govern His house and keep His courts. We will be men and women at whom people will wonder. The unsaved, those without the wedding garment, will see God’s people dressed in the spotless, clean wedding garments, their characters perfected, ready to spend eternity with Jesus.

“To the marriage supper of the Lamb will come many who have not on the wedding garment—the robe [Christ] purchased for them with His lifeblood. From lips that never make a mistake come the words, ‘Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?’ (Matthew 22:12). Those [thus] addressed are speechless. They know that words would be useless. The truth, with its sanctifying power, has not been brought into the soul, and the tongue that once spoke so readily of the truth is now silent. The words are then spoken, ‘Take them out of My presence. They are not worthy to taste of My supper’ (cf. Luke 14:24).” The Upward Look, 301

As the sinner is separated from God’s loyal children, Christ looks upon them with deep sorrow. From His quivering lips come the mournful words of regret, “I loved them. I gave My life for them. But they persisted in rejecting My pleadings, and continued in sin.”

Do you want your filthy garments to be removed?

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Mortal or Immortal

What testimony does the Bible bear concerning the condition of man after death? It is vain to search for an answer to this important question outside the word of inspiration. So let us consider the teaching of the good, old Book.

God said to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’ ” Genesis 2:16, 17

Regarding those living since the fall, God’s ultimatum has been sent through the prophet: “The soul who sins shall die.” Ezekiel 18:4, last part. Paul tells us, “For the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23, first part. And, “For as in Adam all die.” 1 Corinthians 15:22, first part

Still, we find that an opposite opinion is held regarding this question. Its origin was in the garden of Eden. Satan was its author as he appeared to Eve and invited her to eat of the forbidden fruit. He told her that God’s statement that death would be the result of eating the fruit of that tree, was not true. Satan said, “Ye shall not surely die.” Genesis 3:4

Hence, from the pulpit, and by the religious press of the day, we are told that at death man does not really die. We are told that the soul, which is claimed to be the real thinking, intelligent part of man, is immortal, and hence can never die.

To those sorrowing because of the loss of loved ones, the all-prevailing source of comfort and consolation is that their beloved dead are not really dead, but that the intelligent part, the soul, has, instead, actually entered upon a higher state of existence and enjoyment. It is explained that “There is no death; what seems so is transition.” And the poet sings,

“Dust thou art, to dust returnest,

Was not spoken of the soul.”

Psalm of Life, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This all seems good, so far as sentiment goes, but is it true? It is not always safe to trust sentiment and popular theology too implicitly. God knows all about it, for the nature of man and his destiny were planned by Him, and human theories, be they never so popular and worldwide, and theology, be it never so positive, will not change God’s plans and purposes.

God’s word, the Bible, was given to reveal to man God’s plans and purposes regarding the human race. It tells of man’s origin, explains his present condition, and foretells what his future will be. It is, therefore, safe to rely implicitly upon the statements of Scripture for a definite settlement of a question of such vital importance.

“To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20

A mortal, as defined by Webster, is, “a being subject to death.” The following texts show the scriptural use of the word:

“Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?” Job 4:17
“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body.” Romans 6:12
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:53

The foregoing texts teach plainly that man is mortal, subject to death. Our “mortal bodies” shall be quickened at the resurrection of the just, and at that time “this mortal must put on immortality.”

“Then [at the resurrection] shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ” Verse 54, last part

Webster defined immortal as “not mortal; exempt from liability to die; undying; imperishable; lasting forever; having unlimited or eternal existence.”

If God gave man such qualities as are expressed in this definition, with power to transmit them to His offspring, as must be the case if the theory of natural immortality be true, it is reasonable to suppose He would reveal the fact in His word. Has He ever made such a revelation? No, not in a single instance is it to be found in the Bible.

In the Old Testament, the words immortal and immortality are not to be found. In the English version of the New Testament, the word immortal occurs once:

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17. The word immortal is never applied to human beings in the Bible.

The word immortality occurs five times in the English version of the New Testament as follows:

“Eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality.” Romans 2:7. This shows that we do not now possess immortality, for if we do, why should we be instructed to seek for it?

In 1 Corinthians 15:53, 54, as quoted above, this question refers to the resurrection to take place when Christ comes to receive His own. And the statement is distinctly made that man is now mortal, but at that time immortality is to be “put on,” before he can inherit the kingdom prepared for the righteous.

“Who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:16. This verse shows that reference is here made to “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.” Here Paul plainly states that God alone possesses the attribute of immortality.

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:8–10. Here we are told that the truth regarding immortality is brought to light “through the gospel.” Reason and science cannot demonstrate it. Neither can the oracles of heathenism, the decretals [papal letter giving authoritative decision on a point of canon law] of the pope, nor the creeds of churches reveal it to us. God’s word alone can give us the desired light.

A Cornerstone

The critical clergyman and Bible commentator, J. N. Andrews, writes:

“The doctrine of the immortality of the soul is something indispensable to almost every prominent religious system.

“It is the cornerstone of heathenism. All, or nearly all, the gods of heathenism are dead men who were turned into gods by dying. They are simply the immortal souls of the dead.

“Romanism is indebted to this doctrine for all its saints are now acting as mediators with God. It is a fundamental idea in the system of purgatory. In fact, Romanism is as much dependent on this doctrine as is heathenism and is incapable of existing without it.

“Spiritualism is simply the embodiment of this doctrine of natural immortality. It is incapable of existing without it. The very mission of Spiritualism, as proclaimed by itself, is to establish the doctrine of the immortality of the soul.

“Is it not strange that this cornerstone of heathenism, Romanism, and spiritualism, should also be the cornerstone of modern orthodoxy? Yet, such is the case. It is in these days esteemed the marrow and fatness of the gospel. And so prevalent is this doctrine, that the advent of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the judgment, are rendered almost obsolete by it.”

How Applied

In the book Pauline Theology, by H. L. Hastings, are found the following statements:

  1. The apostle Paul is the only writer in the whole Bible who makes use of the word immortal or immortality.
  2. He never applies it to sinners.
  3. He never applies it to either righteous or wicked in this world.
  4. He never applies it to men’s souls at all, either before or after death.
  5. He speaks of it as an attribute of the King eternal. 1Timothy 1:17
  6. He declares that He [God] is the only possessor of it. 1Timothy 6:16
  7. He presents it as an object which men are to seek after by patient continuance in well-doing. Romans 2:7
  8. He speaks of it as revealed or brought to light in the gospel of the Son of God. 2Timothy 1:10
  9. He defines the period when it shall be “put on” by the saints of God, and fixes it at the resurrection, when Christ, who is our life, shall appear. 1Corinthians 15:52, 54
  10. Therefore, he never taught the immortality of the soul, as it is now taught, and hence, when he declared that sinners should be destroyed, or perish, or die, or be burned, or devoured by fire, he did so without any “mental reservations,” or “theological definitions;” in other words, he said what he meant, and meant what he said.

Use of Terms

In his tract entitled, “The Intermediate State,” Evangelist G. W. Anglebarger says:

“If the saints are dead they are not alive. If they are in the grave, they are not in heaven. If they have no thoughts, then they are not thinking. If they know nothing, then they are not intelligent. If they are asleep, then they are not awake. If they are to be rewarded at the judgment, they are not being rewarded now. Is this not the doctrine of the Bible?”

A New Dictionary

“It is a notorious fact that in our theological works a nondescript dictionary is made with definitions as follows: ‘To be dead,’ means to be more conscious. ‘To die,’ is to live on in woe. ‘To lose life,’ is to preserve a miserable existence. ‘Life’ means happiness. ‘To burn up,’ is to make a living salamander. ‘To destroy,’ is to preserve whole. ‘To devour,’ ‘perish,’ ‘consume,’ etc., mean to make indestructible and immortal. ‘Not to be,’ to be without end!”—Reverend Jacob Blain, Baptist minister of Buffalo.

Origin of the Doctrine

Mr. Panton Ham, of Bristol, England, in writing of the immortality of the soul, says:

“Let it be registered as the genuine genealogy, that pagan Plato was its father, and the profligate Pope Leo its foster father. Born and bred by the pagan philosophy, the protégé of popery, this notion of the soul’s immortality has become a pet dogma of popular Protestantism, which, with a strange forgetfulness of its low lineage, openly declares it to be the honorable offspring of a true orthodoxy!”

Unknown in the Bible

Olshausen, in his comments on 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ,” etc., says: “The doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and the name, are alike unknown to the entire Bible.”

And in explaining Luke 16:24–26, he also states: “The Bible knows not either the expression, ‘immortality of the soul’ (God is He ‘who alone hath immortality.’ 1 Timothy 6:16), or the modern doctrine of immortality.”

God’s Design

Professor Hudson, author of a valuable Greek Concordance of the New Testament, says:

“We regard man as created not absolutely immortal, but in a certain sense for immortality; i.e., immortality was his natural and proper destination. He was designed to be immortal in the same sense in which he was designed for eternal life; or, as the chief end of man is to glorify God, to enjoy Him forever. In this view, we maintain that the guilty failure of eternal life brings the penal forfeiture of immortality.”

From the Original

For the benefit of those who desire to study the original text on this subject, the following is given from the pen of the author and clergyman, Uriah Smith:

“The word, ‘immortal’ occurs but once in the English version of the Scriptures; 1 Timothy 1:17; and there it is applied, not to man nor any part of man, but to God. The original word, however, from which it comes, aphtharlos, occurs seven times in the New Testament; and in the six other instances of its use it is rendered incorruptible, but is never applied to man. Its entire use is as follows, the rendering of the word being in italics:

“Romans 1:23, the glory of the uncorruptible God.

“1 Corinthians 9:25, they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

“Chapter 15:52, the dead shall be raised incorruptible.

“1 Timothy 1:17, unto the King eternal, immortal.

“1 Peter 1:4, to an inheritance incorruptible.

“Verse 23, born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God.

“Chapter 3:4, the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible.

“It will thus be seen that in Romans 1:23, it is applied to God; in 1 Corinthians 9:25, to the crown of immortality which we seek; in 1 Corinthians 15:52, to the incorruptible bodies we receive in the resurrection; in 1 Peter 1:4, to the future inheritance of the saints; in verse 23, to the principle by which conversion is wrought in us; and in 1 Peter 3:4, to the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit which we put on through Christ.

“But although man is nowhere called immortal, is not the equivalent declaration somewhere made that he had immortality? The word immortality occurs in the English Scriptures but five times; but it comes from two words in the Greek, and these occur in the aggregate eleven times. The first of these, athanasia, occurs but three times, and is every time rendered “immortality” as follows:

“1 Corinthians 15:53, this mortal must put on immortality.

“Verse 54, when this mortal shall have put on immortality.

“1 Timothy 6:16, who only hath immortality.

“In these instances the word is applied to what we are to put on in the resurrection, and to God, who, it is declared, is the only One who by nature hath it. The other word, aphtharsia, occurs eight times as follows:

“Romans 2:7, to them who … seek for glory and honor and immortality.

“1 Corinthians 15:42, it is raised in incorruption.

“Verse 50, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

“Verse 53, this corruptible must put on incorruption.

“Verse 54, when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption.

“Ephesians 6:24, love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.

“2 Timothy 1:10, brought life and immortality to light.

“Titus 2:7, showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity.

“In all these instances it will be seen that the word is not once applied to man, but to that for which we obtain by the resurrection, to our love to Christ, to what Christ has brought to light, and to the doctrine we are to cherish. The way in which these words are used is very significant, and should have great weight in deciding this question.”

Death has been the lot of man ever since the fall of our first parents, but Christ will destroy it. Immortality is not now possessed by the sons of Adam, but will be given to the saints “When Christ who is our Life appears.” Colossians 3:4, first part

“How has Christ brought life and immortality to light? Answer: By abolishing death. There could have been no life nor immortality without this; for the human race was hopelessly doomed to death through sin. Then by what means and for whom has He abolished death? Answer: He has abolished it by dying for man and rising again, a victor over death; and He has wrought this work only for those who will accept of it through Him; for all who reject His proffered aid, will meet at last the same fate that would have been the lot of all had Christ never undertaken the work of redemption in our behalf. Thus through the gospel—the good news of salvation by His sufferings and death—He has brought to light the fact, not that all men are by nature in possession of immortality, but that a way is opened whereby we may at last gain possession of this inestimable boon.”—Smith

According to the popular dogma of the natural immortality of man, the righteous go to their reward, and the wicked to their punishment, at death. But the Bible doctrines of the judgment, the resurrection of the dead, and the second coming of Christ, make such a theory untenable.

The Bible plainly teaches a judgment still in the future.

Paul, before Felix, “reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come.” Acts 24:25

The scene of the judgment is described in Revelation 20:12, 13; and that it takes place at the end of the world is evident from the statements found in the nineteenth and twentieth chapters of Revelation.

The apostle Peter says, “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.” 2 Peter 2:9

In this text it is stated that the wicked are reserved “under punishment for the day of judgment.” Hence they are not immortal, and are not now receiving their chastisement.

Paul says also, that God “has appointed a day on which He will judge the world.” Acts 17:31

As an evidence that the righteous do not yet possess immortality, and are not now receiving their reward, the Bible plainly teaches that they do not receive it until the coming of Christ, and the resurrection, and the judgment.

Rewarded at the second coming of Christ:

“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” Matthew 16:27

John prophesies of Christ, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give every one according to his work.” Revelation 22:12

Crowned at the appearing of the Chief Shepherd:

“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” 1 Peter 5:4

Recompensed at the resurrection:

“For you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:14, last part. Not at death.

Paul looked forward to the resurrection as the only hope of those who die. He said, “For if the dead do not rise, … your faith is futile; … then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” 1 Corinthians 15:16–18

In John 6:39, Christ said that He would lose nothing of all the Father had given, but would “raise it up again at the last day.” This shows that to be saved we must be resurrected.

In “Theology of the Scriptures,” Vol. ii, p. 315, Andrew Carmichael says: “It cannot be too often repeated: If there be an immortal soul, there is no resurrection; and if there be any resurrection, there is no immortal soul.”

Rewarded at the judgment:

“The nations were angry, and Your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great.” Revelation 11:18

No comment is needed upon such plain statements from the word of God. It is folly to argue that at death the wicked receive their punishment and afterward are recalled for judgment, for this is yet in the future.

It is equally unscriptural to claim that the righteous, at death, obtain their great reward in heaven, and later are to be called back to the judgment to ascertain if the reward has been rightly bestowed. And further, the foregoing quotations of scriptures prove clearly that the reward is not to be given until the judgment, the coming of Christ, and the resurrection of the just.

Past, Present, and Future, James Edson White, ©1909, 147–157

Peace that Surpasses All Understanding

The Lord will give strength to His people;

The Lord will bless His people with peace.

Psalm 29:11

It is indisputable that the Lord bestows enumerable blessings on the inhabitants of this world. The greatest blessing is a given, but establishing which of those blessings is the second greatest would be a matter of opinion. The second greatest blessing that the Lord bestows upon His people, in my opinion, is an abiding, inner peace. It is that peace that enables us to cope with life’s daily challenges and with the increasing turmoil that is so prevalent in the world today.

In John 14, Christ states clearly His desire for His disciples to be at peace.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Verse 27

It is notable that He declared this gift just a few hours before He was taken captive in the garden of Gethsemane.

A couple of chapters later, even closer to the time of His arrest, we have record of an interesting exchange between Christ and the apostles.

“ ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.’ Then some of His disciples said among themselves, ‘What is this that He says to us, “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again, a little while, and you will see Me”; and, “because I go to the Father”?’ They said therefore, ‘What is this that He says, “little while”? We do not know what He is saying.’ ” John 16:16–18

Then Christ explains in verses 19–28 what He meant—although still a bit cryptically.

The disciples responded to His explanation: “His disciples said to Him, ‘See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.’ ” Verses 29, 30

Then Christ challenges them: “Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? Indeed, the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. …’ ” Verses 31, 32

Then in His continuing determination to provide them with comfort—even though He knew that they still did not understand or realize what was going to happen beginning in just a few hours, He added, “ ‘These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ ” Verse 33

The events that followed over the following days were the fulfillment of many ancient prophecies. Then at least three times after His resurrection, Christ entreated peace upon His disciples once again. We have a record of those blessings in John 20.

“Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ ” Verses 19–21

Remember that when this scene occurred, Thomas was not present, and because he did not see the resurrected Christ, he refused to believe. His unbelief led to the third recorded time that Christ promised peace to the apostles.

“And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ ” Verse 26

The promise of peace that Christ would reveal, or give, or make possible had been promised hundreds of years before in a prophecy that is very well known and much cherished by the Christian world:

“For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6

That promise was repeated when the angels made the grand announcement to the shepherds attending their flocks. They concluded their announcement with the wonderful statement recorded in Luke 2:14 that meant more than we even understand today: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Even in the midst of the chaos of end times, the Lord makes this wonderful promise in a prophecy yet to be fulfilled:

 “For the mountains shall depart

And the hills be removed,

But My kindness shall not depart from you,

Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,

Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.”

Isaiah 54:10

There are equally wonderful promises of peace through Christ in the writings of Paul.

Even though his relationship with Christ began in a way that might be seen as somewhat unsettling, if not even a bit brutal, he nevertheless understood the basis and very foundation of that relationship when he wrote to the Romans, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1, 2

As evidence of Paul’s conviction of the peace that Christ provides, we need look no further than the salutation of all 13 of his epistles:

Romans 1:7

1 Corinthians 1:3

2 Corinthians 1:2

Galatians 1:3

Ephesians 1:2

Philippians 1:2

Colossians 1:2

1 Thessalonians 1:1

2 Thessalonians 1:2

1 Timothy 1:2

2 Timothy 1:2

Titus 1:4

Philemon 1:3.

All begin with some version of the same salutation: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

It should be indisputably clear that there is nothing more in this world that Christ and those inspired by Christ want for His followers than peace—an inner, abiding peace that can only be obtained through faith in the promises in the inspired word.

It is likely that as you read this article, you have at least one, if not many, favorite promises that instill within you a comforting sense of peace. A favorite for many people is found in Philippians 4:6, 7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Earlier in this article, it was noted that Christ and those inspired by Him consistently wish peace for His followers. In the devotional Our High Calling, there are several passages that refer to the peace that Christ wants His followers to experience.

“Shortly before His crucifixion Christ bequeathed to His disciples a legacy of peace. … This peace is not the peace that comes through conformity with the world. It is an internal rather than an external peace. Without will be wars and fightings, through the opposition of avowed enemies, and the coldness and suspicion of those who claim to be friends. The peace of Christ is not to banish division, but it is to remain amid strife and division. …

“The peace that Christ gave to His disciples, and for which we pray, is the peace that is born of truth, a peace that is not to be quenched because of division. Without may be wars and fightings, jealousies, envies, hatred, strife; but the peace of Christ is not that which the world giveth or taketh away.” Op. Cit., 328

“Sanctification, unity, peace—all are to be ours through the truth. The belief of the truth does not make men gloomy and uncomfortable. If you have peace in Christ, His precious blood is speaking pardon and hope to your soul. Yes, more, you have joy in the Holy Spirit, through accepting the precious promises. Jesus says, ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’ John 16:33. Therefore the world shall not overcome you if you believe in Me. It is a world that I have conquered. Because I have overcome, if you believe in Me, you shall overcome. …

“All that Jesus has promised, He will fulfill; and it is greatly dishonoring to Him for us to doubt Him. All His words are spirit and life. Accepted and obeyed, they will give peace and happiness and assurance forever. … Christ declares that He has given us peace; it belongs to us. And He has spoken these things, that in Him we may have that which through infinite sacrifice He had purchased for us—what He holds as ours. This peace we need not seek in the world, for the world has it not to bestow. It is in Christ. He will give it, in spite of the world, notwithstanding its threats and decrees, its alluring, deceiving promises.” Op. Cit., 329

“Mercy and truth have met together;

Righteousness and peace have kissed.”

Psalm 85:10

John R. Pearson is the office manager and a board member of Steps to Life. He may be contacted by email at: johnpearson@stepstolife.org

Abraham’s Test of Faith

“Faith claims God’s promises and brings forth fruit in obedience. … Genuine faith has its foundation in the promises and provisions of the Scriptures. …

“It is not enough to believe about Christ; we must believe in Him. The only faith that will benefit us is that which embraces Him as a personal Saviour; which appropriates His merits to ourselves. Many hold faith as an opinion. But saving faith is a transaction, by which those who receive Christ join themselves in covenant relation with God. Genuine faith is life. A living faith means an increase of vigor, a confiding trust, by which the soul becomes a conquering power.” Gospel Workers, 260, 261

The subject of faith is one of great importance. Let’s begin our study by looking at 14 points about faith:

  1. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him [God].” Hebrews 11:6, first part
  2. Only those who have faith in God are actually part of the true church, but church membership does not give you faith (Luke 16:19–31). “The closing scenes of this earth’s history are portrayed in the closing of the rich man’s history. The rich man claimed to be a son of Abraham, but he was separated from Abraham by an impassable gulf—a character wrongly developed. Abraham served God, following His word in faith and obedience. But, the rich man was unmindful of God and of the needs of suffering humanity. The great gulf fixed between him and Abraham was the gulf of disobedience. There are many today who are following the same course. Though church members, they are unconverted. They may take part in the church service, they may chant the psalm, ‘As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God’ (Psalm 42:1); but they testify to a falsehood. They are no more righteous in God’s sight than is the veriest sinner.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 269, 270

Mrs. White is describing church members who are not converted; they are members of the professed church, but not of the true church. The Bible and Spirit of Prophecy make a very sharp distinction between the true church and the professed church. “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His.’ ” 2 Timothy 2:19, first part. Members of the true church and the professed church all make a profession, but not everyone making a profession is a part of His true church. Mrs. White uses the terminology “the professed church” hundreds of times in her writings, making a distinction between it and the true church.

So how can you know whether you are a professed or true member of God’s church? “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.” Galatians 3:7. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Verse 26. “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Verse 29

  1. Everyone who has faith in God will be saved. Period. No exceptions. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” John 6:47
  2. Jesus predicted that in the last days of earth’s history there would be a great lack of faith, a time of prevailing unbelief. “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8, last part
  3. Lack of faith is one of the main problems of the Laodicean church (Revelation 3:14–22).
  4. Some have more than others, but every person has a measure of faith. “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3, last part

Researchers have given polygraph tests to some who say they do not believe in God. The results? They failed the test. There are many stories of an atheist or agnostic who, when confronted with a terrible situation, cried out, “Lord, help me!” And the Lord did. God has given every man some faith on which to build greater faith.

  1. The time of Noah was a time of little faith and big unbelief. They did not believe what Noah said, until the rain came. In the last days, just before Jesus comes again, He said it would be just as it was then (Matthew 24:37–39).
  2. If you desire your faith to grow, you must exercise it. Everyone has some faith, but would you like to have more? “How to exercise faith should be made very plain. To every promise of God there are conditions. If we are willing to do His will, all His strength is ours. …

“It [faith] grows as exercised in appropriating the word of God. In order to strengthen faith, we must often bring it in contact with the word.” Education, 253, 254. That statement is worth a lot of study. God says to us, “If you will do this, I will do that.” We do our part, He does His; that is when miracles begin happening in our lives.

  1. For faith to become strong, it must be tested. This is true with any endeavor be it spiritual, mental, or physical. If you want to become physically strong, you must exercise and use your muscles. In school, students are tested to determine what they have learned. To become spiritually strong, you must be tested, and, as children of God, we should expect to be tested.

“Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?’ But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.” John 6:5, 6. If Jesus already knew what He was going to do, why did He ask the question? To test Philip. Sadly, he failed the test. It is important to be tested so that we can grow spiritually in Christ.

  1. If you desire to have strong faith, you must regularly study your Bible. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17. Mrs. White says we should study our Bible every morning and evening. Some people say they don’t have time to study their Bible more than once a day. Do you have time to eat more than once a day? Yes, because it is necessary if you’re going to be healthy. For your spiritual health, it is necessary to make the time to immerse your mind in the word of God at least twice a day; and that is the minimum. Think of Daniel. Temptations, trials, and struggles in Babylon led him to study the word three times a day. It was so important to him that he did not stop even when he knew it would mean being thrown into the lions’ den.
  2. Faith always obeys the word of God. No obedience, no faith.
  3. “Every failure on the part of the children of God is due to their lack of faith.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 657. Why do we fail? Lack of faith. Do you realize that if you have enough faith, you never have to fail in your Christian experience?
  4. “Through faith in Christ, every deficiency of character may be supplied, every defilement cleansed, every fault corrected, every excellence developed.” Education, 257. If you have faith in Christ, everything you need for the perfecting of your character will be supplied, and every defilement will be removed.
  5. “Faith is trusting God—believing that He loves us and knows best what is for our good. …

“… Faith receives from God the life that alone can produce true growth and efficiency.” Ibid., 253

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8. Faith is best understood when looked at from the standpoint of human experience. Abraham, one of the great men of faith in the Bible, had faith so great that he is called the father of the faithful and the friend of God. There were three big tests of faith in Abraham’s life. Each bigger than the one before it, each requiring greater faith.

When Abraham was around 70 years of age, still a relatively young man in those days, God gave him his first test of faith by directing him to leave his home in Ur of the Chaldees—today the southern part of Iraq—and go to a place that He would reveal to Him. Ur of the Chaldees was a highly civilized city with many “modern” things—running water, street lights at night, paved roads, and masonry buildings. Abraham had lived there all his life with his father and mother and other relatives. Now, God says to him, “Leave your family and all you know, and I will show you where to go.”

Abraham stepped out in faith, gathered his family and herds of cattle and sheep, and headed out to follow God’s instructions. Everyone wanted to know where he was going, but he couldn’t tell them because he didn’t know. The only explanation he could give was that the Lord wanted him to go. They thought he was crazy; it’s possible that Abraham felt a little crazy. Abraham loved his family, but he left them, knowing he would likely never see them again, and he did it because he had faith in God’s direction.

“It was no light test that was thus brought upon Abraham, no small sacrifice that was required of him. There were strong ties to bind him to his country, his kindred, and his home. But he did not hesitate to obey the call. He had no question to ask concerning the land of promise—whether the soil was fertile and the climate healthful; whether the country offered agreeable surroundings and would afford opportunities for amassing wealth. God had spoken, and His servant must obey; the happiest place on earth for him was the place where God would have him to be.

“Many are still tested as was Abraham. They do not hear the voice of God speaking directly from the heavens, but He calls them by the teachings of His word and the events of His providence. … Who is ready at the call of Providence to renounce cherished plans and familiar associations? Who will accept new duties and enter untried fields, doing God’s work with firm and willing heart?” Patriarchs and Prophets, 126, 127

Hard as Abraham’s first test was, the next was still harder. The first recorded promise that God had given Abraham is found in Genesis 12:2, first part, 3, last part. Leave your home, family, all you know, and “I will make you a great nation. … And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

“Then Abram said, ‘Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!’ And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.’ Then He brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” Genesis 15:3–6

A child. The Lord told Abraham that he and Sarah would have a child and from this child his descendants would be as innumerable as the stars and the sand on the seashore. Abraham was about 85, past the age for begetting children, but the Bible says he believed God. We can always believe that what God says He will do, will be done. But one of the biggest problems for us in developing faith is that when God promises something, we expect to see it happen right now, and God doesn’t always tell us when what He says will happen. Often faith and patience go hand in hand, and that was the case for this particular test.

The time came when Sarah, about 75 years old, passed her childbearing years, and still the promised child had not been born. So she did what was customary in those days. She encouraged Abraham to take a secondary wife, her servant girl Hagar, to bear the child for her. This practice was so common in those days that archeologists have found that a provision was often included in marriage covenants allowing a husband to take a secondary wife in order to preserve the family name—an acceptable practice to them, but not to God.

Abraham followed Sarah’s counsel and Hagar had a son they named Ishmael, which means God will hear. The Bible says that God came down and Abraham told Him about Ishmael and that now he had an heir. But the Lord told Abraham that Ishmael was not the child of promise. He reminded him that the child would be born of Abraham’s wife, not a surrogate, and certainly not a child conceived by fornication.

Both Abraham and Sarah were beyond the age of conceiving children. In fact, it seemed so ridiculous that they would have a child at their ages that Sarah laughed in her heart. The Lord asked her why she laughed. Was there anything too hard for the Lord to do? They soon realized the answer to that question when they did have a son. They named him Isaac, which means laughter.

Abraham had failed his second test of faith. He did not believe that God could fulfill His promise of a child in His time and His way. So, he attempted himself to solve what appeared to be an insurmountable problem for God. Because of this failure, Abraham was given a third and unimaginable test of faith.

“Abraham was directed of God to go up to Mount Moriah, and there offer up his son as a burnt offering. There the Lord tested Abraham by a most fearful trial. In taking Hagar for his wife, he showed distrust in the promises of God. If he had patiently waited for the promise to be fulfilled in God’s own time and manner, and had not sought to make a providence himself, he would not have been subjected to this the closest test that was ever required of man.” The Signs of the Times, April 1, 1875

Isaac was about 20 years of age when God sent Abraham to Mount Moriah to sacrifice him as a burnt offering. Can you imagine the confusion in Abraham’s mind? Though, as any man, Abraham had made mistakes, and at times lacked faith in God, he believed God to be merciful and loving. How could He ask this of him?

“Then He [the Lord] said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’ ” Genesis 22:2

Abraham went to Isaac and explained that the Lord wanted them to go to a distant mountain to offer a sacrifice. Before dawn, they and their servants, set out for the land of Moriah. Mrs. White says that the first day was the longest day of Abraham’s life.

Usually when they traveled together, Abraham and Isaac would talk, but it seemed to Isaac on this journey that his father didn’t feel like talking. They walked all day, and when night came, Isaac and the servants went to bed and slept. But Abraham couldn’t sleep; instead he prayed all night. Tormented by the devil, he suggested to Abraham that God couldn’t actually mean for him to kill Isaac; He’d be breaking His own law. But Abraham knew what God had told him to do, and he knew that God could decide anything that He chose. And as a man of faith, he would obey. Remember, faith always obeys the word of God. Abraham asked the Lord to help him to be obedient, if possible, without having to sacrifice Isaac, but there was no answer.

The next morning they got up, ate breakfast, and went on their way again. The second longest day of Abraham’s life began.

By evening, he had not slept for 36 hours. Exhausted, as the others slept, again he pleaded with the Lord to send an angel to explain why He was asking Abraham to sacrifice his son. God had spoken to him many times in answer to his prayer, but again there was no answer.

On the third day, God gave Abraham a sign. He saw a bright, glorious cloud over Mount Moriah. The time had come. He had to obey God. When he saw the sign, he told the servants to remain behind, that he and Isaac would go on alone. Abraham could not bear for anyone but God to witness what was about to happen. He continued to plead with the Lord to take his own life rather than the life of Isaac, but the Lord said that Isaac must be the one.

As they made their way up the mountain, Isaac pointed out that they had wood and fire, but that there was no animal for a sacrifice. Abraham could only answer that Jehovah would provide the lamb. The Hebrew word Jehovah-jireh means, God will provide. At the top of the mountain, they built an altar together. Unable to put it off any longer, Abraham with quivering lip and shaking voice, told Isaac that God had instructed that he was to be the burnt offering. Imagine the fear Isaac must have felt! He was a strong young man and he could have escaped, but Isaac was also a man of faith. He would not violate a command of God.

After helping Abraham place the wood on the altar, Isaac allowed himself to be bound upon the altar. Abraham expressed to him how much he loved him; that his obedience to God in no way indicated a lessening of that love. Father embraced son and they shed what they believed would be the last tears they would shed together in this world.

Mrs. White tells us that Abraham believed that God could restore Isaac’s life. This took genuine faith because God had not yet resurrected a human being and would not do so until He raised Moses, hundreds of years later.

Abraham took the knife, lifted it up, and as he brought the knife down, his hand was suddenly stopped. A voice was heard from heaven. “But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ So he said, ‘Here I am.’ And He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.’ ” Genesis 22:11, 12

“Then Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.” Verse 13

“ ‘By Myself I have sworn,’ says the Lord, ‘because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son—blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.  In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.’ ” Verses 16–18. Faith always obeys.

“God estimated Abraham’s obedience and unswerving faith, and gave him the name of ‘Father of the faithful.’ The example of Abraham is recorded in sacred history for the benefit of his believing children.” The Signs of the Times, April 1, 1875. Why was this done?

“This great act of faith teaches the lesson of implicit confidence in God, perfect obedience to His requirements, and a complete surrender to the divine will.” Ibid.

Everything that you and I have belongs to the Lord—time, money, talents, ourselves. He has lent these things to us to prove us. God recorded this story in the Bible to give us an example of perfect faith and obedience, so that we might understand and better comprehend how real was the great self-denial and infinite sacrifice made by our Father in heaven when He gave His Son to this world. Unlike Isaac, there was no one to stay the hand when Jesus went to His trial. No one to say, “Enough!” The angels were not permitted to interfere. Jesus Christ was insulted, mocked, and derided. He was given up to die a shameful, violent, torturous death—our death.

Abraham knew that God’s promises were infallible and that it was better to obey God, no matter what, than to disobey. If God had come to Abraham and told him to give up all he owned—gold, flocks, herds, silver, land—that would have been easy for him. If God had asked him to surrender his own life for His sake, Abraham would have given it. Mrs. White says that if God had asked him for any of those things, he would have gladly turned it over, including his own life. But God’s test was harder than surrendering his own life.

I hear people say, “I wish I could obey the Lord and pay my tithe and keep the Sabbath, but I don’t have the money and I don’t have the time” and they think they are going to live with Abraham someday? “The deepest poverty, with God’s blessing, is better than houses and lands, and any amount of earthly treasure, without it.” Ibid. It is God’s blessing that places a value on everything that we possess. Without it, we can have the whole world, but we will be poor. Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Mark 8:36

Friend, you are better off obeying God, no matter what your problems might be, than being disobedient and enjoying the blessings of this world for a time. The Psalmist said, “Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him.” Ecclesiastes 8:12

“Those who profess to be looking for the soon coming of our Saviour, should have Abrahamic faith, a faith that is valued because it has cost them something, a faith that works by love, and purifies the soul. The example of Abraham is left on record for us upon whom the ends of the world have come. We must believe that God is in earnest with us, and that He is not to be trifled with. He means what He says, and He requires of us implicit faith and willing obedience.” The Signs of the Times, April 1, 1875

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.