It is an awesome thought that if you do not resist, the angels of God will see to it that you are saved. Ellen White wrote, “Under God, the angels are all-powerful.” The Signs of the Times, January 17, 1900.
“Angelic agencies are standing firm, determined that he [Satan] shall not obtain the victory. They would recover every soul in our world who is under Satan’s banner if these poor souls would not so eagerly seek to keep out of and away from their merciful ministrations and rescuing power. Their deep and earnest love for the souls for whom Christ has died is beyond measurement. They would make these deceived souls intelligent in regard to how they might arm themselves and break the spell which Satan has cast upon them.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 922.
Angels have been commissioned to rescue every single person in our world who does not resist. “Christ designs that heaven’s order, heaven’s plan of government, heaven’s divine harmony, shall be represented in His church on earth. Thus in His people He is glorified. Through them the Sun of Righteousness will shine in undimmed luster to the world. Christ has given to His church ample facilities, that He may receive a large revenue of glory from His redeemed, purchased possession. He has bestowed upon His people capabilities and blessings that they may represent His own sufficiency. The church, endowed with the righteousness of Christ, is His depositary, in which the riches of His mercy, His grace, and His love, are to appear in full and final display.” The Desire of Ages, 680.
A full display of the mercy of Christ means that its manifestation is complete. The church could display a fuller manifestation of His mercy, grace and love. This is going to be the experience of God’s church when heaven’s plan of government and heaven’s harmony are developed and it is necessary now to show the world the character of God before the return of Jesus.
At no other time in eternity will this display of mercy be necessary, for heavenly intelligences are not in need of mercy or grace. They do not need to learn of the gospel of Christ and His saving grace because they have never sinned. Throughout eternal ages there will never again be another display of the mercy of God. Before sin entered the world everything was perfect and angels had no concept of mercy because there was no need. Grace is another attribute of the character of God that was not understood until sin entered the world. But when sin entered and the plan of salvation was instituted, the universe began to see that mercy was an integral part of God’s character.
The psalmist says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne” (Psalm 89:14). Righteousness is doing right. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne. The devil knew that and made the claim that God could not be both just and merciful. He said that you can be merciful, and you can be just, but you cannot be both. Incidentally, Ellen White says there was no finite intelligence who could answer that challenge or charge. That same accusation that Satan had brought against the Lord for thousands of years was finally answered at the cross where it was demonstrated beyond doubt that God can be both just and merciful and forgive sins.
The cross demonstrated that God is a God of justice, and as David said, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth go before Your face” (Psalm 89:14). A just price was paid for the sins of the world. Angels who had heard Satan’s unjust accusations for thousands of years saw at the cross mercy and justice demonstrated and were convinced without question of Satan’s error and lies which ultimately led to the crucifixion of his Creator.
Psalm 85:10 KJV says, “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” So, “According to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5).
It is stated explicitly in the second commandment that God is merciful. He shows “mercy to thousands” (Exodus 20:6). God is merciful and He tells those who love Him to also be merciful. In fact, Micah 6:8 says, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justly [do what is right], to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Those are the three things God requires. James 2:13 says, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Paul said “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We are all in need of great mercy, therefore we must show mercy to others.
Mercy is an attribute of character shown when a child is not punished for every infraction he commits against a command. It may be just and right to punish every time a child does wrong, but if you exercise mercy sometimes, especially for minor infractions, the child is more likely to overcome that problem, using the mistake as a learning experience. Parents need to understand that if a child is never shown mercy and all he understands is justice, that child will grow up to be a hard-hearted man or woman.
Mercy is one of the characteristics of God of which the church is to make a full display to the whole world. It will be complete, “full and final,” because those characteristics will never need to be demonstrated again. Mercy has been demonstrated millions of times in the past, but as we approach the end, there will be a full, that is, a complete, and final display of God’s mercy.
“The church, endowed with the righteousness of Christ, is His depository, in which the riches of His mercy, His grace, and His love, are to appear in full and final display.” The Desire of Ages, 680. [Emphasis added.]
Grace is another attribute of the character of God that was not understood until sin entered the world. Notice what Paul says about it in Ephesians 1:7: “We have … the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” It is through His grace that we receive forgiveness of sins.
He wrote in Ephesians 2:8, “By grace you have been saved through faith.” And he says in Ephesians 4:7, that “To each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” James says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
There is a good reason that Hebrews 4:14–16 is a favorite text to Seventh-day Adventists. It says, “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.”
It is through grace that we receive forgiveness of sins, but it is also through grace that we receive help. Paul said in Romans 1:5 that we receive grace for the “obedience to the faith.” God does not only forgive our sins through the grace of Christ, but through the grace of Christ, we receive help to do what is right, help to be obedient to the faith.
Zechariah 12:10 says, “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
The church in the very last days of earth’s history is going to receive the Spirit of grace. Today we have the opportunity while time lasts to show grace and mercy to people who are in various kinds of trouble. Once sin has been eradicated there will be no more need for either.
Jesus said in Luke 6:27 and 28 to love our enemies, a concept that is completely alien from most religions. Jesus told His disciples the night before He left, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another … . By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for one another” (John 13:34, 35). To do that is an external sign that you are a Christian. Paul said the love of God is “poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5).
Paul also told us in Romans 12:9 that we were to have love without hypocrisy. Love is the first fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5. He said in 1 Corinthians 13 that no matter what else you have, if you do not have love, you do not have anything, and you cannot really gain anything in your spiritual life. Remember, there is going to be a full and final demonstration of the love of Christ by the church before Jesus comes and you can be part of it.
The love of Christ was a love for people who were undeserving and unappreciative. His love went out to people who never reciprocated that love. In heaven, the angels love each other, but the love that goes out is not unrequited. They are loved in return. Sadly, there are many times in this world when you have love for somebody with no response. Or maybe it is even worse than that. Maybe you love them, and they hate you, but you can keep loving the person who hated you.
When Jesus was nailed to the cross, He said to His Father in Luke 23:34: “ ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’ ” Angels watching the scene knew that God was love, but they had never seen a love like this before. This love for your enemies, love for the people who do not return your love or maybe even hate you in return—this is the type of love that is going to have a full and a final display in God’s church.
Some people have become quite indignant at this message, claiming that this condition refers to the church triumphant but at present we are in the church militant. However, the church representing Christ on earth before He returns will be endowed with His righteousness living in harmony with heaven’s plan of government in which the riches of His mercy, His grace, and His love, are to appear in full and final display.
As I studied the statement in The Desire of Ages, 680, it talked about His mercy, grace and love as full, as complete, and as final. After this final display, it will not be necessary again. The whole world and the whole universe are going to see this display. The full and final external display of the mercy, of the grace, and of the love of Christ by the church to the world, before Jesus comes, will be what the world and the whole universe can see. But before that can happen, something has to happen internally to the people who are to make that display.
The Bible tells us that there is an internal work in people’s character that has to take place before they can display God’s character. Let’s take a look at a couple of Scriptures about this.
Isaiah said, “ ‘The Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,’ says the Lord. ‘As for Me,’ says the Lord, ‘this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,’ says the Lord, ‘from this time and forevermore’ ” (Isaiah 59:20, 21).
“Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth [in the last days], and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising” (Isaiah 60:1–3).
Isaiah here is referring to the full and final display of the mercy, and grace, and love of God that will occur among God’s people just before the second coming.
Peter also talks about this. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:9, 10).
The church must be endowed with the righteousness of Christ.
An endowment is something that you are given. It is not something earned. The church is endowed with the righteousness of Christ. It says, “The church, endowed with the righteousness of Christ, is His depositary, in which the riches of His mercy, His grace, and His love, are to appear in full and final display.” The Desire of Ages, 680.
They must have purity.
The church is going to have purity and the church is going to have perfection. “Christ looks upon His people in their purity and perfection, as the reward of His humiliation, and the supplement of His glory—Christ, the great Center, from whom radiates all glory.” Ibid.
They must have moral perfection of character—character perfection.
God has a training program in which Jesus Christ is performing some experiments. Inspiration says, “God has in training a people chosen, elect, precious. They were once the children of disobedience, disloyal to God. But now ‘Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy’ (1 Peter 2:9, 10).” The General Conference Daily Bulletin. February 27, 1893, 409.
These people that God has in training and on whom Jesus is performing divine experiments are in a divine laboratory in this world. “The Lord Jesus is making experiments on human hearts through the exhibition of His mercy and abundant grace.” Ibid. It is impossible to make a display of the mercy and grace of God until you have received it yourself.
“The Lord Jesus is making experiments on human hearts through the exhibition of His mercy and abundant grace. He is effecting transformations so amazing that Satan with all his triumphant boasting, with all his confederacy of evil united against God and the laws of his government, stands viewing them as a fortress impregnable to his sophistries and delusions. [Oh to be part of that experiment!] They are to him [the devil] an incomprehensible mystery. The angels of God, seraphim and cherubim, the powers commissioned to co-operate with human agencies, look on with astonishment and joy, that fallen men, once children of wrath, are through the training of Christ developing characters after the divine similitude, to be sons and daughters of God, to act an important part in the occupations and pleasures of heaven.” Ibid.
We can be part of those divine experiments designed to transform our characters after the divine similitude and be a reflection of His own character.
This condition in the church is what has been predicted to happen before Jesus returns. However, before that display can be made, there is an internal work that must be done on the people who are going to make that display. The question is, do you want to be part of these divine experiments?
“To His church, Christ has given ample facilities, that He may receive a large revenue of glory from His redeemed, purchased possession. The church, being endowed with the righteousness of Christ, is His depositary, in which the wealth of His mercy, His love, His grace, is to appear in full and final display. The declaration in His intercessory prayer, that the Father’s love is as great towards us as toward Himself, the only begotten Son, and that they shall be with Him where He is, forever one with Christ and the Father, is a marvel to the heavenly host, and it is their great joy. The gift of His Holy Spirit, rich, full, and abundant, is to His church as an encompassing wall of fire, which the powers of hell shall not prevail against it.” Ibid.
We are in training.
The Lord is performing experiments on us and we are to receive the Holy Spirit, rich, full, and abundant, which will be as a wall of fire which all the forces of hell cannot overcome. “In their untainted purity and spotless perfection Christ looks upon His people as the reward of all His suffering, His humiliation, and His love, and the supplement of His glory—Christ the great center from which radiates all glory. ‘Blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb’ (Revelation 19:9).” Ibid.
Jesus wants to perform a divine experiment on you. He wants to pour His mercy, His grace, His love into your heart so that you will become a reflection of His own character so that He can use you to make a full, and complete, and final display of His mercy, grace, and love in this world before He comes. He wants to give you the gift of His Holy Spirit, rich, full, and abundant, as an encompassing wall of fire against which the powers of hell shall not prevail.
The devil has been saying for thousands of years that this is not possible and many people in the church today have bought into this lie. However, this is what the Lord says He is going to do and if we refuse His invitation to be part of this experiment, He will choose somebody else. There will be people who are willing to cooperate.
It would be wonderful if each of us could be involved in that full and final display. Today decide to be willing to yield yourself to Him, allowing Him to perform that divine experiment in your life. Do not murmur or complain when troubles and trials and things happen that you do not understand, but trust that God is working something out for your good.
Pray that God’s love will transform us in character so that we can be people whose names are written in heaven as having spotless purity and character perfection, not for ourselves, but for the glory and honor of our Redeemer.
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
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: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.