Do you believe that God’s work is soon to close? When God’s work is finished, everything in this world is coming to an end. The Bible gives us a lot of instruction about being ready for the end. As Adventists, we believe that we must help others get ready as well as being ready for the end ourselves.
A spirit of unity and harmony is needed among God’s professed people that has not yet been experienced. This is only possible if we are united on Bible truth. There is a true and a false unity. True unity is based on the word of God, but a false unity is based on negotiating. We see a movement to unite the Catholic and Protestant faiths, including Adventism, to be in harmony with one another. This movement also seeks a way to unite with Buddhists and the Muslims. However, Revelation 16 says it will not work and all such supposed unity will crumble.
The Upward Look, 149, tells us, “The great apostasy … began in a denial of the love of God, as it is plainly revealed in the Word.” The person who first made this denial was one of the highest angels in heaven. We know him by his Latin name, the name given to him by the translators of the King James Bible – Lucifer. Before the translation of the King James Bible, people thought Lucifer was a wonderful word. The Hebrew word with the closest translation means a shining one or a brilliant one or a star. Before he fell, Lucifer was also called a morning star. He is not a morning star anymore. Jesus Christ is the true morning star. But with this one angel (Satan as we know him today), the greatest apostasy began because he denied the love of God.
Denying the love of God has resulted in discouragement, despair and depression. It is such a great problem that suicide has become a leading cause of death among young people. Denying the love of God has led people to fear the future and, as a result, there is great discouragement and despair in our society today. The fear of not knowing how things will work out brings darkness in the life.
Would you like to have light instead of darkness? 1 John 1:5–7 says, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Jesus spoke about this with His disciples just a few days before His crucifixion in John 12:35: “Then Jesus said to them, ‘A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.’ ” Walking in darkness without Jesus, the Light, produces a feeling of great hopelessness, which is the reason for so much sorrow, discouragement and despair in the world today.
Many people turn to other things – drugs, alcohol, gambling, adultery – all in an effort to replace the negative feelings, the depression and darkness in their lives, when what they need is to experience the love of God. Doubting the love of God can result in a number of mental or psychological issues. We all have to meet difficulties, trials, troubles and uncertainty. So, what do we do?
First of all, know that darkness and distress are not caused by our heavenly Father. These things are caused by demons, supernatural powers that have rebelled against and denied the love of God for thousands of years. These demons do not want you to know it, but faith enables you to pierce the darkness so that you can know that there is Someone who loves and cares for you, Someone close who wants to help you to work things out.
If you know and understand the love of God, then when trouble comes and you see no way out, you can know that God is with you. You may not know how things will turn out, but you will have a chart book that tells you. When David was in this situation, he said, “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I will remember You. … All Your waves and billows have gone over me. The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me. … I will say to God my Rock, ‘Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?’ As with a breaking of my bones, my enemies reproach me, while they say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’ Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance” (Psalm 42:5–11). With praise and thanksgiving David had faith that God would bring him out right.
Praising the Lord is one of the most powerful weapons against discouragement and depression. (See The Ministry of Healing, the chapter titled, “Mind Cure.”) Thanksgiving and praise are the very keynotes of heaven. If you are going to sing with the angels someday, you have to learn to sing the songs that they sing. The angels’ songs are of praise and thanksgiving and when people experience the love of God, they begin to praise and sing to the Lord.
When Adam and Eve sinned as a result of the devil’s deceptive arts, they and all of their descendants were doomed to death. And the Bible says, “Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin” (Romans 5:12). Reading further in The Upward Look, 149, we find, “Provision was then made whereby fallen man might have a powerful revelation of the love of God, and be given an opportunity to return to his allegiance to Jehovah.” This revelation of the love of God was so powerful that throughout all eternity there will never again be the need for another.
The apostle James wrote in James 1:13–15, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire [lust, a strong or overwhelming desire] has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” So all of mankind is doomed to die and this is the reason why. “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He” (Deuteronomy 32:4). Psalm 89:14, first part, further describes it as: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne.”
Because righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne, Lucifer said God could not forgive what the people had done. How could God be just, upholding the requirements of His law and forgive those who break it? How could a single member of the human race be saved from eternal death? There was a way that God could devise so that He could be both just and forgiving. The plan of salvation was the only way.
The plan of salvation was conceived before the earth was created, before Lucifer fell and before Adam and Eve sinned (see The Desire of Ages, chapter 1). The Godhead, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, knew that man would sin and that a plan would be needed to save mankind. Jesus told the angels that He would become a man and go down to earth Himself. He would teach man about the love of God and show them that Satan was wrong. He told them that He ultimately would be condemned to die, to hang between heaven and earth. It would be a terrible thing for the angels to see, but after He had died as a man, on the third day He would rise up from the dead and by His sacrifice and resurrection He would save every one of the human race who would come back to allegiance to the law of God. And in dying to save man, He would also destroy the destroyer (Hebrews 2:14).
As the angels listened, they could not rejoice because they realized what the plan of salvation would cost Him. There were among the angels some who suggested that one of them would take His place, but Jesus told them it could not be a created being subject to the law. As the Son of God, one with His Father and Creator of the law and the world, He would have to be the One to save mankind.
Contrary to what Satan might tell us, the use of force is against the principles of God’s government. People are saved when they see and comprehend the love of God and what He is really like. The majority of the people in the world are serving the devil. 1 John 3:8 says, “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” If you are living in sin, the devil claims you as his child, and you will eventually go where the devil is going because sin brings people into bondage. But, if you don’t want to serve the devil anymore, you can choose to be God’s child and be free from his bondage.
Jesus says, “ ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ ” (John 8:31, 32). The way to be free is to know Jesus Christ, to know and experience His love, and to surrender to His divine power. The way to learn about the love of Christ is to study the record of His life on earth. Christ’s life on earth is so important that it was recorded in all of the first four books of the New Testament.
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts though faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think … ” (Ephesians 3:14–21).
In recent years, the human race seems to have become more fearful than ever before. This leads to depression, hopelessness and discouragement. They are tormented with fear. But the solution for fear is found in 1 John 4:16–18: “We have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 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.” This Scripture tells us that if we experience the love of God, there is no fear because perfect love casts out fear.
Ellen White, writing about Jesus’ thoughts while on the way to Calvary, says He did not even have a murmuring thought and as He hung on the cross He did not curse, but instead He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). He wasn’t trying to think of a way out of the situation. He wasn’t wondering why He had to go through this. His heart was breaking as He looked around Him and saw so many who did not believe in Him, yet weeping from human sympathy for Him, but He knew that in a few short years they and their children would perish in the destruction of Jerusalem. With His attention focused on them, He said, “Do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:28).
Few realized at that time that Jesus was dying for the sins of the world. Peter later said, “Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust” (1 Peter 3:18). Imagine the thief on the cross, first ridiculing Jesus with the other thief, but then realizing the truth about himself and even more, the truth about who Jesus was. Knowing he was a sinner and going to die soon, he said to the other thief, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:40, last part, 41). Then realizing that Jesus was dying for the sins of the world, for his sins, he asked, “ ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom’ ” (Luke 23:42). Quickly the reply came. In modern English it would be: “Most assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise” (verse 43).
Friends, the same One who saved the thief on the cross, Peter and Mary Magdalene can save any sinner who is willing to come to Him. You must experience His love so that you can escape the darkness that is all around us in this world. We might not always be able to see how, but we can know where we are going.
The Christian religion is the most spiritual religion in the world. It is not based on some ceremony or rite, but rather on the decision you make regarding who your Lord is going to be and if you are determined to follow and obey Him. If you make the right decision, you will have light in your mind, the love of God in your heart and songs of praise to the Lord on your lips. With thanksgiving and praise you will talk about the love of God. The devil will no longer have control of your life because now you are following a different leader. No one can make the decision for another. Your husband or your wife cannot make the decision for you. Your father or your mother or your son or your daughter cannot make the decision for you. You must decide for yourself if you are going to be saved.
Peter said, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Only Jesus can save you, if you commit to Him. It is absolutely vital for you to know what it means to make that decision. This is not an intellectual decision where you just believe something. The decision to follow Jesus involves commitment.
Jean Francois Gravelet, a Frenchman known professionally as Charles Blondin, had a tightrope stretched across Niagara Falls. After pushing a wheelbarrow blindfolded across the tightrope, he asked the crowd below if they believed that he could carry a person across on the tightrope. “Yes,” was the answer, they believed he could do it. But then he said, “Okay, if you believe, get in the wheelbarrow!” Getting in the wheelbarrow involved commitment, and it is commitment you must have if you are going to be saved. You must say, “Lord, I am committing my life to You and I am going to follow You regardless of the consequences, whether I live or die, whether I can understand or not. I am committing to You because I trust You. You have demonstrated to me that You are trustworthy.”
Dear friend, if you haven’t made that commitment, you are not saved and you never will be saved until you make that commitment. But here is the good news – Jesus Christ has never ever lost one case that has been committed to Him. In the final day of judgment, not one will be able to say, “Lord, I committed everything to You and now I’m lost.” There are millions of half-hearted Christians that will not be in the kingdom of heaven. Be serious, friend. Time is short, choose today to commit your life to His sovereignty as your Lord and Saviour.
(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.