There was a small Seventh-day Adventist Church in North Dakota years ago that was located not far away from where I lived. One by one the members either moved away or died until there was only one man left. He was in his 80s, an interesting man who shared many stories about the past and was still operating his own farm. The time came when my wife and I were going to move, but we had planned to return in a couple of years. Becoming close friends with the man, I assured him that as soon as I returned from California, I would come and see him again. He said that would not happen because he would not be there. Believing him to be in very good health and still farming full time, I did not understand his reasoning. Many a person has had the last conversation with another without realizing it would be their last. We visited and had prayer together, and as it turned out, he knew the future a lot better than I did, for I never saw him again.
If you knew that the communication you were having would be the last, what would you say? My wife had a relative who, during the Civil War, was captured. He was told that he would be shot the next morning at sunrise. Whatever he had to say to his family or friends or anyone else would have to be communicated that night. What would you write to them? The time came in the life of Jesus when He would have the last interview with His disciples. The apostle John thought that this last interview was so important that he took five chapters in the gospel of John to record what Jesus said to His disciples on that occasion. (See John 13–17.)
- Never Alone – The first thing that I would say to my children is, “Even when I am gone, you are not going to be alone.” This is one of the major topics Jesus covered in His last interview with His disciples. Read it in John 14:16–24. Jesus said, “I am making a request to My Father, and He will send you the Holy Spirit Who will stay with you forever.” Jesus had just told them that He was going to leave, and they were terrified, as is a child when they find out that their parent is dying. Jesus said to them, “Do not let your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house there are many permanent dwellings. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you, and if I go, I will prepare a place for you, and I will come again and receive you to Myself that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1–3 literal translation. He said, “Believe Me, trust in Me, and you will not be left alone.”
In the book, The Desire of Ages, 669, 670, Ellen White comments on these words of Jesus promising His disciples that they would not be left alone. “At all times and in all places, in all sorrows and in all afflictions, when the outlook seems dark and the future perplexing, and we feel helpless and alone, the Comforter will be sent in answer to the prayer of faith. Circumstances may separate us from every earthly friend; but no circumstance, no distance, can separate us from the heavenly Comforter. Wherever we are, wherever we may go, He is always at our right hand to support, sustain, uphold, and cheer.” That is just wonderful news. You may lose your parent, spouse or best friend, but there is Somebody you will never lose and you will not be alone. Jesus said, “I am going, but you are not going to be alone.”
He is going to be with you forever. It is wonderful to know that whoever you may lose in this world, if circumstances separate you from every earthly friend and you feel helpless and alone and the future looks dark and perplexing, if you will pray and ask for it, Jesus will send His Holy Spirit to be right beside you to support you and to comfort and help you, and you need never be alone. God’s children will never be deprived of the Holy Spirit.
- Assurance of Salvation – Do you know for sure that your name is in the Book of Life? How can you be sure? The Bible makes it very clear, in Revelation 20, that you cannot have eternal life unless your name is in the Book of Life. Many Christians do not have this assurance. If it is not there, then you need to do something today so that it is.
In Luke 10, after the 70 disciples returned from their missionary work, Jesus said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” Verses 18–20. The people whose names were written in heaven were involved in evangelism.
I noticed in my Bible studies that every time it referred to somebody whose name was in the book, it was somebody who was involved in helping somebody else to be saved. Someone who is saved will always be convicted to help others. Paul speaks of some women whose names were in the book. He said, “And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.” Philippians 4:3. These women who were Paul’s fellow workers, laboring with him in the gospel, are going to have eternal life, and if you go to heaven, you will meet these people. They did what they could to help their fellow men to be saved. When you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour from sin and as the Lord of your life and have been baptized into the church, then at that time, your name is registered in the Book of Life. But this does not guarantee salvation, as your name could be taken out at any time. John the revelator tells us what to do so that our names will not be taken out. “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Revelation 3:5. To be retained in the Book of Life, you must be an overcomer.
Another text, found in Revelation 21:27, describes the type of people who will not enter the New Jerusalem, the Holy City: “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”
To find out what things defile, go to the book of Leviticus. You will need to read the context, but you will see the conclusions. “Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you.” Leviticus 18:24–26. The Israelites were not even to allow a stranger, a person who was not a believer in the true God or an Israelite, to do these things in the land of Israel, “(for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled), lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you. For whoever commits any of these abominations, the persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore you shall keep My ordinance, so that you do not commit any of these abominable customs which were committed before you, and that you do not defile yourselves by them: I am the Lord your God.” Verses 27–30.
Today, particularly in the western world, by what we watch on television, videos and Internet, we are doing the very things that we were commanded not to do in this chapter, and then we wonder why there is so much crime. Leviticus 19:31 says, “Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.” Young people are fascinated by and play all kinds of satanic games that defile. God said, “You shall therefore keep all My statutes and all My judgments, and perform them, that the land where I am bringing you to dwell may not vomit you out. And you shall not walk in the statutes of the nation which I am casting out before you; for they commit all these things and therefore I abhor them. But I have said to you, ‘You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.’ I am the Lord your God, Who has separated you from the peoples. You shall therefore distinguish between clean animals and unclean, between unclean birds and clean, and you shall not make yourselves abominable by beast or by bird, or by any kind of living thing that creeps on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.” Leviticus 20:22–26.
Notice that you can be defiled by what you eat, what you are looking at, what you are listening to and in what you are participating. Read the law of Moses. To be defiled is to be unclean. In Leviticus 22:32, it says, “You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you [makes you holy].”
Nothing that is defiled, unclean or profane will enter the Holy City. Nothing that makes abomination will enter there. We are told some of the abominations in Proverbs 6:16–19: “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 among brethren.”
The condition of those entering the Holy City are clear, and those who want their names to remain in the Book of Life will not be engaging in any of these things that are described as an abomination. Lying has been mentioned as one of the things that God hates. Those who have entrance into God’s Holy City will overcome all guile; that is, all deceit. One of the characteristics of the 144,000 is that they have no deceit.
“The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness and speak no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed their flocks and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid.” Zephaniah 3:13.
We need to pray and plead for help because it is impossible for a human being to always tell the exact truth without the aid and direction of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not tell a lie, and if you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you will be able to always be honest.
- Secure Your Name in the Book of Life – Those whose names are not written in the book will have an eternal separation from those who are saved. If your name is in the book, it does not matter whether you live or die, because when Jesus returns, you will be together again.
- Knowing Where Jesus is Now – Another important thing to discuss in our last interview is, “Where is Jesus now?” I am well aware of the fact about what Seventh-day Adventists have been taught since the 1940s, and I believe that Jesus is ministering for the remnant and the whole world in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary. Can Jesus be in more than one place at a time? While talking to Nicodemus, Jesus said that no one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. (See John 3:13.) Jesus was in Judea at the time and speaks about the “Son of man Who is,” that is present tense, “in heaven.” Jesus is now ministering for us in heaven, but that is not the only place where He is. Ellen White wrote this on August 2, 1900: “God had a church when Adam and Eve and Abel accepted and hailed with joy the good news that Jesus was their Redeemer. These realized as fully then as we realize now the promise of the presence of God in their midst.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 4, 293. So, when Adam and Eve and Abel met together outside the Garden of Eden, they realized the presence of God in their midst—the Lord was right with them. Some may say that we are not talking about Jesus, but God the Father. She continues, “Whenever Enoch found one or two who were willing to hear the message he had for them, Jesus joined with them in their worship of God. In Enoch’s day there were some among the wicked inhabitants of earth who believed. The Lord never yet has left His faithful few without His presence nor the world without a witness.” Ibid.
Jesus joined those who came to worship Him. If I were leaving this place or this life, I would want people to know that it is important to meet with God’s people to worship on the Sabbath day to be where Jesus is present.
- A New Commandment – In Jesus’ last interview, He had so much on His mind. One of the first things He told His disciples was that He was going away, but He was going to give them a new commandment—to love one another as He had loved them. This was before He had gone to the cross, and they just did not realize what He meant when He said that by this all men will know that you are disciples to Me if you have love for one another (John 13:35).
We have the most wonderful truth in the world, but it does not have the impact on people that it should, because we do not love one another as Jesus loved us. If we did, the gospel would have a force and impact that we cannot imagine. This world is a cruel, cold, dark and awful place. There are people in this world that have never seen the love of Jesus. If they saw it, they would immediately want it. Jesus is depending upon His followers to show this love to the world.
One of the huge problems is that we say we love somebody when we do not love them at all, because we do not know what love is. People confuse sexual passion with love, and that is as far different as the east is from the west. Let’s see what the Bible says about love. “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10. There are many people who believe they are Christians, but who do not know that they are children of the devil. Remember when the disciples went to Jesus and said these Samaritans are not even inviting You home, so if You want us to, we will call down fire from heaven on these people and burn them up. Jesus had given these disciples power to work miracles. Ellen White says they were shocked when they saw the expression on His face, and they were even more shocked when He opened His mouth and said, “You don’t know what spirit you are of” (Luke 9:55). They were of the spirit of the devil, but since they were followers of Jesus, they thought everything was fine. In The Desire of Ages, 487, Ellen White said, “There can be no more conclusive evidence that we possess the spirit of Satan than the disposition to hurt and destroy those who do not appreciate our work, or who act contrary to our ideas.”
How do you feel toward those people who do not appreciate what you do or act contrary to what you think they ought to do? If you want to hurt them, then there is no more conclusive evidence than that you have the spirit of Satan. No church that tries to destroy another church is really a Christian church but has the spirit of the devil. Many professed Christians of all denominations will be shocked to hear Jesus say, “I never knew you; depart from Me.” Matthew 7:23.
It is impossible to have the spirit of the devil and have your name retained in the Book of Life. Our theme is Christ is love, Christ is forgiveness and Christ is purity. John says, in I John 3:3, “Every man who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (literal translation). No one will go into the Holy City that is not pure. The Bible says there is nobody in the world that is pure and that nobody can bring something pure out of something that is impure (Job 14:4). This requirement is impossible for us on our own merits, and that is why Jesus had to die on the cross. The Bible says it is essential to receive a new heart and a new spirit and the old man has to be crucified, because it is hopeless. Jesus said to Nicodemus that unless you are born from above, unless you receive a new heart and a new spirit, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. If you have received a new heart and a new spirit, you cannot remain pure if you stay connected with an organization, including a church organization, that is in open sin. There will be people in the last days who have a form of godliness and deny the power of it. Paul says to turn away from those people (II Timothy 3:5). By remaining with them, you will become like them. Paul tells us, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather rebuke them.” Ephesians 5:11. If you have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, you will become like them.
- Are You a Member of the True Church – If I were having my last interview, I would want to ask, Are you a member of the true church? Many may say yes, but that is not always true. There is a wonderful promise, but it is only for certain people. “Speaking to His church Christ said, ‘Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them’ (Matthew 18:19, 20).” Manuscript Releases, vol. 17, 164.
You and I have the most wonderful privilege, the privilege of reading special testimonies given through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the people that are living in the last days. In these testimonies the Holy Spirit opens things up to our eyes, just like putting a magnifying glass on the Bible so you can see exactly what it is saying. Ellen White continues, “The professing Christian who is not a Christian in practice, is not included in this promise. It is only when the voice of the church becomes the voice of Christ, that the promise can be received in its fullness.” Ibid.
Jesus says when two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there (Matthew 18:20). He is speaking to His church. But then He says that there are some Christians who are not included in this promise. They are the Christians who profess Christianity but they are not Christian in practice. A Christian in practice is a person who is living a Christlike life. There are many people who claim to be Christian, but they do not love their neighbor. The more you love somebody, the more it will change how you treat him/her.
I was always astonished at the stories I read in the history books about Christians. My brother was reading about some Christian ministers, who got together over a thousand years ago near Constantinople, and were arguing about doctrinal issues. Before the meeting was over, they were all in a big fist fight with each other. What does it matter who is right or wrong if you are in a fist fight? Someday the things that people fight about now they will wonder why in the world they ever fought about that.
The great need in Christianity today is to learn how to get along with others. The reason we don’t get along is because we do not love each other like we should. We need to pray that we will be converted, that we will have love in our heart for others, and that we be not Christians in name only but that we practice the principles of the Christian religion so we may become Christlike in character. We want our names to be retained in the Book of Life, so we will be ready to meet our Lord when He comes.
(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 of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.