At the end of Part One of this article, we were looking at what our responsibility becomes when we have our names on the membership of a particular organization, and that organization does something that is wrong. Are we responsible? Are we involved with the wrongdoing?
You Are Part of It
Why is it wrong for a Seventh-day Adventist to belong to a labor union? Have you ever thought about that? Have you ever tried to think that through in your mind? Have you read what Ellen White says about labor unions? She says that you cannot belong to a labor union without disregarding every commandment in the Decalogue: “While they belong to these unions, they cannot possibly keep the commandments of God; for to belong to these unions means to disregard the entire Decalogue.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 143.
Now why is it impossible for a Seventh-day Adventist to belong to a labor union without disregarding every commandment in the Decalogue? I have been around a number of Adventists who have belonged to labor unions, and they did not kill anybody. The labor union did not force them to lie or to commit adultery. Why then did Ellen White say that you cannot belong to a labor union without disregarding every commandment in the Decalogue? Because, when you become a member of that organization, you are part of that for which the organization stands.
When you are part of an organization that officially, through its highest elected officers, goes to court and sues God’s people and you do not protest it, do you still bear responsibility? We are all going to the Day of Judgment. Do you think about the Day of Judgment often? I do. I want to tell you, friends, I pray about this. I do not know if it is because I preach too straight or not, but I have enemies in this world, and they tell me, in effect, that I am going to hell.
So I kneel down and pray, and I say, “Lord, I really do not want to go to hell. I want to know You; I want to obey You; I want to do whatever You say. Show me what I am doing or saying that is wrong so it can be corrected, so I can be ready for the Day of Judgment. I want to know You, and I want You to know me. I do not want to have a pretend religion. I am not concerned about what so-and-so says or thinks, but I am very concerned about what You think.”
Is Persecution Ever Right?
Well, John 16:3 and 4 are verses that Seventh-day Adventists need to think through, if we are involved in persecuting our brother in Christ just because they are fanatics or heretics, or whatever they are. The Bible says if we do that we do not know either the Father or the Son. We are not candidates for eternal life at all but are still in the bonds of unrighteousness.
You see, there is no text in the Bible that says you can persecute people if they are heretics or fanatics. There is no statement in inspired writings that condones persecution. Even in the Old Covenant, when punishment for sin was meted out, no one was punished except those who had broken the Law of God. When you study church history you find that all of the people who have been persecuted have been called heretics, schismatics and fanatics. That is what they have always been called. And, by the way, have you ever stopped to think that there probably were some people burned at the stake who, if you knew what they believed, you would say were either heretics or fanatics? You would probably say that about some of those people, yourself. But that does not mean it is right to burn them.
II Corinthians 5:15, 16 says, “And He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh [That is, if they knew Christ when He was here on earth.], yet now we know Him thus no longer.”
We Need a Deeper Experience in Jesus
Notice there is a deeper experience than knowing Jesus according to the flesh. From now on we regard no one according to the flesh, for now we know Him thus no longer. Verse 17 continues, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Oh, friend, do you know Him? Not according to the flesh, but do you know Him? Does He know you? “If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.” I Corinthians 8:2, 3.
If you know God, you will love Him, and you will be known by Him.
How do you know whether you love God or not? Let us allow Scripture to answer this question.
In Philippians 3:10, this is Paul’s great desire. In fact, he says in verse 7, I have lost everything, and it is just rubbish compared with this. This is all I want, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” This verse, by the way, reveals why there are so many Christians who do not know God, because there are some parts of religion of which they do not want to be a part.
Are You Part of His Suffering?
They do not want to be part of the suffering, that is the cross. Did you know that the cross is not really popular today like most people think it is? That is a good passage of Scripture to study. That was Paul’s great desire, and because that was his great desire, that desire was fulfilled. He said it was fulfilled.
Read what he said in II Timothy 1:12: “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day.”
Frightened Seventh-day Adventists
Many Adventists today are frightened, because they see that we are facing the greatest crisis of the ages—and we are.
All preachers have a responsibility. They have a responsibility, not only to the lost world, but they also have a responsibility to God’s people to help them to be ready for the coming crisis. We are going to meet it whether we are ready or not, but it is better if we are ready. Would you not agree? And I want to tell you, friend, a large part of being ready is knowing Him.
Our Divine Lord is equal to any emergency, and you have to know that. You have to know Him. If you know Him, you will be all right. You may be in a dungeon somewhere one of these days; they may tell you that they are going to kill you; they may tell you they are going to torture you to death; they may tell you any number of things that they are going to do to you, but if you know Him, you need not fear. Then to you is the assurance “Every child of God that is brought into difficulty and trial because of His faithfulness to Jesus, may claim the promise, and will receive sufficient grace for every emergency.” Review and Herald, April 15, 1890.
Power to Endure
In An Adventist Apocalypse, Ellen White says that the Holy Spirit will help God’s people to endure whatever may happen. An Adventist Apocalypse is a compliation from the files of the letters and manuscripts written by Ellen G. White. Published by Biblical Studies Institute, Hermosa, S.D., 1992.) You see, nothing can happen that Jesus is not equal to, and that is what we have to know. We have to know Him.
Ellen White, writing concerning the power of Christ, said that by a touch or a word or a look He could banish all manner of disease. (See Counsels on Health, 457.) Is that not wonderful? After reading that I said, “Lord, it is all right with me, whether it is a touch, a word, or a look does not matter, I just want to be healed of all diseases, all spiritual disease.” You have to be healed of your spiritual disease before you can be given a new body.
Of all the Bible writers, the apostle John writes most about knowing God. He makes it simple. “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His Commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.” I John 2:3–5.
The Great Tragedy of the Christian World
Oh, the great tragedy of the Christian world today, is that people think that they know God while they are disobeying Him. John says that the person who says I know God, but is not keeping His commandments, is a liar!
“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.” I John 3:4–7.
John says he does not sin. That means that he does not sin—not just at a certain point, but he does not sin continuously! As I was thinking about that, I thought, he is not stating it in the weakest possible way; he is stating it in the strongest possible way. If you know Jesus, He knows you, and He will give you the power to live a new kind of life. If there is not deliverance from sin through Christ, then you can have no confidence in Scripture, and if you cannot have confidence in Scripture, what confidence do you have at all about the future?
Are You Having Personal Victory?
If you are discouraged by what I say, remember that I did not make this up. It came out of God’s Book, and God cannot lie. If you have some besetting sin in your life that you have tried a thousand times to overcome and you cannot do it, go to the Lord and say, “Lord, I am making a complete commitment with You. You have promised that You are going to give me victory. This is what you have promised, and I pray that you will fulfill Your Word in my life. I am going to try.” You will find out that God will work miracles in your life.
You do have to put the fork down and shove yourself away from the table. God will not make you quit eating. But, if you make a full commitment and say, “Lord, whatever is keeping me from having victory in my life, show me what it is, and I will listen, I will put forth my best effort to obey you;” you will have victory.
There are some people who are asking for victory in their lives, but then they negate their own prayers. Let me illustrate that simply so you can understand. You do not ask God to help you overcome smoking and then go to the store and buy cigarettes. Do you? Will God answer your prayer if you are doing that? No, He will not! God never takes away your power of choice. But if you choose to put your will on the side of God’s will and ask Him to fulfill His Word, and if you will cooperate, He will do it. His throne is staked on the fact that He will do it.
Have you ever thought about what would happen if one person could come to God at the Day of Judgment and say, “Lord, I surrendered my life totally to You. I made the commitment. I did everything I could to follow what was in Your Book, and I could not do it. I did not have enough strength; there was not enough power provided.”
If one person could do that, it would destroy the government of God, because God has promised that He will do it for everyone. He is no respecter of persons. Now, by the way, be careful, do not make up your own human test and expect God to fulfill that. I am not talking about what we decide we are going to do or not do; I am talking about what God’s Book says.
The Command Contains the Promise
There are things in His Book that we are told to do and not to do, and anything in His Book that it says to do or not to do, God will give you the power and the grace to obey. But do not make up your own human test and then expect that God will fulfill that. He might or He might not.
Whoever sins, has neither seen Him nor known Him, because when you get to know Him, you are going to quit sinning. “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding (that is a sound mind), that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” (See John 5:18–20.)
Do You Know Him?
That is why Jesus came, so we could know Him. He wanted to have an experience, a relationship with us and make it possible for us to know Him, to have a close, intimate, spiritual relationship with Him. Is this happening in your life? It has to happen, friends, if you are going to get through the coming crisis.
The apostle Paul says that this experience of knowing the love of Christ is beyond knowledge. It is the condition that you must be in if you are going to get through the crisis and be ready for Jesus to come. It is time to go to the Lord in prayer and say, “Lord, I want to know You, and I want to know you better than I know you now.”
Do you think that any of us know the Lord as well as we could, or as well as we will in the future if we are saved? Do you think so? Well, should we not be learning day by day to know Him better?
Are you going to the Lord and saying, “Lord, I want to know you more. I want to get closer. I lack some information; I want to know You as a personal God, and I want to be touched, but a word or a look is all right.”
Obedience is Not Optional
Friends, one touch, one look, one word from the God that we serve can cure us of every physical and spiritual need instantly. He wants to come into your life, but He cannot do it if you are disobeying instructions.