The Simplicity of the Gospel

When Jesus was on earth, He tried to help the people find salvation by using parables and stories that they could relate to their own lives. However, their minds had been dulled by the molding of the church leaders of their day which made it hard for them to comprehend the meaning of these lessons. Each lesson was a key to open their minds to the wonders of the Kingdom of Heaven. They had been inundated with “holy” traditions of the church and had lost sight of the true significance of the Law of God.

As Jesus went about doing miracles and wonders in the sight of the people, He slowly tried to point them back in the right direction that would lead to salvation. “I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture,” Jesus said to them (John 10:9 NIV). He was trying to help them understand that the burnt sacrifices, the weekly tithe, the good works, the attendance of church on the Sabbath, would not bring them salvation, but in Him was the fullness of the Godhead and only through Him could they be saved.

“We do not earn salvation by our obedience; for salvation is the free gift of God, to be received by faith. But obedience is the fruit of faith. ‘Ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him’ (1 John 3:5, 6). Here is the true test. If we abide in Christ, if the love of God dwells in us, our feelings, our thoughts, our purposes, our actions, will be in harmony with the will of God as expressed in the precepts of His holy law. ‘Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous’ (1 John 3:7). Righteousness is defined by the standard of God’s holy law, as expressed in the ten precepts given on Sinai.” Steps to Christ, 61.

Jesus, of course, encouraged good works; He set down conditions that require our tithe, but He always and continually pointed back to Himself as the way, the truth and the life for a fulfilling and sanctified life. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’ ” (John 14:6 NIV). Jesus is the embodiment of righteousness, so if we are to be righteous, it stands to reason we need Him embodied in us. How do we obtain this holy character? That is probably the most commonly asked question among Christians that genuinely want to be like Jesus.

The answer is simple, but in practice it takes a struggle. The gospel of Christ is simply this: confess your sins and make restitution where applicable, repent of your sins by turning from them and commit them no more, and then follow the Lord in all that He says. After all, He gave us the free gift of salvation through His glorious sacrifice, He paid the price for our lives, He did all He could do to make the way as easy as possible for us to have salvation. Our part is to give all of ourselves back to Him.

The struggle is quite real, and many become discouraged, but Jesus is right there next to us, waiting for us to reach out to Him for help. Many are tempted by sin and trials, and Paul said if we are not in a struggle, then we may be lacking. “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). We all have fallen short of godliness and this is the reason we need our Saviour each day to guide us. We must help one another in this fight, for we wrestle with powers unseen. The prophet tells us to uplift one another when we see a brother or sister struggling with sin. The gospel may be simple but the fight for our soul is ongoing.

“There is many a brave soul sorely pressed by temptation, almost ready to faint in the conflict with self and with the powers of evil. Do not discourage such a one in his hard struggle. Cheer him with brave, hopeful words that shall urge him on his way. Thus the light of Christ may shine from you. ‘None of us liveth to himself’ (Romans 14:7). By our unconscious influence others may be encouraged and strengthened, or they may be discouraged, and repelled from Christ and the truth.” Steps to Christ, 120.

So, how do we have success in the Christian walk? It is through the love of God that all things are possible. The books of John are the books of love, for he talks about how to have that success in Christ. Love conquers all as it is applied to our lives. It can overcome temptation, strife, anger, family issues, faultfinding, evil surmising, and most of all pride and selfishness. These are all enemies of love. Love that flows from the heart is tender, self-sacrificing, humble, and kind, it gives off a scent of a sweet-smelling fragrance. The one who loves is the one who is close to Christ. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).

Love is the simplicity of the gospel because it encompasses all that Jesus taught. In love, we keep His commandments simply because He said to. There are no questions about it. We know that He loves us and all that He requires of us will only bring happiness and peace. By embracing the love of Jesus, we can become holy. He willingly sends the Holy Spirit to us as soon as we ask for it, for He will not withhold that for which we ask. If we will submit to His will, He marries His Spirit with our will to make it one.

“ ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son’ (John 3:16). He gave Him not only to live among men, to bear their sins, and die their sacrifice. He gave Him to the fallen race. Christ was to identify Himself with the interests and needs of humanity. He who was one with God has linked Himself with the children of men by ties that are never to be broken. Jesus is ‘not ashamed to call them brethren’ (Hebrews 2:11); He is our Sacrifice, our Advocate, our Brother, bearing our human form before the Father’s throne, and through eternal ages one with the race He has redeemed—the Son of man. And all this that man might be uplifted from the ruin and degradation of sin that he might reflect the love of God and share the joy of holiness.” Steps to Christ, 14.

As we follow the love of Jesus to its finality, the Lord will use it to sanctify us. This is not a work that we can perform; it must be achieved through the working of the Holy Spirit. Only He can create the changes needed in each life. No one person is the same as another; therefore, a special work must be done in each one. “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9). The way we can see this change being wrought in us is through love. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).

“What is the work of the Holy Spirit? Jesus told His disciples: ‘When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth’ (John 16:13). And the psalmist says: ‘Thy law is the truth’ (Psalm 119:142). By the Word and the Spirit of God are opened to men the great principles of righteousness embodied in His law. And since the law of God is ‘holy, and just, and good’ (Romans 7:12), a transcript of the divine perfection, it follows that a character formed by obedience to that law will be holy. Christ is a perfect example of such a character. He says: ‘I have kept My Father’s commandments.’ ‘I do always those things that please Him’ (John 15:10; 8:29). The followers of Christ are to become like Him—by the grace of God to form characters in harmony with the principles of His holy law. This is Bible sanctification.” Maranatha, 231.

The law of truth is the law of love in Christ Jesus. In it He has set before us the path to holiness and happiness. Jesus said He knows His sheep and His sheep know Him. They know Him because of the great love they have for Him. Not because they loved Him first, but because He first loved them and showed them true love. “We love Him because He first loved us” and if we love Him, He says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (1 John 4:19; John 14:15). His commandments are not burdensome because we love Him. If you love your wife or husband or mother or father, would you not try to please them, and do as they ask? How much more so for the One who gave all for us that we may not perish, but have everlasting life with Him.

Jesus illustrated this simple gospel of love in the parable of the good Samaritan. Here was a man beaten and robbed and left to die on the side of the road. The priest and Levite who saw the man beaten and bruised walked past on the other side of the road. They did not want to get involved. They had pressing business in town that would further their own self-interest much more than to help this poor man. These were the professed leaders of God’s church that showed disdain for those who were of a lower class than they. Yet a Samaritan man stopped to help this man. The Samaritan was of a class of people that the Jews considered to be lower than themselves and would have nothing to do with them. Yet the Samaritan saw the pain and suffering of this injured man who was near death and offered him the hand of love. He didn’t know if this man was rich or poor, Jew or Greek, a godly person or an atheist. All he knew was that he needed help. So, he lifted him up and took him to shelter and paid for his care that he might be made well again. The prophet of God remarks about this love shown by the one who was inspired by the love of God, for love only comes from the God of Heaven.

“All this is but a fulfillment of the principle of the law—the principle that is illustrated in the story of the good Samaritan, and made manifest in the life of Jesus. His character reveals the true significance of the law, and shows what is meant by loving our neighbor as ourselves. And when the children of God manifest mercy, kindness, and love toward all men, they also are witnessing to the character of the statutes of heaven. They are bearing testimony to the fact that ‘the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul’ (Psalm 19:7). And whoever fails to manifest this love is breaking the law which he professes to revere. For the spirit we manifest toward our brethren declares what is our spirit toward God. The love of God in the heart is the only spring of love toward our neighbor. ‘If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?’ Beloved, ‘if we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us’ (1 John 4:20, 12).” The Desire of Ages, 505.

Oh, what perfect love to love one another as Christ loved us. It is the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus. Love motivates us to confess our sins, and Jesus has promised to cleanse us. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Love is the inspiration that turns us to repentance. “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Love is the catalyst that drives us to follow all that Jesus has said and to “Live by every word of God” (Luke 4:4). “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (1 John 4:8; 1 Corinthians 13:3). But through our love for God and one another, we can be confident that Jesus is living through us. “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).

Looking forward, we can see that time is short and if we are to live in Christ, we must prepare for the future. We must pray more fervently, we must struggle harder, we must send up more supplications for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on us that we may fulfill the plan that God has for each of our lives. Most of all, we must ask the God of Heaven to fill us with His love that we may have a change of heart.

The beginning of a life in Christ demands love and not strife. It requires sacrifice and not slothfulness, and that love will produce the perfect character that will fit us for Heaven. Let us come boldly before the throne of God with hearts filled with love for perishing souls. Let us work tenderly, recognizing that we are no better than the worst person in this world. If we love God, we will love them, too, and try to reach those within our sphere of influence.

Remember, on the cross of Calvary Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). We were once one of those people mired in sin without hope until Someone who loved us lifted us up. Let us give the gift of love that was given to us back to others.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Michael C. Wells lives in Wichita, Kansas, and is director of Anointing Oil Ministries.

Are You Ready?

As a frequent traveler, I have missed my flight or ride on occasion and have also watched it happen to others. Once, I had a long time to fill as my flight was delayed almost two hours. While waiting, I observed a plane that was ready to leave. The ticket agent announced the last call for the flight several times. Finally the door was closed, and the plane pulled away from the jetway. A short time later, two young ladies came running from the other end of the concourse to the counter and asked if they could board, but the ticket agent said, “I’m sorry, it’s too late.” I thought of all the times that I had missed my plane. It is frustrating when you intend to be somewhere and something happens that you are delayed. You may be almost there, but do not quite make it. Pray that the Lord helps you that no matter what happens, you will not be too late for what is really important.

The Bible says that at the end of time many people will not be ready for the Lord’s return. It will be a terrible experience to realize they need to be ready now or risk not being ready at all. They will be almost saved, but totally lost. What good will it do for you or me to say on that day, “I was almost saved?” Do you think that will bring you any comfort on the day of judgment?

When I come to the end of my life in this world, whether by death or translation, I want to be ready, don’t you? The Scripture records the dying testimony of a man who, coming to the end of his life, was ready. A short time before his death, the apostle Paul wrote a letter to Timothy. He knew that very soon he would be martyred and sacrifice his life for the cause of the gospel, but he wasn’t sad because he was ready. He said, “For I am now ready to be offered” (2 Timothy 4:6, first part, KJV). Notice that Paul didn’t say, “I’m almost ready.” He was able to say, “I am ready.” How could he be so sure?

Acts 9:3, 4 says that Paul was on the Damascus road when, “As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’ … ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do’ ” (verses 5, 6). Some manuscripts also add the words, “It is hard for you to kick against the pricks,” plus the words, “Lord, what do You wish for me to do?” The Lord told him to go to Damascus and wait until Ananias came.

In Acts 9:17, it says, “Ananias … entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost.’ ” Paul not only received his sight, but he received spiritual eyesight and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. “Immediately … he received his sight; and he arose and was baptized” and “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God” (verses 18, 20). Paul continually preached this same story about Jesus.

The Damascus Road experience was a turning point in Paul’s life. He was converted. The word in the New Testament that is translated conversion means to turn around. Paul’s life was completely turned in the opposite direction from where he had been headed before. He had set out to persecute Christians, but left Damascus preaching Jesus.

When Jesus said to him, “Why are you persecuting Me?” Paul saw himself in a new light and realized that by persecuting these men and women, he had hurt the heart of Jesus. He realized what a terrible, wretched person he was. And unless we realize how terrible and wretched we are, there is not much of a chance that we are going to be converted. There will be no change in our heart or our life as long as we think we’re pretty good. Do you know that if you or I hurt even one of the Lord’s children, including little children, we have hurt Jesus Himself and in the day of judgment we will have to give an account? In persecuting the Christians, Paul was persecuting Jesus. We need to talk and act toward other people in the same way we would with Jesus.

The Pharisees and Sadducees had a high opinion of themselves, but not too many of them were converted. One of the first steps to being converted is to realize that in the heart and spirit dwells no good thing, as Paul says in Romans 7:18. When he saw that he was a wretched sinner who had been hurting Jesus by persecuting His followers, then he realized his own need of Jesus.

The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). Are you going to cling to your preconceived ideas about yourself or are you going to believe what the Bible says? As a Bible-believing Christian, I have to believe when the Bible says that there is no good thing in me, it is the truth. I have no righteousness except that which I receive from Someone outside of myself.

Upon Paul’s return to Jerusalem, he went to the temple to tell the Jews what happened to him on the Damascus road and to make confession to the people regarding the terrible things he had done. He was found in the temple by an angry crowd who ran to seize him and kill him. This effort was halted by the Roman commander of the garrison in Jerusalem and he took Paul from the crowd and arrested him. But Paul sought another chance to tell his fellow Jews what Jesus had done for him and on the steps of the garrison barracks, chained and on the way to prison, Paul asked if he could address the people.

He told them of the Damascus experience, how in his blindness he was finally able to see himself as he truly was. He was able to understand the Scriptures he had memorized as a Jewish scholar and that righteousness comes from the Lord. He now saw that in persecuting God’s people he had been hurting Jesus. He wanted them to know what Jesus had done to change his life and that He could do the same for them. Paul had repented and now wanted to confess to his countrymen; and he had many confessions to make. He was responsible for the imprisonment or death of many Christians and his participation in the stoning of Stephen. Imagine how difficult it was for Paul to confess to these Jewish Christians that he was the one responsible for the death of their wife or husband, their pastor, deacon or elder.

But the people would not listen to Paul and Jesus had said to him, “ ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me’ ” (Acts 22:18). Paul thought that if he confessed and told them about Jesus, they would turn around just as he had. But the Lord knew differently and sent him far away to the Gentiles (verse 21).

Later in Acts 26:12–19, we find the account of Paul before Agrippa. He shared his conversion experience with Agrippa and concluded by saying, “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” (verse 19). Paul had made a decision in his life and was determined to follow it through.

Realizing his true condition and need of a Saviour, he repented and surrendered. He said, “Lord, what do You want me to do” (Acts 9:6)? There is no such thing as salvation without confession. Sins that are unconfessed are unforgiven. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). But remember, the first word of the text is “If.” Sins that are unconfessed are written in the books of heaven against our name and if not confessed, they remain, and we will meet them at the end of the millennium. Paul confessed his sins and consecrated himself to Christ as a servant. He dedicated his life and everything that he had to Jesus. From then on, he had confidence in salvation. Because of these decisions, Paul was able later to say, I’m ready.

Paul says in Romans 1:15: “So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome.” From the Damascus road and every day after, whatever God wanted him to do, he said, Lord, “I am ready. I’m Yours.”

Paul came to the end of his life with the wonderful experience of having no regrets; of knowing he had made the right decisions; that the time for his departure was at hand and he was ready. He recounts very briefly the experience of his life when he said, “I have fought the good fight” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Paul had a good deal to say about this fight in his epistles. He mentioned the fight to gain absolute control over his body. He said, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection [absolute slavery], lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified [that is, rejected]” (1 Corinthians 9:27). The fight involves bringing the body, appetite and passions into strict subjection to the higher powers of the mind. Paul also wrote, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:11–13).

In this fight, one of two things will happen to everyone in the world. There’s no truce. When the devil comes as a roaring lion, we will either conquer him in the strength of the Lord or be conquered. “In every soul two powers are struggling earnestly for the victory. Unbelief marshals its forces, led by Satan, to cut us off from the Source of our strength. Faith marshals its forces, led by Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. Hour by hour, in the sight of the heavenly universe, the conflict goes forward. This is a hand-to-hand fight, and the great question is, Which shall obtain the mastery? This question each must decide for himself. In this warfare all must take a part, fighting on one side or the other. From the conflict there is no release.” Sons and Daughters of God, 328. There is a war going on, and there is only one winner.

Ellen White wrote to encourage a young man who was not winning the war to fight and to win the war. When you are in battle and you lose ground, if you’re going to win, you have to recover that ground again. And this young man had lost some ground. She wrote, “Pure religion has to do with the will. …

“Your promises are like ropes of sand, and you regard in the same unreal light the words and works of those in whom you should trust.

“You will be in constant peril until you understand the true force of the will. You may believe and promise all things, but your promises or your faith are of no value until you put your will on the side of faith and action. If you fight the fight of faith with all your will power, you will conquer.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 513.

Are you fighting with everything you’ve got? God has promised to help, but He doesn’t promise to help us unless we try with everything we have, with all our will power. “Your feelings, your impressions, your emotions, are not to be trusted, for they are not reliable. …

“But you need not despair. … It is for you to yield up your will to the will of Jesus Christ; and as you do this, God will immediately take possession and work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. Your whole nature will then be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ, and even your thoughts will be subject to Him. You cannot control your impulses, your emotions, as you may desire; but you can control the will, and you can make an entire change in your life.” Ibid., 513, 514.

There is no victory without a fight. You choose.

“Will you not say, ‘I will give my will to Jesus, and I will do it now,’ and from this moment be wholly on the Lord’s side? Disregard custom and the strong clamoring of appetite and passion. Give Satan no chance to say: ‘You are a wretched hypocrite.’ Close the door so that Satan will not thus accuse and dishearten you. Say, ‘I will believe, I do believe that God is my helper,’ and you will find that you are triumphant in God.” Ibid., 514.

Have you said, Lord, I choose to yield my will to You and fight the fight of faith with everything I have? I will give my will to Jesus and I will do it now. “By steadfastly keeping the will on the Lord’s side, every emotion will be brought into captivity to the will of Jesus. …

“Talk faith. Keep on God’s side of the line.” Ibid. If you do this, God will be your helper.

Someone may say, I am so weak that I cannot resist. What should we do if we feel this way? “Many a man cries in despair, ‘I cannot resist evil.’ Tell him that he can, that he must resist. He may have been overcome again and again, but it need not be always thus. He is weak in moral power, controlled by the habits of a life of sin. …

“Those who put their trust in Christ are not to be enslaved by any hereditary or cultivated habit or tendency.” Temperance, 112. Imagine friends, though my past life with its habits of sin has had an effect on my character, God says there is deliverance in Jesus.

“The tempted one needs to understand the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man—the power of decision, of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. Desires for goodness and purity are right, so far as they go; but if we stop here, they avail nothing. Many will go down to ruin while hoping and desiring to overcome their evil propensities. They do not yield the will to God. They do not choose to serve Him.” Ibid.

We must fight if we want to have victory.

“You may believe and promise all things, but your promises and your faith are of no account until you put your will on the right side. If you will fight the fight of faith with your will power, there is no doubt that you will conquer.” Ibid., 113.

“The very feeblest prayer that we can offer, Jesus will hear. He pities the weakness of every soul. Help for everyone has been laid upon Him who is mighty to save.” Ibid., 114.

When Paul says, “I have fought the good fight” he is talking about the struggle for our will. If we yield our will to God and choose to follow and obey Him and exert all the effort we have, He has promised to help us to gain the victory. He has promised you victory.

Then Paul makes this exciting statement: “I have finished the race” (2 Timothy 4:7). Many times in his writings, Paul likens the Christian life to running a race. He says, I have finished my race, I have finished the path marked out for me to run. The people who receive the prize are not those who begin the race but those who finish it. We must be running the race every day if we want to finish the course, for none of us knows how many more days we have left to run.

Paul says, “Therefore, also we having such a great cloud of witnesses set around us, let us lay aside every weight [hindrance], and the easily entangling sin” (Hebrews 12:1, literal translation). This weight is the easily entangling, or besetting, sins Paul speaks of. We all have besetting sins. What constitutes a besetting sin for one is not the same as for another, but be assured, we all have them. Paul says to take those sins which are easy for you to be entangled with and lay them aside; get them out of the way so that you can run the race.

Have you ever tried to run a race with weights on your legs? It’s all right for a practice run, but you never want to do that in a real race. Have you laid aside that besetting sin, keeping your eye on the mark and saying, I’m going to reach the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus; I’m going to reach the end of the course? If you don’t, you will not be able to say, I have finished the course.

“When tempted to murmur, censure, and indulge in fretfulness, wounding those around you, and in so doing wounding your own soul, oh! let the deep, earnest, anxious inquiry come from your soul, Shall I stand without fault before the throne of God? Only the faultless will be there. None will be translated to heaven while their hearts are filled with the rubbish of earth. Every defect in the moral character must first be remedied, every stain removed by the cleansing blood of Christ, and all the unlovely, unlovable traits of character overcome.” Maranatha, 58.

It is easy for us to look around and say, “Well, so and so is worse than I am.” Will it give you satisfaction at the end of your life to say, I didn’t finish the course, but they didn’t either? We must have compassion for those who realize they are not ready, but are waiting for a better opportunity, like Felix (Acts 24:25). They need to know that the very best opportunity is today. “Now [today] is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). We must have compassion for those who have lost their faith and are doing nothing to rid their lives of besetting sin, nor surrendering their will to God. Those who no longer fight nor run the race, who are going nowhere, or are sidetracked by spending more time with faithless things than with the word of God that would build up their faith, are allowing the devil to have the victory in their lives. The world offers an abundance of distractions that can weaken one’s faith in the word of God.

It is a fact that there will be Seventh-day Adventists who will go to heaven alone because those in their very own family are not fighting the fight of faith nor running the race. Jesus said in Matthew 10, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (verse 37).

Each of us has to decide if we will run the race or wait for family or friend. The best way to encourage others to run the race is to run it yourself. Do not wait. Exhibit an influence that will encourage others to cast aside their sins and run too.

When you come to the end, will you, like Paul, have kept the faith? Who is going to receive the crown of righteousness? Paul says, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day” (2 Timothy 4:8 KJV). The crown is laid up for the one who is ready, for the one who fights the good fight. It is laid up for the one who finishes the course and has kept the faith.

This world is full of people who are hoping and desiring to be saved, but they’ll be lost if they do not choose today to get ready. They are waiting for a better opportunity which never comes. The only way to be ready when you come to the end of life’s road is to decide to be ready today.

(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: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Editorial – Enforcing the Mark of the Beast

The Bible predicts in Revelation 13 that just before the end of the world the mark of the beast (Revelation 13:1–10) is going to be enforced upon the whole human race. If you do not consent to receive this mark or worship the image, to the beast you will not be able to buy or sell (verses 16, 17). Eventually there will be a law that if you do not receive this mark or worship the image you will be killed (verse 15). In spite of this pressure, the people of God will not receive it (verse 2).

God has written His official response to the enforcement of the mark of the beast and the worship of its image 2000 years before its occurrence. (See Revelation 14:9–12.) From this important passage of scripture, we can learn several important things. (1) The worship of any image is contrary to the second commandment and forbidden in the law of God. (2) Receiving the mark of the beast will expose you to receive the wrath of God (verse 10). The only people who receive the wrath of God are those who obey unrighteousness (Romans 2:8) so the mark of the beast involves unrighteousness. (3) All unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17). (4) Sin is the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4) so the mark of the beast involves the breaking of one or more of the commandments. (5) Those who keep God’s commandments do not receive the mark of the beast (Revelation 14:12). (6) The special mark of this power is its deliberate attempt to change times and law (Daniel 7:25). A careful examination reveals that the little horn power of Daniel 7 and the beast power of Revelation 13:1–10 are the same entity. (7) The only time mentioned in God’s law is the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. (8) Those who receive the mark of the beast will also receive the seven last plagues (Revelation 16:2). (9) A great number of those who are deceived by the false prophet and receive the mark of the beast will still be alive when Jesus returns in the clouds of heaven (described in symbolic language in Revelation 19:11–21) and will at that time be destroyed (verses 20, 21). So, the destiny of those alive in the final generation of this world’s history will be determined by either keeping the commandments of God or receiving the mark of the beast in order to buy and sell.

Interestingly for the first time in the history of the world we are in a situation where the governments of the world are capable of preventing a person from buying or selling from centrally located computers that control the flow of digital money.

Bible Study Guides – The Influence of the Mind

April 18 – 24, 2021

Key Text

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee” (Isaiah 26:3).

Study Help: The Ministry of Healing, 241–259; Education, 123–127.

Introduction

“As a safeguard against evil, the preoccupation of the mind with good is worth more than unnumbered barriers of law and discipline.” Education, 213.

Sunday

1 HEALTH AND YOUR MIND

1.a. Describe the relationship existing between the mind, emotions, and body. Isaiah 21:3, 4.

Note: “Disease is sometimes produced, and is often greatly aggravated, by the imagination. … Many die from disease the cause of which is wholly imaginary.” The Ministry of Healing, 241.

“Many are diseased physically, mentally, and morally, because their attention is turned almost exclusively to themselves.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 647.

“Sickness of the mind prevails everywhere. Nine tenths of the diseases from which men suffer have their foundation here. Perhaps some living home trouble is, like a canker, eating to the very soul and weakening the life forces. Remorse for sin sometimes undermines the constitution and unbalances the mind. There are erroneous doctrines also, as that of an eternally burning hell and the endless torment of the wicked, that, by giving exaggerated and distorted views of the character of God, have produced the same result upon sensitive minds.” Ibid., vol. 5, 444.

1.b.      How can you keep your mind and thoughts in good spiritual health? Philippians 2:5–8.

Note: “The relation which exists between the mind and the body is very intimate. When one is affected, the other sympathizes. The condition of the mind affects the health of the physical system. If the mind is free and happy, from a consciousness of right-doing and a sense of satisfaction in causing happiness to others, it creates a cheerfulness that will react upon the whole system, causing a freer circulation of the blood, and a toning up of the entire body. The blessing of God is a healing power, and those who are abundant in benefiting others will realize that wondrous blessing in both heart and life.” Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 13.

Monday

2 DISEASE THAT BEGINS IN THE MIND

2.a. What has a negative effect on the mind? Proverbs 27:3, 4. Name some things which are life-producing. Proverbs 3:13.

 Note: “The influence of the mind on the body, as well as of the body on the mind, should be emphasized. The electric power of the brain, promoted by mental activity, vitalizes the whole system, and is thus an invaluable aid in resisting disease. This should be made plain. The power of the will and the importance of self-control, both in the preservation and in the recovery of health, the depressing and even ruinous effect of anger, discontent, selfishness, or impurity, and, on the other hand, the marvelous life-giving power to be found in cheerfulness, unselfishness, gratitude, should also be shown.” Education, 197.

2.b.      How does our mind affect our body? Proverbs 17:22.

Note: “A great deal of the sickness which afflicts humanity has its origin in the mind and can only be cured by restoring the mind to health. There are very many more than we imagine who are sick mentally.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 184.

Tuesday

3 THE MIND, THE CITADEL

3.a. What directs, commands and controls the human body and its components? Proverbs 23:7, first part.

Note: “The brain is the capital of the body. If the perceptive faculties become benumbed through intemperance of any kind, eternal things are not discerned.” The Review and Herald, September 8, 1874.

“Every organ of the body was made to be servant to the mind. The mind is the capital of the body.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 136.

3.b. How does the Bible describe the effects of alcoholic beverages on the mind? Proverbs 23:29–35.

Note: “On every side, Satan seeks to entice the youth into the path of perdition; and if he can once get their feet set in the way, he hurries them on in their downward course, leading them from one dissipation to another, until his victims lose their tenderness of conscience, and have no more the fear of God before their eyes. They exercise less and less self-restraint. They become addicted to the use of wine and alcohol, tobacco and opium, and go from one stage of debasement to another. They are slaves to appetite. Counsel which they once respected, they learn to despise. They put on swaggering airs, and boast of liberty when they are the servants of corruption. They mean by liberty that they are slaves to selfishness, debased appetite, and licentiousness.” Temperance, 274.

Wednesday

4 DETERMINING HAPPINESS IN LIFE

4.a. What principles help us in the cultivation of our own happiness? 1 Peter 1:22; 4:8; John 13:34, 15.

Note: “A cultivated intellect is a great treasure; but without the softening influence of sympathy and sanctified love, it is not of the highest value. We should have words and deeds of tender consideration for others. We can manifest a thousand little attentions in friendly words and pleasant looks, which will be reflected upon us again. Thoughtless Christians manifest by their neglect of others that they are not in union with Christ. It is impossible to be in union with Christ and yet be unkind to others and forgetful of their rights. Many long intensely for friendly sympathy. God has given each of us an identity of our own, which cannot be merged in that of another; but our individual characteristics will be much less prominent if we are indeed Christ’s and His will is ours. Our lives should be consecrated to the good and happiness of others, as was our Saviour’s. We should be self-forgetful, ever looking out for opportunities, even in little things, to show gratitude for the favors we have received of others, and watching for opportunities to cheer others and lighten and relieve their sorrows and burdens by acts of tender kindness and little deeds of love. These thoughtful courtesies, that, commencing in our families, extend outside the family circle, help make up the sum of life’s happiness; and the neglect of these little things makes up the sum of life’s bitterness and sorrow.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 539, 540.

4.b. How do heavenly inspired writings affect our mind? Isaiah 26:3; Psalm 19:7, 8.

Note: “The Bible is our guide in the safe paths that lead to eternal life. God has inspired men to write that which will present the truth to us, which will attract, and which, if practised, will enable the receiver to obtain moral power to rank among the most highly educated minds. The minds of all who make the word of God their study will enlarge. Far more than any other study, this is of a nature to increase the powers of comprehension, and endow every faculty with new vigor. It brings the mind in contact with broad, ennobling principles of truth. It brings us into close connection with all heaven, imparting wisdom, and knowledge, and understanding.” The Youth’s Instructor, October 13, 1898.

Thursday

5 NEGATIVE AND POSITIVE MENTAL FOODS

5.a. List some of the effects of negative mental foods. Mark 7:20–23; 1 Timothy 5:13.

Note: “It is best for every soul to closely investigate what mental food is served up for him to eat. When those come to you who live to talk, and who are all armed and equipped to say, ‘Report, and we will report it,’ stop and think if the conversation will give spiritual help, spiritual efficiency, that in spiritual communication you may eat of the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God. … We are not to be tattlers, or gossipers, or talebearers; we are not to bear false witness. We are forbidden by God to engage in trifling, foolish conversation, in jesting, joking, or speaking any idle words. We must give an account of what we say to God. We will be brought into judgment for our hasty words, that do no good to the speaker or to the hearer. Then let us all speak words that will tend to edification. Remember that you are of value with God. Allow no cheap, foolish talk or wrong principles to compose your Christian experience.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 458.

5.b.  Contrast the results obtained from evil thoughts with those of good thoughts. Luke 6:43–45.

Note: “When Christ took human nature upon Him, He bound humanity to Himself by a tie of love that can never be broken by any power save the choice of man himself. Satan will constantly present allurements to induce us to break this tie—to choose to separate ourselves from Christ. Here is where we need to watch, to strive, to pray, that nothing may entice us to choose another master; for we are always free to do this. But let us keep our eyes fixed upon Christ, and He will preserve us. Looking unto Jesus, we are safe. Nothing can pluck us out of His hand. In constantly beholding Him, we ‘are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 3:18).” Steps to Christ, 72.

Friday

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1    Where do most diseases have their origin, and how can such diseases be avoided?

2    What is the commander of the body, and how is it to be protected?

3    How do decision-making and Bible study affect mental health?

4    Explain why a proper mental diet is important.

Copyright 1995 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Bible Study Guides – The Mind

April 11 – 17, 2021

Key Text

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

 Study Help: Medical Ministry, 110–117; Selected Messages, Book 2, 349–353.

Introduction

“The brain nerves which communicate with the entire system are the only medium through which Heaven can communicate to man and affect his inmost life.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 347.

Sunday

1 THE ORIGIN OF THOUGHTS

1.a. Where do both good and evil communication and thoughts have their origin? Luke 6:45; Matthew 15:18.

 Note: “The mind controls the whole man. All our actions, good or bad, have their source in the mind. It is the mind that worships God, and allies us to heavenly beings.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 426.

“When the thought of evil is loved and cherished, however secretly, said Jesus, it shows that sin still reigns in the heart. The soul is still in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity. He who finds pleasure in dwelling upon scenes of impurity, who indulges the evil thought, the lustful look, may behold in the open sin, with its burden of shame and heart-breaking grief, the true nature of the evil which he has hidden in the chambers of the soul. The season of temptation, under which, it may be, one falls into grievous sin, does not create the evil that is revealed, but only develops or makes manifest that which was hidden and latent in the heart.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 60.

1.b.      What is the function/purpose of the brain? Proverbs 23:7.

Note: “The brain is the capital of the body, the seat of all the nervous forces and of mental action. The nerves proceeding from the brain control the body. By the brain nerves, mental impressions are conveyed to all the nerves of the body as by telegraph wires; and they control the vital action of every part of the system.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 69.

“The brain is the organ and instrument of the mind and controls the whole body. In order for the other parts of the system to be healthy, the brain must be healthy.” Counsels on Health, 586.

“The brain is the citadel of the being.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 299.

Monday

2 THE INTERNAL/EXTERNAL RELATIONSHIP

2.a. Describe the relationship between the mind and the physical appearance. Proverbs 15:13, first part; Nehemiah 2:2.

2.b. Why is it so important to protect the healthy function of the mind (heart)? How can we do this? Proverbs 4:23, 27.

Note: “The [spiritual] heart is to be carefully kept and guarded. ‘What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul’ (Mark 8:36, 37)? Christ must abide in the heart by faith. His word is the bread of life and the water of salvation. Trust in its fullness comes to us through constant communion with God. By eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ we gain spiritual strength. Christ supplies the lifeblood of the heart, and Christ and the Holy Spirit give nerve power. Begotten again unto a lively hope, imbued with the quickening power of a new nature, the soul is enabled to rise higher and still higher.” Counsels on Health, 593.

Tuesday

3 A BATTLE OF ETERNAL CONSEQUENCES

3.a. Describe the basic battle of the great controversy within human hearts. Galatians 5:16, 17. Why are we warned in this regard? 1 Corinthians 10:12.

Note: “Satan well knows the material with which he has to deal in the human heart. He knows—for he has studied with fiendish intensity for thousands of years—the points most easily assailed in every character; and through successive generations he has wrought to overthrow the strongest men.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 457.

“In every soul two powers are struggling earnestly for the victory. Unbelief marshals its forces, led by Satan, to cut us off from the Source of our strength. Faith marshals its forces, led by Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. Hour by hour, in the sight of the heavenly universe, the conflict goes forward. This is a hand-to-hand fight, and the great question is, Which shall obtain the mastery? This question each must decide for himself. In this warfare all must take a part, fighting on one side or the other. From the conflict there is no release.” Sons and Daughters of God, 328.

3.b. What is Satan doing in these last days? Job 1:7; Revelation 12:12.

Note: “The work of Satan as an accuser began in heaven. This has been his work on earth ever since man’s fall, and it will be his work in a special sense as we approach nearer to the close of this world’s history. As he sees that his time is short, he will work with greater earnestness to deceive and destroy. He is angry when he sees a people on the earth who, even in their weakness and sinfulness, have respect to the law of Jehovah. He is determined that they shall not obey God.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 167, 168.

“The temptations of Satan are greater now than ever before, for he knows that his time is short and that very soon every case will be decided, either for life or for death.” Early Writings, 46.

Wednesday

4  SATAN’S METHODS TO CONTROL THE MIND

4.a. Explain Satan’s techniques to gain control over the human mind.

  1. Lying: Genesis 3:1–5.
  2. Deception: Matthew 24:4; Acts 5:3.
  3. Flattery and inducements: Luke 4:5, 6.
  4. Threats and intimidation: Acts 4:15–18, 21.
  5. Force: Acts 5:26–29, 40.

Note: “Satan exercised his power of hypnotism over Adam and Eve, and this power he strove to exercise over Christ.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1081.

4.b. Upon whom is Satan focusing his main attention in these last days? Matthew 24:24; Revelation 12:17.

Note: “False theories, clothed with garments of light, will be presented to God’s people. Thus Satan will try to deceive, if possible, the very elect. Most seducing influences will be exerted; minds will be hypnotized.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 293.

“Satan, surrounded by evil angels, and claiming to be God, will work miracles of all kinds, to deceive, if possible, the very elect. God’s people will not find their safety in working miracles, for Satan will counterfeit the miracles that will be wrought. God’s tried and tested people will find their power in the sign spoken of in Exodus 31:12–18. They are to take their stand on the living word: ‘It is written.’ This is the only foundation upon which they can stand securely. Those who have broken their covenant with God will in that day be without God and without hope.” Ibid., vol. 9, 16.

Thursday

5 GOD’S METHODS TO DEVELOP THE MIND

5.a. Describe God’s method of developing human mental faculties. Joshua 24:15; Proverbs 23:26; Philippians 2:5.

Note: “The Lord requires His people to use their reason, and not lay it aside for impressions. His work will be intelligible to all His children. His teaching will be such as will commend itself to the understanding of intelligent minds. It is calculated to elevate the mind.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 230.

“God sets before man life and death. He can have his choice.” Early Writings, 221.

“Now we may go into a cellar and stay there and look around into its dark corners, and we can talk of the darkness and say, ‘Oh, it is so dark here,’ and keep talking about it. But will it make it any lighter? Oh, no! What are you going to do? Come out of it; come out of the dark into the upper chamber where the light of God’s countenance shines brightly.” Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, 490, 491.

5.b.      How does God’s method of influencing the mind differ from Satan’s? Isaiah 1:18, 19; John 8:32, 44.

Note: “God does not force the will or judgment of any. He takes no pleasure in a slavish obedience.” The Great Controversy, 541.

“In His dealing with sin, God could employ only righteousness and truth. Satan could use what God could not—flattery and deceit.” Ibid., 498.

“God never forces the will or the conscience; but Satan’s constant resort—to gain control of those whom he cannot otherwise seduce—is compulsion by cruelty. Through fear or force he endeavors to rule the conscience and to secure homage to himself.” Ibid., 591.

Friday

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1    What is the relationship between the mind and the body?

2    Where is the battleground of life’s greatest conflict?

3    What methods does the adversary use to control the will?

4    Discuss God’s methods of developing the human mind in preparation for eternity.

Copyright 1995 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Bible Study Guides – Training and Education

April 4 – 10, 2021

Key Text

“These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7).

Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 3, 131–160; vol. 5, 36–45.

Introduction

“The youth are receptive, fresh, ardent, hopeful. When once they have tasted the blessedness of self-sacrifice, they will not be satisfied unless they are constantly learning of the Great Teacher.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 471.

Sunday

1 THE TRAINING OF YOUTH

1.a. How should the training of children be different from the training of animals? 1 Chronicles 28:9; James 3:3.

 Note: “Children have an intelligent will, which should be directed to control all their powers. Dumb animals need to be trained, for they have not reason and intellect. But the human mind must be taught self-control. It must be educated to rule the human being, while animals are controlled by a master and are trained to be submissive to him. The master is mind, judgment, and will for his beast. A child may be so trained as to have, like the beast, no will of his own. Even his individuality may be merged in the one who superintends his training; his will, to all intents and purposes, is subject to the will of the teacher.

“Children who are thus educated will ever be deficient in moral energy and individual responsibility. They have not been taught to move from reason and principle; their wills have been controlled by another, and the mind has not been called out, that it might expand and strengthen by exercise.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 132.

1.b.      How can “Peter’s ladder” be applied to raising children? 2 Peter 1:5–8.

Note: “The severe training of youth, without properly directing them to think and act for themselves as their own capacity and turn of mind will allow, that by this means they may have growth of thought, feelings of self-respect, and confidence in their own ability to perform, will ever produce a class who are weak in mental and moral power. And when they stand in the world to act for themselves they will reveal the fact that they were trained like the animals, and not educated. …

“Those parents and teachers who boast of having complete control of the minds and wills of the children under their care would cease their boastings could they trace out the future lives of the children who are thus brought into subjection by force or through fear. These are almost wholly unprepared to share in the stern responsibilities of life. When these youth are no longer under their parents and teachers, and are compelled to think and act for themselves, they are almost sure to take a wrong course and yield to the power of temptation. They do not make this life a success, and the same deficiencies are seen in their religious life.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 133, 134.

Monday

2 BALANCE IN EDUCATION       

2.a. Why is manual labor important for every child/youth? Haggai 2:4, last part; 1 Kings 19:19; Lamentations 3:27; 2 Thessalonians 3:7–12. What can we learn from the example of Elisha?

Note: “In the quietude of country life, under the teaching of God and nature and the discipline of useful work, he [Elisha] received the training in habits of simplicity and of obedience to his parents and to God that helped to fit him for the high position he was afterward to occupy. …

“While co-operating with his father in the home-life duties, he was learning to co-operate with God.” Prophets and Kings, 217, 218.

“And now, as in the days of Israel, every youth should be instructed in the duties of practical life. Each should acquire a knowledge of some branch of manual labor by which, if need be, he may obtain a livelihood. This is essential, not only as a safeguard against the vicissitudes of life, but from its bearing upon physical, mental, and moral development. Even if it were certain that one would never need to resort to manual labor for his support, still he should be taught to work. Without physical exercise, no one can have a sound constitution and vigorous health; and the discipline of well-regulated labor is no less essential to the securing of a strong and active mind and a noble character.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 601.

2.b.      What is the four-fold goal of childhood education? Luke 2:40, 52.

 Note: “If the physical powers are not taxed equally with the mental, too much strain is brought upon the latter. Unless every part of the human machinery performs its allotted tasks, the mental powers cannot be used to their highest capability for any length of time.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 522.

Tuesday

3 INSTRUCTION

3.a  How often are children to be instructed from God’s word? Deuteronomy 6:6, 7.

Note: “The power of self-restraint strengthens by exercise. That which at first seems difficult, by constant repetition grows easy, until right thoughts and actions become habitual. If we will we may turn away from all that is cheap and inferior, and rise to a high standard; we may be respected by men and beloved of God.” The Ministry of Healing, 491.

Wednesday

4 CONSCIENCE

4.a. What things should a person think about to develop a good conscience? Philippians 4:8; 2 Corinthians 3:18.

Note: “The removal of one safeguard from the conscience, the failure to do the very thing that the Lord has marked out, one step in the path of wrong principle, often leads to an entire change of the life and action. … We are safe only in following where Christ leads the way.” Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, 320.

4.b.      How is man’s conscience to be educated and guided? John 14:6, 26; 16:13.

Note: “He whose conscience is a sure guide will not stop to reason when light shines upon him out of God’s Word. He will not be guided by human counsel. He will not allow worldly business to stand in the way of obedience. He will lay every selfish interest at the door of investigation and will approach the word of God as one whose eternal interest is hanging in the balance.” Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, 325.

“Every room in the soul temple has become more or less defiled, and needs cleansing. The cobwebbed closet of conscience is to be entered. The windows of the soul are to be closed earthward and thrown wide open heavenward that the bright beams of the Sun of righteousness may have free access. The memory is to be refreshed by Bible principles. The mind is to be kept clear and pure that it may distinguish between good and evil.” Ibid., 327, 328.

Thursday

5 PERCEPTION AND MOTIVATION

5.a. How does a person become changed for the worse? For the better? Jeremiah 2:13; 2 Corinthians 3:18.

Note: “As those sacred precepts in which God has opened to men the perfection and holiness of His character are neglected, and the minds of the people are attracted to human teachings and theories, what marvel that there has followed a decline of living piety in the church.” The Great Controversy, 478.

“Looking unto Jesus we obtain brighter and more distinct views of God, and by beholding we become changed. Goodness, love for our fellow men, becomes our natural instinct. We develop a character which is the counterpart of the divine character. Growing into His likeness, we enlarge our capacity for knowing God. More and more we enter into fellowship with the heavenly world, and we have continually increasing power to receive the riches of the knowledge and wisdom of eternity.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 355.

5.b.      What should one’s personal aim be? Philippians 3:14.

Note: “The specific place appointed us in life is determined by our capabilities. Not all reach the same development or do with equal efficiency the same work. God does not expect the hyssop to attain the proportions of the cedar, or the olive the height of the stately palm. But each should aim just as high as the union of human with divine power makes it possible for him to reach.” Education, 267.

“Let the youth be impressed with the thought that education is not to teach them how to escape life’s disagreeable tasks and heavy burdens; that its purpose is to lighten the work by teaching better methods and higher aims. Teach them that life’s true aim is not to secure the greatest possible gain for themselves, but to honor their Maker in doing their part of the world’s work, and lending a helpful hand to those weaker or more ignorant.” Ibid., 221, 222.

Friday

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1     Discuss the difference between education and training.

2     How are habits established?

3     Once habits are formed, how do they determine one’s destiny?

4     Discuss the importance of conscience.

5     How can one obtain a symmetrical education?

Copyright 1995 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Bible Study Guides – The Christian Home

Let This Mind Be in You

March 28 – April 3, 2021

Key Text

“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman, and He brought her unto the man. And Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:21–24).

Study Help: The Ministry of Healing, 349–394.

Introduction

“As a rule, children inherit the dispositions and tendencies of their parents, and imitate their example.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 118.

Sunday

1 THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE HOME

1.a. Why did God create Eve? Genesis 2:18.

Note: “Men and women can reach God’s ideal for them if they will take Christ as their helper. What human wisdom cannot do, His grace will accomplish for those who give themselves to Him in loving trust. His providence can unite hearts in bonds that are of heavenly origin. Love will not be a mere exchange of soft and flattering words. The loom of heaven weaves with warp and woof finer, yet more firm, than can be woven by the looms of earth. The result is not a tissue fabric, but a texture that will bear wear and test and trial. Heart will be bound to heart in the golden bonds of a love that is enduring.” The Ministry of Healing, 362.

 1.b.      Describe the finding of a wife for Isaac? Genesis 24:37–67.

Note: “God Himself gave Adam a companion. He provided ‘an help meet for him’ (Genesis 2:18)—a helper corresponding to him—one who was fitted to be his companion, and who could be one with him in love and sympathy. Eve was created from a rib taken from the side of Adam, signifying that she was not to control him as the head, nor to be trampled under his feet as an inferior, but to stand by his side as an equal, to be loved and protected by him. A part of man, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, she was his second self, showing the close union and the affectionate attachment that should exist in this relation.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 46.

Monday

2 HUSBANDS AND WIVES

2.a. What is the husband’s responsibility when married? Ephesians 5:25.

Note: “It is no evidence of manliness in the husband for him to dwell constantly upon his position as head of the family. It does not increase respect for him to hear him quoting Scripture to sustain his claims to authority. It will not make him more manly to require his wife, the mother of his children, to act upon his plans as if they were infallible. The Lord has constituted the husband the head of the wife to be her protector; he is the house-band of the family, binding the members together, even as Christ is the head of the church and the Saviour of the mystical body. Let every husband who claims to love God carefully study the requirements of God in his position. Christ’s authority is exercised in wisdom, in all kindness and gentleness; so let the husband exercise his power and imitate the great Head of the church.” The Adventist Home, 215.

2.b. Is only the wife to submit? Ephesians 5:21, 22.

2.c. Ephesians 5:23 says that the husband is the head of the wife, but this has a qualification. If this qualification is not met, then the husband is not the head of the wife and she should not submit to him. What is this qualification? Ephesians 5:25, 28, 29, 33.

Tuesday

3 CHILDHOOD INFLUENCES

3.a. Why are discipline and training necessary in childhood? Proverbs 29:15.

 Note: “Children should never be flattered, for flattery is poison to them; but parents should show a sanctified, tender regard for them, thus gaining their confidence and love.” The Review and Herald, January 24, 1907.

“Whenever the mother can speak a word of commendation for the good conduct of her children, she should do so. She should encourage them by words of approval and looks of love.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 532.

“One of the characteristics that should be especially cherished and cultivated in every child is that self-forgetfulness which imparts to the life such an unconscious grace. Of all excellences of character this is one of the most beautiful, and for every true lifework it is one of the qualifications most essential.

“Children need appreciation, sympathy, and encouragement, but care should be taken not to foster in them a love of praise. It is not wise to give them special notice, or to repeat before them their clever sayings. The parent or teacher who keeps in view the true ideal of character and the possibilities of achievement, cannot cherish or encourage self-sufficiency. He will not encourage in the youth the desire or effort to display their ability or proficiency. He who looks higher than himself will be humble; yet he will possess a dignity that is not abashed or disconcerted by outward display or human greatness.” Education, 237.

 3.b.      What lesson can be learned from the choice of environment as revealed in the experience of Lot? Genesis 13:10–13.

 Note: “The sinful conduct of his [Lot’s] daughters was the result of the evil association of that vile place [the city of Sodom]. Its moral corruption had become so interwoven with their character that they could not distinguish between good and evil.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 167, 168.

Wednesday

4 EARLY CHILD DEVELOPMENT

4.a. What promise is given to those who wisely train up their children? Proverbs 22:6.

 Note: “Neither infants, children, or youth should hear an impatient word from father, mother, or any member of the household; for they receive impressions very early in life, and what parents make them today, they will be tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. The first lessons impressed upon the child are seldom forgotten. …

“The impressions made on the heart early in life are seen in after years. They may be buried, but they will seldom be obliterated.” Child Guidance, 193, 194.

4.b.      Name Biblical examples of good childhood training. 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15; Luke 1:6, 15, 76, 80.

Thursday

5 EXCESSES AND INDULGENCES

5.a. What counsels are given against a lack of punishment or training? 1 Samuel 2:29, 30; 3:13, 14.

 Note: “In some families the wish of the child is law. Everything he desires is given him. Everything he dislikes, he is encouraged to dislike. Indulgence is supposed to make the child happy, but it only makes him restless and discontented. Indulgence has spoiled his appetite for plain, healthful food, and for the plain use of his time; self-gratification has done the work of unsettling his character for time and for eternity.” The Review and Herald, May 10, 1898.

“Do not educate your children to think that your love for them must be expressed by indulgence of their pride, extravagance, and love of display.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 451.

5.b.      What things better than wealth can be given a child to help him become a healthy adult? Proverbs 3:11–18.

 Note: “Better than any other inheritance of wealth you can give to your children will be the gift of a healthy body, a sound mind, and a noble character. Those who understand what constitutes life’s true success will be wise betimes. They will keep in view life’s best things in their choice of a home.

“Instead of dwelling where only the works of men can be seen, where the sights and sounds frequently suggest thoughts of evil, where turmoil and confusion bring weariness and disquietude, go where you can look upon the works of God. Find rest of spirit in the beauty and quietude and peace of nature. Let the eye rest on the green fields, the groves, and the hills. Look up to the blue sky, unobscured by the city’s dust and smoke, and breathe the invigorating air of heaven. Go where, apart from the distractions and dissipations of city life, you can give your children your companionship, where you can teach them to learn of God through His works, and train them for lives of integrity and usefulness.” The Ministry of Healing, 366, 367.

Friday

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1    How is environment important in family life?

2    How can husbands and wives help each other in managing a home?

3    Describe how the home atmosphere and surrounding environment affect the early development of children.

4    What lessons should the child learn first even in babyhood from his parents?

5    What are the most important gifts we can give to our growing children?

Copyright 1995 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Recipe – Winter Greens Salad

Powerhouse Kale

Once upon a time there was a testing procedure used by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine the antioxidant capacity of fruits and vegetables. It was called the ORAC test (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity).

Researchers would look at all the different antioxidants and phytochemicals that are found in a plant food and determine how well they worked together as a team to fight cell-damaging free radicals. The foods were given what is called an ORAC rating. Kale consistently scored as number one among the vegetables. (The ORAC test has since been retired, but kale continues to score high rankings on virtually all the tests that have replaced it.)

Kale is actually a type of cabbage, which means that it has even more health benefits than its antioxidant power alone. Like others in the brassica family, it contains powerful phytochemicals such as cancer-fighting indoles. It’s also high in sulfur, and contains a compound known as sulforaphane, which helps give a boost to the body’s detoxification enzymes and may help fight cancer as well. Sulforaphane is formed when vegetables containing it are chopped or chewed, and it triggers the liver to remove free radicals and other chemicals that may cause DNA damage. Several studies—including one in the Journal of Nutrition—have demonstrated that sulforaphane helps stop breast cancer proliferation.

Kale is also loaded with calcium, iron, vitamins A, C, and bone-building K. It contains seven times the beta-carotene of broccoli and 10 times as much lutein and zeaxanthin, eye-promoting carotenoids known to help protect against macular degeneration. And 2 cups contain about 4g of protein and 3g of fiber, making it an all-around nutritional powerhouse vegetable. Better Nutrition, February 2020, 17.

Recipe – Winter Greens Salad

Ingredients

1 large bunch curly green kale, ribs removed, chopped into small pieces, sprinkled lightly with salt, massaged for about 30 sec.

1 medium avocado, diced

Dressing

1/3 cup sundried tomatoes

¼ cup soak water

6-8 Tbsp. olive oil

Juice and zest of 1 medium lemon (¼ cup juice), or to taste

1 ½ Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast, optional

½ tsp. salt, scant

¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

Process

Cover sundried tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes to rehydrate. Remove from water; reserve ¼ cup soak water; let cool. Transfer tomatoes and soak water to blender. Add oil, lemon juice and zest, honey, nutritional yeast and salt; blend until smooth. Stir in pepper flakes. Combine prepared kale and dressing; toss until thoroughly coated. Gently fold in avocado and enjoy.

Testimony – On Hearing His Voice

It was my fourth…DUI. The officers cancelled my driver’s license on the spot and removed the license plates from my vehicle. I walked to a nearby motel and checked in. I was despondent beyond words. I could not believe what had just happened to me. It seemed I had no control over my urge to drink and would, without a thought, put myself and others at risk in the process of doing so. I could not stop even though I had been through treatment three or four times over the last 20 years.

I had grown up a Seventh-day Adventist. I knew the truth. I had an Adventist education and when I was in my late teens, I had surrendered my life to Christ and been baptized, but somehow through the years I had lost my hold on Jesus and drifted away. I had attempted to return to Him several times, but the devil always had a foothold in my life and sucked me back into his service. Now alcohol had become my “best friend” and master.

While sitting on the bed in the motel and looking at my hopeless and miserable life, I decided I had no reason to live. Death seemed like a welcome release from my pain. I overdosed on some of my medications hoping never to wake up and then made a noose with my belt and cinched it around my neck as hard as I could wondering how I could hang myself in the motel room. Needless to say, I eventually fell asleep and woke up the next morning. How I wished I hadn’t.

That morning I began pacing the room and wondering what to do. My mind was a buzz with dejected thoughts. I was filled with shame and guilt and misery and hopelessness. Finally, with nowhere to go and no one to turn to I half-heartedly asked God for help … not expecting an answer, given my life of sin in the face of knowing better.

Suddenly, somehow through my gloomy wretched thoughts, I heard the voice of God speaking to my heart. I knew it was Him. I had heard that voice before. He told me that He could and would help me, but I had to be willing to give up some things. What did He ask me to give up?  Well, alcohol, of course, but also caffeine and nicotine. I also had to turn over my money to a trusted friend or relative along with my phone and the keys to my vehicle. I needed to move away from the town I was living in and move in with or by family that loved me and were faithful SDA’s.

Just a few moments after I heard God’s proposal, I went to my knees and emphatically and without reservation agreed to His requests and surrendered my life to Jesus. I held nothing back. Jesus was my only hope, and I knew it and I put my all on the altar.

This experience is described in Matthew 18:8, 9 where Jesus says, “Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.” I felt I was cutting off a hand and plucking out an eye, but I did so with the utmost determination. My present and future life depended on it.

In my surrender to Jesus, I began confessing my many sins and asking for His forgiveness. I had to have a new heart and a new life. “Therefore if any man (any man! including me!) be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things (All Things! all my “things” were as “filthy rags”) are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Here is another description of my experience found in Ezekiel 36:24–29, last part: “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will also save you from all your uncleannesses.”

To this day I can hardly believe the transformation that has taken place in my heart and life from that moment till now. I got up from my knees feeling I was a new man.  My desire for drink and other chemicals left me. I had peace and hope and joy in my heart and felt a cleansing process had begun in my life. Jeremiah 4:14 says, “Wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved.” I continue that washing and cleansing daily now. I had a conversion, but I need that conversion experience daily yea, hour by hour. Now my greatest joy is Jesus and by the eye of faith I want to see Him standing over me as I drink in His word, discern His presence as I go about my day. I want His companionship more and more and to be like Him in every way.  I still feel my sinfulness. I still bemoan the contrast of my life with the life of my Savior, but I am on His narrow way headed for a home in heaven.

“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). I am so happy I have a complete sin-pardoning Savior who can take away my sin. I don’t want to serve sin and the devil. I’ve done so long enough. Moses chose rather to “suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25) and I want to make that choice too. I am not interested in a gospel that does not take away my sin. I want complete victory, not a partial victory over my sins. “Ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin” (1 John 3:5). Oh how much I want to remain “in Him” and He in me.

How about you dear friend? Do you have a “sin which doth so easily beset” you (Hebrews 12:1)? Are your promises to “quit” like the proverbial “ropes of sand”? I’ve been there. I know what that is like. I have been in the miry pit with a sense of hopelessness crushing me. I stand with Paul feeling I am among the “chief” of sinners. But Paul says, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). He saved me. He saved even me! He can do the same for you. You may feel like surrender is like cutting off an arm or plucking out an eye, but I tell you it is SO worth it! Heaven is cheap enough! Don’t delay. If you have not done so already, why not make that decision, the decision to place your all on the altar. Let Jesus take away your sin, all of your sin, and begin a new life with Him today! He loves you. He is waiting and longing to embrace you and cleanse and heal your heart and mind so you may “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

I am still leaving my money and phone and keys in the hands of someone I am with daily and trust. I can use them when I need to, of course, but I am with someone when I do. It may be that for me I will need this safeguard till Jesus comes. That is fine with me. These have been stumbling blocks to me. If I have Jesus, I am happy and content and need nothing more.

Timothy Rittenour is a retired ER Physician living in Minnesota. He is the father of five children, two of whom are missionaries in Africa.

The Blessing of Humility

How much money does a person need? Many poor people believe that they would be happy if they were well-fixed financially and many who are comfortable believe that they would have less worries if they had more money. The Jones family wish they were like the Ritzes, and the Ritzes wish they were wealthy like the Vanderbilts. So, Jesus’ teaching is a great paradox to what we tend to think. What did Jesus mean when He said, “Happy are the poor?”

Through the prophet Isaiah the Lord revealed the following information to the human race several hundred years before the birth of Christ. “For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15).

The One who inhabits eternity, says, “I dwell with the one that has a humble spirit.” In Isaiah 66:2, He says, “ ‘All those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,’ says the Lord. ‘But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.’ ”

So, the Lord says that He looks on the person who is humble. There are many Bible texts that reveal that a person who is proud is not known by the Lord. After Mary, the mother of Jesus, was informed by the angel Gabriel that she would become the mother of the Messiah, she says, “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state [poor person] of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. … He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty” (Luke 1:47, 48, 53). God has promised to help those who are poor and are of a contrite and poor spirit, but the rich are sent away because they don’t feel any need.

In Revelation the 3rd chapter, there is found a description of the Christian church in the last days. It says, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit [spue] you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—” (verses 15–17).

These people are rich in material things, but spiritually they are “miserable, wretched, poor, blind, and naked.” After Job obtained a vision of his spiritual poverty and he stopped trying to justify himself, his misery and wretchedness came to an end. The Lord delivered him from the problem that the devil had brought upon him. His captivity was turned into victory and he experienced happiness again in his life.

We see the same thing in the life of the prophet Isaiah. When he recognized his spiritual poverty, he cried out, “Woe is me, for I am undone” (Isaiah 6:5)! He sensed his spiritual imperfection which now appeared to him in a new and hideous light. This changed attitude made it possible for God to cleanse him from his sin and then to use him as a spokesman for others (see Isaiah 6).

Something similar happened to the proud-spirited Simon Peter when he fell at Jesus’ feet. In Luke 5:8–10, it says, “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!’ For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.’ So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.” Notice, immediately when he acknowledged his condition, Jesus commissioned him to be a fisher of men.

The apostle Paul was once a proud and haughty Pharisee, but when he was changed he acknowledged himself to be “the chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). When he acknowledged his sinful condition, he was elevated to become the chief of the apostles. So, recognition of our real spiritual condition and need is the first step in the beatitude ladder of spiritual progress that leads to the kingdom of heaven. In the first beatitude Jesus said, “Blessed [that is, happy] are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

The person who is proud in his heart has not yet taken the first step toward the heavenly kingdom. Recognition of sin, the crying out for pardon, for cleansing from guilt, are the beginning of the pathway to Zion and to happiness. There can be no blessed or happy state where there is unconfessed and unforgiven sin. Isaiah 48:22 says, “ ‘There is no peace,’ says the Lord, ‘for the wicked.’ ”

So, a contrite, a humble, a penitent spirit is the first qualification for citizenship in the kingdom of God and for service in the cause of righteousness. Jesus, our Saviour, was this way Himself. Notice what He says concerning His own character: “I am gentle [meek] and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29).” He was not proud. Notice what the apostle Paul says about the humility of Jesus: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery [a thing to be grasped] to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5–8). This example of humility by Jesus, the majesty of heaven and king of the universe, is one that no human being could ever match.

In Jesus is an example of unparalleled humility. Jesus said, “I am lowly in heart.” He might have stated this beatitude in the negative. Instead of saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” He could have said instead, “Unhappy are the proud in spirit.” It would have been true. Of all people, the poor in spirit are the most happy, and the proud-spirited end up being the most miserable. The proud in spirit are exceedingly sensitive to every little slight or wrong, real or imagined, that causes pain and discomfort. The proud in spirit are touchy and easily offended. They are miserable night and day because of hurt feelings and are often too selfish to be happy. The only remedy for spiritual pride is the crucifixion of the proud, selfish flesh. Those who are dead to sin do not become offended. The apostle Paul said, “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” “Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:2, 11).

Dead people are not sensitive. The psalmist wrote, “Great peace have they who love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165 KJV). Offense naturally thrives where sin abounds. It was a proud and sensitive angel who committed the first sin. And the more he sinned, the more sensitive he became. We live in a world where all are suffering with proud flesh. Sinful flesh is always proud. It was impossible for Jesus to keep from offending His hearers because they were so sensitive and proud in their spirit. At the close of one of His sermons, almost everybody fled from Him (see John 6). The Pharisees were continually offended at His teachings. In fact, even the disciples were often grieved. Truth always offends those who are in error and sinners resent their shortcomings being pointed out.

However, a person who is poor in spirit can be corrected, and if willing to be corrected, then they are in position where they can be blessed. Jesus illustrated the contrast between the poor in spirit and the proud in spirit in a story. He told about two worshipers who went up to the temple to pray. “He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted’ ” (Luke 18:9–14).

Notice, the Pharisee did not pray to God. Jesus made it very clear that he prayed a boasting speech to himself. It was not even a prayer at all, but a boast of his inbred and acquired righteousness. He did not even make a request. He simply thanked God that he was everything that he should be. He was grateful that he was different from others, especially from the poor publican.

The publican, however, was poor in spirit. He recognized his spiritual poverty. He cried out, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” He alone was justified and justification leads to happiness because the Bible says that when we’re justified by faith, then we have peace with God.  Oftentimes we don’t realize that this same spirit of Phariseeism is the common spirit in Christendom today. The first beatitude is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This beatitude is very up to date because pride of spirit, self-sufficiency is more prevalent in the Christian world today, perhaps, than ever before. Phariseeism is not extinct. In fact, when Jesus speaks of the condition of the Christian church in the last or remnant phase of its existence, it is described as a church with a Pharisaical attitude. As already seen in Revelation 3:15–17, this attitude leads Christians to believe they need nothing when in reality they have need of everything.

The spirit of Phariseeism is the natural spirit of human nature and it is just as prevalent now as in the days when Jesus was among men. The church in its present condition is proud in spirit. Its members do not recognize their spiritual condition; in fact, they even boast of their spiritual wealth. In their own estimation, they are rich and increased in goods. They believe they are ready to go to heaven when in reality, they are wretched, miserable, poor, and blind, and naked, spiritually, and the Lord says, “I’m about to vomit you out of My mouth.” In other words, you are about to commit the unpardonable sin.

The message that describes the spiritual pride of the last-day church also provides a complete remedy. Notice what Jesus says to the church of the last days: “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” (verse 18). He’s talking about spiritual gold and spiritual clothing, and spiritual eye salve. The gold, spiritual gold, represents the amount of faith and love a person has. Gold enables a person to get whatever they want. In the spiritual world, faith enables you to get whatever you need. In the physical world, if you have gold, you are wealthy. In the spiritual world, if you have love, you are wealthy. The Bible says that love is the bond of perfection (Colossians 3:14). But Jesus also says, “Buy from me white garments.” The Bible says clearly in Revelation 19 that the white garment is the righteousness of the saints that is imparted to them by Jesus Christ.

Then there is the eye salve which is needed today more than ever before. The modern church, in its own attitude and condition, shows that we are in desperate need of eye salve, which is the ability to discern and tell the difference between good and evil. The solution to our situation is to see and behold the character of Jesus Christ. The more we see in Him, the less we will see to esteem in ourselves. Just as soon as the modern church changes its attitude toward its own condition and needs, Jesus will abundantly supply His people with the pure gold of faith and love. The robe of His spotless righteousness and the anointing with the spiritual eye salve will restore spiritual vision to be able to tell the difference between good and evil.

There is a poverty that makes rich. There was another church described in Revelation that was a very poor church. They, as well as everyone else thought that they were poor, but notice what Jesus says about them: “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9).

Spiritual wealth awaits those who feel poverty-stricken in spirit. Many of the poorest people in this world are spiritually rich. In the same way, many of the richest people in this world are moral paupers and spiritual bankrupts. True riches, those that the Lord wants to give you, are the heritage of those only who recognize their spiritual need. The Bible says, “Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He has promised to them who love Him” (James 2:5)?

Paul says, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh), there dwells no good thing” (Romans 7:18, literal translation). Whom Christ pardons, He first makes penitent. If you have a sense of your deep soul poverty, if you know that you have no goodness of your own, you may find righteousness and strength by looking to Jesus. Notice this promise that was given to the poor in spirit. It reads, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).

Do you recognize your spiritual poverty, and would you like to exchange that poverty for the riches of His grace? It does not matter what your past experience has been or however discouraging your present circumstances might be. Come to Jesus just the way you are – weak, helpless, and despairing – and you will find that He will take you in. He said, “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). While you are a great way off, He will come to you and impart to you His righteousness that will change everything in your life. Trust Him!

(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: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.