Question – How Do I Know That I’m a Christian?

Question:

How Do I Know That I’m a Christian?

Answer:

“What is it to be a Christian? It is to be Christlike; it is to do the works of Christ.” Lift Him Up, 341.

“The question you need to put to yourselves is, ‘Am I a Christian?’ To be a Christian is to be far more than many understand. It means more than simply having your name upon the church records. It means to be joined to Christ …

“As sons and daughters of God, Christians should strive to reach the high ideal set before them in the gospel. They should be content with nothing less than perfection.” The Faith I Live By, 130.

“Everyone who claims to be a Christian is to bear the responsibility of keeping himself in harmony with the guidance of the word of God. God holds each soul accountable for following, for himself, the pattern given in the life of Christ and for having a character that is cleansed and sanctified.” Evangelism, 343.

“When you took the name of Christian you promised in this life to prepare for the higher life in the kingdom of God. To be a Christian means to be Christlike. Not a satanic feature is to remain on mind or body, which are to reveal comeliness, purity, integrity, and dignity. Take the Christlife as your pattern.” In Heavenly Places, 286.

“To be a Christian is not merely to take the name of Christ, but to have the mind of Christ, to submit to the will of God in all things.” That I May Know Him, 174.

“We bear the name of Christian. Let us be true to this name … In the life of the true Christian there is nothing of self—self is dead.” Our Father Cares, 236.

“Not only did Christ die as our sacrifice, but He lived as our example. In His human nature He stands, complete, perfect, spotless. To be a Christian is to be Christlike. Our entire being—soul, body, and spirit—must be purified, ennobled, sanctified, until we shall reflect His image and imitate His example.” That I May Know Him, 311.

“Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, faith and charity are the elements of the Christian character … They are the Christian’s crown and shield …

“As you receive the Spirit of Christ … you will grow and bring forth fruit. The graces of the Spirit will ripen in your character.

“This fruit can never perish, but will produce after its kind a harvest unto eternal life.” Sons and Daughters of God, 32.

Nature – Creatures of the Air

“Oh that I had wings like a dove! then I would fly away, and be at rest.” Psalm 55:6

In the domain of hawk, gull, and sparrow, physiology and aerial prowess are synonymous. A bird is simply a masterpiece of engineering – the perfect flying machine – supremely crafted by God and endowed with the attributes for a life in the skies. Its breast muscles, which operate its wings, are enormous, in some birds, comprising 33% of their total body weight. At the same time a bird’s skeletal system is incredibly light. The bones of a pelican, with a wingspan of nearly six feet, weigh only about five ounces, yet they are strong and flexible enough to withstand the constant stress of maneuverable flight.

Add to this package highly efficient digestive and respiratory systems, a large and powerful heart, and feathers that streamline, insulate, and provide the necessary lift for wings and tail, and it is easy to understand how Solomon could describe a bird in the air as a sight “too wonderful for me” (Proverbs 30:18, 19).

The methods and techniques of flight generally fall into a few basic categories. Flapping or power flight involves a strong downward stroke that results in rapid lift and forward thrust. Generally, the larger the bird the slower it flaps its wings. In contrast, the hummingbird will beat its wings up to 80 times a second while performing what has been called the most versatile display of aerial skill in all of God’s creation. The tiny bird can hover or fly in all directions – forward, backward, or to the side, depending upon its needs. Its rigid wings move in a unique figure 8 motion, powered by exceptionally strong muscles and a flexible swivel joint at its shoulder. The tail works as a rudder controlling the direction of movement. Not surprisingly, the hummingbird expends tremendous amounts of energy and to survive, must consume twice its body weight in food every day.

Gliding and soaring are far less demanding forms of flight, yet once again, the elements of aeronautical design are clearly seen. Fulmars slope soar, riding on air deflected upward from cliffs as its wings work in harmony with the surrounding wind currents, while a heron spreads its enormous wings in a slow approach to its nest. Large primary feathers at the end of each wing offer precise control of both speed and direction. A similar design enables a condor to ride for hours on spirals of warm air. Again, a huge wing surface allows for effortless gliding as the bird of prey searches the valley floor for food.

But for all the soaring wonder and power that so abundantly fills the skies, perhaps the supreme testimony to the Creator’s gifts of flight and life itself is written on the tissue-thin wings of the Monarch butterfly. Its wings are driven by powerful muscles designed into the insect’s upper body, the thorax, essential for migration. Advancing steadily, they ride on rising columns of warm air that can elevate them thousands of feet. These expert gliders can travel more than 50 miles a day flying upwards of 3,000 miles to reach their winter home.

God reveals Himself to man through the things He has made. Each day in the wonders of land, sky, and sea, He presents us with a vivid picture of His existence and character. It is a continuing revelation, as exciting and diverse as the creatures He has brought into being. In the majestic grace of a bird or butterfly in flight, an eternal truth shines clear – the God of all creation is real and alive, His power and wisdom are without limit and He cares and provides abundantly for the life that He has made.

Wonders of God’s Creation, Animal Kingdom: Great Are Thy Works, ©2004.

Keys – The Secure Anchor

Will your anchor hold in the storm of life?
Shining gates of pearl our harbor bright.
We shall anchor fast to the heavenly shore,
With the storms all past forevermore.
We have an anchor that keeps the soul,
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll.
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.
“Will Your Anchor Hold?”
Priscilla J. Owens, 1882.

As Adventists, we have sung the above song many times, but how many of us have really considered the meaning of the words? Where are we anchored and to what should our anchor be fastened?

The world is fast becoming a very scary place. On the one hand, praise God, for we have the second coming of Christ looming on the near horizon, closer than it has ever been. And on the other, as this event draws nearer and nearer, the sustaining hand of God is being withdrawn more and more and Satan is all too willing to step in and fill the void. Evil multiplies and it seems daily, even hourly, we read or hear of some terrible occurrence. We see the increase in alcoholism, drug addiction, suicide, murder, theft, abuse of every kind, abortion, child trafficking, blame and accusations, perversion, adultery, anger, violence, cruelty and hatred.

We read in Evangelism, 362, “The fallacies of Satan are now being multiplied, and those who swerve from the path of truth will lose their bearings. Having nothing to which to anchor, they will drift from one delusion to another, blown about by the winds of strange doctrines.”

As we evaluate our own lives, the things we read, watch, listen to, wear, pursue, what we say, how we use our means, how we spend our time – in prayer, in study – are we able to clearly see where we are anchored? Is it on this earth or in heaven?

“Many know so little about their Bibles that they are unsettled in the faith. They remove the old landmarks, and fallacies and winds of doctrine blow them hither and thither. … and [they] divorce themselves from God, while still claiming to be His children.” The Review and Herald, December 29, 1896.

Continuing in Evangelism 362, Mrs. White says, “I entreat everyone to be clear and firm regarding the certain truths that we have heard and received and advocated. The statements of God’s word are plain. Plant your feet firmly on the platform of eternal truth. Reject every phase of error, even though it be covered with a semblance of reality.” [Emphasis supplied.]

Lord, help us to be solidly anchored in Your word, fastened to the Rock which cannot move and grounded firm and deep in Your love. May we be fully clothed in the whole armor of God, ready with an “It is written,” when confronted by the devil or those who serve him. Make us strong to turn from this world and to look to You, seeking only to do Your will. Keep us faithful until You come, is our prayer today and every day.

Story – Joshua

Joshua was a tall black man, a Zulu, in Africa. He wore a long, white robe, and always carried a Bible in his hand or under his arm. But Joshua was in prison.

One day, a few years ago, a Christian man visited the prison. He asked to have a talk with Joshua. The jailer brought the prisoner into the reception room. Joshua squatted down on the floor in front of the gentleman, as is the custom of the natives of Africa.

“Why are you in this prison?” the man asked.

“I was working in a coal mine,” said Joshua, “and there a voice came to me, saying, ‘Joshua, you must go out and preach to your people.’ But I said to this voice, ‘I cannot read well, I am not able to write, I have no clothes to wear.’ For three years after that I was unable to speak aloud. Then the same voice came to me again. ‘Yes, I will go,’ I said. Then my voice was partly restored.”

“But what brought you here?” the gentleman asked.

“I was preaching in the north of Zululand, near the coast,” he replied, “and there I told the people that times of trouble were before us, and there would be war and bloodshed. Some of my enemies told the white government that I was stirring up sedition. The country had just had a Zulu rebellion, so the officers took me and put me in prison.”

“Joshua, what gospel do you teach? Where do you get your message?” the man asked.

Joshua opened his Bible to the fourteenth chapter of Revelation, and read from the sixth to the twelfth verses. “This,” he said, “is the message the voice told me to preach.”

The gentleman knew that this was God’s message for these last days. He was astonished to find a Zulu in this prison who had no education, but who was preaching this truth to his own people whenever he had opportunity.

“How do you preach that gospel?” the gentleman asked.

“I now speak with a whisper,” Joshua answered. “But when I was in Zululand, the Spirit of God came down upon me, and God gave me a strong voice to speak to thousands of natives. No white people live in that neighborhood.”

“Did any of your people believe your message?” the man asked.

“There were hundreds who changed their habits and were leading different lives,” Joshua answered. “Where my knees rest on the ground when I pray no grass grows.”

“What kind of man is Joshua?” the gentleman asked the jailer, as he was leaving the prison.

“He is the best man we have had in prison,” the jailer replied. “We had a lunatic here who would not permit us to bring his food into the cell. We put Joshua in with him. Joshua would sit in his cell reading the Bible. The lunatic would rush at him as if about to tear him in pieces, but Joshua would not lift his eyes from the Bible. He would keep on reading. The second or third day this lunatic said to him, ‘Do you enjoy that Book?’ Then Joshua began to explain to him what is in the Bible, and that lunatic was converted there in prison, and to-day he is a changed man.”

So far as we know, Joshua is still preaching this truth. Does not this experience show how God can carry His truth to every dark corner of this world?

True Education Reader, Fifth Grade, ©1933, 239–241.

Inspiration – The Promise of Final Triumph

The work that lies before us is one that will put to the stretch every power of the human being. It will call for the exercise of strong faith and constant vigilance. At times the difficulties that we shall meet will be most disheartening. The very greatness of the task will appall us. And yet, with God’s help, His servants will finally triumph. “Wherefore,” My brethren, “I desire that ye faint not” (Ephesians 3:13), because of the trying experiences that are before you. Jesus will be with you; He will go before you by His Holy Spirit, preparing the way; and He will be your helper in every emergency.

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.

“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen (Ephesians 3:14–21).” Testimony Treasures, vol. 3, 440, 441.

Sudden Death

“Concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1–6

Suppose a sudden disaster occurred on planet earth, and all life came to an end except for one – you. The whole planet, everywhere you look, the cities and the great works of mankind are broken down and burned, utterly destroyed; only their charred remains, like broken skeletons, are left. There is no electricity, so there are no telephones, televisions, radios, no newspapers or magazines, no stores or food, no cars, buses, trains or planes. Who won the presidential election or the Super Bowl or the World Series, your promotion and all your fancy possessions, all your relationships are totally meaningless. Everywhere you look are the bodies of people, animals, birds scattered over the face of the earth. Many of them unrecognizable, many remaining just as they fell. The whole world is deafeningly silent and dark. Suddenly all of man’s proud accomplishments are now a thing of the past. And only you are left to survey it.

This will one day happen on planet earth. We find it spoken of in Jeremiah 25:31–33: “ ‘A noise will come to the ends of the earth—for the Lord has a controversy with the nations; He will plead His case with all flesh. He will give those who are wicked to the sword,’ says the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Behold, disaster shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the farthest parts of the earth. And at that day the slain of the Lord shall be from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall become refuse on the ground.’ ”

Isaiah describes it further in chapter 26, verse 21, “For behold, the Lord comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain.” All the dead, human, animal, and fowl, will be left lying on the ground, not to decompose, but to remain, preserved as they died, for all the years of the millennium.

We also see in Jeremiah 4 that there will be no light. The sun will not shine, and it will begin to be very cold. There will be no rainfall or snow. In this way the earth will become like a frost-free freezer, preserving the bodies of the dead. Jeremiah says, “I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void; and the heavens, they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and indeed they trembled, and all the hills moved back and forth [this is Jesus’ second coming (Revelation 6)]. I beheld, and indeed there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens had fled. I beheld, and indeed the fruitful land was a wilderness, and all its cities were broken down at the presence of the Lord, by His fierce anger” (verses 23–26).

This is a description of when Jesus has come and taken the righteous with Him to heaven. God blots out the light of the sun for a thousand years and earth becomes a deep freeze, a place of perpetual preservation for those souls who died from the brightness of His coming. “Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine. ‘I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible’ ” (Isaiah 13:9–11).

But one soul, Satan, is left behind to live on this planet amid all the destruction during this thousand year period. Revelation 20 calls this earth “the bottomless pit,” and verses 1–3 tell us that an angel comes down from heaven “with the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.” The angel binds Satan to this devastated earth, this bottomless pit, for a thousand years. He has nowhere to go. With no one to deceive, he is left to wander this earth in darkness, to stumble among the fallen bodies of the dead and the remains of the broken cities.

At the end of the thousand years, Revelation 20:3, last part, says, “But after these things he must be released for a little while.” Jesus returns to the earth for the last time. He brings back with Him the light of the sun and all the wicked who had no part in the first resurrection will be raised to receive their judgments.

Let’s look back to the time before these unbelievable catastrophic events happen and see how God prepares us for them.

God is not willing that any should perish. He would love to save every soul who has ever been born. He wants to wake up the inhabitants of the earth. Sadly, only a very few respond. For most, in spite of all that God will do, they will not be awakened. In the days of Noah, only eight out of the whole world were saved, but God will still put forth every effort, His heart of love using any means to save every soul who will choose to be saved.

God uses prophecy to leave signs that we can recognize as we draw closer to the end. Seeing these signs, we can realize the end is near and prepare our lives. Prophecy warns us of judgments, but also extends the invitation to be saved from the wrath of God. The disciples asked Jesus when they should expect the last days and His coming. His response is found in Luke 21:9, first part: “But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.” [Emphasis supplied].

Jesus says there will be wars. When World War I and World War II were fought, many people thought the end might be near. Had they read their Bibles, they would have read that there would be wars, but Jesus says that even after these things happened, “the end will not come immediately” (Luke 21:9, last part).

He continues in verse 11: “And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.” God now withdraws His sustaining hand from a sin-filled world as it sinks lower and lower day by day. He has shielded the world for thousands of years, but no longer. The world will begin to experience calamity upon calamity.

There have been disasters in the world throughout its history, and many have made the history books, but the difference between these past disasters and those we experience today is the rapidity with which the disasters come and their worldwide prevalence. Life just doesn’t exist for very long without a disaster somewhere in the world. It is an undeniable fact that today, disasters are rapidly increasing as we have never seen before. People don’t know what to expect next. The Bible says this would be so.

Revelation 17 and 18 describe for us the judgments that God has brought and will bring against the inhabitants of the earth, throughout history and through to the end of time. In Revelation 18:4–7, the angel says, “Come out of her, My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her. In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow.” The Bible says the first will be last and the last first (Mark 10:31). And those who have been the richest will become the poorest and those who have been the most glorified will become the most dejected. Those who have been the most blessed will be left the most ravaged. “Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire for strong is the Lord God who judges her” (verse 8). The Bible says it will come quickly, suddenly. She’ll be sitting as a beautiful queen and suddenly there will come disaster upon disaster.

This method of judgment is coupled with the message of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. Revelation 14:6 and 7 reveal the second method used by God to wake up the people of the world: “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come, and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’ ”

Jesus tells more about these disasters to come upon the earth in Matthew 24. After talking about famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places, it says that these are the beginnings of sorrows (verses 7, 8). Verse 9, first part: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you.” It is when the disasters go forth that God’s message is also going to go forth to the world. The desire is that people will be moved to accept Christ, but instead, their anger is aroused and their conscience is pricked and instead of accepting the message, they turn against the messengers. “… and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another” (verses 9, last part, 10).

Yes, by and large, the world’s response to the invitation to accept the Lord will be no. While God is trying to wake people up, Satan is working to keep them asleep; and he has more success because most of the inhabitants of the earth are already his children. The Lord is using His two methods of judgment and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, but the devil has many ways of keeping people asleep. Jesus speaks of these in Luke 21:34–36. He says, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Satan keeps people so occupied with the things of this world, the cares of this life, that many are barely surviving and they don’t think they have the time to prepare for what God is telling them to expect.

Matthew 24:37–39 gives us the example of how it was in the days of Noah, “ … For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (verse 38). For 120 years Noah preached the message of sudden destruction and for all that time the majority of the people just went about their daily lives. They heard that the flood would come, but the devil was so successful at keeping them consumed with the things of this life that “the flood came and took them all away.”

The devil succeeded so well then that he is doing it again. But there is more. As he keeps us focused on the things of the world, the environment, society, politics, he surrounds us with the sights and sounds of evil until our hearts grow hard and we become insensitive to the sinfulness around us. “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (verse 12).

Another effective method used by the devil is opposition from our family and friends. “You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will send some of you to your death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake” (Luke 21:16, 17). Matthew 10 also speaks of this in verse 21: “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.” But the devil isn’t finished.

While he keeps us occupied with the things of the world so that we don’t have the time to prepare our lives, while evil is all around us and our hearts grow hard and careless and while we are receiving opposition from those we love and care for the most, there comes a great revival, one that will deceive almost everyone. “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). Now we see in 2 Corinthians 11:13, 14 that Satan becomes directly involved: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” He tells the people of the world that it is time to get ready for Jesus to come. We’ve seen the signs and now it is time to get ready. Where past revivals have been opposed, rejected, this revival will be accepted by all, almost.

There is a difference between Satan’s revival and God’s revival. God’s revival leads to sacrifice of self, obedience to God’s law, a change in life and character. Satan’s revival is based on emotion and excitement. The elements of a revival will be seen, but these things are not the result of the working of the Holy Spirit. “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9). There will be power, plenty of power, signs and many disasters, all meant to help bring about this revival.

A call to come to the altar and accept the Lord, to be saved and accept His miracle working power and the Holy Spirit will go out and people will come; but it will not be the Holy Spirit that they will receive. It’s a deception we find in verse 10: “And with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” They have a love of religion, a love for preaching, a love for miracles performed, and a love for what they believe to be the Holy Spirit, but they do not have a love of the truth. “And for this reason God will send them a strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (verses 11, 12). The devil will deceive them to believe that they are saved, that everything will be okay. They will be given a false confidence in their own experience rather than confidence in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

Many religions today that have created teachings of their own based on another spirit that is not according to the Bible and the Bible only, have many sincere believers who believe that they have a love for the truth, but what truth? The Bible teaches that the purification and perfecting of our characters and lives are the necessary preparation for what is soon to come upon the earth. But the beliefs of these religions, for instance the Mormon Church, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Catholic Church, are based on teachings not found in the Bible. They are taught that it is okay to do many things that are contrary to the Bible including that the Sabbath should be Sunday and preparation for the end does not include character perfection. The Bible tells us that the spirit of anti-christ claims the power to change God’s law. Thus we must assume that these religions are being influenced by the devil or one of his agents.

If nothing else works, the devil has one final tactic to keep us in a lost condition. We read about this in Hebrews 12:2, 3: “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” Have you ever been discouraged? The devil will work to bring discouragement in your life, but the Bible says when this happens to look to Jesus, and you will find courage and strength.

Luke 13:25 says that the time will come when the Master of the house will shut the door. Looking again at Noah’s day, the Lord shut the door then, too. What did that mean? Those who were not inside the ark were shut out. We find this applicable today in Matthew 7:21. It says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” There are many who listened to preaching week after week and heard the Holy Spirit speaking to them. They have prophesied and done many wonders in the name of God, but they find themselves now hearing the words from Jesus, “ ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’ ”(verse 23).

Why would Jesus say this to them? Because the preparation they had made for the end was not the necessary preparation. It is needful to have a love of the truth, to surrender our lives to the in-working of the Holy Spirit, and to seek to do the will of God and obey His law.

An incalculable number of people have died over the course of this world’s history. Many will be raised to life at Jesus’ coming. But the 144,000, those still living when Jesus comes, will be found with God’s character, His name written in their minds. Every person can develop God’s character. Not one sinner has fallen so low that God cannot make them over again, give them a new life, a new heart, a new mind and a new character. There’s not one person who cannot stand before the throne of God faultless and pure and holy, clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Imagine being sick and only having a month to live. If I were facing only a month of life, I think I would be very serious about what I did during that month. Would you? I’d want my heart pure and cleansed. I’d want to spend time in the Bible and on my knees asking the Lord to give me a heart like His.

The 144,000 are those who have looked only to Jesus as their perfect example. Those who are alive on the earth when Jesus is revealed are going to be like Him. They will be permitted to sit with Him on His throne because they will have had His experience. Revelation 3:21 says, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame.” “Those who place themselves under God’s control, to be led and guided by Him, will catch the steady tread of the events ordained by Him to take place.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 14.

The devil works determinedly to keep our focus on ourselves and the things of this world that are important to us.  He will even use our families, our jobs, and other necessary aspects of this life to keep us too busy to have time for what is spiritually needful. This statement found in The Great Controversy, 625, has always meant a great deal to me. It describes the need for watchfulness, prayer and Bible study in spite of how much the devil is trying to keep us otherwise occupied: “Only those who have been diligent students of the Scriptures and who have received the love of the truth will be shielded from the powerful delusion that takes the world captive. By the Bible testimony these will detect the deceiver in his disguise. To all the testing time will come. By the sifting of temptation the genuine Christian will be revealed. Are the people of God now so firmly established upon His word that they would not yield to the evidence of their senses? Would they, in such a crisis, cling to the Bible and the Bible only?”  Maranatha, 160. “Satan will, if possible, prevent them from obtaining a preparation to stand in that day. He will so arrange affairs as to hedge up their way. …” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 443.

Everyone will be tested. Everyone will have to decide – Christ or Satan.

“Christians should be preparing for what is soon to break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise, and this preparation they should make by diligently studying the word of God and striving to conform their lives to its precepts. The tremendous issues of eternity demand of us something besides an imaginary religion, a religion of words and forms, where truth is kept in the outer court.” Conflict and Courage, 260.

We cannot imagine the disasters that will yet take place on this earth. But we are given hope in Psalm 91: “ ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust.’ … A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. … Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling. … He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him” (verses 2, 7, 9, 10, 15).

Pastor Marshall Grosboll, with his wife Lillian, founded Steps to Life. In July 1991, Pastor Marshall and his family met with tragedy as they were returning home from a camp meeting in Washington state, when the airplane he was piloting went down, killing all on board.

Latter Rain Expectations

As probation’s hour closes, Satan will level his sharpest thrusts against those who follow the guidelines laid down by the pen of inspiration. He will carry the contest to every soul. As in the Armageddon of Revelation 16, devils will go forth to deceive the very elect. With demonic cunning, they will inspire the susceptible to make void God’s law and nullify the testimonies of His Spirit—the means ordained of God to expose his deceptions, countermand his policies, and blunt his power.

At this time, as never before, the Church will need its unifying influence, its divine guidance, and its staying power. It dares not yield its faith. Some, alas, through willful ignorance and sinful neglect, have made their doubts regarding the inspiration of Mrs. White an excuse for leaving the Church. By making personal interests more important than the testimonies of God’s Spirit, some dishonor Jesus and quench His Spirit. But the faithful know Satan’s devices. They accept and act on this alert: “He [Satan] seeks by all the means in his power to shake the confidence of God’s people in the voice of warning and reproof through which God designs to purify the church and prosper His cause.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 211.

As God’s prophetic clock ticks off the last seconds of probationary time, thousands, feeling the impact of His now-or-never appeals, will fearlessly step out and, heedless of consequences, align themselves with God’s commandment-keeping people. Hearing their witness, sensing their courage, and feeling their love and true concern for their salvation, they cast caution aside and obey the promptings of the Spirit within the conscience.

“As the end approaches, the testimonies of God’s servants will become more decided and more powerful, flashing the light of truth upon the systems of error and oppression that have so long held the supremacy.” An Appeal to Our Ministers and Conference Committees, 18. We cannot now tone down the distinctive truths. The third angel proclaims no tame, insipid, or spiritless message. The world today and tomorrow needs messengers with flaming torches and flaming tongues who will set ablaze the whole creation.

The gifts of the Spirit, as well as the fruit of the Spirit, will confirm the truth. “A compelling power moved the honest. … Mighty miracles were wrought, the sick were healed, and signs and wonders followed the believers.” Early Writings, 278. The gift of tongues which enables those of different languages to understand the message will reappear: “Then, as at the Pentecostal season, the people will hear the truth spoken to them, every man in his own tongue.” The Review and Herald, July 20, 1886. In a special sense, Jesus offers His followers today more than discipleship. He would make them apostles! “All that the apostles did, every church member today is to do.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 33.

Ours is a reaping message. The apostles, as seed sowers, went everywhere with the gospel’s glad tidings. So God’s harvest-hour witnesses, empowered by the Spirit, will gather fruit for Jesus out of all lands. Staggering as it may seem, every heart susceptible to the Spirit’s appeal around the world will respond. “Every truly honest soul will come to the light of truth.” The Great Controversy, 522.

According to God’s messenger to the remnant, some who had stood as leaders and guardians of the people will betray sacred trust. They will take the position that we need not look for miracles and the manifestation of divine power seen in former times. (See Testimonies, vol. 5, 211.) Under the latter rain “Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers.” The Great Controversy, 612.

But alas, some who were once in the church who felt no special burden for their own spirituality and little for others, together with the many who have heard the message and did not respond, will not share the latter-rain refreshing. Their probation actually closes before the latter rain falls. “The time of God’s destructive judgments is the time of mercy for those who have had no opportunity to learn what is truth. Tenderly will the Lord look upon them. His heart of mercy is touched; His hand is still stretched out to save, while the door is closed to those who would not enter.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 97. Solemn thought!

Have you, dear reader, noticed a spiritual progression leading to the Christian maturity that all must experience in order to receive the latter rain? Are you becoming more and more sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit? God would have you “realize every moment that you must have the presence of the Holy Spirit” (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 310), that “unless you receive the Holy Spirit, you cannot have the love of God in the soul” (The Review and Herald, September 27, 1892), and that “no one is prepared to educate and strengthen the church unless he has received the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Ibid., March 29, 1892). Is your preparation adequate?

God wants us to understand that every church and individual will receive the Spirit when prepared: “The Holy Spirit is waiting for channels through whom to work. … Satan will not always triumph. The Spirit of God will be poured out upon the church just as soon as the vessels are prepared to receive it.” That I May Know Him, 330.

Why haven’t we received the fullness promised? Ellen White observes, “Happy will be the one of whom it can then be said, ‘The Spirit never stirred this man’s soul in vain. … Each step upward on the ladder of progress prepared him to climb still higher.’ …

“This experience every one who is saved must have. … He who has not sufficient faith in Christ to believe that He can keep him from sinning, has not the faith that will give him an entrance into the kingdom of God.” The Review and Herald, March 10, 1904.

Too many have had an outer-court relation to God, but God wants us to come into the holy of holies and know Him intimately. He offers us an inner-circle relationship so special and inconceivably glorious that even the born-again can only stand in awe and marvel. “It is essential that he [the believer] hold as vital a relation with God as does the Son to the Father.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 943.

Baptized anew in Christ’s love and surrounded with the divine influence of His grace, God’s last-day messengers will herald the distinctive truths that gather out the honest-hearted. “During the loud cry … light will be communicated to every city and town. … The light of present truth will be flashing everywhere.” Evangelism, 694. In addition, present truth will penetrate strongholds of apostasy and heathenism: “In heathen Africa, in the Catholic lands of Europe and of South America, in China, in India, in the islands of the sea, and in all the dark corners of the earth, God has in reserve a firmament of chosen ones that will yet shine forth amidst the darkness.” Prophets and Kings, 188, 189.

During the latter rain, organizational machinery will at times give place to let Spirit-filled men speak with telling power. (See The General Conference Bulletin, February 15, 1895.) The Holy Spirit will then give us arguments to meet all opposition. (See The Review and Herald, January 28, 1902.) As at Pentecost converts will flock to the church from all directions, and the Holy Spirit will reconvert backsliders. (See The Acts of the Apostles, 48.)

Ellen White looked forward to the time when fallen man, “renewed, restored, raised to a holy rivalry with the angels” (The Signs of the Times, August 7, 1901), would speak the word with power. She said, “Nothing was too great to be expected from the coming of the divine Spirit.” Ibid. The cause would not suffer from lack of funds, for when the poor have done what they could, the Lord would bring in men of means. (See Gospel Workers (1892), 298.) Not just a few but “many a rich man” (Testimonies, vol. 6, 258) and “some who are numbered among merchants and princes will take their position to obey the truth.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1060.

God will not restrict His Spirit. He will infuse every dedicated soul with power. He will pour out His Spirit upon every person who yields to His promptings. He will use our boys and girls as He did in the 1844 movement: “The Spirit of God will come upon the children, and they will do a work … which the older workers cannot do.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 203. Indeed “God can use every person just in proportion as He can put His Spirit into the soul-temple.” Ibid., vol. 7, 144.

Concerning the fruitage of the latter rain, we read, “By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. …

“The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep conviction of the Spirit of God. The arguments have been presented. … The publications … have exerted their influence. … Family connections, church relations, are powerless to stay them now. … A large number take their stand upon the Lord’s side.” The Great Controversy, 612.

And God will especially remember the Jew. “In the closing proclamation of the gospel, when special work is to be done for classes of people hitherto neglected, God expects His messengers to take particular interest in the Jewish people.” “Many will accept Christ as the Messiah.” “An explanation of Jehovah’s eternal purpose … will be to many … as the dawn of a new creation.”

“Among the Jews are some who, like Saul of Tarsus, are mighty in the Scriptures, and these will proclaim with wonderful power the immutability of the law of God.” The Acts of the Apostles, 380, 381. Furthermore, “converted Jews are to have an important part to act in the great preparations to be made in the future to receive Christ, our Prince. A nation shall be born in a day. How? By men whom God has appointed being converted to the truth. There will be seen ‘first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear’ (Mark 4:28). The predictions of prophecy will be fulfilled.” Evangelism, 579.

Prominent men, men of intellect and influence, will step out to join the movement. “The greatest men of the earth are not beyond the power of a wonder-working God. If those who are workers together with Him will be men of opportunity, doing their duty bravely and faithfully, God will convert men who occupy responsible places, men of intellect and influence.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 82. God’s Spirit working mightily among all classes, will draw from “among the leading men of the nation” some who “will stand with the people of God through the time of trouble.” The Great Controversy, 610, 611. And some authors and lawmakers will come out boldly for God’s law. (See The Review and Herald, December 24, 1889.)

Luke, the New Testament historian, tells us that as a result of Stephen’s witness “a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). And in The Great Controversy, 464, we read that many, ministers and people, will gladly accept the message of the hour. The message will not lose its momentum. Rather, as God’s people share their faith, the Holy Spirit will constantly replenish their power until God’s glory covers the earth. (See My Life Today, 63.) Moreover, memorials for the third angel’s message will spring up in every city and village. (See Testimonies, vol. 9, 28, 29.) Thus Christ will be glorified in the time of the latter rain. (See The Review and Herald, November 29, 1892.)

In writing about the love of God, Ellen White goes beyond eloquence. She tells us that the true preparation for the Pentecostal anointing of the Spirit came with the knowledge of their Saviour’s matchless love. (See The Review and Herald, July 21, 1903.) Can we know the glory that shines in Christ’s face? She views it as the glory of self-sacrificing love. (See The Desire of Ages, 20.) She tells us moreover that “Christ’s love is deep and earnest, flowing like an irrepressible stream.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1140. “It is the greatest and most fatal deception to suppose that a man can have faith unto life eternal, without possessing Christlike love for his brethren. … There is no such thing as a loveless Christian.” Ibid., 1141. In speaking of God’s great love, she explains, “So strong is His love that it controls all His powers, and employs the vast resources of heaven in doing His people good.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 519.

As a people we have exercised too little concern for the lost. We place too low an estimate upon the souls around us and those in other lands, but God’s Spirit can rectify this. “God’s message to each of us is, ‘My son, give Me thine heart’ (Proverbs 23:26). … Then open the heart to the Divine Spirit and you will appreciate the value of the human soul.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 2, 41. Love not felt by us will avail nothing. “Unless we can feel brotherly love for those around us, the Holy Spirit cannot work upon our hearts and minds.” Ibid., 27, 28.

God’s Spirit becomes our spirit, and by the Spirit, divine love, transplanted into our hearts, flourishes. “You are to be imbued with such love for Christ that you will yield to Him your whole affections. … Imbued with the love of Christ, you are to be constrained to perform acts of unselfish service. … In such a life there is continual fruit bearing.” Counsels on Health, 633. Imbued by the Spirit with the kind of love Jesus revealed throughout His entire life and in His death constitutes the grand purpose of the plan of salvation. “The Lord is glorified when the great end of His law is attained. It is the work of the Holy Spirit from age to age to impart love to human hearts, for love is the living principle of brotherhood.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 139.

What grand climax does God have in store to give the world in His final message? “Those who wait for the Bridegroom’s coming are to say to the people, ‘Behold your God.’ The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life and character they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 415, 416. “The indwelling of the Spirit will be shown by the outflowing of heavenly love.” Ibid., 419.

For those who turn away from God’s last love appeal, hope becomes nonexistent. Earth’s two harvests call for reapers: (1) Christ with the sickle gathers the grain for the heavenly garner, and (2) the fifth angel of Revelation 14, who also has a sickle, gathers the vine of the earth for the great winepress of God’s wrath. Earth’s inhabitants divide themselves into the two classes: those filled with the Holy Spirit and those filled with an unholy spirit. No problem of identity exists, for the loyal bear the seal of the living God, while the rebellious bear the mark of the beast.

The investigative judgment has considered the case of each individual who has ever professed Christ—the names are listed in the heavenly docket called the Lamb’s book of life. While the universe has watched, God has reviewed each case one by one. He has retained the faithful; the unfaithful He has blotted out. Rewards now will go to the righteous, and punishments to the wicked. A hushed universe awaits the verdict. The awful fiat goes forth, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still” (Revelation 22:11). Court now adjourns for good. Destinies are fixed forever. No higher court exists. Every part of God’s last message to the world has reflected the infinite love of Jesus. “The contemplation of the love of God manifested in His Son will stir the heart and arouse the powers of the soul as nothing else can.” The Desire of Ages, 478. When the soul ceases to listen to the whispers of Christ’s love, the Spirit can do nothing more.

“He that loveth not knoweth not God,” but “every one that loveth … knoweth God.” The heart, in contemplation of Christ’s love as revealed on the cross and nourished by the “spirit … of love” (1 John 4:8, 7; 2 Timothy 1:7), will rejoice in righteousness throughout eternity. Let us tell the world about it now!

Scripture from the King James Version.

[All Emphasis supplied.]

Preparing for the Latter Rain, ©1973, 192–199.

(As shared by daughter, Charlotte Osgood Rollenhagen: her father, De Witt S. Osgood, was a pastor, evangelist, church builder, administrator, writer. “He committed his whole life completely to the Lord.”)

Knowing the Truth is Not Enough

Theology is the study of who God is. It’s very important for us to have correct teachings and correct theology. Second Timothy 3:5, 7 tell us there will be a people in the last days who “have a form of godliness but deny its power. And from such people turn away! … always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” First Timothy 2:4 says, “Who [God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Solomon said in Proverbs 23:23, “Buy the truth, and do not sell it.” When the angel spoke to Daniel in vision he said, “Now I’ve come to tell you the truth” (Daniel 11:2). It’s very important to know the truth and to have a correct theology, but we are going to see that having true theology is not enough.

If we really want to know the truth about any subject, we must follow the Bible rule found in Isaiah 28 which is precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little. Here God teaches us that as we study Scripture it should be done by looking at all the scriptures found regarding a subject. If there is confusion regarding a subject, it is essential that we must study all the statements found in Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy.

In 2 Peter 1, Peter tells us that the apostles preached the truth. He also tells us how he knew it was the truth: “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain” (verses 16–18). He could say that we know what we are telling you is the truth because we saw it ourselves. We witnessed His majesty and heard the voice from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

But Peter also says there is evidence even more powerful than their personal witness. “We have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophesy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (verses 19–21).

So Peter says that we told you the truth; we know it is the truth; we witnessed His majesty ourselves, but we have evidence even more powerful than what we witnessed on the mount of transfiguration. That evidence, more powerful and more certain, is the word of prophecy. Would that all people could comprehend the certainty of prophecy. Those today who have the truth, study and understand Bible prophecy, especially those relating to the last days.

The book of Daniel was the first inspired book given especially for the last days. Other prophets spoke for their own time, but their prophesies also applied to the end of time. It is good to study the prophesies as they were applied historically, but we especially need to study them as they apply to the last days. In addition to the inspired writings in the book of Daniel, the apostle John wrote the book of Revelation where he documented what he was shown regarding the very last days of earth’s history.

The truth involves judgment. Romans 2:2 says, “We know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things [those things mentioned in Romans 1].” Verse 8: “To those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath.” Notice, the truth involves judgment. Romans 3:4: “Let God be true but every man a liar.” Revelation 19:11: “I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.”

Over 20 years ago Pastor Ron Spear shared the following Spirit of Prophecy statement with me and I am still awed by it today: “We want to understand the time in which we live. We do not half understand it. We do not half take it in. My heart trembles in me when I think of what a foe we have to meet, and how poorly we are prepared to meet him. The trials of the children of Israel, and their attitude just before the first coming of Christ, have been presented before me again and again to illustrate the position of the people of God in their experience before the second coming of Christ—how the enemy sought every occasion to take control of the minds of the Jews, and today he is seeking to blind the minds of God’s servants, that they may not be able to discern the precious truth.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 406.

“We don’t understand” she says. We don’t know what’s going on. Consider this: When a person is deceived, do they know that they are deceived? No. If they knew, then they wouldn’t be deceived. “Satan’s snares are laid for us as verily as they were laid for the children of Israel just prior to their entrance into the land of Canaan. We are repeating the history of that people.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 160.

Why is it not enough to have the truth? We read in Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” These are people who have the truth, but who don’t live the truth. It is not enough to just know the truth.

This was the problem with the Jewish people in the time of Christ. Jesus addressed this problem in Matthew 23:2: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.” Most people in Jesus’ time went to the synagogue where the Scriptures were read to them during the worship services.

During the middle ages, Christian churches might have scriptoriums. A person at the front of the room would read a verse to 30 or more people who would then write what they heard. In this way copies of the Bible were produced. However, with 30 different people in the room all writing what was being read, the possibility that someone might misspell a word or say “that” instead of “which” resulted in variations from one transcript to another. In fact, that is why there are approximately 200,000 variations of the New Testament today. The making of books before the printing press was laborious, time consuming, and very expensive, but you can depend on what you read in your Bible as being the truth.

But when Jesus was talking to the people in Matthew 23, information primarily was received by listening to what was said in the church. When Jesus said, “They sit in Moses’ seat,” He meant they were being taught the law and about the prophets. Notice what He says in verse 3, first part: “Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do” because they’re telling you what Moses and the prophets said. “But do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do” (verse 3, last part). Did they have the truth? Yes, they possessed the truth, but their lives and their church were not in harmony with that truth.

The apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:2–4, “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste [pure] virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted.”

There is a great deception depicted in these texts. The person is preaching Jesus, but it is another Jesus. There is more than one Jesus being preached in the world today. There are millions of Christians praying every day asking the Lord to pour out His Holy Spirit upon them, but if a person is living in sin and asks to receive the Holy Spirit they have placed themselves in a very dangerous position, because they could receive a spirit and could believe that they have been filled with the Holy Spirit, but it is the wrong spirit.

Jesus warned us that this would happen in the last days. We read in Matthew 7:21, 22: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders [that is, powerful works or miracles] in Your name?’ ” How were they able to prophesy, cast out demons and work miracles? Because they had a spirit that they believed was the Holy Spirit, but Jesus says to them, “Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness [iniquity]’ ” (verse 23)!

These people believe they have received the Holy Spirit and they prove it by doing these marvelous things, but it is the wrong spirit. When Jesus comes, He will say, “You are not loyal subjects of My kingdom. You have not kept the laws of My kingdom. I do not know you.” No matter how many times I repeat these verses in Matthew 7, my mind still cannot take it in. You really believe that you are filled with the Holy Spirit, but when Jesus comes and you say, “Lord, I know that I’m saved,” He says, “I do not know you.” Probation is closed. It’s too late to be saved. Think of the shock for these people, but according to Jesus, this will happen to many people.

Let’s consider the Jews as we continue to study the concept of it not being enough just to have true theology. The Jews thought of themselves as the only chosen of God and they had a few beliefs that supported this idea:

  1. Their church organization was inspired
  2. They idolized their church organization
  3. Their organizational policies were inspired
  4. Their church organization would never fall

The Jews considered their church organization to be inspired because the Sanhedrin was made up of 70 people and they believed this could be proven based on Numbers 11:16, 17. These scriptures say: “So the Lord said to Moses: ‘Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you. Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.’ ” Continuing in verses 24 and 25 the Bible says, “So Moses went out and told the people the words of the Lord, and he gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tabernacle. Then the Lord came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again.” Some manuscripts read, “They prophesied and did not cease.”

If the Spirit of God came down upon these 70 leaders in Israel, was it inspired? Yes, it was. Hundreds of years before Christ’s time, they had appointed 70 men to lead their nation and called them the Sanhedrin. This was done because the Lord said this was how His church was to be organized. So they believed their church organization was inspired. But it is not enough to just know the truth; it must be practiced.

Concerning this problem Stephen said, you “have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it” (Acts 7:53). Truth without practice is worthless. First Peter 1:22 says, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.” Ellen White quotes this text over and over throughout her writings.

Next, they made a god of their church organization. Their church organization was centered in the temple, and the temple became an idol more important to them than the God of the temple. One of the main reasons they sought to crucify Jesus had to do with His attitude toward the temple. In Mark 14:58 the false witness accused Jesus of saying, “ ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.’ ” They felt the same way about the apostle Paul and wanted to kill him, too. They said of him, “Crying out, ‘Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place [the temple]; and furthermore He also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place’ ” (Acts 21:28).

When you make a god of something, whatever it is, it has to be removed if you are going to be saved. Because they had made a god of their church organization, it would have to be destroyed. Matthew 23:38 says, “See! Your house is left to you desolate.” In The Adventist Apocalypse, Ellen White made the statement that all of Matthew 24 will have a fulfillment in the last days. Notice what it says in Matthew 24:1, 2: “Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.’ ”

Third, because they believed their church organization was inspired and that the Sanhedrin was inspired, it was very logical for them to believe their policies also were divinely inspired. The Jews established many arbitrary policies and these policies were said to be divinely inspired. This, however, was very deceptive. While they could read right out of the Old Testament that the policy was inspired, they added words to inspiration, and the average person could not figure out where inspiration ended and the words of their arbitrary policies began.

The Desire of Ages, 398, tells us, “The substitution of the precepts of men for the commandments of God has not ceased. Even among Christians are found institutions and usages that have no better foundation than the traditions of the fathers. Such institutions, resting upon mere human authority, have supplanted those of divine appointment. Men cling to their traditions, revere their customs, and cherish hatred against those who seek to show them their error. …

“In place of the authority of the so-called fathers of the church, God bids us accept the word of the eternal Father, the Lord of heaven and earth. Here alone is truth unmixed with error. … Let all who accept human authority, the customs of the church, or the traditions of the fathers, take heed to the warning conveyed in the words of Christ, ‘In vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men’ (Matthew 15:9).”

Finally, believing their church organization and their policies were inspired and that they were the true church chosen by God, the Jews came to believe their church organization would never fall. Ellen White says in Christ’s Object Lessons, 294, “The Jewish people cherished the idea that they were the favorites of heaven, and that they were always to be exalted as the church of God. They were the children of Abraham, they declared, and so firm did the foundation of their prosperity seem to them that they defied earth and heaven to dispossess them[selves] of their rights. But by lives of unfaithfulness they were preparing for the condemnation of heaven and for separation from God.”

Today we have an identical problem. People are writing books that say, “Our church organization will never fall. I can prove it from Letter 55, 1886.” There’s a sentence in that Letter that says, “The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out—the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place.”

The problem is that most people don’t read the entire letter. Let me share a couple of sentences from Letter 55 that you never hear ministers quote: “All the policy in the world cannot save us from a terrible sifting, and all the efforts made with high authorities will not lift from us the scourging of God, just because sin is cherished. If as a people [that is, as a church] we do not keep ourselves in the faith and not only advocate with pen and voice the commandments of God, but keep them every one, not violating a single precept knowingly, then weakness and ruin will come upon us.”

There are several problems with the prediction that church organization will never fall. The most important one is that few people have studied out the difference between the true church and the professed church. The true church has never fallen and will never fall. Not in the time of Enoch or Noah, Elijah or during the Babylonian captivity. Not during the days of John the Baptist, Nero, Diocletian, Constantine, Theodosius or Pope Innocent III or in the days of William Miller; yet the professed church was almost totally destroyed at each of these times in history.

Another problem has to do with the message to the church of Philadelphia. This message must be carefully studied because this is the only church of the seven churches of Revelation that is promised divine protection during the time of trouble (Revelation 3:10).

A third problem is that people don’t seem to realize that God doesn’t need the Seventh-day Adventist Church organization to finish His work. In fact, He doesn’t even need the Free Seventh-day Adventists, the Historic Adventists, the Reform Seventh-day Adventists or any other Adventist groups. For instance, Ellen White says in Notebook Leaflets vol. 1, 62, “If His people [that is, God’s people] will not follow in His way, the Lord will employ heathen princes to do His will.” God is able to finish His work just fine without any of us if He must. We must never feel that God has to use us; that is what the Jews thought. They believed that their church organization and policies were divinely inspired and that made them His true people who would go through to the end. Thus they expected all Christians to work with them and follow their policies. And because Jesus did not do that, they rejected and crucified Him. We must be careful in our day not to become like the Jews.

Remember what we read at the beginning. Ellen White said that God had shown her over and over that the attitude and problems that existed just before Jesus’ first coming would also exist just before the second coming. They rejected the Messiah because He was not in harmony with their church organization and policies. The word Jesus used in the New Testament to refer to what the Jews believed were divinely inspired policies was the word tradition. Ellen White calls them arbitrary rules. Another word is customs.

We all have customs that we follow: the time Sabbath School begins, the order for church service, how communion is conducted, how long the preacher can preach. We have so many customs that we’ve observed for so long that we don’t even consider them customs anymore.

The Jews said that because their church organization and policies were inspired, all Christians had to work with them and if they didn’t, they weren’t following the Lord. We see this same attitude in the Adventist Church today. Interestingly, around 1303 A.D. the Pope made a pronouncement that if you were going to be in the kingdom of heaven you needed to be connected with their church organization, otherwise you wouldn’t be in heaven. Many Adventists also believe that way.

Pastor Rafael Perez was in South America preaching, holding revival meetings. A Seventh-day Adventist lady came to him with tears rolling down her cheeks. When he asked her what was the matter, her reply was that she wanted to attend the revival meetings, but she had been told that if she did, she would be disfellowshipped. And if she was disfellowshipped, how could she go to the kingdom of heaven?

I have found people today who will not take part in any kind of evangelism or other soul-winning work unless it is connected to the church organization. Let me ask you, has God ordained self-supporting work or any work done by individuals if it is not connected to the church organization? It’s something to investigate: precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little.

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 – You Also Be Ready

What is involved in being ready for the second coming of Jesus? There are many inspired statements that tell us exactly what we are to do and the condition that we are to be in to be ready for the second coming of Jesus. Following are a few of the specifications for being ready:

  1. Psalm 15 lists eleven
  2. Psalm 24 lists four
  3. Isaiah 33:15 lists six
  4. Matthew 5:3–10 lists eight
  5. Titus 2:11–14 lists nine
  6. 2 Peter 1:3–7 lists nine
  7. Revelation 14:12 lists two

Here are a few more:

“Only those who receive the seal of the living God will have the passport through the gates of the Holy City. But there are many who take upon themselves responsibilities in connection with the work of God who are not wholehearted believers, and while they remain thus cannot receive the seal of the living God. They trust in their own righteousness, which the Lord accounts as foolishness.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 970.

“Those who would have the seal of God in their foreheads must keep the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. This is what distinguishes them from the disloyal, who have accepted a man-made institution in the place of the true Sabbath. The observance of God’s rest day is the mark of distinction between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not.” Ibid.

“The seal of the living God will be placed upon those only who bear a likeness to Christ in character.” The Faith I Live By, 287.

“There is not one inactive in heaven, and no one will enter the mansions of bliss who has failed to show love for Christ, who has put forth no efforts for the salvation of others.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 207.

“Put away all discontent, all murmuring, all disagreeable words. We do not honor Christ when we dispute and quarrel one with another. No one will enter heaven with a spirit of fault-finding, and we desire to have a foretaste of the principles of heaven manifested here below.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, 49.

“Christ’s rule of life by which every one of us must stand or fall in the judgment is, ‘Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them’ (Matthew 7:12).” The Ministry of Healing, 104.

Bible Study Guides – The Importance of Charity

August 22 – 28, 2021

Key Text

“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2).

Study Help: Counsels on Stewardship, 20–23.

Introduction

“Learn that Christlike love is of heavenly birth, and that without it all other qualifications are worthless.” The Review and Herald, July 21, 1904.

Sunday

1 A CHAPTER FOR TODAY

1.a. How is the faithful steward affected by prayerful study and meditation on 1 Corinthians 13? 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 John 4:19–21.

 Note: “The Lord desires me to call the attention of His people to the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians. Read this chapter every day, and from it obtain comfort and strength.” The Review and Herald, July 21, 1904.

“In the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians the apostle Paul defines true Christlike love. … This chapter is an expression of the obedience of all who love God and keep His commandments. It is brought into action in the life of every true believer.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1091.

1.b. What should be deeply considered by all who profess and seek to share the present truth in these last days? 2 Peter 1:10–12.

Note: “How careful we should be, that our words and actions are all in harmony with the sacred truth that God has committed to us! The people of the world are looking to us, to see what our faith is doing for our characters and lives. They are watching to see if it is having a sanctifying effect on our hearts, if we are becoming changed into the likeness of Christ. They are ready to discover every defect in our lives, every inconsistency in our actions. Let us give them no occasion to reproach our faith.” The Review and Herald, June 5, 1888.

Monday

2 TALK IS CHEAP

2.a. Why is knowledge along with a polished ability to express it insufficient to glorify Christ? 1 Corinthians 13:1.

Note: “If the knowledge of the truth produces no beauty in the soul, if it does not subdue, soften, and recreate the man after God’s own image, it is of no benefit to the receiver; it is as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1181.

“It is not the ready speaker, the sharp intellect that counts with God. It is the earnest purpose, the deep piety, the love of truth, the fear of God that has a telling influence. A testimony from the heart, coming from lips in which is no guile, full of faith and humble trust, though given by a stammering tongue, is accounted of God as precious as gold; while the smart speech, the eloquent oratory, of the one to whom is entrusted large talents, but who is wanting in truthfulness, in steadfast purpose, in purity, in unselfishness, are as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. He may say witty things, he may relate amusing anecdotes, he may play upon the feelings; but the spirit of Jesus is not in it. All these things may please unsanctified hearts, but God holds in His hands the balances that weigh the words, the spirit, the sincerity, the devotion, and He pronounces it altogether lighter than vanity.” Ibid., vol. 6, 1091.

2.b. What is the warning against a self-centered employment of God’s blessings? James 2:15, 16.

Note: “The sin which is indulged to the greatest extent, and which separates us from God and produces so many contagious spiritual disorders, is selfishness. There can be no returning to the Lord except by self-denial. Of ourselves we can do nothing; but, through God strengthening us, we can live to do good to others, and in this way shun the evil of selfishness. We need not go to heathen lands to manifest our desire to devote all to God in a useful, unselfish life. We should do this in the home circle, in the church, among those with whom we associate and with whom we do business. Right in the common walks of life is where self is to be denied and kept in subordination.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 132.

Tuesday

3 A TRAP FOR THE FAITHFUL STEWARD

3.a. Although scriptural doctrines, accurate prophetic understanding, and uncompromising courage are essential, what is the warning to all who believe the present truth? 1 Corinthians 13:2, 3.

Note: “No matter how high the profession, he whose heart is not filled with love for God and his fellow men is not a true disciple of Christ. Though he should possess great faith and have power even to work miracles, yet without love his faith would be worthless. He might display great liberality; but should he, from some other motive than genuine love, bestow all his goods to feed the poor, the act would not commend him to the favor of God. In his zeal he might even meet a martyr’s death, yet if not actuated by love, he would be regarded by God as a deluded enthusiast or an ambitious hypocrite.” The Acts of the Apostles, 318, 319.

3.b. What are potential besetting dangers? Revelation 3:17; Isaiah 65:5.

Note: “A legal religion has been thought quite the correct religion for this time. But it is a mistake. The rebuke of Christ to the Pharisees is applicable to those who have lost from the heart their first love. A cold, legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion. When fastings and prayers are practiced in a self-justifying spirit, they are abominable to God. The solemn assembly for worship, the round of religious ceremonies, the external humiliation, the imposed sacrifice—all proclaim to the world the testimony that the doer of these things considers himself righteous. These things call attention to the observer of rigorous duties, saying, This man is entitled to heaven. But it is all a deception. Works will not buy for us an entrance into heaven. The one great Offering that has been made is ample for all who will believe. … Look up to God, look not to men. God is your heavenly Father who is willing patiently to bear with your infirmities, and to forgive and heal them.” The Review and Herald, March 20, 1894.

“There is nothing that can so weaken the influence of the church as the lack of love.” Ibid., June 5, 1888.

Wednesday

4 DRAWING FROM A PURE FOUNTAIN

4.a. What type of service is unacceptable to God, and why? Isaiah 58:4, 5; Jeremiah 2:13. How can we overcome this problem?

Note: “Watch unto prayer. In this way alone can you put your whole being into the Lord’s work. Self must be put in the background. Those who make self prominent gain an education that soon becomes second nature to them; and they will soon fail to realize that instead of uplifting Jesus they uplift themselves, that instead of being channels through which the living water can flow to refresh others, they absorb the sympathies and affections of those around them. This is not loyalty to our crucified Lord.” Counsels on Health, 560.

“It is the daily dying to self in the little transactions of life that makes us overcomers. We should forget self in the desire to do good to others.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 132.

4.b. Describe the result of true religion. James 1:27.

4.c. How is the Christian to be a blessing to his fellow man? John 7:37, 38; Compare Isaiah 58:6–11.

Note: “The pure religion of Jesus is the fountain from which flow streams of charity, love, self-sacrifice.

“A Christian is a Christlike man, a Christlike woman, who is active in God’s service, who is present at the social meeting, whose presence will encourage others also. Religion does not consist in works, but religion works; it is not dormant.

“Many seem to feel that religion has a tendency to make its possessor narrow and cramped, but genuine religion does not have a narrowing influence; it is the lack of religion that cramps the faculties and narrows the mind. When a man is narrow, it is an evidence that he needs the grace of God, the heavenly anointing; for a Christian is one whom the Lord, the God of hosts, can work through, that he may keep the ways of the Lord of the earth and make manifest His will to men.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 935.

Thursday

5 POWER FOR GENUINE STEWARDSHIP

5.a. What is the highest rung of the ladder of Christian development? 2 Peter 1:4–7. What must we realize in seeking to cultivate all the Christian qualities?

Note: “We are to add to faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. You are not to think that you must wait until you have perfected one grace, before cultivating another. No; they are to grow up together, fed continually from the fountain of charity; every day that you live, you can be perfecting the blessed attributes fully revealed in the character of Christ; and when you do this, you will bring light, love, peace, and joy into your homes.” The Review and Herald, July 29, 1890.

5.b. Explain how we can become imbued with new spiritual life and right motives. Ezekiel 37:1–14; Mark 2:22.

Note: “When self is renounced, then the Lord can make man a new creature. New bottles can contain the new wine. The love of Christ will animate the believer with new life. In him who looks unto the Author and Finisher of our faith the character of Christ will be manifest.” The Desire of Ages, 280.

Friday

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1    Why should the faithful steward daily study 1 Corinthians 13?

2    In what ways can the faithful steward be in danger of being as “sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal?

3    Why could a martyr professing Christ be lost?

4    When will our attitude and work be pleasing to God?

5    How does charity operate with the other qualities in 2 Peter 1:4–7?

Copyright 2011, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.