Bible Study Guides – Victory Through Prayer

May 20, 2007 – May 26, 2007

Key Text

“My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.” Psalm 84:2.

Study Help: Daughters of God, 81−84.


“True prayer takes hold upon Omnipotence and gives us the victory. Upon his knees the Christian obtains strength to resist temptation. . . . The silent, fervent prayer of the soul will rise like holy incense to the throne of grace and will be as acceptable to God as if offered in the sanctuary. To all who thus seek Him, Christ becomes a present help in time of need. They will be strong in the day of trial.” God’s Amazing Grace, 86.

1 What request did the disciples make of Jesus upon a certain occasion? Luke 11:1. What example of prayer has our Saviour left us? Mark 1:35; Luke 5:15, 16; 6:12.

note: “They [the disciples] had marked how often He [Jesus] spent long hours in solitude in communion with His Father. His days were passed in ministry to the crowds that pressed upon Him, and in unveiling the treacherous sophistry of the rabbis, and this incessant labor often left Him so utterly wearied that His mother and brothers, and even His disciples, had feared that His life would be sacrificed. But as He returned from the hours of prayer that closed the toilsome day, they marked the look of peace upon His face, the sense of refreshment that seemed to pervade His presence. It was from hours spent with God that He came forth, morning by morning, to bring the light of heaven to men. The disciples had come to connect His hours of prayer with the power of His words and works. Now, as they listened to His supplication, their hearts were awed and humbled. As He ceased praying, it was with a conviction of their own deep need that they exclaimed, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’ Luke 11:1.” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 102, 103.

2 On what occasion did the Saviour hear His Father’s words of approval? Matthew 3:16, 17. What was the Saviour doing when He received the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Luke 3:21, 22.

note: “Upon coming up out of the water, Jesus bowed in prayer on the river bank. . . .

“The Saviour’s glance seems to penetrate heaven as He pours out His soul in prayer. Well He knows how sin has hardened the hearts of men, and how difficult it will be for them to discern His mission, and accept the gift of salvation. He pleads with the Father for power to overcome their unbelief, to break the fetters with which Satan has enthralled them, and in their behalf to conquer the destroyer. He asks for the witness that God accepts humanity in the person of His Son.

“Never before have the angels listened to such a prayer. They are eager to bear to their loved Commander a message of assurance and comfort. But no; the Father Himself will answer the petition of His Son. Direct from the throne issue the beams of His glory. The heavens are opened, and upon the Saviour’s head descends a dovelike form of purest light,—fit emblem of Him, the meek and lowly One.” The Desire of Ages, 111, 112.

3 What occurred as Jesus and three of His disciples were praying in a mountain? Luke 9:28–31. What example of secret prayer is left us by the Saviour? Verse 18.

note: “The Saviour’s promise to the disciples was now fulfilled. Upon the mount the future kingdom of glory was represented in miniature,—Christ the King, Moses a representative of the risen saints, and Elijah of the translated ones.” The Desire of Ages, 422.

“We should pray in the family circle, and above all we must not neglect secret prayer, for this is the life of the soul. It is impossible for the soul to flourish while prayer is neglected. Family or public prayer alone is not sufficient. In solitude let the soul be laid open to the inspecting eye of God. Secret prayer is to be heard only by the prayer-hearing God. No curious ear is to receive the burden of such petitions. In secret prayer the soul is free from surrounding influences, free from excitement. Calmly, yet fervently, will it reach out after God. Sweet and abiding will be the influence emanating from Him who seeth in secret, whose ear is open to hear the prayer arising from the heart.” Steps to Christ, 98.

4 What special instruction is given concerning prayer? Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17. What spirit characterized the psalmist’s prayers? Psalm 42:1, 2; 84:2.

note: “Jesus was often found in prayer. He resorted to the lonely groves or to the mountains to make His requests known to His Father. When the business and cares of the day were ended, and the weary were seeking rest, Jesus devoted the time to prayer. We would not discourage prayer, for there is far too little praying and watching thereunto. And there is still less praying with the Spirit and the understanding also. Fervent and effectual prayer is always in place, and will never weary. Such prayer interests and refreshes all who have a love for devotion.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 582.

“While engaged in our daily work, we should lift the soul to heaven in prayer. These silent petitions rise like incense before the throne of grace; and the enemy is baffled. The Christian whose heart is thus stayed upon God cannot be overcome. No evil arts can destroy his peace. All the promises of God’s word, all the power of divine grace, all the resources of Jehovah, are pledged to secure his deliverance.” Gospel Workers, 254.

“The life of a true Christian is a life of constant prayer. He knows that the light and strength of one day is not sufficient for the trials and conflicts of the next. Satan is continually changing his temptations. Every day we shall be placed in different circumstances; and in the untried scenes that await us we shall be surrounded by fresh dangers, and constantly assailed by new and unexpected temptations. It is only through the strength and grace gained from heaven that we can hope to meet the temptations and perform the duties before us.” Ibid., 257, 258.

5 In what does the Lord delight? Proverbs 15:8.

note: “It is a wonderful thing that we can pray effectually; that unworthy, erring mortals possess the power of offering their requests to God. What higher power can man desire than this,—to be linked with the infinite God? Feeble, sinful man has the privilege of speaking to his Maker. We may utter words that reach the throne of the Monarch of the universe. We may speak with Jesus as we walk by the way, and He says, I am at thy right hand. [See Psalm 16:8.]

“We may commune with God in our hearts; we may walk in companionship with Christ. When engaged in our daily labor, we may breathe out our heart’s desire, inaudible to any human ear; but that word cannot die away into silence, nor can it be lost. Nothing can drown the soul’s desire. It rises above the din of the street, above the noise of machinery. It is God to whom we are speaking, and our prayer is heard.” Gospel Workers, 258.

6 What promises are given to those who pray? Matthew 21:22; Luke 11:9, 10.

note: “Ask, then; ask, and ye shall receive. Ask for humility, wisdom, courage, increase of faith. To every sincere prayer an answer will come. It may not come just as you desire, or at the time you look for it; but it will come in the way and at the time that will best meet your need. The prayers you offer in loneliness, in weariness, in trial, God answers, not always according to your expectations, but always for your good.” Gospel Workers, 258.

7 How only can victory be gained over the power of the enemy? Mark 9:25−29.

note: “To all, the pitying Saviour’s answer is, ‘If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.’ [Mark 9:23.] It is faith that connects us with heaven, and brings us strength for coping with the powers of darkness. In Christ, God has provided means for subduing every sinful trait, and resisting every temptation, however strong. But many feel that they lack faith, and therefore they remain away from Christ. Let these souls, in their helpless unworthiness, cast themselves upon the mercy of their compassionate Saviour. Look not to self, but to Christ. He who healed the sick and cast out demons when He walked among men is the same mighty Redeemer today. Faith comes by the word of God.” The Desire of Ages, 429.

8 How earnestly were the disciples seeking the Lord just before Pentecost? Acts 1:14. What response to earnest prayer was given after Pentecost? Acts 4:31.

note: “The disciples prayed that greater strength might be imparted to them in the work of the ministry; for they saw that they would meet the same determined opposition that Christ had encountered when upon the earth. While their united prayers were ascending in faith to heaven, the answer came. The place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were endowed anew with the Holy Spirit. Their hearts filled with courage, they again went forth to proclaim the word of God in Jerusalem.” The Acts of the Apostles, 67, 68.

9 With what should our requests to God be made known? Philippians 4:6, 7.

note: “Shall all our devotional exercises consist in asking and receiving? Shall we be always thinking of our wants and never of the benefits we receive? Shall we be recipients of His mercies and never express our gratitude to God, never praise Him for what He has done for us? We do not pray any too much, but we are too sparing of giving thanks. If the loving-kindness of God called forth more thanksgiving and praise, we would have far more power in prayer. We would abound more and more in the love of God and have more bestowed to praise Him for. You who complain that God does not hear your prayers, change your present order and mingle praise with your petitions. When you consider His goodness and mercies you will find that He will consider your wants.

“Pray, pray earnestly and without ceasing, but do not forget to praise.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 317.

10 When we call upon the Lord in time of trouble, what has He promised to do? Psalm 107:6; 50:14, 15.

note: “The Lord’s care is over all His creatures. He loves them all and makes no difference, except that He has the most tender pity for those who are called to bear life’s heaviest burdens. God’s children must meet trials and difficulties. But they should accept their lot with a cheerful spirit, remembering that for all that the world neglects to bestow, God Himself will make up to them in the best of favors.

“It is when we come into difficult places that He reveals His power and wisdom in answer to humble prayer. Have confidence in Him as a prayer-hearing, prayer-answering God. He will reveal Himself to you as One who can help in every emergency. He who created man, who gave him his wonderful physical, mental, and spiritual faculties, will not withhold that which is necessary to sustain the life He has given. He who has given us His word—the leaves of the tree of life—will not withhold from us a knowledge of how to provide food for His needy children.” The Ministry of Healing, 199.

11 Upon what condition has the Lord promised to hear prayer? 11 Chronicles 7:14.

note: “It is not necessary to weary the throat and lungs in prayer. God’s ear is ever open to hear the heartfelt petitions of His humble servants, and He does not require them to wear out the organs of speech in addressing Him. It is the perfect trust, the firm reliance, the steady claiming of the promises of God, the simple faith that He is and that He is a rewarder of all those who diligently seek Him, that prevails with God.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 645.

12 What admonition should we earnestly heed at this time? Colossians 4:2; Romans 12:12.

note: “The darkness of the evil one encloses those who neglect to pray. The whispered temptations of the enemy entice them to sin; and it is all because they do not make use of the privileges that God has given them in the divine appointment of prayer. Why should the sons and daughters of God be reluctant to pray, when prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven’s storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence? Without unceasing prayer and diligent watching we are in danger of growing careless and of deviating from the right path. The adversary seeks continually to obstruct the way to the mercy seat, that we may not by earnest supplication and faith obtain grace and power to resist temptation.” Steps to Christ, 94, 95.

“The victory is not won without much earnest prayer, without the humbling of self at every step. Our will is not to be forced into co-operation with divine agencies, but it must be voluntarily submitted.” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 142.

Adapted from “The Victorious Life,” Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly, Pacific Press Publishing Association, Mountain View, California, 1924.

Bible Study Guides – Victory in Word and Thought

May 13, 2007 – May 19, 2007

Key Text

“For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same [is] a perfect man, [and] able also to bridle the whole body.” James 3:2.

Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 1, 698, 699.


“One class have come up without self-control; they have not bridled the temper or the tongue; and some of these claim to be Christ’s followers, but they are not. Jesus has set them no such example. When they have the meekness and lowliness of the Saviour, they will not act out the promptings of the natural heart, for this is of Satan. Some are nervous, and if they begin to lose self-control in word or spirit under provocation, they are as much intoxicated with wrath as the inebriate is with liquor. They are unreasonable, and not easily persuaded or convinced. They are not sane; Satan for the time has full control. Every one of these exhibitions of wrath weakens the nervous system and the moral powers, and makes it difficult to restrain anger or another provocation. With this class there is only one remedy,—positive self-control under all circumstances. The effort to get into a favorable place, where self will not be annoyed, may succeed for a time; but Satan knows where to find these poor souls, and will assail them in their weak points again and again. They will be continually troubled so long as they think so much of self. They carry the heaviest load a mortal can lift, that is self, unsanctified and unsubdued. But there is hope for them. Let this life, so stormy with conflicts and worries, be brought into connection with Christ, and then self will no longer clamor for the supremacy.” The Youth’s Instructor, November 10, 1886.

1 What is the greatest victory we can achieve? Proverbs 16:32.

note: “The highest evidence of nobility in a Christian is self-control. He who can stand unmoved amid a storm of abuse is one of God’s heroes.

“To rule the spirit is to keep self under discipline; to resist evil; to regulate every word and deed by God’s great standard of righteousness. He who has learned to rule his spirit will rise above the slights, the rebuffs, the annoyances, to which we are daily exposed, and these will cease to cast a gloom over his spirit.

“It is God’s purpose that the kingly power of sanctified reason, controlled by divine grace, shall bear sway in the lives of human beings. He who rules his spirit is in possession of this power. . . .

“In the use of language, there is, perhaps, no error that old and young are more ready to pass over lightly in themselves than hasty, impatient speech. They think it is a sufficient excuse to plead, ‘I was off my guard, and did not really mean what I said.’ But God’s word does not treat it lightly. . . .

“The largest share of life’s annoyances, its heartaches, its irritations, is due to uncontrolled temper. In one moment, by hasty, passionate, careless words, may be wrought evil that a whole lifetime’s repentance cannot undo. Oh, the hearts that are broken, the friends estranged, the lives wrecked, by the harsh, hasty words of those who might have brought help and healing!” Messages to Young People, 134, 135.

2 What is one able to do who can control his words? James 3:2. What evil is in the power of an unruly tongue? Verses 4–6.

note: “Some think it is a virtue to be unrestrained, and they will speak in praise of their outspoken habit of talking out disagreeable things which are in the heart. They let an angry spirit exhaust itself in a torrent of reproach and faultfinding. The more they talk, the more excited they become, and Satan stands by to help on the work, for it suits him. The words irritate the one to whom they are spoken. . . . When . . . you feel the rising of resentment, make it a rule to go by yourself and humbly pray to God, who will hearken to the prayer which goeth not forth from feigned lips.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 243.

3 How did Christ emphasize the importance of our words? Matthew 12:34–37.

note: “Let every soul who claims to be a son or a daughter of God examine himself in the light of heaven; let him consider the polluted lips that make him ‘undone.’ They are the medium of communication. [Matthew 12:34, 35 quoted.] Then let them not be used in bringing from the treasure of the heart words that will dishonor God and discourage those around you, but use them for the praise and glory of God, who has formed them for this purpose. When . . . the love of Jesus is the theme of contemplation, the words coming from human lips will be full of praise and thanksgiving to God and to the Lamb.” Review and Herald, December 22, 1896.

4 What promise of victory over our thoughts is given us? 11 Corinthians 10:4, 5. Upon what should we think? Philippians 4:8.

note: “We need a constant sense of the ennobling power of pure thoughts. The only security for any soul is right thinking. As a man ‘thinketh in his heart, so is he.’ Proverbs 23:7. 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.

“Cultivate the habit of speaking well of others. Dwell upon the good qualities of those with whom you associate, and see as little as possible of their errors and failings. When tempted to complain of what someone has said or done, praise something in that person’s life or character. Cultivate thankfulness. Praise God for His wonderful love in giving Christ to die for us. It never pays to think of our grievances. God calls upon us to think of His mercy and His matchless love, that we may be inspired with praise.” The Ministry of Healing, 491, 492.

5 What instruction does the apostle Peter give concerning the control of the mind? 1 Peter 1:13.

note: “The reason it is so difficult for men and women to live religious lives is because they do not exercise the mind unto godliness. It is trained to run in an opposite direction. Unless the mind is constantly exercised in obtaining spiritual knowledge and in seeking to understand the mystery of godliness, it is incapable of appreciating eternal things because it has no experience in that direction.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 189.

6 How is the difficulty of controlling the tongue illustrated? James 3:7, 8. What power is promised to help us on this point? Colossians 1:9–11.

note: “There must be a thorough reformation in your life, a transformation by the renewing of your mind. . . . When tempted to give loose rein to the unruly member, oh! bear in mind that the recording angel is noting every word. All are written in the book, and, unless washed away by the blood of Christ, you must meet them again. You now have a spotted record in heaven. Sincere repentance before God will be accepted. When about to speak passionately, close your mouth. Don’t utter a word. Pray before you speak, and heavenly angels will come to your assistance and drive back the evil angels, who would lead you to dishonor God, reproach His cause, and weaken your own soul.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 82.

7 Against what are we especially warned by the Saviour? Matthew 7:1, 2. Instead of judging and condemning others, what should we rather do? Verses 3–5.

note: “Frequently the truth and facts are to be plainly spoken to the erring, to make them see and feel their error that they may reform. But this should ever be done with pitying tenderness, not with harshness or severity, but considering one’s own weakness, lest he also be tempted. When the one at fault sees and acknowledges his error, then, instead of grieving him, and seeking to make him feel more deeply, comfort should be given. . . . It is frequently the case that while one is quick to discern the errors of his brethren, he may be in greater faults himself, but be blind to them.

“All who are followers of Christ should deal with one another exactly as we wish the Lord to deal with us in our errors and weaknesses, for we are all erring and need His pity and forgiveness.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 93.

8 What similar admonition is given by the apostle Paul? What does he say those who condemn others are themselves doing? Romans 2:1.

note: “Even the sentence, ‘Thou that judgest doest the same things,’ [Romans 2:1] does not reach the magnitude of his sin who presumes to criticize and condemn his brother. Jesus said, ‘Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?’ [Matthew 7:3.]

“His words describe one who is swift to discern a defect in others. When he thinks he has detected a flaw in the character or the life he is exceedingly zealous in trying to point it out; but Jesus declares that the very trait of character developed in doing this un-Christlike work, is, in comparison with the fault criticized, as a beam in proportion to a mote. It is one’s own lack of the spirit of forbearance and love that leads him to make a world of an atom. Those who have never experienced the contrition of an entire surrender to Christ do not in their life make manifest the softening influence of the Saviour’s love. They misrepresent the gentle, courteous spirit of the gospel and wound precious souls, for whom Christ died. According to the figure that our Saviour uses, he who indulges a censorious spirit is guilty of greater sin than is the one he accuses, for he not only commits the same sin, but adds to it conceit and censoriousness.” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 125.

9 What should we remember, and what would it lead us not to do? Romans 14:12, 13.

note: “It is always humiliating to have one’s errors pointed out. None should make the experience more bitter by needless censure. No one was ever reclaimed by reproach; but many have thus been repelled and have been led to steel their hearts against conviction. A tender spirit, a gentle, winning deportment, may save the erring and hide a multitude of sins.

“The apostle Paul found it necessary to reprove wrong, but how carefully he sought to show that he was a friend to the erring! How anxiously he explained to them the reason of his action! He made them understand that it cost him pain to give them pain. He showed his confidence and sympathy toward the ones who were struggling to overcome.” The Ministry of Healing, 166.

10 What comprehensive rule of life does the Lord lay down? Luke 6:37, 38. What new command is given us from the Lord? John 13:34, 35.

note: “The effort to earn salvation by one’s own works inevitably leads men to pile up human exactions as a barrier against sin. For, seeing that they fail to keep the law, they will devise rules and regulations of their own to force themselves to obey. All this turns the mind away from God to self. His love dies out of the heart, and with it perishes love for his fellow men. A system of human invention, with its multitudinous exactions, will lead its advocates to judge all who come short of the prescribed human standard. The atmosphere of selfish and narrow criticism stifles the noble and generous emotions, and causes men to become self-centered judges and petty spies. . . .

“Jesus said, ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’ [Matthew 7:1.] That is, do not set yourself up as a standard. Do not make your opinions, your views of duty, your interpretations of Scripture, a criterion for others and in your heart condemn them if they do not come up to your ideal. Do not criticize others, conjecturing as to their motives and passing judgment upon them.” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 123, 124.

11 What kind of words are commended? Proverbs 15:1, 2; 16:24; 25:11.

note: “In his own strength man cannot rule his spirit. But through Christ he may gain self-control. In His strength he may bring his thoughts and words into subjection to the will of God. The religion of Christ brings the emotions under the control of reason and disciplines the tongue. Under its influence the hasty temper is subdued, and the heart is filled with patience and gentleness.” Messages to Young People, 136.

12 What victory is recorded concerning the 144,000? Revelation 14:5.

note: “Sensuality is the sin of the age. But the religion of Jesus Christ will hold the lines of control over every species of unlawful liberty; the moral powers will hold the lines of control over every thought, word, and action. Guile will not be found in the lips of the true Christian. Not an impure thought will be indulged in, not a word spoken that is approaching to sensuality, not an action that has the least appearance of evil.” Medical Ministry, 142, 143.

Adapted from “The Victorious Life,” Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly, Pacific Press Publishing Association, Mountain View, California, 1924.

Bible Study Guides – Victory Through an Indwelling Christ

May 6, 2007 – May 12, 2007

Key Text

“If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” John 14:23.

Study Help: God’s Amazing Grace, 195.


“It is not merely the conviction of the mind, it is not the acceptance of a theory, however correct, that can make us Christians. It is the indwelling of Christ in the soul, the development of his spirit in the life. The Christian experience is a constant effort to conform the human will to the will of Christ, and to form the character according to the divine model.” Review and Herald, January 24, 1882.

1 How is the close relationship between the Father, the Son, and the believer expressed? John 14:20. What promise did Jesus make to those who love Him? Verse 23.

note: “The spell of a stronger, a perfect mind will be over us; for we have a living connection with the source of all-enduring strength. In our divine life we shall be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. We shall no longer live the common life of selfishness, but Christ will live in us. His character will be reproduced in our nature. Thus shall we bring forth the fruits of the Holy Spirit.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 61.

2 What is our hope of glory? Colossians 1:27.

note: “ ‘If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.’ 11 Corinthians 5:17. Through the power of Christ, men and women have broken the chains of sinful habit. They have renounced selfishness. The profane have become reverent, the drunken sober, the profligate pure. Souls that have borne the likeness of Satan have become transformed into the image of God. This change is in itself the miracle of miracles. A change wrought by the Word, it is one of the deepest mysteries of the Word. We cannot understand it; we can only believe, as declared by the Scriptures, it is ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory.’ ” The Acts of the Apostles, 476.

3 Whose life is to be manifest in the believer? 11 Corinthians 4:10, 11.

note: “The glorious results that attended the ministry of the chosen disciples of Christ were the effects of bearing about in their bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus. Some of those who testified of Christ were unlearned and ignorant men; but grace and truth reigned in their hearts, inspiring and purifying their lives, and controlling their actions. They were living representatives of the mind and spirit of Christ. They were living epistles, known and read of all men. They were hated and persecuted by all who would not receive the truth they preached, and who despised the cross of Christ.

“Wicked men will not oppose a form of godliness nor reject a popular ministry which presents no cross for them to bear. The natural heart will raise no serious objection to a religion in which there is nothing to make the transgressor of the law tremble or bring to bear upon the heart and conscience the terrible realities of a judgment to come. It is the demonstration of the Spirit and the power of God which raises opposition and leads the natural heart to rebel. The truth that saves the soul must not only come from God; but His Spirit must attend its communication to others, else it falls powerless before opposing influences. Oh, that the truth would fall from the lips of God’s servants with such power as to burn its way to the hearts of the people!” Testimonies, vol. 2, 343, 344.

4 Who was revealed in the life of the apostle Paul? For what purpose? What did the apostle not do? Galatians 1:15, 16.

note: “In his letter to the Galatian believers Paul briefly reviewed the leading incidents connected with his own conversion and early Christian experience. By this means he sought to show that it was through a special manifestation of divine power that he had been led to see and grasp the great truths of the gospel. It was through instruction received from God Himself that Paul was led to warn and admonish the Galatians in so solemn and positive a manner. He wrote, not in hesitancy and doubt, but with the assurance of settled conviction and absolute knowledge. He clearly outlined the difference between being taught by man and receiving instruction direct from Christ.” The Acts of the Apostles, 386.

5 What was the apostle’s condition? Who lived in him? What did he say further relative to the life he was living? Galatians 2:20. For what did Paul have great travail of soul? Verse 19.

note: “The independence and self-supremacy in which we glory are seen in their true vileness as tokens of servitude to Satan. Human nature is ever struggling for expression, ready for contest; but he who learns of Christ is emptied of self, of pride, of love of supremacy, and there is silence in the soul. Self is yielded to the disposal of the Holy Spirit. Then we are not anxious to have the highest place. We have no ambition to crowd and elbow ourselves into notice; but we feel that our highest place is at the feet of our Saviour. We look to Jesus, waiting for His hand to lead, listening for His voice to guide.” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 15.

6 What is the condition of those in whom Christ does not dwell? 11 Corinthians 13:5, 6. (Compare Luke 11:24–26.)

note: “There is a necessity for close self-examination, and to closely investigate in the light of God’s word, Am I sound, or am I rotten, at heart? Am I renewed in Christ, or am I still carnal at heart, with an outside, new dress put on? Rein yourself up to the tribunal of God, and see as in the light of God if there is any secret sin, any iniquity, any idol you have not sacrificed. Pray, yes, pray as you have never prayed before, that you may not be deluded by Satan’s devices; that you may not be given up to a heedless, careless, and vain spirit, and attend religious duties to quiet your own conscience.” Messages to Young People, 83, 84.

7 What is said of those in whom Christ dwells? Romans 8:10. How is Christ brought into the heart? Ephesians 3:16, 17.

note: “The first experience of the Ephesus church led to good works. God took delight in the fact that His church reflected the light of heaven by revealing the spirit of Christ in tenderness and compassion. The love that dwelt in the heart of Christ; the love that caused Him to give Himself a sacrifice for humanity, and to suffer with forbearance the reproach of men, even to the extent of being called a devil; the love that prompted Him to perform mighty works of healing during His ministry—this was the love that was to be revealed in the lives of His disciples.

“But they neglected to cherish Christ’s compassion and tenderness. Self, as manifested in hereditary traits of character, spoiled the principles of the grand, good works that identified the members of the Ephesus church as Christians. The Lord Jesus must needs show them that they had lost that which was everything to them. The love that constrained the Saviour to die for us, was not revealed in its fullness in their lives; and hence they were unable to bring honor to the name of the Redeemer. And as they lost their first love, they increased in a knowledge of scientific theories originated by the father of lies.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 956.

8 What was Jesus’ prayer for all believers? John 17:23.

note: “God justly condemns all who do not make Christ their personal Saviour; but He pardons every soul who comes to Him in faith, and enables him to work the works of God, and through faith to be one with Christ. Jesus says of these, [John 17:23 quoted]. The Lord has made every provision whereby man may have full and free salvation, and be complete in Him. God designs that His children shall have the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, that all may have the light of truth. God has provided salvation for the world at infinite cost, even through the gift of His only-begotten Son. The apostle asks, ‘He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?’ (Romans 8:32.) Then if we are not saved, the fault will not be on the part of God, but on our part, that we have failed to cooperate with the divine agencies. Our will has not coincided with God’s will.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 375.

9 Through what agency does Jesus come into the heart? John 14:16, 17. How willing is Jesus to come into the heart? Revelation 3:20, first part. If we desire Christ to dwell in our heart, what must we do? Verse 20, last part. What must we do to open the door?

note: “Christ became one flesh with us, in order that we might become one spirit with Him. It is by virtue of this union that we are to come forth from the grave,—not merely as a manifestation of the power of Christ, but because, through faith, His life has become ours. Those who see Christ in His true character, and receive Him into the heart, have everlasting life. It is through the Spirit that Christ dwells in us; and the Spirit of God, received into the heart by faith, is the beginning of the life eternal.” The Desire of Ages, 388.

“The True Witness says, ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock.’ Revelation 3:20. Every warning, reproof, and entreaty in the word of God or through His messengers is a knock at the door of the heart. It is the voice of Jesus asking for entrance. With every knock unheeded, the disposition to open becomes weaker. The impressions of the Holy Spirit if disregarded today, will not be as strong tomorrow. The heart becomes less impressible, and lapses into a perilous unconsciousness of the shortness of life, and of the great eternity beyond. Our condemnation in the judgment will not result from the fact that we have been in error, but from the fact that we have neglected heaven-sent opportunities for learning what is truth.” Ibid., 489, 490.

10 What has Christ already done to the powers of darkness? Colossians 2:14, 15. What assurance have we that Christ’s dwelling in the heart gives victory? 1 John 4:4.

note: “Henceforward Christ’s followers were to look upon Satan as a conquered foe. Upon the cross, Jesus was to gain the victory for them; that victory He desired them to accept as their own.” The Desire of Ages, 490.

“When Jesus was laid in the grave, Satan triumphed. He dared to hope that the Saviour would not take up His life again. He claimed the Lord’s body, and set his guard about the tomb, seeking to hold Christ a prisoner. He was bitterly angry when his angels fled at the approach of the heavenly messenger. When he saw Christ come forth in triumph, he knew that his kingdom would have an end, and that he must finally die.” Ibid., 782.

11 What is Christ called? 1 Samuel 15:29.

note: “We are prepared to appreciate those who have searched the Scriptures, and found delight in the truth of God, who have discerned the light, accepted and appreciated it, and walked in the light as Christ is in the light. We would appreciate men who can bring from the treasure house of God things new and old, who can feed the sheep and the lambs with the pure provender unmixed with chaff; men who know how to pray sincerely, and know how to take hold of the might of the Strength of Israel. We would welcome men who have the heavenly anointing, who can hold forth the word of life, because they live by every word proceeding from the mouth of God. The experience of such men is composed of that upon which they feed, and they are partakers of the grace of Christ, and possess the true refinement of those who walk with God; for they are meek and lowly of heart, having learned in the school of Christ.

“We care nothing for those who have only a pretentious appearance; but we want men who will love to do as did Christ, and will delight in seeking to save that which is lost. We want men who are successful in winning souls to Christ. God has such men in the world, and they are the salt of the earth, a savor of life unto life. Their influence is wholly on the Lord’s side.” Review and Herald, February 28, 1893.

12 Having Christ abiding in the heart, what is our blessed condition? Colossians 2:9, 10.

note: “We can receive of heaven’s light only as we are willing to be emptied of self. We cannot discern the character of God, or accept Christ by faith, unless we consent to the bringing into captivity of every thought to the obedience of Christ. To all who do this the Holy Spirit is given without measure.” The Desire of Ages, 181.

Adapted from “The Victorious Life,” Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly, Pacific Press Publishing Association, Mountain View, California, 1924.

Bible Study Guides – Victory Through Surrender

April 29, 2007 – May 5, 2007

Key Text

“Know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.” 1 Chronicles 28:9.

Study Help: Sons and Daughters of God, 279.


“Unless we . . . yield ourselves to the control of Christ, we shall be dominated by the wicked one. We must inevitably be under the control of the one or the other of the two great powers that are contending for the supremacy of the world. It is not necessary for us deliberately to choose the service of the kingdom of darkness in order to come under its dominion. We have only to neglect to ally ourselves with the kingdom of light. If we do not co-operate with the heavenly agencies, Satan will take possession of the heart, and will make it his abiding place. The only defense against evil is the indwelling of Christ in the heart through faith in His righteousness. Unless we become vitally connected with God, we can never resist the unhallowed effects of self-love, self-indulgence, and temptation to sin. We may leave off many bad habits, for the time we may part company with Satan; but without a vital connection with God, through the surrender of ourselves to Him moment by moment, we shall be overcome. Without a personal acquaintance with Christ, and a continual communion, we are at the mercy of the enemy, and shall do his bidding in the end.” The Desire of Ages, 324.

1 Whose children are we by nature? Ephesians 2:1–3. Who is responsible for this sad condition? Isaiah 52:3.

note: “[Ephesians 2:1−3 quoted.] Spiritual death is here spoken of. How many there are who are unwarned, and in consequence unconvicted. They are passing on, in harmony with the world and with the desires of their own undisciplined, unsubdued hearts. They live in pleasure and worldliness, and should sickness come, and death overtake them, they would be found unready. They are not interested in the race for eternal life. They do not look upon the conflict against sin, the warfare with principalities and powers, as essential. They are in need of light. Satan holds them in his power, and they see not their danger. They know nothing of the crucifixion that cuts away from the life all that separates the soul from Christ. They are subject to the power of the spirit that works in the children of disobedience.

“This spirit is Satan, the fallen angel, the ruler of the power of darkness. He has control of the spirits of evil, and through them he seeks to gain control of human beings.” Review and Herald, March 31, 1904.

2 Who redeemed us? What price was paid for our redemption? 1 Peter 1:18–20; Acts 20:28. To whom then do we belong? 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20; Romans 14:8.

note: “We are not our own. . . .

“All men have been bought with this infinite price. By pouring the whole treasury of heaven into this world, by giving us in Christ all heaven, God has purchased the will, the affections, the mind, the soul, of every human being. Whether believers or unbelievers, all men are the Lord’s property. All are called to do service for Him, and for the manner in which they have met this claim, all will be required to render an account at the great judgment day.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 326.

3 What did Jesus do for the lost? Ephesians 5:2; John 3:16.

note: “Christ offered up His broken body to purchase back God’s heritage, to give man another trial. [Hebrews 7:25 quoted.] By His spotless life, His obedience, His death on the cross of Calvary, Christ interceded for the lost race. And now, not as a mere petitioner does the Captain of our salvation intercede for us, but as a Conqueror claiming His victory. His offering is complete, and as our Intercessor He executes His self-appointed work, holding before God the censer containing His own spotless merits and the prayers, confessions, and thanksgiving of His people. Perfumed with the fragrance of His righteousness, these ascend to God as a sweet savor. The offering is wholly acceptable, and pardon covers all transgression.

“Christ has pledged Himself to be our substitute and surety, and He neglects no one. He who could not see human beings exposed to eternal ruin without pouring out His soul unto death in their behalf, will look with pity and compassion upon every soul who realizes that he cannot save himself.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 156, 157.

4 How do we become children of God? Galatians 3:26.

note: “It is not enough to believe about Christ; we must believe in Him. The only faith that will benefit us is that which embraces Him as a personal Saviour; which appropriates His merits to ourselves. Many hold faith as an opinion. Saving faith is a transaction by which those who receive Christ join themselves in covenant relation with God. Genuine faith is life. A living faith means an increase of vigor, a confiding trust, by which the soul becomes a conquering power.” The Desire of Ages, 347.

5 What is our reasonable service? Romans 12:1. What surrender does the Lord ask us to make? Proverbs 23:26.

note: “Specific directions were given to ancient Israel that no defective or diseased animal should be presented as an offering to God. Only the most perfect were to be selected for this purpose. . . .

“When the apostle appeals to his brethren to present their bodies ‘a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God,’ he sets forth the principles of true sanctification. It is not merely a theory, an emotion, or a form of words, but a living, active principle, entering into the everyday life. It requires that our habits of eating, drinking, and dressing be such as to secure the preservation of physical, mental, and moral health, that we may present to the Lord our bodies, not an offering corrupted by wrong habits, but ‘a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.’ [Romans 12:1.]” The Sanctified Life, 27, 28.

6 To whom are we to yield ourselves? Romans 6:13. What assurance of victory is given to those who thus yield themselves? Verse 14.

note: “When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God.” The Desire of Ages, 173.

7 What power is promised to the believer? Jude 24; 1 Peter 1:3–5; Isaiah 26:3.

note: “When the soul surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes possession of the new heart. A change is wrought which man can never accomplish for himself. It is a supernatural work, bringing a supernatural element into human nature. The soul that is yielded to Christ becomes His own fortress, which He holds in a revolted world, and He intends that no authority shall be known in it but His own. A soul thus kept in possession by the heavenly agencies is impregnable to the assaults of Satan.” The Desire of Ages, 324.

8 What example of a surrendered life is left us by the church of Macedonia? 11 Corinthians 8:5.

note: “Nearly all the Macedonian believers were poor in this world’s goods, but their hearts were overflowing with love for God and His truth, and they gladly gave for the support of the gospel. When general collections were taken up in the Gentile churches for the relief of the Jewish believers, the liberality of the converts in Macedonia was held up as an example to other churches. . . .

“The willingness to sacrifice on the part of the Macedonian believers came as a result of wholehearted consecration. Moved by the Spirit of God, they ‘first gave their own selves to the Lord’ (11 Corinthians 8:5), then they were willing to give freely of their means for the support of the gospel.” The Acts of the Apostles, 343.

9 How fully did all Judah once seek the Lord? With what result? 11 Chronicles 15:12, 15.

note: “We do not see ourselves as God sees us; therefore we do not see the necessity of repentance, of humility, and of continual reliance upon him. There are efforts made in our own strength, but there is not a dying to self; the soul is not surrendered to God. Many are making a mistake here. They are hoping to overcome through their own efforts, and by their goodness gain the assurance of the love of God. They do not exercise faith; they do not believe that Jesus accepts their repentance and contrition, and so they toil on day after day without finding rest or peace. When the heart is fully surrendered to God, love springs up in the soul, and the yoke of Christ is easy, and his burden light. The will is swallowed up in God’s will, and that which was a cross, becomes a pleasure.” Gospel Workers (1892), 440.

10 How fully does the Lord search the heart? 1 Chronicles 28:9.

note: “The righteousness of Christ will not cover one cherished sin. A man may be a law-breaker in heart; yet if he commits no outward act of transgression, he may be regarded by the world as possessing great integrity. But God’s law looks into the secrets of the heart. Every act is judged by the motives that prompt it. Only that which is in accord with the principles of God’s law will stand in the judgment.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 316.

11 What solemn exhortation applies to the church at this time? Zephaniah 2:1–3.

note: “Many do not realize what they must be in order to live in the sight of the Lord without a high priest in the sanctuary through the time of trouble. Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully.

“I [Ellen White] saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful and were looking to the time of ‘refreshing’ and the ‘latter rain’ to fit them to stand in the day of the Lord and to live in His sight. Oh, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter! They had neglected the needful preparation; therefore they could not receive the refreshing that all must have to fit them to live in the sight of a holy God. Those who refuse to be hewed by the prophets and fail to purify their souls in obeying the whole truth, and who are willing to believe that their condition is far better than it really is, will come up to the time of the falling of the plagues, and then see that they needed to be hewed and squared for the building. But there will be no time then to do it and no Mediator to plead their cause before the Father. . . . I saw that none could share the ‘refreshing’ unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action. We should, therefore, be drawing nearer and nearer to the Lord and be earnestly seeking that preparation necessary to enable us to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. Let all remember that God is holy and that none but holy beings can ever dwell in His presence.” Early Writings, 71.

12 What encouraging promise is given to those who seek the Lord with all their heart? 11 Chronicles 7:14. How is this surrender to God made?

note: “Many are inquiring, ‘How am I to make the surrender of myself to God?’ You desire to give yourself to Him, but you are weak in moral power, in slavery to doubt, and controlled by the habits of your life of sin. Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity, and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you; but you need not despair. What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him.” Steps to Christ, 47.

Adapted from “The Victorious Life,” Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly, Pacific Press Publishing Association, Mountain View, California, 1924.

An Anchor

Priscilla J. Owens penned the words of a familiar hymn in 1882:

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?

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 Savior’s love.

Yes, indeed, we are living in a time when, more than ever before, an anchor is needed, an anchor that can firmly hold down our souls. The people of God are being shaken every which way by doctrinal errors and by life’s trials. Certainly, we are going through the final refining process before we face the time of trouble such as has never before been since the beginning of the nations. Yes, we are living in an age where everything that could go wrong does go wrong! There are so many confusions that are shaking the very foundations of our beliefs that we, in this contemporary world, need to reconfirm our fundamental beliefs and solely rely on God’s power to overcome sin and to remain faithful to the truth.

God has a people who will be used to finish the work of the everlasting gospel, and Satan is very angry and is trying to eradicate them in any and every way possible. He is trying to overcome God’s people through erroneous teachings and through the hardships of life. We need to cast our anchor and let it fasten to the Rock of ages so that our ship will not drift away, blown about by the winds of various doctrines.

In this article, we will study two specific areas concerning our anchor. First, its use to secure us from doctrinal drifts, and, second, its use to fasten us amid life’s trials.

Secure From Doctrinal Drifts

After 15 years of service in the Seventh-day Adventist Church organization as a pastor and an evangelist, I started, 17 years ago, an independent ministry called “Light for Life.” The day I joined the conservative movement, I thought that I was coming into the errorless land, that I would be forever safe from the danger of false doctrines. I was so naïve in thinking that as long as I was out of the range of the new theology, I would be on a sound doctrinal foundation! What a surprise I have experienced! I have met all kinds of fanatical and extreme offshoots in the conservative camps, insomuch that I could not believe my own eyes. I have encountered scores of people ranging from those who believe in perfectionism, not character perfection, to those who teach an impersonal Holy Spirit and the keeping of the feast days. I even once met a person who told me that to wear a tie is to worship a Babylonian idol! Can you imagine that?

We really need to throw our anchors onto the sure doctrines given in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy so that we will not be moved. As a matter of fact, the sealing experience is to settle into the truth so that we will not be moved anymore from it.

The apostle Paul said, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let [them] slip.” Hebrews 2:1. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” Romans 16:17, 18. And, also, Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” John 17:17.

God is truth, so believing in false doctrines will distort our understanding of God, and such a misunderstanding of who God really is will eventually distort our character-building process. If someone believes in a fanatical doctrine or an extreme belief, it is more than likely that he or she did not have a well-balanced mind-set in the first place. Believing errors contrary to common sense and reason, generally, has to do with the hidden pride in our hearts; we oftentimes want to stand out and be different from the rest of the people, to gratify the desire for self-exaltation.

If we pray in humility and study the Word of God diligently, the Holy Spirit of God will always lead us into all truth. We have to believe it. How can we go against the impressions of the Spirit of God when we truly want to submit ourselves to the Lord on our knees? Even if we are briefly led astray by a deception, the Spirit of God will strive with us and surely bring us back to truth. If we cannot believe that, then we are just a bunch of orphans left without hope.

My Bible tells me this: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; [Even] the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I [am] in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” John 14:16–21.

When we are born again in the Spirit, we immediately begin to be led by the Holy Spirit. Of course, we need to fight with the defects in our minds, which were inherited from our ancestors, so to speak, and also with wrongful thinking patterns to which we have become accustomed. But we have the assurance from God that He is going to help us, if we surrender our minds to Him every day, and He has promised to lead us into all the truth. He is the Spirit of truth!

“These things have I spoken unto you, being [yet] present with you. But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14:25, 26.

Aspects of Our Anchor

My brothers and my sisters, we should not be afraid! God has given us three things to help us to stay in the truth, that we may not be deceived by any errors or heresies. They are: the Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy, and the Holy Spirit. These are the parts of our sure anchor. We do not need to fall into any errors.

The Prophet’s Counsel

“I saw that angels of God were commissioned to guard with special care the sacred, important truths which were to serve as an anchor to the disciples of Christ through every generation. The Holy Spirit especially rested upon the apostles, who were witnesses of our Lord’s crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension—important truths that were to be the hope of Israel. All were to look to the Saviour of the world as their only hope, and walk in the way which He had opened by the sacrifice of His own life, and keep God’s law and live. I saw the wisdom and goodness of Jesus in giving power to the disciples to carry on the same work for which He had been hated and slain by the Jews. In His name they had power over the works of Satan. A halo of light and glory centered about the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection, immortalizing the sacred truth that He was the Saviour of the world.” Early Writings, 196.

“God will arouse His people; if other means fail, heresies will come in among them, which will sift them, separating the chaff from the wheat. The Lord calls upon all who believe His word to awake out of sleep. Precious light has come, appropriate for this time. It is Bible truth, showing the perils that are right upon us. This light should lead us to a diligent study of the Scriptures and a most critical examination of the positions which we hold. God would have all the bearings and positions of truth thoroughly and perseveringly searched, with prayer and fasting. Believers are not to rest in suppositions and ill-defined ideas of what constitutes truth. Their faith must be firmly founded upon the word of God so that when the testing time shall come and they are brought before councils to answer for their faith they may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear.

“Agitate, agitate, agitate. The subjects which we present to the world must be to us a living reality. It is important that in defending the doctrines which we consider fundamental articles of faith, we should never allow ourselves to employ arguments that are not wholly sound. These may avail to silence an opposer, but they do not honor the truth. We should present sound arguments, that will not only silence our opponents, but will bear the closest and most searching scrutiny. With those who have educated themselves as debaters, there is great danger that they will not handle the word of God with fairness. In meeting an opponent, it should be our earnest effort to present subjects in such a manner as to awaken conviction in his mind, instead of seeking merely to give confidence to the believer.

“Whatever may be man’s intellectual advancement, let him not for a moment think that there is no need of thorough and continuous searching of the Scriptures for greater light. As a people we are called individually to be students of prophecy. We must watch with earnestness that we may discern any ray of light which God shall present to us. We are to catch the first gleamings of truth; and through prayerful study, clearer light may be obtained, which can be brought before others.

“When God’s people are at ease, and satisfied with their present enlightenment, we may be sure that He will not favor them. It is His will that they should be ever moving forward to receive the increased and ever-increasing light which is shining for them. The present attitude of the church is not pleasing to God. There has come in a self-confidence that has led them to feel no necessity for more truth and greater light. We are living at a time when Satan is at work on the right hand and on the left, before and behind us; and yet as a people we are asleep. God wills that a voice shall be heard arousing His people to action.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 707–709.

Multiplicity of Errors

In our contemporary world, we encounter many different kinds of teachings which focus on frivolous and minor points, yet magnify them as being among the most important issues or even as crucial for our salvation. We should be careful of those kinds of teachings that have now crept into our ranks. We need to focus on the most important doctrines and be occupied with the pillars of our faith that were given to us by our early leaders, inspired by the Spirit of God when they were moved to raise up the Advent Movement. Satan gains his power over the mind through false theories and heresies.

“Satan has wrought with deceiving power, bringing in a multiplicity of errors that obscure the truth. Error cannot stand alone, and would soon become extinct if it did not fasten itself like a parasite upon the tree of truth. Error draws its life from the truth of God. The traditions of men, like floating germs, attach themselves to the truth of God, and men regard them as a part of the truth. Through false doctrines, Satan gains a foothold, and captivates the minds of men, causing them to hold theories that have no foundation in truth. Men boldly teach for doctrines the commandments of men; and as traditions pass on from age to age, they acquire a power over the human mind. But age does not make error truth, neither does its burdensome weight cause the plant of truth to become a parasite. The tree of truth bears its own genuine fruit, showing its true origin and nature. The parasite of error also bears its own fruit, and makes manifest that its character is diverse from the plant of heavenly origin.

“It is through false theories and traditions that Satan gains his power over the human mind.” Review and Herald, October 22, 1895.

“Many who embraced the third message had not had an experience in the two former messages. Satan understood this, and his evil eye was upon them to overthrow them; but the third angel was pointing them to the most holy place, and those who had had an experience in the past messages were pointing them the way to the heavenly sanctuary. Many saw the perfect chain of truth in the angels’ messages, and gladly received them in their order, and followed Jesus by faith into the heavenly sanctuary. These messages were represented to me as an anchor to the people of God. Those who understand and receive them will be kept from being swept away by the many delusions of Satan.” Early Writings, 255.

Amid Life’s Trials

We are living during an age where the structure of our society is not conducive to the cultivation of piety and purity. Never, since the fall of humanity, has it been so difficult to perfect our characters. Everybody suffers, no matter who they may be. I have met many people during my life, and I do not know of anyone who claims that he or she does not have a cross to bear. The surrounding circumstances of our lives and the environment of our society make our cross-bearing much more difficult now than it has been in previous generations, without even mentioning the reason of the law of heredity. We are, by far, the weakest generation of them all, so we need even more help and more guidance from the Lord.

After a traveler crossed the Sahara Desert on foot, he was interviewed by many reporters. In one interview, someone asked him, “What was the most difficult thing to overcome in the journey? Was it heat? Or perhaps sandstorms?” But, surprisingly, he answered that it was rather the sand that got into his shoes that made the journey through the desert so difficult. That is right; the sand in his shoes!

It is not big trials or problems that usually discourage and dishearten us. On the contrary, it is rather small temptations and minor disappointments and trials that cause us to fall and to faint within our hearts. So, we need to focus on the Lord, who is in the heavenly sanctuary. He never forgets us. He devotes all His time to doing everything to save our souls. He is our High Priest.

Of what importance is the position of high priest? A high priest is someone who is appointed from among us, someone who knows our problems and trials by experience, and who is, therefore, able to help us in our time of need.

Jesus Christ is our Mediator. The work of the Mediator is not only to forgive our sins but also to teach and to strengthen us; in other words, to provide the saving grace to overcome. And not only that, but He comforts us in our trials and strengthens us to bear them. So, we really need to focus on Jesus in the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary. His ministry has been more intensified since He entered into the most holy place. He is preparing His final church to face the time of trouble that will soon break upon us. His business is to save us from the dangers we are facing daily. He is not just reading though record books in formal sessions up there in heaven like an attorney who is not interested in the real person he is defending or for whom he is fighting.

Jesus really cares about you and me. He would rather die than lose us to the hands of our enemy, so we need to follow Him by faith into the most holy place and know and experience for ourselves the work that He is doing for us there on a daily basis. He is our only hope and our anchor. We need to know Him, and that is eternal life. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3. We need to know Him by experience as He daily delivers us in all our trials and sufferings. He is to be our Saviour in every sense of the word as we journey toward our heavenly home.

“Thither the faith of Christ’s disciples followed him as he ascended from their sight. Here their hopes centered, ‘which hope we have,’ said Paul, ‘as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high priest forever.’ [Hebrews 6:19, 20.]” The Great Controversy, 421.

“Said Jesus: ‘The Father Himself loveth you.’ [John 16:27.] If our faith is fixed upon God, through Christ, it will prove ‘as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the Forerunner is for us entered.’ [Hebrews 6:19.] It is true that disappointments will come; tribulation we must expect; but we are to commit everything, great and small, to God. He does not become perplexed by the multiplicity of our grievances nor overpowered by the weight of our burdens. His watch care extends to every household and encircles every individual; He is concerned in all our business and our sorrows. He marks every tear; He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. All the afflictions and trials that befall us here are permitted, to work out His purposes of love toward us, ‘that we might be partakers of His holiness’ [Hebrews 12:10] and thus become participants in that fullness of joy which is found in His presence.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 742.

The Faith We Need

I was deeply touched by the total trust in and commitment to the Lord that a fellow believer recently expressed in testimony. She said that her husband is in jail for a fraud charge; her 17-year-old son has committed suicide, and she is now in the final stage of stomach cancer. Yet, she told the people congregated that she is still thankful to God, “Because,” she said, “I know and trust the fact that the Lord did His best to save my family, and I will find out more of what God has done for my family when I go to heaven. Surely I will praise Him the more then!” What a testimony! That is the kind of faith we should have before we go through the time of trouble.

When Jesus was on the cross, He could not see beyond the portals of the tomb, nor could He see a ray of hope coming down from the throne of His Father, and yet He died a victor as He remembered and trusted in His Father’s promise. That is what we call the faith of Jesus. The remnant of the woman must have this same faith of Jesus. The descriptions of the experience of the 144,000 at the time of Jacob’s trouble are similar to the experience that Jesus Christ had from Gethsemane to Calvary.

We need to learn how to anchor our souls in the Lord in our daily trials now, so that we will learn to place everything on the altar and trust Him even when all our hopes have vanished into total darkness. We shall then have the faith of Jesus and will have absolute peace in our hearts, for we have learned to lay our helpless souls on God, fully surrendering to His will.

“The season of distress and anguish before us will require a faith that can endure weariness, delay, and hunger—a faith that will not faint though severely tried. The period of probation is granted to all to prepare for that time. Jacob prevailed because he was persevering and determined. His victory is an evidence of the power of importunate prayer. All who will lay hold of God’s promises, as he did, and be as earnest and persevering as he was, will succeed as he succeeded. Those who are unwilling to deny self, to agonize before God, to pray long and earnestly for His blessing, will not obtain it. Wrestling with God—how few know what it is! How few have ever had their souls drawn out after God with intensity of desire until every power is on the stretch. When waves of despair which no language can express sweep over the suppliant, how few cling with unyielding faith to the promises of God.

“Those who exercise but little faith now, are in the greatest danger of falling under the power of satanic delusions and the decree to compel the conscience. And even if they endure the test they will be plunged into deeper distress and anguish in the time of trouble, because they have never made it a habit to trust in God. The lessons of faith which they have neglected they will be forced to learn under a terrible pressure of discouragement. We should now acquaint ourselves with God by proving His promises.” The Great Controversy, 621.

We read, in Roman 8:28, 29, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

The Anchor Holds

“The heart surrendered to God’s wise discipline will trust every working out of His providence. . . . Temptation will come to discourage, but what is gained by yielding to any such temptations? Is the soul made any better by murmuring and complaining of its only source of strength? Is the anchor cast within the vail? Will it hold in sickness? Will it be the testimony borne in the last closing scenes of life when the lips are becoming palsied with death? The anchor holds! I know that my Redeemer liveth.” The Upward Look, 377.

Let us contemplate the words of the Psalmist. If we can truly respond yes to these words from our innermost hearts, then we can be certain that our anchor is cast on Jesus our Lord!

“Truly God [is] good to Israel, [even] to such as are of a clean heart. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, [when] I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For [there are] no bands in their death: but their strength [is] firm. They [are] not in trouble [as other] men; neither are they plagued like [other] men. Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them [as] a garment. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. They are corrupt, and speak wickedly [concerning] oppression: they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full [cup] are wrung out to them. And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? Behold, these [are] the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase [in] riches. Verily I have cleansed my heart [in] vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend [against] the generation of thy children. When I thought to know this, it [was] too painful for me; Until I went into the sanctuary of God; [then] understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. How are they [brought] into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when [one] awaketh; [so], O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image. Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. So foolish [was] I, and ignorant: I was [as] a beast before thee. Nevertheless I [am] continually with thee: thou hast holden [me] by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me [to] glory. Whom have I in heaven [but thee]? and [there is] none upon earth [that] I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: [but] God [is] the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” Psalm 73:1–26.

[All emphasis added.]


Daily we deal in one of the most dangerous threats to our spirituality and happiness, yet we cannot escape it. In the words of the apostle Paul, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” 1 Timothy 6:10. In our contemporary world, it is impossible to live without money, yet untold millions will trace their eternal loss to the dollar bill. The question before us, then, is, Will we master money or will money be our master? “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24.

Testing Treasures

In order to correctly understand how to master money, we must realize the purpose for which the Lord has put money into our hands. In the parable of the rich fool, this is aptly illustrated. This unnamed fool had been blessed abundantly by God. “The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully.” But his thoughts were not of gratitude: “What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?” His needs were supplied, but master money had taken the reins of his life. He answered himself, “I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”

In this simple statement, there are ten references to himself. The fool thought solely of himself. He was thinking of his comfort, his convenience, his pleasure, and his retirement. His thoughts were not on what he could do for the One who had given the abundance nor of how to help those around him. As a result, the terrible verdict was pronounced upon the man who could think only of himself: “[Thou] fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” He was not condemned for having farms and lands and barns. He was not condemned because he had been blessed with a particularly productive year. He was not condemned for his wise management. He was condemned because he thought and lived only for himself. His usage of the heavenly gifts was not the problem; it was the visible indicator of the root problem. Thus, the warning sounds down to our time: “So [is] he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16–21.

Money is indicative of the heart condition. Are we thinking solely of ourselves and our families, or are we thinking outside of ourselves?

“As money is a snare, made so by the greed after it, we need to be guarded on every side. We are put into possession of money for a little while to try us individually. The soul has its test—whether money stands as having greater power over us than God and His requirements. Our Saviour says, ‘Ye cannot serve God and mammon.’ [Matthew 6:24.]” Manuscript Releases, vol. 16, 257.

“Money is not necessarily a curse; it is of high value because if rightly appropriated, it can do good in the salvation of souls, in blessing others who are poorer than ourselves. By an improvident or unwise use, . . . money will become a snare to the user. He who employs money to gratify pride and ambition makes it a curse rather than a blessing. Money is a constant test of the affections.” The Adventist Home, 372.

An Account of Stewardship

As we study Jesus’ parables, we find that a number of His parables were directly related to the principle of stewardship; especially does Luke record this recurring theme. Perhaps the most striking are the words found in Luke 16:2, “Give an account of thy stewardship.” Jesus has made it very clear that He has set each of us as stewards on this earth; stewards that will be called to give an account of our stewardship. The Lord has made us stewards of all that He has given us—time, talents, influence, health, family, and especially money. “The idea of stewardship should have a practical bearing upon all the people of God.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 387.

In no other parable is the lesson of stewardship taught so plainly as the parable of the talents. As the nobleman prepared to go to a far country to receive for himself the kingdom, he called his ten servants and gave to each of them a pound, or mina. The command was then given, “Occupy till I come.” Luke 19:13. The Greek word for occupy, pragmateuomai, does not have the connotation of sitting down and enjoying while awaiting the Lord’s return, but to be busy oneself and do business. The nobleman gave his servants the funds (enough to buy about 30 sheep or goats) and told them to be busy in working with the funds that he had given them. Then, as he returned, he required not just the mina that he had given, but also what they had gained from working with the master’s goods. “And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.” Luke 19:15.

The parallel is unmistakable. The command is given to us, “Occupy till I come,”—not by making our home in this world, doing our own business or seeking our own pleasure, but as stewards of the Master, doing business for Him. We are to be busy with the funds that He has given for the advancement of His interests. “God has left us in charge of His goods in His absence. Each steward has his own special work to do for the advancement of God’s kingdom. No one is excused. The Lord bids us all, ‘Occupy till I come.’ By His own wisdom He has given us direction for the use of His gifts. The talents of speech, memory, influence, property, are to accumulate for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom. He will bless the right use of His gifts.” Counsels on Stewardship, 116.

This parable, rightly understood, should change our entire perspective on life. We are to be living, working with the Master’s goods for the advancement of His kingdom—nothing more, nothing less. How is it with us? Are we being stewards of all that we have, busy about the Master’s service, or are we busy about our own service? Do we realize that for every dollar we spend an account will be required of our stewardship? If we are slack in our stewardship of the Lord’s goods, the command that none can refuse will come: “Give an account of thy stewardship.” “Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?” Luke 16:2; 19:23.

As we consider the unavoidable blessing and responsibility of stewardship and the fact that the usage we make of our stewardship is a constant test revealing the heart, we are led to ask, How can we practically master money and be stewards of the funds that the Lord has granted to us in our day and age? Let us consider three principles of Christian stewardship to help us to master what is ever clamoring for the mastery—money.


If we are going to be prepared for the kingdom of heaven and be among the faithful stewards in the day of reckoning, we must begin by prioritizing our finances. How do we prioritize? From the ever applicable words of the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.” “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:19–21, 25, 33.

In managing our finances, we must put the Owner of all finances where He belongs—first. Jesus has promised that as long as we put God first, our needs will be supplied. Not that all of our needs will be airdropped from heaven, but, rather, He will supply the means and the ability for us to make use of His gifts, and, thus, He will provide for us.

Are we prioritizing the Giver of all good things in all our earning and spending habits? Do we realize that He has the very first claims upon our finances before anything else is considered? The kingdom of God must have a higher priority than our rent, mortgage, food, utilities, credit cards—everything.

One of the greatest aspects of the Jewish economy was the constant prioritizing of our heavenly Benefactor. When a child was born, sacrifices were required giving thanks for God’s goodness. (Leviticus 12:1–8.) The firstborn of all animals belonged to the Lord, to be offered as a sacrifice or redeemed. (Leviticus 27:26, 27.) Before the harvest could be harvested, the firstfruits had to be presented before the Lord. (Exodus 22:29.) After the final harvest took place, a feast of rejoicing and sacrifices of thanksgiving were offered. (Leviticus 23:39–41; Numbers 29:12–40.) The tithe, or ten percent, of their increase was required. (Leviticus 27:30, 32.) Then there was the second tithe used for two years to sustain the expenses of the annual gatherings and the third year used for the Levite and the poor. (Deuteronomy 14:22–29.) Then there were thank offerings (Leviticus 7:12–15), sin offerings (Leviticus 4), and freewill offerings (Leviticus 1–3). In their worship, they were always bringing an offering of their substance and giving it back to the Lord.

How much do we return to the Lord? “The contributions required of the Hebrews for religious and charitable purposes amounted to fully one fourth of their income. So heavy a tax upon the resources of the people might be expected to reduce them to poverty; but, on the contrary, the faithful observance of these regulations was one of the conditions of their prosperity.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 527.

“A conscientious few made returns to God of about one third of all their income for the benefit of religious interests and for the poor. These exactions were not from a particular class of the people, but from all, the requirement being proportioned according to the amount possessed.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 467, 468.

Priorities Skewed

Sadly, we have forgotten the principle of prioritizing heaven first amid the bustle of bills and allurements in our world. Ellen White continued with these words: “There must be an awakening among us as a people upon this matter. There are but few men who feel conscience-stricken if they neglect their duty in beneficence.” Ibid., 468. Perhaps we render a faithful tithe and maybe even offerings, but when something extra comes, of what do we think? Do we think of giving a portion back to the One who gave it, or do we think that now we can get ahead or buy some coveted item?

Ellen White continues, “The majority of professed Christians part with their means with great reluctance. Many of them do not give one twentieth of their income to God, and many give far less than that; while there is a large class who rob God of the little tithe, and others who will give only the tithe. If all the tithes of our people flowed into the treasury of the Lord as they should, such blessings would be received that gifts and offerings for sacred purposes would be multiplied tenfold, and thus the channel between God and man would be kept open.” Ibid., 474.

Into which category do we fit—the many giving less or far less than one twentieth of our income? Are we robbing God of the little tithe? Are we giving only the tithe? Or are we spiritually awake, not waiting for the thrilling missionary appeals to arouse us? May the Lord help us each to have an awakening in this matter that the gifts and offerings would be multiplied tenfold.

As we study the Jewish economy, as instituted by Moses, may we realize that “God expects no less from us than He expected from His people anciently.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 300. What we put first indicates who or what we love the most. Money is the constant test of our affections. If we place the One who died for us first, we are manifesting that we are preparing to dwell with Him, but if we place the things of this world first, we are telling that we do not want to leave this present world.

“Of all our income we should make the first appropriation to God. . . . Yet our work needs tenfold more means now than was needed by the Jews. The great commission given to the apostles was to go throughout the world and preach the gospel. This shows the extension of the work and the increased responsibility resting upon the followers of Christ in our day. If the law required tithes and offerings thousands of years ago, how much more essential are they now! If the rich and poor were to give a sum proportionate to their property in the Jewish economy, it is doubly essential now.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 474.


An underlying principle in all financial management is to make a budget. In the corporate world, budgets and goals are essential to success; how much more so for a Christian. In Jesus’ illustration regarding the necessity of counting the cost of salvation, we see the essential principle of making a budget. “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has [enough] to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ ” Luke 14:28–30. Jesus was asking, Which of you does not count the cost of a building project? Which of you does not make a budget?

Solomon tells us the importance of planning and budgeting: “Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” Proverbs 24:3, 4. It is only by wisdom and knowledge that a house will be built and its rooms filled. Not having a budget is one of the major reasons for financial embarrassment and failure of Christian stewardship.

Keeping accounts or budgeting is something that every single one of us needs to know how to do and practice. “All who expect to engage in the work of the Lord should learn how to keep accounts. In the world there are many who have made a failure of business and are looked upon as dishonest, who are true at heart, but who have failed to succeed because they did not know how to keep accounts.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 218.

Even children can and should be taught to keep their simple accounts. “Let children be taught to keep an account. This will enable them to be accurate. The spendthrift boy will be the spendthrift man. The vain, selfish, self-caring girl will be the same kind of woman.” Child Guidance, 136.

Why are we given such strong counsel that we all need to keep accounts? Because otherwise we have no idea where our money is going and, thus, how effective we are being as stewards. We see something that would be handy, so we buy it; then we go on, not realizing how quickly these “little” expenses add up. It does not seem very expensive, or it is on sale; we have the money, but in the end, we have wasted our Lord’s money on trifles. “The amount daily spent in needless things, with the thought, ‘It is only a nickel,’ ‘It is only a dime,’ seems very little; but multiply these littles by the days of the year, and as the years go by, the array of figures will seem almost incredible.” The Adventist Home, 384. If we keep a budget, it helps to rein in these unknown expenses that deplete our bank account and the Lord’s treasury.

Make a Plan

First, make a plan. Put God first. Put the tithe down as your first expense; then consider how much you can give for offering. Then, start with your fixed expenses. How much is your mortgage, rent, or other fixed payments? Then estimate what utilities and food normally cost. When you have a framework of these basics, you will then be able to evaluate the little nickels that deplete budgets. After making a basic budget, keep track of all your expenses. “All should learn how to keep accounts. Some neglect this work as non-essential; but this is wrong. All expenses should be accurately stated.” Gospel Workers, 460.

To be wise stewards of the Lord’s means, we need to discipline ourselves to write down every expense. When our expenses are written down (or inputted into a computer program or spreadsheet), we are then able to categorize them together and to see how much we are spending and where. As we see how much we are spending, we can then adjust our budget and make goals for how we can be better stewards. The painful part then comes when we see how much the little luxuries are costing us, but that is just what we need to see so that we can then bring these excessive expenditures under control.

Eliminate Debt

There are several areas that need particular attention in a budget. Number one, after putting God first in our finances, is getting out of debt. Solomon has warned us, “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower [is] servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7. With 11 trillion dollars in American household debt, most today are servants to the financial institutions of the world. Debt drives people to work more, have less time for God, less family time, less personal time, and more stress. The result: decaying
spirituality, crumbling society, shattered homes, and broken bodies. How true is the apostle Paul’s maxim, “Owe no one anything except to love one another”! Romans 13:8. Credit cards are the worst offenders, but then there are also mortgages and car payments.

Many Christians have bought into the devil’s lie of buy now, pay later. We have been counseled, “Be determined never to incur another debt. Deny yourself a thousand things rather than run in debt. . . . Avoid it as you would the smallpox. Deny your taste, deny the indulgence of appetite, save your pence and pay your debts. Work them off as fast as possible. When you can stand forth a free man again, owing no man anything, you will have achieved a great victory.” “Shun the incurring of debt as you would shun leprosy.” Counsels on Stewardship, 257, 272.

While all debt is to be shunned, it is true that some debts are much less objectionable than others. Debt for a home is frequently unavoidable in our contemporary world, but with the Lord’s guidance and wise purchasing, there should be equity to back up the debt if difficulties arise. Thus, while still not desirable, it is much less objectionable than the unsecured consumer debt that is rampant today. This unsecured consumer debt is “one of Satan’s nets which he sets for souls.” Colporteur Ministry, 93. Are we budgeting to work off our debts as fast as possible, or are we trapped in society’s materialistic mesh?


Another area that needs to be placed in our budget is savings. Not only should we shun debt, but as responsible Christian stewards, we should have an emergency fund to fall back on, if need be, or to put in the Lord’s work. “[There is] treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.” Proverbs 21:20. It is fun and easy to spend everything that comes in, but when adversity arises, by our unwise stewardship, we have no net to fall upon, and thus, the fall is much further and harder. In the dwelling of the wise, there are reserves in case of need. For seven years, Joseph taught the Egyptians the principle of saving, and without this wise stewardship, the entire land of Egypt may have perished.

“Had Brother and Sister B been economical managers, denying themselves, they could ere this have had a home of their own, and besides this have had means to draw upon in case of adversity.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 30.

“To carefully reserve a portion of each week’s wages and lay by a certain sum every week which is not to be touched, should be your rule.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 330.

Be it large or small, we can and should budget what we can to save. We must be certain that we are saving for the right reason, though; we are to save that we may give. “You might today have had a capital of means to use in case of emergency and to aid the cause of God, if you had economized as you should. Every week a portion of your wages should be reserved and in no case touched unless suffering actual want, or to render back to the Giver in offerings to God.” Ibid., 329. Are we, like Joseph, realizing that days of famine will come, or are we, like the fool, spending everything?


The lesson of economy is so important to learn that Jesus himself gave the example. “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” John 6:12. Nothing is to be lost. Economizing is sometimes the hardest to do because it means restricting our wants and desires. We are to make sure that not one fragment that could be saved and used in the Lord’s service is lost. We all have things that we can do without—be they trinkets, delicacies, books, or gadgets.

The trick in economizing is knowing the difference between wants and needs. Do we just want something, or do we really need it? Will it help us and others heavenward, or will it just steal time and space? Is it the best use of my funds, or could something else suffice? “You have a lesson to learn which you should not be backward in learning. It is to make a little go the longest way.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 432.

“It is so easy in preparing your table to throw out of your pocket twenty-five cents for extras. Take care of the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves. It is the mites here and the mites there that are spent for this, that, and the other, that soon run up into dollars.” Counsels on Stewardship, 257.

Restrict Wants

In all that we do, the world must know that, like Abraham, we are just strangers in this land—heaven is our home. “Let us fitly represent our faith by restricting our wants.” The Adventist Home, 375. How much do we buy that we could do without? Are we restricting our wants, or are we adding dress to blouse and tool to gadget?

“The fields are white for the harvest. Shall we not have means for gathering in the precious grain? . . . Will everyone cut off all needless expenditures? See what you can do in self-denial. Dispense with all that is not positively necessary.” Australasian Union Conference Record, January 1, 1900.

Are we dispensing with all that is not positively necessary, or are we desiring more and more? Do we realize the work that needs to be done, and are we living in accordance with our faith? Every time we enter a store, we should pray, for our belief in the soon coming of the Lord is being tested. Every time we come to the checkout counter, we should ask ourselves, Do I really need this item? Will this purchase be to the glory of God or to my own glory? Am I representing to the clerk that I believe that the end of all things is at hand?

It is true that, “Since mortals have bodies and heads and hearts to be provided for, some provision for the body must be made in order to hold a proper position in the world. Not to meet the world’s standards—oh, no, no indeed; but to be of influence in the world for good.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 330. Too often, though, we are providing for our bodies, heads, and hearts, and not the kingdom of God.

“God calls upon the young to deny themselves of needless ornaments and articles of dress, even if they cost but a few dimes, and place the amount in the charity box. He also calls upon those of mature age to stop when they are examining a gold watch or chain, or some expensive article of furniture, and ask themselves the question: Would it be right to expend so large an amount for that which we could do without or when a cheaper article would serve our purpose just as well?” Testimonies, vol. 4, 511.

May we learn not just to think before opening our pocketbook but, more importantly, to pray. May our faith shine strong not just on Sabbath morning, but going through the checkout line, as well.

Economy and Self-denial

The lesson of economy and self-denial is the underlying principle of the entire kingdom of heaven. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24. Jesus denied himself, left heaven and came to save us. Do we think it hard to deny ourselves the trinkets of this world? This principle, more than any other in managing our finances, we need to learn; for it is self-denial that will prepare us for the mansions above.

“But they will not economize as others have done. . . . If they neglect to learn these lessons, their characters will not be found perfect in the day of God.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 30, 31. All heaven beats with the harmonies of self-sacrificing love, and if we do not learn the lesson here, our discordant note will find no place in the melodies above.

The Lord has entrusted us weak and erring mortals to be His stewards. All that we have and are is His, but He has given it to us for the upbuilding of His kingdom. Will we prove faithful to that high and holy trust?

Will we learn to master money, or will money be our master? By prioritizing, budgeting, and economizing, we have the tools to reveal to the world and unfallen beings who our Master really is. When Jesus returns, He is only returning for those who have learned to put God first in every area of their lives and those who have lifted the cross of self-denial for the Master. May we pray and strive each and every day to be among that group.

“Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” Psalm 50:3–5.

[All emphasis added.]


You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14.

Jesus has called Seventh-day Adventists to be representatives in this world that has no moral rudder and is going to eternal ruin at lightning speed. As His representatives, we are to be holding back the tide of evil that is sweeping our world. Those who are standing for truth and righteousness will be “the salt of the earth.” Matthew 5:13. “In many different ways His grace is also acting as the salt of the earth; whithersoever this salt finds its way, to homes or communities, it becomes a preserving power to save all that is good, and to destroy all that is evil.” Review and Herald, August 22, 1899.

Glorify God

As God’s ambassadors, we are to glorify God in every activity in which we engage. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31. [Emphasis added.] I would like to examine this phrase, “whatever you do.” Would this include everything that I read? Watch? Listen to? Would it include every recreation in which my family and I engage? Yes, this phrase must encompass every activity in which I engage.

The Greek word for glory is doxa, which means, “to honor.” In other words, I am to promote the honor and glory of God in everything I do. Those things that would not bring honor to the name of God would need to be abandoned, so I do not fall even farther from the glory of God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.

“Seventh-day Adventists, above all people, should be patterns of piety, holy in heart and in conversation. To them have been entrusted the most solemn truths ever committed to mortals. Every endowment of grace and power and efficiency has been liberally provided. They look for the near return of Christ in the clouds of heaven. For them to give to the world the impression that their faith is not a dominating power in their lives is greatly to dishonor God.” Maranatha, 113. [Emphasis added.]

Temptations Abound

Because of the increasing power of Satan’s temptations on the people of God, we are in constant danger of having our faith overthrown by the enemy of souls. God’s people need to be constantly on their guard, watching to make sure that every step is in harmony
with our Great Pattern. We should be analyzing every activity in which we participate, making sure that what we are doing is in harmony with heaven, that angels may be by our side as protection from the enemy. Paul predicted, “that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be . . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” 11 Timothy 3:1, 2, 4.

The Natural Mind

It is necessary for God’s professed people to choose carefully the recreation in which we participate. “Satan is a persevering workman, an artful, deadly foe. . . . He is in every sense of the word a deceiver, a skilful charmer. He has many finely woven nets, which appear innocent, but which are skilfully prepared to entangle the young and unwary. The natural mind leans toward pleasure and self-gratification. It is Satan’s policy to manufacture an abundance of this. He seeks to fill the mind with a desire for worldly amusement, that there may be no time for the question, How is it with my soul?” Review and Herald, August 29, 1912.

Notice carefully that Satan is trying to entangle our souls in worldly amusements that will keep our minds occupied, so that we have no time to examine our hearts to see what our standing is before God in this judgment hour. “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” 11 Timothy 2:3, 4.

Satan wants to fill our minds with the amusements that control our world to divert our minds and to bring us down to a low level. “Everything that Satan can devise to divert the mind of man from its accountability to God he will devise. Look at the many amusements and pleasures he has set in operation to keep men from thinking.” The General Conference Bulletin, April 1, 1899.

Ellen White also stated, in the previous Review and Herald statement, “The natural mind leans toward pleasure and self-gratification.” This is spoken of the unconverted people, the ones whose affections are set on earthly pleasure. They love what the world loves and hate what God loves. They are unmindful of what pleases God. The gratification of self is their ultimate goal. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh.” Romans 8:5. “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.” Ephesians 2:2, 3. “(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, [that they are] the enemies of the cross of Christ: . . . who mind earthly things.)” Philippians 3:18, 19.

In order for us to choose amusements that are approved of God, we must first ask God for a true conversion in our lives. The unconverted will not be able to understand in what activity God would have him engage. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14. Without being converted, we shall surely make the wrong choice in what activity we are to be engaging as individuals or families. Our only safeguard is to be converted daily.

Unsafe Amusements

What amusements are unsafe for our participation?

Ellen White provided counsel regarding the pursuit of pleasure and amusement centers in the cities: “Many parents who choose a city home for their children, thinking to give them greater advantages, meet with disappointment, and too late repent their terrible mistake. The cities of today are fast becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah. The many holidays encourage idleness. The exciting sports—theatergoing, horse racing, gambling, liquor-drinking, and reveling—stimulate every passion to intense activity. The youth are swept away by the popular current. Those who learn to love amusement for its own sake open the door to a flood of temptations. They give themselves up to social gaiety and thoughtless mirth, and their intercourse with pleasure lovers has an intoxicating effect upon the mind. They are led on from one form of dissipation to another, until they lose both the desire and the capacity for a life of usefulness. Their religious aspirations are chilled; their spiritual life is darkened. All the nobler faculties of the soul, all that link man with the spiritual world, are debased.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 54.

Since television was an invention of the future in Ellen White’s day, she wrote of the theaters. These were places where people went to watch the drama of their choice. The same principle would apply to television viewing as to theater attendance. The television is in nearly every home in the United States, bringing to the minds of its viewers its soul-destroying vice. The television is referred to by some as the “home hypnotist.”

“Television viewing, because of the time it takes, can keep us away from other meaningful activities and pursuits, including spending time with God. When we look at an average person’s weekly activities before and after the arrival of television, we see that the amount of time in church or in reading spiritual material such as the Bible, has noticeably decreased.” Joe L. Wheeler, Remote Controlled: How TV Affects You and Your Family, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Hagerstown, Maryland, 1993, 45–50.

If you are interested in learning more about the harmful effects of television, read “The Frontal Lobe,” chapter 12 of the book, Proof Positive. A detailed study of the adverse effects of television is given there. (Dr. Neil Nedley, Nedley Publishing, Ardmore, Oklahoma, 1998.)

Effects of Television

For now, following are 17 harmful effects of watching unprofitable television for you to ponder. Television

  1. produces a hypnotic effect, bypassing frontal lobe filtering.
  2. reduces time spent in interesting reading and learning.
  3. weakens brain power.
  4. encourages poor lifestyle habits.
  5. encourages obesity.
  6. increases daydreaming.
  7. weakens creativity.
  8. may reduce our powers of discrimination.
  9. trains in non-reaction.
  10. influences viewers to regard violence lightly.
  11. makes children more irritable.
  12. increases aggressiveness.
  13. accelerates sexual activity.
  14. is addictive.
  15. reduces time available for productive achievements.
  16. steals time from family interaction.
  17. adversely affects spiritual pursuits.

Television viewing is the recreation of choice by many people in our contemporary world, but Christians are to separate completely from this sort of recreation. The same principle, I believe, should also be applied to the time that we spend on the Internet.

Guard Senses

We are to guard carefully our five senses, especially our eyes, ears, and mouth. “We are to watch every avenue of the soul, lest Satan come in and desecrate the temple of the heart, which should be wholly consecrated to God. We are to watch lest passion take possession of the soul, to watch lest selfish thoughts are cherished. The reason why there is not more vitality and power in the church is that we do not work and watch as we should. We should stand as faithful sentinels at the post of duty. I pray that the grace of Christ may come into our hearts, and that we may be ever watching for opportunities to do good.” The Signs of the Times, August 6, 1885.

Jesus said, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are [the things] which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” Matthew 15:18–20. A person would have these kinds of sins in his or her life because of the time spent in viewing and listening to questionable things.

“They will talk of what they love most, and give thought and study to that, until by beholding they are changed to the same earthly image. Their conformity to worldly customs holds them in captivity to the god of this world; for ‘his servants ye are to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey.’ [Romans 6:16.]” The Signs of the Times, March 31, 1887.

“I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” Psalm 101:3.

“He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil.” Isaiah 33:15.

“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 11 Corinthians 6:16–18.


Many Christians, wearing their necklaces and bracelets with the inscription “WWJD” (What Would Jesus Do), may be seen entering the theaters, playing the card game, Solitaire, or other games on their computers, or patronizing the sports arenas and musical concerts. These things divert the mind away from the eternal realities and cause us to neglect the necessary preparation for heaven.

“Many of the amusements popular in the world today, even with those who claim to be Christians, tend to the same end as did those of the heathen. There are indeed few among them that Satan does not turn to account in destroying souls. Through the drama he has worked for ages to excite passion and glorify vice. The opera, with its fascinating display and bewildering music, the masquerade, the dance, the card table, Satan employs to break down the barriers of principle and open the door to sensual indulgence. In every gathering for pleasure where pride is fostered or appetite indulged, where one is led to forget God and lose sight of eternal interests, there Satan is binding his chains about the soul.” The Adventist Home, 515.

In what kind of recreation should a Christian be involved? Is it acceptable to be found playing volleyball, softball, or basketball, for example? Ellen White wrote: “I do not condemn the simple exercise of playing ball; but this, even in its simplicity, may be overdone.” Ibid., 499. If these games are conducted correctly, they can be beneficial to our health and provide a wholesome atmosphere for children and for adults. These types of activities, if played without a spirit of competition and frivolity, are a good source of fresh air and exercise. They must be, as Ellen White described, “played in a good spirit.” Arthur L. White, Ellen G, White, vol. 6, The Later Elmshaven Years 1905–1915, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, D.C., 370.

Family Activities

Mrs. White gave counsel regarding acceptable activities for the family.

“Fathers, . . . Give some of your leisure hours to your children; become acquainted with them; associate with them in their work and in their sports, and win their confidence. Cultivate friendship with them, especially with your sons. In this way you will be a strong influence for good.” The Adventist Home, 222.

“James White greatly admired Canright; it was a natural gesture to invite them to come to the mountains and join them in regaining their health. The two families enjoyed worshiping, hiking, horseback riding, and picnicking together.” Arthur L. White, vol. 2, 386.

“Nothing can increase the strength of the young like proper exercise of all the muscles in useful labor.” Child Guidance, 340.

“In pleasant weather let parents walk with their children in the fields and groves. Amid the beautiful things of nature tell them the reason for the institution of the Sabbath. Describe to them God’s great work of creation. Tell them that when the earth came from His hand, it was holy and beautiful. Every flower, every shrub, every tree, answered the purpose of its Creator. Everything upon which the eye rested was lovely and filled the mind with thoughts of the love of God. Every sound was music in harmony with the voice of God. Show that it was sin which marred God’s perfect work; that thorns and thistles, sorrow and pain and death, are all the result of disobedience to God. Bid them see how the earth, though marred with the curse of sin, still reveals God’s goodness. The green fields, the lofty trees, the glad sunshine, the clouds, the dew, the solemn stillness of the night, the glory of the starry heavens, and the moon in its beauty all bear witness of the Creator. Not a drop of rain falls, not a ray of light is shed on our unthankful world, but it testifies to the forbearance and love of God.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 358.

School Activities

“Gymnasium exercises may in some instances be an advantage. They were brought in to supply the want of useful physical training, and have become popular with educational institutions; but they are not without drawbacks. Unless carefully regulated, they are productive of more harm than good. Some have suffered life-long physical injury through these gymnasium sports. The manual training connected with our schools, if rightly conducted, will largely take the place of the gymnasium.” Christian Education, 211.

“Vigorous exercise the pupils must have. Few evils are more to be dreaded than indolence and aimlessness. Yet the tendency of most athletic sports is a subject of anxious thought to those who have at heart the well-being of the youth. Teachers are troubled as they consider the influence of these sports both on the student’s progress in school and on his success in afterlife. The games that occupy so much of his time are diverting the mind from study. They are not helping to prepare the youth for practical, earnest work in life. Their influence does not tend toward refinement, generosity, or real manliness.” The Adventist Home, 500.

“The healthful exercise of the whole being will give an education that is broad and comprehensive. Every student should devote a portion of each day to active labor.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 308.

“Some months after getting settled, Ellen White made an earnest appeal to the believers to establish a church school. She was particularly gratified that she could make available nearly an acre of land in a little triangle near the Sanitarium Road. This she set aside for the church school for as long as it should be operated there. On it a building was erected and eventually enlarged to accommodate a ten-grade school. She was pleased that her own grandchildren could attend this school. Part of her cow pasture just across the Sanitarium Road was soon serving as a baseball field.” Arthur L. White, vol. 5, 36.

More information on this subject is available in the pamphlet by Ellen White entitled Recreation.

Our Action

“Let the professed Christian ask himself, Can I seek God’s blessing upon the scene of pleasure? Would my Master be a guest at such a place? Will angels minister to me there? Can I there let my light so shine before men, that they may be led to glorify God?” The Signs of the Times, February 23, 1882.

May the Lord help us guard the amusements in which we engage so that we will not be swept away by the popular current of today.

A Distinctive Lifestyle

Managing a unique, distinctive, Christian lifestyle is not easy, but it is possible. We are living in a world full of turmoil. Will the economy collapse? Will a nuclear holocaust destroy our world? Will the nations keep their promises and pursue peaceful relationships? There is so much uncertainty—terrorism, crime, drug abuse, family breakups, child abductions and abuse, natural disasters, church and political scandals.

There is only one thing that is certain in our insecure world, and that is what God shares in His Word. Jesus said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Matthew 24:35.

Well With Thee

Cultures come and go. Civilizations become extinct and largely forgotten. Men’s philosophies, customs, and lifestyles are constantly changing with the passing of time. Science is advancing so rapidly that within a few years that which is contemporary today will soon be out of date. In contrast, the Christian lifestyle that is based upon the Word of God never goes out of date. God’s principles transcend all times and cultures.

“Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest [that which] is good and right in the sight of the Lord thy God.” Deuteronomy 12:28. [Emphasis added.]

God has promised in His Word that we can certainly experience a successful Christian lifestyle in this contemporary world. God has provided a way in which we can look back over our lives with great satisfaction, free from regrets and guilt. This is what God offers to each of us. We can and must avoid the pitfalls and the sorrows, the heartache, grief, and bitterness that is generally associated with this modern world.

“Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:7. [Emphasis added.]


What is the formula of success, happiness, and fulfillment? How, then, can we prosper? Some people think that if they had had better opportunities in life, then they would have had much more success. Others think that if they only had more capital, they would certainly prosper. Many so-called experts have theorized about these matters and have tried to offer solutions. Yet, God has always promised that the one who meditates on His Law and obeys it will be like a fruitful tree, flourishing beside a river, and “whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Psalm 1:3.

You see, God offers to everyone true happiness and fulfillment in life when we follow His Word. Why? Because His Word teaches us to study and work hard, to be efficient with our time and money, and to be honest and respectful. These are the qualities that make us better fathers, mothers, employees, and people. God’s Word also gives us certain prohibitions, such as lying, stealing, cheating, drinking, and fighting—all of which are certainly destructive to those who do them, making it virtually impossible to have any lasting success in this life.

If we fail to bring our lives under the will of God, then we will not be in a position where God can bless us. The Bible is a record of great men and women of faith who were blessed because of their lifestyle. They chose to obey God and to enter into a special relationship with Him. True, lasting prosperity; real greatness; and true, worthwhile success in our lives, our homes, and our endeavors can be attributed only to the blessings of God.

Honor God

God has promised in His Word: “For them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” 1 Samuel 2:30.

“In the history of Joseph, Daniel, and his fellows we see how the golden chain of truth may bind the youth to the throne of God. They could not be tempted to turn aside from their course of integrity. They valued the favor of God far above the favor and praise of princes, and God loved them, and spread His shield over them. Because of their faithful integrity, because of their determination to honor God above every human power, the Lord signally honored them before men. They were honored by the Lord God of hosts, whose power is over all the works of His hand in heaven above and the earth beneath.” My Life Today, 120.

The blessings of God come upon those who have become the object of God’s favor. And God’s favor and honor rest upon those men and women who pattern their lives after the standard of righteousness found in His Word.

“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin [is] a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34.

A Clash of Cultures

The apostle Paul is a notable example for us to study, because he did an incredible job in preserving his unique witness in the face of opposition and ridicule. He refused to be intimidated, and he maintained his integrity and fidelity to God.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2.

In the Book of Acts, we find Paul at the Areopagus (Mars’ Hill) in the legendary city of Athens. Areopagus was the celebrated high court where matters of law, politics, and religion were decided. The elders of Athens who guided this court were responsible for shaping the culture and thinking of the people.

Speaking of Paul, we are told, in Acts 17:18–20: “Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, [is]? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.”

The Greeks based their pursuit for knowledge and their understanding of worldviews upon their own personal reasoning. Their views on the world, on social relations, religion, and norms of behavior came not from the revelation of God’s Word. As a result, many Greeks believed that the best way to achieve happiness and contentment was for the people to fulfill all their carnal pleasures, and, by doing so, they would achieve peace within. “Pleasure is good and right; not doing as you please is wrong,” they reasoned. “The God of the Bible is nothing; we are the gods that the people must look to,” some proclaimed.

Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher who lived about 370 years before Paul, held the view that the world was from eternity, and everything always was from eternity, and everything always was what it is now. This was, in essence, the doctrine of evolution. The immortality of the soul was another concept espoused by the Greeks.

These were the sentiments shared by Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and many other carnal-minded Greek, philosophical “thinkers.” These ideas were the same old teachings that originated from Satan himself.

Tragically, these teachings have become the guiding policies in the world in which we live today. Humanism is the religion of our culture; it is an attempt to explain everything without any reference to God or to His Word. Our culture is permeated with these destructive ideas that run rampant in politics, education, and religion.

No Compromise

So how did Paul relate to the culture of his day?

“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, [Ye] men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, to the unknown god. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands.” Acts 17:22–24.

Paul, though being courteous, did not compromise his beliefs or the message. He told them the world did not always exist from eternity, because the true God made the heavens and the earth. The creation account was contrary to what many Greeks had always been taught.

“Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” Verses 25, 26.

Paul told the men of Athens that humans are created beings, countering the Greek thought that men were gods. He explained further that God had made of one blood, meaning Adam, all the nations of men. That one statement destroyed the Greek notion that they were an elite, intellectually superior nation and that all their neighbors were inherently ignorant and barbaric.

The Romans and the Jews shared the similar belief that they were the exclusive people of God. Paul plainly declared, both by word and through the life that he lived, that all men and women have a common origin in God, and that He is in control of man. Paul is a great example of one who stood alone against the prevailing influences and beliefs of his days.

Theologian to Philosopher

“That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” Verses 27, 28.

Paul now becomes a philosopher to them instead of a theologian. Born in Tarsus, a city heavily influenced by Greek culture, Paul, too, was well studied in many of the historical teachings of philosophy and was very familiar with them. In fact, he used them against the men of Athens. He appealed to their conscience and revealed to them a knowledge of the true and living God, who alone is to be the object of their admiration. He laid a foundation and instructed them in the primary principle of all true religion, that there is one God, Creator of heaven and earth, and we must look to Him.

“Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; [whereof] he hath given assurance unto all [men], in that he hath raised him from the dead.” Verses 29–31.

Paul told them that it is meaningless to think of the Creator, the original Source of Life, as like unto gold, silver, and stone. An all-powerful God is infinitely more excellent than the workings of man’s hands. On the contrary, we are the workings of God’s hands, created and formed by Him.

He then charged these so-called wise philosophers with ignorance and blindness, and extended unto them an invitation to repent. Amazing! How many of us today would have the moral boldness to stand up against the modern-day philosophers?

Paul also cautioned about personal accountability to God and that we would each have to answer for the way we have lived—a strange new concept they had never considered—and that the judgment would be through Jesus, the One that God had raised from the dead.

And so it is today; Satan is causing the church and the world to look to everything except the true God of heaven. He wants us to look to men who claim to have special knowledge or divine authority by placing our own salvation into their hands. For others, the enemy has placed a fair front upon the “pleasures of sin for a season,” and thereby he binds up the masses for destruction. Hebrews 11:25.

Selfish Isolation

One of the most dangerous injuries inflicted upon the Christian is a lifestyle that is self-absorbed, self-important, self-centered, and self-satisfied. When we isolate ourselves from the world completely and live a cloistered life, our spiritual life dies. On the other hand, when we routinely witness to others, we gain strength for ourselves.

“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.” Verses 16, 17.

We can learn from Paul that the Christian is not to be swept away by the teaching, the beliefs, the culture, and the fashions of the world. But, rather, we are called to be an effective, living witness to the world. We must stay active and be constantly engaging people in our modern-day Areopagus.

When Paul saw the prevailing attitude of the people in his day, his spirit was stirred within him. Is our spirit being stirred today, or have God’s professed people been “in the Church” for so long that we have developed a lifestyle with no witness? Have our church services become places where members are, quite honestly, merely preaching to themselves? Have we developed a lifestyle where we are just comfortable living, learning, and sharing the Gospel only in the confines of the church? In the example given to us by Paul at Areopagus, we should also welcome the opportunity to meet people where they live, work, and interact, in order to share our unique message.

We cannot always live our lives on the defensive. God also requires that we take the battle into new territories. We must initiate the warfare against the enemy and look for opportunities to introduce the Gospel.

“While partial inactivity has come upon the church, Satan and his hosts are intensely active. The professed Christian churches are not converting the world; for they are themselves corrupted with selfishness and pride, and need to feel the converting power of God in their midst before they can lead others to a purer or higher standard.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 65.

Hour of Judgment

As Seventh-day Adventists, we must be conscious of the time in which we are living. We are living in the judgment hour. The lifestyle that we are living will come up for review in the highest court of the universe. Our mission is to bring our lives into line and harmony with God’s Word and to persuade others to do the same. If we continue down the road of selfish isolationism, thinking that everything is all right when we hide our unique witness, we will not be recognized by Christ in the day of judgment.

“But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 10:33. [Emphasis added.] Denying the work of evangelism is denying the name of Christ.

“And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear you again on this [matter]. So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.” Verses 32–34. Some mocked, some wanted to hear him again, and some joined him.

And so it is today; the world continues to mock those who live a distinctive Christian lifestyle. A life that is under the will of God challenges the belief systems of the world. Yet the message of Jesus Christ—the tremendous advantages and benefits that come from Him and the prospects of eternal life—is still held out for all to enjoy. The promise given to us is that our efforts to live for God will not be in vain. “Certain men clave unto him” means that Paul’s life bore fruit. The lifestyle we live is a powerful testimony for or against the truth through which people will either reject or embrace eternal life.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Revelation 12:11.


The home is the heart and foundation of society. “Society is composed of families, and is what the heads of families make it. Out of the heart are ‘the issues of life’ [Proverbs 4:23]; and the heart of the community, of the church, and of the nation is the household. The well-being of society, the success of the church, the prosperity of the nation, depend upon home influences.

“The elevation or deterioration of the future of society will be determined by the manners and morals of the youth growing up around us. As the youth are educated, and as their characters are molded in their childhood to virtuous habits, self-control, and temperance, so will their influence be upon society. If they are left unenlightened and uncontrolled, and as the result become self-willed, intemperate in appetite and passion, so will be their future influence in molding society.” The Adventist Home, 15.

“To a large extent parents create the atmosphere of the home circle,” and “there are weighty responsibilities devolving upon the parents to guard carefully the future happiness and interest of their children.” Ibid., 16, 21.

Since the home is the heart and foundation of society, the Word of God declares, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” “For out of it [are] the issues of life.” Psalm 11:3; Proverbs 4:23. If the family be destroyed, what shall the world do? We cannot underestimate the power of the role of the fathers and mothers in quelling the tide of evil.

Direction Needed

In the book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, the author, Tedd Tripp, makes the following observation regarding parenting in our modern culture: “By age ten to twelve, scores of children have already left home. I am not referring to tragic ‘Times Square kids’ in New York City or your community. I refer to numbers of children who, by age ten to twelve, have effectively left Mom and Dad as an authority or reference point for their lives. Our culture has lost its way with respect to parenting. We are a rudderless ship without a compass. We lack both a sense of direction and the capacity to direct ourselves.” (Shepherd Press, Wapwallopen, Pennsylvania, 1998, “Introduction,” xvii.)

In the light of the above observation, where do we look to find direction, the tools, and the ability for parenting in this contemporary world? As usual, the Holy Scriptures do not lack an answer to the crisis. The only safe guide is the Bible. It is the revelation of God who has infinite knowledge and can therefore give us absolute truth. God has given us a revelation that is powerful and complete. It presents an accurate and comprehensive picture of children, parents, family life, values, training and nurture, and discipline—all we need to be equipped for the task of parenting.

Special Promise

For in these last days of earth’s history, God gives a special promise regarding the family: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:5, 6. [Emphasis added.] The message of Elijah will and has come. But where do you say it is? You do not have far to look. In the words of life, the Holy Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, are outlined the restoration of all the institutions given to bless and uplift man. True education spells out with eloquent simplicity the story of our restoration and redemption.

The promise is that God will, by His Spirit and Word, unite the heart of the children and their fathers (parents). Once again I quote from Tedd Tripp’s book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, “God is concerned with the heart—the well spring of life (Proverbs 4:23). Parents tend to focus on the externals of behavior rather than the internal overflow of the heart. We tend to worry more about the ‘what’ of behavior than the ‘why.’ Accordingly, most of us spend an enormous amount of energy in controlling and constraining behavior. To the degree and extent to which our focus is on behavior, we miss the heart.

“When we miss the heart, we miss the subtle idols of the heart. Romans 1 makes it clear that all human beings are worshipers; either we worship and serve God, or we make an exchange and worship and serve substitutes for god—created things rather than the Creator (Romans 1:18–25). When parenting short circuits to behavior we miss the opportunity to help our kids understand that straying behavior displays a straying heart. Our kids are always serving something, either God or a substitute for God—an idol of the heart.” Tripp, “Preface,” vi.

Tripp further states, “When we miss the heart, we miss the gospel. If the goal of parenting is no more profound than securing appropriate behavior, we will never help our children understand the internal things, the heart issues that push and pull behavior. Those internal issues—self-love, rebellion, anger, bitterness, envy, and pride of the heart—show our children how profoundly they need grace. If the problem with children is deeper than inappropriate behavior, if the problem is the overflow of the heart, then the need for grace is established. Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life and died as an infinite sacrifice so that children (and their parents) can be forgiven, transformed, liberated and empowered to love God and love others.

“When we miss the heart, we miss the glory of God. The need of children (or adults) who have fallen into various forms of personal idolatry is not only to tear down the high places of the alien gods, but to enthrone God. Children are spring-loaded for worship. One of the most important callings God has given parents is to display the greatness, goodness, and the glory of the God for whom they are made. Parents have the opportunity, through word and deed, to show children the one true object of worship—the God of the Bible. We know that the greatest delights our children can experience are found in delighting in the God who has made them for His glory.” Tripp, “Preface,” Second Edition, vii.

Let Him Hear

With that said, let us comprehend the poignant messages written for us in the greatest love letters ever given to man. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Revelation 2:7.

Proverbs 17:6 declares that “the glory of children are their fathers.”

What, then, should be the picture of the father? Isaiah 40:11 is not silent on this. He:

  1. “Feeds his flock.” He provides spiritual and physical food, priestly and practical sustenance.
  2. “Gathers the lambs in his arms.” The arm denotes strength and protection. “The husband and father is the head of the household. The wife looks to him for love and sympathy, and for aid in the training of the children; and this is right. The children are his as well as hers, and he is equally interested in their welfare. The children look to their father for support and guidance; he needs to have a right conception of life and of the influences and associations that should surround his family; above all, he should be controlled by the love and fear of God and by the teaching of His word, that he may guide the feet of his children in the right way.” The Ministry of Healing, 390.
  3. “And carries them in his bosom.” “Fathers, do not discourage your children. Combine affection with authority, kindness and sympathy with firm restraint. Give some of your leisure hours to your children; become acquainted with them; associate with them in their work and in their sports, and win their confidence. Cultivate friendship with them, especially with your sons. In this way you will be a strong influence for good.” Ibid., 391.
  4. “Gently leads those that are with young.” The father needs a right regard for his children, a resolve to hold them close to his heart, reminiscent of the priest’s girdle with the children of Israel over his breast.

In Proverbs 4, still greater detail is given the father in how to wisely instruct his children. “Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, . . . for I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law,” teaches:

  1. The “good doctrine” of the word.
  2. Avoidance of needless pain. (Verses 13–18.)
  3. How to reason from cause to effect. “Ponder the path of thy feet.” Verse 26.
  4. How to order their speech. “Put away from thee a froward” that is, deceitful “mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.” Verse 24.

Commandment of Promise

Malachi says that the father’s heart would be turned to the children. It is easier for the fifth commandment to be kept when children have this type of father. Remember that this is the first commandment with promise—long life is added to the child. Consider what might have happened if Adam had been obedient to his Father. Nine hundred thirty years would only have been, as it were, a drop in the bucket. Unfortunately, we are seeing the ill effects on children today who have not come to honor and love their parents.

“It is by the youth and children of today that the future of society is to be determined, and what these youth and children shall be depends upon the home. To the lack of right home training may be traced the larger share of the disease and misery and crime that curse humanity. If the home life were pure and true, if the children who went forth from its care were prepared to meet life’s responsibilities and dangers, what a change would be seen in the world!” Ibid., 351.

Best Gift

Last, but not least, “The best gift that a man can give his children is to love their mother.” This is a sermon with which few words have to be spoken. In this equation, sweet mother is not to be forgotten. Her role is quintessential to a well-balanced and lovely home where her children desire to be.

“Our homes should be a place of refuge for the tempted youth. Many there are who stand at the parting of the ways. Every influence, every impression, is determining the choice that shapes their destiny both here and hereafter. Evil invites them. Its resorts are made bright and attractive. They have a welcome for every comer. All about us are youth who have no home, and many whose homes have no helpful, uplifting power, and the youth drift into evil. They are going down to ruin within the very shadow of our own doors.” Ibid., 354.

“The home should be to the children the most attractive place in the world, and the mother’s presence should be its greatest attraction. Children have sensitive, loving natures. They are easily pleased and easily made unhappy. By gentle discipline, in loving words and acts, mothers may bind their children to their hearts.

“Young children love companionship and can seldom enjoy themselves alone. They yearn for sympathy and tenderness. That which they enjoy they think will please mother also, and it is natural for them to go to her with their little joys and sorrows. The mother should not wound their sensitive hearts by treating with indifference matters that, though trifling to her, are of great importance to them. Her sympathy and approval are precious. An approving glance, a word of encouragement or commendation, will be like sunshine in their hearts, often making the whole day happy.

“Instead of sending her children from her, that she may not be annoyed by their noise or troubled by their little wants, let the mother plan amusement or light work to employ the active hands and minds.

“By entering into their feelings and directing their amusements and employments, the mother will gain the confidence of her children, and she can the more effectually correct wrong habits, or check the manifestations of selfishness or passion. A word of caution or reproof spoken at the right time will be of great value. By patient, watchful love, she can turn the minds of the children in the right direction, cultivating in them beautiful and attractive traits of character.” Ibid., 388, 389.

Biblical Example

In the life of Timothy, we see a wonderful illustration of the advantage that he had in a correct example of piety and true godliness. “Religion was the atmosphere of his home. The manifest spiritual power of the piety in the home kept him pure in speech, and free from all corrupting sentiments.” Conflict and Courage, 345.

The Bible declares, “From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 11 Timothy 3:15.

“God had commanded the Hebrews to teach their children His requirements and to make them acquainted with all His dealings with their fathers. This was one of the special duties of every parent—one that was not to be delegated to another. In the place of stranger lips the loving hearts of the father and mother were to give instruction to their children. Thoughts of God were to be associated with all the events of daily life. The mighty works of God in the deliverance of His people and the promises of the Redeemer to come were to be often recounted in the homes of Israel. . . . The great truths of God’s providence and of the future life were impressed on the young mind. It was trained to see God alike in the scenes of nature and the words of revelation. The stars of heaven, the trees and flowers of the field, the lofty mountains, the rippling brooks—all spoke of the Creator. The solemn service of sacrifice and worship at the sanctuary and the utterances of the prophets were a revelation of God.

“Such was the training of Moses in the lowly cabin home in Goshen; of Samuel, by the faithful Hannah; of David, in the hill dwelling at Bethlehem; of Daniel, before the scenes of the captivity separated him from the home of his fathers. Such, too, was the early life of Christ at Nazareth; such the training by which the child Timothy learned from the lips of his grandmother Lois, and his mother Eunice, the truths of Holy Writ.

“Parents, there is a great work for you to do for Jesus. . . . Satan seeks to bind the children to himself as with bands of steel, and you can attain success in bringing them to Jesus only through determined personal effort.” Ibid.

Divine Reflection

Let us hear the conclusion of the matter: “Great efforts are put forth, time and money and labor almost without limit are expended, in enterprises and institutions for reforming the victims of evil habits. And even these efforts are inadequate to meet the great necessity. Yet how small is the result! How few are permanently reclaimed!” The Ministry of Healing, 351.

The family led by the Good Shepherd, with its tender ties of love, is a great tool to combat the ills of society. “Happy are the parents whose lives are a true reflection of the divine, so that the promises and commands of God awaken in the child gratitude and reverence; the parents whose tenderness and justice and long-suffering interpret to the child the love and justice and long-suffering of God; and who, by teaching the child to love and trust and obey them, are teaching him to love and trust and obey his Father in heaven. Parents who impart to a child such a gift have endowed him with a treasure more precious than the wealth of all the ages—a treasure as enduring as eternity.” Ibid., 375, 376.

Thomas Jackson, Ph.D., is Director and co-founder of Missionary Education and Evangelistic Training (M.E.E.T.) Ministry, a gospel medical ministry institute in Huntingdon, Tennessee. Dawn Jenkins is a lifestyle educator and therapist at M.E.E.T. They may be contacted by e-mail at: or by telephone at: 731-986-3518.


Several years ago, a fellow ministerial colleague and I conducted a fiftieth wedding anniversary remarriage ceremony. As we went through the ceremony, I could not help but notice the happiness, joy, and love that radiated from the countenances of the husband and wife. They were positive with their attitudes toward each other, and they clung to each other as though they were just getting married for the first time! Truly, I must say, I was wonderfully amazed and pleasantly proud of both persons. Their actions, love, and respect for each other outshone couples that have come before me at the altar for the first time to get married.

After the ceremony concluded, I decided to ask the celebrants what had kept them together for 50 long years, and, at the same time, be still experiencing that love and intimacy which all true, healthy, and strong marriages experience. As I approached the beaming couple, they looked to me invitingly with pleasant smiles, and I quickly, yet privately, posed my question: “What kept you both happily married for 50 years?”

Their answer was simple, yet powerful in application: “You have to learn to give and to take.” A rather interesting answer indeed! This philosophy, practiced by this husband and wife, has kept them together for 50 years of their lives. Of course, I must mention that they are committed Seventh-day Adventist Christians, and their spiritual commitment to Christ enabled them to learn to give to and to take from each other.

Some time ago, my wife and I were invited to my hometown church reunion, and I knew that I would be seeing and getting reacquainted with longtime friends and contemporaries whom I had not seen for years! I was surprised to discover, upon meeting some of them, that they were divorced and had remarried. I distinctly remember one of my acquaintances asking me, “Are you still married?”

To which I responded, “Yes!”

The question that followed was rather interesting. It was, “To the same person?”

I again answered, “Yes!”

Changing Times

It seems quite strange in these days that there exists a private notion, even among Seventh-day Adventist Christians, that assumes that marriage between a man and a woman is not “until death do us part.” The thought prevails that lifelong, happy marriage relationships can no longer exist; things, times, and people have changed. But, may I ask, have not things, times, and people always been changing?

Yet, in years past, marriages have survived the storms and tempests, so what is the difference now? I would hasten to answer that the issue is a human problem. In our contemporary age, it is said that 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. In the year 1900, the number of marriages that were conducted were 709,000. In that same year, the number of divorces that took place were 55,751, giving us a marriage/divorce ratio of 12.7/1. However, by the year 1980, the number of marriages that were performed had risen to 2,413,000, and the number of divorces was 1,182,000, giving a marriage/divorce ratio of 2.01/1. (Alanzo H. Smith, When Loving You Is Destroying Me, Brentwood Christian Press, Columbus, Georgia, 1996, 49.)

Amazingly, it is said that, since the beginning of the year 2000, for every three marriages, both in the world as well as in the church, two end in divorce! Why is this so? Why are marriages, in these contemporary days, experiences of such major destruction? Again, I say, it is a human problem.

The majority of us human beings has rejected God and His wisdom and has been building on our own wisdom. In past years, the Word of God was the foundation of the home, the school, the church, and society. Prayer was prized as a chief weapon for success and prosperity. In this contemporary age, man’s wisdom, and man’s wisdom only, is recognized by the majority of earth’s population; consequently, deterioration has occurred! It would do us good to remember and to apply the words of the Psalmist ourselves: “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” Psalm 127:1.

So, in spite of all that is happening to marriage, how can the Christian remain happily married in a contemporary world such as ours, which is so anti the traditional, biblical marriage?

Answer for Survival

In Matthew 7:24–27, Jesus presents the answer for the survival of the marriage institution, the home, the church, the school, and society: “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”

Christ expanded upon this answer in Luke 6:47–49: “Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.”

It is important for us to note what Jesus is not saying. Jesus, here, is not saying that there will not be any storms or tempests in a Christian marriage.

He is saying that when the storms come, there will not be any permanent damage, because, in the Christian home, His words are heeded, and He is made the foundation upon which the marriage is built.

I have heard it said that the biggest problem with the American family is that they think marriage should not have any problems. What we all need to remember is that Jesus has not promised that there will not be any problems in marriage, but He has pointed out that the marriage that stands is the one built on the Word of God.

You see, the strong marriage and the weak marriage look alike from the outside, but it is when the tests of storms and tempests come that the truth is thereby revealed. Therefore, we should pay strict attention to the apostle Paul’s counsel and warning as given in 1 Corinthians 7:27, 28: “Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.”

Note carefully what Paul says: “But and if thou marry . . . such shall have trouble in the flesh.” Understandably, then, there is no marriage that is storm proof, trouble proof, or that will never experience trials and difficulties. Troubles are the lot of all marriages! Yes, the troubles may vary from marriage to marriage, but troubles of all sizes and intensities must be expected in every marriage. The survival secret is to build upon Christ!

The Foundation

Ellen White counseled: “Affection may be as clear as crystal and beauteous in its purity, yet it may be shallow because it has not been tested and tried. Make Christ first and last and best in everything. Constantly behold Him, and your love for Him will daily become deeper and stronger as it is submitted to the test of trial. And as your love for Him increases, your love for each other will grow deeper and stronger.

“Though difficulties, perplexities, and discouragements may arise, let neither husband nor wife harbor the thought that their union is a mistake or a disappointment. Determine to be all that it is possible to be to each other. Continue the early attentions. In every way encourage each other in fighting the battles of life. Study to advance the happiness of each other. Let there be mutual love, mutual forbearance. Then marriage, instead of being the end of love, will be as it were the very beginning of love. The warmth of true friendship, the love that binds heart to heart, is a foretaste of the joys of heaven.” The Adventist Home, 105, 106.

Jesus, speaking of what it truly means to build upon Him, explains: “It is not enough, He says, for you to hear My words. By obedience you must make them the foundation of your character. Self is but shifting sand. If you build upon human theories and inventions, your house will fall. By the winds of temptation, the tempests of trial, it will be swept away. But these principles that I have given will endure. Receive Me; build on My words.” The Desire of Ages, 314.

The apostle James understood Christ’s words fully. That is why he wrote, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James 1:22.

The Rock

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.” Matthew 7:24, 25.

The psalmist David identifies the rock to be the Lord. He states: “The Lord [is] my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, [and] my high tower.” Psalm 18:2.

Also, in Psalm 62:2, David maintains that, “[God] only [is] my rock and my salvation; [he is] my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.” And, in Psalm 31:3, David’s prayer is, “For thou,” speaking of the Lord, “[art] my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.”

The prophet Isaiah speaks of Christ as “a great rock in a weary land”! “Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” Isaiah 32:1, 2.

The apostle Paul affirmed that Christ was the Rock that went with His people in ancient times: “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:4.

Upon what must a storm-proof marriage be built? As Dr. S. M. Davis put it, in the recorded presentation, “How to Build a Storm-Proof Marriage,” the foundation must be the:

1) Rock of a covenant instead of the sand of a contract;
2) Rock of humility instead of the sand of pride;
3) Rock of communication instead of the sand of silence;
4) Rock of unconditional love instead of the sand of emotion;
5) Rock of acceptance and praise instead of the sand of anger and putdowns;
6) Rock of building each other instead of the sand of inactivity;
7) Rock of changing instead of the sand of stubbornness;
8) Rock of salvation instead of the sand of religion. (

Only Hope

The only hope for the survival of every marriage in this era is to build upon Christ the Rock. The sentiment of every Christian husband and wife, as well as those who are contemplating marriage, should be like that of the hymn writer, Edward Mote:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness seems to veil His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, and blood,
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in Him be found;
Clad in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

The Church Hymnal, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, D. C., 1941, 581.

Let us build marriages that will last not only for time but also for eternity!