Bible Study Guides – Stages of “ Present Truth ”

May 19, 2013 – May 25, 2013

Key Text

“I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.” II Peter 1:12.

Study Help: The Desire of Ages, 632–636; The Great Controversy, 355–374.


“There was a present truth—a truth at that time of special importance—in the days of Christ, of Paul, of Luther; there is a present truth for the church today.” The Signs of the Times, June 21, 1883.


  • How do Christ’s teachings perfectly harmonize with the Old Testament scripture (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18)? Matthew 22:36–40. What explanation did Christ give concerning His doctrine? John 7:16, 17.

Note: “ ‘Jesus answered them [the Jews], and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me’ (John 7:16). My words are in perfect harmony with the Old Testament Scriptures, and with the law spoken from Sinai. I am not preaching a new doctrine. I am presenting old truths rescued from the framework of error, and placed in a new setting.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1136.

  • What was the “ present truth ” taught after Christ’s ascension? I John 1:1–3; I Peter 1:12, 15, 16. How does that truth also affect us today? John 17:17–20.

Note: “When, after His [Christ’s] ascension, the Holy Spirit brought His teachings to the remembrance of the disciples, their slumbering senses awoke. The meaning of these truths flashed upon their minds as a new revelation, and truth, pure and unadulterated, made a place for itself. Then the wonderful experience of His life became theirs.” The Acts of the Apostles, 520.


  • What did Paul say about the plan of redemption that was more fully revealed in the gospel of Christ? Ephesians 3:3–6, 9; I Timothy 3:16; Romans 16:25, 26.

Note: “Mysteries which had been hidden for ages were revealed to him [Paul], and as much as he could bear of the workings of God, and of His dealings with human minds, was made known. The Lord told Paul that he must preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Light was to be given to the Gentiles. This is a mystery which had been hidden for ages.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1107.

  • What will happen when this mystery of God (the light given to the Gentiles) is completed? Matthew 24:14.

Note: “Long has God waited for the spirit of service to take possession of the whole church so that everyone shall be working for Him according to his ability. When the members of the church of God do their appointed work in the needy fields at home and abroad, in fulfillment of the gospel commission, the whole world will soon be warned and the Lord Jesus will return to this earth with power and great glory. ‘This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come’ (Matthew 24:14).” The Acts of the Apostles, 111.

  • What final verdict will then be declared? Revelation 22:10, 11.

Note: “The gospel dispensation is the last period of probation that will ever be granted to men. Those who live under this dispensation of test and trial and yet are not led to repent and obey will perish with the disloyal. There is no second trial. The gospel that is to be preached to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples presents the truth in clear lines, showing that obedience is the condition of gaining eternal life. Christ imparts His righteousness to those who consent to let Him take away their sins.” “Ellen G White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 971, 972.


  • How do we know that the Lord’s return is very near? Matthew 24:32–39.

Note: “Christ has given signs of His coming. He declares that we may know when He is near, even at the doors. He says of those who see these signs, ‘This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled’ (Matthew 24:34). These signs have appeared. Now we know of a surety that the Lord’s coming is at hand.” The Desire of Ages, 632.

“Christ continues, pointing out the condition of the world at His coming: ‘As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the Flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the Flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be’ (Matthew 24:37–39). Christ does not here bring to view a temporal millennium, a thousand years in which all are to prepare for eternity. He tells us that as it was in Noah’s day, so will it be when the Son of man comes again.” Ibid., 633.

  • What should we realize about Noah’s day? Genesis 6:5.

Note: “How was it in Noah’s day? ‘God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually’ (Genesis 6:5). The inhabitants of the antediluvian world turned from Jehovah, refusing to do His holy will. They followed their own unholy imagination and perverted ideas. It was because of their wickedness that they were destroyed; and today the world is following the same way. It presents no flattering signs of millennial glory. The transgressors of God’s law are filling the earth with wickedness. Their betting, their horse racing, their gambling, their dissipation, their lustful practices, their untamable passions, are fast filling the world with violence.” The Desire of Ages, 633.

“God has given us laws whereby to live, but now, as in the Noachic age, the imagination of men’s hearts is evil and only evil continually; men walk after the desire and devices of their own hearts, and so accomplish their own ruin. God would have men stand in their God-given manhood, free from the slavery of appetite.” Temperance, 281.


  • What great religious revival marks the beginning of the “ present truth ” especially applicable in our day, and how is it described? Revelation 14:6.

Note: “A Great religious awakening under the proclamation of Christ’s soon coming is foretold in the prophecy of the first angel’s message of Revelation 14. An angel is seen flying ‘in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.’ ‘With a loud voice’ he proclaims the message: ‘Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters’ (verses 6, 7).

“The fact that an angel is said to be the herald of this warning is significant. By the purity, the glory, and the power of the heavenly messenger, divine wisdom has been pleased to represent the exalted character of the work to be accomplished by the message and the power and glory that were to attend it. And the angel’s flight ‘in the midst of heaven,’ the ‘loud voice’ with which the warning is uttered, and its promulgation to all ‘that dwell on the earth’—‘to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people’—give evidence of the rapidity and world-wide extent of the movement.” The Great Controversy, 355.

  • To prepare a people to see Christ, how does the message of the first angel exalt the law of God? I John 3:2–4; Psalm 19:7.

Note: “The message proclaimed by the angel flying in the midst of heaven is the everlasting gospel, the same gospel that was declared in Eden when God said to the serpent, ‘I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel’ (Genesis 3:15). Here was the first promise of a Saviour who would stand on the field of battle to contest the power of Satan and prevail against him. Christ came to our world to represent the character of God as it is represented in His holy law; for His law is a transcript of His character. Christ was both the law and the gospel. The angel that proclaims the everlasting gospel proclaims the law of God; for the gospel of salvation brings men to obedience of the law, whereby their characters are formed after the divine similitude.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 106.


  • Who is to teach the first angel’s message? Matthew 28:19, 20.

Note: “As His representatives among men, God does not choose angels who have never fallen, but human beings, men of like passions with those they seek to save. Christ took humanity that He might reach humanity. A divine-human Saviour was needed to bring salvation to the world. And to men and women has been committed the sacred trust of making known ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’ (Ephesians 3:8).

“In His wisdom the Lord brings those who are seeking for truth into touch with fellow beings who know the truth. It is the plan of Heaven that those who have received light shall impart it to those in darkness.” The Acts of the Apostles, 134.

  • What does the last remnant experience, and how is it distinguished from the rest of the world? Matthew 24:9; Revelation 12:17.

Note: “Whoever sees the repulsive character of sin, and in strength from above resists temptation, will assuredly arouse the wrath of Satan and his subjects. Hatred of the pure principles of truth, and reproach and persecution of its advocates, will exist as long as sin and sinners remain. The followers of Christ and the servants of Satan cannot harmonize. The offense of the cross has not ceased.” The Great Controversy, 507.

“The remnant church will be brought into great trial and distress. Those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus will feel the ire of the dragon and his hosts. Satan numbers the world as his subjects, he has gained control of the apostate churches; but here is a little company that are resisting his supremacy.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 472, 473.


1 What should we learn from the “present truth” of apostolic days?

2 Why was Paul so enthusiastic about that “present truth”?

3 How are our days similar to Noah’s?

4 What does the first angel of Revelation 14 represent?

5 Why must those who preach the first angel’s message cling to the Source of their strength?

© 2007 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – Exercising Faith

May 12, 2013 – May 18, 2013

Key Text

“Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:38.

Study Help: The Desire of Ages, 315–320; Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 141–144.


“For six thousand years, faith has builded upon Christ. For six thousand years the floods and tempests of satanic wrath have beaten upon the Rock of our salvation; but it stands unmoved.” The Desire of Ages, 413.


  • What is the definition of faith? Hebrews 11:1; II Corinthians 4:18. How is faith born? Romans 10:17.

Note: “Faith is not the ground of our salvation, but it is the great blessing—the eye that sees, the ear that hears, the feet that run, the hand that grasps. It is the means, not the end. If Christ gave His life to save sinners, why shall I not take that blessing? My faith grasps it, and thus my faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. Thus resting and believing, I have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1073.

  • How are we to develop “the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3) that God has granted each one of us? John 6:53, 63; Luke 17:5; I Peter 2:2.

Note: “Courage, fortitude, faith, and implicit trust in God’s power to save do not come in a moment. These heavenly graces are acquired by the experience of years.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 213.

“You have to talk faith, you have to live faith, you have to act faith, that you may have an increase of faith; and thus exercising that living faith you will grow to strong men and women in Christ Jesus.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1121, 1122.


  • How does true faith assimilate the word of God? II Timothy 3:15–17; I Peter 1:22, 23.

Note: “The word of God must be interwoven with the living character of those who believe it. The only vital faith is that faith which receives and assimilates the truth till it is a part of the being and the motive power of the life and action. … The followers of Christ must be partakers of His experience. They must assimilate the word of God. They must be changed into its likeness by the power of Christ and reflect the divine attributes. They must eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God, or there is no life in them. The spirit and work of Christ must become the spirit and work of His disciples.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 576.

“Temptations often appear irresistible because, through neglect of prayer and the study of the Bible, the tempted one cannot readily remember God’s promises and meet Satan with the Scripture weapons.” The Great Controversy, 600.

  • What agencies work together in the process of sanctification? II Thessalonians 2:13; II Timothy 2:15; John 17:17.

Note: “The Scriptures are the great agency in the transformation of character. Christ prayed, ‘Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth’ (John 17:17). If studied and obeyed, the word of God works in the heart, subduing every unholy attribute. The Holy Spirit comes to convict of sin, and the faith that springs up in the heart works by love to Christ, conforming us in body, soul, and spirit to His own image.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 100.

“By looking constantly to Jesus with the eye of faith, we shall be strengthened. God will make the most precious revelations to His hungering, thirsting people. They will find that Christ is a personal Saviour. As they feed upon His word, they find that it is spirit and life. The word destroys the natural, earthly nature, and imparts a new life in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes to the soul as a Comforter. By the transforming agency of His grace, the image of God is reproduced in the disciple; he becomes a new creature.” The Desire of Ages, 391.


  • What is the difference between genuine faith and a mere profession of faith? James 1:6, 7; Titus 1:16; Hebrews 11:6.

Note: “There are thousands who claim to have the light of truth who take no steps in advance. They have no living experience, notwithstanding they have had every advantage. They do not know what consecration means. Their devotions are formal and hollow, and there is no depth to their piety. The word of God offers spiritual liberty and enlightenment to those who seek for it earnestly. Those who accept the promises of God, and act on them with living faith, will have the light of heaven in their lives. They will drink of the fountain of life, and lead others to the waters that have refreshed their own souls. We must have that faith in God that takes Him at His word.” The Review and Herald, September 22, 1910.

  • What will be the result of true faith? Galatians 5:6 (compare Romans 13:9, 10); James 2:14–17.

Note: “The apostle James saw that dangers would arise in presenting the subject of justification by faith, and he labored to show that genuine faith cannot exist without corresponding works. The experience of Abraham is presented. ‘Seest thou,’ he says, ‘how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect’ (James 2:22)? Thus genuine faith does a genuine work in the believer. Faith and obedience bring a solid, valuable experience.

“There is a belief that is not a saving faith. The Word declares that the devils believe and tremble. The so-called faith that does not work by love and purify the soul will not justify any man. … Abraham believed God. How do we know that he believed? His works testified to the character of his faith, and his faith was accounted to him for righteousness.

“We need the faith of Abraham in our day, to lighten the darkness that gathers around us, shutting out the sweet sunlight of God’s love, and dwarfing spiritual growth. Our faith should be prolific of good works; for faith without works is dead. Every duty performed, every sacrifice made in the name of Jesus, brings an exceeding great reward. In the very act of duty, God speaks and gives His blessing.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 936.


  • How did a Roman centurion exercise faith when his servant was sick at the point of death? Luke 7:2, 3.

Note: “Already he [the Centurion] had broken through the barriers of national prejudice and hatred that separated the conquerors from the conquered people. He had manifested respect for the service of God, and had shown kindness to the Jews as His worshipers. In the teaching of Christ, as it had been reported to him, he found that which met the need of the soul. All that was spiritual within him responded to the Saviour’s words. But he felt unworthy to come into the presence of Jesus, and he appealed to the Jewish elders to make request for the healing of his servant. They were acquainted with the Great Teacher, and would, he thought, know how to approach Him so as to win His favor.” The Desire of Ages, 315, 316.

  • As far as faith was concerned, what was the difference between the Roman centurion and the Jewish elders (who recommended him to Christ)? Luke 7:4–10.

Note: “The Jewish elders who recommended the centurion to Christ had shown how far they were from possessing the spirit of the gospel. They did not recognize that our great need is our only claim on God’s mercy. In their self-righteousness they commended the centurion because of the favor he had shown to ‘our nation.’ But the centurion said of himself, ‘I am not worthy.’ His heart had been touched by the grace of Christ. He saw his own unworthiness; yet he feared not to ask help. He trusted not to his own goodness; his argument was his great need. His faith took hold upon Christ in His true character. He did not believe in Him merely as a worker of miracles, but as the friend and Saviour of mankind.

“It is thus that every sinner may come to Christ. ‘Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us’ (Titus 3:5). When Satan tells you that you are a sinner, and cannot hope to receive blessing from God, tell him that Christ came into the world to save sinners. We have nothing to recommend us to God; but the plea that we may urge now and ever is our utterly helpless condition that makes His redeeming power a necessity. Renouncing all self-dependence, we may look to the cross of Calvary and say—‘In my hand no price I bring; Simply to Thy cross I cling.’ ” The Desire of Ages, 316, 317.


  • What assurance is given us in seeking to live by faith? I Peter 1:7–9; Philippians 4:6, 7.

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

  • What are some of the things that faith accomplished in the past, and what will it accomplish today? Hebrews 11:29–35; I John 5:4.

Note: “Faith is simple in its operation and powerful in its results.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1074.

“It is faith that connects us with the power of heaven, and that brings us the strength for coping with the powers of darkness.” The Review and Herald, September 22, 1910.


1 What is faith, and how is it developed?

2 What are the results of feeding upon God’s Word?

3 What characterizes living faith?

4 What can we learn from the Roman centurion?

5 Name some examples which show us the power of faith.

© 2007 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – Power From Above

May 5, 2013 – May 11, 2013

Key Text

“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16.

Study Help: Fundamentals of Christian Education, 196–200; The Acts of the Apostles, 557–567.


“The gospel is the power of God unto salvation when it is interwoven with the practical life, when it is lived and practiced.” My Life Today, 224.


  • How does the Bible define sin? I John 3:4; James 4:17. Why do we struggle with sin, and how can we gain the victory over it? Romans 7:14–24; John 8:34, 36; 15:5.

Note: “Enslaved by sin, the moral powers are under the tyranny of Satan. The soul is made the sport of his temptations; and unless some mighty arm is stretched out to rescue him, man goes where the arch-rebel leads the way.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 42.

  • What should we realize in seeking Christ’s strength? Hebrews 4:15, 16; 7:25; 12:2.

Note: “Many have a feeble religious experience because, instead of seeking the Lord for the efficiency of the Holy Spirit, they make flesh their arm.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 381.

“Our faith must pierce beyond the veil, seeing things that are invisible. No one else can look for you. You must behold for yourself.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 930.


  • What happens when we come to Christ? Ephesians 2:8; Romans 2:4; 5:1, 2.

Note: “The very first step to Christ is taken through the drawing of the Spirit of God; as man responds to this drawing, he advances toward Christ in order that he may repent.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 390.

“If we are drawn to Christ, it is through His power and virtue. The grace of contrition comes through Him, and from Him comes justification.” Ibid., 391.

  • When we accept Christ as our personal Saviour, how are we benefited by the work that Christ has done for us? Romans 5:18, 19; II Corinthians 5:21.

Note: “Justification is a full, complete pardon of sin. The moment a sinner accepts Christ by faith, that moment he is pardoned. The righteousness of Christ is imputed [credited] to him, and he is no more to doubt God’s forgiving grace.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1071.

“By faith he [the repentant sinner] can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner’s account. Christ’s righteousness is accepted in place of man’s failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous.” Ibid., 1073.

“The nearer we come to Jesus, and the more clearly we discern the purity of His character, the more clearly shall we see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the less shall we feel like exalting ourselves. There will be a continual reaching out of the soul after God, a continual, earnest, heartbreaking confession of sin and humbling of the heart before Him. At every advance step in our Christian experience our repentance will deepen. We shall know that our sufficiency is in Christ alone and shall make the apostle’s confession our own: ‘I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing.’ ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world’ (Romans 7:18; Galatians 6:14).” The Acts of the Apostles, 561.


  • What work does Christ do in us through the Holy Spirit, with our consent and cooperation? John 3:7, 8; II Corinthians 5:17; 7:1.

Note: “It is the grace that Christ implants in the soul which creates in man enmity against Satan. Without this converting grace and renewing power, man would continue the captive of Satan, a servant ever ready to do his bidding. But the new principle in the soul creates conflict where hitherto had been peace. The power which Christ imparts enables man to resist the tyrant and usurper. Whoever is seen to abhor sin instead of loving it, whoever resists and conquers those passions that have held sway within, displays the operation of a principle wholly from above.” The Great Controversy, 506.

  • In what way does the process of sanctification involve daily choices on our part? Romans 8:1, 5, 13; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:8–11.

Note: “To walk in the light means to resolve, to exercise thought, to exert will-power, in an earnest endeavor to represent Christ in sweetness of character. It means to put away all gloom. You are not to rest satisfied simply in saying, ‘I am a child of God.’ Are you beholding Jesus, and, by beholding, becoming changed into His likeness? To walk in the light means advancement and progress in spiritual attainments. Paul declared, ‘Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but … forgetting those things which are behind,’ constantly beholding the Pattern, I reach ‘forth unto those things which are before’ (Philippians 3:12, 13). To walk in the light means to ‘walk uprightly,’ to walk ‘in the way of the Lord,’ to ‘walk by faith,’ to ‘walk in the Spirit,’ to ‘walk in the truth,’ to ‘walk in love,’ to ‘walk in the newness of life’ (Romans 6:4). It is ‘perfecting holiness in the fear of God’ (II Corinthians 7:1).” Sons and Daughters of God, 200.

“To learn of Christ means to receive His grace, which is His character. But those who do not appreciate and utilize the precious opportunities and sacred influences granted them on earth, are not fitted to take part in the pure devotion of heaven. Their characters are not molded according to the divine similitude. By their own neglect they have formed a chasm which nothing can bridge. Between them and the righteous there is a great gulf fixed.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 271.


  • How do justification and sanctification operate together in our salvation? I John 1:9; Romans 6:1, 2, 7, 22.

Note: “Justification means the saving of a soul from perdition, that he may obtain sanctification, and through sanctification, the life of heaven. Justification means that the conscience, purged from dead works, is placed where it can receive the blessings of sanctification.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 908.

  • Who directs the combined operation of justification and sanctification? I Corinthians 6:9–11; Colossians 3:8–10; Philippians 4:13.

Note: “The Christian will feel the promptings of sin, but he will maintain a constant warfare against it. Here is where Christ’s help is needed. Human weakness becomes united to divine strength.” The Great Controversy, 469, 470.

  • In what sense do we have to cooperate with Christ to become holy? Colossians 1:21–23, 29.
  • For what purpose do we receive power through the gospel? Romans 1:16; Ephesians 3:16–20.

Note: “The work of gaining salvation is one of co-partnership, a joint operation. There is to be co-operation between God and the repentant sinner. This is necessary for the formation of right principles in the character. Man is to make earnest efforts to overcome that which hinders him from attaining to perfection. But he is wholly dependent upon God for success. Human effort of itself is not sufficient. Without the aid of divine power it avails nothing. God works and man works. Resistance of temptation must come from man, who must draw his power from God.” The Acts of the Apostles, 482.


  • What changes does God bring forth in giving us His grace? Titus 2:11–14; 3:5. How does the leaven in the parable illustrate the radical change? Matthew 13:33.

Note: “As the leaven, when mingled with the meal, works from within outward, so it is by the renewing of the heart that the grace of God works to transform the life.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 97.

“The grace of Christ is to control the temper and the voice. Its working will be seen in politeness and tender regard shown by brother for brother, in kind, encouraging words. An angel presence is in the home. The life breathes a sweet perfume, which ascends to God as holy incense. Love is manifested in kindness, gentleness, forbearance, and long-suffering.

“The countenance is changed. Christ abiding in the heart shines out in the faces of those who love Him and keep His commandments. Truth is written there. The sweet peace of heaven is revealed. There is expressed a habitual gentleness, a more than human love.” Ibid., 102.

  • On what condition can we receive the power of God’s grace? What kind of faith do we need? Matthew 17:20; Jude 20.

Note: “The heavenly intelligences will work with the human agent who seeks with determined faith that perfection of character which will reach out to perfection in action. To everyone engaged in this work Christ says, I am at your right hand to help you.

“As the will of man co-operates with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent. Whatever is to be done at His command may be accomplished in His strength. All His biddings are enablings.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 332, 333.


1 How can we overcome feebleness in our religious experience?

2 What is justification, and how can we obtain it?

3 What is sanctification, and how can we obtain it?

4 Explain our co-partnership with Christ in the plan of redemption.

5 What symptoms reveal the action of the leaven of truth in the Christian’s heart?

© 2007 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – A Plan With a Purpose

April 28, 2013 – May 4, 2013

That I Might Live

Key Text

“The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10.

Study Help: “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 926, 927; Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 149–152.


“Through the goodness and mercy of Christ the sinner is to be restored to the divine favor. God in Christ is daily beseeching men to be reconciled to God.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 178.


  • For what purpose does the gospel call come to us? Mark 2:17, last part.

Note: “He [the Majesty of heaven] is too pure, He is too just, to behold iniquity. But even this need not keep you away from Him; for He says, ‘I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’ (Mark 2:17). Let perishing souls come to Him just as they are, without one plea, and plead the atoning blood of Christ, and they will find acceptance with God.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 252.

  • What does salvation through Christ mean for us, here and now? Matthew 1:21; Revelation 1:5, last part.

Note: “God has spoken, and He means that man shall obey. He does not inquire if it is convenient for him to do so. The Lord of life and glory did not consult His convenience or pleasure when He left His station of high command to become a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, accepting ignominy and death in order to deliver man from the consequence of his disobedience. Jesus died, not to save man in his sins, but from his sins. Man is to leave the error of his ways, to follow the example of Christ, to take up his cross and follow Him, denying self, and obeying God at any cost.” [Author’s italics.] Testimonies, vol. 4, 250, 251


  • What does God offer us, and on what condition, as a first step in our restoration? Isaiah 55:6, 7; Luke 24:47.

Note: “Through faith, the believer passes from the position of a rebel, a child of sin and Satan, to the position of a loyal subject of Christ Jesus, not because of an inherent goodness, but because Christ receives him as His child by adoption. The sinner receives the forgiveness of his sins, because these sins are borne by his Substitute and Surety.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1070.

“God does not deal with us as finite men deal with one another. His thoughts are thoughts of mercy, love, and tenderest compassion. He says, ‘Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.’ ‘I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins’ (Isaiah 55:7; 44:22).” Steps to Christ, 53.

  • Besides forgiving us, what else does God do in behalf of our salvation? I John 1:9. What aim is put before us, and what is our responsibility? Philippians 3:12–14; John 5:14; 8:11.

Note: “Abstain from all evil. Common sins, however insignificant they may be regarded, will impair your moral sense, and extinguish the inward impression of the Spirit of God. The character of the thoughts leaves its imprint upon the soul, and all low conversation pollutes the mind. All evil works ruin to those who commit it. God may and will forgive the repenting sinner, but though forgiven, the soul is marred; the power of the elevated thought possible to the unimpaired mind is destroyed. Through all time the soul bears the scars. Then let us seek for that faith which works by love and purifies the heart, that we may represent the character of Christ to the world.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 195.

“It is by following in the path of obedience in simple faith that the character obtains perfection.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1137.


  • What did Paul say about the deliverance that Christ operates in us when we accept Him? Hebrews 2:15; Colossians 1:13. Sadly, how do some people cooperate with Satan rather than with Christ?

Note: “Satan will move upon minds that have been indulged, upon men who have always had their own way, and anything presented to them in counsel or reproof to change their objectionable traits of character, is considered fault-finding, binding them, restraining them, that they cannot have liberty to act themselves. The Lord in great mercy has sent messages of warning to them, but they would not listen to reproof. Like the enemy who rebelled in heaven, they did not like to hear; they do not correct the wrong they have done, but become accusers, declaring themselves misused and unappreciated.

“Now is the time of trial, of test, of proving. Those who like Saul, will persist in having their own way, will suffer as he did, loss of honor, and finally the loss of the soul.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1163, 1164.

  • How does Christ make us free from the penalty of the law that condemn us? Romans 3:24–26; 5:1.
  • What should we learn from the experience of the apostle Paul? Romans 7:9.

Note: “The apostle Paul, in relating his experience, presents an important truth concerning the work to be wrought in conversion. He says, ‘I was alive without the law once’—he felt no condemnation; ‘but when the commandment came,’ when the law of God was urged upon his conscience, ‘sin revived, and I died’ (Romans 7:9). Then he saw himself a sinner, condemned by the divine law. Mark, it was Paul, and not the law, that died.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1076.


  • How does faith in the gospel relate to the law of God? Romans 3:31.
  • What warning are we given against transgressing God’s law? Romans 2:23–27; 8:7; I Timothy 1:9, 10.

Note: “The law of God is the mirror to show man the defects in his character. But it is not pleasant to those who take pleasure in unrighteousness to see their moral deformity. They do not prize this faithful mirror, because it reveals to them their sins. Therefore, instead of instituting a war against their carnal minds, they war against the true and faithful mirror, given them by Jehovah for the very purpose that they may not be deceived, but that they may have revealed to them the defects in their character.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1077.

  • What do we lose through sin? Romans 3:23; 6:23.
  • What is to be restored in us through the gospel? II Corinthians 3:18. How? John 16:13; 17:17, 19.
  • How does Christ perform the ministry of restoration? I Thessalonians 5:23.

Note: “God is clothed with power; He is able to take those who are dead in trespasses and sins, and by the operation of the Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead, transform the human character, bringing back to the soul the lost image of God. Those who believe in Jesus Christ are changed from being rebels against the law of God into obedient servants and subjects of His kingdom. They are born again, regenerated, sanctified through the truth.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 332.


  • On what condition, and for what purpose, has God given us “the Spirit of adoption”? Romans 8:14–17. What evidence reveals our adoption as God’s children? II Corinthians 6:16–18; II Peter 1:4.

Note: “Let every one who desires to be a partaker of the divine nature appreciate the fact that he must escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. There must be a constant, earnest struggling of the soul against the evil imaginings of the mind. There must be a steadfast resistance of temptation to sin in thought or act. The soul must be kept from every stain, through faith in Him who is able to keep you from falling. We should meditate upon the scriptures, thinking soberly and candidly upon the things that pertain to our eternal salvation.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1145.

  • How are we enabled to resist the clamoring of our own carnal nature? Colossians 1:10, 11; Ephesians 3:16, 20.

Note: “Man cannot transform himself by the exercise of his will. He possesses no power by which this change can be effected. … All the culture and education which the world can give will fail of making a degraded child of sin a child of heaven. The renewing energy must come from God. The change can be made only by the Holy Spirit. All who would be saved, high or low, rich or poor, must submit to the working of this power.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 96, 97.


1 What is the main purpose of the gospel?

2 Name two benefits granted us through God’s forgiveness.

3 How is the experience of the apostle Paul an example for us?

4 How are we to relate to the law and the gospel?

5 What is the depth of the value of the gospel message?

© 2007 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Recipe – Veg Jambalaya

1 Tbsp. canola oil

1 medium green pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 celery rib, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups water

1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

½ tsp. Italian seasoning

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1/8 tsp. fennel seed, crushed

1 cup uncooked long grain rice

1 can (14 ½ ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can (17 ounces) butter beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (16 ounces) red beans, rinsed and drained

In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the green pepper, onion and celery; cook and stir until tender. Add garlic, cook 1 minute longer. Add the water, tomatoes, tomato sauce and seasonings. Bring to a boil; stir in rice. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-18 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Stir in beans; heat through. Yield: 6 servings; 1 1/3 cups equals 281 calories, 3 g fat (trace saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 796 mg sodium, 56 g carbohydrate, 9 g fiber, 11 g protein. Taste of home, February/March 2013.

Food – The Protein Myth

If you’re worried about getting enough protein on a vegetarian diet, you may be in for a surprise. The truth is, most Americans get way too much protein, and vegetarians can easily get more than enough protein in their diet as well. Many people still believe that protein is only available from meat and animal sources and we will all fall over dead without animal protein! However, Harvard scientists recently completed a study finding that eating a single serving of red meat each day increases your risk of early death, and factory-farmed chicken, often touted as a healthier alternative to beef, can be contaminated with E. coli bacteria that can give you urinary tract infections.

The idea that protein comes only from meat is a myth. Nearly all foods contain small amounts of protein, and it’s very easy to get your daily protein requirements from beans, grains, nuts, and vegetables, which have less cholesterol and fat than meat and are usually cheaper. All vegetables contain between 1 and 2 g of protein per cup. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that women get 46 grams (g) of protein each day and that men get 56 g.

Beans and lentils are the cheapest source of protein, providing 12 to 14 g per cup of cooked beans and 18 g per cup of cooked lentils. White beans taste delicious in pasta; garbanzo or edamame in stir-fries; black beans and pinto in burritos, tacos, and quesadillas; and lentils or kidney are great in salads and whole grain pita lunches.

Nuts provide 3 to 7 g of protein per 1/3-cup serving, depending on the type (peanuts and pine nuts have the most). Seeds give 2 to 5 g per 1/3-cup serving, depending on type. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews, and pine nuts are all good vegetarian protein sources. Try a sprinkle of chopped nuts on everything from oatmeal to salad. On the seed side, try pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower.

Tofu and tempeh are also excellent sources of protein. Tempeh has 18 g of protein per serving; tofu has 8 g per serving. If you’re not a fan of tofu or tempeh, you can still reap the protein benefits of soy in soy milk (8 g per glass) and edamame (green soybeans, which have 17 g per cup). Aim for one serving of tofu, soy milk or edamame per day.

Health – The Danger in Energy Drinks

It is amazing to see the popularity of energy drinks. So many people are looking for that extra jump-start or energy spurt and are turning to energy drinks, some of which are advertised and known as energy shots, often ignorant of the harm that these ingredients could do to their bodies. Some of these drinks have extreme levels of caffeine and sugar that could cause heart palpitations, anxiety and, in some cases, death.

The following excerpts are red flags that should alert you to the dangers.

Headlines: November 16, 2012. (CNN)—Thirteen deaths have been reported to the Food and Drug Administration as “adverse events” after the consumption of the dietary supplement 5-hour ENERGY, according to an FDA statement. … As a dietary supplement, 5-hour ENERGY is not required to disclose the amount of caffeine in its 2-ounce “energy shot.” Instead, the 5-hour ENERGY label lists 1,870 milligrams of an “Energy Blend,” which includes caffeine, taurine and other ingredients. … A analysis found about 207 milligrams of caffeine in one 5-hour ENERGY. Red Bull, by comparison, contains about 80 milligrams of caffeine in an 8.4-ounce can, while a 16-ounce grande Starbucks Pike Place brewed coffee contains about 330 milligrams of caffeine. … The distributor of 5-hour ENERGY, Living Essentials LLC, said in a statement: “We recommend on product labels and the 5-hour ENERGY website that individuals consume no more than two bottles of 5-hour ENERGY shots per day, spaced several hours apart. Consumers who have caffeine sensitivities should consult with a physician before taking and can consider the ‘decaf’ version.” … Last month, the parents of Anais Fournier, 14, filed a lawsuit alleging that she died after drinking two Monster Energy drinks in a 24-hour period. In her case, an underlying heart condition was complicated by caffeine toxicity, according to the death certificate.

In these so-called energy drinks, a tremendous overload of stimulation from a high dose of caffeine, guarana and taurine is received. Most people are familiar with the effects of caffeine, but what about the effects of the other two?

Guarana: How does it work? Guarana contains caffeine. Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system (CNS), heart, and muscles. Guarana also contains theophylline and theobromine, which are chemicals similar to caffeine.

Guarana is likely safe for most adults when used in typical food amounts or in medicinal amounts short-term. But it is likely unsafe and even deadly, due to its caffeine content, when taken in high doses or long-term. The fatal dose of caffeine is estimated to be 10–14 grams (150-200 mg per kilogram; the “typical” man weighs about 70 kilograms, so a lethal dose of caffeine for this man would be 10,500–14,000 mg). This is quite a high dose. Consider that one cup of brewed coffee provides from 95-200 mg of caffeine. However, serious poisoning can occur at doses lower than 150-200 mg per kilogram depending on an individual’s caffeine sensitivity or smoking behavior, age, and prior caffeine use.

Side effects depend on the dose. At typical doses, the caffeine in guarana can cause insomnia, nervousness and restlessness, stomach irritation, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate and blood pressure, rapid breathing, tremors, delirium, dieresis, and other side effects. Large guarana doses might cause headache, anxiety, agitation, ringing in the ears, pain when urinating, stomach cramps, and irregular heartbeats. People who take guarana regularly may experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms if they reduce their usual amount.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, guarana should be taken with caution due to the caffeine content. Small amounts are probably not harmful; however, consuming more than 200 mg/day has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage and other negative effects. See the following for more information:

Taurine: The multi-billion dollar phenomenon of energy drinks has captured the attention of scientists and nutritionists across the country. One of the main reasons is taurine, a common ingredient found in the caffeine and sugar-laden concoctions. … Taurine is a free form amino acid contained in foods and manufactured in the body from the amino acid cysteine. It was first discovered in the bile of bulls, and now produced synthetically by the truckload. Since taurine is created naturally in the human body, a good diet supplies all you need.

Studies have implicated synthetic taurine in illnesses ranging from high blood pressure to strokes and seizures, to heart disease. For these reasons it has been banned in some Scandinavian countries after being linked to the deaths of three consumers.

Because taurine is utilized by the body during exercise and in times of stress, it has become a popular ingredient in energy drinks. But taurine has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system that’s very unnatural. For more information see:

Excerpts from: Sandra A. Fryhofer, MD

Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia; Past President, American College of Physicians, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Caffeine Comparisons

A 6-ounce cup of homemade coffee has about 75-100 mg of caffeine. The brew at some coffeehouses can be a bit stronger with caffeine content as high as 150 mg in 6 ounces, but it is no more than 25 mg caffeine per ounce. Of course, you usually drink coffee hot, so you sip it, slowly, and with enjoyment.[1]

Energy drinks, on the other hand, are usually chugged cold. The caffeine content of energy drinks can be as high as 500 mg per serving. There are also “energy shots” that deliver a caffeine punch of 100–350 mg per ounce, 3–7 times the caffeine in a regular soda. A 12-ounce can of soda contains a total of approximately 35–50 mg of caffeine.[1]

Ingredients Beyond Caffeine

Energy drinks contain more than coffee-bean-derived caffeine and sugars. Hidden caffeine derivatives in the form of guarana, kola nut, yerba mate, and cocoa can also be found on the list of ingredients. Guarana (also known as Paullinia cupana) on a per-gram basis contains anywhere from 40 to 80 mg of caffeine. This means that the caffeine content listed could underestimate the caffeine punch delivered. These drinks often contain taurine, which has been shown to increase blood pressure and heart rate when combined with caffeine.[2] Ginseng is often added and can interfere with warfarin, estrogen, steroids, and digoxin. Other common ingredients include l-carnitine, and yohimbe. In 2008, German, Hong Kong, and Tawain authorities found trace amounts of cocaine in the energy drink Red Bull Cola.[3]

Hazards of Too Much Caffeine

Energy drinks contain too much caffeine. This can cause anxiety, nervousness, sleep problems, elevated blood pressure, and heart palpitations. Although healthy people can tolerate moderate amounts of caffeine, the content in energy drinks exceeds what could be considered moderate. Adverse health consequences of caffeine intoxication include seizures, mania, stroke, and even sudden death.[2,3] Energy drink-related health consequences reported in German studies include liver damage, kidney and respiratory problems, seizures, and agitation, as well as heart rhythm disturbances, heart failure, high blood pressure, and rhabdomyolysis.[3]

Caffeinated Concerns for Kids

A new study in the journal Pediatrics highlights caffeinated energy drink concerns for children with specific medical conditions, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), eating disorders, diabetes, and cardiac conditions. It also points out concerns about the link between caffeine and reduced bone mineralization.[3]

Caffeine and Alcohol: A Dangerous Combination

An even more hazardous trend, college students are mixing energy drinks with alcohol. The consequences can be dangerous and deadly. Although these students may think that caffeine counteracts the alcohol, it doesn’t. You might not get as sleepy, but you’re still impaired and you don’t know it.[1,5,6] The high caffeine content has a stimulant effect that prevents you from feeling drunk. Judgment, reaction time, and motor skills, however, are still impaired. A recent JAMA report calls this “wide awake drunkenness,” and it can lead to bad choices, risky behaviors, and worse.[1]

Billion Dollar Business

But this phenomenon is not limited to college campuses. Non-college going adults are drinking these beverages too. Energy drinks are big business.[5] In 2006, at least $5.4 billion worth was sold in the United States alone.[1] Sales for 2011 are predicted to exceed 9 billion dollars.[3]

Fortunately, the FDA has put the kibosh on premixed alcoholic energy drinks. On November 17, 2010, the FDA warned 4 companies that caffeine added to malt alcohols is an “unsafe food additive.” The companies that got warning letters include Charge Beverages Corporations (makers of Core High Gravity®), New Century Brewing Company (maker of Moon Shot®), Phusion Products (maker of Four Loko®), and United Brands Company (maker of Joose® and Max®).[7]

Final Thoughts

The FDA limit for caffeine in cola drinks is set at two hundredths of a per cent (0.02%), a max of 71 mg per 12 ounce serving.[1] Scientists and many parents, including me, wonder why this doesn’t also apply to energy drinks. The JAMA report ends with a plea:

“Scientists and health professionals cannot wait for further FDA action; available scientific evidence indicates that action is needed—now!”[1]

The average energy drink sold in a can contains 6–7 times the amount of caffeine than a regular cup of coffee. It also far exceeds the maximum amount of caffeine that the United States government allows in a drink. The companies producing these energy drinks get around this limit by selling it as a supplement, not a drink. The government does not regulate nutritional supplements so the FDA cannot do much. But you can do much by turning away from these drinks and preserving your health and warning others.

By the way, a friend of mine made the following observation: “I have recently watched on CNN various stories on this subject, so I headed for the energy drink isle at my local store. It is a huge isle and during the 10 minutes I was hanging out in the isle studying all the drinks there, the only customers I saw loading the cans into their carts were 13–15 year olds. I guess it is because they cannot buy beer, so they drink those? I cannot believe the ignorant parents!”

“It is these hurtful stimulants that are surely undermining the constitution and preparing the system for acute diseases; by impairing nature’s fine machinery and battering down her fortifications erected against disease and premature decay.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 548, 549.


  • Arria A, O’Brien M. The “high” risk of energy drinks. JAMA. 2011;305:600-601. Abstract
  • Steinke L, Lanfear D, Dhanapal V, Kalus J. Effect of “energy drink” consumption on hemodynamic and electrocardiographic parameters in healthy young adults. Ann Pharmacother. 2009;43:596-602. Abstract
  • Seifert S, Schaichter J, Hershorin E, Lipshults S. Health effects of energy drinks on children, and adolescents, and young adults. Pediatrics. 2011;127:511-527. Abstract
  • Brody J. Scientists see dangers in energy drinks. The New York Times. January 31, 2011.
  • Howland J, Rohsenow D, Calise T, MacKillop J, Metrik J. Caffeinated alcoholic beverages: an emerging public health problem. Am J Prev Med. 2011;40:268-271. Abstract
  • Howland J, Rohsenow DJ, Arnedt JT, et al. The acute effects of caffeinated versus non-caffeinated alcoholic beverage on driving performance and attention/reaction time. Addiction. 2011;106:335-341. Abstract
  • FDA News release. FDA Warning Letters issued to four makers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages. November 17, 2010. Available at: Accessed January 27, 2011.

Insight – Torture or Silence

When I am misunderstood and wrongly accused I find it very difficult not to justify myself and retaliate, but I know in my heart that is not the right thing to do.


It is human nature to give excuse and justify our actions. This reaction began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve hid from God after they had eaten the forbidden fruit and has been a character trait handed down throughout the generations. A patient and gentle reaction when wronged has never been a characteristic that is prized by sinners, but Jesus taught us a different way.

Silence in the Soul

“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.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 15.

An Abiding Guest

“When we receive Christ as an abiding guest in the soul, the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. The Saviour’s life on earth, though lived in the midst of conflict, was a life of peace. … No storm of human or satanic wrath could disturb the calm of that perfect communion with God. And He says to us, ‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you’ (John 14:27).” Ibid.

What Destroys our Peace?

“It is the love of self that destroys our peace. While self is all alive, we stand ready continually to guard it from mortification and insult; but when we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God,

  • we shall not take neglects or slights to heart.
  • We shall be deaf to reproach and blind to scorn and insult.

‘Love suffereth long, and is kind …’ (I Corinthians 13:4–8).” Ibid., 16.

Happiness Drawn from Him

“Happiness drawn from earthly sources is as changeable as varying circumstances can make it; but the peace of Christ is a constant and abiding peace. It does not depend upon any circumstances in life, on the amount of worldly goods or the number of earthly friends. Christ is the fountain of living water, and happiness drawn from Him can never fail.” Ibid.

Torture of Retaliation

“Far better would it be for us to suffer under false accusation than to inflict upon ourselves the torture of retaliation upon our enemies.

    • The spirit of hatred and revenge originated with Satan, and can bring only evil to him who cherishes it. …

“Through humility and self-surrender we may become heirs with Him when ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’ (Psalm 37:11).” Ibid., 17.

Pen of Inspiration – Burning the Magical Books

In the days of the apostles, the city of Ephesus was famed for the worship of the goddess Diana and the practice of magic. …

In this city, the very stronghold of superstition and sorcery, the apostle Paul labored for several years. Here the power of God was mightily displayed through his servant. The sick were healed, and evil spirits were cast out.

The miracles wrought by Paul in the name of Jesus, created great excitement in Ephesus. Among those who practiced magic arts were certain Jewish exorcists, who claimed to possess the same power exercised by Paul. Believing that the name of Jesus acted as a charm, they determined to cast out evil spirits by the same means which the apostle had employed.

An attempt was made by seven brothers, the sons of Sceva, a chief priest of the Jews. Finding a man who was possessed with an evil spirit, they addressed him, “We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth” (Acts 19:13). But the evil spirit answered with scorn, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” (Acts 19:15) and the man who was possessed attacked them with such violence that they fled out of the house, naked and wounded.

The discomfiture and humiliation of those who had profaned the name of Jesus soon became known throughout Ephesus, by Jews and Gentiles. It furnished unmistakable proof of the sacredness of that name, and the peril which they incurred who should invoke it, while they had no faith in Christ’s divine mission.

Many dared not breathe aloud the name, on which they had hitherto heaped reproach and blasphemy. A large number were convinced that Christ was all that Paul claimed him to be, and they determined to receive the gospel. These openly renounced the practice of sorcery, and acknowledged their secret arts to be deceptive and Satanic. They brought together the manuals of enchantment, the costly books containing the mystic symbols of Diana, and the secrets of their art, and burned them in the presence of all the people. The sacrifice thus made was estimated at fifty thousand pieces of silver, equal to about ten thousand dollars.

The conversion of these Ephesians was attended with the results that always follow genuine conversion. When convinced that their magical books were false and pernicious, they were unwilling to sell them and thus place temptation in the way of others. They promptly burned the records of divination, at a great personal sacrifice. The power of truth triumphed over men’s prejudices, favorite pursuits, and love of money.

Those magical books contained rules and forms of communication with evil spirits. They were, in fact, the regulations of the worship of Satan; directions for soliciting his help, and obtaining information from him. The system of magic or sorcery then extant was in reality the same as that which is now known as modern Spiritualism. Many were deceived in Paul’s day by this Satanic delusion, and many are deceived today by the same power. “Magical books” were not confined to the apostolic age, or to nations that are called heathen. The sorcerers of our time are taking advantage of the freedom of the press to spread abroad their baleful literature. Could all the productions of modern Spiritualism be treated as were the magical books of the Ephesians, one of Satan’s most successful avenues to destroy the souls of men would be cut off.

Witchcraft and sorcery are practiced in this Christian age and Christian nation, even more boldly than by the old-time magicians. Satan is finding access to thousands of minds by presenting himself under the guise of departed friends. The Scriptures of truth declare that “the dead know not anything” (Ecclesiastes 9:5). Their thoughts, their love, their hatred, have perished. The dead do not hold communion with the living. But Satan—true to his early cunning, when in the form of a serpent he deceived the mother of our race—employs this device to gain control of the minds of men.

Paul warns his Corinthian brethren of the deceptive power of their great adversary. He declares, “I fear that by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (II Corinthians 11:3).

He writes to his son Timothy, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils” (I Timothy 4:1).

In his second epistle to the Thessalonians, he warns them that the second advent of our Lord will be preceded by the working of Satan, “with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (II Thessalonians 2:9–11).

Because the children of men reject the plainest teachings of his word, and trample upon his law, God leaves them to choose that which they desire. They spurn the truth, and he permits them to believe a lie. They refuse to yield to the convictions of the Holy Spirit, and Satan, transforming himself into an angel of light, leads them captive at his will. If men were but conversant with the word of God, and obedient to its teachings, they could not be thus deceived; but they neglect the great detector of fraud, and the mind becomes confused and corrupted by the deceptive arts of men, and the secret power of the father of lies.

Men of intelligence are infatuated with Satanic sorcery as verily today as in the days of Paul. Thousands accept the opinion of the minister or obey the injunctions of the pope or priest, and neglect God’s word and despise his truth. God would have his people learn their duty for themselves. The Bible declares his will to men, and it is as much our privilege and our duty to learn that will as it is that of ministers and popes and priests to learn it. What they can read from God’s word, we can all read.

When the Ephesian converts burned their books on magic, they showed that they hated what they had once loved, and loved what they had once hated. The light of truth, shinning into their minds, had convinced them of the unlawfulness of their arts, and had stirred their souls with abhorrence of their unholy deeds. Such a change is the best evidence of true conversion.

A person may not be able to tell the exact time or place, or to trace all the chain of circumstances in the process of conversion; yet this does not prove him to be unconverted. Said Christ to Nicodemus, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth. So is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). Though the work of grace is silent and almost imperceptible, it may be fully as effective as when its operations are more apparent. But if the heart has been renewed by the Holy Spirit, the life will bear witness to the fact. “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). Light and darkness are not more distinct than are the state of the converted and the unconverted. A change will be seen in the character, the habits, the pursuits. The contrast will be clear and decided between what they have been and what they are.

The Signs of the Times, May 18, 1882.

Keys to the Storehouse – The Fence of Neutrality

The heart … is desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9. So, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith.” II Corinthians 13:5. It is time to look carefully at ourselves and examine our feelings and motives. It is past time that we hasten away from the atmosphere of the world with its controlling power of worldly thoughts, opinions and influences. Self will never be conquered while lagging behind and sitting on the fence of neutrality. There is a war raging between the God of heaven and the gods of this world, and if you sincerely think you can remain neutral, you are sincerely wrong. Neutrality makes a statement that the gods of this world have conquered you and the battle over self has been lost.

In this world, if “self” is the conqueror and triumphs, it is Satan who is the driver. But Jesus Christ is in control of all whom choose to walk in the spirit in heavenly places. Self-will has been subdued in the Christian through true conversion and consecration to God through Jesus Christ. The heart is converted and Satan can find no entrance. “He is a new creature: old things are passed away.” II Corinthians 5:17.

“There are few really consecrated men among us, few who have fought and conquered in the battle with self.

Real conversion is:

  • a decided change of feelings and motives;
  • it is a virtual taking leave of worldly connections,
  • a hastening from their spiritual atmosphere,
  • a withdrawing from the controlling power of their thoughts, opinions, and influences.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 82.

What are some of these roadblocks that the self-focused person enjoys, even at the loss of his soul? He “that forsaketh not all that he hath,” says Jesus, “cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33).

  • Whatever shall divert the affections from God must be given up.
  • Mammon is the idol of many. Its golden chain binds them to Satan.
  • Reputation and worldly honor are worshiped by another class.
  • The life of selfish ease and freedom from responsibility is the idol of others.

“These are Satan’s snares, set for unwary feet. But these slavish bands must be broken; the flesh must be crucified with the affections and lusts. We cannot be half the Lord’s and half the world’s. We are not God’s people unless we are such entirely. Every weight, every besetting sin, must be laid aside. God’s watchmen will not cry, ‘Peace, peace,’ when God has not spoken peace. The voice of the faithful watchmen will be heard: ‘Go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord’ (Isaiah 52:11).” Ibid., 83.

Have you jumped off the fence, forsaken your “self” to walk in heavenly places? If not, do it now.

Heavenly Father: I am tired of lagging behind and sitting on the fence of neutrality. I plead for the courage to hasten from the atmosphere of the world, which is putting me to sleep spiritually. Take my heart Lord before it is cold in spiritual death, for I choose to walk with Thee. Save me from my “self.” Amen.