Bible Study Guides – Hebrews 2:9-18

January 19-25, 2003

MEMORY VERSE: “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto [his] brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things [pertaining] to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” Hebrews 2:17.

SUGGESTED READING: The Desire of Ages, 24, 25.

INTRODUCTION: “Was the human nature of the Son of Mary changed into the divine nature of the Son of God? No; the two natures were mysteriously blended in one person—the man Christ Jesus. In Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. When Christ was crucified, it was His human nature that died. Deity did not sink and die; that would have been impossible. Christ, the sinless One, will save every son and daughter of Adam who accepts the salvation proffered them, consenting to become the children of God. The Saviour has purchased the fallen race with His own blood.

“This is a great mystery, a mystery that will not be fully, completely understood in all its greatness until the translation of the redeemed shall take place. Then the power and greatness and efficacy of the gift of God to man will be understood. But the enemy is determined that this gift shall be so mystified that it will become as nothingness (Letter 280, 1904).” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1113.

1 For whom did Christ die? Hebrews 2:9, last part; Romans 5:8.

NOTE: “Christ died for all; and we are assured in His word that He is more willing to give His Holy Spirit to them that ask Him than are earthly parents to give good gifts to their children. The prophets and apostles did not perfect Christian character by a miracle. They used the means which God had placed within their reach; and all who will put forth the same effort will secure the same results.” The Sanctified Life, 83.

“Christ died for every son and daughter of Adam; and when the Son of God has expressed such amazing love, making this great sacrifice for the sinner, in order that through faith in him he need not perish but have everlasting life, how can the subjects of this great love be indifferent, and stand in sin and disobedience, and not heartily confess Christ without one moment’s delay? How can any one love to do evil?” Review and Herald, January 16, 1894.

2 Christ died for everyone, but who will be saved? John 3:16; 6:40. Compare 2 Peter 2:1.

NOTE: “Every soul may be saved if he believes in Christ as his personal Saviour. [But] not all will be saved. Not because Jesus does not want them to be saved, for He is drawing every soul.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, 151.

“If any of us are not saved, it will be because we have chosen the service of Christ’s great adversary and the companionship of those who are his followers.” Gospel Workers (1892), 457.

3 Why were the sufferings of Christ necessary? Hebrews 2:10, 17.

NOTE: “When the angels should witness the agony and humiliation of their Lord, they would be filled with grief and indignation and would wish to deliver Him from His murderers; but they were not to interpose in order to prevent anything which they should behold. It was a part of the plan of redemption that Christ should suffer the scorn and abuse of wicked men, and He consented to all this when He became the Redeemer of man.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 65.

4 Describe the Son of God’s character? Hebrews 4:15; 7:26. Compare Hebrews 9:28; Ephesians 4:13.

NOTE: “Christ, the captain of our salvation, was made perfect through suffering. His followers will encounter the enemy many times, and will be severely tried; but they need not despair. Christ says to them, ‘Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’ [John 16:33.]” Pacific Union Recorder, December 17, 1903.

5 How is it that the sanctifier and sanctified are all of one? Hebrews 2:11; John 17:21.

NOTE: “The unity that exists between Christ and His disciples does not destroy the personality of either. In mind, in purpose, in character, they are one, but not in person. By partaking of the Spirit of God, conforming to the law of God, man becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ brings His disciples into a living union with Himself and with the Father. Through the working of the Holy Spirit upon the human mind, man is made complete in Christ Jesus. Unity with Christ establishes a bond of unity with one another. This unity is the most convincing proof to the world of the majesty and virtue of Christ, and of His power to take away sin.” Sons and Daughters of God, 286.

6 Who are the brethren of Christ? Matthew 12:50. Compare Matthew 7:20, 21.

NOTE: “With grace in their hearts, believers are to work the works of Christ, placing themselves, soul, body, and spirit on His side, as His human hand, to impart His love to those who are out of the fold. Believers are to associate together in Christian fellowship, regarding one another as brothers and sisters in the Lord. They are to love one another as Christ loved them. They are to be lights for God, shining in the church and in the world, receiving grace for grace, as they impart to others. Thus they are constantly kept in spiritual nearness to God. They reflect the image of Christ.” Pacific Union Recorder, August 1, 1901.

“The true brethren of Christ are those who guard the interests of their brethren and sisters. How inappropriate it is to condemn others, when every soul is to be saved, not on his own merits, but by the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour! We are all erring, finite creatures, accountable to God for our words, works, and influence.” Review and Herald, October 24, 1893.

7 Of whom will Christ be ashamed? Mark 8:38.

NOTE: “The fearful and unbelieving, who are punished with the second death, are of that class who are ashamed of Christ in this world. They are afraid to do right and follow Christ, lest they should meet with pecuniary loss. They neglect their duty, to avoid reproach and trials, and to escape dangers. Those who dare not do right because they will thus expose themselves to trials, persecution, loss, and suffering are cowards, and, with idolaters, liars, and all sinners, they are ripening for the second death.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 630.

8 What nature did Christ assume and why? Hebrews 2:14, 16, 17.

NOTE: “Christ did not make believe take human nature; He did verily take it. He did in reality possess human nature. [Hebrews 2: 14 quoted.] He was the son of Mary; He was of the seed of David according to human descent. He is declared to be a man, even the Man Christ Jesus.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 247.

“He came as a helpless babe, bearing the humanity we bear. [Hebrews 3:14 quoted.] He could not come in the form of an angel, for unless He met man as man, and testified by His connection with God that divine power was not given to Him in a different way to what it will be given to us, He could not be a perfect example for us.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, 111.

9 By His death, who will be destroyed? Hebrews 2:14, last part.

NOTE: “With a holy sadness Jesus comforted and cheered the angels and informed them that hereafter those whom He should redeem would be with Him, and that by His death He should ransom many and destroy him who had the power of death.” Early Writings, 151.

“It was difficult for the angels to endure the sight. They would have delivered Jesus, but the commanding angels forbade them, saying that it was a great ransom which was to be paid for man; but it would be complete and would cause the death of him who had the power of death.” Ibid., 170.

10 What did Christ come to this earth to accomplish? John 3:17; 10:10; 1 John 5:11.

NOTE: “Christ is life itself. He who passed through death to destroy him that had the power of death is the Source of all vitality. There is balm in Gilead, and a Physician there. Christ endured an agonizing death under the most humiliating circumstances that we might have life. He gave up His precious life that He might vanquish death. But He rose from the tomb, and the myriads of angels who came to behold Him take up the life He had laid down heard His words of triumphant joy as He stood above Joseph’s rent sepulcher proclaiming: ‘I am the resurrection, and the life.’ ” The Faith I Live By, 51.

11 What effect does the fear of death have on man? Hebrews 2:15.

NOTE: “Satan then consulted with his angels, and they there considered what they had gained. It was true that they had kept some timid souls through fear of death, from embracing the truth; but many, even of the most timid, received the truth, and immediately their fears and timidity left them, and as they witnessed the death of their brethren, and saw their firmness and patience, they knew that God and angels assisted them to endure such sufferings, and they grew bold and fearless. And when called to yield their own lives, they maintained their faith with such patience and firmness as caused even their murderers to tremble.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, 124, 125.

12 By whom alone can this fear and bondage be removed? Hebrews 2:16–18.

NOTE: “Christ came to give to the world an example of what perfect humanity might be when united with divinity. He presented to the world a new phase of greatness in His exhibition of mercy, compassion, and love. He gave to men a new interpretation of God. As head of humanity, He taught men lessons in the science of divine government, whereby He revealed the righteousness of the reconciliation of mercy and justice. The reconciliation of mercy and justice did not involve any compromise with sin, or ignore any claim of justice; but by giving to each divine attribute its ordained place, mercy could be exercised in the punishment of sinful, impenitent man without destroying its clemency or forfeiting its compassionate character, and justice could be exercised in forgiving the repenting transgressor without violating its integrity.

“All this could be, because Christ laid hold of the nature of man, and partook of the divine attributes, and planted His cross between humanity and divinity, bridging the gulf that separated the sinner from God.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 260, 261.

“Christ in the weakness of humanity was to meet the temptations of one possessing the powers of the higher nature that God had bestowed on the angelic family. But Christ’s humanity was united with divinity, and in this strength he would bear all the temptations that Satan could bring against him, and yet keep his soul untainted by sin. And this power to overcome he would give to every son and daughter of Adam who would accept by faith the righteous attributes of his character.” Review and Herald, January 28, 1909.

Bible Study Guides – Hebrews 1:8-14

January 5- 11, 2003

MEMORY VERSE: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” Hebrews 1:14.

SUGGESTED READING: Acts of the Apostles, 152–154.

INTRODUCTION: “The glad message of Hebrews 1:14 is for all. The entire chapter is a wonderful encouragement for every tried and tempted soul. [Hebrews 1:13, 14 quoted.] These messages are coming down along the line to our time, to them that shall be heirs of salvation. Angels actually come to our world. Nor are they always invisible. They sometimes veil their angelic appearance, and appearing as men, they converse with and enlighten human beings. . . .” My Life Today, 304.

1 Who speaks to the Son of God, and what is He called? Hebrews 1:8.

NOTE: “If Christ made all things, He existed before all things. The words spoken in regard to this are so decisive that no one need be left in doubt. Christ was God essentially, and in the highest sense. He was with God from all eternity. God over all, blessed forevermore.

“The Lord Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God, existed from eternity, a distinct person, yet one with the Father. He was the surpassing glory of heaven. He was the commander of the heavenly intelligences, and the adoring homage of the angels was received by him as his right. This was no robbery of God [Proverbs 8:22–27 quoted].

“There are light and glory in the truth that Christ was one with the Father before the foundation of the world was laid. This is the light shining in a dark place, making it resplendent with divine, original glory. This truth, infinitely mysterious in itself, explains other mysterious and otherwise unexplainable truths, while it is enshrined in light, unapproachable and incomprehensible.” Review and Herald, April 5, 1906.

2 Who does He invite to share His throne? Revelation 3:21.

NOTE: “The choice we make in this life will be our choice through all eternity. We shall receive either eternal life or eternal death. There is no middle ground, no second probation. God calls upon us to overcome as Christ overcame, that we may sit down with the Saviour in his throne. He has provided us with abundant opportunities and privileges, making it possible for us to overcome.” The Youth’s Instructor, May 9, 1901.

3 How long will He possess His throne? Luke 1:32, 33; Psalm 89:29, 35–37.

NOTE: “To David was given the promise that Christ should reign forever and ever, and that of his kingdom there should be no end.” The Youth’s Instructor, September 13, 1900.

4 How is Christ’s attitude toward iniquity described? Hebrews 1:9.

NOTE: “Christ hated one thing only, and that was sin.” The Bible Echo, April 9, 1894.

“How often we bring our sinful, polluted souls in contact with the heart of Christ, who hates nothing but sin. O, how we grieve the pure, holy Spirit of Christ with our defiling sins!” Review and Herald, July 5, 1898.

5 What should our attitude be towards sin [iniquity]? 1 John 3:4–9.

NOTE: “Those who are looking for the revelation of Christ in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, . . . will hate sin and iniquity, even as Christ hated sin. They will keep the commandments of God, as Christ kept His Father’s commandments. They will realize that it is not enough to acquiesce in the doctrines of truth, but that the truth must be applied to the heart, practiced in the life, in order that the followers of Christ may be one with Him, and that men may be as pure in their sphere as God is in His sphere.” Faith and Works, 115.

6 Who laid the foundations of the earth? Hebrews 1:10.

NOTE: “In the beginning, God was revealed in all the works of creation. It was Christ that spread the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth. It was His hand that hung the worlds in space, and fashioned the flowers of the field. ‘His strength setteth fast the mountains.’ ‘The sea is His, and He made it.’ Psalms 65:6; 95:5. It was He that filled the earth with beauty, and the air with song. And upon all things in earth, and air, and sky, He wrote the message of the Father’s love.” The Desire of Ages, 20.

7 What will happen to the heavens and earth? Hebrews 1:11, first part. Compare Revelation 21:1, 5.

NOTE: “God will cleanse the earth from its moral corruption, not by a sea of water as in Noah’s day, but by a sea of fire that cannot be quenched by any human devising.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 179.

“In Noah’s day philosophers declared that it was impossible for the world to be destroyed by water; so now there are men of science who endeavor to show that the world cannot be destroyed by fire—that this would be inconsistent with the laws of nature. But the God of nature, the Maker and Controller of her laws, can use the works of His hands to serve His own purpose.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 103.

8 What is said of the unchangeable nature of Christ? Hebrews 1:12; 13:8.

NOTE: “Keep the eye fixed on Christ. . . . Let the hand of God mold and fashion you after the divine similitude. . . . Hang your helpless soul on Jesus Christ. He is unchangeable, the same yesterday, today, and forever.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, vol. 1, 143.

“In your humiliation do not forget that Jesus knows it all, that His love is deep and unchangeable, that He pities our woes, He carries our sorrows, He is our Helper in whom we may trust.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 430, 431.

9 To whom did the Lord say, Sit thou on my right hand? Hebrews 1:13; Psalm 110:1.

NOTE: “In reply to the statement that Christ was the Son of David, Jesus said, ‘How then doth David in Spirit [the Spirit of Inspiration from God] call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool? If David then call Him Lord, how is He his son? And no man was able to answer Him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask Him any more questions.’ [Matthew 22:43–46.]” The Desire of Ages, 609.

“In the words of David referred to by Peter—[Psalm 110:1 quoted], the Father is called Lord, who said unto Christ, who is also Lord, and equal with the Father, ‘Sit thou on my right hand.’ ‘Therefore,’ said Peter, ‘let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.’ [Acts 2:36.]

“David called the Messiah, in his divine character, Lord, although, after the flesh, he was the son of David by direct descent. David, by prophetic foresight, saw Christ enter into the heavens, and take his position at the right hand of God.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, 271.

10 Until what time does He sit at the right hand of His Father? Hebrews 1:13; 10:12, 13. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:24–27.

NOTE: “The Lord is soon to come in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. Is there not enough in the truths which cluster around this event and in the preparation essential for it, to make us think solemnly of our duty? ‘The Son of man shall come in His glory; . . . and before Him shall be gathered all nations.’ [Matthew 25:31, 32.] This subject should be kept before the people as a means to an end,—that end the judgment, with its eternal punishments and rewards. Then God will render to every man according to his work. . . . ‘Fear God, and keep His command-ments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.’ [Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14.]” Review and Herald, June 18, 1901.

11 What will the Son of God do with his enemies when they are given to Him or put under His feet? Psalm 2:7–9; Luke 19:27.

NOTE: “Fire comes down from God out of heaven. The earth is broken up. The weapons concealed in its depths are drawn forth. Devouring flames burst from every yawning chasm. The very rocks are on fire. The day has come that shall burn as an oven. The elements melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein are burned up. The earth’s surface seems one molten mass—a vast, seething lake of fire.

“Satan and all who have joined him in rebellion will be cut off. Sin and sinners will perish, root and branch (Malachi 4:1)—Satan the root, and his followers the branches. . . . ‘They shall be as though they had not been.’ Obadiah 1:16.” The Faith I Live By, 357.

12 What office do the angels fill? Hebrews 1:14, first part.

NOTE: “All things both in heaven and in earth declare that the great law of life is a law of service. The infinite Father ministers to the life of every living thing. Christ came to the earth ‘as He that serveth.’ Luke 22:27. The angels are ‘ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.’ Hebrews 1:14. The same law of service is written upon all things in nature. The birds of the air, the beasts of the field, the trees of the forest, the leaves, the grass, and the flowers, the sun in the heavens and the stars of light—all have their ministry. Lake and ocean, river and water spring—each takes to give.” Education, 103.

13 To whom do angels minister? Hebrews 1:14, last part.

NOTE: “Yet the angels were to have a part to act in the plan of redemption. Christ was to be made ‘a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death.’ Hebrews 2:9. As He should take human nature upon Him, His strength would not be equal to theirs, and they were to minister to Him, to strengthen and soothe Him under His sufferings. They were also to be ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who should be heirs of salvation. Hebrews 1:14. They would guard the subjects of grace from the power of evil angels and from the darkness constantly thrown around them by Satan.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 65.

Bible Study Guides – Hebrews 1

December 29- January 4, 2003

MEMORY VERSE: “[God] Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” Hebrews 1:2

SUGGESTED READING: “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 921, 922; Fundamentals of Christian Education, 404.

INTRODUCTION: “God gives us sufficient evidence to enable us to accept the truth understandingly; but he does not propose to remove all occasion for doubt and unbelief. Should he do this, there would no longer be a necessity for the exercise of faith; for we would be able to walk by sight. All who with a teachable spirit study the word of God, may learn therefrom the way of salvation; yet they may not be able to understand every portion of the Sacred Record. The apostle Peter declares that in the epistles of Paul, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, there are ‘some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable, wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.’ Whatever is clearly established by the word of God we should accept, without attempting to meet every doubt which Satan may suggest, or with our finite understanding to fathom the counsels of the infinite One, or to criticise the manifestations of his grace or power.” The Signs of the Times, June 23, 1887.

1 By whom did God speak in times past? Hebrews 1:1.

NOTE: “Patriarchs, prophets, and apostles spoke as they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost, and they plainly stated that they spoke not by their own power, nor in their own name. They desired that no credit might be ascribed to them, that no one might regard them as the originators of anything whereof they might glory. They were jealous for the honor of God, to whom all praise belongs. They declared that their ability and the messages they brought, were given them as delegates of the power of God. God was their authority and sufficiency. Jesus had imparted a knowledge of God to patriarchs, prophets, and apostles. The revelations of the Old Testament were emphatically the unfoldings of the gospel, the unveiling of the purpose and will of the infinite Father. Through the holy men of old, Christ labored for the salvation of fallen humanity. And when he came to the world it was with the same message of redemption from sin, and restoration to the favor of God.” Review and Herald, January 7, 1890.

2 In what different ways has God spoken to men? Genesis 15:1; 18:1, 2; 19:1; 20:3; Numbers 12:6–8.

NOTE: “In every period of this earth’s history, God has had His men of opportunity, to whom He has said, ‘Ye are My witnesses.’ In every age there have been devout men, who gathered up the rays of light as they flashed upon their pathway, and who spoke to the people the words of God. Enoch, Noah, Moses, Daniel, and the long roll of patriarchs and prophets,—these were ministers of righteousness. They were not infallible; they were weak, erring men; but the Lord wrought through them as they gave themselves to His service.” Gospel Workers, 13.

3 By whom has the Lord spoken in these last days? Hebrews 1:2, first part.

NOTE: “The words which God spoke to Israel by His Son were spoken for us also in these last days. The same Jesus who, upon the mount, taught His disciples the far-reaching principles of the law of God, instructed ancient Israel from the cloudy pillar and from the tabernacle, by the mouth of Moses and Joshua. . . . Religion in the days of Moses and Joshua was the same as religion today.” The Signs of the Times, May 26, 1881.

“The whole Bible is a revelation; for all revelation to men comes through Christ, and all centers in Him. God has spoken unto us by His Son, whose we are by creation and by redemption. Christ came to John exiled on the Isle of Patmos to give him the truth for these last days, to show him that which must shortly come to pass. Jesus Christ is the great trustee of divine revelation. It is through Him that we have a knowledge of what we are to look for in the closing scenes of this earth’s history. God gave this revelation to Christ, and Christ communicated the same to John.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 20, 150.

4 What do the words “in these last days” mean? Acts 2:17; 1 Peter 1:5.

NOTE: “All the great events and solemn transactions of Old Testament history have been, and are, repeating themselves in the church in these last days. . . . We are under the influence of the whole. What manner of persons ought we to be to whom all this rich light of inheritance has been given. Concentrating all the influence of the past with new and increased light of the present, accrued power is given to all who will follow the light. Their faith will increase, and be brought into exercise at the present time, awakening an energy and an intensely increased earnestness, and through dependence upon God for His power to replenish the world and send the light of the Sun of Righteousness to the ends of the earth.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 339. [Emphasis supplied.]

5 To what is the Son appointed heir? Hebrews 1:2, middle part.

NOTE: “[Jesus] chose his life of suffering, his dreadful death, and, in the way appointed by his Father, to become a lawful heir to the kingdoms of earth, and have them given into his hands as an everlasting possession.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, 34, 35.

6 Are any others heirs with Him? Romans 8:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 3:21–23.

NOTE: “God loves His obedient children. He has a kingdom prepared, not for disloyal subjects, but for His children whom He has tested and tried in a world marred and corrupted by sin. As obedient children, we have the privilege of relationship with God. ‘If children,’ He says, ‘then heirs’ to an immortal inheritance. . . . Christ and His people are one (Letter 119, 1897).” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1077.

7 By whom were the worlds made? Hebrews 1:2, last part. Compare John 1:1–3; Colossians 1:16.

NOTE: “The Sovereign of the universe was not alone in His work of beneficence. He had an associate—a co-worker who could appreciate His purposes, and could share His joy in giving happiness to created beings. [John 1:1, 2 quoted.] Christ, the Word, the only begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father—one in nature, in character, in purpose—the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God. . . . And the Son of God declares concerning Himself: ‘The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting. . . . When He appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him.’ Proverbs 8:22–30.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 34.

8 In whose glory and image is the Son? Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:15, first part.

NOTE: “In Him [Jesus] is gathered all the glory of the Father, the fullness of the Godhead. He is the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His person. The glory of the attributes of God is expressed in His character.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 115.

“Jesus, the express image of the Father’s person, the effulgence of His glory; the self-denying Redeemer, throughout His pilgrimage of love on earth, was a living representation of the character of the law of God. In His life it is made manifest that heaven-born love, Christlike principles, underlie the laws of eternal rectitude.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 49.

9 How only can we learn and understand the glory and fullness of God’s power and grace? John 1:18; 14:7–9; 1 John 5:20.

NOTE: “What speech is to thought, so is Christ to the invisible Father. He is the manifestation of the Father, and is called the Word of God. God sent His Son into the world, His divinity clothed with humanity, that man might bear the image of the invisible God. He made known in His words, His character, His power and majesty, the nature and attributes of God.” That I May Know Him, 38.

10 How could a being of such glory and power purge our sins by the sacrifice of himself? John 1:14; Philippians 2:6–8.

NOTE: “By his obedience to all the commandments of God, Christ wrought out a redemption for man. This was not done by going out of himself to another, but by taking humanity into himself. Thus Christ gave to humanity an existence out of himself. To bring humanity into Christ, to bring the fallen race into oneness with divinity, is the work of redemption. Christ took human nature that men might be one with him as he is one with the Father, that God may love man as he loves his only begotten Son, that men may be partakers of the divine nature, and be complete in him.” Review and Herald, April 5, 1906.

11 Where is this mighty One now sitting? Hebrews 1:3, last part; 8:1.

NOTE: “The Lord Jesus lays His hand upon the eternal throne of God with all the ease and assurance of one who rules and reigns, putting on His head the crown of deity. He sits at the right hand of God and receives supreme honor as God, the glory He had before the world was. He distributes His gifts to all who by faith shall claim them. . . .” That I May Know Him, 338.

“Christ is a living Saviour. Today he sits at the right hand of God as our advocate, making intercession for us; and he calls upon us to look unto him and be saved. But it has ever been the tempter’s determined purpose to eclipse Jesus from the view, that men may be led to lean upon the arm of humanity for help and strength; and he has so well accomplished his purpose that men, turning their eyes from Jesus, in whom all hope of eternal life is centered, look to their fellow men for aid and guidance.” Review and Herald, September 29, 1896.

12 Who were commanded to worship Christ? Hebrews 1:6.

NOTE: “Our great Exemplar was exalted to be equal with God. He was high commander in heaven. All the holy angels delighted to bow before Him.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 426.

13 What are the angels in their nature? Hebrews 1:7.

NOTE: “When Christ ascended to the Father, He did not leave His followers without help. The Holy Spirit, as His representative, and the heavenly angels, as ministering spirits, are sent forth to aid those who against great odds are fighting the good fight of faith.” Messages to Young People, 17.

“Good angels are ministering spirits, exerting a heavenly influence upon heart and mind . . . .” Review and Herald, July 19, 1887.

Food for Life – Noodles Romanoff

” ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof’ (Psalm 24:1). This world is the Lord’s storehouse, from which we are ever drawing. He has provided fruits and grains and vegetables for our sustenance. For us He makes the sun to shine and the rain to fall. The whole human family, good and evil, are constantly drawing from God’s storehouse. It makes every difference with those so highly privileged how they receive the Lord’s gifts and how they treat the contract the Lord has made with them. He has made them His almoners, directing them to draw from His storehouse, and then make a return to Him in gifts and offerings, ‘that there may be meat in mine house.’ [Malachi 3:10.]—Manuscript 73, December 12, 1900, ‘Bring an Offering Unto the Lord.’ ” The Upward Look, 360.

Recipe – Noodles Romanoff

Submitted by Evelyn Grosboll

5 quarts boiling water

1 1/2 Tablespoons salt 

12 ounces 1/2 inch wide noodles or fetucine noodles (about 6 cups)

3 cups tofu cottage cheese

2 cups tofu sour cream*

6 Tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups green onions, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed 

1/2 teaspoon sweet basil

1/2 cup fine bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 2 1/2 quart casserole. In an 8–12 quart kettle, bring water to a rapid boil, then add salt. Gradually add noodles so that water continues to boil. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 7 minutes, until just tender. Drain in a colander; set aside.

In large bowl combine tofu cottage cheese, tofu sour cream, 4 tablespoons olive oil, green onions, garlic, and sweet basil. Add noodles and toss lightly with fork to combine. Turn into casserole. Stir bread crumbs into remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, toss lightly with fork. Sprinkle crumbs on top of casserole.

Bake for 25–30 minutes, until piping hot. Makes 8–10 servings.

*Tofu Sour Cream recipe is given in the November 2002 Land Marks.

Recipe – Tofu Cottage Cheese

14–16 ounces tofu

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup water

Mash or crumble tofu in large bowl. Blend cashews and water until smooth. (May substitute sweet pickle juice for part of the water.) Add seasonings and mix with the tofu.

Nature Nugget – Mimicry

Mimicry is “the superficial resemblance of one organism to another that secures it a selective advantage.” Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1981.

One of the best known examples of mimicry in North America is the Viceroy butterfly. The Viceroy mimics the orange and black coloration of the Monarch butterfly, which is distasteful to predators because it fed on the poisonous milkweed plant as a larva. Other native butterflies, such as the Spicebush Swallowtail and the females of the Tiger and Black Swallowtails mimic the coloration of the Pipevine Swallowtail, which is also distasteful to predators.

One of the most spectacular mimics in the Neotropic rainforest is a sphingid moth larva, which mimics the Parrot Snake. The caterpillar is colored a cryptic green, which resembles a twig until it is disturbed. When disturbed, the caterpillar, in one-motion swings its head end free and inflates its thorax with air, taking on the shape and color pattern of a Parrot Snake’s head complete with large false eyespots. This is usually enough of an effective surprise to shock even the most resolute predator. As if that weren’t enough, the last stage of development of this caterpillar mimics the arboreal Eyelash Viper.

“The Australian Hammer Orchid has taken advantage of a mating ritual of the Thynnid wasp, which involves a female wasp waiting on top of a plant for a male to spot her. The hammer orchid’s flower mimics the female wasp looking upward for a male flying by, complete with a fake shiny head and furry body. The orchid even releases an enticing, female wasp pheromone. When the male wasp tries to mate with the dummy female, he fails, but the orchid succeeds in getting pollen on the wasp. He flies away, only to be fooled again by another orchid. In the process the wasp transfers pollen from flower to flower.” (cited September 2002).

There are many other examples of mimicry in nature. There are flies that mimic bees, spiders and insects that mimic ants, and insects that mimic leaves and twigs. Satan used mimicry in the Garden of Eden by taking the form of a serpent to deceive Eve. He is still using mimicry on us today by his many counterfeits. He has a counterfeit gospel, a counterfeit church, a counterfeit Sabbath, a counterfeit outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and counterfeit revivals and miracles. He has a counterfeit for every part of God’s work. “Satan can present a counterfeit so closely resembling the truth that it deceives those who are willing to be deceived . . . .” The Great Controversy, 528. Only the true student of God’s Word will be able to discern God’s truth from Satan’s counterfeits. “So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures.” Ibid., 593.

Children’s Story – He Will Soon Be Here

After a long day’s journey, I arrived at the house of some relatives in Wales, who had invited me to spend Christmas with them. After the first greetings had been exchanged, I said, “But I don’t see my dear Ruthie.”

“No, Aunt, one of the children answered, “Ruth is out this evening, and she wants to have you all to herself first when she returns, because she has some news that nobody else is to tell you.”

Ruth, the eldest daughter, had been for some time engaged to a young man holding a civil post in India. There was every probability of his being able to revisit England in a few months and claim his bride; but when last I heard from Ruth, the time for his coming was still unsettled. I at once guessed her good news had reference to this matter. Soon after I had retired for the night, there came a gentle tap at my bedroom door, and Ruth entered; there was a light in her eyes, a joyous elasticity in her step.

“Auntie,” she cried as she embraced me, “they have not told you?”

“No, darling, only that you have something to tell.”

So, making me sit down by the fire, she told me, with a happy, blushing face, while she drew a letter from her pocket, that Herbert had written to say he would be home from India soon.

When Ruth had left me, I sat thinking how much more gladness there should be in the lives of those who are looking for the coming of the heavenly Bridegroom. Every day spent with my niece taught me, in some new and practical way, how the thought of our Lord’s appearing should regulate our present aims and occupations—should influence our views concerning the possessions, privations, joys, and sorrows of this life.

I noticed she was less often with the family, and one day I went to find her in her room. There I found her sitting at a table which was covered with books; she was reading a large volume and busily making notes from it.

“This is a new interest of yours, Ruthie, isn’t it?” I remarked.

“Yes, Aunt, but you see Herbert is so clever; I do not want him to find me very ignorant, so I am studying history two hours a day. And as he said something in his last letter about touring Europe after the wedding, I want to improve my French and German efficiency.”

One afternoon as the women of the house were going shopping, Ruth declined the outing, and when her mother inquired what she could bring for her, Ruth replied, “Nothing, thank you, Mamma. I must think about my outfit next month, as Herbert will soon be here.”

On another occasion I heard some young friends ask her if she had heard anything about the house in India where she was to live. “Hardly anything,” she answered, “except that he has been preparing it for a long time, and he will be there.”

The impression left upon my mind by her earnest looking for her expected bridegroom has never been erased. When the things of this life threaten to assume an undue importance, I recall Ruth’s oft-repeated words, “It is not worthwhile, when he will soon be here;” and I strive to bring the glory of Christ’s soon return to bear on all the interest of time; to keep me sober in its joys, and content in its sorrows; and to be careful for nothing because “the Lord is at hand.” And many times when I have longed for more information regarding the Promised Land, I have remembered Ruth’s simple words with respect to her unknown dwelling in India and rested my heart on the blessed thought, “He who loves me with an everlasting love is preparing a mansion for me there.”

Restoring the Temple – The Endocrine System

So, what’s the endocrine system? You may have heard of adrenal glands and of people who are hypoglycemic or diabetic. The endocrine system is the collection of the body’s glands along with their hormones, and other hormone-producing organs. The endocrine system is extremely important as it regulates and controls an extraordinary number of functions in our bodies. Just as the nervous system uses electricity to send and receive messages, the endocrine system uses chemicals called hormones to accomplish even more amazing things. The endocrine system may not work as fast as the nervous system, but its effects last longer. The endocrine system is extremely complex, and scientists are continually discovering new functions and interactions of hormones throughout the body. We’ll discuss just a very small portion of the endocrine system in this article.

Glands are organs whose function is to manufacture hormones. Glands are found all over the body. For example, in our heads we have the hypothalamus, pituitary and pineal glands. In our neck and chest are the thyroid, parathyroid, and thymus glands. Some endocrine organs are also part of other systems, such as the pancreas which produces hormones but is also part of the digestive system, ovaries and testes which are glands but are also part of the reproductive system, and kidneys which produce hormones but are also part of the urinary system.

Hormones are chemical messengers that are produced and released in a gland and are transported, via the circulatory system, to other cells. In fact, each hormone has its target cells, which means that there are specific cells that will respond to it. Think of the hormone as a package and the bloodstream as the postal service. Only the cell with the correct “address” will accept the package. Other “packages” or hormones will be ignored. This use of hormones to coordinate cellular activities in distant parts of the body is called endocrine communication.

Let’s take a look at one organ in particular. The pancreas is situated just behind the stomach. As previously noted, it is part of both the endocrine system and the digestive system. In its role as a digestive organ, the pancreas releases certain pancreatic digestive juices through a tube and into the small intestine. The endocrine function of the pancreas involves controlling your blood sugar or glucose. Pancreatic endocrine cells produce hormones called glucagon and insulin. These two hormones work as a check and balance system. Glucagon raises blood glucose by affecting the liver, which can break down other substances and turn them into glucose and send it into the bloodstream. Insulin lowers blood glucose by increasing the glucose uptake of the body’s cells. Without insulin, glucose would circulate without being taken in by the cells, which need it for energy production. Think of insulin as the big brother that holds the little brother’s (glucose) hand, making it “ok” to go into the cell.

You have certainly heard of the disease called diabetes. Diabetes can be caused by several things but is generally characterized by glucose concentrations that are high enough to spill into the urine, making urine production excessive. In Type I diabetes, the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin. Type II diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to respond to insulin normally. In each case, the “big brother” isn’t available to help glucose into the cell. Without glucose, the body cannot produce energy necessary for life. Left untreated, diabetes can kill. When this system is working normally, the body is kept in balance, or homeostasis, which is how God planned it to work.

Homeostasis is another major function of the endocrine system. The following is an illustration of one of the processes of homeostasis, thermoregulation.

A frog, a rock, and you are sitting in the shade on your porch for a little while. It is late afternoon and the outside temperature is 102.0 degrees F. After a while, the temperature of the frog and the rock are approximately 102.0 degrees F; your temperature is 98.6 degrees F. As night falls, the temperature plummets to freezing. The temperature of the frog and the rock are now about 32.0 degrees F. Your temperature is 98.6 degrees F.

This illustrates the fact that man, unlike the frog or the rock, is homeothermic, which means that we maintain a constant temperature regardless of our surroundings. How is this possible? The process of this temperature regulation is called thermoregulation and it is quite complex. Heat is produced as a byproduct of metabolism. That is not a problem, but the body must remove heat, or we will get too hot. We lose heat through our skin, especially through evaporation when we sweat. You will have noticed that your skin gets red when you are hot. This occurs because blood vessels in your skin dilate which allow more blood flow to the surface and therefore more heat can be radiated off the skin. Conversely, when you are cold, your skin turns pale as the skin blood vessels constrict so that less heat is lost to the air. Your extremities get cold first because the body shunts blood to the head and trunk to protect the vital organs. Shivering is the body’s way to increase metabolism, which increases heat production. This occurs when you are too cold or during an infection when the body needs to increase its temperature.

The part of the brain called the diencephalon is the heat-regulating center. Neural messages pass to and from the heat center, keeping the body in constant temperature balance. If any portion of this process is not functioning, the entire process can fail. In other words, Adam must have been fully formed when God breathed life into him; he could not have gradually developed over time or his thermoregulatory system, and other body systems that are so intricately linked, would have failed, and he would not have lived.

Though we have touched on just a miniscule portion of the endocrine system, it is clear that God’s plan incorporates a wondrous balance within our intricate inner workings. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry [them] in his bosom, [and] shall gently lead those that are with young. Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?” Isaiah 40:11, 12.

From the Pen of Inspiration – The First Advent of Christ

The Jews had separated themselves so far from God by their wicked works, that angels could not communicate to them the tidings of the advent of the infant Redeemer. God chooses the wise men of the East to do his will.

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” [Matthew 2:1, 2.] These men were not Jews; but they had been waiting for the predicted Messiah. They had studied prophecy, and knew the time was at hand when Christ would come; and they were anxiously watching for some sign of this great event, that they might be among the first to welcome the infant heavenly King, and worship him. These wise men were philosophers, and had studied the works of God in nature. In the wonders of the heavens, in the glories of the sun, moon, and stars, they traced the finger of God. They were not idolaters. They lived up to the dim light which shone upon them. These men were regarded by the Jews as heathen; but they were more pure in the sight of God than the Jews who had been privileged with great light, and who made exalted professions, yet did not live up to the light God had given them. These wise men had seen the heavens illuminated with light, which enshrouded the heavenly host who heralded the advent of Christ to the humble shepherds. And after the angels returned to Heaven, a luminous star appeared, and lingered in the heavens.

This light was a distant cluster of flaming angels, which appeared like a luminous star. The unusual appearance of the large, bright star which they had never seen before, hanging as a sign in the heavens, attracted their attention. They were not privileged to hear the proclamation of the angels to the shepherds. But the Spirit of God moved them out to seek this heavenly Visitor to a fallen world. The wise men directed their course where the star seemed to lead them. And as they drew nigh to the city of Jerusalem, the star was enshrouded in darkness, and no longer guided them. They reasoned that the Jews could not be ignorant of the great event of the advent of the Messiah, and they made inquiries in the vicinity of Jerusalem.

The wise men are surprised to see no unusual interest upon the subject of the coming of the Messiah. They fear that after all they may not have read the prophecies correctly. Uncertainty beclouds their minds, and they become anxious. They hear the priests repeating and enforcing their traditions, and expounding the law, and exalting their religion, and their own piety. They point to their phylacteries, and the borders of their garments, upon which the precepts of the law and their traditions are inscribed, as evidences of their devotion, while they denounce the Romans and the Greeks as heathen and sinners above all men. The wise men leave Jerusalem not as confident and hopeful as when they entered it. They marvel that the Jews are not interested and joyful in prospect of this great event of the advent of Christ.

The churches of our time are seeking worldly aggrandizement, and are as unwilling to see the light of the prophecies, and receive the evidences of their fulfillment which show that Christ is soon to come, as were the Jews in reference to his first appearing. They were looking for the temporal and triumphant reign of Messiah in Jerusalem. Professed Christians of our time are expecting the temporal prosperity of the church, in the conversion of the world, and the enjoyment of the temporal millennium. . . .

The city of Jerusalem was thrown into great excitement by the sayings of the wise men. The news was immediately carried to Herod. He was exceedingly troubled, yet disguised the discomfiture, and received the men with apparent courtesy.

The advent of Christ was the greatest event which had taken place since the creation of the world. The birth of Christ, which gave joy to the angels of Heaven, was not welcome to the kingly powers of the world. Suspicion and envy were aroused in king Herod, and his wicked heart was planning his dark purposes for the future. The Jews manifested a stupid indifference to the story of the wise men. But Herod is intensely interested and excited. He summons the scribes, and the chief priests, and urges upon them to search carefully prophetic history, and tell him where the infant king was to be born. The careless indifference and apparent ignorance of the scribes and chief priests, as they turn to their books for the words of prophecy, irritate the fully aroused king. He thinks they are trying to conceal from him the real facts in regard to the birth of the Messiah. He authoritatively commands them to make close search in relation to their expected king. [Matthew 2:4–8 quoted.]

Although Herod received the wise men with apparent respect, yet the intimation by them of the birth of a King to reign in Jerusalem, excited his envy and hatred against the infant whom he thought might prove his rival, and drive him, or his descendants, from the throne. A storm of opposition and satanic fury took possession of Herod, and he determined to destroy this infant king. Yet he put on a calm exterior, and requested a private interview with the wise men. . . . The wise men were not able to read the heart of the tyrant Herod; but God, who is acquainted with every emotion of the soul, with the intents and purposes of the heart, was not deceived by his hypocritical pretenses. . . .

After the wise men had left Jerusalem, they again saw, to their great joy, the guiding star in the heavens, which directed them to the birthplace of our Saviour. [Matthew 2:11 quoted.] The wise men found no loyal guard to debar their entrance to the presence of Christ. The honorable of the world are not in attendance. In place of the people who should have welcomed with grateful homage the Prince of life, he is surrounded with dumb, beasts. . . .

The Lord moved upon the wise men to go in search of Jesus, and he directed their course by a star. This star, leaving them when near Jerusalem, led them to make inquiries in Judah; for they thought it was not possible for the chief priests and scribes to be ignorant of this great event. The coming of the wise men made the whole nation acquainted with the object of their journey, and directed their attention to the important events which were transpiring. God well knew that the advent of his Son to earth would stir the powers of darkness. Satan did not want that light should come into the world. The eye of God was upon his Son every moment. . . . The Lord provided a way for Joseph to preserve his own life, and the life of Jesus, and that of the mother, by their fleeing into Egypt. He provided for the necessities of their journey, and for their sojourn in Egypt, by moving upon the wise men of the East to go in search of the infant Saviour, and to bear him valuable offerings as a token of honor. The Lord is acquainted with the hearts of all men. He directed the course of Joseph into Egypt, that he might there find an asylum from the wrath of a tyrannical king, and the life of the infant Saviour be preserved. The earthly parents of Jesus were poor. The gifts brought to them by the wise men sustained them while in the land of strangers.

Herod waited anxiously for the return of the wise men; for he was impatient to carry out his determined purpose to destroy the infant King of Israel. After he had waited long for the knowledge he desired, he feared his purpose might be thwarted. . . .

Herod issued a proclamation to a large body of soldiers, whose hearts were hardened by crime, war, and bloodshed, to go throughout Bethlehem and all the coasts thereof and massacre all the children from two years old and under. . . .

This was the reception the Saviour met as he came to a fallen world. . . . He who came to bring life to man, met, from the very ones he came to benefit, insult, hatred, and abuse. God could not trust his beloved Son with men while carrying on his benevolent work for their salvation, and final exaltation to his own throne. He sent angels to attend his Son and preserve his life, till his mission on earth should be accomplished, and he should die by the hands of the very men he came to save. Review and Herald, December 24, 1872.

[All Emphasis Supplied.]

The Race to Contact the Dead, Part III

The fascination with death, and the realization of the impossibility of escape from death, has led many into a race to contact the dead. The phenomenon of claiming to contact the dead is becoming almost common place. With the increased interest in afterlife, it becomes necessary for every Christian to thoroughly investigate the Scriptures to see what God’s Word teaches about what happens at death. In both the Old and New Testaments, death is referred to as a sleep. In the King James Version of the Bible, similar words such as “sleep, sleepeth, asleep” are used to describe death in no less than 60 verses. The testimony of the Bible is unmistakable. “For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; Nevermore will they have a share In anything done under the sun. . . . Whatever your hand finds to do, do [it] with your might; for [there is] no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10.

What happens at death? The spirit, that spark of life, returns to God, and the body decays back into dust. Man is sleeping in the grave, peacefully awaiting the resurrection.

By saying that the soul does not die, that it simply floats to eternal bliss or eternal misery, we are in reality saying that the soul is immortal. The soul is not immortal; God alone is immortal. “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, [be] honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17.

Reward Received at the Resurrection

We see all through the New Testament that the great hope of the apostles was the resurrection, and it is the resurrection that is to be our great hope as well. It is the resurrection that is to be our comfort in the time of loss.

It is the resurrection, not death, which we are repeatedly taught to look forward to—when we will receive our reward. Jesus said, “And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:14. Paul hoped, “if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:11. He was looking forward, as Jesus said, to the resurrection of the dead. Paul also said, “I have hope in God, which they themselves [the Jews, his accusers] also accept, that there will be a resurrection of [the] dead, both of [the] just and [the] unjust.” Acts 24:15.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul combats the belief that there is no resurrection (similar to today’s belittling of the importance of the resurrection) and makes some very revealing statements. “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.” “Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” Verses 13, 18, 19. If there is no resurrection, then the dead have perished. He did not say that they are in heaven without bodies, he said they are perished, and the only thing that we would have to look forward to is this life, which would be most miserable.

Paul clearly did not teach that immediately when a person dies he ascends to heaven. He taught that at the resurrection all ascend to heaven together. The babies who have died do not go to a strange place without their mother or their father; they are in an unconscious sleep until the resurrection when all can go to heaven together. God’s way truly is best.

When we rationally think about the resurrection, it is the only thing that would make sense anyway, for the Bible constantly talks about a judgment. God has an appointed time for the judgment (see Acts 17:31), and throughout the Bible it is repeatedly talked about as a future event. (See Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14; 3:15, 17; 11:9.) We are also told, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ . . . .” 2 Corinthians 5:10. If a person went directly to heaven or to hell before the judgment day, that would be incredibly unfair. Who has ever heard of a judge condemning a person to prison before he was found guilty? Yet this is what people think God is doing. What a misrepresentation of our loving God! God would never sentence a person to death, or life, before a fair trial had been given. Revelation pictures the judgment taking place (see Revelation 20:11–13) and then, after the judgment occurs, is the “lake of fire.” Revelation 20:14, 15. God is just, and the punishment will not be executed until the judgment, or trial, takes place. Thus all the dead righteous and wicked are asleep in their graves, awaiting their respective resurrections. (See John 5:28, 29.)

The Thief on the Cross

As in any subject that we study from the Bible, there are a few texts that can confuse us and make things hard to understand. We must always remember the Biblical principle of getting the weight of the evidence. “Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those [just] weaned from milk? Those [just] drawn from the breasts? For precept [must be] upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.” Isaiah 28:9, 10. “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 2:13. If we are going to understand what God is telling us in His Word about a subject, we must compare scripture with scripture. We must put precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little. We must get the entire picture to see what God is trying to tell us. We must not isolate one verse from the rest of the Bible and build a doctrine upon it. We must get the weight of evidence and allow the weight of evidence to determine our thinking upon a subject. There are always going to be a few verses that make it difficult for us to understand, but if we look upon the subject as a whole, comparing all the verses, the Holy Spirit will teach us the truth.

One such verse, that can be used to stand in contradiction to the weight of evidence of what the Bible says about death, is what Jesus said to the thief on the cross. “Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’ ” Luke 23:42, 43. At first glance it does appear that Jesus is promising the thief that he will be in Paradise that very day. There are a few problems with that interpretation, though. The first is that it contradicts the vast majority of other references on the subject. The second is that Jesus did not even go to Paradise that day!

On resurrection morning, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that Jesus was not there. She immediately ran to get the other disciples and they came and verified that what she said was correct; then they returned to their own homes. Mary, on the other hand, stayed at the garden weeping, where she mistakes Jesus for the gardener, until He calls her by name. Immediately she throws herself at His feet, but “Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, “I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and [to] My God and your God.” ’ ” John 20:17. Jesus plainly told Mary that He had not yet ascended to the Father. On Sunday morning, shortly after the resurrection, Jesus had not yet ascended to the throne of God, where Paradise and the Tree of Life are. (Compare Revelation 2:7; 22:1, 2.) How could Jesus have been with the thief in Paradise on Friday, if He had not even gone to Paradise before Sunday morning? Clearly it must not be teaching that Jesus promised that the thief would be in Paradise that very day, for that would make a liar out of Him.

What was Jesus saying? When we look back to the Greek, we find that there was no punctuation. Not only was there no punctuation, there were not even spaces or lowercase letters. The translators did a marvelous job in translating and putting in the punctuation, but they did not always put the punctuation in the right places. An example of this can be found in Acts 19:12. In the King James Version it reads that the handkerchiefs were sick and so Paul healed them, and the diseases and unclean spirits went out from them. Clearly the comma was misplaced in this instance. If it is placed after the word “sick,” it makes perfect sense. By putting the comma after “today” instead of before “today,” Luke 23:43 agrees with all the rest of scripture. It would then read, “Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.” Jesus is simply making the declaration today; even though the thief had waited until the last hours of his life, today he was guaranteed that he would be in Paradise. Jesus was saying to the thief, as he said to Zacchaeus, “Today salvation has come to this house.” Luke 19:9. The thief is now unconsciously sleeping in the grave until the resurrection, just like all the other righteous dead.

Saul and the Witch

Since we are talking about contacting the dead, we should look at another instance that is sometimes used to justify this activity and the erroneous idea that we can communicate with the dead. This instance is found in 1 Samuel 28:3–19. We find here that even though Saul had previously “put the mediums and the spiritists out of the land” (verse 3), in his apostasy he consulted a medium, an act which the Lord calls an abomination. Notice verse 6: “And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.” The Lord had left Saul. Now when Saul longed for communication with the Lord, the Lord refused to answer him. So Saul turned to the agent of Satan, one who claimed to be able to call up the dead.

Saul asks for Samuel to be brought up. Samuel was a true prophet, and verse 6 already made it clear that the Lord did not answer by prophets. When Saul asks what the woman sees, she replies, “I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth.” Verse 13. Saul did not see anything; it was only the medium who saw this spirit. It also does not say that she saw Samuel, but simply a spirit. Saul then “perceived that it [was] Samuel.” Verse 14. Saul bows down to the spirit. This is conclusive evidence that it was not Samuel, for not even good angels allow people to bow down to them. (See Revelation 19:10.) If it was truly Samuel, there is no way that Samuel would have tolerated obeisance to him. It is true that the spirit claimed to be Samuel, but would not an evil spirit follow through with its deception and claim to be the one it is impersonating? It is also true that “the spirit” told the truth about what was going to happen, but the devil tells the truth at times when it makes his deceptions more plausible. The devils repeatedly told the truth that Jesus was the Son of God. (See Matthew 8:29; Mark 1:23–25; 3:11.) Does that mean that they are good spirits? Absolutely not! The evil spirit in this instance was just telling the truth to be more deceptive.

It would have been unnecessary to try to deceive Saul anyway, for he was already a lost man. The Lord had become his enemy, and he was to die the next day. Notice one of the reasons that Saul was killed: “So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance.” 1 Chronicles 10:13.

Saul, in total apostasy, consulted a medium, which is an abomination, and he died because of it. The medium was the only one who saw anything—a “spirit ascending out of the earth,” not Samuel, although it resembled Samuel. Saul worshipped this spirit, which Samuel would never have allowed. The Lord would not answer Saul by prophets, and Samuel was a prophet. Surely it was not Samuel who was consulted, but an evil spirit impersonating Samuel.

Spirits in the Last Days

In the days in which we live, it is so important that we understand the truth about contacting the dead. Revelation tells us that it will be the spirits of devils that are going to gather the world together for the Battle of Armageddon. “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs [coming] out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, [which] go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” Revelation 16:13, 14. John sees the spirit of demons doing signs and deceiving the world into uniting on the wrong side of the Battle of Armageddon. “And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!’ ” Revelation 18:2. The last day power of Babylon is mentioned as being a habitation of demons and a prison for every foul spirit.

In the last days, these foul spirits and demons are going to play a large part in deceiving the world into worshipping the beast power. They will appear, impersonating our dead loved ones, to teach us that we need to worship the beast. Beware! Do not listen to them, for they are the spirits of demons. They may even appear as the apostles or other early Christian figures, teaching things contrary to the writings of Scripture, but beware! The apostles and early Christians are sleeping in the grave awaiting the resurrection. They will not rise “till the heavens [are] no more, They will not awake Nor be roused from their sleep.” Job 14:12.

The race to contact the dead is well under progress today, but it will grow and increase. Do not be surprised to see miraculous appearances and signs from those who claim to be deceased—they are none other than the agents of Satan to deceive the world into accepting the mark of the beast. Everything must be tested by the great test given in God’s Word: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, [it is] because [there is] no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20. It does not matter how good and wonderful a spirit may appear; if it claims to have returned from the dead, it is false, because it is contradicting the testimony of the Word of God. There is no light in it. We must know for a certainty and remember what the Word of God teaches on this crucial topic, or we will be deceived by the wiles of the devil in the last days.

We do not need to fear, though, for God is stronger than all the might of the adversary. God has promised that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38, 39. If we keep our life hid in Christ, we will be safe from the powerful delusions that will take the world captive. The ones who are deceived are those who do “not receive the love of the truth.” 2 Thessalonians 2:10. All who are carefully and prayerfully studying the Word of God, for His “word is truth” (John 17:17), and who are purifying their “souls in obeying the truth” (1 Peter 1:22), will be shielded from the deceptions of the devil. Those who are willing to follow and believe God’s Word, whatever it says, will be “kept by the power of God through faith” and will receive the end of their faith—the salvation of their souls. (1 Peter 1:5, 9.) Praise God for teaching us the truth from His Word that we need not be deceived. May each one of us be among that group who are protected from the last powerful delusions.

The Perfect Gift

“The holiday season is fast approaching with its interchange of gifts, and old and young are intently studying what they can bestow upon their friends as a token of affectionate remembrance. It is pleasant to receive a gift, however small, from those we love. It is an assurance that we are not forgotten, and seems to bind us to them a little closer. . . . It is right to bestow upon one another tokens of love and remembrance . . . .” The Adventist Home, 478.

“Do you have all your shopping done yet?” This question is often used as a greeting to our friends during the holiday time of the year. Even strangers ask strangers this question as they endure long cashier checkout lines. More often than not the answer is an agonized No!

There are some people for whom it is very hard to make the right gift selection. You have no idea what they need or want. You have no clue what their size or color preference might be. Perhaps the recipient is picky, or when you have decided, after days of struggle, on just the right present, you discover they have purchased the item for themselves. The biggest challenge in gift buying is purchasing for the person who seems to be in need of nothing; they have every necessity and imaginable gadget anyone could desire. But God knows exactly what each person needs.

Gift of the Saviour

If ever there was a gift where “everybody needs one,” “one size fits all,” or “you cannot do without it,” this is it! This Promised Gift became a need when, in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve chose to believe the smooth enticements of the serpent rather than the life-giving instructions of their Father.

“Plain and specific prophecies had been given regarding the appearance of the Promised One. To Adam was given an assurance of the coming of the Redeemer. The sentence pronounced on Satan, ‘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), was to our first parents a promise of the redemption to be wrought out through Christ.” The Acts of the Apostles, 222.

God did not hold the human race in suspense as to when the Promised Gift would be given. He revealed the time: “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” Galations 4:4. “When the fullness of time was come, He sent forth His Son. The One appointed in the councils of heaven came to this earth as man’s instructor. The rich benevolence of God gave Him to our world, and to meet the necessities of human nature He took humanity upon Himself. To the astonishment of the heavenly host the eternal Word came to this world as a helpless babe. Fully prepared, He left the royal courts and mysteriously allied Himself with fallen human beings. ‘The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.’ John 1:14.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 259.

Can any of you who are parents comprehend giving your only son to people who, for the most part, do not have an interest in him? That is exactly what God did for us: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son . . . .” John 3:16. Imagine giving to someone an item that is very precious to you, that you have sacrificed greatly to give, and they put it away on a closet shelf and forget about it! “The priests . . . of Israel had been given the privilege of receiving Christ as their Saviour, without money and without price. But they refused the precious gift offered them in the most tender spirit of constraining love.” The Desire of Ages, 564.

“It is your Creator who has poured out to you all heaven in one wondrous gift,—His only-begotten Son. . . .” Counsels on Stewardship, 46.

You may have heard the phrase, “The gift that goes on giving.” That definitely describes what happens when the gift of the Saviour is given and accepted!

Gift of Salvation

After telling of the incomprehensible gift God gave, John 3:16 continues: “. . . that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23.

It is the desire of God’s heart to continue to give, especially to those individuals who accept the gift of His Son. Even to those who do not at first appreciate and accept the gift of His Son, He continues to offer the Gift—just as human parents desire to give special things to their children and continue to sacrificially offer gifts, even when their offerings are scorned and rejected. “The great gift of salvation has been placed within our reach at an infinite cost to the Father and the Son. To neglect salvation, is to neglect the knowledge of the Father and of the Son whom God hath sent in order that man might become a partaker of the divine nature, and thus, with Christ, an heir of all things. A neglect to lay hold of the priceless treasure of salvation, means the eternal ruin of your soul. The peril of indifference to God and neglect of his gift, is measured by the greatness of salvation. God has done to the uttermost of his almighty power. The resources of infinite love have been exhausted in devising and executing the plan of redemption for man. God has revealed his character in the goodness, the mercy, compassion, and love manifested to save a race of guilty rebels.” Review and Herald, March 10, 1891.

“The paternal character of God is revealed in his holy law, proving him to be full of mercy, goodness, and truth. God has manifested unparalleled love in giving his beloved Son to die for fallen man; but men have not appreciated this love, and have refused the gift of salvation. How patiently God has borne with sinners, and will still bear with them till the measure of ingratitude and iniquity is full, and the world is ripe for judgment and wrath.” Ibid., September 3, 1889.

He does not, however, want the action of acceptance to be based purely on the desire of future reward. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9.

“The sinner views the spirituality of the law of God and its eternal obligations. He sees the love of God in providing a substitute and surety for guilty man, and that substitute is One equal with God. This display of grace in the gift of salvation to the world fills the sinner with amazement. This love of God to man breaks every barrier down. He comes to the cross, which has been placed midway between divinity and humanity, and repents of his sins of transgression, because Christ has been drawing him to Himself. He does not expect the law to cleanse him from sin, for there is no pardoning quality in the law to save the transgressors of the law. He looks to the atoning Sacrifice as his only hope, through repentance toward God—because the laws of His government have been broken—and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ as the One who can save and cleanse the sinner from every transgression.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 194.

“The gift of God is eternal life. The Lord desires all who receive His grace to trust entirely in Him. He calls upon us to exercise pure, simple faith, trusting in Him, without a question as to what recompense we shall receive. We are to work heartily in His service, showing that we have perfect confidence that He will judge righteously.” Lift Him Up, 343.

“The faith in Christ which saves the soul is not what it is represented to be by many. ‘Believe, believe,’ is their cry; ‘only believe in Christ, and you will be saved. It is all you have to do.’ While true faith trusts wholly in Christ for salvation, it will lead to perfect conformity to the law of God. Faith is manifested by works. And the apostle John declares, ‘He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.’ [1 John 2:4.]” Review and Herald, October 5, 1886.

Gift of the Holy Spirit

As we accept the gift of the Saviour and, subsequently, the gift of salvation, our loving Father has promised yet another gift: “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.” “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 14:16–18, 26.

God desires to give this Gift to us that we, like Christ, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, may be prepared for the coming conflict. (See Counsels on Diet and Foods, 153.) Instruction is given to us from the pen of inspiration on how we are to prepare for this Gift. We “should uplift the standard of temperance from a Christian point of view, showing that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and bringing to the minds of the people the responsibility resting upon them as God’s purchased possession to make mind and body a holy temple, fit for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 75. We are to control our appetites and passions so we “have a sound physical constitution, and mental and spiritual strength,” ready to accept the indwelling Spirit. Conflict and Courage, 271.

Other character weaknesses must be overcome as well. “The Holy Spirit does not abide in the heart of him who is peevish if others do not agree with his ideas and plans. From the lips of such a man there come scathing remarks, which grieve the Spirit away, and develop attributes that are satanic rather than divine. The Lord desires those connected with His work to speak at all times with the meekness of Christ. If you are provoked, do not become impatient. Manifest the gentleness of which Christ has given us an example in His life. . . .” Counsels on Stewardship, 115.

“Every individual must realize his own necessity. The heart must be emptied of every defilement, and cleansed for the indwelling of the Spirit. It was by the confession and forsaking of sin, by earnest prayer and consecration of themselves to God, that the early disciples prepared for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The same work, only in greater degree, must be done now. . . .” The Faith I Live By, 333.

As the Holy Spirit dwells within, additional gifts will be shared: “To hearts that have become purified through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, all is changed. These can know God.” Reflecting Christ, 378.

“We do not see Christ and speak to Him, but His Holy Spirit is just as near us in one place as in another. It works in and through every one who receives Christ. Those who know the indwelling of the Spirit reveal the fruits [gifts] of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.” The Faith I Live By, 57.

“The talents that Christ entrusts to His church represent especially the gifts and blessings imparted by the Holy Spirit. ‘To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.’ 1 Corinthians 12:8–11. All men do not receive the same gifts, but to every servant of the Master some gift of the Spirit is promised.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 327.

Gift of Grace

The last precious gift God gives to us that we will address in this article is the gift of grace. ” ‘Unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ,’ the Spirit ‘dividing to every man severally as He will.’ Ephesians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 12:11. The gifts are already ours in Christ, but their actual possession depends upon our reception of the Spirit of God.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 327.

“The Lord saw our fallen condition; He saw our need of grace, and because He loved our souls, He has given us grace and peace. Grace means favor to one who is undeserving, to one who is lost. The fact that we are sinners, instead of shutting us away from the mercy and love of God, makes the exercise of His love to us a positive necessity in order that we may be saved.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 347.

“In the matchless gift of His son, God has encircled the whole world with an atmosphere of grace as real as the air which circulates around the globe. All who choose to breathe this life-giving atmosphere will live, and grow up to the stature of men and women in Christ Jesus.” God’s Amazing Grace, 238.

What do You do with a Gift?

Every parent has had the experience of searching for some special gift for their child and then, after all their effort, seeing the child spend more time playing with the box the gift came in than with the gift itself. The feeling you have at that time approximates the feeling God must have about the attitudes some of His children display towards the gifts He gives. What should our attitude be to God?

Express Gratitude

We should first express our gratitude. “Thanks [be] unto God for his unspeakable gift.” 2 Corinthians 9:15. How we appreciate receiving a note of thanks for a gift we have given! Our feelings toward the gift recipient become more tender, and we look forward to the pleasure of bestowing more gifts upon them. But, how disappointed we become when we do not receive an acknowledgement of our carefully selected gift. Since we are created in the image of God, it would seem feasible that He experiences the same feelings from our reactions to His gifts.

“The thought that Christ died to obtain for us the gift of everlasting life, is enough to call forth from our hearts the most sincere and fervent gratitude, and from our lips the most enthusiastic praise.” Sons and Daughters of God, 238.

“Before angels and men we should reveal our gratitude for what he has done for us.” Review and Herald, September 12, 1899.

Use It

It is a pleasure to us to see a gift we have given being utilized. It makes us happy to know that it is benefiting the receiver. It gives God pleasure when we use His gifts.

“Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” 1 Timothy 4:14.

“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did [it] ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 1:12–14.

“As stewards of the grace of God, . . . It means much, very much to us to be strengthened by His rich grace day by day, to be enabled to understand His will, to be found faithful in that which is least as well as in that which is great. When this is our experience, the service of Christ will be a reality to us. God demands this of us, and before angels and men we should reveal our gratitude for what he has done for us.” Counsels on Stewardship, 111.

“The work of labor for the salvation of souls does not rest alone upon the delegated minister, but that to every man God had given his work. The Lord’s work is to be carried forward by the living members of Christ’s body, and in the great divine appointment of God each one is to be educated to act a part in the conversion of souls. He has enlisted in the army of the Lord, not for ease, not to study his own amusement, but to endure hardships as a faithful soldier of the cross of Christ. Every private must act his part, be vigilant, be courageous, be true.” This Day With God, 368.

Share It

A gift brings even more enjoyment and fulfillment when it is shared. “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:6, 7.

“There are some who are liberal with their gifts, and these gifts call forth the grateful praise of those who through them are given a knowledge of the gospel. The givers become the subject of the prayers of those who receive the benefit of the offerings made.” Pacific Union Recorder, November 14, 1907.

“As the plan of redemption begins and ends with a gift, so it is to be carried forward. The same spirit of sacrifice which purchased salvation for us will dwell in the hearts of all who become partakers of the heavenly gift. Says the apostle Peter: ‘As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.’ Said Jesus to His disciples as He sent them forth: ‘Freely ye have received, freely give.’ In him who is fully in sympathy with Christ there can be nothing selfish or exclusive. He who drinks of the living water will find that it is ‘in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.’ [John 4:14.] The Spirit of Christ within him is like a spring welling up in the desert, flowing to refresh all, and making those who are ready to perish, eager to drink of the water of life.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 730.

As you review your gift list this holiday season, consider sharing the Perfect Gift. Ellen White advises that “We should make our gifts such as will prove a real benefit to the receiver. I would recommend such books as will be an aid in understanding the word of God or that will increase our love for its precepts. Provide something to be read during these long winter evenings.” The Adventist Home, 479. What greater gift can be given than the knowledge of the Saviour who longs to give, through His grace, salvation? The recipient who receives and accepts this Perfect Gift will be offering praise and thanks throughout eternity.