Children’s Story – How Do I Love Thee

While preparing to go to work one morning, Tom reminded his wife, Lara, that he was supposed to find out that day whether he would get the big promotion his boss had talked with him about the preceding week. Since Tom and Lara were struggling financially, the promotion, with its anticipated increase in salary, would be a wonderful answer to prayer.

As Tom left for work, Lara told him that she loved him and that she was praying for him.

The hours of the day passed, with no word on the promotion. Tom was really getting discouraged as he packed up his briefcase to go home for the day. Just then he received a call to report to his boss’ office. There he was given the news for which he had been waiting—he got the promotion!

Immediately Tom called Lara and told her the good news. She celebrated with him on the phone, and they offered a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. Lara then asked him to come straight home, because she had a surprise for him!

Since they lived close to Tom’s office, it was only ten minutes after hanging up the telephone that he walked into their house. All was dark inside—except for the candlelit dining room. The dining room table was set with their best china dishes and silver and there was a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers. Lara had spent the entire day preparing a wonderful dinner—Tom’s favorite! The children were sleeping over at their grandmother’s house, so Tom and Lara had the evening alone to celebrate their good fortune!

As Tom held Lara’s chair for her to be seated at the table, he noticed a card with his name on it leaning against one of the candles. When he was seated, he opened the card and read: “Congratulations on your promotion, Tom. I couldn’t be more proud of you! I love you dearly, Lara.”

That really touched Tom’s heart, and he told Lara how much it meant to him that she supported him so fully. Then, they proceeded to enjoy their evening together.

As Tom polished off the delicious dinner, Lara stood up to go to the kitchen for the special dessert she had made. When she walked away, a card fell from her pocket. It was identical to the one Tom had opened earlier. Curious, he picked it up and, while Lara was in the kitchen, opened it and read the message inside. In Lara’s neat handwriting was written: “I’m sorry that you didn’t get the promotion, Tom, but I couldn’t be more proud of you. I love you dearly, Lara.”

You see, Lara was going to tell her husband of her love and support regardless of how the promotion went. She prepared each card early that day, just before she started preparing the special meal.

What a beautiful illustration of unconditional love—the exact type of love that God has for you! No matter what has happened in your past, God is ready, willing, and able to forgive you—if you only ask.

“For I am persuaded, 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 creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38, 39. God loves you, child.

Preparing for the Latter Rain, Part V

The subject of the fifth parallel between the two advent movements is the early rain, which followed the second cleansing of the temple. Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after His resurrection. The events of the remaining ten days up to Pentecost are of great interest and importance to us. It was the time when the disciples were to complete their character preparation and come into unity to receive the gift that Jesus had promised them—the Holy Spirit in the early rain. Without this gift, they would not be able to carry the gospel to the world. From the time Jesus first called His disciples, it was His purpose to bring them into unity with Himself and into harmony with one another. Thus, they could receive the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and take the gospel to the world.

“The apostles differed widely in habits and disposition. . . . These were brought together, with their different faults, all with inherited and cultivated tendencies to evil; but in and through Christ they were to dwell in the family of God, learning to become one in faith, in doctrine, in spirit. They would have their tests, their grievances, their differences of opinion; but while Christ was abiding in the heart, there could be no dissension. His love would lead to love for one another; the lessons of the Master would lead to the harmonizing of all differences, bringing the disciples into unity, till they would be of one mind and one judgment. Christ is the great center, and they would approach one another just in proportion as they approached the center.” The Desire of Ages, 296.

It was during the ten days prior to the Day of Pentecost that they were to finish their work of coming together in unity. This is the fifth event in the life and ministry of Jesus that has a specific parallel in the second advent movement.

Disciples’ Preparation

We should study very carefully what was involved in the preparation the disciples made during the ten days prior to Pentecost. This experience of the disciples has its parallel in the second advent movement and is paramount to the restoration of the family of God to the Holy City.

“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.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 507.

The importance of this work is emphasized in the phrase that it must be done “in greater degree.” This statement makes it very clear that the early rain experience of the removing of sin must be completed before we can receive the latter rain. We are also told that it must be done now, that is, at the present time.

Let us, in our imagination, join the 120 disciples during the ten days prior to Pentecost and participate with them in their work of character preparation for the early rain. We want to know how the disciples prepared to receive the Holy Spirit, for this is the preparation we must make in order to receive the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. The important points of this preparation are found in The Acts of the Apostles, 35–37, and in The Desire of Ages, 827. These points are summarized here.

The Disciples’ Preparation


  • met together.
  • humbled their hearts in true repentance.
  • confessed their unbelief.
  • meditated on the pure, holy life of Christ.
  • desired to reveal Christ’s character in their lives.
  • prayed for a fitness to lead sinners to Christ.
  • put away all differences.
  • put away all desire for supremacy.
  • came close together in Christian fellowship.
  • carefully searched their hearts.
  • cried to the Lord for spiritual anointing.
  • were of one accord.

This list reveals the thoroughness of the work that the disciples attained in putting away sin before they received the Holy Spirit in the early rain. It would seem important that we inquire of ourselves, How thoroughly are we preparing to receive the Holy Spirit in the latter rain? The end result of the disciples meeting together was that they were of one accord. Are we meeting together to humble our hearts and put away our differences so that we can be of one accord?

Purpose of Early Rain

Since the disciples completed the work of character preparation before they received the Holy Spirit, what then was the purpose of the early rain on the Day of Pentecost?

“The Holy Spirit, assuming the form of tongues of fire, rested upon those assembled. This was an emblem of the gift then bestowed on the disciples, which enabled them to speak with fluency languages with which they had heretofore been unacquainted.” The Acts of the Apostles, 39.

“They could now proclaim the truths of the gospel abroad, speaking with accuracy the languages of those for whom they were laboring. . . . From this time forth the language of the disciples was pure, simple, and accurate, whether they spoke in their native tongue or in a foreign language.” Ibid., 40.

These statements tell us that the work of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was to enable the 120 disciples to speak in the foreign languages represented among the people so the gospel could go with power to all nations. It does not say that the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost had anything to do with the disciples’ character preparation or with their coming into unity. This work had to be completed before they could receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the early rain.

In reference to the second advent movement, Ellen White makes the following comment concerning the work of the Holy Spirit just before the close of probation:

“It is with an earnest longing that I look forward to the time when the events of the day of Pentecost shall be repeated with even greater power than on that occasion. John says, ‘I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.’ [Revelation 18:1.] Then, as at the Pentecostal season, the people will hear the truth spoken to them, every man in his own tongue. God can breathe new life into every soul that sincerely desires to serve him, and can touch the lips with a live coal from off the altar.” Review and Herald, July 20, 1886.

This reference explains that the latter rain has the same purpose for us as the early rain had for the disciples. It is to give us the power to give the final warning in the languages of the people. The latter rain is not to provide character preparation for the people of God. This work must all be completed before the Holy Spirit comes in the latter rain.

Character Preparation

Let us take a closer look at the early rain character preparation in the second advent movement that will prepare the people of God to receive the latter rain.

“By the power of the Holy Spirit the moral image of God is to be perfected in the character. We are to be wholly transformed into the likeness of Christ. The latter rain . . . represents the spiritual grace that prepares the church for the coming of the Son of man. But unless the former rain has fallen, . . . Unless the early showers have done their work, the latter rain can bring no seed to perfection.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 506.

There are two significant points to notice in this statement:

1 The former rain (early rain) must fall before the latter rain can do its work.

2 It is during the early rain that we are to be wholly transformed into the likeness of Christ.

How much variance and lack of unity can exist if we are wholly transformed into the likeness of Christ? So we see that it is in the early rain experience that all differences, strife, and dissension must be put away, if we would receive the latter rain.

We can now identify the place of this early rain experience on the Second Advent Time Line. We need to understand that this Table does not adequately represent the relationship between the present time and the early rain. One does not follow the other. To correctly picture our position at the present time, the Early Rain would need to be listed with the time when the independent movement is rejecting the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy, because these two conditions are both occurring at the present time.

Complete Unity

In our previous study of the third parallel, we learned that it is at the present time that the great majority of the independent movement is rejecting God’s instruction in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy, which calls for unity among His people. The great weight of evidence of this fact is seen in the variances, in the diverse winds of doctrine, and in the lack of unity among ministries, churches, and people.

It is also in the midst of this departure that a small group of people is beginning to respond to God’s call for them to come into unity in preparation to receive the latter rain. The question each one of us needs to ask ourselves is, Which group does my attitude reveal that I am in? Am I responding to God’s call to come into unity, to put away all variances, divisions, and every kind of strife that currently exist among us?

In heaven there is complete unity. When the people of God enter the Holy City, they must have this same heavenly unity. This work is not done for us when Jesus comes. It is not done for us at the close of probation nor even during the latter rain. This coming into unity is a work that we must do now before we can receive the latter rain.

“Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement. Then the latter rain will fall upon us as the early rain fell upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 214.

It is our work during the early rain to prepare our characters to receive the seal of God. This requires that all our sins be removed during the early rain experience. We will then be ready to receive latter rain. Now is the sealing time for the people of God who, when the latter rain falls, will give the final warning to the world.

“We may be sure that when the Holy Spirit is poured out those who did not receive and appreciate the early rain will not see or understand the value of the latter rain.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 399.

“Many have in a great measure failed to receive the former rain. . . . They expect that the lack will be supplied by the latter rain. When the richest abundance of grace shall be bestowed, they intend to open their hearts to receive it. They are making a terrible mistake. . . . 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.” Ibid., 507.

“So it may be now. Instead of man’s speculations, let the word of God be preached. Let Christians put away their dissensions, and give themselves to God for the saving of the lost.” The Desire of Ages, 827.

“It will never do to cease our efforts. If we do not progress, if we do not place ourselves in an attitude to receive both the former and the latter rain, we shall lose our souls, and the responsibility will lie at our own door.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 508.

How Is It With You?

How is it with us today? Are we meeting together as did the disciples? Are we putting away our differences, variances, pride of opinions, envies, jealousies, etc., until we are all of one accord? If we do not place ourselves in an attitude to fully complete this work, we will not receive the latter rain, and we will lose our souls.

“Unless we are daily advancing in the exemplification of the active Christian virtues, we shall not recognize the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. It may be falling on hearts all around us, but we shall not discern or receive it.” Ibid., 507.

So it was in the early rain; no one recognized the work of the Holy Spirit except the 120 who were ready to receive Him. The next few paragraphs have some pertinent counsel for us.

“Many fail to meet their high responsibilities and privileges. . . . Cannot we pray over this matter more earnestly, that the Holy Spirit of God may quicken the discernment of his people to see that by putting away envy, evil surmisings, jealousy, they may answer the prayer of Christ, that his disciples might be one, as he is one with the Father? Can it be that the senses of those who claim to believe the truth are paralyzed? Do they not see that they deny Christ? Do they not understand that they scatter from him in acting as though it was a light matter to disagree and engage in controversy? Brother looks coldly upon brother, minister distrusts minister. The church seems to have lost the blending attribute of love, and its members unite no better than ropes of sand. And yet the great crisis of the day of God is at hand.

What is the reason of this selfishness and bigotry? What means this self-satisfaction, this disposition to tear down and not build up? The truth is not sanctifying the soul, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Many cling to their independence, choosing their own way, but not the way and will of God. The truth is believed in theory, but not received in the love of it, and the soul is left as cold as an iron wedge. Those who are sanctified by the truth will be one in Christ Jesus. The cleansing blood of the Lamb of God cements hearts together. The branches are united in the vine.” Review and Herald, March 19, 1895.

“When the Spirit of God, with its marvelous awakening power, touches the soul, it abases human pride. Worldly pleasure and position and power are seen to be worthless. . . . Then humility and self-sacrificing love, so little valued among men, are exalted as alone of worth.” The Desire of Ages, 135.

“The latter rain is to fall upon the people of God. A mighty angel is to come down from heaven, and the whole earth is to be lighted with his glory. [Revelation 18:1, 2.] Are we ready to take part in the glorious work of the third angel? Are our vessels ready to receive the heavenly dew? Have we defilement and sin in the heart? If so, let us cleanse the soul temple, and prepare for the showers of the latter rain. The refreshing from the presence of the Lord will never come to hearts filled with impurity. May God help us to die to self, that Christ, the hope of glory, may be formed within! . . . The day of judgment is upon us.
O that we may wash our robes of character, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. [Revelation 7:14.]” Review and Herald, April 21, 1891.

“Blessed [are] they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14.

We must come up to the high standard that God has set for His people. We must work diligently now to come into unity. We must put away all differences, strife, and division, and be of one accord, if we would one day enter that glorious city.

The very next significant event to happen before the close of probation is the coming of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. Brothers and sisters, I believe that we have only a very short time to complete this work. Let us pray earnestly about this matter so that we may be of one accord when the refreshing from the presence of the Lord comes. We can then cooperate with the glorious work of the angel of Revelation 18 to give the last message of warning and mercy to the world.

Let us be faithful in this preparation now, so we may be among the redeemed who wait at the entrance of the Holy City to receive the emblems of victory from the hand of our precious, glorious Redeemer.

To be concluded . . .

Maurice Hoppe is Director of Revelation Ministry which is dedicated to helping people prepare for the soon coming of Jesus. His special emphasis is the closing scenes of this earth’s history, the parallels between the first and second advents, and the need for unity among the people of God. He may be contacted by e-mail at: or at: P. O. Box 184, Days Creek, OR 97429.

The Malignity of Sin, Part I

The test results are conclusive; you have cancer. It is inoperable, and I am sorry to have to say, it is terminal.” Those are probably some of the most traumatic words anyone could ever hear.

It was not too long ago that a neighbor came to my door inquiring about natural remedies. Her husband’s cancer had returned after having been in remission, and the doctors did not offer any hope. Two years earlier, her husband had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, which had attached itself to one of his lungs. Sadly, it was malignant. At that time, surgery had been performed in hopes of preventing it from spreading. Tragically, during the surgery, the nerve to his diaphragm had been severed, resulting in the complete loss of the use of his good lung—the lung without cancer. In spite of this, the surgery seemed to have been successful, as far as the cancer was concerned. A tumor the size of a grapefruit had been removed. Since then, he has had x-rays taken of his lungs every few months to check for any signs of the cancer’s return.

Now their worst fears were a reality. It was back, and it had taken root in his chest cavity. The doctor referred them to the Cancer Research Foundation, telling them
that there was nothing he could do. Maybe the Foundation could help—good luck.

After bouncing from one sympathetic listener, unable to help, to another, my neighbor decided to investigate natural remedies. She was highly motivated—she wanted her husband to live! Both she and her husband realized that this was a matter of life and death.

Stop drinking coffee? No problem! Give up eating sugar and meat? No problem! Drink the juice of fresh vegetables three times a day? No problem! Exercise, breathe fresh air, drink plenty of water . . . no problem! Whatever it takes.

Why is it that something drastic has to happen to us to prompt us to re-evaluate our priorities? So often, when we find ourselves in a crisis, we earnestly plead, “Lord, save me! I promise, from now on . . . .” In our moment of need, and usually with good intentions, we solemnly promise to do this or change that. Whatever it takes. Like children wandering in the wilderness, we say, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.” (Exodus 19:8.) But after the crisis passes and things are going along fairly well, we find ourselves slipping back into our old ways. Though we may not utter the words, our actions betray us. “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?” (Exodus 5:2.)

Giving Good Gifts

The Word of God is an important factor in the maintenance of our health and physical well-being. “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they [are] life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.” Proverbs 4:20–22. “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4. “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” 111 John 2.

From the beginning, God has been very specific about the importance of temperance and a healthy diet. Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden, were given an abundance of fresh, wholesome food. (See Genesis 1:29.) After the flood, more instructions were given. (See Genesis 9:3.) Ancient Israel was given specific orders regarding clean and unclean foods. (See Leviticus 11:1–47.) At each step of the way, God has given His people ample instruction. It is no less true today. Through His modern-day prophet, Ellen White, God has given explicit instruction for the people upon whom the end of the earth is come.

Why? He has very good reasons. He has a vested interest in the great controversy, which is wrapping up, and He is acquainted, all too well, with our human nature and our bent toward sin. Deuteronomy 14:2, 3 makes it very clear: “For thou [art] an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth. Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing.”

The Right Stuff

The world today is very much self-oriented and ego-driven. The youth are mercilessly pressured to “fit in.” To be different in any way is to be exiled to a life on the outside of the “in” crowd. For the most part, a good grade point average is not a thing to be sought after or desired. On the other hand, anything displaying a Nike logo is to die for. To be “cool” is to go along with the rest of crowd—the cigarettes, sex, alcohol, and drugs. Not to do so is to be viciously cast out. The young people know they have to do certain things to be accepted—hang with a certain crowd and wear the right stuff. To be accepted seems to be the most important thing. This is the world in which they live.

“Say no to drugs,” they are told by worldly educators—the same adults who are puffing on cigarettes and drinking cocktails. Is it any wonder children are confused and rebellious? Yet they are expected to conform to a standard which adults, in their sphere, seldom reach. And yes, it holds true inside the church as well. The youth are told, you have to do this; you cannot do that, and all the while they see inconsistencies in the lives of adults all around them.

When a youth becomes involved with drugs, alcohol, sex, cigarettes, or other vice, they are told, “Just say no!”—usually by an adult who will not say “No!” to his or her own vices. Youth see right through the facade. “Why should I listen to you when you cannot get it right?”

In a nation where the currency proclaims “In God We Trust,” to have Christian morals and values is to be scorned today. Unfortunately, that is not confined to the younger generation, nor is it just with the world. Too often, professing Christian (including Seventh-day Adventist) adults permit peer pressure to sway them from standing in steadfast opposition against wrong. “What will someone think?” “I might lose my position.”

We are too concerned about what others—our friends, neighbors, co-workers or family—will think if we do this or do not do that. We expect our children to ignore peer pressure and do the right thing. But how often do we do it? As Christians, should we not be showing them how to do it? Should not we be consulting God first, instead of our friends and neighbors? Should not we be doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do?

Putting it on the Altar

It is easy enough for us to read the story of Cain and Abel, and say, “Oh, I would never do that!” But if we examine our lives, we might discover that our actions betray our profession. Though we may not literally place fruits or vegetables upon the altar, upon closer inspection we may be surprised to see that our offering may not be precisely what God requires. Like Cain, we have disregarded the Lord’s direct and explicit command.

From Patriarchs and Prophets, 72, 73, we read: “Cain and Abel represent two classes that will exist in the world till the close of time. One class avail themselves of the appointed sacrifice for sin; the other venture to depend upon their own merits; theirs is a sacrifice without the virtue of divine mediation, and thus it is not able to bring man into favor with God. . . .

“True faith, which relies wholly upon Christ, will be manifested by obedience to all the requirements of God. From Adam’s day to the present time the great controversy has been concerning obedience to God’s law. In all ages there have been those who claimed a right to the favor of God even while they were disregarding some of His commands. But the Scriptures declare that by works is ‘faith made perfect;’ and that, without the works of obedience, faith ‘is dead.’ James 2:22, 17. He that professes to know God, ‘and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.’ 1 John 2:4.”

A Polluted Offering?

Spend some time considering your offering. Dust off your copy of The Sanctified Life and read chapter three. Space does not permit us to print the entire chapter here, but it would be time well spent to study it. The following excerpts may provide the challenge we need to face our personal obstacles and press toward the mark.

“ ‘Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul,’ is the language of the apostle Peter (1 Peter 2:11). Many regard this text as a warning against licentiousness only, but it has a broader meaning. It forbids every injurious gratification of appetite or passion. Let none who profess godliness regard with indifference the health of the body, and flatter themselves that intemperance is no sin, and will not affect their spirituality. A close sympathy exists between the physical and the moral nature. Any habit which does not promote health degrades the higher and nobler faculties. Wrong habits of eating and drinking lead to errors in thought and action. Indulgence of appetite strengthens the animal propensities, giving them the ascendancy over the mental and spiritual powers.” The Sanctified Life, 25.

“In the ten commandments God has laid down the laws of His kingdom. Any violation of the laws of nature is a violation of the law of God.

“The Lord has given His holy commandments to be a wall of protection around His created beings, and those who will keep themselves from the defilement of appetite and passion may become partakers of the divine nature.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, 1105.

“Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they [do it] to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” 1 Corinthians 9:25–27.

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20.

“We are to use every spiritual nerve and muscle in the contest for the crown of life. No one who does his best will fail in this contest.

“All who seek for the prize are to place themselves under strict discipline. ‘Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.’ [1 Corinthians 9:25.] . . .

“How much more should those who enter for the gospel race, restrain themselves from the unlawful indulgence of appetite and ‘abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.’ [1 Peter 2:11.] They must be temperate at all times. The same restraint that gives them the power to obtain the victory at one time will, if practiced constantly, give them a great advantage in the race for the crown of life.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1089.

“So the Christian today needs to keep strict guard over his appetite. He needs to subject himself to severe training, that he may not run uncertainly or at random, without seeing his standard and striving to reach it. He must obey the laws of God. The physical, mental, and moral powers must be kept in the most perfect condition if he would obtain the approval of God. ‘I keep under my body,’ the apostle says. [1 Corinthians 9:27.] This means literally to beat back its desire and impulses and passions by severe discipline . . . .” Ibid.

“God has bought us, and He claims a throne in each heart. Our minds and bodies must be subordinated to Him, and the natural habits and appetites must be made subservient to the higher wants of the soul. But we can place no dependence upon ourselves in this work. We cannot with safety follow our own guidance. The Holy Spirit must renew and sanctify us. In God’s service there must be no halfway work.” Ibid., 1088.

“Again, the apostle writes to the believers, ‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service’ (Romans 12: 1). Specific directions were given to ancient Israel that no defective or diseased animal should be presented as an offering to God. Only the most perfect were to be selected for this purpose. The Lord, through the prophet Malachi, most severely reproved His people for departing from these instructions.

“ ‘A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Where-in have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts. . . . Ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the Lord’ (Malachi 1:6–13).

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

Defining the Terms

A closer look at Romans 12:1 needs to be taken. You can probably recite it from memory, but you need to understand more fully what the words really mean. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.”

living (zao): lively, active, enduring, living and constant, as opposed to what is dead, inactive, or intermittent.

holy (hagios): set apart, sanctified, consecrated. Chaste, pure. Its fundamental idea is separation, consecration, devotion to the service of Deity, sharing in God’s purity and abstaining from earth’s defilement. It particularly means perfect, without blemish.

acceptable (euarestos): well-pleasing, used with reference to God, that which God wills and recognizes. Antonym: hard to bear, oppressive, bad, bitter, heavy, grievous, difficult, perilous.

reasonable (logikos): from logos, pertaining to reason; that service to God which implies intelligent meditation or reflection, without heathen practices.

service (latreia): service for hire or as a slave, divine service. Synonym: religion, worship; voluntarily adopted worship; piety; godliness; service, ministry.

In like manner, let us define several more words pertaining to our subject.

appetite: 1) a: any of the instinctive desires necessary to keep up organic life. b: a desire for food or drink. 2) a desire to satisfy any bodily need or craving. 3) a desire or liking for something; fondness, taste; an appetite for power or pleasure. 4) an inherent, insatiable craving. Synonym: longing, inclination, wish, relish, gusto, zest.

lust: 1) a: pleasure, delight. b: personal inclination: wish; 2) intense or unbridled sexual desire: lasciviousness. 3) a: an intense longing: craving. b: enthusiasm, eagerness.

passion: 1) any emotion or feeling (love, desire, anger, hate, fear, grief, joy, hope, etc.) especially when of a powerful or compelling nature; 2) strong feeling or desire; . . . 6) a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything; . . . 8) an outburst or strong emotion or feeling; 9) violent anger; 10) the state of being acted upon or affected by something external, especially something alien to one’s nature or to one’s customary behavior. Synonym: fervor, zeal, ardor, ire, fury, wrath, rage.

Appetite is not spelled H-U-N-G-E-R

If Eve was hungry when she tasted the forbidden fruit, inspiration is strangely silent on the point. That fact is worthy of consideration. Please notice that appetite is not hunger; rather, words such as desire and craving are given. It could be said that for Eve it was a desire to appease her curiosity that caused her to leave her husband’s side. And we all know the rest of that story.

Appetite in and of itself is not sin. However, permitting the appetite to rule or have dominance over that which God has set forth as principles of health is surely a violation of the first commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3.

“It is as truly a sin to violate the laws of our being as it is to break the ten commandments. To do either is to break God’s laws. Those who transgress the law of God in their physical organism, will be inclined to violate the law of God spoken from Sinai.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 17.

Taste is only one of the five senses—taste, sight, smell, touch, and hearing. Our nature is a combination of the spiritual, mental, and physical being. Our character is made up of the things we think, do, and say. An unsanctified appetite can, or dare I say will, disqualify a person from acceptable service to God by corrupting the senses, nature, and character, ultimately bringing that person to eternal ruin.

“The controlling power of appetite will prove the ruin of thousands, when, if they had conquered on this point, they would have had moral power to gain the victory over every other temptation of Satan. But those who are slaves to appetite will fail in perfecting Christian character.” Ibid., 59.

“It is impossible for those who indulge the appetite to attain to Christian perfection.” Ibid., 22.

This is not about an egg or a piece of chocolate. It goes so much deeper than that. In fact, the first two sections of Counsels on Diet and Foods are entitled “Reasons for Reform” and “Diet and Spirituality,” and they provide a wonderful foundation upon which to base our decisions and build our characters. Each day we place our offering upon the altar. The decisions we make reveal to the watching universe precisely who is upon the throne in our hearts—either the god of this world, or the God of Heaven.

To be concluded . . .

Cathy Summers Timmons, a member of LandMarks’ editorial staff, writes from her home in Wichita, Kansas. She may be contacted by e-mail at

Lessons from the Book of Amos – Part III

When we began this study of the Book of Amos, we reviewed Amos’ ministry. We noted how he was a citizen of the Southern kingdom but that his work involved delivering messages out of his home area into the Northern kingdom. It had been over 200 years since Elijah had stood on Mount Carmel and had called for a decision on the part of God’s people, saying, “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him.” 1 Kings 18:21. That was a powerful call, and the people’s response to that call indicated that things would turn around, in that they would come back to God and carry out His will. (See verse 39.) But, as is often the case, revival and reformation did not last long.

In reality, this is one of the reasons why we have a congregation and a minister. It is so the minister can proclaim the Word and a continual revival and reformation can grow in the hearts of the congregation. This is why we should not go off in a hermit-like setting by ourselves. The Bible says that we should not forsake “the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is” and even more so as we see that day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25.) Why is that? Because there is a certain dynamic that takes place within preaching. Paul calls it “the foolishness of preaching” (1 Corinthians 1:21), but there is a power involved in preaching that works on the hearts of the people to draw them to Christ so that a change can take place in their lives.

That took place in Elijah’s day, but it did not continue. It seems that when a torch is passed from one generation to another, the flame grows dimmer and dimmer. Truth did not prevail, as it should have. It did not continue to burn in the hearts of those who were called God’s people. Truth must be held in righteousness. It has to grow in intensity and in strength. It has to lodge in the hearts of those who hear.

This is one of the problems we are facing in Adventism today. Truth, as it has been studied and handed down from one generation to another, has not been appreciated, as it should. Truth has become watered down; it has undergone attack, and instead of each succeeding generation possessing and preserving the truth, it has become weaker and weaker, until open apostasy has broken out with little or no protest.

Responsibility to Generations

Apostasy was taking place in the days of Amos. From the time of Elijah’s powerful call to the time of Amos, spirituality was deteriorating. The Lord called upon Amos to point out to His people just how precarious their position was. We will see, as we go through chapter 4, that God, upon reaching a point, deals with people in a decisive way.

“Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that [are] in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink. The Lord God hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks. And ye shall go out at the breaches, every [cow at that which is] before her; and ye shall cast [them] into the palace, saith the Lord.” Amos 4:1–3.

“Hear this word, ye kine . . .” Now, this is anything but a flattering statement. You would never find a pastor today addressing the ladies of his congregation this way. Kine, of course, are cows. This statement was directed to the women of Israel, because they were, for the most part, responsible for the heritage of their children who were to grow up to be worshipers of God and leaders in Israel. Were they living up to the call that God had given them as mothers of Israel? No, they were not. They had a love of luxury and fashion. This statement that Amos made to them was a statement of contempt as to their condition. It was a biting and caustic statement, which was intended to arouse their attention that they might be able to see their spiritual condition.

Attention Getter

What could we use in today’s vernacular as an equivalent statement? I remember when I was a child, and not a Christian, that when I saw a lady I did not like, I would call her an “old bag.” An even more derogatory phrase would be “old pig.” That approximates what Amos meant when he addressed these women. He was calling them a bunch of old bags or old pigs, trying to get their attention.

God does that at times. He uses His prophets to get our attention, to arrest us in the direction in which we are going so that He might then be able to convey a message to us. God knows that unless He can gain our attention, our lifestyles will not change. He has got to stop us in our tracks.

When I was in conference work, one of my colleagues, a seasoned and skilled minister, was often sent by the conference leaders to churches that had multiple problems and difficulties. The people in these churches were frequently scrapping and fighting and at odds with each other.

One day, at a workers’ meeting, we were sitting at the lunch table, talking shop, and he told me about a church to which he had been sent. It was a church with a membership of between 600 and 700 people. The members were experiencing numerous difficulties and problems. His opening statement of his first Sabbath sermon was, “You know, when I walked into this church building, the first thing that came to my notice was how filthy a condition it is in. There is dirt in the corners; there are cobwebs; the carpet is not clean . . . .” His comments went downhill from there. He said, “Certainly the condition of this building represents the characters of the people who worship here.”

“I will tell you something,” he told me, “if looks could kill, I would be a dead man.” He continued to tell me that as soon as the benediction was given, people spun gravel getting out of the driveway so they could get home and call the conference president, demanding that he get this man out of there church! “We will not have him as our pastor,” they cried. “We cannot stand him. Why did you send him here?” The president listened. He knew why he had sent this pastor to their church.

The interesting thing was that after his initial sermon, he began a program of visitation striving to pour healing oil where it was needed, but not necessarily in wounds that he had opened. He pastored that church for about eight years. When it came time for him to leave, the congregation collected thousands and thousands of dollars to send him and his wife on a trip to the Middle East and Europe. The people wept as they heard the news that he was going to be leaving, because he knew how to minister to their needs after opening their wounds.

Betrayed Trust

God does that, too, at times. God sometimes must open a wound in order for it to heal. There is one thing about the prophets that God called to ministry. They said it like it was. The sword of truth had two edges, and as they swung, it cut in both directions. But God never cuts unless He intends to heal.

These women of Samaria were asleep. They were well-fed creatures who, for the satisfaction of appetite, pleasure, and fashion, made continual demands upon their husbands, which, in reality, caused the oppression of the poor. It was for this reason that much brutal oppression was taking place within Israel.

There are some important lessons to be learned from Amos’ account found in the first three verses of Amos 4. Women have a special calling. They have a special responsibility before God and before the world. Women have been entrusted with a major role in creating and conserving the precious ties of human life. Because of this, God has, for the most part, endowed women with special gifts of pity, generosity, and morality. They become the custodians of the generation that has already been born and are responsible for the generations that are yet to come. God holds women accountable for how they affect human life in terms of integrity and righteousness.

That is not to say that men do not have a role to play in this also, because they do. But it is the special responsibility of women to communicate and pass on values to the offspring of mankind. This is why, I believe, God was very careful in selecting the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have a tendency to recoil from the overemphasis of Mary in Catholicism, as she was never to be exalted. But the Bible tells us that Mary was indeed a very special mother. “Blessed art thou among women.” (Luke 1:28, 42.) Mary had been given a tremendous responsibility in giving birth to the Saviour and raising Him to love His Father.

The women of Samaria had betrayed the special trust to which God had called them. As a result of this betrayal, Amos came down on them like a ton of bricks. They had it coming. It is no wonder the prophets were so persecuted! You do not call women a bunch of old bags and get away with it! They will recoil, unless it gets their attention, and they take the words that follow to heart.


Evidently an indictment that was all-inclusive was needed in this situation, as we read in Amos 4:2: “The Lord God hath sworn by His holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks.”

I do not know that we living in America can really begin to understand the wholesale evil that was transpiring in the nation of Israel. There are instances here and there that we hear of awful things, such as the news story where a seven-year-old child, weighing only 36 pounds, was discovered locked in a closet. We hear about these terrible kinds of things, and we wonder where the pity and feelings of a mother could be.

As a whole, we do not have those kinds of problems as a nation. But what we see taking place in the Book of Amos caused the prophet of God to deal with these things in a very forthright way. We could probably expound endlessly on the degradation and the depth to which the nation had fallen, but it was evil on the part of these women to press upon their husbands their life of luxury and ease at the expense of the poor and the unfortunate.

God, by His very nature, will not allow such conduct as this to go unpunished. He is the Holy One of Israel, and the very fact that Israel covenanted with Him as His holy people is what made it an issue. God had not dealt with other people whom He had not covenanted with like this. Do you know why? Because that is the way unconverted people naturally act. They are not regenerated. They do not have new hearts. They have not come to God. That is the way they are. But not God’s people! God’s people are not to act that way. And when you enter into a covenant with God, pledging that you are not going to act the way unbelievers act, that you are going to keep His Law, and then you go contrary to that, God says, No, this is not going to wash.

Two things come to light in reference to this verse. First, hooks give the mental conception of pain. When God removes you with hooks, it is not a pleasant experience. Some of you may have done some fishing in your lifetime. I used to fish when I was a child, and there were times when the hooks hooked into my skin. It was not a pleasant experience! Hooks bring to mind the thought of pain, and these were not just the tiny little fishhook like I used to catch trout. These were probably more like a gaffing hook used for a larger type of fish, where you hook onto it and drag it into a boat. This verse is referring to that type of a hook—one with barbs that will not allow the hook to release easily, that is big enough so an adult cannot pull away. So, second, a hook gives the idea that there is not an escape.

If you are hooked and you follow the leading of that hook, you are going to go wherever that hook pulls you. That is the idea in this verse—your experience will be a punishment for your sin, and you are not going to escape from it. I will not go into this aspect of it, but as you search out other references relating to hooks in the Bible, you will find these expressions are usually used when the devil is involved. The devil has his hooks that he will place in you, and he will lead you at his will.

People who live lives of luxury are prone to believe that they can do just about anything they want and never have to pay the price for their wrong doings. They think they are above punishment because of who they are or what they have. It may take years for the consequences of their actions to finally catch up to them. The wheel of punishment may turn very slowly, but it will eventually come around. God has put into practice the adage, “What goes around comes around.” It took years for the events recorded in Amos to finally catch up with the children of Israel, but they finally did.

Form with no Power

“Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, [and] your tithes after three years.” Amos 4:4.

You see, since the time of the building of the temple, Jerusalem had been the place of worship. It was here that the Ark of the Covenant was located in the sanctuary. This is where God met with His people. Any worship that took place anywhere else, on any other scale, was a worship that did not originate with the direction of God. It was worship that was instigated by the will of men, and it was void of the blessing of heaven. It could be a formal worship, but in reality, it was a ritual worship with no heart worship at all.

These people, even in Jerusalem, were going through a ritualistic kind of worship. They were very zealous in what they were doing. Sacrifices were offered every morning; they brought their tithes and offerings. They brought the second tithes and offerings every three years. But when you look at what was being done, following it back to its origin, you find it was nothing more, from a spiritual standpoint, than a Canaanite-type worship, because it had form without power. Although the people seemed very sincere in their worship, it had no merit or value with God.

God has a sanctuary where worship is to be directed. It is where the ark is contained. Where do we actually direct our worship today—to the sanctuary of our local church, to the church building? Or do we direct our worship to where the ark is located today? Any worship that does not direct its worship to where the ark is located is valueless, as far as God is concerned. Such worship is nothing but form and ritual.

That is how the children of Israel were worshipping. They were directing their worship to Gilgal and Bethel where there was no ark. God said, Go ahead and do it, but it does not have any value. It was worship that was instigated by the will of men, and it was void of the blessing of heaven.

Rebuke and Chasten

And so again, here is a lesson for us. There are forms of worship that are not acceptable to God. God has described the type of worship that is acceptable. We have abundant material in the writings of Ellen White and the Bible on the subject. But many have left the simplicity of worship and have gone over to Babylon. They have found something there they feel is more meaningful, and they have brought it back into our churches and have called it worship. It is not.

It is interesting to see how God has responded to past situations that are brought back for our consideration today. This is one reason we need to study the Bible more than we have before. We need to know where we stand with God. When we depart from God, even in small ways, it may appear that we are getting away with something, but the hand of God is at work. The message to the church of Laodicea is a prime example of how God has worked in the past and how He is still working today. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The message to the church of Laodicea says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” Revelation 3:19. God has worked that way all through the course of history.

The word chasten is a particularly interesting word. It is a word that God uses to describe what He is going to do to His people. Webster gives the definition of this word as: punishment, suffering, to discipline, to purify. When God chastens, He does it for these reasons—to punish, to cause us to suffer, to discipline, and to purify. All these things are designed to get our attention. Punishment and suffering are intended to get our attention, so we will listen to what He has to say. God does this, but He does it in love.

Chastisements Increase

Amos goes on to record how God dealt with His people over time. In verse six of Amos 4 we read: “And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities . . . .” God is not giving them tubes of toothpaste. He is giving them famine. They do not have food on their teeth. This verse means they are licking them clean; they are suffering famine. “I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord. And also I have withholden the rain from you, when [there were] yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.” Verses 6, 7. The Bible says that God causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45), but not in the realm of chastening. When God chastens, He pours out the rain over here, but He causes another area to dry up over there.

Verse eight continues: “So two [or] three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.” Chastening number two!

“I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured [them]: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord. I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord. I have overthrown [some] of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.” Verses 9–11.

As we read, we find that the intensity of the chastisements increases with every one. Yet God says that none of these things have changed the Israelites at all. Their hearts are still going in the same direction. There has been no turning around on their part. There was no reversal on their part in returning to Him.

Principle of Apostasy

Counsel was given by Ellen White that refers to the principle of events we find in Amos 4—apostasy.

“The Israelites had been guilty of treason, and that against a King who had loaded them with benefits, and whose authority they had voluntarily pledged themselves to obey. That the divine government might be maintained, justice must be visited upon the traitors. Yet even here God’s mercy was displayed.” Review and Herald, February 11, 1909. With all the chastisements that we have read about, God has mingled mercy. If the chastisements were not mingled with mercy, He would have just wiped the Israelites out completely. “While he maintained his law, he granted freedom of choice and opportunity for repentance for all. Only those were cut off who persisted in rebellion.

“Love no less than justice demanded that for this sin judgment should be inflicted. God is the guardian as well as the sovereign of his people. He cuts off those who are determined upon rebellion, that they may not lead others to ruin.” Ibid. Why do we weed our gardens? So the strength can go to the plants we want to grow. Weeds will sap the moisture and nutrients from the soil, and sometimes we have to pull them out so the good things will not be lost. “In sparing the life of Cain, God had demonstrated to the universe what would be the result of permitting sin to go unpunished. The influence exerted upon his descendants by his life and teaching led to the state of corruption that demanded the destruction of the whole world by a flood. The history of the antediluvians testifies that long life is not a blessing to the sinner; God’s great forbearance did not repress their wickedness. The longer men lived, the more corrupt they became.

“So with the apostasy at Sinai. Unless punishment had been speedily visited upon transgression, the same results would have again been seen. The earth would have become as corrupt as in the days of Noah. Had these transgressors been spared, evils would have followed greater than resulted from sparing the life of Cain. It was the mercy of God that thousands should suffer, to prevent the necessity of visiting judgment upon millions. In order to save the many, he must punish the few. Furthermore, as the people had cast off their allegiance to God, they had forfeited the divine protection, and, deprived of their defense, the whole nation was exposed to the power of their enemies.” Ibid. That is why Satan can come in with hooks. Once God’s protection is removed, the devil can come in, put his hook in, and lead us at will. The Israelites had forfeited their defense. “Had not the evil been promptly put away, they would soon have fallen a prey to their numerous and powerful foes. It was necessary for the good of Israel, and was also a lesson to all succeeding generations, that crime should be promptly punished. And it was no less a mercy to the sinners themselves that they should be cut short in their evil course. Had their lives been spared, the same spirit that led them to rebel against God would have been manifested in hatred and strife among themselves.” Ibid.

Stop and think about that for a minute. If God had not dealt with and cut short the issues that were causing His people to be separated from Him by the destruction of thousands, the millions would have turned upon themselves.

Bloody God or Loving God

I have had people come to me and say, “I do not want to have anything to do with the God of the Bible, because He is a bloody God.” Is He a bloody God? Let us be honest. Yes, He is. He is a bloody God. But the blood that God sheds is in mercy, sparing multitudes whose lives continue on.

Somehow we must understand that God is a loving God, even in these acts that seem repulsive to us. He knows the heart and the probation of every individual, and He is working to save each one. When that probation is finished, God has to take action. We need to understand that. It will help us appreciate our God much more. God, through His prophet Amos, intended to prepare a people for their coming punishment. He was going to deal with this matter. He was not going to let it pass by, as the people hoped that He would. God said, I have allowed all these horrible things, yet you have not returned unto Me.

Prepare to Meet Thy God

“Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: [and] because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.” Amos 4:12. Every Israelite knew that not one could be in the presence of God and live. Each had, through history and the stories that had been handed down and through the Holy Word of God, instruction that no one could be in the presence of God and live. They all knew that. So in verse 12, when it says, “prepare to meet thy God, O Israel,” it is not meaning, “Why don’t you bring a sacrifice and an offering of repentance so you will be welcomed into the courts of heaven by God?” That is not what it is saying at all. It is telling them that they are going to be ushered into the presence of God. That should have terrified them! The sinner who knows that he is not right with God does not want to be brought into the presence of the holy God, because he knows that is a death sentence.

Amos comes along and tells the Israelites that, in fact, they are going to be ushered into the presence of God and that they had better be prepared to meet Him. How would they react? How will we react?

A Lesson for Us

Amos 4:13 says, “For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what [is] his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The Lord [that is Jehovah, that is the God of heaven], The God of hosts, [is] his name.” He is the one into Whose presence we are going to be ushered—the Creator of the entire Universe. It is judgment hour. God is a merciful God. God is a loving God. But He is also a God of justice, and He will deal with sin. It may take Him a while, and in the process of time, there may be some chastisements along the way to get our attention. But if we ignore them and continue on as we have been, we had better be prepared to meet our God.

To be continued . . .

Pastor Mike Baugher is Associate Speaker for Steps to Life Ministry. He may be contacted by e-mail at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

The Filthy Garment, Part II

We need to not only guard our tongues but guard our ears, as well. During these last days, there are things all around us to which a Christian should not be listening. “My ears must be closed to evil. . . . The ears must not be defiled by listening to any gossip that faultfinding ones would have us hear, for I not only cause them to sin in allowing them to talk of others’ faults, but I sin myself in listening to them.” The Upward Look, 237.

Do you want to quit sinning? If it is a sin to listen to gossip and faultfinding, it is a sin to allow someone to tell it to us. We need to say to them, “I am sorry; you will have to stop talking. I cannot listen. You need to talk directly with the person.” “I can prevent much evil speaking in thus having ears consecrated to God. I can say before the evil is done, ‘Let us pray,’ then ask God to enlighten both our minds to understand our true relation to one another and our true relation to God.” Ibid.

As I have been studying this subject, I realize that if I could put this principle into strict practice, it could really decrease my workload! People call me from all over the world, wanting to tell me about someone else’s wrongs. I have decided that I do not need to listen to such things. These people need to go directly to the person about whom they are talking. Ellen White has told us that as long as we are in this world, there will always be something we can criticize. Did you know that? (See Review and Herald, February 16, 1897.) Things are never going to be perfect in this world.

Someone may think that what I am saying seems to be teaching the Pollyanna attitude, and in historic Adventism, we have never held to this teaching. We have always believed that we need to speak out and speak up when there is sin in the camp. Well, there is a godly way to speak out, and there is a saw-tan [Satan] way to do it. The godly way is to go directly to whomever you know is doing something wrong, talk to them in the meekness and tenderness of Christ, and see if you can help them bring their life into harmony with inspired writings.

If you cannot do this, let them go. If they are living in open sin, and you have gone to them two times, according to Matthew 18, it will be necessary to take their situation to the church for action. If the church will not act, and they allow someone with open sin to stay in that church, then you will have to get out of that church if you want to go to heaven.

When we say that we should not find fault, we are not talking about having a Pollyanna attitude and just letting anything go. This was not Jesus’ instruction. This was not Ellen White’s instruction. In the Review and Herald, July 20, 1905, Mrs. White wrote: “Because we are not to find fault, this does not mean that we are to pass by things that are wrong, without saying a word. If you see one doing wrong, go right to him, and tell him his fault in the way outlined in the Scriptures. In the meekness of Christ tell him the truth, and you may save his soul from death. But if you gloss over the mistakes, leaving those who have made them to think that they have done nothing wrong, you must share in the punishment, because you were unfaithful to your trust.”

So, we are to go directly to the person. We are not to go to someone else and tear down another’s reputation. In fact, Ellen White said that we are never to tear down the reputation. “Many are filled with self-importance and esteem themselves above their brethren. Such should let self die; let the carnal mind be crucified. If you have enmity, suspicion, envy, and jealousy in your hearts, you have a work to do to make these things right. Confess your sins; come into harmony with your brethren. Speak well of them. Throw out no unfavorable hints, no suggestions that will awaken distrust in the minds of others. Guard their reputation as sacredly as you would have them guard yours; love them as you would be loved of Jesus. Work for their interest, instead of seeking to tear them down that you may build yourself upon their ruins. It is Satan’s work to injure the brethren, and he loves to have you help him in it. But disappoint him; do not let him triumph over you.” Ibid., April 29, 1884.

“Do not accuse your brethren. Rather accuse yourselves. An untold amount of mischief is done by words of faultfinding and slander. Never tear down the reputation of a fellow being.” Ibid., November 10, 1910. What could happen in our churches if everyone, waiting for the return of the Lord, would say, “By the grace of God, I am never, ever going to tear down anyone’s reputation again”?

Disfellowshipping Sometimes Necessary

If a person is a faultfinder and they have been reproved for it but will not listen, they are to be disfellowshipped. Not only are they to be disfellowshipped but those who sympathize with them are also to be disfellowshipped.

“There are those members who are busybodies, speaking evil, sowing the seeds of doubt and infidelity, who pay no heed to the light God has given them in His Word. If we have but one church member who by his spirit, words, and influence seeks to counterwork the influence of the minister of Christ, labor with that one faithfully; and if after taking the steps required by Christ, he will not hear, will not change his course of action, then separate him from the church, and let him know the reason why the church cannot hold him in her fellowship. And if there are those who sympathize with him, who will not discern the right from the wrong, who, after patient instruction has been given them, choose to keep on the wrong side, let them also be suspended. God’s name must not be dishonored by murmurers, faultfinders, and those who are continually sowing seeds of disaffection.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 15, 163, 164.

Do you realize, friends, that what we are talking about right now is the very thing that kept the children of Israel in the wilderness for forty years? Of course, we have been in the wilderness for over 150 years.

Jesus has given us an example: “When Christ was living on this earth, how surprised would have been His associates, if, after becoming acquainted with Him, they had heard Him utter one word of impatience, one word of accusation or of faultfinding!” The Paulson Collection of Ellen G. White Letters, 16. His associates would have been shocked if they had ever heard Jesus say anything like that. Oh friend, if you could get a hold of this and if your church could get a hold of it, your church would not only be saved from destruction but it could prosper. People could be brought into your church, and the lambs of the fold, the people who are lost, would not be afraid to come into your church, because it would be a safe place. It would not be a place where people are tearing each other down and destroying each other’s reputations by faultfinding and gossip. It would be a place where people are building up one another. Instead of trying to tear people down by telling them their faults, they would be trying to help them to overcome. “He [Christ] expects those who love Him and believe in Him, to represent Him in character.” Ibid.

A Brand Plucked

Zechariah 3:2 says, “And Jehovah said to the saw-tan [the adversary], Jehovah gives a rebuke to you, the saw-tan. Even Jehovah gives a rebuke to you who has chosen this one at Jerusalem. Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”

If you are a part of God’s people, you are one of those brands plucked from the fire. The New Testament talks about this. James talks about it in the last few verses of his book. Jude 23 talks about it. Paul talks about it in 1 Thessalonians 1:10: “We have been saved from the coming wrath through Jesus.”

What an awesome, awesome thing to think about. All of us, friends, were absolutely destined to destruction with no way out. We were headed for the fire, all of us, but the Lord said, “I am going to give you a second chance; if it is your desire, I will get you out of the fire.”

Filthy Garments

In Zechariah 3:3, it says, “And Joshua was clothed in filthy garments; he was standing before the angel.” Joshua was clothed in filthy garments. Friends, this is not just a description of history; this is a prophecy about God’s people at the end of time. It should be something that would motivate us to think very seriously. When the Holy Spirit wrote down in prophecy a description of God’s people in the end of time, He said, “They are clothed in filthy garments.” Filthy garments. Are you clothed in filthy garments? You should know, if you are spending time with the Lord and the Holy Spirit is speaking to you, that this is how you are clothed, because the Scriptures say so.

Friends, no one can enter into the kingdom of heaven with a filthy garment. The filthy garments are representative of the sins and the defective characters of God’s people.

The devil’s accusation is so difficult to meet, because it is true. I have noticed that when any human being is accused of anything, —this is true in the world, and it is true in the church—they immediately try to find some flaw in the accusation, so on a technicality, they can show that the accuser is wrong. That happens in the courts all the time; a technicality brings victory.

But friends, you cannot obtain the victory on a technicality of this charge, because the accusation is true. The devil is a liar, but this time he is telling the truth. “While Jesus is pleading for the subjects of His grace, Satan accuses them before God as transgressors. The great deceiver has sought to lead them into skepticism, to cause them to lose confidence in God, to separate themselves from His love, and to break His law. Now he points to the record of their lives, to the defects of character, the unlikeness to Christ, which has dishonored their Redeemer, to all the sins that he has tempted them to commit, and because of these he claims them as his subjects.” The Great Controversy, 484. The devil knows accurately the sins that he has tempted us to commit; he has a complete record, and he brings it to the Lord and says, “Look here. These are your people!” He has a record. The accusation is true.

What to do?

What are we going to do? As awful as this is, I have been encouraged, as I have studied these issues, because I saw that the Lord is going to give a command to “Take those filthy garments off.” (See Zechariah 3:4.) I do not know what you are doing in your private devotions, but in my private devotions, I am praying that the Lord will bring me to the position in my Christian walk where He can remove the filthy garments from me. I want them off. I want His clean clothing placed on me. (See Verse 5.)

“Who will now put on the white robe of Christ’s righteousness, which is without spot or wrinkle, so that Satan cannot in derision point to their filthy garments? Keep the soul clean and pure. You have no time to gather up the mistakes of others. Attend to your own mistakes, and make the erring ashamed by your kindly, sympathetic interest in them.” The Upward Look, 117.

Take encouragement in the following quotes:

“Satan tries to bring reproach against those who are trying to serve and honor God. He presents them in a questionable light, as those who are clothed with filthy garments. God says, take away the filthy garments. You have no right to put them upon my children. Take them away. My people may have imperfections of character. They may fail in their endeavors; but if they repent, I will forgive them.” Review and Herald, April 30, 1901.

“The robe of Christ’s righteousness is prepared for all those who will exchange their own sinful, filthy garments for the robe Jesus has prepared for them. This garment was furnished at great cost by the Son of God, and he presents it as a free gift to any one, rich or poor, high or low, wise or ignorant, who will exchange his sin-defiled garments for this robe of matchless purity.” The Youth’s Instructor, August 11, 1886.

“There are very many who cling to their filthy garments, which Christ stands ready to remove, choosing the spots and stains of sin rather than the pure robe of Christ’s righteousness. The pure and holy garments are not prepared to be put on by any one after he has entered the gate of the city. All who enter will have on the robe of Christ’s righteousness and the name of God will be seen in their foreheads. This name is the symbol which the apostle saw in vision, and signifies the yielding of the mind to intelligent and loyal obedience to all of God’s commandments. There will be no covering up of sins and faults to hide the deformity of character; no robes will be half washed; but all will be pure and spotless.” Ibid.

“Jesus loves His children, even if they err. They belong to Jesus and we are to treat them as the purchase of the blood of Jesus Christ. Any unreasonable course pursued toward them is written in the books as against Jesus Christ. He keeps His eye upon them, and when they do their best, calling upon God for His help, be assured the service will be accepted, although imperfect. Jesus is perfect. Christ’s righteousness is imputed unto them, and He will say, Take away the filthy garments from him, and clothe him with change of raiment. Jesus makes up for our unavoidable deficiencies.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 2, 184.

Are there unavoidable deficiencies? Evidently. We do not know what the unavoidable deficiencies are of somebody else. That is why we must not judge them nor find fault with them. We do not know! There are some people who have physical deficiencies that they cannot help. We can recognize those things. But there are people who have mental and spiritual deficiencies that they cannot help. Only the Lord knows, so we must not judge them. Now, there is no excuse for open sin, whatever the deficiency is. But Mrs. White says that Jesus makes up for our unavoidable deficiencies.

This is good news! We should be glad there is Somebody that knows! God does not ask us to do something that we cannot do without His help. He says, “Do not worry about the unavoidable deficiencies.” The Lord is going to make up for those, but are we doing our best, and are we asking the Lord to help us?

Lord’s Injunction

Zechariah 3:7 says, “Thus said Jehovah of hosts: If in my ways you will walk and if my injunction you will keep, also you will judge my house, and also you will keep my courts.” What does He mean when He says, “If you will keep my injunction”? What is the Lord’s injunction? Ellen White tells us very plainly that it is the Ten Commandments. (See Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 385.) The Ten Commandments is not ten laws. It is one law with ten parts, so it is spoken of in the singular throughout the Bible.

The encouraging thing to me, as I have studied this, is that there is going to be a group of people in the world who are going to have the filthy garments removed, and they are going to have the festal garments placed upon them. They are going to be the people who keep the injunction; they will keep the commandments. Friends, I want to be one of those people.

Jesus told the Jews, “If you do not believe that I am the one, you are going to die in your sins.” John 8:24. Many, many times I have prayed to the Lord asking that He does not let me die in my sins. That is all. If I die in this world, that is all right, but I do not want to die in my sins. If the filthy garments are going to be removed and if the festal garments are going to be put on, it is going to happen in this world—not in heaven.

“After the filthy garments have been removed, the subject changes, showing that this has its application in the future. If the people of God will walk in the ways of the Lord and keep His charge, which is the ten commandments, then the promise is that they shall judge His house and have places to walk among the angels.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 385.

There will be a group of people upon whom the Lord will look and say, “These people have repented. These people are not going any longer in the way of sin.” You see, the Lord cannot take away the filthy garments from most of the people in the world and give them festal garments, because they would get them dirty the first day of wearing them. A woman does not put on her wedding dress and then change the oil in her car. She does not put on the dress until she is going to keep it clean.

The same applies here. The Lord cannot take away our filthy garments and place upon us the festal garments until we are in a condition where we will not get the festal garments filthy. That is the condition, the experience, that I want. Is that the experience you want? If it is, ask the Lord to give it to you.

[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]

Pastor Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life Ministry and pastor of the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Editorial – In Search of the Apostle Paul

When Jesus ascended to heaven in 31 a.d., the man that would become the chiefest of the apostles, the one who would write more than half of the books of the New Testament, was not yet a Christian. In fact, he was a bitter opponent who became so insolent against Christians that he was responsible for murdering many of the believers.

But the Spirit of God was in search of this man’s soul. In the first paragraph of the book Sketches from the Life of Paul, Ellen White describes it this way: “Beneath the blindness and bigotry of the zealot and the Pharisee, Infinite Wisdom discerned a heart loyal to truth and duty. And the voice from Heaven made itself heard above the clamors of pride and prejudice. In the promulgation of the gospel, Divine Providence would unite with the zeal and devotion of the Galilean peasants, the fiery vigor and intellectual power of a rabbi of Jerusalem. To lead the battle against pagan philosophy and Jewish formalism, was chosen one who had himself witnessed the debasing power of heathen worship, and endured the spiritual bondage of Pharisaic exaction.”

The Spirit of God is still in search of men like this—men who have theological training and are highly educated, whose education has been influenced by the popular religious teachers of today. The Spirit of God is searching for these men just as He searched for the apostle Paul nearly 2,000 years ago. Some are being found. The writer was happy, several weeks ago, to meet a pastor from Tennessee and another from Florida who not only have begun to keep the Sabbath but also are leading the faithful of their flocks to do the same. God has many more of these people that He is going to reach. Many minds are searching the Scriptures and being pricked in conscience that they are not completely following all of the Bible’s teachings.

We are told that the apostle Paul “had struggled entire nights against conviction.” Ibid., 24, 25. Many people, today, are in this struggle. Maybe there is one near you. They may not respond right away—it took a few years and some very rocky road before the apostle Paul responded. But if we are afraid of clergymen and never give them any literature to help them, how will they find the truth?

We recently learned of a church whose pastor is using material in his worship services from the Steps to Life television programs. As we keep sowing our seed, the Lord will send a harvest. Do not be afraid of the pastors in your area. Become friends with them—take them a loaf of homemade bread to open your friendship, and ask the Lord to lead you to an “apostle Paul” who can multiply your efforts a hundred-fold.

This will happen, and we want to cooperate with the Lord in making it happen. That is why, as 2004 begins, we are starting to provide academic training for people who are or who want to become ministers. There are many ministers desiring more academic training, and the training offered by Steps to Life is being used right now to help preachers from other churches learn about the Three Angels’ Messages and about God’s last-day people. If you know or meet a minister who is interested in further training, call or write to Steps to Life for enrollment information.

We are looking for the apostle Pauls of our time—those who right now are the bitterest enemies of the truth but who will in the future become its champions. Will you join us in the search?