Children’s Story – Armies of the Aliens Put to Flight

Through the centuries, God has worked in many ways to preserve His truth and to protect His people. Sometimes, as when He freed Israel from their Egyptian bondage, He worked with signs and wonders; but at other times, He has used very simple means.

For hundreds of years before the Reformation, there were faithful people of God who lived in the Piedmont valleys of northern Italy. These faithful people were known as the Waldenses. They refused to accept the Roman Catholic religion, and this made them special objects of papal hatred. In 1487, Pope Innocent VII issued a decree, or bull, against them, urging that they must be completely destroyed.

Troops came in by the thousands—eighteen thousand regulars from France and Piedmont who were joined by a large number of rabble hoping to become rich by plundering the homes of these faithful people.

Cataneo was the papal legate, or representative, who led this army in its attack on the valley of Angrogna. As the battle proceeded, the enemy began to break through the line of the Waldenses’ defense, behind which were women, the children, and the aged. Seeing their defenders yielding before the attacking enemy, the Waldensian families fell to their knees and with tears began to cry, “Oh, Lord help us! Oh my God, save us!” This cry of distress caused their enemies to laugh. Seeing the praying company on their knees, one of the chiefs in the papal army, known as Black of Mondovi, cried out, “My fellows are coming—they are coming to give you your answer.” He then raised the visor of his helmet to show that he was not afraid of the people whom he had mocked and ridiculed. At that moment, a steel-pointed arrow struck him with such force that it penetrated his skull between his eyes, killing him instantly. His men, seized with panic, fell back in disorder.

Though they had been driven back, the invaders were not defeated. The next day they returned more determined than ever.

It seemed impossible that the Waldensian people could escape this time, but God was watching over them. He said to their enemies, as He had said to a tyrant many years before, “I will put my hook in thy nose, and My bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.” II Kings 19:28.

As the invaders entered the valley, they threaded their way up the narrow pathway that led along the face of a high wall. The path was so narrow that no more than two men could walk side by side. On one side was the mountain wall stretching upwards, and on the other was a deep ravine through the bottom of which a river flowed.

As the papal army advanced, the Waldenses noticed something that the invaders were completely unaware of. High over the mountain top, a small cloud about the size of a man’s hand appeared. The Waldenses watched as the cloud rapidly grew in size and began to descend to the valley below. In a few moments, it completely filled the narrow valley into which the papal army had come, filling it with the darkness of night. The blinded soldiers could neither advance nor retreat. Terrified, they halted, unable to move.

The Waldenses believed that God was working for them. Climbing quickly to the top of the slopes leading to the valley, they tore loose huge stones and rocks and sent them thundering down into the ravine below. The enemy soldiers, unable to move, were crushed where they stood. Some of the Waldenses then boldly entered the narrow valley, their swords in hand, and began attacking the invading papal army from the front. As they did so, a panic seized the papal army; and they began to flee in the darkness. This proved more disastrous to them than the stones. In their struggle to escape, they jostled against one another; and many of them fell to their death in the chasm far below.

This terrible defeat, coming as it had in so unexpected a manner, brought about the deliverance of the valley. After this battle, the Waldenses had peace in their valley for a number of years. The captain who commanded the invading force was named Saguet de Planghere; and the chasm, into which he fell, after all these centuries, is still called Saguet’s hole.

The Reformation history shows that it was by witnessing and suffering and not by fighting, that the light of truth was caused to shine; but in these experiences of deliverance, we see God’s providence in keeping alive a small band of witnesses in the Piedmont valleys until the time that the Reformation should come.

Food for Life – The New Year

Happy New Year to each one of you.

“Another year now opens its fair unwritten pages before you. The recording angel stands ready to write. Your course of action will determine what shall be traced by him. You may make your future life good or evil; and this will determine for you whether the year upon which you have entered will be to you a happy new year. It is in your power to make it such for yourself and for those around you. . . .

Angels of God are waiting to show you the path of life. . . . Decide now, at the commencement of the new year, that you will choose the path of righteousness; that you will be earnest and true-hearted, and that life with you shall not prove a mistake. Go forward, guided by the heavenly angels; be courageous; be enterprising; let your light shine; and may the words of inspiration be applicable to you—‘I write unto you, young men, because you are strong and have overcome the wicked one.’” My Life Today, 5.

“The blessing of God will rest upon every soul that makes a full consecration to Him. . . . Those who feel the constraining love of God; do not ask how little may be given to meet the requirements of God, they do not ask for the lowest standard, but aim at perfect conformity to the will of their Redeemer. . . . It is the submissive, teachable spirit that God wants. That which gives to prayer its excellence is the fact that it is breathed from a loving, obedient heart.” Ibid., 7.

“Life is a gift of God. Our bodies have been given us to use in God’s service, and He desires that we shall care for an appreciate them. Our bodies must be kept in the best possible condition physically, and under the most spiritual influences. . . .

“The law of temperance must control the life of every Christian. . . . We are under sacred obligations to God so to govern our bodies and rule our appetites and passions that they will not lead us away from purity and holiness, or take our minds from the work God requires us to do.

Those who serve God in sincerity and truth will be a peculiar people, unlike the world, separate from the world. Their food will be prepared, not to encourage gluttony or gratify a perverted taste, but to secure to themselves the greatest physical strength, and consequently the best mental conditions.

Every careless, inattentive action, any abuse put upon the Lord’s wonderful mechanism, by disregarding His specified laws in the human habitation, is a violation of God’s Law.” Ibid., 125, 127.

It is my prayer this New Year, that as we study together God’s messages to us through the Spirit of Prophecy on the subject of diet and healthful living, and review the many medical findings that have been released in the laws few years, we will renew our vows to our Creator, to live according to God’s plan for His remnant people. Let us remember that “True temperance teaches us to dispense entirely with everything hurtful and to use judiciously that which is healthful.” Temperance, 138.

January’s Recipes:

Tofu Mayonnaise

16 oz. pkg. tofu

1/3 cup of lemon juice

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 Tablespoon onion powder

1 Tablespoon ground dill (optional)

1/4 cup pineapple concentrate

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup Fruit Source (granulated)

1/2 cup cashew pieces

4 oz. can chopped olives

Place first eight ingredients in blender on high speed and blend until smooth.Then add cashews and continue blending until very smooth. Pour into container and add the chopped olives and stir well. For use as sour cream on baked potatoes, omit olives and use chives. This also makes a delicious dip for chips (the baked variety with no oil, or Frito-Lay makes delicious Tostitos with nothing but corn and salt.)

 

Olive Pimento Spread

Place in blender on high speed:

1 cup water

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 small can of olives

1 Tablespoon onion powder

1/4 cup Fruit Source (granulated)

4-6 oz. pimentos

Blend until smooth and then slowly add 2 cups of cashew pieces and continue blending until very smooth. Remove from blender and add the chopped olives, or if you prefer you may use sliced olives. Without the sweetening and olives this sauce is very good on steamed broccoli and cauliflower.

 

Fruit Spread

20 oz. can crushed pineapple

large bananas

1 cup date pieces

1 /2 teaspoon sea salt

1 pkg. frozen strawberries (blackberries, boysenberries, raspberries, or blueberries may be used.)

Place first four ingredients in blender on high and blend till smooth. Then add the berries, frozen or fresh, and continue blending until very smooth. This is delicious on raisin-nut toast, waffles, or pancakes.

Martin Luther, part II – The Doctrine of Indulgences

From Wycliffe, the good seed of the Word of God had been sown throughout Europe. In Bohemia and at Constance, it had been watered with the blood of the saints and proved by fire. A hundred years had passed since the martyrdom of Huss and Jerome. The condition of the church, rather than improving because of the light, had reached new depths of depravity. During the Reformation, the court of Rome had been scandalized by acts of treason, murder, and incest. Even its most respectable members were utterly unfit to be ministers of religion. The Church of Rome had made plain her complete antagonism to the Word of God and to the way of salvation which she professed to know and of which she claimed to be the exclusive channel. By His faithful witnesses, God had sought to call the Church of Rome to repentance; but she would not. If reform could not be brought about within the church, the only course remaining was to do so from without.

Luther’s status as an envoy from Germany obtained him numerous invitations to meetings. At one of these meetings, several of the prelates were openly displaying their buffoonery and impious conversation. He discovered that many of the priests were but playing a part and that in private they held in contempt and treated with mockery the rites which in public they celebrated with such a show of devotion. Surely, he thought, faith and piety must still be found among the dignitaries of the Church. A short time late, he was to find how greatly mistaken he was.

One day he was with some prelates when they humorously related how, when they were repeating the mass at the altar, instead of the sacramental words that were to transform the bread and wine into the flesh and blood of our Saviour, they pronounced: “’Bread thou art, and bread thou shalt remain. Wine thou art, and wine thou shalt remain. Then,’ continued they, ‘we elevate the host, and all the people bow down and worship it.’” D’Aubigne’s History of the Reformation, book 2, chapter 6, 69. Luther scarcely believed his ears. He was horrified.

Righteousness by Faith

There was, at the time of Luther’s visit, a stairway of marble that was said to have been the stairs which Christ climbed to Pilate’s judgment hall. These stairs were said to have been miraculously transported to Rome by angels. Everyone who climbed them on his knees, it was said, merited an indulgence of fifteen years for each ascent. While climbing the stairs, Luther was startled by a sudden voice which sounded in his ears as thunder saying, “The just shall live by faith.” Luther started to his feet in amazement. In this one truth, which burned itself indelibly into his mind, lay folded the whole Reformation.

Though Luther’s stay in Rome was no more than two weeks, during this short period of time, he learned lessons that remained with him throughout the rest of his life. No more did he have anything to do with relics. He had found that which had a thousand times more efficacy than all of the holy treasure of which Rome could boast.

A few months after his return, Luther received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from the University of Wittemberg. On that occasion, Luther took an oath upon the Bible to defend the faith contained in the Holy Scriptures. From there he turned to the Bible as his lifework.

Truly, “we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.” 2 Corinthians 13:8. “The Roman Church had made merchandise of the grace of God. The tables of the money-changers (Matthew 21:12) were set up beside her altars, and the air resounded with the shouts of buyers and sellers. Under the plea of raising funds for the erection of St. Peter’s Church at Rome, indulgences for sin were publicly offered for sale by the authority of the pope. By the price of crime, a temple was to be built up for God’s worship—the cornerstone laid with the wages of iniquity! But the very means adopted for Rome’s aggrandizement provoked the deadliest blow to her power and greatness. It was this that aroused the most determined and successful of the enemies of popery, and led to the battle which shook the papal throne and jostled the triple crown upon the pontiff’s head.” The Great Controversy, 127.

The license to sell indulgences in the various countries was sold to the highest bidder, with the pope to be paid in advance. The indulgences in Germany were farmed out to Albert, Archbishop of Mainz and Madeburg. The Archbishop was in Germany what Leo X was in Rome. In looking for a man to transverse the country extolling and actually selling the indulgences, he found in Tetzel a man who in every way suited his purpose. Tetzel, the son of a goldsmith of Leipzig, had been convicted of a base crime at Innsbruck and had been condemned to be placed in a sack and drowned; but powerful intercession being made for him, he received a reprieve and lived to help, unconsciously, in the overthrow of the system that he espoused.

When Tetzel entered a city, he made his way directly to the cathedral. A cross was set up in front of the altar and a strong, iron box was placed beside it. Tetzel, mounting the pulpit, would expound on the incomparable merit of his wares. Never before had the gates of Paradise opened so wide. “’Indulgences,’ he said, ‘are the most precious and most noble of God’s gifts. . . . Come, and I will give you letters all properly sealed, by which even the sins you intend to commit may be pardoned. I would not change my privileges for those of St. Peter in heaven, for I have saved more souls by my indulgences than the apostle did by his sermons. . . . But more than this . . . indulgences avail not only for the living, but for the dead. Priest, noble, merchant, wife, youth, maiden, do you not hear your parents and your other friends who are dead, and who cry from the bottom of the abyss: “We are suffering horrible torments! A trifling alms would deliver us; you can give it and you will not.”?

‘At the very instant,’ continues Tetzel, ‘that the money rattles at the bottom of the chest, the soul escapes from purgatory, and flies liberated to heaven. Now you can ransom so many souls, stiff-necked and thoughtless man; with twelve groats you can deliver your father from purgatory, and you are ungrateful enough not to save him! I shall be satisfied in the Day of Judgment; but you—you will be punished so much the more severely for having neglected so great salvation. I declare to you, though you have a single coat, you ought to strip it off and sell it, in order to obtain this grace. . . . The Lord our God no longer reigns; He has resigned all power to the pope.’” Wylie, History of Protestantism, vol. 1, 57.

Indulgences Become License

The matter of indulgences quickly became the focal point of discussion from the palace to the university and even in the market place. That a little money could atone for the guilt and efface the stain of the most enormous crimes was a blow at the very foundation of the moral fabric of the nation. The more sensible portion of the population were shocked, and those who had some small knowledge of the Word of God viewed the matter in an even worse light. “The papal key, instead of unlocking the fountains of grace and holiness, had opened the floodgates of impiety and vice; and men trembled at the deluge of licentiousness which seemed ready to rush in and overflow the land.” Ibid., 258.

Leo’s Quest for Gold

When the gold began to pour into Rome, the joy of Leo X knew no bounds. “He had not, like the Emperor Charles, a ‘Mexico’ beyond the Atlantic; but he had a ‘Mexico’ in the credulity of Christendom, and he saw neither limit nor end of the wealth it might yield him. Never again would he have cause to bewail an empty treasury. Men would never cease to sin; and o long as they continued to sin, they would need pardon; and where could they go for pardon if not to the Church—in other words, to himself? He only, of all men on the earth, held the key. He might say with an ancient monarch, ‘Mine hand hath found as a nest the riches of the nations; and as one gathereth eggs, so have I gathered all the earth.’ Thus Leo went from day to day, building St. Peter’s, but pulling down the papacy.” Ibid.

“Men of all characters, righteous and unrighteous, will stand in their several positions in God’s plan. With the characters they have formed, they will act their part in the fulfillment of history. In a crisis, just at the right moment, they will stand in the places they have prepared themselves to fill. Believers and unbelievers will fall into line as witnesses to confirm truth that they themselves do not comprehend. All will cooperate in accomplishing the purposes of God, just as did Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate, and Herod.” Review and Herald, June 12, 1900.

Luther, who acted as confessor as well as preacher, as he sat one day in the confessional, was approached by some citizens of Wittemberg who confessed having committed thefts, adulteries, and other heinous sins. Luther told them that they must abandon their evil course; otherwise he could not absolve them. To his surprise, they replied that they had no thought of changing, in as much as these sins were already pardoned. They then pulled out their indulgence papers obtained from Tetzel. Luther could only tell them that the papers were worthless and that they must repent and be forgiven of God or they would perish everlastingly.

The poor, deluded people, quite unhappy at losing both their money and, at the same time, their hope of heaven, quickly found Tetzel and informed him that a monk in Wittemberg was warning the people against his indulgences. Tetzel was enraged. Kindling a fire in the marketplace of Juterbock, he indicated what would be done to anyone who should presume to obstruct his noble work, declaring that the pope had given him authority to commit all such heretics to the flames.

Luther was unmoved by Tetzel’s angry words. He had no thought but that the pope, if not ignorant of the sale of indulgences, was at least unaware of the frightful excesses that attended their sale; and he became even more strenuous in his condemnation of them.

Tetzel continued his sale of indulgences, and Luther felt constrained to take even more decisive measures. Elector Frederick had recently completed a church-castle in Wittemberg. He had spared neither money nor labor in gathering relics in their settings of gold and precious stones. These were put on public display and shown to the people on the festival of All Saints. On the eve of the festival, October 31, Luther, who had given no hint to anyone of what he proposed to do, joined the crowd that was approaching the church. Pressing his way to the front, he quickly nailed to the door a paper on which he had put forth ninety-five theses, or propositions, against the doctrine of indulgences. The sound of his hammer drew a crowd, and they quickly began to read. These points, Luther announced, he would defend at the university the next day against all who might choose to dispute them.

In this paper, Luther struck at more than the abuses of indulgences. The theses put God’s free gift of salvation in sharp contrast with the pope’s salvation to be obtained by purchase. Though he little realized the full significance of the step that he had taken, Luther had set the stage for the Reformation. The two systems—salvation by Jesus Christ and salvation by Rome—were brought face to face.

The news traveled quickly. Erasmus, on being asked by the Elector of Saxony his opinion on the matter, replied with characteristic shrewdness, “Luther has committed two unpardonable crimes—he has attacked the pope’s tiara, and the bellies of the monks.” Ibid., 263.

A Remarkable Dream

The morning of October 31, the elector said to Duke John, “’Brother, I must tell you a dream which I had last night, and the meaning of which I should like much to know. It is so deeply impressed on my mind, that I will never forget it, were I to live a thousand years. For I dreamed it thrice, and each time with new circumstances.’

“Duke John: ‘Is it a good or a bad dream?’

“The elector: ‘I know not; God knows.’

Duke John: ‘Don’t be uneasy at it; but be so good as to tell it to me.’

“The elector: ‘Having gone to bed last night, fatigued and out of spirits, I fell asleep shortly after my prayer, and slept calmly for about two hours and a half; I then awoke, and continued awake to midnight, all sorts of thoughts passing through my mind. Among other things, I thought how I was to observe the Feast of All Saints. I prayed for the poor souls in purgatory; and supplicated God to guide me, my counsels, and my people according to truth. I again fell asleep, and then dreamed that Almighty God sent me a monk, who was a true son of the Apostle Paul. All the saints accompanied him by order of God, in order to bear testimony before me, and to declare that he did not come to contrive any plot, but that all that he did was according to the will of God. They asked me to have the goodness graciously to permit him to write something on the door of the church of the Castle of Wittemberg. This I granted through my chancellor. Thereupon the monk went to the church, and began to write in such large characters that I could read the writing in Schweinitz. The pen which he used as so large that its end reached as far as Rome, where it pierced the ears of a lion that was crouching there, and caused the triple crown upon the head of the pope to shake. All the cardinals and princes running hastily up, tried to prevent it from falling. You and I, brother, wished also to assist, and I stretched out my arm;—but at this moment, I awoke with my arm in the air, quite amazed, and very much enraged at the monk for not managing his pen better. I recollected myself; it was only a dream.’

“’I was still half asleep, and once more closed my eyes. The dream returned; the lion, still annoyed by the pen, began to roar with all his might, so much so that the whole city of Rome and all the States of the Holy Empire ran to see what the matter was. The pope requested them to oppose this monk, and applied particularly to me, on the account of his being in my country. I again awoke, repeated the Lord’s prayer, entreated God to preserve his holiness, and once more fell asleep.

“’Then I dreamed that all the princes of the Empire, and we among them, hastened to Rome and strove, one after another, to break the pen; but the more we tried, the stiffer it became, sounding as if it had been made of iron. We at length desisted. I then asked the monk (for I was sometimes at Rome, and sometimes at Wittemberg) where he got this pen, and why it was so strong. “The pen,” replied he, “belonged to an old goose of Bohemia, a hundred years old. I got it from one of my old schoolmasters. As to its strength, it is owing to the impossibility of depriving it of its pith or marrow; and I am quite astonished at it myself.” Suddenly, I heard a loud noise—a large number of other pens had sprung out of the long pen of the monk. I awoke a third time; it was daylight.’

“Duke John: ‘Chancellor, what is your opinion? Would we had a Joseph, or a Daniel, enlightened by God!’” Wylie, History of Protestantism, vol. 1, 263-265.

The elector had scarcely finished telling his dream in the royal castle of Schweinitz the morning of October 32, 1517, when Luther, with paper in hand, arrived at the castle church to interpret its meaning.

The Final Generation, part 4

The religious journal, Christianity Today, states in the March 3, 1958 issue that “the Adventists today are contending vigorously that they are truly evangelical. They want to appear to be so regarded.” Mentioning this book Questions on Doctrines, it says that this “is the Adventist answer to the question whether it ought to be thought of as a sect or a fellow evangelical denomination.” It states further that “the book” is published in an effort to convince the religious world that we are evangelical and one of them.

This is a most interesting and dangerous situation. As one official who was not in favor of what was being done stated to me: “We are being sold down the river.” What a sight for heaven and earth! The church of the living God, which has been given the commission to preach the gospel to every creature under heaven and call men to come out of Babylon, is now standing at the door of these churches asking permission to enter and become one of them. How are the mighty fallen! Had their plans succeeded, we might now be a member of some evangelical association and no longer a distinctive Seventh-day Adventist Church, in secrecy “sold down the river.” This is more than apostasy. This is giving up Adventism. It is the rape of a whole people. It is denying God’s leading in the past. It is the fulfillment of what the Spirit of Prophecy said years ago: “The enemy of souls has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of reorganization. Were this reformation to take place, what would result? The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church, would be discarded. Our religion would be changed. The fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error. A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced. . . . Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement.” Selected Messages, book 1, 204.

“’Be not deceived; many shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.’ We have now before us the alpha of this danger. The omega will be of a most startling nature.” Ibid., 197.

“When men standing in the position of leaders and teachers work under the power of spiritualistic ideas and sophistries, shall we keep silent, for fear of injuring their influence, while souls are being beguiled? . . . Those who feel so very peaceable in regard to the works of the men, who are spoiling the faith of the people of God, are guided by a delusive sentiment.” Series B, no. 2, 9, 11.

“Renewed energy is now needed. Vigilant action is called for. Indifference and sloth will result in the loss of personal religion and of heaven. . . . My message to you is: No longer consent to listen without protest to the perversion of truth. . . . We must firmly refuse to be drawn away from the platform of eternal truth, which since 1844 has stood the test.” Selected Messages, book 1, 195, 196, 199, 200.

“I hesitated and delayed about the sending out of that which the Spirit of the Lord impelled me to write. I did not want to be compelled to present the misleading influence of these sophistries. But in the providence of God, the errors that have been coming in must be met.” Ibid., 205.

“What influence is it that would lead men at this stage of our history to work in an underhanded, powerful way to tear down the foundation of our faith—the foundation that was laid at the beginning of our work by prayerful study of the Word and by revelation? Upon this foundation we have been building for the past fifty years. Do you wonder that when I see the beginning of a work that would remove some of the pillars of our faith, I have something to say? I must obey the command, ‘Meet it!’” Ibid., 207, 208.

All this was written to meet the apostasy in the alpha period. We are now in the omega period which Sister White said would come and would be of a “startling nature.” Her words are even more applicable now than then. It is time to stand up and be counted.

Christ’s death on the cross corresponded to the moment when on the Day of Atonement the high priest had just killed the Lord’s goat in the court. The death of the goat was necessary; for without its blood, there could be no atonement. But the death itself was not the atonement, though it was the first and necessary step. Sister White states that the “atonement commenced on earth.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, 261. Says the Scripture: “It is the blood that maketh atonement.” Leviticus 17:11. And, of course, there could be no blood until after the death had taken place. Without a blood ministration, the people would be in the same position as those who on the Passover slew the lamb but failed to place the blood on the doorposts. “When I see the blood,” said God, “I will pass over you.” Exodus 12:13. The death was useless without the ministration of the blood. It was the blood that counted.

It is the blood that is to be applied, not “an act,” “a great act,” “a sacrificial act,” “an atoning act,” “the act of the cross,” “the benefits of the act of the cross,” “the benefits of the atonement,” all of which expressions are used in Questions on Doctrine, while any reference to the blood is carefully avoided. It is not an act of any kind that is to be applied. It is the blood. Yet in all of the one-hundred pages dealing with the atonement, in the book, not once is the blood spoken of as being applied or ministered.

Blood Atonement

Here are some expressions from the Spirit of Prophecy in regard to the blood atonement:

“Jesus was clothed with priestly garments. He gazed in pity on the remnant, then raised His hands, and with a voice of deep pity cried, ‘My blood, Father, My blood, My blood, My blood.’” Early Writings, 38.

“He appears in the presence of God as our great High Priest, ready to accept the repentance, and to answer the prayers of His people, and through the merits of His own righteousness, to present them to the Father. He raises His wounded hands to God, and claims their blood-bought pardon. I have graven them on the palms of My hands, He pleads. Those memorial wounds of My humiliation and anguish secure to My church the best gifts of Omnipotence.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, 261, 262.

“The ark that enshrines the tables of the Law is covered with the mercy seat, before which Christ pleads His blood in the sinner’s behalf.” The Great Controversy, 415.

“When in the typical service the high priest left the holy on the Day of Atonement, he went in before God to present the blood of the sin offering in behalf of all Israel who truly repented of their sins. So Christ had only completed one part of His work as our intercessor, to enter upon another portion of the work, and He still pleaded His blood before the Father in behalf of sinners.” Ibid., 429.

Christ is “now officiating before the ark of God, pleading His blood in behalf of sinners.” Ibid., 433.

“Christ, the great High Priest, pleading His blood before the Father in the sinner’s behalf, bears upon His heart the name of every repentant, believing soul.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 351.

“As Christ at His ascension appeared in the presence of God to plead His blood in behalf of penitent believers, so the priest in the daily ministration sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice in the holy place in the sinner’s behalf. The blood of Christ, while it was to release the repentant sinner from the condemnation of the Law, was not to cancel the sin; it would stand on record in the sanctuary until the final atonement.” Ibid., 357.

The Final Atonement

“The Father ratified the covenant made with Christ, that He would receive repentant and obedient men, and would love them even as He loves His Son. Christ was to complete His work, and fulfill His pledge to ‘make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.’” The Desire of Ages, 790.

When Christ says in His High Priestly prayer, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do” (John 17:4), Sister White comments: “He had wrought out a righteous character on earth as an example for man to follow.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, 260.

In working out this righteous character, Christ demonstrated that it could be done. But could others do the same? That needed to be demonstrated also.

Character is not created, it is developed through manifold tests, temptations, and trials. God at first gives a light test, then a little stronger one until, little by little, resistance to temptations grows stronger. After a time, certain temptations cease to be temptations.

Holiness is not attained in a day. “Redemption is that process by which the soul is trained for heaven.” The Desire of Ages, 330. A man may gain victories every day but still may not have attained. Even Paul had to admit, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect.” Undaunted he exclaims, “But I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12.

Christ had pledged to make men overcomers. It was no easy task, but the work of atonement was not finished until and unless He did it. Out of the last generation, out of the weakest of the weak, Christ selects a group with which to make the demonstration that man can overcome as He overcame. In the 144,000, Christ will stand justified and glorified. They prove that it is possible for man to live a life pleasing to God until all conditions and that man can at last stand “in the sight of a holy God without an intercessor.” The Great Controversy, 614. As a husband and wife are one, so now are Christ and the church. The at-one-ment, the true atonement, the final atonement, the complete atonement has been made. “The family of heaven and the family of earth are one.” The Desire of Ages, 835.

The 144,000

Practically all Adventists have read the last few chapters in The Great Controversy which describe the fearful struggle through which God’s people will pass before the end. As Christ was tried to the utmost in the temptations in the wilderness and in the garden of Gethsemane, so the 144,000 will likewise be tried. They will apparently be left to perish, as their prayers remain unanswered as were Christ’s in Gethsemane when His petitions were denied. But their faith will not fail. With Job they exclaim, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” Job 13:15.

The final demonstration of what God can do in humanity is made in the last generation who bear all of the infirmities and weaknesses which the race has acquired through six thousand years of sin and transgression. In the words of Sister White, they bore “the results of the working of the great law of heredity.” The Desire of Ages, 49. The weakest of mankind are to be subjected to the strongest of Satan’s temptations, that the power of God might be abundantly shown. “It was an hour of fearful, terrible agony to the saints. Day and night they cried unto God for deliverance. To outward appearance, there was no possibility of their escape.” Early Writings, 283.

According to the new theology which our leaders have accepted and are now teaching, the 144,000 will be subjected to a temptation immeasurably stronger than any that Christ ever experienced. For while the last generation will bear the weaknesses and passions of their forefathers, they claim that Christ was exempt from all of these. Christ, we are told, did not inherit any of the passions “that corrupt the natural descendants of Adam.” Questions on Doctrine, 383. He was, therefore, functioning on a higher and altogether different level from men who have to battle with inherited passions; hence, He does not know and has not experienced the real power of sin. But this is not the kind of Saviour that I need. I need One who was “in all points tempted like as we are.” Hebrews 4:15. The “substitute Christ” which our leaders present to us, I must reject and do reject. Thank God that “we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Ibid.

Indictment Against God

But more than even this is involved in the new theology; it places an indictment against God as the Author of a scheme to deceive both men and Satan. Here is the situation:

Satan has consistently maintained that God is unjust in requiring men to obey His Law, which he claims is impossible to do. God has maintained that it can be done; and to substantiate His claim, offered to send His Son to this world to prove His contention. The Son did come, kept the Law, and challenged men to convince Him of sin. He was found to be sinless, holy, and without blame. He proved that the Law could be kept and God stood vindicated; His requirement that men keep His commandments was found to be just. God had won, and Satan was defeated.

But there was a hitch in this; for Satan claimed that God had not played fair, He had favored His Son and had exempted Christ “from the inherited passions and pollutions that corrupt the natural descendants of Adam.” Questions on Doctrine, 383. He had not only exempted mankind in general, but Christ only. That, of course, invalidated Christ’s work on earth. He was no longer one of us who had demonstrated the power of God to keep men from sinning. He was a deceiver of whom God had given preferred treatment and was not afflicted with inherited passions as men are.

Satan had little difficulty in having men accept this view; the Catholic Church accepted it; in due time, the Evangelicals gave their consent; and in 1956, the leaders of the Adventist Church also adopted this view. It was the matter of “exemption” that caused Peter to take Christ aside and say, “Be it far from Thee, Lord; this shall not be unto Thee,” which so raised the wrath of Christ that He told Peter, “Get thee behind Me, Satan.” Matthew 16:22, 23. Christ did not want to be exempt. He told Peter, “Thou savourest not the things that be of God.” Ibid. So some today savor not the things of God. They think it merely a matter of semantics. God pity such and open their eyes to the things that be of God. With the surrender of the Adventist leaders to the monstrous doctrine of an “exempt” Christ, Satan’s last opposition has surrendered. We pray again, may God save His people.

The Bible is mostly a record of the protest of God’s witnesses against the prevailing sins of the church and also of their apparent failure. Practically all protesters sealed their testimony with their blood, and the church went on until God intervened. All Paul hoped was that he might “save some.” I Corinthians 9:22. Practically all of the apostles died martyrs, and Christ they hanged on a tree. It took forty years before the destruction came; but when God intervened, He did thorough work.

This denomination needs to go back to the instruction given in 1888, which was scorned. We need a reform in organization that will not permit a few men to direct every move made everywhere in the world. We need a reform that will not permit a few men to handle finances as is not being done. We need a reform that will not permit men to spend millions on institutions not authorized by the vote of the constituency, while mission fields are suffering for want of the barest necessities. We need a change in the emphasis that is given to promotion, finances, and statistics. We need to restore the Sabbath School to it rightful place in the work of God. We need to put a stop to the entertainments and suppers that are creeping in under the guise of raising money for good purposes. We need to put a stop to the weekly announcements in church that are merely disguised advertisements. This list could be greatly enlarged.

But all of these, while important, are, after all, only minor things. We need a reformation and revival most of all. If our leaders will not lead in this, “then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place.” Esther 4:14. I am of good cheer, praying for the peace of Israel.

The Two Laws

“There is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things.” I Corinthians 8:6. From Him all beings derive their existence. He who creates and uphold has certainly the right to govern and control. Hence it is that He is represented in the Scriptures as the one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. (See James 4:23.) Existence being derived from the benevolence of the Creator, all intelligent creatures are amenable to His just government. Of all the creatures made by God to inhabit the earth, man alone is capable of learning the distinction of right and wrong; and he alone is placed under the control of moral law. Deriving his existence from a Being of infinite purity, he was himself once innocent, pure, and upright. He was the creature and the loyal subject of God, and God was the Author of his existence and his rightful Sovereign. But God did not present Himself to man in the position of a Saviour and redeemer; for man needed not pardon.

As a creature owing all to God, the author of his existence, it is self-evident that he was under the highest obligation to love Him with all of his heart. The existence of other human beings originates a second great obligation; viz., to love our neighbors as ourselves. This precept is also one of self-evident obligation; for others are equally the creatures of God with ourselves and have the same right that we also have. These two precepts are the sum of all moral law. They grow out of the fact that we owe all to God and that others are the creatures of God as well as ourselves.

In rendering obedience to the first of these two precepts, man could have no other god before the Lord; nor could he worship idols; neither could he speak the name of God in an irreverent manner; nor could he neglect the hallowed rest day of the Lord, which was set apart at Creation in memory of the Creator’s rest.

Equally evident is it that our duty toward our fellowmen comprehends our duty to our parents and the strictest regard to the life, chastity, property, character, and interests of others.

The moral Law, thus divided into two parts and drawn out and expressed in ten precepts, is of necessity unchangeable in its character. Its existence grows out of immutable relations which man sustains toward God and toward his fellowman. It is God’s great standard of right and, after man’s rebellion, the great test by which sin is shown.

Where shall we look for the record of such a moral code as we have noticed? In the earliest possible place in the Bible, certainly. And yet the book of Genesis contains no moral code whatever. How can this mystery be explained? A few facts will remove the difficulty. The book of Genesis was not written until about 2,500 years after the Creation. As it was written long after the patriarchs were dead, it could not have been a rule of life for them. It is a brief record of events that occurred during that period and contains several allusions to an existing moral code. But the book of Exodus, which brings the narrative down to the author’s own time, introduces this code under circumstances of the greatest solemnity. In this book is found the Law of God as given by Himself in person and written with His own finger on stone. Indeed, the evidence indicates that no part of the Bible was written until after the Ten Commandments had been spoken and written by God; consequently, that code is the earliest writing in existence.

Such was the origin of the moral Law, and such the character of its precepts. Its proclamation by god Himself, prior to His causing any part of the Bible to be written, sufficiently attests the estimate which he placed upon it. From its very nature, it exists as early as the principles of morality; indeed it is nothing but those principles expressed or written out. These principles do not owe their existence to the fall of man but to relations which existed prior to the fall.

But there is a system of laws that does owe its origin to sin, a system that could have had no existence had not man become a transgressor. The violation of moral law was that which gave existence to the law of rites and ceremonies, the shadow of good things to come. There could be no sacrifices for sin until man became a sinner. In Eden, there could be no types and shadows pointing forward to future redemption through the death of Christ; for man in his uprightness needed no such redemption. Nor did God place upon man before his fall the obligation of carnal ordinances, which look forward to the time of reformation; for man was innocent and free from guile. That it was the violation of moral Law that caused the fall of man, may be seen at a glance.

The motive set before Eve by Satan was that they should become as gods if they ate of that tree (see Genesis 3); and as Adam was not deceived (see I Timothy 2:13), it is evident that he chose to follow his wife rather than to obey the Lord; an open violation of the first commandment in each case.

A Second Law Introduced

When man had thus become a sinner and God had promised the means of his redemption, a second relation toward God was brought into existence. Man was a sinner, needing forgiveness; and God was a Saviour, offering pardon. It is plain, therefore, that the typical law, pointing forward to redemption through Christ, owes its origin to man’s rebellion and to God’s infinite benevolence. If man had not sinned, he would have needed no types of future redemption; and if God had not determined to give His Son to die, He would have instituted no typical system pointing forward to that great event. The existence of such a code, therefore, is in consequence of sin; its precepts are of a ceremonial nature, and its duration is necessarily limited by the great offering that could take away sin. From the fall of Adam till the tie of Moses, the typical system was gradually developed and matured; and from Moses’ time until the death of our Lord, it existed as the shadow of good things to come.

At Mount Sinai, as we have seen, God proclaimed the moral Law, speaking it with His own voice and writing it with His own finger. By His direction, the two tables on which the Law was written were placed in the Ark of the Covenant, which was made for the purpose of receiving it. (See Exodus 25:10–22; Deuteronomy 10:1–5.) This ark, containing the Law of God, was placed in the second apartment of the earthly sanctuary—the most holy place. (See Exodus 40; Hebrews 9.) The top of the ark was called the mercy seat, because man, who had broken the Law contained in the ark beneath the mercy seat, could find pardon by the sprinkling of the blood of atonement upon this place. The whole system of ceremonial law was ordained to enable man to approach again to this broken Law and to typify the restitution of the pardoned to their inheritance, and the destruction of the impenitent.

The Law within the ark was that which demanded an atonement; the ceremonial law, which ordained the Levitical priesthood and the sacrifices for sin, was that which taught men how the atonement could be made. The broken Law was beneath the mercy seat, the blood of sin offering was sprinkled upon its top, and pardon was extended to the penitent sinner. There was actual sin, hence a real Law which man had broken; but there was not a real atonement, hence the need of the great antitype of the Levitical sacrifices. The real atonement, when it is made, must relate to the Law respecting which an atonement had been shadowed forth. In other words, the shadowy atonement related to that Law which was shut up in the ark, indicating that a real atonement was demanded by the Law. It is necessary that the Law which demands atonement in order that its transgressor may be spared should itself be perfect, else the fault would in part, at least, rest on the Lawgiver and not wholly with the sinner. Hence the atonement, when made, does not take away the broken Law—for that is perfect—but is expressly designed to take away the guilt of the transgressor.

In the New Testament, we find the great antitype of all the offerings and sacrifices—the real atonement—as contrasted with the Levitical one. The death of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the great sacrifice for sin, was the antitype of all the Levitical sacrifices. The priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ in the heavenly sanctuary is the great antitype of the Levitical priesthood. (See Hebrews 8.) The heavenly sanctuary itself is the great original after which the earthly one was patterned. (See Hebrews 9:23; Exodus 25:6, 9.) And the ark of God’s testament in the temple in Heaven (see Revelation 11:19) contains the great original of this Law. Thus we see under the new dispensation a real atonement instead of a shadowy one, a High Priest who needs not to offer for Himself a sacrifice which can avail before God, and that Law, which was broken by man, magnified and made honorable at the same time that God pardons the penitent sinner.

We shall find the New Testament to abound with references to the essential difference between these two codes and that the distinction in the New Testament is made as clear and obvious as it is made by the facts already noticed in the Old Testament.

Thus the one code is termed “the law of a carnal commandment” (Hebrews 7:16); and of the other, it is affirmed, “We know that the law is spiritual.” Romans 7:14. The one code is termed “the handwriting of ordinances” “which was contrary to us,” which was nailed to the cross and taken out of the way. (See Colossians 2:14.) The other code is “the Royal Law” which James affirms is a sin to transgress. (See Colossians 2:8–12.)

The first is a code of which “there was made of necessity a change.” Hebrews 7:12. The second is that Law of which Christ says, “Till heaven and earth pass; one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law till all be fulfilled.” Matthew 5:18. The one law was a “shadow of good things to come” (Hebrews 10:1), and was only imposed “until the time of reformation.” Hebrews 9:10. But the other was a moral code, of which it is said by John, “Whosoever committeth sin, transgresseth also the Law; for sin is the transgression of the Law.” I John 3:4. The one is a yoke not able to be borne (see Acts 15:10); the other is that “Law of liberty” by which we shall be judged. (See James 2:8–12.) The one is that law which Christ abolished in His flesh (see Ephesians 2:15); the other is that Law which he did not come to destroy. (See Matthew 5:17.) The one is that law which He took out of the way at His death (See Colossians 2:14); the other is that Law which he came to magnify and make honorable. (See Isaiah 42:21.) The one was a law which was disannulled “for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof” (See Hebrews 7:18); the other is a Law respecting which He inquires; “Do we then make void the Law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the Law.” Romans 8:31. The one is that law which was the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles (see Ephesians 2:14); the other is that Law, the work of which even the Gentiles are said to have written in their hearts. (See Romans 2:12–15), and to which all mankind are amenable. (See Romans 8:19.)

The one is the law of commandments contained in ordinances (see Ephesians 2:15); the other Law is the commandments of God, which it is the whole duty of man to keep (see Ecclesiastes 12:13), which are brought to view by the Third Angel (see Revelation 14:12), which the remnant of the seed of the woman were keeping when the dragon made war upon them (see Revelation 12:17), and which will ensure, to those who observe them, access to the tree of life. (See Revelation 22:14.)

No Cause for Confusion

Surely, these two codes should not be confounded. The one was magnified, made honorable, established, and is holy, just, spiritual, good, and royal; the other was carnal, shadowy, burdensome, and was abolished, broken down, taken out of the way, nailed to the cross, changed, and disannulled on account of the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.

Those who rightly divide the word of truth will never confound these essentially different codes, nor will they apply to God’s royal Law the language employed respecting the handwriting of ordinances.

That the Ten Commandments are a perfect code of themselves, appears from several facts:

  • God spake them with His own voice; and it is said, “He added no more” (see Deuteronomy 5:22), as evincing that He had given a complete code.
  • He wrote them alone on two tables with His own finger, another incidental proof that this was a complete moral code.
  • He caused these alone to be placed under the mercy seat, an evident proof that this was the code that made an atonement necessary.
  • He expressly calls what He thus wrote on the tables of stone, a law and commandments. (See Exodus 24:12.)

The precepts of this Law are variously interspersed through the books of Moses and mingled with the precepts of the ceremonial law. The sum of the first table is given in Deuteronomy 6:5 and that of the second in Leviticus 19:18, but there is only one place in which the moral Law is drawn out in particulars and given by itself with no ceremonial law mixed with it; that is in the Ten Commandments.

An examination of the royal Law in James 2 and of the handwriting of ordinances in Colossians 2 will further illustrate this subject; the one is in force in every respect, while the other is abolished.

“If ye fulfill the royal Law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well; but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the Law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the Law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the Law of liberty.” James 2:8–12.

Both Laws had Sabbaths

  • The Law here brought to view is an unabolished Law; for it convinces men of sin who transgress it.
  • It is an Old Testament Law—it is taken from the Scriptures.
  • The second division of the Law is quoted because he was reproving sin committed toward our fellowmen; hence he takes the second of the two great commandments, the sum of the second table (see Matthew 23:36, 40; Romans 13:9), and cites his illustration from the second table of stone.
  • His language shows that the Ten Commandments are the precepts of the Royal Law, for he cites them in illustrating the statement that he who violates one precept becomes guilty of all. This is a most solemn warning against the violation of any one of the Ten Commandments.
  • He testifies that whoever violates one of the precepts of this code becomes guilty of breaking the whole code.
  • Last of all, he testifies that this Law of liberty shall be the rule in the Judgment. The unabolished Law of James is therefore that code which God gave in person and wrote with His own finger.

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.” “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days, which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” Colossians 2:14, 16, 17. If this handwriting of ordinances is the same as the Royal Law of James, then Paul and James directly contradict each other. But they wrote by inspiration, and each wrote the truth of God. We have seen that James’ unabolished Law refers directly to the Ten Commandments. Hence it is certain that the law which Paul shows to be abolished does not refer to that which was written with the finger of God. It is to be noticed that the code which is done away with was a shadow extending only to the death of Christ. But we have already seen that the Law shut up in the ark was not a shadow but the very code that made it necessary that the Saviour should die. Not one of the things abolished in this chapter can be claimed as referring to the Ten Commandments, except the term Sabbaths; for the term holyday is, literally, feast day, and there were three feasts appointed by God in each year. (See Exodus 23:14.) The term Sabbath is plural in the original. To refer this to the Sabbath of the fourth commandment is to make Paul contradict James. What are the facts in this case?

  • The ceremonial law did ordain at least four annual Sabbaths; viz., the 1st, 10th, 16th, and 23rd days of the seventh month. These were besides the Sabbath of the Lord and were associated with the new moons and feast days. (See Leviticus 23:23–39.) These exactly assure Paul’s language. Hence it is not necessary to make Paul contradict James.
  • But the Sabbath of the Lord was “set apart to a holy use” (this being the literal meaning of sanctify) in Eden. It was “made for man” before he had fallen. Hence it is not one of the things against him and contrary to him, taken out of the way at Christ’s death.
  • The Sabbath of the Lord was not a shadow pointing forward to the death of Christ; for it was ordained before the Fall. On the contrary, it stands as a memorial pointing backward to Creation, not as a shadow pointing forward to redemption.

It is plain, therefore, that the abrogation of the handwriting of ordinances leaves in full force every precept of the Royal Law, and also that the law of shadows pointing forward to the death of Christ must expire when that event should occur. The moral Law was that which caused the Saviour to lay down His life for us. Its sacredness may be judged by the fact that God gave His only Son to take its curse upon Himself and to die for our transgressions.

Married to the Wrong Man

By Christ’s obedience we are made righteous. This is because His life is now given to us, and He lives in us. This union with Christ we get by being crucified with Him. In that death, the body of sin is destroyed that henceforth we should not serve sin, or, in other words, that we should no more transgress the Law. So closely are we identified with sin, it being our very life, that it can not be destroyed without our dying. But in Christ there is no sin, so that while we have a resurrection with Him, sin remains dead. So, being raised with Him, we live with Him, a thing that was formerly impossible on account of sin; sin can not dwell with Him.

“Know ye not, brethren (for I speak to them that know the Law), how that the Law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then, if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the Law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the Law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the Law; for I had not known lust, except the Law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Romans 7:1–7.

The illustration is a very simple one, and one which everyone can understand. The Law of God says of man and woman, “They two shall be one flesh.” It is adultery for either one to be married to another while the other is living. The Law will not sanction such a union.

For reasons that will appear later, the illustration cites only the case of a woman leaving her husband. The Law unites them. That Law holds the woman to the man as long as he lives. If while her husband lives she shall be united to another man, she will find herself under the condemnation of the Law. But if her husband dies, she may be united to another and be perfectly free from any condemnation.

The woman is then “free from the Law,” although the Law has not changed in one particular. Least of all has it been abolished; for the same Law that bound her to the first husband and which condemned her for uniting with another in his lifetime, now unites her to another and binds her to him as closely as it did to the first. If we hold to this simple illustration, we shall have no difficulty with what follows.

In the application, as in the illustration, there are four subjects—the Law, the woman, the first husband, and the second husband.

We are represented as the woman. This is clear from the statement that we are “married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead,” which is Christ. He, therefore, is the second husband. The first husband is indicated in verse 5: “When we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the Law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.” Death is the fruit of sin. The first husband, therefore, was the flesh, or “the body of sin.”

Dead to the Law

This is the expression that troubles so many. There is nothing troublesome in it, if we but keep in mind the illustration and the nature of the parties to this transaction. Why are we dead to the Law? In order that we might be married to another. But how is it that we become dead in order to be married to another? In the illustration, it is the first husband that dies before the woman may be married to another. Even so, it is here, as we shall see.

The Law of marriage is that the two parties to it “shall be one flesh.” How is it in this case? The first husband is the flesh, the body of sin. Well, we were truly one flesh with that. We were by nature perfectly united to sin. It was our life. It controlled us. Whatever sin devised, that we did. We might have done it unwillingly at times, but we did it nevertheless. Sin reigned in our mortal bodies so that we obeyed it in the lusts thereof. Whatever sin wished was law to us. We were one flesh.

There comes a time in our experience when we wish to be free from sin. It is when we see something of the beauty of holiness. With some people, the desire is only occasional; with others, it is more constant. Whether we recognize the fact or not, it is Christ appealing to us to forsake sin and to be joined to Him, to live with Him. And so we endeavor to effect a separation. But sin will not consent. In spite of all that we can do, it still clings to us. We are “one flesh,” and it is a union for life since it is a union of our life to sin. There is no divorce in that marriage.

Freedom in Death

There is no hope of effecting a separation from sin by any ordinary means. No matter how much we may desire to be united to Christ, it can not be done while we are joined to sin; for the Law will not sanction such a union, and Christ will not enter into any union that is not lawful.

If we could only get sin to die, we should be free; but it will not die. There is only one way for us to be freed from the hateful union, and that is for us to die. If we wish freedom so much that we are willing [for self] to be crucified, then it may be done. In death, the separation is effected; for it is by the body of Christ that “we” become dead. We are crucified with Him. The body of sin is also crucified. But while the body of sin is destroyed, we have a resurrection in Christ. The same thing that frees us from the first husband unites us to the second.

A New Creature

Now we see how it is that we are dead to the Law. We died in Christ and were raised in Him. But “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God.” II Corinthians 5:17, 18. Now we may be united to Christ, and the Law will witness to the union and sanction it. For not only is the first husband dead, but we also died, so that, although alive, we are not the same creature that we were before. “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Galatians 2:20. We are one. The same Law that formerly declared us to be sinners now binds us to Christ.

Now that the union with Christ has been affected, we serve in newness of spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. In marriage, the woman is to be subject to the husband. So when we were united to sin, we were in all things subject to sin. For a time it was willing service; but when we saw the Lord and were drawn to Him, the service became irksome. We tried to keep God’s Law but were bound and could not. But now we are set free. Sin no longer restrains us, and our service is freedom. We gladly render to Christ all the service that the Law requires of us. We render this service because of the perfect union between us. His life is our, since we were raised only by the power of His life. Therefore, our obedience is simply His loyalty and faithfulness in us.

The apostle says that when we were in the flesh, “the motions of sins, which were by the Law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.” What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? Far from it. The Law is righteousness. But it is only by the law that sin is known. “Sin is not imputed when there is no Law.” Romans 5:13. “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the Law.” I Corinthians 15:56. “Sin is the transgression of the Law.” I John 3:4. So there can be no sin but by the Law. But the Law is not sin; for if it were, it would not reprove sin. To convince of sin is the work of the Spirit of God and not of Satan. He would make us believe that sin is right.

Thou Shalt Not Covet

It once seemed very strange that the apostle should have quoted only this one commandment as the one that convicted him of sin. But the reason is plain. It was because this one includes every other. We learn (see Colossians 3:5) that covetousness is idolatry. Thus the Law ends just where it begins. It is a complete circle, including every duty of every person in the universe. “I had not known lust,” or unlawful desire, “except the Law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Not lust is the beginning of every sin, for “when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin.” James 1:15. And sin is the transgression of the Law.

The tenth commandment is that one which forbids lust or unlawful desire. Therefore, if it is perfectly kept, all the others must be. It is not kept, no part of the Law is kept. So we see that in quoting the tenth commandment as that which convinced him of sin, the apostle really included the whole Law.

Before leaving this portion, we must call attention to the force of the eighth verse of Romans 6: “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.” We can see how apt this is when we know that it is our death with Christ that frees us from the union with the monster sin and unites us in marriage to Christ. People marry in order to live together. So we become united to Christ in order that we may live with Him here and in the world to come. If we would live with Him in the world to come, we must live with Him in this world.

In the first seven verses of the seventh chapter of Romans, we have had the relation which we, by nature, sustain to sin and which, by grace, we afterwards sustain to Christ, represented under the figure of marriage to a first and second husband. The union with the second husband can not take place while the first husband is living; and in this case, the marriage is so perfect, the two parties being literally one flesh and blood, that one can not die without the other; therefore, we must needs die with sin before we can be separated from it.

But we die in Christ; and as He lives, although He was dead, we also live with Him. In His life there is no sin, so the body of sin is destroyed, while we are raised. Thus in death we are separated from the first husband, sin, and united to the second husband, Christ.

In the verses which follow, the apostle has pictured the struggle with the sin that has become distasteful. It is really and enlargement of that which has been presented in the first verses.

“But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the Law sin was dead. For I was alive without the Law once; but when the commandments came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandments, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandments, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy; and the commandment holy, and just and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandments might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do, I allow not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the Law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the Law of God after the inward man; but I see another Law in my members, warring against the Law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the Law of sin which is in my members. O wretched men that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the Law of God; but with the flesh the Law of sin.” Romans 7:8–25.

Sin Personified

It will be noticed that in this entire chapter, sin is represented as a person. It is the first husband to which we are united. But the union has become distasteful because, having seen Christ and having been drawn to Him by His love; we have seen that we were joined to a monster. The marriage bond has become a galling yoke, and our whole thought is how to get away from the monster to which we are united and which is dragging us down to a certain death. The picture presented in this chapter is one of the most vivid in the whole Bible.

The Strength of Sin

“The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the Law.” I Corinthians 15:56. “Without the Law sin was dead.” “Sin is not imputed when there is no Law.” “Where no Law is, there is no transgression.” So it is that “sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.” Sin is simply the Law transgressed, “for sin is the transgression of the Law.” I John 3:4. Sin has no strength, therefore, except that which it gets from the Law. The Law is not sin, and yet it binds us to sin; that is, the Law witnesses to the sin and will not grant us any escape, simply because it can not bear false witness.

The Law of Life and the Law of Death

“The commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.” The Law of God is the life of God. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48. His life is the rule for all His creatures. Those in whom the life of God is made perfectly manifest keep His Law. It is very evident, therefore, that the design of the Law is life, since it is life itself. But the opposite of life is death. Therefore, when the Law is transgressed, it is death to the transgressor.

“For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.” It is not the Law that is the enemy, but the enemy is sin. Sin does the killing, for “the sting of death is sin.” Sin has the poison of death in it. Sin deceived us so that for a time we thought that it was our friend and we embraced it and delighted in the union. But when the Law enlightened us, we found that sin’s embrace was the embrace of death.

The Law pointed out the fact that sin was killing us. “Therefore the Law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” We have no more reason to rail at the Law than we have to hate the man who tells us that the substance which we are eating, thinking it to be food, is poison. He is our friend. He would not be our friend if he did not show us our danger. The fact that he is not able to heal the illness that the poison already eaten has caused does not make him any the less our friend. He has warned us of our danger, and we can now get help from the physician. And so, after all, the Law itself was not death to us, but its office was “that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.”

The Law is Spiritual

“For we know that the Law is spiritual.” If this fact were more generally recognized, there would be much less religious legislation among so-called Christian nations. People would not try to enforce the commandments of God. Since the Law is spiritual, it can be obeyed only by the power of the Spirit of God. “God is a Spirit.” (John 4:24); therefore, the Law is the nature of God. Spiritual is opposed to carnal, or fleshly. Thus it is that the man who is in the flesh can not please God.

A Slave

“But I am carnal, sold under sin.” One who is sold is a slave, and the evidence of the slavery in this instance is very plain. Free men do that which they wish to do. Only slaves do that which they do not wish to do and are continually prevented from doing what they wish to do. “For that which I do, I allow not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” A more disagreeable position can not be imagined. Life in such a state can be only a burden.

Convicted, but Not Converted

“If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the Law that it is good.” The fact that we do not wish to do the sins that we are committing shows that we acknowledge the righteousness of the Law which forbids them. But conviction is not conversion, although a very necessary step to that condition. It is not enough to wish to do right. The blessing is pronounced upon those who do His commandments and not upon those who wish to do them, or who even try to do them. Indeed, if there were no higher position for a professed follower of the Lord than that described in these verses, he would be in a far worse condition than the careless sinner. Both are slaves, only the latter is so hardened that he finds pleasure in his slavery.

Now if one must all of his life be a slave, it is better for him to be unconscious of his bondage than to be continually fretting over it. But there is something better; therefore, it is a blessing that we are convicted of sin and that our slavery is thereby made as disagreeable as possible.

Two Laws

“I find then a Law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the Law of God after the inward man; but I see another law in my members, warring against the Law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” Compare this with verse 5.

Remember also that all of this is written to them that know the Law. It is not addressed to the heathen who have not the Law but to those who profess to know God. While knowing the Law, we are united in marriage to sin. This sin is in our flesh, since they who are married are one flesh. It is the Law that witnesses to the fact that we are sinners and that will not grant us any escape from it. But we are slaves. Whosoever commits sin is the slave of sin. (See John 8:34.) Therefore it is the Law that will not let us be anything but what we are that is really holding us in bondage. While we are in that condition, it is not to us a Law of liberty.

We are joined in marriage to sin. But sin has in it death, for “the sting of death is sin.” Sin is that with which death kills us. Therefore, the body of sin, to which we are joined when in the flesh, is but a body of death. What a terrible condition! Joined in such close union that we are one flesh with that which is in itself death. A living death!

And “the strength of sin is the Law.” It witnesses to our union and thus holds us in that bondage of death. If there were no hope of escape, we might curse the Law for not allowing us to die in ignorance. But although the Law seems to be pitiless, it is nevertheless our best friend. It holds us to a sense of the dreadfulness of our bondage until in anguish we cry out, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” We must be delivered, or we perish.

There is a Deliverer

The pagan proverb has it that God helps those who help themselves. The truth is that God helps those who can not help themselves: “I was brought low, and He helped me.” Psalm 116:6. No one ever cries in vain for help. When the cry goes up for help, the Deliverer is at hand; and so, although sin is working death in us by all the power of the Law, we may exclaim, “Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 15:57. “There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” Romans 11:26. “Unto you first, God having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” Acts 3:26. “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.” II Corinthians 9:15.

A Divided Man

“So then with the mind I myself serve the Law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” That is, of course, while in the condition described in the preceding verses. In purpose he serves the Law of God, but in actual practice he serves the law of sin. As described in another place, “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye can not do the things that ye would.” Galatians 5:17. It is not a state of actual service to God, because we read in our next chapter that “they that are in the flesh can not please God.” Romans 8:8. It is a state from which one may well pray to be delivered so that he can serve the Lord, not merely with the mind but with his whole being. “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” I Thessalonians 5:23, 24.

Secret Closure

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!” Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’” Matthew 25:1–12.

They were all Seventh-day Adventists waiting for the coming of the Lord. They had all been friends, working together to tell people that Jesus is coming soon and that they need to be ready. They had all let their lights shine brightly, but somehow the Lord did not come as soon as they had expected. As time went on, they became involved with good things, such as various church activities, raising a family, and planning for retirement. They had not expected quite such a long delay; and with the passage of time, they began to lose some of their energy and enthusiasm. They were all still faithful Seventh-day Adventists; they were just more relaxed, going to church, doing the things they should; until all of a sudden, things began to happen that caused them to realize that they had better get ready for Jesus to come because He was coming now.

As they aroused and went forth to proclaim Jesus’ soon return, some of their lights shone brightly and they proclaimed with power that Jesus is coming again. Others, however, could not quite seem to get the message all together. They decided that they had better go to some meetings, get involved in some Bible studies, and do some praying and get that power again. But the Bible says that the day will come when there will be a famine in the land. “’Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord God, ‘That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.’” Amos 8:11–13.

I have recently come to the startling realization that this text applies in a special way to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This is a text for the Laodiceans. It does not say that they are not going to hear some words, but somehow they are not going to be the Lord’s words.

This latter group represents the five foolish virgins who will be seeking after oil. They are not sitting down doing nothing; they are going from sea to sea, from north to south, attending meetings, listening to preachers, reading books that are published by the only people they know who claim to teach the truth, and whom they have been taught to trust; but there is a famine and they will not find it. You see, these young maidens went to the preachers in whom they had trusted; but their preaching somehow had no power to change their lives, and they did not know where to go; they did not know to whom to go. We have been told that the time is coming when the church will have no more “faithful, firm, and true” preachers. (See Testimonies, vol. 5, 77.)

“Who knows whether God will not give you up to the deceptions you love? Who knows but that the preachers who are faithful, firm, and true may be the last who shall offer the gospel of peace to our unthankful churches? It may be that the destroyers are already training under the hand of Satan and only wait the departure of a few more standard-bearers to take their places, and with the voice of the false prophet cry, ‘Peace, peace,’ when the Lord hath not spoken peace.” Ibid.

Ministers Taught by Satan

If this statement said that the church would come to the place where it just could not afford any more pastors, or even that there were no more pastors to pastor the churches any longer, that would be bad; but that is not nearly as bad as having pastors who are trained by Satan himself. I will take no pastor any day to having a pastor that has been trained by Satan.

Sister White goes on to day that it is not even a question of if it could be, but that it will happen. “When God shall work His strange work on the earth, when holy hands bear the ark no longer, woe will be upon the people.” Ibid. This is looking forward to that time when men and women see the signs of God’s coming. Things are happening in the world and they have awakened, but they have no oil in their lamps. They will search from north to south, from east to west. They will read things from the publishing houses that they have trusted. They will go to the churches that they have trusted, and listen to the preachers whom they have trusted; but there is a famine in the land. A little later in Testimonies, vol. 5, Ellen White tells us some most startling things: Let me share some with you.

“The leaven of godliness has not entirely lost its power. At the time when the danger and depression of the church are greatest, the little company who are standing in the light will be sighing and crying for the abominations that are done in the land. But more especially will their prayers arise in behalf of the church because its members are doing after the manner of the world.

“The earnest prayers of this faithful few will not be in vain. When the Lord comes forth as an avenger, He will also come as a protector of all those who have preserved the faith in its purity and kept themselves unspotted from the world. It is at this time that God has promised to avenge His own elect which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them.” Ibid., 209.

It is the little company of those sighing and crying ones because of the abominations that were done in the church. These are the only ones, it says, who will be sealed. The great majority are becoming more and more like the world. We may be surprised at how small that group will be.

Speaking of this small group, she says, “They had reproved, counseled, and entreated. Some who had been dishonoring God repented and humbled their hearts before Him. But the glory of the Lord had departed from Israel.” Ibid. The glory of the Lord departed from Israel once before, but she says that a time is again coming when the glory of the Lord will have departed from Israel. She does not stop there, but continues, “Although many still continued the forms of religion, His power and presence were lacking.” Ibid. Sabbath after Sabbath church is going on, with the forms of religion, all the functions of the church are being carried out, Ingathering is continuing, church schools and hospitals are continuing to be operated, but the glory of the Lord has departed from Israel and somehow they do not realize it. They are going on with their religion without the glory of the Lord.

“While others try to throw a cloak over the existing evil, and excuse the great wickedness everywhere prevalent, those who have a zeal for God’s honor and a love for souls will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any.” Ibid. I do not believe that you should focus on problems, but many want to ignore that the problems even exist. They say things like, “We make some mistakes, but let us not get critical.” It is interesting how everyone is concerning about people being critical when we are dealing with certain things; but dear friends, there is a place for genuine concern. There is a place for speaking out.

“They are powerless to stop the rushing torrent of iniquity, and hence they are filled with grief and alarm. They mourn before God to see religion despised in the very homes of those who have had great light. They lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church. The Spirit of God, which prompts to reproof, is trampled underfoot, while the servants of Satan triumph. God is dishonored, the truth made of none effect.” Ibid., 210, 211. It seems that over the last few years it is just like a dam has broken open and we are experiencing a flood of evil. Ellen White continues, “The abominations for which the faithful ones were sighing and crying were all that could be discerned by finite eyes, but by far the worst sins, those which provoked the jealousy of the pure and holy God, were unrevealed.” Ibid., 211. Whatever we see, according to inspiration, it is but the tip of the iceberg.

Now, dear friend, this is shocking to me because somehow in my schematics of the end day, I have always held a picture of the church growing and ruling with apostasy; but there comes a shaking and all of the evil is shaken out. Then we have a pure church and the members go out and give a loud cry. Others come in to take the place of those who have been shaken out, then probation closes, and we go through—a happy, glorious church like at Pentecost. I have been reading things lately, however, that do not seem to fit into that nice, little picture that I have had in my head. Who did we just read about who are going to triumph in the church? It is the servants of Satan, while God is dishonored and the truth made of none effect.

Power, But Not From God

Well, there is a famine in the land and so these foolish virgins went out to find oil. They once had it, but they were careless. They went to find oil again and they went to the preachers whom they had trusted. They went to the church that they had grown up in; the church that they knew was the remnant church of Bible prophecy. They read the books from the authors with whom they were acquainted. And, dear friends, as they went out to find oil for their lamps to get their light shining again, by and by they accomplished their purpose, and their lamps were lit again. From somewhere, they found the power for which they were looking. Now that is all in the prophecy.

We are told that when Jesus went into the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, that some Adventists, by faith, went in with Him, meaning that they entered by faith into a most holy place experience. While Jesus is cleansing the heavenly sanctuary, they are cleansing their hearts of sin. (See Early Writings, 55.) But some Adventists stayed in the holy place. Now, of course, this refers to First-day Adventists in Ellen White’s day, but it also refers to any Adventist who does not go into the most holy place. “I turned to look at the company who were still bowed before the throne; they did not know that Jesus had left it. Satan appeared to be by the throne, trying to carry on the work of God. I saw them look up to the throne, and pray, ‘Father, give us Thy Spirit.’ Satan would then breathe upon them an unholy influence; in it there was light and much power, but no sweet love, joy, and peace.” Early Writings, 56. Notice that it is not a little, but much power.

Have you ever heard of people who have had a Laodicean experience but now they have found new power in their life—like they have never experienced before? Religion has taken on a new meaning, but when you investigate, you find that it is like the experience of Eve when she ate the forbidden fruit. All of a sudden she felt like she had entered a higher plane. She had a testimony that she could go and tell Adam. “Listen, this fruit is not dangerous. I have entered into a higher realm of experience. My Christian experience has grown. I feel more like God than I ever have before.” And he ate, too.

The Virgins Represent Adventists

We need to remember that the virgins were all Adventists, were they not? They were all waiting for the coming of the Lord. They all had lamps and they all, at one time, had their lamps burning. Let us continue: “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you. ‘Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” Matthew 25:10–13.

Now granted, they got the wrong oil and the wrong fire, but they apparently did not know that. They got some oil, they had some fire in their lamps, and they were out witnessing again with light and power. But while they were getting the oil, the door had closed and they did not know it!

“But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark.” Matthew 24:36–42.

Now I want you to notice that it says that they did not know it until the flood came. I want you to notice that this is not talking about the fact that the flood came; everyone knew when the flood came. They did not know when probation had closed. Noah had entered in, the door had closed, probation closed, but they did not know it. No one knew that probation had closed. They went on eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the flood came seven days after probation closed. And so, Jesus said, ‘Also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:39.

The door is going to close while people are not just eating and drinking, but while they are coming to church on the Sabbath, while they are paying their tithes and offerings, and while they are going on with all of the activities of the church. The door is going to close, and they will no know it. Thus it was with the Jewish nation. While they were doing all these things, the Master came, humbled and disguised; and they did not know it. The door closed, and they went right on with their church business as though nothing had ever taken place. “Many are grieving away the Holy Spirit for the last time, even now, and they do not know it. Pride of heart prevented His hearers from humbling themselves before God and confessing their sins and resisting His Holy Spirit and reluctantly It left them.” Review and Herald Extra, December 23, 1890.
She goes on to say, “The words spoken by Christ of Jerusalem are, ‘Behold your house is left unto you desolate.’ . . . The Lord forbid that this scene should now be repeated in the experience of God’s professed people! ‘My Spirit,” He says, ‘shall not always strive with man. The time will come when it must be said of the impenitent, ‘Ephraim is joined to his idols; let him alone.’

“Will the church see from where she has fallen?” Ibid.

Our Danger—Greater than Israel’s

Now, dear friend, we are told that our danger is even greater than that of ancient Israel. “I was pointed back to ancient Israel. But two of the adults of the vast army that left Egypt entered the land of Canaan. Their dead bodies were strewn in the wilderness because of their transgressions. Modern Israel are in greater danger of forgetting God and being led into idolatry than were His ancient people.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 609.

I was quite startled by something that I read. I thought that everyone was shaken out of the church before the close of probation, but we are told that, “Those who refuse to be hewed by the prophets and fail to purify their souls in obeying the whole truth, and who are willing to believe that their condition is far better than it really is, will come up to the time of the falling of the plagues and then see that they needed to be hewed and squared for the building. But there will be no time then to do it and no Mediator to plead their cause before the Father.” Early Writings, 71.

There is a pure and holy church that is going to go through; but dear friend, the outward, legal, obvious church is not going to be purified any time this side of the close of probation. I am afraid that there was never a more fearful delusion than the idea that being part of the church is an assurance of salvation. That is what the Jewish people thought back in Jesus’ day, and when the church crucified Jesus, they went right along with it because they stayed with the church.

Oh, dear friends, may the Lord grant that when the door secretly closes, just as imperceptibly and secretly as the door closed upon the Jewish nation, that we will all be on the inside.

Today, God is weighing the church in the balances; He knows their works. He is walking up and down the aisle of every conference office; and dear friend, the Bible says that every tree which does not bear good fruit is going to be cut down and thrown into the fire. We may fool men. We may even fool ourselves. But friends, God reads the thoughts and intents of the heart, and someday soon, while life is going on without any great catastrophe taking place, the door will close. Only those people who fully reflect God’s character will have entered in. When the rest of the people will wake up, it will be too late.

Fitness Within

A major theme of the New Testament is the concept that not only are we to be physically fit, but God wants us to be spiritually and morally fit. In fact, though salvation is a gift, the only people who will receive this gift are those who are spiritually and morally fit. The question that I want to ask you is, Are you spiritually and morally fit to receive the gift of salvation?

Many people only understand half of the gospel. They understand that you can be forgiven for all of the bad things that you have said and that you can receive a pardon through the blood of Jesus. We would be absolutely lost if Jesus had not made a way so that we could be forgiven; but friends, that is not all of the gospel. Jesus did not just provide a way to take care of all of my terrible past. He has also made provisions for the present and the future, to transform my life so that I do not have to go on living in my old, sinful way. The other half of the gospel is that there is grace sufficient to change my life into His image.

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God. Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” 1 John 3:1–3. If you have the hope of being like Him, you are going to purify yourself as He is pure. He has enough grace to make this a reality in your life.

Several books written by the apostles toward the end of the first century emphasize this theme of spiritual fitness and its importance to us as individuals if we are to pass the judgment and be found fit to be taken to heaven. The book written by the apostle James is one of these. In this book he points out several things that we must do if we are to be spiritually and morally prepared for a place in heaven.

A Twenty Point Fitness Test

If you want to be spiritually fit, you must be willing to endure trials. Putting your body to the test and forcing it to exercise produces physical fitness . The same is true spiritually. You cannot be spiritually fit unless you endure some trials, and the result of enduring those trials is that you develop endurance or patience. “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:4.

If you want to be spiritually fit, you must also be able to endure temptation. “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12. Part of the preparation process in the workshop of this world is learning to endure temptation. By the things that they endue, God is polishing His people. This is part of becoming spiritually fit.

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” James 1:19. It is all right to be as fast as you want to be when you are listening; that is fine; but when you start to return an answer, do not be too quick. Especially be sure that you are slow to become angry, because he says in verse 20, “For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

The Natural World Helps Illustrate Spiritual Truth

I have learned that we understand spiritual lessons by giving them a physical application. Physically, as you put your body under stress and your body endures, your endurance increases until you do not develop an oxygen deficiency because your heart and lungs have developed enough capacity to keep you going. How is your spiritual endurance? When you are under a stressful situation, can you maintain your patience and keep going? The person who is spiritually fit can maintain his patience under difficult situations.

To be spiritually fit, one must become gentle. In the Bible, gentle is translated as meekness. Meekness actually means two things. It means to be humble and to be gentle. “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness [that is, gentleness] the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” James 1:21.

Jesus said, “Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28, 29. Gentleness produces tranquility and rest of soul. There is no strife in heaven, and a big factor is that everyone there is gentle. It is the meek, the gentle people, Jesus said, who will inherit the earth.

When Jesus met the devil, He said to him, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every work that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4. It is not enough to be hearers alone of the word; we must be doers. “But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22–25.

While it is good to know what the Bible says, knowledge is not enough unless you actually do what it says. I cannot just talk about being gentle; I have to actually become a gentle person. My wife, my children, the people with whom I work must find out that I am a gentle person. I must actually act that way. There is enough grace, friends; that is what grace is all about.

If a person is going to gain spiritual fitness and moral fitness , the manner of speech must be transformed. “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless [vain or useless; not worth anything].” James 1:26. Though you know the truth, if you do not control the way that you speak, your religion is not worth anything.

Ellen White, speaking of the angels, said, “The angels never fly into a passion, never are envious, selfish and jealous; no harsh and unkind words escape their lips.” Review and Herald, September 1, 1885. Oh, friends, are you ready to go and live with angels, or would your speech spoil heaven?

“For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.” James 3:2. When I come to the place that my speech is perfect and harshness, unkindness, anger, impurity, or untruthful speech no longer find a part in my speech, I am ready to be taken to heaven. I am spiritually and morally fit.

Has your tongue ever gotten you in trouble? “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” James 3:5, 6. No doubt the majority of wars began because of something that someone or a group of people said. Divorce is often caused by the tongue. All manner of problems result from the tongue. In fact, the tongue is so unruly that no one can control it unless the grace of Christ is in the life. “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8.

I want to challenge you to do an experiment with the Lord. Say, “Lord, You know what I need to change in my speech, and I want Your grace to come into my life. I am yielding my life to You and I want Your grace to come into my life and help me to speak the way that You want me to speak.” If everyone would just pray that prayer, be in earnest, and start practicing it. There are families that are about to split up who could have a little heaven on earth in just a few days if they would change the way that they speak.

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27. In the social situation in which James was writing, the people in their society that were in the greatest difficulty were orphans and widows. They had no social security or pension benefits. They had no government programs to assist them financially. As a matter of fact, it was very difficult for women to find employment. This was one of the reasons that prostitution became a big business. James says that if you are really a Christian, if you really have “pure and undefiled religion,” you are gong to look around and find the people who are in trouble, and you are going to help them.

We are not to be partial. We are to love every human being and try to help every one that we can.

Love your neighbor as yourself. “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well.” James 2:8. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you are going to have eternal life. Did you know that? The apostle John says that if you do not love your neighbor, your brother whom you can see, then you cannot love God whom you cannot see. (See I John 4:20.) The way that you learn how to love God and do His will is to love your neighbor as yourself. That is a test you can apply to yourself and ask, “Am I morally fit? Do I have spiritual fitness ?”

“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” James 2:10. You are going to be judged by the law of liberty. I took a class in graduate school in the area of physical fitness . One of the things that we learned in physical fitness is that if you are really going to be physically fit, you have to develop all of the muscles of the body. You cannot just do curls all of the time and develop your biceps. That is not being physically fit. To be really physically fit you have to develop the heart muscle, the diaphragm, the lungs, and all of the skeletal muscles of the body. It is the same thing with spiritual fitness . You cannot say, “Well, I keep all the law except for one point.” That is not good enough. You are not spiritually fit if there is one commandment that you are breaking.

“For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain [receive] mercy.” Matthew 5:7. If you want to receive mercy from God, you need to give mercy to others.
We must not just have faith, but our faith must work. This is discussed in detail in verses 14–26 in chapter 2.

Pride The Root of All Strife

In James 4, he is talking to people who profess Christianity, yet they are having strife. Now I want to ask you, friend, Do you see any strife in the Christian world today? There is a lot of strife today. Do you know where strife comes from? It is the result of pride. James makes that very, very clear in chapter 4:1–6. Pride produces strife. He says in verse 6, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” So if I want to be spiritually and morally fit, I must be striving for humility. How do I get this humility, this humbleness, that I must have if I am going to be spiritually or morally fit?

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:7–10. Make a decision and say, “Lord, I am choosing to humble myself before You. I am not going to be proud.” Do you know that in Christian churches, in homes, in families, and in the work place, if every single person would practice this and become humble, strife would vanish? This does not mean that we would have no problems, but we would not have strife as we try to deal with the problems. Pride produces strife, and in heaven everyone is humble.

“Do not speak evil of one another, brethren.” James 4:11. If you want to be morally and spiritually fit, you must stop speaking evil of others. “Oh,” you say, “but it is true.” It may be true. There are many things that are true that we could say about each other that are not necessary to be said.

“Oh,” you say, “but he is evil.” Well, he may be evil. The more you talk about it the worse it is going to be for both of you. Do no speak evil about your neighbor. This is part of being spiritually fit. By the way, if you want to read something interesting about evil speaking, study the life of Jesus and notice all of the different times when He restrained Himself from saying what He could have said. It is a very interesting study.

James says that if you want to be spiritually and morally fit, do not be a bragger or a boaster. (See James 4:16.) For some people, this is not a problem; but for others, it is. When you study the life of Christ, you will find no bragging or boasting. Of all people who could have boasted, He could have done so; but He did not.

Do you ever deliberately put your brother or your sister in a hard spot? The same hard-heartedness is often seen in those who may not actively oppress their brethren, but who just watch them without doing anything to help them. I have heard it said when someone makes a big mistake and gets himself into trouble, “Well, I am sorry he is in trouble, but it is his own fault.” James talks about people who, because they have money and power, oppress those who are poor. (See James 5:1–5.) He says that if you do this, you will be condemned in the Day of Judgment. In heaven, the powerful do not oppress, or refuse to come to the assistance of the weak.

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” James 5:7, 8. Have you ever heard the saying, “Only the good die young?” Now that is not totally true. There are a lot of people who are alive today because God has preserved their life from injury, accident, or sickness. God has preserved them from dying because in the past, if they had died, they would have been lost. God lengthened their probation so that they could have a chance to be saved. Maybe God has preserved your life until now because He wants to make you morally and spiritually fit so that He can give you eternal life. An awareness of this fact gives life a very solemn importance.

“But above all, my brethren, do not swear.” James 5:12. The very thing that the Bible emphasizes over and over again is something that people do unconsciously, almost without thinking. Some people can hardly say a sentence without swearing.

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16.

Oh, friend, has God put within you a desire to be spiritually healed and to be fit, spiritually and morally, for heaven? If so, confess your trespasses to one another. Make things right and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

Do you want to go to heaven? Oh, friend, it is your decision.

Editorial – Apocalyptic Times, part 1

For more than a thousand years, Bible students have recognized that the latter part of the book of Revelation contains prophecies which primarily apply to the end of all things earthly, as we know them, and the ushering in of a new age. Seventh-day Adventists know that the beginning of this new age will occur at the Second Coming of Christ, when He will raise all of the righteous dead and grant to all of His followers immortality.

This closing chapter of earth’s history, the utter end of all things, and the ushering in of the new age of righteousness and peace is often referred to as the apocalypse, a Greek word which translates revelation.

It was concerning this wonderful prospect that Paul said that in the ages to come, God would show to us the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (See Ephesians 2:7.) Paul also referred to the end of this age and the ushering in of the age to come as the blessed hope. (Titus 2:11–14.)

Adventists have recognized for well over one hundred years that since 1798 we are living in the last epochal time period of earth’s history, called by Daniel the “time of the end” and by many other Bible writers as the “last days.” We have been looking for and expecting events to take place that would indicate when we would be, not just in the last days, not just in the time of the end, but in the end of time.

When on the Mount of Olives the apostles asked Jesus when these things would be and what would be the sign of His coming (see Matthew 24:3), He responded by cautioning us to be ready at all times because we do not know when the time is. (See Mark 13:33.) He also warned that the final events would happen in an hour that we do not expect. (See Matthew 24:44.) Ellen White has plainly warned us of our great danger of being taken by surprise.

“I lay down my pen and lift up my soul in prayer, that the Lord would breathe upon His backsliding people, which are as dry bones, and they shall live. The end is near, stealing upon us stealthily, so imperceptibly, so noiselessly, like the muffled tread of the thief in the night to surprise the sleepers off guard and unready. May the Lord grant to bring His Holy Spirit to bear upon the hearts of all who are now at ease, that they may no longer sleep as others but watch and be sober.” Paulson Collection, 348.

And again she writes: “When Jesus ceases to plead for man, the cases of all are forever decided. This is the time of reckoning with His servants. To those who have neglected the preparation of purity and holiness, which fits them to be waiting ones to welcome their Lord, the sun sets in gloom and darkness, and rises not again. Probation closes; Christ’s intercessions cease in heaven. This time finally comes suddenly upon all, and those who have neglected to purify their souls by obeying the truth are found sleeping. They became weary of waiting and watching; they became indifferent in regard to the coming of their Master. They longed not for His appearing, and thought there was no need of such continued, persevering watching. They had been disappointed in their expectations and might be again. They concluded that there was time enough yet to arouse. They would be sure not to lose the opportunity of securing an earthly treasure. It would be safe to get all of this world they could. And in securing this object, they lost all anxiety and interest in the appearing of the Master. They became indifferent and careless, as though His coming were yet in the distance. But while their interest was buried up in their worldly gains, the work closed in the heavenly sanctuary, and they were unprepared.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 191.

Wherever one looks, there are straws in the wind which indicate very plainly that we are entering apocalyptic times. We hope to outline some of these in next month’s editorial.