Inspiration – Transformation Through Faith and Obedience

The teaching of Christ in the gospel is in perfect harmony with the teaching of Christ through the prophets in the Old Testament. The prophets spoke through the messengers of Christ in the Old Testament as much as the apostles voiced His messages in the New Testament, and there is no contradiction between their teachings. But Satan has ever worked and is still working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness to make the word of God of none effect. He seeks to make mysterious that which is simple and plain. He has had long experience in this work. He knows the character of God, and through his subtlety he has captivated the world. It was through making the word of God of none effect that sin was brought into the world. Adam believed the falsehood of Satan, and through his misrepresentation of the character of God, Adam’s life was changed and marred. He disobeyed the commandment of God, and did the very thing the Lord told him not to do. Through disobedience Adam fell; but had he endured the test, and been loyal to God, the floodgates of woe would not have been opened upon our world.

Through belief in Satan’s misrepresentation of God, man’s character and destiny were changed, but if men will believe in the word of God, they will be transformed in mind and character, and fitted for eternal life. To believe that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16), will change the heart, and reproduce in man the image of God.

As many are today, so (before his conversion) Paul was very confident in an hereditary piety; but his confidence was founded on falsehood. It was faith out of Christ, for he trusted in forms and ceremonies. His zeal for the law was disconnected from Christ and was valueless. His boast was that he was blameless in his performance of the deeds of the law; but the Christ who made the law of any value he refused. He was confident that he was right. He says: “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them” (Acts 26:9, 10). For a time Paul did a very cruel work, thinking that he was doing God service; for he says, “I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Timothy 1:13). But his sincerity did not justify his work, or make error truth.

Faith is the medium through which truth or error finds a lodging place in the mind. It is by the same act of mind that truth or error is received, but it makes a decided difference whether we believe the word of God or the sayings of men. When Christ revealed Himself to Paul, and he was convinced that he was persecuting Jesus in the person of His saints, he accepted the truth as it is in Jesus. A transforming power was manifested on mind and character, and he became a new man in Christ Jesus. He received the truth so fully that neither earth nor hell could shake his faith.

There are many who cry, “Believe, only believe.” Ask them what you are to believe. Are you to believe the lies forged by Satan against God’s holy, just, and good law? God does not use His great and precious grace to make of none effect His law, but to establish His law. What is the decision of Paul? He says: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law. … For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and [the commandment then ended?—No.] I [Paul] died. … Wherefore the law is [standing directly in the way of my having liberty and peace?—No.] holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:7–12).

The Law Cannot Pardon

Paul learned that there was no power in the law to pardon the transgressor of law. “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified” (Romans 3:20). “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:3, 4).

The Lord saw our fallen condition; He saw our need of grace, and because He loved our souls, He has given us grace and peace. Grace means favor to one who is undeserving, to one who is lost. The fact that we are sinners, instead of shutting us away from the mercy and love of God, makes the exercise of His love to us a positive necessity in order that we may be saved. Christ says, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (John 15:16).

When Adam fell, provision was made for his restoration. In due time Jesus, the Prince of life, came to our world to enter into controversy with the powers of darkness. In this world Satan had an opportunity to exhibit the result of the working out of his principles of freedom from all law, and Christ, by His unswerving obedience to His Father’s commandments, made manifest the result of practicing the principles of righteousness. In accordance with his principles of evil, Satan harassed the Son of God with fierce temptations, and finally brought Him to the judgment hall, that He might be condemned to death without cause. The confederacy of evil moved upon the hearts of men to work out the principles of evil. Christ and Barabbas were presented before the multitude. Barabbas was a notable robber and murderer; Christ was the Son of God. Pilate looked upon the two, and thought there would be no hesitation in the choice of Jesus. The marks of nobility, intelligence, and purity were plainly revealed in His countenance, in marked contrast to the coarse features of Barabbas. He asked, “Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? (Matthew 27:21). And the hoarse cry of the infuriated mob was heard, calling, “Barabbas.” “Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified” (Matthew 27:22, 23).

Satan Defeated by Christ’s Death

In this choice the principles of Satan were made manifest; and the hosts of heaven, and all the worlds that God had created, judged that Satan was an accuser of the brethren, a liar, and a murderer. In heaven and among the unfallen worlds the question of Satan’s deceiving power, of his malignant principles, was settled, and the perfect purity and holiness of Christ, who was bearing the test and trial in behalf of fallen man, was forever proved. Through the development of Satan’s character and principles, he was forever uprooted from the affection of the unfallen worlds, and the controversy concerning his claims and the claims of Christ was forever settled in heaven. The righteousness manifested in the character of Christ was forever to be the anchor, the saving hope, of the world. Every soul who chooses Christ can say with faith, “The Lord my righteousness.”

Christ was “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3–5).

The grace of Christ and the law of God are inseparable. In Jesus mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. In His life and character He not only reveals the character of God, but the possibility of man. He was the representative of God and the exemplar of humanity. He presented to the world what humanity might become when united by faith with divinity. The only-begotten Son of God took upon Him the nature of man, and established His cross between earth and heaven. Through the cross, man was drawn to God, and God to man. Justice moved from its high and awful position, and the heavenly hosts, the armies of holiness, drew near to the cross, bowing with reverence; for at the cross justice was satisfied. Through the cross the sinner was drawn from the stronghold of sin, from the confederacy of evil, and at every approach to the cross his heart relents and in penitence he cries, “It was my sins that crucified the Son of God.” At the cross he leaves his sins, and through the grace of Christ his character is transformed. The Redeemer raises the sinner from the dust, and places him under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As the sinner looks upon the Redeemer, he finds hope, assurance, and joy. Faith takes hold of Christ in love. Faith works by love, and purifies the soul.

Selected Messages, Book 1, 345–349.

Keys to the Storehouse – A Stumbling Block is a False Waymark

Our only safety is to keep our feet on the path that God has laid out in His Word. Each time our feet swerve from the heavenly path, we become a stumbling block to others.

“Many professed Christians are now only stumbling-blocks—false way-marks.

  • They do not represent to the world by good works the principles of the doctrines of Christ.
  • They neglect the study of the Scriptures, and secret prayer, and have become, so far as their influence is concerned, traitors to their holy trust.
  • Their hearts have gradually become hardened;
  • They have a name to live, while the vital energies of the soul have become spiritually paralyzed.

“Of this class our Saviour speaks: ‘Many will say unto Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity’ (Matthew 7:22, 23).” [Emphasis added.] The Review and Herald, July 10, 1879.

“Christ is stooping over His throne today, His great heart of love yearning with deep and tender compassion over those who are careless, and neglectful of their eternal interests.” Ibid.

It is time to plead for that spiritual discernment that will keep us from becoming stumbling blocks to others that will cause their demise. Now is the time to search our own hearts and repent of any indifference or hardness of heart that may be found for the hour of probation is passing quickly.

“It is not enough to profess to believe in Christ, saying that we are saved by Christ, when we do not practice the lessons He has given.

  • All such professed Christians are represented by the man who built his house upon the sand;
  • While the hearers and doers of the word are represented by the man who built his house upon the rock, and amid tempest, storm, and flood, it remained unmoved.
  • Thus the true foundation for every soul is represented by those who not only hear the truth but practice it.
  • Those who claim to be children of God and do not His will are hypocrites.” Ibid.

A follower of Jesus Christ will be assimilated to his image. He will not be swayed from his foundation and become a false waymark.

Father: I need spiritual discernment that I may recognize the moment that my feet slip. I realize now that I become a stumbling block to others when my feet swerve from walking in the path set forth in Your Word. Please Father, I plead the prayer in Psalm 17:5 that You would “Hold up my goings in Thy paths, that my footsteps slip not,” that no soul be lost because of my actions or words. Amen.

Jesus’ Last Companion

The devil constantly endeavors to distract the inhabitants of this earth away from eternal realities, and as Christians we need to be keenly aware of his machinations to get us off track. The Bible says we are not to be ignorant of the devil’s devices. We are nearing a period in this world’s history where it will be only those who endure to the end that will be saved. We have a better world to look forward to and it is coming more quickly than we know. The coming of Jesus is going to come as surprise. In fact, the Bible says, that even the righteous are going to gather paleness (Jeremiah 30:6) when He comes. The Bible says that we are to endeavor to keep the faith that was once delivered to the saints.

When the going gets tough, do not give up. Jesus is able to save to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). Christ is not going to do any half-work in our lives; it will be complete and will prepare us for heaven.

Before He died Christ spoke seven phrases. The sixth one is found in John 19:30. The Bible says, “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” There are many different commentaries on this verse, and many people believe that Christ here finished His work on earth. I believe that, but there is something else much greater that is still being finished in heaven.

“Christ did not yield up His life till He had accomplished the work which He came to do, and with His parting breath He exclaimed, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). The battle had been won. His right hand and His holy arm had gotten Him the victory. As a Conqueror He planted His banner on the eternal heights. Was there not joy among the angels? All heaven triumphed in the Saviour’s victory. Satan was defeated, and knew that his kingdom was lost.” The Desire of Ages, 758.

Jesus’ death upon the cross of Calvary was to put down rebellion. “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” Hebrews 2:14. Jesus’ death gave Him the right to put to death Satan and all his wicked angels and all who sided with him in his rebellion. It may have looked as if Satan had won and Jesus was the one who had been conquered, but the words, “It is finished,” put fear into the heart of Satan, who well knew the meaning that his kingdom would come to an end.

“To the angels and the unfallen worlds the cry, ‘It is finished,’ had a deep significance. It was for them as well as for us that the great work of redemption had been accomplished. They with us share the fruits of Christ’s victory.

“Not until the death of Christ was the character of Satan clearly revealed to the angels or to the unfallen worlds. The archapostate had so clothed himself with deception that even holy beings had not understood his principles. They had not clearly seen the nature of his rebellion.” Ibid.

Satan’s kingdom was at an end. At Golgotha, not only do we see three crosses, but we see the end of this world’s history, for Satan has been defeated and it is only a matter of time for him to be finally destroyed in the lake of fire. (See Revelation 20:10.)

We are going to see the cross of Calvary reenacted in our day. “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:8. Jesus’ life on this earth proved to the entire universe, including us sinful human beings, that man, through the power of God, can be obedient to the Ten Commandments, even under the most dire circumstances. As we go to the cross of Calvary, we know that Jesus was placed in the middle of two thieves, indicating that He was considered the worst of all these criminals. I believe there was another reason that Jesus was placed in the middle, and it was because these two criminals, one on each side, still had access to the One Who could still offer them hope.

“The theme of redemption is one that the angels desire to look into; it will be the science and the song of the redeemed throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. Is it not worthy of careful thought and study now?” Christian Education, 57.

“Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’ But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’ ” Luke 23:39–43.

Christ’s last companion before His death was a criminal hanging on a cross. As macabre as it sounds, right then that was a bright beam in Jesus’ life. The thief that day recognized His divinity and died in the hope of salvation, while the other criminal was not convinced. These two thieves represent the two classes of people that will be on earth at the close of earth’s history. With Jesus in heaven, who will it be that represents Christ, in the middle of these two classes of people, for all to see? By God’s grace it will be you and me.

Jesus’ silent suffering on the cross at Golgotha was a powerful sermon that preached to the dying thief, resulting in his conversion. He died in faith of the resurrection and a home in paradise.

In 1888, Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, after waking one morning and opening his newspaper, found himself reading his own obituary. The editor had mistakenly written about Alfred’s life and his achievements instead of that of his brother who was the one who had actually died. Alfred was called the “Dynamite King” a great industrialist who had made an immense fortune from explosives and recounted all of the resultant damage that they had caused. What hit him was how he wanted to be remembered should he die that day, so he resolved to make clear to the world the true meaning and purpose of his life. He figured that this could be done with the final disposition of his fortune. His last will and testament was to give an endowment of five annual prizes for outstanding contributions in physics-chemistry, psychology, medicine, literature, and peace, and a sixth category, economics was added. These would be the expression of his life’s ideals and ultimately how he would be remembered. The result was the most valuable prize given to those who had done the most for the cause of world peace, called today The Nobel Peace Prize.

Jesus left a greater legacy. His last will and testament before He died was that He was the One who could save others. It does not matter how bad or how far we fall, “He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him.” Hebrews 7:25. He proved this point in giving salvation to the repentant thief.

From the foot of the cross, words from the religious leaders wafted up into the ears of Jesus, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.” Matthew 27:42. They mocked Him saying, If You are the One, let’s see You build up the temple of God in three days! “Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.” Verse 44.

Anyone who has suffered mockery knows that it is hard to remain calm. I remember once going door to door in the town of Winfield, Kansas, giving away literature. Knocking on one door I was confronted by a lady who greeted me saying, “Didn’t you read my sign on the door? It says, do not solicit.” I told her that I was not actually soliciting but giving, which made her mad. When I left her home she followed me down the sidewalk pointing her finger and yelling at me. It was five minutes later that I had children throwing water balloons at me after blocking my car so I could not get away. Knowing my own carnal nature and the revenge that was rising in my mind, I began to pray. Immediately the cross came to my mind—Jesus was as a sheep going to slaughter, and He opened not His mouth.

Jesus was a sermon to those who reviled Him. Jesus, in His humanity, hung on the cross. His divinity could have, with just a thought, made people disappear. With a thought, Christ could have pulled the nails from His hands and feet and ended His suffering, and if He had, we all would be lost. Had His divinity flashed, everyone around Him would have been dead, but He was silent. The Bible says that even a fool, when he holds his peace, is counted wise (Proverbs 17:28).

The Bible calls the two who were crucified with Christ, thieves. They were robbers. A thief enriches himself at the expense of other people. This marks quite the contrast to Jesus, Who enriched others at the expense of Himself.

As one thief witnessed Christ’s response to those who were mocking, he turned from blaspheming to rebuking. Luke 23:39 says: “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’ ” Luke 23:39. How easy that would have been for Christ to do. “But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?’ ” Verse 40.

Both of these men were on the brink of eternity, and the Holy Spirit was working on both of their minds. One man responded. He knew something of Jesus and recalled His teachings. He was there in Pilate’s judgment hall and watched while Christ was beaten, spat upon, and had the hair pulled out of His beard, yet not a word of retaliation was heard. He peers off to the side and reads the sign above Jesus’ head, “KING OF THE JEWS,” written there in three different languages. He hears the religious leaders recalling Christ’s words. All of the puzzle pieces started to come together, and as he looks at the inscription above the head of Jesus, a King, he believes. The dying thieves no longer had any fear of man.

“To Jesus in His agony on the cross there came one gleam of comfort. It was the prayer of the penitent thief. Both the men who were crucified with Jesus had at first railed upon Him; and one under his suffering only became more desperate and defiant. But not so with his companion. This man was not a hardened criminal; he had been led astray by evil associations, but he was less guilty than many of those who stood beside the cross reviling the Saviour. He had seen and heard Jesus, and had been convicted by His teaching, but he had been turned away from Him by the priests and rulers. Seeking to stifle conviction, he had plunged deeper and deeper into sin, until he was arrested, tried as a criminal, and condemned to die on the cross. In the judgment hall and on the way to Calvary he had been in company with Jesus. He had heard Pilate declare, ‘I find no fault in Him’ (John 19:4). He had marked His godlike bearing, and His pitying forgiveness of His tormentors. On the cross he sees the many great religionists shoot out the tongue with scorn, and ridicule the Lord Jesus. He sees the wagging heads. He hears the upbraiding speeches taken up by his companion in guilt: ‘If Thou be Christ, save Thyself and us’ (Luke 23:39). Among the passers-by he hears many defending Jesus. He hears them repeat His words, and tell of His works. The conviction comes back to him that this is the Christ. Turning to his fellow criminal he says, ‘Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation’ (verse 40)? The dying thieves have no longer anything to fear from man. But upon one of them presses the conviction that there is a God to fear, a future to cause him to tremble. And now, all sin-polluted as it is, his life history is about to close. ‘And we indeed justly,’ he moans; ‘for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this Man hath done nothing amiss’ (verse 41).”

“There is no question now. There are no doubts, no reproaches. When condemned for his crime, the thief had become hopeless and despairing; but strange, tender thoughts now spring up. He calls to mind all he has heard of Jesus, how He has healed the sick and pardoned sin. He has heard the words of those who believed in Jesus and followed Him weeping. He has seen and read the title above the Saviour’s head. He has heard the passers-by repeat it, some with grieved, quivering lips, others with jesting and mockery. The Holy Spirit illuminates his mind, and little by little the chain of evidence is joined together. In Jesus, bruised, mocked, and hanging upon the cross, he sees the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. Hope is mingled with anguish in his voice as the helpless, dying soul casts himself upon a dying Saviour. ‘Lord, remember me,’ he cries, ‘when Thou comest into Thy kingdom’ (verse 42).

“Quickly the answer came. Soft and melodious the tone, full of love, compassion, and power the words: Verily I say unto thee, today, shalt thou be with Me in paradise (verse 43).” The Desire of Ages, 749, 750.

Before the end of time, all of us are to have the experience of one of these two thieves. We are all going to be in a very desperate situation, and how we respond to the Holy Spirit will determine where we spend eternity.

Human sinful nature, since the first sin in the Garden of Eden, has ever tried to justify and excuse sins and rationalize them away, but there is no excuse. No one will ever go to heaven excusing himself for his sin. All will fall into the category of one of these two thieves. While one says, I don’t deserve this, just save me in my sins, the other one says, I deserve to die. I deserve what I get.

The repentant thief on the cross made no attempt to justify his actions taking full responsibility for his sins, simply claiming salvation by the merits of Jesus’ righteousness, while the other thief, unrepentant and with no desire to be rid of his character defects, wanted to be saved in his sins.

The entire Jewish nation including Jesus’ own disciples were mixed up on the Kingdom of God. They believed in an earthly kingdom, yet the dying thief understood that Jesus’ kingdom was a kingdom of grace; it was not an earthly kingdom, but a spiritual kingdom to save us from sin. He may have heard what Jesus said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36.

There was activity at the foot of the cross. John and Mary and others were weeping. The centurion was there and others were playing dice. The devil and his evil angels and the Pharisees were there to witness the scene. Soldiers argued over Jesus’ garments, but then decided to toss dice for them. But when they heard the dying thief say, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom,” everybody stopped what they were doing. “The bystanders caught the words as the thief called Jesus Lord. The tone of the repentant man arrested their attention. Those who at the foot of the cross had been quarreling over Christ’s garments, and casting lots upon His vesture, stopped to listen. Their angry tones were hushed. With bated breath they looked upon Christ, and waited for the response from those dying lips.” Ibid., 751. Then Christ spoke. He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (verse 43).

Those who, like this thief, respond to the Holy Spirit will draw the attention of the entire world. When Christ ceases His intercession in the heavenly sanctuary before He returns as King of Kings, His people will represent Him fully in character, and it will draw the attention of the entire world. The Spirit of Prophecy says that the true Seventh-day Adventist will be brought to the forefront of the world. Maybe it will be alone in court standing for Jesus. But this story of the two thieves is a personification of the two classes of people that will exist near the end of this world’s history.

“Many were ready to call Him Lord when He wrought miracles, and after He had risen from the grave; but none acknowledged Him as He hung dying upon the cross save the penitent thief who was saved at the eleventh hour.” Ibid., 750. The repentant thief stood alone. He represented the eleventh hour workers, the thieves and criminals who respond to Christ right at the end of time. They have heard the message of salvation. They may have been at a prophecy seminar or read the Bible. It may be those who have received books or tracts that have been passed out at Walmart. It may be that person you prayed with on the phone whom it did not seem likely they had any hope. But it will be these eleventh-hour workers who finish the work that Laodicean Adventists fail to do.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth [that is 12 o’clock noon, 3 o’clock in the afternoon], and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ They said to him ‘Because no one hired us.’ ” Matthew 20:1–7. Why has no one hired the eleventh hour workers? They would receive the same wages as those who had labored all day.

“When the crisis comes, many will be prepared to make right decisions, even in the face of the formidable difficulties that will be brought about through the deceptive miracles of Satan. Although these will confess the truth and become workers with Christ at the eleventh hour, they will receive equal wages with those who have wrought through the whole day. There will be an army of steadfast believers who will stand as firm as a rock through the last test.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 390.

God still has an army out there that needs to be brought in. The dying thief died in the eleventh hour but before he did He called Jesus Lord and rebuked his fellow companion in crime, telling him to stop justifying his own course of action.

There are only two classes of mankind, the repentant and the unrepentant. Into which one of these categories will you fall? The mocking religious leaders at the foot of the cross were in no better shape spiritually than the unrepentant thief. The thief who responded to the pleading of the Holy Spirit gives a dying testament to Christ’s amazing saving power.

“Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25. That text is for all of us. “Being confident of this very thing, that He Who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Mike Bauler was ordained into the ministry in 2005 and serves as pastor of the Historic Message Church in Portland, Oregon. Prior to locating in Portland, Pastor Bauler served as a Bible worker for Steps to Life Ministries. His goal is to help give the gospel to the greater Portland area with an emphasis in helping his Bible students discover the truths in Bible prophecy, which are so often neglected today. His wife, Amanda, a family nurse practitioner, and their daughters Hannah, Esther and Abigail assist him in his ministry.

The Meaning of Trials

One of the quotes that is often repeated among the faithful goes something like this: “Life in this world is the non-Christian’s heaven and the Christian’s hell.”

The pen of inspiration states it this way in Life Sketches, pages 239, 240: “This life at best is but the Christian’s winter; and the bleak winds of winter—disappointments, losses, pain, and anguish—are our lot here; but our hopes are reaching forward to the Christian’s summer, when we shall change climate, leave all the wintry blasts and fierce tempests behind, and be taken to those mansions Jesus has gone to prepare for those that love Him.”

Indeed, this world is not the Christian’s heaven. Rather it is the place in which to fit up for heaven through successfully meeting the trials and temptations of life that God deems us capable of bearing. Life in this world is the scene of our life-battles, our conflicts, and our sorrows. If we are to be successful in our Christian walk, we must have a firm grasp on our hope for a better world, where we will find peace and ever-increasing bliss and joy when our warfare is ended.

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most miserable/pitiable.” I Corinthians 15:19.

What are some of the Bible texts that give us great hope?

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” I Corinthians 2:9.

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:28–39.

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6.

Who is it that has a right to hold this hope of victory before them? Scripture makes it “too plain to be misunderstood” that it is the righteous—and only the righteous—who will be given the crown of eternal life.

“The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.” Psalm 37:29.

“Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto Thy name: the upright shall dwell in Thy presence.” Psalm 140:13.

“For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it.” Proverbs 2:21.

“Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; and I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.” Zechariah 8:7, 8.

“Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness.” II Peter 3:13.

Through all of our various and on-going trials, some of which have never been fully revealed to others—even to our spouses, for surely each of us has trials that we keep between ourselves and God only—we have had an unfailing Friend, who has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” Hebrews 13:5, and “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20.

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” I Peter 4:12, 13.

The International Standard Version translates I Peter 4:12 a little more clearly: “Dear friends, do not be surprised by the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

We need to keep in mind always that while Jesus was here on earth, He became intimately familiar with human woe, and although He is now back in His homeland, His heart, which loved, pitied, and sympathized with men, still identifies with humanity. Sister White says that His heart remains a heart of “unchangeable tenderness.” Paul tells us in Hebrews 13:8 that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We do not have to worry about His forgetting the purchase of His blood, or even of something being acceptable with Him today and not acceptable tomorrow. Hebrews 4:15 reminds us that, “We have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are.”

“Jesus is acquainted with all our trials. He does not leave us to struggle alone with temptations, or to battle alone with sin, and to be finally crushed with burden and sorrow. Through His angels He whispers to us, ‘Fear not; for I am with thee’ (Genesis 26:24). ‘I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore’ (Revelation 1:18).” The Review and Herald, April 17, 1894.

As He pleads His blood for our salvation, standing before the altar in the heavenly sanctuary, He tells us, “I know your sorrows; I have endured them. I am acquainted with your struggles; I have experienced them. I know your temptations; I have encountered them. I have seen your tears; I also have wept. Your earthly hopes are crushed, but let the eye of faith be uplifted, and penetrate the veil, and there anchor your hopes. The everlasting assurance shall be yours that you have a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Ibid.

Why has God always tried his people in the furnace of affliction? The common response to children when they murmur about what they perceive to be some injustice they have incurred is that “it builds character.” It wasn’t until I became a Seventh-day Adventist and began studying the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy that I truly began to understand the truth to that statement.

Our trials, the temptations that we face, the experiences and providences of life are simply God’s way of developing within us the character we must have to be fit to accept by faith Christ’s robe of righteousness, to purge from us all impurity and unrighteousness. God’s work of pruning and purifying His people for heaven is a great work, and it cannot be accomplished without great suffering on the part of the servants of God, because it costs something to bring our wills into harmony with the will of Christ. We must go through the furnace till the fires have consumed the dross—the unchristlike impurities, and we are purified so that we reflect the divine image.

A common experiment among those taking advanced chemistry in college is a challenge to determine the percent of pure precious metal in a small amount of silver. To accomplish that task, a small piece of silver is heated to great heat in a crucible—a small ceramic pot that can withstand extremely high temperatures. After a while, the metal will melt. The impurities in it will form a dull film on top. Eventually, these impurities will boil off and only the precious metal will remain. The students are told that they will know when all of the impurities have been eliminated when they can see their reflections in the molten silver. Such is the case in our characters. God knows that all of the impurities in our characters have been purged when He can see a perfect reflection of Himself in us.

Most of us are not good judges of what God is doing. When trials and difficulties occur, we are often prone to murmur and complain. Too often, we see failure where there is indeed triumph, or a great loss, where there is actually gain. Like Jacob, we are ready to exclaim when trial comes upon us, “All these things are against me” (Genesis 42:36)! when the fact is that the very things of which we complain are working for our good.

There is a common expression in Christendom: “No cross, no crown.” That is simply a shortened version of Christ’s statement to His disciples in Luke 9:23, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” We know that only by following Christ can we be awarded the crown of life.

No one can be strong in the Lord without experiencing trials. To have physical strength, we must have physical exercise. To have spiritual strength, we must have spiritual exercise. To have strong faith we must be placed in circumstances that require the exercise of our faith to withstand those circumstances.

Just before his martyrdom, the apostle Paul said to Timothy: “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and self-discipline. Therefore, never be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me, His prisoner. Instead, by God’s power, join me in suffering for the sake of the gospel.” II Timothy 1:7, 8 ISV.

When Luke wrote of Paul’s preaching in the areas visited on their very first journey, he reported in Acts 14:22, “It is through much tribulation that we enter the kingdom of heaven.” Luke noted that this was the message preached in at least four cities of Asia Minor, and he preached it in his earliest efforts at spreading the gospel. Paul knew that the Christian walk is “a battle and a march,” and he was careful to warn the new converts of the trials that they were going to encounter.

“If Satan sees that he is in danger of losing one soul, he will exert himself to the utmost to keep that one. And when the individual is aroused to his danger, and, with distress and fervor, looks to Jesus for strength, Satan fears that he will lose a captive, and he calls a reinforcement of his angels to hedge in the poor soul, and form a wall of darkness around him, that heaven’s light may not reach him. But if the one in danger perseveres, and in his helplessness casts himself upon the merits of the blood of Christ, our Saviour listens to the earnest prayer of faith, and sends a reinforcement of those angels that excel in strength to deliver him.” Counsels for the Church, 319.

The Spirit of Prophecy makes this statement: “Our Saviour was tried in every possible way, and yet he triumphed in God continually.” God’s Amazing Grace, 90. This is one of those statements that on initial reading takes a good deal of faith to believe. While He may not have experienced the exact same trials as we have—for example, He was never married and never had teenagers He had to cope with—nevertheless, He encountered the same principles in His relationships with His family and His disciples.

It is our privilege under all circumstances to be strong in the strength of God and to glory in the cross of Christ. That is sometimes a very tough calling—much more easily said than done.

Every follower of Christ will have a cross to bear. This cross is different in different individuals. It may be food, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, passion, kleptomania, improper speech, family or personal relationships, or one (or more) of any number of snares that Satan will use to try to knock us from the path of truth and righteousness, but rest assured that every follower of Jesus has a cross, a burden, to bear—a “sin which doth so easily beset us” (Hebrews 12:1).

When we face it resolutely, determined to overcome, even though it may be in weakness and trembling, we will find that that which seemed so terrible to us in fact is a source of strength and blessing and courage. Remember that it is in our weakness that the strength of Christ is revealed.

If we do suffer, let us remember that our Lord and Master suffered before us. Jesus, our Redeemer, our representative and head, has already endured this testing process. He suffered more than we can be called upon to suffer. He bore our infirmities and was in all points tempted like as we are. He did not suffer for Himself, but He suffered because of my sins, that I, relying on the merits of my Overcomer, might be victorious in His name.

Christ was the exalted and glorious commander of heaven, before Whom the angelic hosts bowed in adoration, yet He condescended to give up his glory that He had with the Father, that He might save a fallen race; and shall we, in our turn, refuse to deny ourselves for His sake and the gospel’s?

Let the words of Paul be the language of our hearts: “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Galatians 6:14.

Christ requires all from me. His sacrifice was too great, too costly, too dear, for me to give less than my all, and be accepted.

The Scripture says, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2. The way to heaven is a self-denying way. But when I am tempted to think that the way is too strait, and there is too much self-denial in the narrow path; when I want to say it’s too hard to give up everything in this world, I ask myself, “What did Christ give up for me?”

This question puts anything that I might call self-denial to the test. As I imagine Him in the Garden of Gethsemane and envision the great drops of blood that forced themselves from His pores while He bore the inexpressible agony of soul, and look upon Him in the judgment hall while He was derided, mocked, and insulted by the infuriated mob … as I behold Him clothed in that old purple robe, and hear the coarse jest and cruel mocking and see them place the crown of thorns on that noble brow, and smite Him with a reed, causing the thorns to penetrate His holy temples, so that the blood-drops trickle down His face and fall upon the ground, then hear the murderous throng eagerly crying for the blood of the Son of God while He is delivered into their hands—pale, weak, and fainting, being led away to the hill of crucifixion, then lie without resisting upon the cross as nails are driven through his hands and feet, as in my imagination I behold him hanging upon the cross through dreadful hours of agony until angels veil their faces from the scene, and the sun hides its light, refusing to shine upon the dreadful sight. Can I think of these things, and then ask, Is the way too strait?

We must realize that Jesus has something in store for us that is vastly better than that which we would choose for ourselves! Remember, eyes have not seen nor ear heard neither entered into the imagination of man the things that God has prepared for them that love Him (I Corinthians 2:9)!

How mightily and how often we should pray that we might come to understand the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the blessedness of righteousness!

The most trying experiences in the Christian life may be the most blessed. The special providences of the dark hours will strengthen and give courage to the soul in the future attacks of Satan, and equip the soul to stand most fiery trials.

The trial of our faith is more precious than gold. But in order to endure the test, we must have that faith, that abiding confidence in God, that will not be disturbed by the arguments and temptations of the deceiver. Let us learn to take the Lord at his word, while it is day. Let us study the promises, and appropriate them as we have need. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17. “Happy is the man, who, when tempted, finds his soul rich in the knowledge of the Scriptures, who finds shelter beneath the promises of God. ‘Thy word,’ said the psalmist, ‘have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee’ (Psalm 119:11).” The Faith I Live By, 8. We need that calm, steady faith, that undaunted moral courage, that none but Christ can give, in order that we may be braced for trial and strengthened for duty.

“While on earth there will be no escape from conflicts and temptations; but in every storm we have a sure refuge. Jesus has told us, ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). The forces of Satan are marshaled against us, and we have to meet a diligent foe; but if we take heed to the admonition of Christ, we shall be safe. ‘Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation’ (Matthew 26:41). There are foes to be resisted and overcome, but Jesus is by our side, ready to strengthen us for every attack. ‘This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith’ (I John 5:4).

“Faith sees Jesus standing as our Mediator at the right hand of God. Faith beholds the mansions that Jesus has gone to prepare for those who love Him. Faith sees the robe and the crown prepared for the overcomer. Faith hears the song of the redeemed, and brings eternal glories near. We must come close to Jesus in loving obedience if we would see the King in his beauty.

“There is peace in believing, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Believe! Believe! … Rest in God. He is able to keep that which you have committed to Him, and will bring you off more than conqueror through Him that has loved you (II Timothy 1:12; Romans 8:37).

“But remember that every one who shall be found with the wedding garment on will have come out of great tribulation. The mighty surges of temptation will beat upon all of us. But the long night of watching, of toil, of hardship, is nearly past. Christ is soon to come. Get ready! The angels of God are seeking to attract you from yourself and from earthly things. Let them not labor in vain. Faith, living faith, is what you need; the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. Remember Calvary and the awful, the infinite sacrifice made there for man. Jesus now invites us to come to Him, just as you are, and make Him your strength and your everlasting Friend.” The Review and Herald, April 17, 1894.

John Pearson is the office manager and a board member of Steps to Life. After retiring as chief financial officer for the Grand Canyon Association, Grand Canyon, Arizona, he moved to Wichita, Kansas, to join the Steps team. He may be contacted by email at:

The New Covenant is for You

The new covenant is the foundation of the Christian faith. In Patriarchs and Prophets, 371, we are told what this covenant is: “simply an arrangement for bringing men again into harmony with the divine will, placing them where they could obey God’s law.” God has revealed to us other names or descriptions that we may identify this same covenant:

“The covenant of grace was first made with man in Eden, when after the fall there was given a divine promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head. To all men this covenant offered pardon and the assisting grace of God for future obedience through faith in Christ. It also promised them eternal life on condition of fidelity to God’s law. Thus the patriarchs received the hope of salvation.

“This same covenant was renewed to Abraham in the promise, ‘In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed’ (Genesis 22:18). This promise pointed to Christ. So Abraham understood it (see Galatians 3:8, 16), and he trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. It was this faith that was accounted unto him for righteousness. The covenant with Abraham also maintained the authority of God’s law. … And the Lord declared to him, I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee’ (Genesis 17:7).” Ibid., 370.

“The Abrahamic covenant was ratified by the blood of Christ, and it is called the “second,” or “new,” covenant.” Ibid., 371. This was the same covenant given to Adam.

Ephesians 3:11 states: “According to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The same is noted in The Signs of the Times April 25, 1892, which says, “Therefore redemption was not an afterthought—a plan formulated after the fall of Adam—but an eternal purpose to be wrought out for the blessing not only of this atom of a world but for the good of all the worlds which God has created.”

In The Signs of the Times, June 21, 1899, and August 22, 1900, it is called the “irrevocable covenant” and in Revelation 14:6 it is called the eternal or everlasting gospel.

Please note the number of terms used in the following quote:

“The terms of this oneness between God and man in the great covenant of redemption were arranged with Christ from all eternity. The covenant of grace was revealed to the patriarchs. The covenant made with Abraham four hundred and thirty years before the law was spoken on Sinai was a covenant confirmed by God in Christ, the very same gospel which is preached to us. ‘The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham’ (Galatians 3:8). The covenant of grace is not a new truth, for it existed in the mind of God from all eternity. This is why it is called the everlasting covenant. The plan of redemption was not conceived after the fall of man to cure the dreadful evil; the apostle Paul speaks of the gospel, the preaching of Jesus Christ, as ‘the revelation of the mystery, which hath been kept in silence through times eternal’ (Romans 16:25).” The Signs of the Times, August 24, 1891.

The new covenant was instituted, or activated by the Son of God

“The Son of God, heaven’s glorious Commander, was touched with pity for the fallen race. His heart was moved with infinite compassion as the woes of the lost world rose up before Him. But divine love had conceived a plan whereby man might be redeemed. The broken law of God demanded the life of the sinner. In all the universe there was but one who could, in behalf of man, satisfy its claims. Since the divine law is as sacred as God Himself, only one equal with God could make atonement for its transgression. None but Christ could redeem fallen man from the curse of the law and bring him again into harmony with Heaven. Christ would take upon Himself the guilt and shame of sin—sin so offensive to a holy God that it must separate the Father and His Son. Christ would reach to the depths of misery to rescue the ruined race.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 63.

It was a struggle for God the Father to provide the New Covenant

“Before the Father He pleaded in the sinner’s behalf, while the host of heaven awaited the result with an intensity of interest that words cannot express. Long continued was that mysterious communing—‘the counsel of peace’ (Zechariah 6:13) for the fallen sons of men. The plan of salvation had been laid before the creation of the earth; for Christ is ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ (Revelation 13:8); yet it was a struggle, even with the King of the universe, to yield up His Son to die for the guilty race. But ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16). Oh, the mystery of redemption! the love of God for a world that did not love Him! Who can know the depths of that love which ‘passeth knowledge’ (Ephesians 3:19)? Through endless ages immortal minds, seeking to comprehend the mystery of that incomprehensible love, will wonder and adore.” Ibid., 63, 64.

Here is how it works:

“God was to be manifest in Christ, ‘reconciling the world unto Himself’ (II Corinthians 5:19). Man had become so degraded by sin that it was impossible for him, in himself, to come into harmony with Him whose nature is purity and goodness. But Christ, after having redeemed man from the condemnation of the law, could impart divine power to unite with human effort. Thus by repentance toward God and faith in Christ the fallen children of Adam might once more become ‘sons of God’ (I John 3:2).” Ibid., 64.

The new covenant is “simply an arrangement for bringing men again into harmony with the divine will, placing them where they could obey God’s law.”

What was the purpose of the sacrificial system?

“The sacrificial offerings were ordained by God to be to man a perpetual reminder and a penitential acknowledgment of his sin and a confession of his faith in the promised Redeemer. They were intended to impress upon the fallen race the solemn truth that it was sin that caused death. To Adam, the offering of the first sacrifice was a most painful ceremony. His hand must be raised to take life, which only God could give. It was the first time he had ever witnessed death, and he knew that had he been obedient to God, there would have been no death of man or beast. As he slew the innocent victim, he trembled at the thought that his sin must shed the blood of the spotless Lamb of God. This scene gave him a deeper and more vivid sense of the greatness of his transgression, which nothing but the death of God’s dear Son could expiate. And he marveled at the infinite goodness that would give such a ransom to save the guilty.” Ibid., 68.

Requirements to provide the new covenant

“The plan by which alone man’s salvation could be secured,

  1. involved all heaven in its infinite sacrifice.
  2. The angels … saw that man’s salvation must cost their loved Commander unutterable woe.
  3. “He must descend from heaven’s purity and peace, its joy and glory and immortal life, and come in contact with the degradation of earth, to endure its sorrow, shame, and death.
  4. He was to stand between the sinner and the penalty of sin; yet few would receive Him as the Son of God.
  5. He would leave His high position as the Majesty of heaven, appear upon earth and humble Himself as a man, and by His own experience become acquainted with the sorrows and temptations which man would have to endure.
  6. All this would be necessary in order that He might be able to succor them that should be tempted (Hebrews 2:18).
  7. When His mission as a teacher should be ended, He must be delivered into the hands of wicked men and be subjected to every insult and torture that Satan could inspire them to inflict.
  8. He must die the cruelest of deaths, lifted up between the heavens and the earth as a guilty sinner.
  9. He must pass long hours of agony so terrible that angels could not look upon it, but would veil their faces from the sight.
  10. He must endure anguish of soul, the hiding of His Father’s face, while the guilt of transgression—the weight of the sins of the whole world—should be upon Him.” Ibid., 64.

Those who will accept the terms will be given access to the kingdom of glory for eternity. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us.” I John 3:1.

To keep before the minds of the people the sacrifice of the Lamb of God to redeem them the system of sacrifices was introduced to Adam. “The sacrificial offerings were ordained by God to be to man a perpetual reminder and a penitential acknowledgment of his sin and a confession of his faith in the promised Redeemer. They were intended to impress upon the fallen race the solemn truth that it was sin that caused death. To Adam, the offering of the first sacrifice was a most painful ceremony. His hand must be raised to take life, which only God could give. It was the first time he had ever witnessed death, and he knew that had he been obedient to God, there would have been no death of man or beast. As he slew the innocent victim, he trembled at the thought that his sin must shed the blood of the spotless Lamb of God. This scene gave him a deeper and more vivid sense of the greatness of his transgression, which nothing but the death of God’s dear Son could expiate.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 68.

From the offering of this first sacrifice, all of the patriarchs trusted in the promise of the covenant. Enoch had entered into the terms of the new covenant and he was translated. All who abide by the terms of the new covenant as Enoch did will have the privilege of going to the New Jerusalem to be with Him. Noah in faith built an altar to offer sacrifice after the flood.

Abraham was instructed to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Through Abraham we get a glimpse of the agony and suffering of God the Father. In Isaac we see the willingness of Christ to be the sacrifice required. Like Abraham, Jacob gathered his family for the morning and evening sacrifice.

It was through the system of sacrifices that the patriarchs kept the promises of the new covenant before the people through the centuries. During the years Israel was in bondage in Egypt the sacrifices were neglected and the knowledge of the new covenant faded away in the minds of the people. The first thing God did when Israel camped at Mount Sinai was to renew the covenant with the people. See Exodus 19:3–8 and the following:

“Soon after the encampment at Sinai, Moses was called up into the mountain to meet with God. Alone he climbed the steep and rugged path, and drew near to the cloud that marked the place of Jehovah’s presence. Israel was now to be taken into a close and peculiar relation to the Most High—to be incorporated as a church and a nation under the government of God. The message to Moses for the people was:

“ ‘Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto Myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine: and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation (Exodus 19:4–6).

“Moses returned to the camp, and having summoned the elders of Israel, he repeated to them the divine message. Their answer was, ‘All that the Lord hath spoken we will do’ (Exodus 19:8). Thus they entered into a solemn covenant with God, pledging themselves to accept Him as their ruler, by which they became, in a special sense, the subjects of His authority.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 303.

The new covenant is for you just as it was for Israel at Mount Sinai. Jesus wants to make you a citizen of that Holy nation in the kingdom of glory.

Israel was now no longer a patriarchal family but more the size of a small nation. While they camped at Mt. Sinai, God replaced the patriarchal family altar with a sanctuary building. The services were also greatly expanded at this time. Moses was given complete instructions for the construction of the sanctuary after the pattern of the sanctuary in heaven. Exodus 25:8 and 9 states: “Then have them make a sanctuary for Me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” [Emphasis added.] That new covenant has a sanctuary in heaven and Paul says in Hebrews 8:1, 2, “The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.”

The Great Controversy page 413 says, “Here is revealed the sanctuary of the new covenant. The sanctuary of the first covenant was pitched by man, built by Moses; this is pitched by the Lord, not by man. In that sanctuary the earthly priests performed their service; in this, Christ, our great High Priest, ministers at God’s right hand. One sanctuary was on earth, the other is in heaven.”

The sanctuary on earth was a copy of the new covenant sanctuary in heaven. “The term ‘sanctuary,’ as used in the Bible, refers, first, to the tabernacle built by Moses, as a pattern of heavenly things; and, secondly, to the ‘true tabernacle’ in heaven, to which the earthly sanctuary pointed.

“At the death of Christ the typical service ended. The ‘true tabernacle’ in heaven is the sanctuary of the new covenant.” Ibid., 417.

For four thousand years the people showed their faith in the new covenant through the sacrifice of the lamb without blemish. Thus the faith of the Israelites in a Redeemer to come to ratify the new covenant was kept alive for 4000 years through the sacrificial system.

At the first advent of Christ major changes took place in the administration of the new covenant and the sanctuary services. One of the first things Jesus did when He began His ministry was to direct the minds of the people to His sacrifice and the opening of the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven.

“In the cleansing of the temple, Jesus was announcing His mission as the Messiah, and entering upon His work. … From eternal ages it was God’s purpose that every created being, from the bright and holy seraph to man, should be a temple for the indwelling of the Creator. Because of sin, humanity ceased to be a temple for God. … In cleansing the temple from the world’s buyers and sellers, Jesus announced His mission to cleanse the heart from the defilement of sin.” The Desire of Ages, 161.

At the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus made it very clear as to the purpose of His mission on earth. His objective was to free men from sin so that He could bring them into harmony with the divine will and place them where they could obey the law of God. Jesus wanted to inform the people that the services in the sanctuary on earth would end when He died on the cross. He desired them to understand that as soon as the new covenant was ratified with His blood, which was shed on the cross, He would open the holy place in the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven. It would be in the holy place of the sanctuary of the new covenant that for eighteen centuries Jesus ministered on behalf of His people. “The blood of Christ, pleaded in behalf of penitent believers, secured their pardon and acceptance with the Father.” The Great Controversy, 421. This is the truth that He tried to teach them from the very beginning of His ministry.

“Now when they asked for a sign, He answered them by a parable, showing that He read their malice, and saw to what lengths it would lead them. ‘Destroy this temple,’ He said, ‘and in three days I will raise it up’ (John 2:19).” Ibid., 164.

In The Desire of Ages it says that Jesus had both temples in mind when He made this declaration: the temple of His body and the temple building.

“In these words His meaning was twofold. He referred not only to the destruction of the Jewish temple and worship, but to His own death—the destruction of the temple of His body.” Ibid.

In this statement, Christ was directing the minds of all to the opening of the new covenant sanctuary in heaven. First He was calling their attention to His sacrifice to ratify the new covenant; He was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Connected with His death was the destruction of the sanctuary on earth.

“The entire plan of sacrificial worship was a foreshadowing of the Saviour’s death to redeem the world. There would be no efficacy in these offerings when the great event toward which they had pointed for ages was consummated.

“Since the whole ritual economy was symbolical of Christ, it had no value apart from Him. When the Jews sealed their rejection of Christ by delivering Him to death, they rejected all that gave significance to the temple and its services. … In putting Christ to death, the Jews virtually destroyed their temple. When Christ was crucified, the inner veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom, signifying that the great final sacrifice had been made, and that the system of sacrificial offerings was forever at an end.” Ibid., 165.

When Jesus died on the cross, both the temple of His body and the temple building were destroyed, just as He stated at the first cleansing of the temple.

At this point a major change was made in the way the new covenant was to be administered for the fallen race. The fact that Jesus raised the temple of His body on the first day of the week, three days after He was crucified is well known by all Christians today. One of the greatest celebrations of the Christian church is Easter in honor of His resurrection, but few Christians understand how he raised the temple building on the third day, the same day that he rose from the grave. We see no celebrations in the Christian church in recognition of this grand event in which all heaven celebrated. The Bible tells us that as soon as Jesus raised the temple of His body He ascended to heaven to open the holy place of the sanctuary in heaven. John 20:17 says, “Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Jesus ascended the third day following His death to confirm with His Father the ratification of the new covenant. The Desire of Ages, page 790 says,

“Jesus refused to receive the homage of His people until He had the assurance that His sacrifice was accepted by the Father. He ascended to the heavenly courts, and from God Himself heard the assurance that His atonement for the sins of men had been ample, that through His blood all might gain eternal life. 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.”

Jesus had to return to earth the same day because the disciples failed to understand why Jesus died on the cross. They had lost sight of the new covenant promise to bring them back into harmony with the Divine will and to place them where they could obey the law of God. What should have been a time of great rejoicing and praising God and Christ for ratifying the new covenant for their redemption was a time of sorrow and discouragement because they were walking in the shadow of the cross. On the way to Emmaus Jesus explained to the disciples that His death on the cross was to ratify the new covenant with His blood so He could begin His work as our High Priest in the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven.

Forty days later, Jesus ascended again to heaven to be inaugurated as our High Priest in the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven. No longer did the repentant sinner need to place his hands on the head of the lamb and confess his sin and then slay the animal so his sin could be transferred to the sanctuary. He could now go directly to Jesus, the slain Lamb of God, in the holy place of the sanctuary in heaven.

Everything in heaven was ready for the return of Jesus. Revelation 5:6 states: “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders.” Jesus had just arrived from His ascension. The Desire of Ages, pages 833 and 834 gives us a detailed description of His arrival in heaven.

“All heaven was waiting to welcome the Saviour to the celestial courts. As He ascended, He led the way, and the multitude of captives set free at His resurrection followed. The heavenly host, with shouts and acclamations of praise and celestial song, attended the joyous train. …

“There is the throne, and around it the rainbow of promise. There are cherubim and seraphim. The commanders of the angel hosts, the sons of God, the representatives of the unfallen worlds, are assembled. …, all are there to welcome the Redeemer. They are eager to celebrate His triumph and to glorify their King.”

Then Jesus interrupts the celebration. In The Desire of Ages, page 834, we are told:

“But He waves them back. Not yet; He cannot now receive the coronet of glory and the royal robe. He enters into the presence of His Father. He points to His wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet; He lifts His hands, bearing the print of nails. He points to the tokens of His triumph; He presents to God the wave sheaf, those raised with Him as representatives of that great multitude who shall come forth from the grave at His second coming. … Before the foundations of the earth were laid, the Father and the Son had united in a covenant to redeem man if he should be overcome by Satan. They had clasped Their hands in a solemn pledge that Christ should become the surety for the human race. This pledge Christ has fulfilled. When upon the cross He cried out, ‘It is finished,’ He addressed the Father. The compact had been fully carried out. Now He declares: Father, it is finished. I have done Thy will, O My God. I have completed the work of redemption. If Thy justice is satisfied, ‘I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am’ (John 19:30; 17:24).

“The voice of God is heard proclaiming that justice is satisfied. Satan is vanquished. Christ’s toiling, struggling ones on earth are ‘accepted in the Beloved’ (Ephesians 1:6). … The Father’s arms encircle His Son, and the word is given, ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him’ (Hebrews 1:6).”

The entire universe then begins the celebration of the ratification of the new covenant for the lost race. The celebration is described in The Desire of Ages, 834.

“With joy unutterable, rulers and principalities and powers acknowledge the supremacy of the Prince of life. The angel host prostrate themselves before Him, while the glad shout fills all the courts of heaven, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing’ (Revelation 5:12).

“Songs of triumph mingle with the music from angel harps, till heaven seems to overflow with joy and praise. Love has conquered. The lost is found. Heaven rings with voices in lofty strains proclaiming, ‘Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever’ (Revelation 5:13).”

And the Holy Spirit confirms the inauguration on the day of Pentecost as told in The Acts of the Apostles, 38.

“When Christ passed within the heavenly gates, He was enthroned amidst the adoration of the angels. As soon as this ceremony was completed, the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples in rich currents, and Christ was indeed glorified, even with the glory which He had with the Father from all eternity. The Pentecostal outpouring was Heaven’s communication that the Redeemer’s inauguration was accomplished. According to His promise He had sent the Holy Spirit from heaven to His followers as a token that He had, as priest and king, received all authority in heaven and on earth, and was the Anointed One over His people.”

All of this activity is so you can have eternal life and have the privilege one day to sit with Christ on His throne. This covenant is for you.

For the next 1800 years Jesus ministered in the holy place of the sanctuary of the new covenant in heaven. The Great Controversy, page 421 tells us, “For eighteen centuries this work of ministration continued in the first apartment of the sanctuary. The blood of Christ, pleaded in behalf of penitent believers, secured their pardon and acceptance with the Father, yet their sins still remained upon the books of record.”

With the proclamation of the first angel’s message and Daniel 8:14, the final work in the completion of the new covenant began in Heaven. The first angel’s message was given to preach the eternal gospel (the new covenant) to the world and to announce the beginning of the investigative phase of the judgment, which began on October 22, 1844. Two more phases of the judgment follow, one during the millennium, and the other after the end of the millennium. These three phases of the judgment complete the last event of the new covenant.

One of the first things Jesus did after entering the most holy place was to dispatch the third angel with his message to the world. This message is found in Revelation 14:9–12. Verse 12 says, “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” These people have accepted the new covenant. They are keeping the ten commandments. Early Writings, page 254–256 tells us, “As the ministration of Jesus closed in the holy place, and He passed into the holiest, and stood before the ark containing the law of God, He sent another mighty angel with a third message to the world. … The third angel closes his message thus: ‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus’ (Revelation 14:6). As he repeated these words, he pointed to the heavenly sanctuary. The minds of all who embrace this message are directed to the most holy place, where Jesus stands before the ark, making His final intercession for all those for whom mercy still lingers. …

“I saw the third angel pointing upward, showing the disappointed ones the way to the holiest of the heavenly sanctuary. As they by faith enter the most holy, they find Jesus, and hope and joy spring up anew.

“It was represented to me that the remnant followed Jesus into the most holy place and beheld the ark and the mercy seat, and were captivated with their glory.”

“… the third angel was pointing them to the most holy place, and those who had had an experience in the past messages were pointing them the way to the heavenly sanctuary. Many saw the perfect chain of truth in the angels’ messages, and gladly received them in their order, and followed Jesus by faith into the heavenly sanctuary. These messages were represented to me as an anchor to the people of God. Those who understand and receive them will be kept from being swept away by the many delusions of Satan.” Ibid., 256.

The wise virgins understood this message. The Great Controversy, page 427 says, “In the parable it was those that had oil in their vessels with their lamps that went in to the marriage. Those who, with a knowledge of the truth from the Scriptures, had also the Spirit and grace of God, and who, in the night of their bitter trial, had patiently waited, searching the Bible for clearer light—these saw the truth concerning the sanctuary in heaven and the Saviour’s change in ministration, and by faith they followed Him in His work in the sanctuary above. And all who through the testimony of the Scriptures accept the same truths, following Christ by faith as He enters in before God to perform the last work of mediation, and at its close to receive His kingdom—all these are represented as going in to the marriage.”

This urgent counsel is given:

“Those who would share the benefits of the Saviour’s mediation should permit nothing to interfere with their duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God. The precious hours, instead of being given to pleasure, to display, or to gain seeking, should be devoted to an earnest, prayerful study of the word of truth. The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment [part of the new covenant] should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs them to fill. …

“All who have received the light upon these subjects are to bear testimony of the great truths which God has committed to them. The sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ’s work in behalf of men. It concerns every soul living upon the earth. It opens to view the plan of redemption, bringing us down to the very close of time and revealing the triumphant issue of the contest between righteousness and sin. It is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these subjects and be able to give an answer to everyone that asketh them a reason of the hope that is in them.” Ibid., 488.

Most important: “The intercession of Christ in man’s behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon the cross. By His death He began that work which after His resurrection He ascended to complete in heaven. We must by faith enter within the veil, ‘whither the forerunner is for us entered.’ (Hebrews 6:20). … The salvation of man is accomplished at an infinite expense to heaven; … Jesus has opened the way to the Father’s throne, and through His mediation the sincere desire of all who come to Him in faith may be presented before God.” Ibid., 489.

This new covenant is for you.

[All emphasis supplied.]

Maurice Hoppe is Director of the Steps to Life training programs and a member of the Steps to Life Board. The Training Program for Ministers and Church Leaders is a correspondence course that prepares individuals to serve as pastors or Bible workers. Preparing for the Final Conflict is a correspondence course for the laity. Both of these courses teach present truth that will be an anchor for the soul during the storm of opposition and persecution just ahead. He and his wife also have a correspondence course offered through Revelation Ministry. He may be contacted at:

The Close of Probation

Probation is going to close suddenly, when we least expect it, and it will be too late then to decide to be saved. Even when an event is expected and does not happen exactly the way you thought it would, it can easily be missed.

This was the experience of the Jewish nation. They were diligent students of the Old Testament and knew of a Messiah that would come. Prophecy had foretold His birthplace and where His headquarters would be, yet they completely missed it. This experience is going to be repeated by those claiming to be the people of God when they discover that probation has closed. The only security is to be ready at all times. Jesus said, “Be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Matthew 24:44. Time for the second coming of Jesus has far exceeded the expectation of most Seventh-day Adventists, and we are in more danger than ever before that it will come as a surprise.

In Daniel chapter 5 is recorded the story of a Babylonian king, Belshazzar, who witnessed the closure of Babylon’s probation. There have been many people, my own maternal grandfather included, who ridiculed the authenticity of the Bible account of this king. In the twentieth century, archeologists found evidence that showed that a man named Belshazzar did in fact exist; he was a grandson to Nebuchadnezzar and second in line in the kingdom. This history gives insight to why Belshazzar told Daniel that he would make him the third ruler in the kingdom if he would give the interpretation of the message written on the wall by the fingers of a man’s hand.

When my grandmother became a Seventh-day Adventist, my grandfather was very upset, particularly that the church she attended worshiped on what he considered the wrong day. He became so upset that he decided to prove my grandmother wrong. At the library, he researched history books on everything he could find about the change of the Sabbath to Sunday issue. To his great chagrin he discovered that he was wrong, along with the rest of the Christian world, and my grandmother was right. So one Sabbath morning to the surprise of his family, he dressed in his suit and tie and from that time he worshiped with her.

The truth is the truth, whether anybody believes it or not. Belshazzar’s existence was a fact, even though for many years there was no record of him other than that of the Bible. There are yet many mysteries to be revealed. If there is something in the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy that you do not understand, don’t throw away your faith, for in time it may be revealed.

My grandfather also believed that there was no such thing as a Hittite. He had learned in the German schools that they were a mythological tribe or nation made up in the Bible. However, in the twentieth century, archeologists dug up more evidence proving the Biblical account. Not only did the Hittites exist, but they were a very powerful nation for hundreds of years. Today, many of those skeptical ideas have been proven wrong. The archeologists have proved the authenticity of the Bible and the skeptics are wrong. You can believe the Bible accounts. In fact, when archeologists are looking for some particular thing they go to the Bible to discover the area where they should dig.

However, that aside, the biggest evidence for belief that the Bible is true is not because of history or archeology. When you surrender your life to Jesus Christ and make Him your Lord and Saviour and ask Him for the Holy Spirit, He will give it to you. The Holy Spirit will cause you to be born again, and the result will be that you begin to live a new life, one that you can never live on your own. You will be a new creation. A changed life with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is indisputable evidence of a loving God and the truth of the Bible.

Belshazzar’s probation closed suddenly. He was celebrating and had made a great feast. His wives and concubines and a thousand of his lords were in attendance. He sent for the sacred vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem so that he and his guests could drink from them while praising his gods. “In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.” Daniel 5:5.

Notice, it was “the fingers of a man’s hand” that wrote. When you and I write, we write by hand. We take hold of the pen with our fingers and write with the hand. It is called handwriting. However, God does not write with His hand. There are three specific times mentioned in the Bible where God wrote something.

  • God wrote the Ten Commandments with His finger.
  • Jesus stooped and wrote with His finger in the sand when the woman was taken in adultery.
  • A hand appeared, and a finger wrote on the wall.

Belshazzar was terrified. “Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other.” Verse 6. The wise men and soothsayers were called and were offered many gifts if they could interpret the writing but none were able and, to the astonishment of his lords that were present, Belshazzar was scared to death.

The queen mother who remembered Daniel was called and she knew what to do in this situation. She said to Belshazzar: “O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change. There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers. Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.” Verses 10–12.

Daniel, his name meaning God is my judge, was summoned to interpret the writing and was offered many gifts in return. “Then Daniel answered, and said before the king, ‘Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation. O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor. And because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whomever he wished, he executed; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses. But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written.’ ” Verses 17–24.

It should be remembered that life comes from God; He holds your very breath in His hand. He holds your spirit and your heart does not just go on beating by itself. People think they inherit just so much vital force when they are born and will live until it gives out, causing them to die. No, without the direct interposition of God, we would all die instantly. No man or woman keeps himself or herself alive. In vision, Ellen White saw some of these things, and she did not know how to write it. We do not understand the power of God for it is a mystery. If He moved His finger, all the inhabitants of the earth would be as though they never were.

Daniel, with holy boldness, told the king, “And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting [or lacking]; PERES [that’s UPHARSIN]: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and the Persians.” Verses 26–28.

It is from this story that we get the expression, “weighed in the balances and found wanting.” Where are the balances? The balances are in God’s sanctuary in heaven. Many times in the Spirit of Prophecy, Ellen White speaks of these balances or scales in the sanctuary.

But what is being weighed in the balances in heaven? In Testimonies, vol. 3, 370, we are told: “God is weighing our characters, our conduct, and our motives in the balances of the sanctuary. It will be a fearful thing to be pronounced wanting in love and obedience by our Redeemer.”

In rebuking Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, her rival wife, Hannah, the mother of Samuel said, “Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth, for the Lord is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed.” I Samuel 2:3.

“All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits.” Proverbs 16:2.

“When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come and see.’ So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.” Revelation 6:5. This indicates that all are being weighed, and when probation closes, the weight will determine eternal destiny.

No one is saved by works. They are saved only by faith in Christ by His grace, but you can be lost by your works. What is being weighed? “Angels are watching the development of character and weighing moral worth. All our words and acts are passing in review before God. It is a fearful, solemn time.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 242.

“God’s eye is upon you; He reads every motive and weighs you in the balances of the sanctuary.” Ibid., vol. 5, 154. “Satan is now seeking to hold God’s people in a state of inactivity, to keep them from acting their part in spreading the truth, that they may at last be weighed in the balance and found wanting.” Ibid., vol. 1, 260. It is the devil’s plan to have you preoccupied with the things of this world, though some be important, and be inactive in spreading the truth. The Bible does not teach that you can do nothing for Christ and still go to the kingdom of heaven.

Another is found in Testimonies to Ministers, 440. “Men are weighed in the balance and found wanting when they are living in the practice of any known sin.” “The moral worth of every soul is weighed in the balance of the heavenly sanctuary.” That I Might Know Him, 255.

We need to understand how God weighs things. In Luke 21:1–4, it says, “And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, ‘Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.’ ”

God weighs differently than man does. If you consider the percentage of the widow’s income that she gave, it was far greater than all the others. Jesus weighed the motive that caused her to give all she had. Why would a widow put so much money into God’s work that she would be dependent on a miracle to provide for her necessities? She gave sacrificially because she loved God’s work. In The Desire of Ages, 615, Ellen White says, “It is the motive that gives character to our acts, stamping them with ignominy or with high moral worth.” God weighs motives. Man cannot read the heart of man as God does, so man can never be sure of the true motive.

Ellen White wrote: “The Lord is coming; the alarm must be sounded. The people who profess the truth are unready. Should their probation close now, they would be weighed in the balance, and found wanting. Some have not made earnest efforts to overcome; they have not realized the danger of continuing in sin, and have become almost content where they are. …

“Many who nominally assent to the truth will fail to enter the kingdom of God, because they do not in their daily life practice that which they profess.” The Review and Herald, November 13, 1883.

It is dangerous to be complacent and be comfortable in sins; probation is going to close at an undisclosed time, and you must not be living in sin when probation closes or you will be in the same situation as Belshazzar.

Job was a person who when weighed by God was found to be a perfect man. Job 29:12–17 says, “I delivered the poor who cried out, the fatherless and the one who had no helper. The blessing of a perishing man came upon me, and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind, and I was feet to the lame. I was a father to the poor, and I searched out the case that I did not know. I broke the fangs of the wicked, and plucked the victim from his teeth.”

“Have I not wept for him who was in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor?” Job 30:25. Notice what he says in Job 31:6: “Let me be weighed on honest scales, that God may know my integrity.” “If I have despised the cause of my male or female servant when they complained against me, what then shall I do when God rises up? When He punishes, how shall I answer Him?” Verses 13, 14. “If I have kept the poor from their desire, or caused the eyes of the widow to fail, or eaten my morsel by myself, so that the fatherless could not eat of it (but from my youth I reared him as a father, and from my mother’s womb I guided the widow); if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing, or any poor man without covering; if his heart has not blessed me, and if he was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; if I have raised my hand against the fatherless, when I saw I had help in the gate; then let my arm fall from my shoulder, let my arm be torn from the socket.” Verses 16–22.

“If I have rejoiced at the destruction of him who hated me, or lifted myself up when evil found him (indeed I have not allowed my mouth to sin by asking for a curse on his soul); if the men of my tent have not said, ‘Who is there that has not been satisfied with his meat? (But no sojourner had to lodge in the street, for I have opened my doors to the traveler.’ ” Verses 29–32.

Job lived the kind of life God approved, and when he was put on the scale, God said to the devil, “He is a perfect man.” God judges people by their character. Job is an example of the kind of man who was daily ready for his probation to close.

Another man whose outcome was opposite to Job when weighed by God was Achan. His story can be found in Joshua 7:10–13 and 19–26. When the children of Israel took over Jericho God told them that they were not to take anything. It was a divine victory and they were not to keep any of the spoil for themselves. It was the first city to be taken and the spoil was to be a tithe that belonged to God. But Achan became covetous and took some gold, some silver, and it says, in the King James Bible that he took a “Babylonish garment,” a garment from the land of Shinar.

While ever there was open sin in the camp the Lord could not bless the Israelites. Achan’s sin was directly responsible for the thirty-six men who died when the army attempted to take Ai. Joshua, rooting out the sin in the camp, narrowed things down until the lot fell on Achan, who then confessed of his sin. “Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, ‘Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.’ So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones. Then they raised over him a great heap of stones, still there to this day.” Joshua 7:24–26. Achan will not be in the kingdom of heaven. He was weighed in the balance and found wanting. The items he stole did him no good in this life and cost him eternal life. Is there something in this world that you covet that prevents you from loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind? Jesus said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” Matthew 16:26, 27. Are you rich toward God?

Another man who lost his soul was the covetous rich man. In Bible times, and up until a hundred years ago, retirement was almost unheard of and was only invented in the twentieth century, mainly in the 1930s. I only know of one person in the Bible who retired, and that was the rich man, the rich farmer in Luke 12. He had so much grain he decided to pull down his barns and build greater barns. “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:19–21.

If probation closed and you were weighed in the balances today, which way would the scales tip? Soon you will be weighed and the result will determine your eternal destiny.

Luke 16:10–13 says, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon [money or property], who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

One thing is certain, every character will be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary and it will be the motives that determine true character.

Are you rich toward God? Can you say today, like Job said, I wish I could just be weighed in a balance and then God would know that I have integrity. Now is the time to get ready; do not waste another minute. Go to the Lord, and say, “Lord, I want to be ready for the weighing time when probation closes. I want to be ready. I don’t want to be found wanting, lacking in love, lacking in obedience, lacking in character.” Jesus died on the cross so that He would have the right to forgive your sins, to wipe out all of your guilt, and take you to heaven. However, He cannot take any to heaven who are not fit to be in the presence of holy beings.

Search your heart and pray as did David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23, 24.

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Editorial – A Solemn Warning

While Ellen White was in Europe, on December 8, 1886, she wrote a forceful letter to the president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and to Elder S.N. Haskell. Following are a few sentences from this letter:

“I think of His great sorrow as He wept over Jerusalem, exclaiming, ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not’ (Luke 13:34)! God forbid that these words shall apply to those who have great light and blessings. In the rejecting of Jerusalem it was because great privileges were abused, which brought the denunciation upon all who lightly regarded the great opportunities and precious light that were entrusted to their keeping. Privileges do not commend us to God, but they commend God to us. No people are saved because they have great light and special advantages, for these high and heavenly favors only increase their responsibility. …

“When Jerusalem was divorced from God it was because of her sins. She fell from an exalted height that Tyre and Sidon had never reached. And when an angel falls he becomes a fiend. The depth of our ruin is measured by the exalted light to which God has raised us in His great goodness and unspeakable mercy. Oh, what privileges are granted to us as a people! And if God spared not His people that He loved, because they refused to walk in the light, how can He spare the people whom He has blessed with the light of heaven in having opened to them the most exalted truth ever entrusted to mortal man to give to the world? …

“Internal corruption will bring the denunciations of God upon this people as it did upon Jerusalem. Oh, let pleading voices, let earnest prayer be heard, that those who preach to others shall not themselves be castaways. My brethren, we know not what is before us, and our only safety is in following the Light of the world. God will work with us and for us if the sins which brought His wrath upon the old world, upon Sodom and Gomorrah and upon ancient Jerusalem, do not become our crime. …

“Salvation is not to be baptized, not to have our names upon the church books, not to preach the truth. But it is a living union with Jesus Christ, to be renewed in heart, doing the works of Christ in faith and labor of love, in patience, meekness, and hope.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, 319–326.