Asking to Give

Have you ever wondered why Jesus had so much influence over men? Why did men flock just to listen to what He had to say? How was it that Jesus’ words accomplished so much good? What were the mighty secrets of His life? We want to learn them, because Jesus said that as He was in this world, so we are to be also. 1 John 4:17. One of His most powerful secrets is found in this verse, “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to Him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” Isaiah 50:4 As Jesus dwelt among men, His Father woke Him from His slumbers morning by morning and He spoke to Jesus, and would give Him words to speak—”A word in season to him that is weary.”

Each one of us have sinned and sin has made us weary. Even the affects and results of sin make us weary and stay with us all throughout our lives. Paul said, “What I would like to get rid of, I can’t, and the things that I don’t want working in me, keep working in me anyway.” (Romans 7:13-18) The law of sin is the law of death. Jesus took our place to give us eternal life, but, nevertheless, as long as we are on this earth we have the curses of sin to live with. We have the curses of sin to live with. We have disease; we have others who talk to us that are upset with us; we have financial burdens; we have trials that make us weary. But the thing that makes us the most weary is the burden of guilt that is caused by sin.

Jesus came to this earth to save us from our weariness. Jesus took the words that His Father gave Him and gave them to men. Jesus, who was pushed on every side, who was followed by enemies all of His life, who the devil personally conducted warfare against, could say at the end of His life: “The words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself; but that Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works…The word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.” John 14:10, 24. Rather than speaking his own words, he spoke words that ministered to the needs of others.

Can we ever live a powerful life like that? The servant of the Lord has told us that, “Jesus revealed no qualities, and exercised no powers, that men may not have through faith in Him perfect humanity is that which all His followers may possess, if they will be in subjection to God as He was.” Desire of Ages, 664. We need to find out what the secret of the power in His life was; the power that caused Him to live for others only, amid scorn, mockery and abuse.

The Secret

To learn the secret of His life we will look at quotations from the chapter “Asking to Give,” Christ’s Object Lessons, 135-149. “Not for Himself, but for others, He lived and thought and prayed. From hours spent with God He came forth morning by morning, to bring the light of heaven to men. Daily He received a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit. In the early hours of the new day the Lord awakened Him from His slumbers, and His soul and His lips were anointed with grace, that He might impart to others.” Is that how you are living your life? Is the Lord waking you up every morning with the first thought of your day being “Father, thank you for giving me life through another night. Thank you for Your blessing, for the morning light. Now Father, what do You want to tell me? I am listening.” God will tell us how to speak a word to the weary ones of this earth.

“Christ’s disciples were so impressed…with His habit of communion with God.” One day they found Him praying. Jesus went right on praying seemingly unconscious of their presence and they said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus again gave the Lord’s payer. Read through the section on the Lord’s Prayer from the book Thoughts From the Mount of Blessings. Phrase by phrase, on your knees, pray that it may be incorporated into your life.

The Present Neighbor

Jesus, in answer to their request, then told this most interesting story. “And He said unto them, ‘Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he from within shall answer and say, “Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give him as many as he needeth.” Luke 11:5-8

This man had out-of-town company. When his company came, even though it was late, he knew that his company was hungry. In the Eastern countries the people are perhaps more courteous than people in the United States; at least that is what I hear from some who have been there. This man wanted to be hospitable to his company, but he had no food to give his guest—nothing. But he thought that his neighbor might have food. He went and knocked on his neighbor’s door in the middle of the night. His neighbor was in bed and was asleep with his children. How is it with you if you are sound asleep about midnight, and the phone or door bell rings? Most of you have experienced it. You struggle to wake up, but you are in such a deep sleep, you wish you did not have to wake up. So you can just imagine this neighbor. He did not want to get up. He wanted to stay in bed. But what did the man keep doing? He kept knocking and asking until the neighbor woke up and got up and gave him some bread.

Asking To Help Others

There are people all around us who are on their one time journey through life. They get faint and weary. If they do not receive the Bread of Life, they will die—eternally die of starvation. Jesus told us how to help them. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For [notice this next word is all-inclusive,] everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” So many times we do not ask, and then we wonder why our words have no influence to help others. No one who asks to give to others will ever be turned away. The Lord is so anxious for us to ask even though we feel unworthy, that He even tells us what to say: “do not abhor us, for Thy name’s sake, do not disgrace the throne of Thy glory: remember, break not They covenant with us.” Jeremiah 14:21

When on earth, Jesus prayed a most beautiful prayer. He said, “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.” And then He said this, “As Though hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” John 17:17, 18. How are we sent? We are sent into the world the same way He was sent into the world. So, we need the same strength that He received form His Father. We need the same power that He revealed in His life. The power of love. The power of perfect self-control. We need the words from on high, the Bread of heaven, that we can speak to weary souls and give them strength so that God’s grace may be imparted through us to others.

Our Work

There are so many that never get beyond the ABC’s of the Christian life. Here is the reason why. “It is because this work is neglected, the work of caring for others, that so many young disciples never advance beyond the mere alphabet of the Christian experience.” Desire of Ages, 640. Now when you learn to read, what is the first thing you learn? You learn the alphabet. But after you know the alphabet, do you know how to read? You can know the alphabet forwards, you can know it backwards, you can know it perfectly, you can say it fast, you can say it slow, you can write it, but do you know how to read? No, you do not know how to read if all you know is the alphabet. The alphabet is just the tool that you need to help you learn how to read, but if you do not know how to put it all together, you cannot read. Why do so many young disciples never advance? Because “the light which was glowing in their own hearts when Jesus spoke to them, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee,’ they might have kept alive by helping those in need. The restless energy that is often a source of danger to the young might be directed into channels which it would flow out in streams of blessings. Self would be forgotten in earnest work to do others good. Those who minister to others will be ministered unto by the Chief Shepherd. They themselves will drink of the living water and they will be satisfied. They will not be longing for exciting amusements or for some change in their lives. The great topic of interest will be how to save souls that are ready to perish. The conversation is the thermometer of your Christian experience. Has the topic of your conversation been how to save souls? Or has it been on some other topic?

Jesus assigned to His followers the job of giving the Bread of Life to the perishing world. “He who had appointed their work, saw how often their faith would be tried. Often they would be thrown into unexpected positions, and would realize their human insufficiency. Souls that were hungering for the Bread of Life would come to them, and they would feel themselves to be destitute and helpless. They must receive spiritual food, or they would have nothing to impart. But they were not to turn one soul away unfed.” Now that is a real fix. They had nothing to give. They realized they were destitute and helpless, but they were commanded not to turn away one soul unfed. “Christ directs them to turn to the source of supply. The man whose friend came to him for entertainment, even at the unseasonable hour of midnight, did not turn him away…And would not God, who had sent His servants to feed the hungry, supply their need for his own work?

What Does Christ Long To Give You?

“But God delights to give. He is full of compassion, and He longs to grant the requests of those who come unto Him in faith. He gives to us that we may minister to others and thus become like Himself.” Do you get the picture that is being described here? God gives us bread that we can give it to others and in that way we become like Him. There is no other way to become like Jesus except by imparting the Bread of Life and the Water of Life to others. You cannot just get it and horde it. It will spoil. Spoiled grape juice turns into wine and it can cause all kinds of terrible things. But if we get, that we may impart, what a blessing the weakest souls on this earth could be! “There is no limit to the usefulness of one who, putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit.” Ministry of Healing, 169. The secret is all in putting self aside.

Jesus says, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name that will I give to you.” John 15:16. But there are some conditions that He has laid down for us. One is found in this text. “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. John 13:34. That was one of Christ’s last commands to His disciples. “If we have in any way grieved or wounded others, it is our duty to confess our fault and to seek for reconciliation. This is an essential preparation that we may come before God in faith, to ask His blessing.”

There is another qualification that is essential to answered prayer. It is found in this text. “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Werein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed me. In tithes and offerings.” Malachi 3:7, 8. Jesus wants us to be faithful in our tithes and offerings. He is gracious, even though we make mistakes, if we will just return to Him, He will hear our cry. And then He encourages us with this promise, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Malachi 3:10

Obedience Is A Condition

Sometimes when we come to the Lord, He waits a little while so that we may search our hearts and cast out all of self. Prayer does not bring God down to us. That is not the purpose of prayer. Prayer brings us up to God. “All His gifts are promised on condition of obedience. God has a heaven full of blessings for those who will cooperate with Him. All who obey Him may with confidence claim the fulfillment of His promises.” There is no limit to God’s power, if we are asking to give. But so often, James says, “we pray and receive not” because why? We “ask amiss that we may consume it on our own lusts.” James 4:3. So God tests and proves us that we may be cleansed.

“The path of sincerity and integrity is not a path free from obstruction, but in every difficulty we are to see a call to prayer. There is no one living who has any power that he has not received from God, and the source whence it comes is open to the weakest human being.” Desire of Ages, 667

Often when we are giving out the Bread of Life, we find ourselves in perplexing situations. We realize that we do not have the wisdom to advance. “When perplexities arise, and difficulties confront you, look not for help to humanity. Trust all [another all-inclusive word] with God. The practice of telling our difficulties to others only makes us weak, and brings no strength to them. It lays upon them the burden of our spiritual infirmities, which they cannot relieve. We seek the strength of erring, finite man, when we might have the strength of the unerring, infinite God.

“You need not go to the ends of the earth for wisdom, for God is near. It is not the capabilities you now possess or ever will have that will give you success. It is that which the Lord can do for you. We need to have far less confidence in what man can do and far more confidence in what God can do for every believing soul. He longs to have you reach after Him by faith. He longs to give you understanding in temporal as well as spiritual matters. He can sharpen the intellect. He can give tact and skill. Put your talents into the work, ask God for wisdom, and it will be given you.”

Friends, did you hear those words? Did you catch the reality of what this promise means to the worker for God? It says He will give us wisdom, not only in our spiritual affairs, but in our temporal affairs. That is everything in life. There is nothing left that God has not made provision for. God wants you to totally surrender your life to Him. He wants you to be willing to wake up when he wakes you up in the morning, that your ear can hear as the learned. He wants you to expect great things from Him and He will give you success in your work. It is an unfailing promise.

Standing Through The Shaking

Do not talk of your faults, your trials, others’ faults, others’ trials; in short, do not talk about erring men. Talk about soul-winning. Talk about the blessings of God. If your mind is filled with these things, you will withstand temptation. But if your mind is filled with the things of earth, you will fall. You will not be able to stand. So fill your mind with the promises of God. Ask that you may give to others. If your life becomes a channel of God’s blessings, the waves of the ocean can be surging around you, the greatest tempest can be blowing, and thunder can be crashing, the lightening can be flashing through the sky, but your life is hid with Christ and you can stand in the middle of anything. That is what I want for each of you. I want us to stand together as a mighty army so that we can give the Loud Cry to this perishing world.

We are going through a mighty shaking, but if we remain steadfast in faith and prayer, we will come forth as gold. The disciples went through the terrible ordeal of the cross. But, they came through it and the Lord poured out his Holy Spirit on them. Three thousand were converted in a day. And, if we are faithful, we will yet see the mighty things that God will do for His people. The latter rain will be poured out on His humble waiting ones and the truth will be proclaimed in power to a perishing world.

The End

What’s Up In Ghana?

Ron: Joseph, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Joseph: I was born in Ghana and raised as a Catholic. I knew nothing about Adventism until I met a brother who shared with me about the law of God, and the gospel of Jesus whereby I could be saved from the guilt and power of sin freely through the grace of Christ. I decided to obey the law of God, including the seventh-day Sabbath and began looking for a church to go to. I joined a study group in 1979 and got to know a man form America, Brother Bankhead who sent me some books including some Ellen White books. I started to study them. That study group has developed into the Accra church of historic Seventh-day Adventist believers. More recently, I have been in the United States for about four years working to support myself and help the work in Africa. I plan to go back to Africa soon.

Ron: Why do you plan to go back to Africa?

Joseph: First of all two or three people have said to me, “Joseph, what are you doing here? You have to go to Africa and work there.” Secondly as I have been praying, I believe the Holy Spirit has impressed me to go back to Africa. Finally, all I have studied here, coming to the Bible training course here at Steps to Life and many other things, I can use to help the church there. Our goal is to reach not only the entire region of Ghana, but the surrounding countries with the three Angels’ messages. While the Adventists who are faithful to the historic message that God gave to Adventism are attempting in every way to spread the three angels’ messages, they are in need of assistance if they are going to reach the entire population.

Ron: What are the best ways that we can help them?

Joseph: First of all they do not have a place to invite non-Adventists to meetings or church services. You might say, why don’t they just establish home churches as in America and other parts of the world. Well, first of all, most of the members live in small one room houses or apartments. This one room is where the whole family lives. With four to eight people living in a one room apartment sharing a bathroom with the occupants of other apartments and sometimes sharing a public kitchen, inviting people there for a home church is not feasible.

John: So, they need a place to worship and conduct evangelistic services?

Joseph: That is correct. Secondly they need a place to organize and plan their work. They need a place to produce literature, for the world, and also communications for the churches.

Ron: The building that we are helping them to buy will not only satisfy the need for a place for production of materials, preparation and distribution of communications, but also it can function as a church, and one part of it will be used as a sanitarium, and another part for a clothing distribution center.

Joseph: We hope that these new facilities will be used by the Lord and our faithful people to bring a great evangelistic thrust in Ghana. Our people have fasted and prayed for a long time and we see in these developments an answer to our prayers that the three angels’ message may be finished soon in Ghana.

John: In what other areas may we help the work to progress more rapidly in Ghana?

Joseph: As you reported in your News Notes a few months ago, Rose has been operating an orphanage in Ghana. With almost no facilities, as photographed in your News Notes, she has been taking care of 16 orphans (children who are adoptable) and many other poor children, providing them with food and clothing etc. She is working very hard, from early to late to earn the money to support these orphans and poor children. With the help that you are planning to provide for the orphanage, the living conditions for these children will become much more healthful—they will not have the constant exposure to the elements, and also it will be much easier to keep the children clean.

Ron: For a more complete explanation of the situation about the orphanage read our August News Notes. In addition to the orphans being cared for, there are many poor children who would be in a terrible situation if it were not for the self-sacrificing efforts of Rose in caring for them. The orphanage also cares for some mothers and their children who have no means of support. This is a noble work. John Huss was in this same situation once. He was an orphan (no father) but his poor mother thankfully knew how to pray. Read the whole story in Great Controversy page 98.

Joseph: How close are we to being able to build this orphanage and help the brothers in Ghana to purchase the churches that they so desperately need?

Ron: We have raised over 75% of the funds needed to build the orphanage, $30,000. Steps to Life supporters have also sent over $40,000 for the churches. Rod Clark is planning to go to Africa this winter to oversee the construction of the orphanage. However, I want to know, are there other things that we can do to help our brothers in Ghana to speed up the work of giving the three angels’ messages to West Africa.

Joseph: We are in need of literature and materials to give to the people to help them understand present truth. I understand that you are planning to help us with literature too, is that right?

Ron: That’s exactly right. We have received money for literature for Ghana and we are hoping to send a shipment of tracts not only in English but also in Twi. Two people have donated slide projectors to help them in their evangelistic meetings. People have sent in over 200 pounds of clothes.

I have to say that I am so thankful for the way God’s people have supported this project and I believe they will finish giving the necessary funds to complete this very important gospel endeavors. I would like to end this interview by sharing a quote from Christ’s Object Lessons, 351. It says, “Money has great value, because it can do great good. In the hands of God’s children it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, and clothing for the naked. It is a defense for the oppressed, and a means of help to the sick. But money is of no more value than sand, only as it is put to use in providing for the necessities of life, in blessing others, and advancing the cause of Christ.”

The End

Children’s Story – The Runaway Horses

Mr. and Mrs. Wallner moved to the state of Montana, where the government was offering property free to anyone who would settle on it and improve the land. They were required to fence the property, build on it, and put part of it into cultivation. So Mr. Wallner signed up for two sections of land—a total of 1280 acres. He was only allowed to homestead one section, but he had to pay for the other one, which he did.  He had no tractor or other locomotive equipment, for in those days farming was done with horses. He had several good teams, but one was especially strong and high spirited. They were a beautiful team of dapple gray horses. They loved to work and to run. Their names were Pete and Vick.

The Wallners lived quite a distance from any city, but there was a little store and post office about 15 miles away. The store keeper and the post master were the same person, and both businesses were in his home.

One day Mrs. Wallner hitched up Pete and Vick to the spring wagon. She bundled up her one year old boy and together they set off for the little store. After she had done her business she started back home. On her way she stopped in to see the neighbors who lived about two miles from her home.

The neighbor, Mr. Huff, warned, “Watch out, those horses are acting very nervous.” Mrs. Wallner said, “Oh, I can handle them.”

But when she got over the hill and in the site of home she found out the horses were indeed too much to handle. When Pete and Vick saw the barn, they left the road and started in a beeline across the sage brush for the barn at full speed. The wagon bobbed up and down, up and down, over rocks, sage brush, and dirt mounds.

Mrs. Wallner realizing that the wagon might turn over at any moment, and that it might cost the life of her baby as well as her own, she decided to pick up the baby and jump out of the wagon.
But just as she was in the process of picking him up, the wagon hit a huge rock and bounced into the air; she was thrown out and the baby was left in the wagon. Sitting there in the sage brush she offered an earnest prayer to her Heavenly Father and said, “Oh! Lord save my baby.” In an instant, the wagon became detached from the horses and it came to a stop. Of course, the horses kept running to the barn.

She thanked her Savior, and quickly went to see what happened. First of all she found her baby safe in the wagon. She also found that the bolt that connected the double tree to the wagon tongue, had been pulled out. She knew this was virtually impossible for the bolt was ten inches long, an inch in diameter, and had a large nut on it; but there it lay on the ground.

Although she never saw the angel, she was sure that the baby’s guardian angel had saved his life.

The End

Martin Luther, part XI – Church Organization

During the three years following the sack of Rome, the political world was a stormy sea with ambition, intrigue, and war. But the strife of the political world brought peace to the Church as the Churches’ enemies were battling with each other. The Diet at Spires had decreed that until a general council could be held, each State was free to decide religious matters for itself. In the reformed states, freedom bloomed while persecution persisted in the states where the Reformation had not been able to take hold. Luther was quick to realize that this was the opportunity to build the church. Up to this time there had been a Reformation but no Reformed Church. There were Christians but no organization visible to society. The preaching of the Gospel had resulted in a number of men throughout the provinces who were united in heart around Christ, the one Living Center, and united in the truth, but they needed outward unity as well. Without a unity visible to the world the church would fail to propagate itself and would languish and die. “These Christians must be gathered into a family, and built up into a kingdom—a holy and spiritual kingdom.” Wylie, History of Protestantism, bk 1, 533

Reconstitution of the Ministry

First in the work of organization was an order of men to preach the Gospel and dispense the Sacraments. Luther studied how this reconstitution of the ministry, cut off from Rome, was to proceed. The existence of the Church was for the purpose of spreading salvation through the earth and this demands preaching. As a steadfast believer in the priesthood of all believers, he held that the functions of the ministers were the possession of the Church—of all believers. A chosen few were, of necessity, to carry out these functions. These few were not of self-appointment but were to be called by the congregation. This constituted a call by God through the instrumentality of man.

The ministers of the Lutheran Church were direct opposites of the Roman clergy in that the Lutheran ministers were chosen democratically by the people while the Roman priests were appointed by a sacerdotal monarch. “Wherever there is a line of sacramentally ordained men, there and there only is the Church, said Rome. Wherever the Word is faithfully preached, and the Sacraments purely administered, there is the Church, said the Reformation.” Ibid., 534

In organizing the ministry the Church did not surrender freedom, for the ministers were not elected with power that was autocratic. Those who held power were to be the Church’s servants, not her lords. The Church ever held the right of calling to account or deposing from office those who violated the conditions of their appointment. This right was the safeguard against corruption and the power to reform.

But Luther had not thought deeply about the question of Church and State, of how far the civil authorities may go in enacting ecclesiastical arrangements. He committed much of the organizing of the Church to the princes. It seemed a necessity of the times as the common people were not yet educated in these matters and the princes were prominent for their religious intelligence and their zeal.

The Visitations by Luther

On October 22, 1526, Luther persuaded Elector John of Saxony to commission a visitation of the Church. The Elector authorized four commissioners to inquire into the temporal condition of the Church and also into ecclesiastical matters involving schools, doctrine, and pastors. Melancthon drew up the instructions for the re-institution of the Church in Saxony. Luther, Melancthon, Spalatin, and Thuring were the chief commissioners.

Their visitation revealed many errors, abuses, mistakes and anomalies which had developed from centuries of Papal rule and which would require more than a day to cleanse. “From the living waters of the sanctuary only could a real purification be looked for, and the care of the visitors was to open channels, or remove obstructions, that this cleansing current might freely pervade the land.” Ibid., 536

Ignorant and immoral pastors were removed, and ministers were appointed in their place. Pastors of greater cities were given the title of superintendents, and appointed to supervise the smaller congregations and schools. “Armed with the authority of the elector, the visitors suppressed the convents; the inmates were restored to society, the buildings were converted into schools and hospitals, and the property was divided between the maintenance of public worship and national uses. Ministers were encouraged to marry, and their families became centers of moral and intellectual life throughout the Fatherland.” Ibid., 536

Melancthon’s plan of Church reform was very conservative. He discreetly veiled antagonistic points of Reformation doctrine. He aimed to alter as little as possible and conserve as much as possible. “Some called this moderation, others termed it trimming; the Romanist thought that the Reformation troops had begun their march back; the Wittenbergers were not without suspicion of treachery.” Ibid., 537. Images and tapers were tolerated in many churches. But despite these drawbacks, good was done and the preaching of the Word was made central. This plan was used in organizing the churches of many other provinces.

The Constitution of The Churches of Hesse

Thanks to the efforts of a remarkable man, Francis Lambert, a converted Franciscan monk, the Church of Hesse was exceptional in advancing reform. Lambert traversed the countries of Switzerland and Germany riding a donkey and wearing his grey monks robes tied with a cord and everywhere preaching by the way. When he reached Wittenberg, he went to visit Luther who found him to have a clearness of knowledge and a decisive character. Luther introduced him to Phillip of Hesse and the two men worked together for great good for the Churches of Hesse.

Lambert was invited by Phillip to frame a constitution for the Churches. The resulting one hundred and fifty-eight “Paradoxes” produced a basis broad enough to permit every member to exercise his influence in church governance. He nailed his document to the church doors. Some were torn down but others were read to crowds. In the first seven alone we see what might have been the foundation of a lofty church structure with its corner stone the “universal priesthood” of believers. “Not a select few only, but all believers, are to be built as living stones into this ‘holy house’. . . This was a catholicity of which the Church which claims catholicity as her exclusive possession knew nothing.” Ibid., 538. That church made one part of the church dependent on another for salvation, and made within the congregation two classes, the oligarchs and the serfs.

Lambert’s “Paradoxes” declared that “all that is deformed ought to be reformed.” That “the Word of God is the rule of all true Reformation. The Church is to judge in matters of faith” and that “the Church is the congregation of those who are united by the same spirit, the same faith, the same God, the same Mediator, the same Word, by which alone they are governed . . . The kingdom of heaven is open to him who believes the Word and shut against him who believes it not. Whoever, therefore, truly possesses the power of the Word of God, has the power of the keys . . . Christ is the only immortal and eternal Priest; and he does not, like men, need a successor . . . All Christians, since the commencement of the Church, have been and are participators in Christ’s priesthood.” Ibid., 538. In this document the ancient and established order was abolished. The authority for this came from Peter, who taught a very different order from the one claimed to generate from him by the Roman church. Peter’s statement to all believers is “Ye are all royal priests.” (See 1 Peter 2:4-10.)

Before these propositions could be used as a basis for reform in the Church, Lambert had to present them before the ecclesiastical authorities. The Romish party assailed the Paradoxes and Lambert defended them with such eloquence that every opponent was silenced. After three days of discussion his proposals were carried.

The Church constitution of Hesse, written from the Paradoxes, became the first of the Reformation. It differed a great deal from any subsequent enactment in Germany. Its origin and authority were exclusively from the Church. It made mention of neither the State or landgrave. Every member with competent learning and piety, was eligible to be a minister. Each congregation was to choose its own pastor. The pastors were equal and ordained by the laying on of the hands of three others. They were to meet with their congregations every Sabbath and an annual synod was to supervise the whole body. Switzerland and Scotland later adopted constitutions very similar but, in Germany where the Institutions of Melancthon were the rule, this constitution was not popular and in 1528 it was remodeled after the principles of the Church of Saxony.

More Than Just a Principle

The visitations marked a great event in the history of Protestantism. Prior to the organization of the Church, the Reformation had been simply a principle fighting against an established and organized system. Now it was a body through which the principle could act. Now its presence could be seen and its power felt by men. It did not borrow its organization from the traditions of the existing hierarchy, which were more like those of the pagan temples, but the New Testament contained the model—the simple apostolic organization. “Thus it disposed of the claims of the Romish Church to antiquity by attesting itself as more ancient than it.” Ibid., 540

In the visitations we see Luther with tenderness and pity. He is afraid of going too far and leaves some question as to whether he goes far enough. He is cautious that he does not hurt the feelings of a weak brother or act unjustly or severely to another. He instructs the preachers to preach “repent,” and to never disconnect repentance from faith. They “were not to fling stones at Romanism; the true light would extinguish the false.” Ibid., 540. They were to teach that man could refrain from sins but that God was to be sought for help, not the saints. Luther, clinging to Romanism, taught that in administering the Sacrament they were to teach the “real presence.”

Luther saw, during the visits, what he could have seen in no other way. He saw the deplorable ignorance of the common people. By withholding schools, preachers and the Bible, the Church of Rome had left the German peasants entirely without intellectual and spiritual culture. Here Luther became aware of another misdeed of Rome. He well knew of her pride as seen in the exceeding loftiness of the titles of the Popes. He understood her tyranny exhibited in the statutes of the canon law and the edicts of her Councils. Her intolerance had been seen in the long years of persecution, the slaughter of the Albigenses and the stakes of martyrs. Her avarice had long bled the people of their little substance. But here he saw another product of Rome. “It had covered the nations with a darkness so deep that the very idea of a God was almost lost . . . It was not the Romish system only, but all religion that was on the point of perishing.” Ibid., 542

Luther sat down and wrote his Shorter and Larger Catechisms which did much good by spreading knowledge and rooting and grounding the souls of the common people, as his commentaries had enlightened the nobility and the more educated. Wherever these little books went they evoked an outburst of spiritual activity. Intellectual and political reforms followed. These little books proved to be one of the best outcomes of the visitations.

The End

Food for Life – Spices and Condiments

If we knew that our choice between right and wrong at this moment settled our eternity, we think it would be easy to choose. But there comes a time in every life when the choice is the last one, though no one but God knows when. And every choice between now and the last choice is determining what the last choice shall be. To a man sorely tempted came the thought, ‘If I knew that my choice at this time settled my victory or defeat for all time, I would not hesitate an instant.’ Then there went up the prayer, ‘Father, make this the victory for all time, and I will decide for Thee.’ Like a flash came the answer, ‘Eternity depends on your choice now,’ and the victory was won. What reason have we to suppose that we can choose to do wrong today, and tomorrow turn from the wrong and take the right? The final decision is not the decision of a moment; it is the decision of a life. Today you are choosing for life or for death.” Signs of the Times, July 19, 1905

“Will you not give up indulgences that are doing you an injury? Words of profession are cheap: let your acts of self-denial testify that you will be obedient to the demands God makes of His peculiar people.” Unpublished Messages, 428

One common indulgence that injures the stomach is irritating spices such as capsicum. Ruth Winter says in her book, A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives. “Cayenne Pepper. Pepper, Red. A condiment made from the pungent fruit of the plant. Used in sausage and pepper flavoring, for beverages, ice cream, ices, candy condiments, meats and soups. Reported to retard growth of Mexicans and South Americans and Spanish who eat a great deal of these peppers. Rats fed the ingredient of pepper, a reddish-brown liquid called capsaicin, used in flavoring vinegar and pickles, were stunted in growth. Capsicum, Africa Chilies, Cayenne Pepper, Tabasco Pepper. The dried fruit of a tropical plant used as a natural spice and ginger ale flavoring for beverages, ice cream, ices, candy, and baked goods; also meats and sauces. The oleoresin form is used in sausage, spice, ginger ale, and cinnamon flavorings for beverages, candy, baked good, chewing gum, meats, and condiments. Used internally as a digestive stimulant. Irritating to the mucous membrane, it can produce severe diarrhea and gastritis.”

Here is what God says about common irritating spices.

“In this fast age, the less exciting food, the better. Condiments are injurious in their nature. Mustard, pepper, spices, pickles, and other things of like character irritate the stomach and make the blood feverish and impure.” Counsels on Diets and Foods, 345

Use of spices can also lead to use of alcohol. The appetite for liquor is encouraged by the preparation of food with condiments and spices. These cause a feverish state of the system . . . The effect of such food is to cause nervousness. Healthful Living, 200

Carrot Rice Loaf

4 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup chopped onions

4 cups cooked brown rice

1 cup bread crumbs or Grapenuts

2-3 Tbsps. peanut butter mixed in 1/2 cup water

1/8 tsp. thyme

1 cup chopped walnuts

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. May serve with cashew gravy, or for low calorie diet serve with brown gravy.

Little Things

For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.” Matthew 25:14. The one with the five talents worked with them by trading and made five more talents. “His lord said unto him, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.’ ” Matthew 25:21. The same thing happened to the man with two talents.

What happened to the man with one talent? Why did he not work it? He just had one talent, and he complained. He received no commendation from the Lord. “The Lord said to him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.” Matthew 25:26, 27

What will it take for the Lord to say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” to me? Will the Lord say, “Well done” if I am hard-hearted?

Do You Have a Talent?

“To every man is committed individual gifts. Some regard these talents as being limited to certain men who possess superior mental endowments and genius. But God has not restricted the bestowal of His talents to a favored few.” Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1100

“To every one is committed some special endowment for which you will be responsible by the Lord.” Ibid. Six different things are listed, one may be your gift. “Time, reason, means, strength, mental powers and tenderness of heart all are gifts from God and trusted to be used in the great work of blessing humanity . . . The Lord is watching everyone to see whether he will use his talents wisely and unselfishly, or whether he will seek his own advancement. The talents are distributed to every man according to his several ability that he may add to them by wise investment. Each one must give an account to the Master for his own actions . . . The Lord will not require from those who are poor that which they have not to give. No one need mourn because he cannot glorify God with talents that were never intrusted to him. But if you only have one talent, use it well and it will accumulate.” Ibid.

How Do You Spend Your Time?

The goods we have received are not our own and that includes our time. Also, the reason, the means, the strength, and the mental powers, are not ours. They belong to the Lord. He will require of us an account. We are only stewards for all these things that God has given to us.

At one time I worked as a colporteur in Germany. A lady we were trying to sell the magazines to told us she had no time to read. We asked, “Why not?” She replied that she worked from 6:00 AM until 10:00 PM. We asked her, “What’s wrong with before 6:00 and after 10:00?” She bought the magazine.

Ellen White says, “Of no talent He has given will He require a more strict account than our time. The value of time is beyond computation. We have no time to waste. We have no time to devote to selfish pleasures. We have no time for the indulgence of sin.” Christ Object Lessons, 342. Why do people devote their time to selfish pleasures? We do things because we like them, and that is our problem. The question is, how do I reform? If we are expecting to hear the words “Well done,” it is required of us to be faithful in the little things. Jesus says in Luke 16:10, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.”

Little Things

Inspiration tells us about little things.

“Holy angels whose work it is to watch the development of character and weigh moral worth make a record of every transgression in the books of heaven. In the day of judgment many will be shut out of the city of God by sins which they supposed to be unworthy of notice.” Signs of the Times, December 17, 1896

“Faithfulness in little things should characterize the life. True integrity should mark every course of action. It is conscious attention to what the world calls little things that makes a great beauty and success of life. Little deeds of charity, little words of kindness, little acts of self-denial and wise improvement of little opportunities, a diligent cultivation of little talents, make great men in the sight of God.” Youth Instructor, April 21, 1898

Count the Cost

“Well done” includes such things as our commitments. When we make a commitment, the Lord expects us to keep it. Before we make a commitment, we should first think it over. We should count the cost.

Do not make a commitment you know that you cannot meet later. Many times people make commitments because it makes them feel good. Sometimes that is why people get married. It feels good right now and they do not count the cost. But we need to count the cost.

Do you think that men count the cost before they commit sin? The Bible says the wages of sin is death. If people realized that when they sin, they are working for the wages of eternal death, would they think twice? Jesus says, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” John 8:34.

Is sin a choice? No one is forcing us to sin. We have a choice. “It is Satan’s act to tempt you, but your own [choice] act to yield.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 623. The devil tempts and we yield. This statement continues, “It is not in the power of all the host of Satan to force the tempted to transgress.” Ibid. The devil cannot make you do it.

“Satan cannot touch the mind or intellect unless we yield to him.” Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1105. The devil is not able to force us against our will. He can only do it if we allow him to. When we are under pressure, we should call upon the name of the Lord, who is our strong tower.

100% Commitment

Jesus expects total commitment. “He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of Me.” Matthew 10:37, 38. What does it mean to take up the cross of Christ? “To bear the cross of Christ is (first) to control our sinful passions, (second) to practice Christian courtesy even when it is inconvenient to do so, (third) to see the wants of the needy and distressed and deny ourselves in order to relieve them, and (fourth) to open our hearts and our doors to the homeless orphan, although to do this may tax our means and our patience.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 627. That is what the prophet said it means to bear the cross of Christ. “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33

Little Things

“He who does not give himself wholly to God is under the control of another power.” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessings, 94.

If I do not give myself 100% to God, I am under the control of Satan. It is going to be either 100% or nothing. “Satan takes control of every mind that is not decidedly under the control of the Spirit of God.” Testimonies to Ministers, 79. “Almost but not wholly saved, means to be not almost but wholly lost.” Christ Object Lessons, 118. If you think about these statements, what does it take for Jesus to say, Well done, thou good and faithful servant”?

There will be a group of people who will be wholly and totally committed to Jesus Christ. They are described in Revelation 14:1-5. They will follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

Inspiration says, “Half-hearted Christians are worse than infidels. For their deceptive words and non-committal positions lead many astray. The infidel shows his colors, the lukewarm Christian deceives both parties. He is neither a good worldling nor a good Christian and Satan uses a lukewarm Christian to do a work that no one else can do.” Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 963. We must be 100% for Jesus because He will not tell us “Well done,” if we are only half and half, lukewarm, sitting on the fence, halting between two opinions.

God will not say to Laodicea, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” unless Laodicea is converted. We need to make a total commitment to Jesus. We need to be consecrated to Him and by His grace we shall conquer.

Do You Pass the Test?

Here is a self-test. “Let no one deceive his own soul in this matter. If you harbor pride, self-esteem, a love for the supremacy, vainglory, unholy ambition, murmuring, discontent, bitterness, evil speaking, lying, deception, slandering . . . you have not Christ abiding in your heart, and the evidence shows that you have the mind and character of Satan, not of Jesus Christ . . . You may have good intentions, good impulses, can speak the truth understandingly, but you are not fit for the kingdom of heaven.” Testimonies to Ministers, 441. God gave us these instructions to help us. We must be totally committed to Jesus Christ. When we have that type of commitment, then Jesus can give us the welcome as expressed in Matthew 25:21, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

Meek but Unyielding

James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and He will flee from you.”

Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1003, says, “True Christian character is marked by a singleness of purpose, an indomitable determination which refuses to yield to worldly influences which will aim at nothing short of the Bible standard. Moses stood for the right, but he was meek at the same time.”

“Those who can be bribed or seduced or terrified will be of no service in the Christian warfare. Those who set their affections on worldly treasures or worldly honors will not push the battle against principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places. All who would be soldiers of Christ must gird on the whole armor and prepare for the conflict. They should not be intimidated by threats, or terrified by dangers. They must be cautious in peril, yet firm and brave in facing the foe and doing battle for God. The consecration of Christ’s followers must be complete. Father, mother, wife, children, houses, land’s, everything must be held secondary to the work and to the cause of God.” Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1003.

We Must Sacrifice All

In Testimonies to the Church, vol. 1, 126, it says, “Those who are willing to make any sacrifice for eternal life, will have it.” If we are committed to gain eternal life, we will get it. The problem is that if we are not committed 100%, we will not get it.

In Messages to Young People, 29, it says, “Make it the law of your life from which no temptation or side interest shall cause you to turn, to honor God.” How often do we have to make that decision? Every day.

You remember the vision Ellen White had about the two roads. There was a wide and a narrow road. She saw people walking on the wide road that had written on their garments, not “Adventist”, but something equivalent. But where were they? On the wide road. They made a great profession, but what did she say? Where were they going? They were going to eternal destruction. She says in Testimonies to the Church, vol. 1, 127, “The roads are distinct, separate, in opposite directions. One leads to eternal life, the other to eternal death. I saw the distinctions between the roads, also the distinction between the companies traveling them.” And what does she say about the distinctions—the two groups were different in four areas— “in character, in life, in dress, and in conversation.” Ibid. They looked different, they acted different, they talked different, and their hearts were different.

That was written in 1856. The general conference was not organized until 1863. So it was seven years before the general conference was organized. It says here in the first sentence, “I was shown in vision some things that concern the church generally.” Ibid. What was the church? It was not the general conference or any local conference (the first local conference was organized in 1861) But the church was there already. There is a statement in Testimonies, vol. 4, 402 that says, “Men who are not half converted, who are self-confident and self-sufficient in character, preach the truth to others. But God does not work with them, for they are not holy in heart and life.” What was the problem? The truth made no change in the life.

The Testing Place

How do you know if you are a Christian? Where is the best place to prove it? At home. There you find out if you are a Christian or not. How you treat your wife, your husband and your children? Inspiration tells us if we want to be saints in heaven, we must be saints first in our own families. This is how we can find out if we are Christians. We can check ourselves for what comes out of our mouth and how we treat others at home.

We live in the Day of Atonement. Inspiration tells us, “The great work is before us of leading the people away from worldly customs and practices, up higher and higher in spirituality.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 520

Jesus says if your right eye troubles you and it keeps you from entering the kingdom of heaven, get rid of it. (See Matthew 5:29.) So if our television gives us trouble, what should we do with it? Get rid of it, if it keeps us from heaven.

I believe it is time for God’s professed people to wake up and to make a total commitment to Jesus Christ, to be faithful to His work, to His law, to His instruction. It is time that we are concerned about the things of God instead of trying to be “nice guys” toward the world loving. The majority are concerned about the people around them and in pleasing them, but God is calling us to stand for something, to be counted on to preach the Word—the whole counsel of God. Doing this will not offend those who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

Forty Men of God

During the years of the pagan persecutions forty men of God were dragged on a cold winter night, out in the middle of a frozen lake and then they were soaked with water and put in a place out on the lake where the wind howled unobstructed against their form. They huddled together knowing that they could not live very long. On the shore, the Romans pitched camp and built huge fires and sent words to those 40 men, out there on that lake freezing to death that if any of them were ready to recant, they could simply indicate the same by walking out of that group, [that little unpopular minority] and take the stand with the majority. “Come over and join us at the fire. That’s all you have to do and warm up with us.”

Those men stood shivering and praying and they began to sing together, “Forty men of God are we, faithful forever we shall be. Forty men of God are we, faithful forever we shall be.” Their clothes began to harden on their bodies. It was not long before one had fallen over unconscious to await the voice of the Lifegiver, and the men put him just outside the group on the ice. But though there was one death, they continued to sing of him and of themselves, “Forty men of God are we, faithful forever we shall be.”

That song split the night air and floated across the frozen ice to the Romans where the captain heard it and he was disturbed. They kept on singing as they piled up the dead, one after another. “Forty men of God are we, faithful forever we shall be.” The Romans stood solemn, hearing, haunted, provoked, disturbed. They wouldn’t do that for their god. And the captain was impressed. The Holy Spirit began to work and to move on his heart and finally there was, among those Christians, one fellow who decided that he could not take it any longer. He would become a defector. He announced his intentions to his brethren, to their pity, and then he went walking across the ice towards that fire and they stood in silence watching him go.

When they saw him taken into the circle of the Romans, others were about to become discouraged when someone brought up the song again, “Thirty-nine men of God are we, faithful forever we shall be.” When the captain heard it, the power of heaven touched his heart and the love of Jesus, which is the only power that can save us and make us witnesses, came upon him and penetrated his armor and his very soul. He turned to his lieutenant and said, “You take charge here. You look after things.” He threw down his shield and his sword, dropped his buckler and went out across the ice. When he had taken his place among the frozen Christians, the song was heard again in greater volume, “Forty men of God are we, faithful forever we shall be.”

When we stand up and stop being like everybody else, when we are committed to His cause and quit being hypocrites, we will bring Romans out of their armor. Men will cry, “What shall I do to be saved?”

The End

Do We Want the World ?

John 17 is the great high priestly prayer of Jesus. He prayed this prayer just before He went into dark Gethsemane and just before His great battle with the powers of darkness. He prayed it just before they beat Him and just before the shadow of a cross arose upon a lonely hill. Jesus prayed, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory.” There is something about the glory of Jesus that He longs for us to see. Someday, you are going to see it. Sooner than you think, and with your own eyes, you are going to see the face of God. Can you comprehend that? It is an awesome thought. The Bible teaches that without holiness no man shall see God. (See Hebrews 12:14.)In order that we might be holy, Jesus prayed, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world , but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” Jesus refused to pray for his disciples to be taken out of the world. It must have been very important or He would not have mentioned it. We are going to look at this aspect of Jesus’ prayer. Why did Jesus refuse to pray to take us out of this world? We know that eventually we are going to be taken out of the world, but in A.D. 31, He would not pray that for His disciples.

There are two parts to the answer. Part one is that Jesus would not pray for them to be taken out of the world because the world needed them. If Jesus had taken His disciples out of the world, it would have been lost because that was the beginning of His church. Not only that, at the moment Jesus prayed that prayer, those disciples were not ready to be taken out of this world.

Do We Need the World?

Part two is a surprise—God’s people needed the world! How do God’s people need the world? Look at part one again. The world needs the message of Jesus, His love, His law, His grace, His Sabbath. The world needs the message of the warning against the mark of the beast, against the beast, against the anti-Christ power, against the image of the beast, against the national Sunday law. For all of this, the world needs God’s people.

It is easy to see that the world needs us, yet how do we need the world? First of all, let me state that the disciples needed the world because they needed its discipline, its reproach, and its ridicule. They needed its persecution to develop their characters, to cling to God in total surrender so that they would be ready for God to take them out of the world.

Do we also need the world to pound on us? Someone says, “I don’t need any persecution. I love the Lord. I don’t need to be persecuted, reproached, ridiculed, lied about, put in jail and lose my home.” Do I really need all that?

Jesus said, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” Jesus would not take them out of the world because the world needed God’s people and God’s people needed the world.

The Bible says, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19. If we need to be pounded on, is that part of what God is going to give us before He takes us out of the world? Yes, that is part of what He is going to give us. We do need it.

Does God tell us that nothing can touch us without His permission? Yes He does. “The Father’s presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Whatever comes to him comes from Christ. He has no need to resist evil, for Christ is his defense. Nothing can touch him except by our Lord’s permission.” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 71. This shows that our mighty God gives permission for evil to come to us.

If God were to take every Seventh-day Adventist out of the world right now, what would happen? The same thing would happen if He had taken the disciples out of the world when He prayed that prayer. Most of us would die. We are not ready. Not only that, but are we willing to go now? That is a hard question, isn’t it?

An Example

“The Hebrews had expected to obtain their freedom without any special trial of their faith or any real suffering or hardship. But they were not yet prepared for deliverance.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 260. Many of us have expected that God would take us to heaven without any special trial, suffering, or hardship. But, like the Hebrews, we are not ready. “They had little faith in God, and were unwilling patiently to endure their afflictions until He should see fit to work for them.” Ibid. It is the same with us. We also have little faith in God and we are basically unwilling to patiently endure our afflictions until God sees fit to work for us. “Many were content to remain in bondage rather than meet the difficulties attending removal to a strange land.” Ibid. We also are content to remain in the bondage of sin “rather than to meet the difficulties attending removal to a strange land. The habits of some had become so much like those of the Egyptians that they [actually] preferred to dwell in Egypt.” Ibid. Could we say that our habits have become so much like the Egyptians that we prefer to dwell in this world?

“Therefore the Lord did not deliver them by the first manifestation of His power before Pharaoh. He overruled events more fully to develop the tyrannical spirit of the Egyptian king and also to reveal Himself to His people. Beholding His justice, His power, and His love, they would choose to leave Egypt and give themselves to His service. The task of Moses would have been much less difficult had not many of the Israelites become so corrupted that they were unwilling to leave Egypt.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 260. Could we say that the task of God would be much less difficult now had not many of us become so corrupted that we are unwilling to leave this world?

If we really wanted to leave this world, we would be doing what God said to do. Not only would we be drawing close to God and have a character like Jesus, but we would be going door to door, reaching people with God’s message. Working for God earns nothing, but those who want to go out of this world and want Jesus to come soon, will be seen working to save souls.

We may say, “Won’t it be wonderful when the Lord comes!” But we like our nice home, car and job, and so we say one thing and live another. That is why God will allow the taskmasters to pound on us. Just as He also allowed the king to say, “I’ll give you no more straw, gather it for yourself.”

Not only did He let the taskmasters pound on them, but God’s prophet says that God did not deliver them by the first, or even after, the first of the plagues. It is the same with us. God is not going to deliver us after the first of the plagues either. After the first plague, we still will not be ready to leave this world. Even though probation is closed, and we are sealed to never sin again, God still has more to do for us. God did not deliver them after just the first plague, but He would manifest all of His power through ten of those plagues. After the tenth terrible plague, then they were ready to leave Egypt. After the seventh plague we too, will be fully ready to leave this world.

You might say, “I never thought of such a thing. I thought we were ready to leave right now.” No, we are not. These things are going to come very rapidly and we are going to have to grow up fast. Many of you reading this will not go through the time of trouble. Your death bed may be your time of trouble, so I am pleading, please make a full, total surrender to God now. We do not know, only God knows.

Finishing the Work

Actions speak louder than words. When you see God’s people ready to be taken out of this world, you will see them going door to door and hear them praying, “Oh God, use me for souls.” However, they will not be taken out of the world until their work is finished. If Jesus came now, millions would be lost that could be saved.

Most people looking at Jesus the day He comes—those that will be God’s faithful Seventh-day Adventists, are now keeping Sunday. That is a shocking thought. Millions of them now keeping Sunday are going to join us soon. It is also true that millions who are sitting in Seventh-day Adventist pews now, will soon be honoring Sunday. There is going to be a big shift, very quickly after persecution comes. But we must not wait until then. We need to pray, “Oh God, give us Your souls. Give us Your tender love, the love that Jesus had. A love that loves the unlovely. Dear Father give us Thy love for souls.”

When you pray like that, God will perfect you in His love. When you are perfected in the love of God, you will be ready to be taken out of this world. And when you are perfected in the love of God you will be seen reaching souls continually, every day. Jesus said, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” That is why God is going to allow us to lose everything and suffer persecution. The lovely Jesus is in control and He knows just what He is doing.

Be careful how you judge and condemn other people. That is what the disciples were doing, trying to see who was the greatest. When you have that attitude you are absolutely unfit for heaven. We think we are rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing, but we are really poor, blind and naked. We need to examine our own heart and not judge or condemn other people. We need to pray, “God be merciful to me the sinner.” When persecution pounds on us, we are going to press together and present to the enemy a united front. We will not then think about who is the greatest.

God’s People in the End

Joel tells what is going to happen. We will study a number of verses from the second chapter. “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain.” Joel 2:1. The trumpet in Zion, where is that? It is in God’s church. If you sound an alarm in the church, wouldn’t you be an alarmist? Yes. If you have been accused of being an alarmist, say, “Thank you, Lord, for helping me to do what You said for me to do in Joel 2:1.” When you do it, be sweet, kind, humble, and loving. We need to blend the beautiful meekness of Jesus with the powerful message of God. It is hard to fight against love.

“Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: [Why?] for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand.” Joel 2:1. While the devil is trying to get people to sing, swing, sin and celebrate, God says we need to be trembling because Jesus is coming. The day of the Lord is at hand. Every person will stand or fall individually. It is just you and God.

“Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping . . . Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.” Joel 2:12, 13. God is in control. He is going to give victory to His people. You are going to be with God’s people. Or, are you going to be without them? I want to be with Jesus and His people around the world.

Joel 2:21, says, “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things. Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field.” It continues on in this language in verse 23, “Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately.” You can be like Jesus. You can receive the latter rain. You can be in heaven very soon. Jesus said, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but should deliver them from the evil.” John 17:15. God is going to do it. Whatever it takes, it will be worth it. “Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God.”

The End

Sanctuary, part 4

The next event of that day after the Sanctuary was cleansed, was putting all of the iniquities and transgressions of the children of Israel upon the head of the scapegoat and sending him away into a land not inhabited, or of separation. It is supposed by almost everyone that this goat typified Christ in some of His offices, and that the type was fulfilled at the first Advent. From this opinion, I must differ; because:

  1. The goat was not sent away till after the High Priest had made an end of cleansing the Sanctuary, (see Leviticus 16:20-21); hence, that event cannot meet its antitype after the end of the 2300 days.
  2. It was sent away from Israel into the wilderness, a land not inhabited, to receive them. If our blessed Saviour is its antitype, He also must be sent away, not His body alone, but soul and body: for the goat was sent away alive, not to, nor into this people; neither into heaven, for that is not a wilderness or land not inhabited.
  3. It received and retained all the iniquities of Israel; but when Christ appears the second time, He will be “without sin.”
  4. The goat received the iniquities from the hands of the priest; and he sent it away. As Christ is the Priest, the goat must be something else besides Himself, which He can send away.
  5. This was one of two goats chosen for that day, one was the Lord’s and offered for a sin offering; but the other was not called the Lord’s, neither offered as a sacrifice. Its only office was to receive the iniquities from the priest after he had cleansed the Sanctuary from them, and bear them into a land not inhabited, leaving the Sanctuary, priest, and people behind and free from their iniquities. (See Leviticus 16: 7-10, 22)
  6. The Hebrew name of the scapegoat as will be seen from the margin of verse 9 is “Azazel.” On this verse, William Jenks in his Complete Commentary has the following remarks:” (Scapegoat.) See different opinion in Bochart Spencer, after the oldest opinion of the Hebrews and Christians, thinks Azazel is the name of the devil; and so Rosenmire, whom see. The Syriac has Azazel, the angel, (Stongone) who revolted.”
  7. At the appearing of Christ, as taught from Revelation 20, Satan is to be bound and cast into the bottomless pit, which act and place are significantly symbolized by the ancient High Priest sending the scapegoat into a separate and uninhabited wilderness.
  8. Thus we have the Scripture, the definition of the name into ancient languages both spoken at the same time, and the oldest opinion of the Christians in favor of regarding the scapegoat as a type of Satan. In the common use of the term, men always associate it with something mean, calling the greatest villains and refugees from justice scapegoats. Ignorance of the law and its meaning is the only possible origin that can be assigned for the opinion that the scapegoat was a type of Christ.

Differences Between the Scape Goat and Christ

Because it is said, “The goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities into a land not inhabited.” Leviticus 16:23, and John said, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh [margin, beareth] away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29), it is concluded without further thought that the former was the type of the later. But a little attention to the law will show that the sins were borne from the people by the priest, and from the priest by the goat. First, they are imparted to the victim. Second, the priest bore them in its blood to the Sanctuary. Third, after cleansing them from it on the tenth day of the seventh month, he bore them to the scapegoat. And fourth, the goat finally bore them away beyond the camp of Israel to the wilderness.

This was the legal process; and when fulfilled, the author of sins will have received them back again, (but the ungodly will bear their own sins) and his head will have been bruised by the seed of the woman. The “strong man armed” will have been bound by a stronger than he, “and his house [the grave] spoiled of its goods [the saints].” (See Matthew 12:29; Leviticus 11:21,22; Leviticus 16:21,22) The thousand years imprisonment of Satan will have begun, and the saints will have entered upon their millennial reign with Christ.

The Sanctuary must be cleansed before Christ appears because:

  1. He “was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:28. Now His last act in bearing the sins of many is to bear them from the Sanctuary after He has cleansed it. As He does not appear till after having borne the sins of many, and then without sin; it is manifest that the Sanctuary must be cleansed before He appears.
  2. The host is still under the indignation after the Sanctuary is cleansed, Daniel 8. Both the Sanctuary and the host were trodden under foot. “Unto 2300 days then shall the Sanctuary be cleansed,” or justified (margin). This is the first point in the explanation, and after this Daniel still “sought for the meaning of the vision.” Gabriel came “to make him know what should be in the last end of the indignation.” In the explanation which follows, he says nothing about the Sanctuary, because that had been explained by the Wonderful Numberer. He now tells him about the host upon whom the last end of the indignation still rests after the Sanctuary is cleansed.

The last end of the indignation is evidently the bitter persecutions, and the severe and searching trial of God’s people, after the Sanctuary is cleansed, and before the indignation is made to cease in the destruction of the little Horn, the fruit and the successor of the Assyrian. (See Daniel 8:25; Isaiah 10:12; 25:3) The Sanctuary must be cleansed before the resurrection; for the Lord has provided a comforting message for His people, telling them that it is done. “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that the warfare [margin, appointed time] is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” Isaiah 40:1,2 (See Isaiah 11:1)

Deliverance of God’s People

Jerusalem and the Lord’s people are here spoken of as the Sanctuary and the host in Daniel 8. His people, when Jerusalem’s appointed time is accomplished, are affected and are to be comforted by telling them that her iniquity is pardoned. This must be New Jerusalem; for there was never any time set for pardoning the iniquity of the Old Jerusalem, which must have had iniquity of some kind and from some source, else she could not be pardoned of it. The fact that the Lord has commanded to comfort His people by telling them that Jerusalem’s iniquity is pardoned, is proof positive that she had iniquity, and that it will be removed before His people are delivered and enter her with songs and everlasting joy. This message is similar to that in Isaiah 52:9. After the good and peaceful tidings have been published, saying unto Zion, thy God reigneth, it is declared, “The Lord has comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem.” Jerusalem was in a state from which she had to be redeemed, and that before the resurrection; for the next verse says, “All the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”

The End

Fellow Workers With God

For we are god’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:9. This was a favorite text of Ellen White, and it is an incomprehensible privilege. To be considered a fellow worker with the president of the United States would be considered a high privilege. Here we are told that we are called to be fellow workers with God. Some people think the minister is paid to do this, but we are all called to be fellow workers with God.

We all have to make a living, but our primary work is to be a fellow workers with God in His work. “Christ has given to the church a sacred charge. Every member should be a channel through which God can communicate to the world the treasures of His grace.” Acts of the Apostles, 600. We must realize that every day we are meeting people who we may never meet again and we have a saving gospel which must be presented.

No one is converted without a burden for souls. Part of the gospel is that we are called to be missionaries for the Lord. Jesus told the demoniac, when he was healed, “Go home to your friends, and tell them the great things the Lord has done for you.” Mark 5:19. And that is what we must do.

To Grow Spiritually, We Must Be Witnessing

It is absolutely necessary for spiritual growth to spend time witnessing. If we are only feeding ourselves, we are going to grow fat, sluggish and critical. “The great outpouring of the Spirit of God, which lightens the whole earth with His glory, will not come until we have an enlightened people, that know by experience what it means to be laborers together with God.” Christian Service, 253

“To a great degree this must be accomplished by personal labor. This was Christ’s method. His work was largely made up of personal interviews. He had a faithful regard for the one-soul audience.” Christ Object Lessons, 229. We might think that most of Jesus’ work was public teaching and healing, but most of His work was one-to-one. Much of what Jesus did is not recorded, but we know by inspiration that He was in people’s homes and spent time teaching the disciples how to reach individuals.

Teaching Others How to Witness

We are told that the greatest help which can be given to church members is to teach them to work for God, not for the church or pastor. “Just as soon as a church is organized, let the minister set the members at work. They will need to be taught how to labor successfully. Let the minister devote more of his time to educating than to preaching. Let him teach the people how to give to others the knowledge they have received.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 20. When I read this statement, our church sat down and began to plan teaching weekends. We began to try to make the church a learning center instead of just a preaching center. In the process of studying, we found that the Holy Spirit will never be poured out unless we are out winning souls. So we said, “We better start doing this.” Then we began to study how to win souls. And the Lord blessed. “Every Christian should be a missionary, working for the salvation of souls.” Review and Herald, November 29, 1906

Our young people in school need to learn the science of soul winning also. To do this, they must learn about true psychology, how the mind works, how to meet people and how to reach them. They ought to know the Bible and the prophecies. If in first grade they had simply begun learning one verse a day, then by the time they got through academy they would have the whole New Testament memorized.

To be effective in our witnessing, we need to be storing our minds with the truths of God’s word. We may say, “I wish I’d started when I was five years old, but now I’m 45.” We are never going to be younger than we are today. If we are ever going to do it, we must start right now. And if we cannot memorize the whole Bible, we can memorize a whole chapter such as Romans 8 or 1 John 3.

“Our work has been marked out for us by our heavenly Father. We are to take our Bibles and go forth to warn the world. We are to be God’s helping hands in saving souls.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 150. “A great work can be done by presenting to the people the Bible just as it reads. Carry the Word of God to every man’s door.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 388

God established this church on a firm basis. And that firm basis was made because of a great shaking within the early movement. In the early Advent movement we went from approximately 100,000 down to just a few hundred people. But at least these few hundred people were solid. They had given their souls and their lives and all that they had to the Lord. They went out and spread the message and preached. The Lord blessed and the church began to grow.

S. N. Haskell’s Camp Meeting

In the far off state of California there was a man holding a camp meeting at which Ellen White and her son Willie were helping. His name was S. N. Haskell. His concerns were centered on the winning of souls. So for their camp meeting, they invited non-Adventists to the evening meetings. During the daytime they would teach people how to win souls, and other things that were more specifically for Adventists, but the evening meeting was always geared for non-Adventists as well as Adventists and was evangelistic in nature. During the day, many of the Adventists would hand out fliers in the community inviting people to come to the evening meeting. The result was that several hundred non-Adventists were in attendance at the evening meeting.

On one occasion, S. N. Haskell was ready to preach and all these non-Adventists were there to hear the message. It began to rain and thunder and since there were no microphones, people could not hear. It was a terrible catastrophe in any evangelist’s mind. He did not want to send people away. They might never come again. But our extremities are God’s opportunities. S. N. Haskell prayed earnestly and an idea came to him. He came out into the middle of the auditorium and had the people come around him—very unconventional. He stood up on a table, had everyone gather around him as close as they could and then he wrote texts down and distributed them to the people. He would call out a question and then have the answer read from the Bible. The people might miss a few words that were read when the thunder cracked, but they could follow it in the Bible. So it was question, answer, question, answer—all Elder Haskell was doing was reading the questions and the people were reading the Bible.

Willie White was there and was impressed. He could see the people being moved as they found the answers to questions from the Bible. He later told his mother. Shortly after this event, the Lord gave Ellen White a vision and showed her that this storm was from the Lord. He was trying to teach people how to give Bible studies and this was His method. Up to that point, no one in our church had ever, as far as we know, given a real Bible study, rather truth had been presented in sermon form.

A New Type of Bible Studies

Here was something so simple and yet so different, but very effective. S. N. Haskell began to train people how to use this method. Soon we had a paper where people would prepare Bible studies and send them in to this paper. A number of these were later gathered up and published in what became known as Bible Readings for the Home Circle.

During the 1890’s this became fully established in our church as the method of giving Bible studies and our church grew the most we have ever grown—almost 10% every single year— because our laymen were out witnessing.

Bible studies have gone through various developments over the years. About 1930, I believe, we developed the first film strip. Nine years later, a Bible study correspondence school was developed and the Voice of Prophecy became the main headquarters for Bible study through correspondence. When I was growing up in the 50’s, my father, brother and I used the 20th Century, on film strip, Bible studies.

While pastoring in the Washington D.C. area, we were training people how to give Bible studies. We were using materials we had, but we found it was not working well. I discovered the materials were written for the purpose of leaving them in the home as a correspondence course, and not for a Bible worker to use in giving a Bible study. Through a year of experimenting, writing, and testing, the Steps to Life Bible studies were developed. We had some interesting experiences. I remember a young lady who had never given studies. She said, “I can’t give a Bible study.” I replied, “Yes you can. Let me give you a few principles. Next week I can’t be here to give studies to this lady.” I reviewed the principles of asking questions and letting people answer them from the Bible. We gave her the Bible studies we had written. I never went back. She gave all the rest of them to this lady and the lady was baptized. That so excited her that she gave them to another and another and another. In a little over a year before I left, she had given Bible studies to four young ladies and all of them were baptized.

I believe that this work is going to be finished with laymen out witnessing to their neighbors. And I believe that the Lord expects us to qualify ourselves for this work. There is a human element involved. In Fundamentals of Christian Education, 217, Ellen White says, “The Lord does nothing for the salvation of the soul without the cooperation of man.” She goes on to say, in spite of this, how few have qualified themselves in the work of soul-winning.

Personal Bible Study

I would like to encourage everyone to, first of all, have Bible study everyday for your own spiritual growth. I spend at least an hour a day. I may be one of the weakest Christians in the world so I need a lot of special help, but I find that I need at least an hour a day with the Word and on my knees in order to survive. Personal Bible study is essential for personal witnessing. We must realize that everyone of us are God’s fellow laborers and we are called to be active witnesses for the Lord.

There are two things that are required in order to be successful workers for the Lord. One is personal effort, using all the intelligence God has given to us, learning how to do it, not stumbling over, and making the same mistakes time after time. If we learn that something does not work, let’s do it different. Let’s learn from one another. Let’s learn all the methods that we can learn to share our faith. Let’s give out literature. Like Jesus with the woman at the well, let us learn to approach people without offending them, learn different ways to share the Sabbath, and various other truths. Along with that, we must realize that not one of us will ever win a single soul in our own power or with our own strength.

The Holy Spirit

The other requirement is that we must have the Holy Spirit in our lives. To have the Holy Spirit in our lives requires that we be cleansed from sin.

“The latter rain will come, and the blessing of God will fill every soul that is purified from every defilement. Evangelism, 702. “Without the presence of the Spirit of God, no heart will be touched, no sinner won to Christ.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 21. Now you see, the work of gaining the victory over sin becomes important, not only that we can get to heaven, but so that we can be used by God to help others to be in heaven. We will never be effective soul-winners as long as we are retaining known sins in our lives. The greatest reason, the greatest purpose for a holy life is not just so we can be saved, but so that we can be used to be an instrument to help others to be saved; our children, our family, our neighbors, and members of the church.

When I fly on the airlines I always like to get a seat by myself so I can study. I tell the Lord, “If I can’t have that, put someone here to whom I can witness.” I have so little time to do all the work that needs to be done. In every situation we should be looking for someone, somewhere, to whom we can witness. There are many wonderful books that can be given away, such as the book Somebody Cares. This and other books can be given everywhere as a witness.

“There is no limit to the usefulness of one who, putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart and lives a life wholly consecrated to God.” Ministry of Healing, 159. Starting today, would you like to dedicate yourself to become a fellow laborer with God for the work of winning souls?

The End

Hard Hearts, part 1

Have you ever been in a situation where somebody came to you with either scripture, or a statement from the writings of Ellen White with the sole purpose of trying to trap you and show you how wrong you were with this text of scripture or this quotation? What did you do? Often, persons are not looking for evidence because they have already made up their mind. If you give an answer, it seldom accomplishes anything.

Jesus dealt with this frequently, and most of the time He never gave an answer. However, there are a few times recorded in Scripture when He did. I am intrigued with the reasonings of men and how they were so sure they had the Lord trapped. “The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?’ ” Matthew 19:3. This question had been debated for a long time among Jewish leaders with a great difference of opinion. One school of thought taught that a man could divorce his wife instantly for anything he did not like, period. The other school of thought taught there ought to at least be some big reason before a man could divorce his wife. This was a popular debate question. Could you divorce your wife for any reason or could you not?

Because of your Hard Hearts

“And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female.’ ” That is singular, one man, and one woman. Could Adam divorce his wife? Not if he wanted to be married. Jesus continued, ” ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:4-6. A human being is not to separate something which God has joined. The Jewish leaders thought they had Jesus trapped because they knew Deuteronomy 24. “They said to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?’ He said to them, ‘Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.’ And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” Matthew 19:7-9

Why were they allowed, under the old covenant, to divorce? Because of the hardness of their hearts. They were hard-hearted. No hard-hearted person is going to heaven. That is reality. If I am hard-hearted, something has to happen to my heart or I cannot go to heaven.

Why do people get divorced? Because they cannot get along. The same things that happen in our homes so that we cannot get along, happen in church. And sometimes groups of churches begin working together and then they cannot get along. Why is it? Is it because we are hard-hearted? When we go to heaven, we will not cross the street in the New Jerusalem to avoid meeting someone we could not get along with here in this earth.

We must gain victory, or we are not going to heaven, because there will be no hard-hearted people there. “The spirit that is cherished in the home is the spirit that will be manifested in the church.” Signs of the Times, July 1, 1892. Why can we not get along in church? Why can Historic Adventists not get along? Because we do not get along at home. When we know how to get along at home, we will know how to get along in the church.

We Must Be Cured

At a Bible training school on April 1, 1906, Ellen White said, “Oh how my heart trembles for us all. Unless the hard-heartedness is melted away by the grace of Christ we shall never know what heaven is. I am pained beyond measure when I see and feel the hard-hearted methods of dealing with the Lord’s heritage. I feel so ashamed in behalf of Christ as I see how little respect and reverence are shown toward the purchase of His blood.”

The Lord has promised, “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” Ezekiel 36:25-27. A heart of stone is a heart that is hard. The Lord says, “I’m going to take that heart out of you and I’m going to put another heart in you, a heart of flesh.”

Before we look at the cure, we have to understand what the problem is and how we get the problem. So I want to ask the question, why and how are we so hard-hearted? It has been a problem with the human race for thousands of years. They had the problem in Moses’ time. Jesus said, That’s why God allowed you to divorce your wives. It wasn’t because He wanted you to do it. In Malachi 2:16, the Lord says, “He hates divorce.” But He allowed them to do it because they were hard-hearted.

Early Training

One of the primary reasons we become hard-hearted is because that is the way we grew up. As parents we have a tremendous obligation toward our children so that they do not grow up hard-hearted. The Lords messenger says, “We must let Christ into our hearts and homes if we would walk in the light. Home should be made all that the name implies. It should be a little heaven upon the earth, a place where the affections are cultivated instead of being studiously repressed. Our happiness depends upon this cultivation of love, sympathy, and polite courtesy to one another.” Review and Herald, June 22, 1886. Our happiness depends on the “cultivation of love, sympathy, and polite courtesy to one another.” Ibid.

Sympathy is entering into the feelings of another person. When my wife is happy, I am happy. If I discover that my wife is sad, I feel some sadness coming into my heart. “The reason why there are so many hard-hearted men and women in our world, is because true affection has been regarded as weakness, and has been discouraged and repressed.” Ibid. If you do not want your child to grow up hard-hearted, every day there should be expression of affection. Do not let the devil tell you there is anything weak about it or any reason that you should not do it. Your children should hear much more affection than they hear of reproof. Before you reprove one of your children ask yourself how many times you have expressed affection to them today. Be fearful to reprove if you have not expressed affection to them.

Affection can be expressed by actions. We need to acknowledge when others do something nice for us. Recently, my wife and I had a wedding anniversary. That day we were preparing to leave and were busy from early morning until late at night. We did not take any special time to ourselves. Something really nice happened. Our daughter had purchased gifts for both of us and we both deeply appreciated her expression of love.

Are members of your family doing nice things for each other and expressing affection? If not, your children may be growing up hard-hearted. What a tragedy. Ask the Lord to help you to never let another day go by without expressing affection to the people in your family several times a day. “The better part of the nature of those of this class was perverted and dwarfed in childhood; and unless rays of divine light can melt away their coldness and hard-hearted selfishness, the happiness of such is buried forever. If we would have tender hearts, such as Jesus had when he was upon the earth, and sanctified sympathy, such as the angels have for sinful mortals, we must cultivate the sympathies of childhood, which are simplicity itself. Then we shall be refined, elevated, and directed by heavenly principles.” Review and Herald, June 22, 1886

Children are tender in heart and they will stay tender in heart if we do not make them hard-hearted when they are growing up.

Good Friends

In the Bible is the example of a man who grew up tenderhearted, but as an adult he became hard-hearted. Solomon did not grow up in an ideal home. His father had killed Uriah the Hittite in order to marry his mother. After that time, David lost moral influence with his family, especially his children. He could not talk to his children about sin and tell them not to do it because they could immediately say, “Well, Dad, why did you do it?” There were a lot of things that he would have liked to have said and done which he could not. This is one of the reasons, if you are a parent, that it is so necessary to avoid sin. Young people, very quickly spot a double standard.

Solomon was tenderhearted when he first became the king of Israel but he became a hard-hearted tyrant. “He imperiled his soul’s interest by the formation of friendships with the Lord’s enemies. What carefulness should be exercised in the formation of friendship.” General Conference Bulletin, February 25, 1895. If you form friendships with people of this world who are unconverted, it will cause you to become hard in heart and it will destroy your very capacity for happiness. “What carefulness should be exercised in the formation of friendship. Companionship with the world will surely lower the standard of religious principle. Solomon’s heathen wives turned away his heart from God. His finer sensibilities were blunted.” Ibid.

Sensibility means you are sensitive to something. Enjoying music depends on sensitivity of the ears. Enjoying food depends on the sensitivity of the tongue. All pleasure depends on sensitivity and when you lose sensitivity, you lose the capacity for pleasure and happiness. That is one of the terrible things about sin and being hard-hearted. Solomon’s capacity for pleasure was decreased. Whenever you engage in sin, your capacity for pleasure and happiness is decreased. Not because God made some arbitrary decree. You are doing it yourself and you are hardening your heart and decreasing your capacity for happiness. When Solomon’s finer sensibilities were blunted he lost his sympathy for men and his love for God. The result was, “his conscience was seared and his rule became tyranny.” Ibid. We will become hard-hearted by forming friendships with worldly people.

Forgiving Each Other

The third way we become hard-hearted is because of our failure to forgive. Have you ever met somebody who is holding a grudge? Maybe somebody really did something bad or said something bad against them and maybe it was a long time ago, but they are still holding a grudge. Holding a grudge has a terrible effect on your heart.

“We must forgive those who trespass against us, if we would obtain pardon and grace when we approach the mercy-seat. Mercy and love must be cherished by all who would be followers of Jesus. When Peter asked, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus replied, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times: but, up to seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21, 22. He then enforced the duty of forgiveness, by the parable of the two debtors. [Matthew 18:23-35] One was forgiven a debt of ten thousand talents, and then refused to show mercy to his fellow-servant who owed him a hundred pence. The pardon granted to that hard-hearted servant was revoked, and he was delivered to the tormentors.” Review and Herald, December 26, 1882. If we do not have the spirit of forgiveness, we are hardening our hearts. The worse that is said or done to you, the more necessary it is for you to forgive. If you do not forgive, and you keep holding that in, your heart is going to get hard.

All Bible references are from the New King James Version.

To be continued next month…