Are You Ready?

As a frequent traveler, I have missed my flight or ride on occasion and have also watched it happen to others. Once, I had a long time to fill as my flight was delayed almost two hours. While waiting, I observed a plane that was ready to leave. The ticket agent announced the last call for the flight several times. Finally the door was closed, and the plane pulled away from the jetway. A short time later, two young ladies came running from the other end of the concourse to the counter and asked if they could board, but the ticket agent said, “I’m sorry, it’s too late.” I thought of all the times that I had missed my plane. It is frustrating when you intend to be somewhere and something happens that you are delayed. You may be almost there, but do not quite make it. Pray that the Lord helps you that no matter what happens, you will not be too late for what is really important.

The Bible says that at the end of time many people will not be ready for the Lord’s return. It will be a terrible experience to realize they need to be ready now or risk not being ready at all. They will be almost saved, but totally lost. What good will it do for you or me to say on that day, “I was almost saved?” Do you think that will bring you any comfort on the day of judgment?

When I come to the end of my life in this world, whether by death or translation, I want to be ready, don’t you? The Scripture records the dying testimony of a man who, coming to the end of his life, was ready. A short time before his death, the apostle Paul wrote a letter to Timothy. He knew that very soon he would be martyred and sacrifice his life for the cause of the gospel, but he wasn’t sad because he was ready. He said, “For I am now ready to be offered” (2 Timothy 4:6, first part, KJV). Notice that Paul didn’t say, “I’m almost ready.” He was able to say, “I am ready.” How could he be so sure?

Acts 9:3, 4 says that Paul was on the Damascus road when, “As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’ … ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do’ ” (verses 5, 6). Some manuscripts also add the words, “It is hard for you to kick against the pricks,” plus the words, “Lord, what do You wish for me to do?” The Lord told him to go to Damascus and wait until Ananias came.

In Acts 9:17, it says, “Ananias … entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost.’ ” Paul not only received his sight, but he received spiritual eyesight and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. “Immediately … he received his sight; and he arose and was baptized” and “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God” (verses 18, 20). Paul continually preached this same story about Jesus.

The Damascus Road experience was a turning point in Paul’s life. He was converted. The word in the New Testament that is translated conversion means to turn around. Paul’s life was completely turned in the opposite direction from where he had been headed before. He had set out to persecute Christians, but left Damascus preaching Jesus.

When Jesus said to him, “Why are you persecuting Me?” Paul saw himself in a new light and realized that by persecuting these men and women, he had hurt the heart of Jesus. He realized what a terrible, wretched person he was. And unless we realize how terrible and wretched we are, there is not much of a chance that we are going to be converted. There will be no change in our heart or our life as long as we think we’re pretty good. Do you know that if you or I hurt even one of the Lord’s children, including little children, we have hurt Jesus Himself and in the day of judgment we will have to give an account? In persecuting the Christians, Paul was persecuting Jesus. We need to talk and act toward other people in the same way we would with Jesus.

The Pharisees and Sadducees had a high opinion of themselves, but not too many of them were converted. One of the first steps to being converted is to realize that in the heart and spirit dwells no good thing, as Paul says in Romans 7:18. When he saw that he was a wretched sinner who had been hurting Jesus by persecuting His followers, then he realized his own need of Jesus.

The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). Are you going to cling to your preconceived ideas about yourself or are you going to believe what the Bible says? As a Bible-believing Christian, I have to believe when the Bible says that there is no good thing in me, it is the truth. I have no righteousness except that which I receive from Someone outside of myself.

Upon Paul’s return to Jerusalem, he went to the temple to tell the Jews what happened to him on the Damascus road and to make confession to the people regarding the terrible things he had done. He was found in the temple by an angry crowd who ran to seize him and kill him. This effort was halted by the Roman commander of the garrison in Jerusalem and he took Paul from the crowd and arrested him. But Paul sought another chance to tell his fellow Jews what Jesus had done for him and on the steps of the garrison barracks, chained and on the way to prison, Paul asked if he could address the people.

He told them of the Damascus experience, how in his blindness he was finally able to see himself as he truly was. He was able to understand the Scriptures he had memorized as a Jewish scholar and that righteousness comes from the Lord. He now saw that in persecuting God’s people he had been hurting Jesus. He wanted them to know what Jesus had done to change his life and that He could do the same for them. Paul had repented and now wanted to confess to his countrymen; and he had many confessions to make. He was responsible for the imprisonment or death of many Christians and his participation in the stoning of Stephen. Imagine how difficult it was for Paul to confess to these Jewish Christians that he was the one responsible for the death of their wife or husband, their pastor, deacon or elder.

But the people would not listen to Paul and Jesus had said to him, “ ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me’ ” (Acts 22:18). Paul thought that if he confessed and told them about Jesus, they would turn around just as he had. But the Lord knew differently and sent him far away to the Gentiles (verse 21).

Later in Acts 26:12–19, we find the account of Paul before Agrippa. He shared his conversion experience with Agrippa and concluded by saying, “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” (verse 19). Paul had made a decision in his life and was determined to follow it through.

Realizing his true condition and need of a Saviour, he repented and surrendered. He said, “Lord, what do You want me to do” (Acts 9:6)? There is no such thing as salvation without confession. Sins that are unconfessed are unforgiven. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). But remember, the first word of the text is “If.” Sins that are unconfessed are written in the books of heaven against our name and if not confessed, they remain, and we will meet them at the end of the millennium. Paul confessed his sins and consecrated himself to Christ as a servant. He dedicated his life and everything that he had to Jesus. From then on, he had confidence in salvation. Because of these decisions, Paul was able later to say, I’m ready.

Paul says in Romans 1:15: “So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome.” From the Damascus road and every day after, whatever God wanted him to do, he said, Lord, “I am ready. I’m Yours.”

Paul came to the end of his life with the wonderful experience of having no regrets; of knowing he had made the right decisions; that the time for his departure was at hand and he was ready. He recounts very briefly the experience of his life when he said, “I have fought the good fight” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Paul had a good deal to say about this fight in his epistles. He mentioned the fight to gain absolute control over his body. He said, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection [absolute slavery], lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified [that is, rejected]” (1 Corinthians 9:27). The fight involves bringing the body, appetite and passions into strict subjection to the higher powers of the mind. Paul also wrote, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:11–13).

In this fight, one of two things will happen to everyone in the world. There’s no truce. When the devil comes as a roaring lion, we will either conquer him in the strength of the Lord or be conquered. “In every soul two powers are struggling earnestly for the victory. Unbelief marshals its forces, led by Satan, to cut us off from the Source of our strength. Faith marshals its forces, led by Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. Hour by hour, in the sight of the heavenly universe, the conflict goes forward. This is a hand-to-hand fight, and the great question is, Which shall obtain the mastery? This question each must decide for himself. In this warfare all must take a part, fighting on one side or the other. From the conflict there is no release.” Sons and Daughters of God, 328. There is a war going on, and there is only one winner.

Ellen White wrote to encourage a young man who was not winning the war to fight and to win the war. When you are in battle and you lose ground, if you’re going to win, you have to recover that ground again. And this young man had lost some ground. She wrote, “Pure religion has to do with the will. …

“Your promises are like ropes of sand, and you regard in the same unreal light the words and works of those in whom you should trust.

“You will be in constant peril until you understand the true force of the will. You may believe and promise all things, but your promises or your faith are of no value until you put your will on the side of faith and action. If you fight the fight of faith with all your will power, you will conquer.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 513.

Are you fighting with everything you’ve got? God has promised to help, but He doesn’t promise to help us unless we try with everything we have, with all our will power. “Your feelings, your impressions, your emotions, are not to be trusted, for they are not reliable. …

“But you need not despair. … It is for you to yield up your will to the will of Jesus Christ; and as you do this, God will immediately take possession and work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. Your whole nature will then be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ, and even your thoughts will be subject to Him. You cannot control your impulses, your emotions, as you may desire; but you can control the will, and you can make an entire change in your life.” Ibid., 513, 514.

There is no victory without a fight. You choose.

“Will you not say, ‘I will give my will to Jesus, and I will do it now,’ and from this moment be wholly on the Lord’s side? Disregard custom and the strong clamoring of appetite and passion. Give Satan no chance to say: ‘You are a wretched hypocrite.’ Close the door so that Satan will not thus accuse and dishearten you. Say, ‘I will believe, I do believe that God is my helper,’ and you will find that you are triumphant in God.” Ibid., 514.

Have you said, Lord, I choose to yield my will to You and fight the fight of faith with everything I have? I will give my will to Jesus and I will do it now. “By steadfastly keeping the will on the Lord’s side, every emotion will be brought into captivity to the will of Jesus. …

“Talk faith. Keep on God’s side of the line.” Ibid. If you do this, God will be your helper.

Someone may say, I am so weak that I cannot resist. What should we do if we feel this way? “Many a man cries in despair, ‘I cannot resist evil.’ Tell him that he can, that he must resist. He may have been overcome again and again, but it need not be always thus. He is weak in moral power, controlled by the habits of a life of sin. …

“Those who put their trust in Christ are not to be enslaved by any hereditary or cultivated habit or tendency.” Temperance, 112. Imagine friends, though my past life with its habits of sin has had an effect on my character, God says there is deliverance in Jesus.

“The tempted one needs to understand the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man—the power of decision, of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. Desires for goodness and purity are right, so far as they go; but if we stop here, they avail nothing. Many will go down to ruin while hoping and desiring to overcome their evil propensities. They do not yield the will to God. They do not choose to serve Him.” Ibid.

We must fight if we want to have victory.

“You may believe and promise all things, but your promises and your faith are of no account until you put your will on the right side. If you will fight the fight of faith with your will power, there is no doubt that you will conquer.” Ibid., 113.

“The very feeblest prayer that we can offer, Jesus will hear. He pities the weakness of every soul. Help for everyone has been laid upon Him who is mighty to save.” Ibid., 114.

When Paul says, “I have fought the good fight” he is talking about the struggle for our will. If we yield our will to God and choose to follow and obey Him and exert all the effort we have, He has promised to help us to gain the victory. He has promised you victory.

Then Paul makes this exciting statement: “I have finished the race” (2 Timothy 4:7). Many times in his writings, Paul likens the Christian life to running a race. He says, I have finished my race, I have finished the path marked out for me to run. The people who receive the prize are not those who begin the race but those who finish it. We must be running the race every day if we want to finish the course, for none of us knows how many more days we have left to run.

Paul says, “Therefore, also we having such a great cloud of witnesses set around us, let us lay aside every weight [hindrance], and the easily entangling sin” (Hebrews 12:1, literal translation). This weight is the easily entangling, or besetting, sins Paul speaks of. We all have besetting sins. What constitutes a besetting sin for one is not the same as for another, but be assured, we all have them. Paul says to take those sins which are easy for you to be entangled with and lay them aside; get them out of the way so that you can run the race.

Have you ever tried to run a race with weights on your legs? It’s all right for a practice run, but you never want to do that in a real race. Have you laid aside that besetting sin, keeping your eye on the mark and saying, I’m going to reach the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus; I’m going to reach the end of the course? If you don’t, you will not be able to say, I have finished the course.

“When tempted to murmur, censure, and indulge in fretfulness, wounding those around you, and in so doing wounding your own soul, oh! let the deep, earnest, anxious inquiry come from your soul, Shall I stand without fault before the throne of God? Only the faultless will be there. None will be translated to heaven while their hearts are filled with the rubbish of earth. Every defect in the moral character must first be remedied, every stain removed by the cleansing blood of Christ, and all the unlovely, unlovable traits of character overcome.” Maranatha, 58.

It is easy for us to look around and say, “Well, so and so is worse than I am.” Will it give you satisfaction at the end of your life to say, I didn’t finish the course, but they didn’t either? We must have compassion for those who realize they are not ready, but are waiting for a better opportunity, like Felix (Acts 24:25). They need to know that the very best opportunity is today. “Now [today] is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). We must have compassion for those who have lost their faith and are doing nothing to rid their lives of besetting sin, nor surrendering their will to God. Those who no longer fight nor run the race, who are going nowhere, or are sidetracked by spending more time with faithless things than with the word of God that would build up their faith, are allowing the devil to have the victory in their lives. The world offers an abundance of distractions that can weaken one’s faith in the word of God.

It is a fact that there will be Seventh-day Adventists who will go to heaven alone because those in their very own family are not fighting the fight of faith nor running the race. Jesus said in Matthew 10, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (verse 37).

Each of us has to decide if we will run the race or wait for family or friend. The best way to encourage others to run the race is to run it yourself. Do not wait. Exhibit an influence that will encourage others to cast aside their sins and run too.

When you come to the end, will you, like Paul, have kept the faith? Who is going to receive the crown of righteousness? Paul says, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day” (2 Timothy 4:8 KJV). The crown is laid up for the one who is ready, for the one who fights the good fight. It is laid up for the one who finishes the course and has kept the faith.

This world is full of people who are hoping and desiring to be saved, but they’ll be lost if they do not choose today to get ready. They are waiting for a better opportunity which never comes. The only way to be ready when you come to the end of life’s road is to decide to be ready today.

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

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

The Reconciliation of Man to God

A Miracle of Miracles

It is a rare person who at one time or another doesn’t have need of reconciliation with someone whom they have offended. Opportunities for reconciliation are one of the means that Providence uses to develop character.

The Oxford dictionary defines to “reconcile” as to “restore friendly relations between.” A secondary definition reads to “cause to coexist in harmony; make or show to be compatible.” Strong’s Concordance is more direct: “Atonement; restoration to divine favor.”

Nothing is more in need of reconciliation, of “restoration to divine favor,” than the relationship between man and God after the Fall in the Garden of Eden. God has been working tirelessly for six thousand years to restore man to divine favor and bring about the reconciliation that must occur between God and the pinnacle of His creation before Christ returns to gather His saints. The big question is, Are we cooperating with that effort?

In one sense, reconciliation is simply another term for atonement. If we are reconciled to God, our character is once again aligned with the divine purpose of the plan of redemption—restoring the image of God in man.

Achieving that reconciliation, that atonement, requires exactly what Jesus told Nicodemus he needed during their nocturnal conversation recorded in John 3:3: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

No other Bible writer wrote more about this need than Paul. In his second epistle to the Corinthians, he wrote in great detail regarding the need for reconciliation and about how God is working to fulfill that need: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing [attributing, assigning] their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:17–21).

What an incredible statement! How clearly this passage shows the love of God for man. We are moved to cry out, “Abba, Father!” as we realize the intense longing that reigns in our Heavenly Father’s heart for the reconciliation of mankind to Himself.

In commenting on this text, Inspiration records, “ ‘If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Through the power of Christ, men and women have broken the chains of sinful habit. They have renounced selfishness. The profane have become reverent, the drunken sober, the profligate pure. Souls that have borne the likeness of Satan have become transformed into the image of God. This change is in itself the miracle of miracles. A change wrought by the Word, it is one of the deepest mysteries of the Word. We cannot understand it; we can only believe, as declared by the Scriptures, it is ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (Colossians 1:27).” The Acts of the Apostles, 476.

Note the harmony between reconciliation, atonement, and the new birth experience. They are bound together by one divine purpose: the restoration of the image of God in man. Still another term for this miracle of miracles is “redemption.”

“The work of redemption involves consequences of which it is difficult for man to have any conception. ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him’ (1 Corinthians 2:9). As the sinner, drawn by the power of Christ, approaches the uplifted cross, and prostrates himself before it, there is a new creation. A new heart is given him. He becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus. Holiness finds that it has nothing more to require. God Himself is ‘the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus’ (Romans 3:26). And ‘whom He justified, them He also glorified’ (Romans 8:30). Great as is the shame and degradation through sin, even greater will be the honor and exaltation through redeeming love. To human beings striving for conformity to the divine image there is imparted an outlay of heaven’s treasure, an excellency of power, that will place them higher than even the angels who have never fallen.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 162, 163.

Man, in and of himself, is completely incapable of achieving this reconciliation, this rebirth, without divine power.

“Nothing but divine power can regenerate the human heart and imbue souls with the love of Christ, which will ever manifest itself with love for those for whom He died. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. When a man is converted to God, a new moral taste is supplied, a new motive power is given, and he loves the things that God loves; for his life is bound up by the golden chain of the immutable promises to the life of Jesus. Love, joy, peace, and inexpressible gratitude will pervade the soul, and the language of him who is blessed will be, ‘Thy gentleness hath made me great’ (Psalm 18:35).” Selected Messages, Book 1, 336.

We can add yet another term to this miraculous process of reconciliation: conversion.

“Conversion is a work that most do not appreciate. It is not a small matter to transform an earthly, sin-loving mind and bring it to understand the unspeakable love of Christ, the charms of His grace, and the excellency of God, so that the soul shall be imbued with divine love and captivated with the heavenly mysteries. When he understands these things, his former life appears disgusting and hateful. He hates sin, and, breaking his heart before God, he embraces Christ as the life and joy of the soul. He renounces his former pleasures. He has a new mind, new affections, new interest, new will; his sorrows, and desires, and love are all new. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, which have heretofore been preferred before Christ, are now turned from, and Christ is the charm of his life, the crown of his rejoicing. Heaven, which once possessed no charms, is now viewed in its riches and glory; and he contemplates it as his future home, where he shall see, love, and praise the One who hath redeemed him by His precious blood.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 294.

A bit of meditation on this passage will reveal the incredible “broadness” and all-encompassing nature of the reconciliation process. It becomes plainly evident that reconciliation, conversion, atonement, redemption, and the new birth experience are one and the same. Man can succeed in this process only through cooperation with the divine agencies that God in His mercy has tasked with guiding man along the path of truth and righteousness.

God uses ways to achieve the new birth experience in each individual that we often do not recognize until after the fact—if at all. There are angelic hosts who intercede on our behalf in unseen ways; God moves upon those with whom we interact, often unbeknownst to them, to speak words of encouragement and edification at exactly the right time; the Holy Spirit speaks to us in that still small voice. How many times have we suddenly experienced an epiphany, a “a sudden intuitive leap of understanding,” when reading a familiar Scripture or a well-known passage in the spirit of Prophecy!

Often when we examine our lives and the daily activities—the thoughts, words, and deeds that make up a day’s activities, we become lost in despair of ever being able to meet the high standard that God’s law demands. That is not an unusual perplexity. It is at times like this that we must remember the Cross of Christ.

“Christ suffered in order that through faith in Him our sins might be pardoned. He became man’s substitute and surety, Himself taking the punishment, though all undeserving, that we who deserved it might be free, and return to our allegiance to God through the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour. He is our only hope of salvation. Through His sacrifice we who are now on probation are prisoners of hope. We are to reveal to the universe, to the world fallen and to worlds unfallen, that there is forgiveness with God, that through the love of God we may be reconciled to God. Man repents, becomes contrite in heart, believes in Christ as His atoning sacrifice, and realizes that God is reconciled to him. …

“The reconciliation of God to man, and man to God, is sure when certain conditions are met.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 369.

“Through Jesus, God’s mercy was manifested to men; but mercy does not set aside justice. The law reveals the attributes of God’s character, and not a jot or tittle of it could be changed to meet man in his fallen condition. God did not change His law, but He sacrificed Himself, in Christ, for man’s redemption. ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself’ (2 Corinthians 5:19).” The Desire of Ages, 762.

What does the manifestation and subsequent sacrifice of God in Christ mean to fallen, degraded mankind?

“God was to be manifest in Christ, ‘reconciling the world unto Himself’ (2 Corinthians 5:19). Man had become so degraded by sin that it was impossible for him, in himself, to come into harmony with Him whose nature is purity and goodness. But Christ, after having redeemed man from the condemnation of the law, could impart divine power to unite with human effort. Thus by repentance toward God and faith in Christ the fallen children of Adam might once more become ‘sons of God’ (1 John 3:2).” Patriarchs and Prophets, 64.

By meditation on the incredible and incomprehensible miracle of the Word made flesh, the mysterious blending of the human with the divine, we can begin to appreciate the holiness of God’s character as revealed through His Law and how the plan of redemption enables us to meet the standard that the Law enjoins.

“Says the apostle: ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself’ (2 Corinthians 5:19). Only as we contemplate the great plan of redemption can we have a just appreciation of the character of God. The work of creation was a manifestation of His love; but the gift of God to save the guilty and ruined race alone reveals the infinite depths of divine tenderness and compassion. ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16).” Testimonies, vol. 5, 739. [Emphasis author’s.]

The worshipers in the church at Corinth were not the only ones to whom Paul explained the need of reconciliation. The converts in Ephesus were also given the benefit of Paul’s experience in the third heaven. His epistle to the Ephesians explained that through a common belief in Christ, there is reconciliation between Jew and Gentile, the “middle wall of separation” being “broken down,” so that “He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross.”

“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity” (Ephesians 2:11–16).

That same dissolution of enmity between disparate mindsets is necessary today if the unity that Christ desires in His people is to be accomplished.

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul addresses another aspect of reconciliation. Not only is mankind in need of reconciliation with God, but Paul explained that creation itself lost the perfection that it possessed in the connection it enjoyed with the divine when the world was new. Christ’s sacrifice not only enables mankind to be reconciled to God, but it also provides a means of restoring nature to its original brilliant reflection of the holiness of God.

“For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister” (Colossians 1:19–23).

As we contemplate this aspect of the plan of redemption, we can only be amazed at the unfathomable love that God through Christ revealed—not only to humankind, but to the universe. What an incomprehensible value this epitome of selflessness places on man.

“Jesus did not yield up His life till He had accomplished the work which He came to do, and exclaimed with His departing breath: ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). Satan was then defeated. He knew that his kingdom was lost. Angels rejoiced as the words were uttered: ‘It is finished.’ The great plan of redemption, which was dependent on the death of Christ, had been thus far carried out. And there was joy in heaven that the sons of Adam could, through a life of obedience, be finally exalted to the throne of God. Oh, what love! What amazing love! that brought the Son of God to earth to be made sin for us, that we might be reconciled to God, and elevated to a life with Him in His mansions in glory. Oh, what is man, that such a price should be paid for his redemption!” Testimonies, vol. 2, 211, 212.

Again we cry, “Abba, Father!”

John R. Pearson is the office manager and a board member of Steps to Life. He may be contacted by email at:

Fall on the Rock

Many years ago, at a General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, one of the most powerful and successful evangelists gave his personal testimony. People were surprised to hear that although he was successful and looked up to as a leading minister for many years, he had become convicted that he was not converted.

This is not a rare situation. Over the years I have heard of many similar cases. It often takes a catastrophic event for a person to realize their true position with God and their need for a deeper conversion. It is easy for the heart to be divided. You may think you have a heart for the Lord, but often there is still something in this world that has a hold on you.

After a prophecy seminar in North Dakota, I was visiting the home of some of the attendees with another minister who at that time was a very successful evangelist. It was clear that these people understood the truths that had been shared and had no objection to anything, but they would not go the extra step and make a commitment to follow Jesus all the way. Something in the world had a hold on them.

I have found myself in that same scenario many times. From a very young age I had been taught that once we preached the gospel in all the world for a witness to all nations, Jesus would come and we could all go to Heaven. It seemed easy if we would all get busy. But I got a reality check from a retired missionary to South America while visiting with him one morning. He said that if it were just the information of the three angels’ messages that was needed, God could give it to every single person in the world in one night in a dream. The trouble is, it takes more than information to finish God’s work.

In order for God’s work to be finished, those spreading the three angels’ messages need a change of heart, what we call conversion. There is division amongst God’s people. Some people have become upset with some Bible translations because the word converted in the King James Bible is translated turned in many modern translations. However, the Greek word used actually means to turn around and go a different way. It is not enough to have the information, to have an intellectual knowledge of the truth unless the truth has changed my life.

Pastor David Kang was another well-known minister who experienced a deeper conversion. He was born in Korea and immigrated into the United States with his wife in 1975. After studying at Andrews University, he became a very successful Seventh-day Adventist pastor in Florida pastoring a number of Korean churches.

In 1984 as he was studying, he said the Holy Spirit convicted him of being a hypocrite. When the Holy Spirit convicts you, a choice must be made. Either you accept the conviction and the reproof, or you reject it. Pastor Kang began to spend many hours each day in serious study of the Spirit of Prophecy. Those privileged to have heard him preach know that his preaching was intensely practical. He preached about practical godliness and the blessing of really experiencing the gospel and living the life of Christ. He saw the need of reflecting to the world an image of the character of Jesus.

The theme of Pastor Kang’s message came from 2 Peter 3 where the apostle Peter tells us that the day of the Lord is going to come as a great surprise. It says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (verses 10–13).

The new earth in which righteousness dwells is what we are expecting and looking for. So Peter says, “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless” (verse 14).

Pastor Kang would repeat to his staff the necessity of being without spot and blameless to be ready for the Lord to come. He preached so much about practical godliness that he had to resist the criticism from people all over the world that his message was too strict.

Another preacher, Elder Fordyce Detamore, one of my favorites, had another style of preaching and burden to share. It is important to allow each preacher to share what the Lord has put on his heart. In making his appeals at camp meetings, it was not uncommon at all for him to spend 30 minutes in an appeal. To those whose hearts were warmed with his message, it seemed like just a few moments.

At the end of the meeting on one occasion while making his appeal he called for those who knew somebody in the congregation that needed to make a decision to follow the Lord all the way, to go up to them and tell them that if they would go forward, you will go forward with them. He suggested that if you encourage them to make a commitment, they will not hold it against you in the day of judgment.

It just so happened that while sitting in the back of the meeting I noticed a lady to whom I had given Bible studies sitting probably two or three rows from the front. She believed the truths that I had shown her, but I had been unable to help her to make a decision. As Elder Detamore made his appeal I was convicted that I had nothing to lose if I encouraged her to go forward. Even if she might get mad at me, she would not hold it against me in the day of judgment. So I walked up to her and made the offer to go forward with her if she should choose. She made a decision and went forward and was baptized just a few days later.

If you are almost saved, you are still totally lost. On the day of judgment there will be many people like Felix Agrippa (Acts 26:28). He heard the gospel and he believed it but put off making a decision until a convenient time that never came. Consequently, he will be lost.

A mere intellectual knowledge of the truth will not save you. The Pharisees knew the truth better than anyone, but they refused the power necessary for that truth to change their hearts and lives.

After Pastor Kang’s deeper conversion experience in 1984, he started to preach that unless our characters are without spot and blameless, we will not be fit to go to heaven, even if we know the truth. This teaching infuriated the church leaders who accused him of fanaticism and smeared his reputation as a proponent of heresy. At his funeral, a man who had attended the seminary in Korea with him said that for many years he would not listen or read anything from Pastor Kang solely because the church had been told not to have anything to do with him. However, when he did investigate, he found that Pastor Kang did speak truth and wondered why the church was so against it.

Pastor David Kang had such a conviction, not just to get information out, but for the need to show people by example what has to happen in their heart to be ready for Jesus to come. As a result of the mission projects that he started, there are seven hundred literature evangelists working in China under very dangerous conditions. In fact, Pastor Kang came in danger and narrowly escaped being put in prison himself on a number of occasions.

Hundreds of Sunday keeping pastors from different countries in the Far East that attended Pastor Kang’s sanctuary seminars found out that God has a sanctuary in heaven, and that within the veil of that Most Holy Place of the sanctuary in heaven there is an ark that contains the ten commandments. The news about the unchangeable character of God’s law has been fearlessly presented in Korea, China, and other Asian countries and is spreading underground like wildfire.

It is not enough to know truth; the truth must change lives to be effective. If the knowledge of the truth you know has not yet changed your life, it is not too late for you to have a conversion experience. Maybe your conversion is just superficial, and you need a deeper experience in your life. The good news is that the door of salvation is still open, and Jesus is standing at the door of your heart knocking and longing to be invited in. Now is the time to open that door, for the time is coming when the door of salvation will be closed.

God’s offer of salvation is made even to the world’s most wicked, to the people that the world most despises because of their crimes, if only they would hear and respond to God’s Spirit. We can read in the writings of Ellen White that on one occasion salvation was offered to Nero. Nero was one of the most wicked men that has ever lived yet salvation was still offered to him but he did not accept it. Nero was guilty of killing his own mother as well as murdering at least one of his wives and who knows how many other people.

We wonder how someone as wicked as Nero could ever be saved, but Jesus came into the world to save sinners and if Nero had accepted the invitation and allowed the Holy Spirit to transform his life he could have been saved. But like most, he saw no value in the gift that was offered. However Saul, who later became the apostle Paul, considered himself “the chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). He had chased down the saints of God who feared him and would set out to capture them to be imprisoned or even put to death. When salvation was offered to him on the Damascus Road, he repented and was forgiven. His former companions, the Pharisees, all turned against him. Now if you really have a change of heart so that you go full out for the Lord; in other words, you are fully committed to God and His cause, you are going to have some opposition in this world. Some people that used to be your friends will not be your friends anymore. That is just the way it will happen so do not be too surprised when it does happens.

When your life is fully surrendered to Jesus you are no longer in charge of your life, because you are walking in a different way. Sins that once had an attraction and a hold on you are discarded as you walk the narrow path.

Thank God that our sins can be forgiven. We are told in Romans 3:25, 26, “Whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

Notice that when you come to Jesus, you are forgiven for the sins that you have previously committed, but this does not give license to go on sinning. Forgiveness is always in the past. There is no such thing as being forgiven for a sin that you are going to commit tomorrow. This is contrary to what some Roman Catholic theologians believe.

When the woman was taken in adultery and brought to Jesus in John the 8th chapter, Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11). There were people in the early church who had a hard time with that story and were afraid that if everybody knew about that, it would give people a license to sin. They feared that people would be at liberty to go and sin because they knew they could be forgiven. They thought that the Lord was being too lenient with the woman. But notice that when Jesus forgave that woman of everything that she had done in the past, He said to her, “Go and sin no more.” He did not say to go on a 5-day plan to stop sinning or to cut down on her sin. He said to not do it anymore.

No matter how bad a sinner you are, if you are willing to quit, the Lord can forgive you for what is in your past. Maybe you have a besetting sin that nobody knows about, not even your husband or your wife. Be sure that God knows about it and that your secret sin of which no one else knows is written down in His book. Sins that are not erased by confession and repentance will come up again in the judgment and even though you may profess Christ and go to church every week they will cause you to be lost.

The Bible contains warnings about being ready for the end of the world and for the second coming of Jesus:

“Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare [a trap] on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34–36).

“Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch” (Mark 13:35– 37)! Are you sleeping like the foolish virgins? Pray that the Lord will keep you alert and awake.

“When the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:11–14). No one is allowed into the wedding feast of the Lamb without the wedding garment, a righteous Christ-like character.

“And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).

“The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has seized the hypocrites: ‘Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?’ He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, he who despises the gain of oppressions, who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil: He will dwell on high; his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; bread will be given him, his water will be sure” (Isaiah 33:14–16). There are some people who need to pay special attention to Isaiah 33:15.

Zephaniah 2 was always a very scary passage to my mother. She would talk to me about what it could mean, but I had no answer. “Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the Lord’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the Lord’s anger comes upon you! Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice, seek righteousness, seek humility, it may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger” (verses 1–3).

The part of the text that was so scary to my mother is where it says, “it may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger” which does not sound like a guarantee.

Isaiah 4 describes a time coming when all human pride will be brought low, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day, and everyone that is left among the living in Jerusalem will be holy. At that time when only those who are holy are alive, where will you be?

“And they shall call them The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City not Forsaken” (Isaiah 62:12).

God is preparing a holy people who are ready to meet Him, ready to meet the Lord when He comes.

A time is coming when there will be no more weeping. But right now it is the time to say, Lord, I am surrendering myself totally, completely to you. Whatever change needs to be made in my life, I am surrendering myself totally and completely to the control of Your Holy Spirit. If you are willing to make that kind of a decision, God is willing to answer your prayer and transform your life. The time will come when there will not be any more tears because the former things will be in the past and will never be repeated. It will be a time of rejoicing for those who have kept their garments white and are ready to meet the Lord in peace.

May the Lord prepare our hearts for what is going to break upon this world as an overwhelming surprise; that we might not only know truth, but that the truth will change us from the inside out by the power of His Holy Spirit.

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

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

Inspiration – On Sanctification, Part I

The Redeemer of men prayed to His Father, ‘Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth.’

“’And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whosoever keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.’ This is true Bible sanctification, to love God and to keep His commandments.—Manuscript Releases, vol. 2, 1874, 5, 6. (“Diary—1,” 1874, January 1 to February 16, 1874.)

“What is genuine sanctification? Read Exodus 31. In that chapter we shall understand the term, for God Himself has defined it. The Lord Jesus had given the special directions how to build the tabernacle. As the children of Israel had been compelled to work on the Sabbath, the sacredness of the day was not preserved. As slaves in Egypt, they had largely lost the knowledge of the Sabbath. This is the reason the commandments of God were given in awful grandeur upon Mount Sinai. The Lord would guard His Sabbath in particular, and He knew the people would forget the commandment of the Sabbath, and in their zeal the workmen would say, ‘This work is the Lord’s, and under His supervision, and we can do His work without observing the Sabbath.’ Therefore God enforced their observance of the Sabbath. He spoke through Moses to the people.

“’Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed. And He gave unto Moses, when He had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God’ [Exodus 31:13–18].—Letter 19c, 1874, 2. (Written to her son Willie, April 20, 1874.)…

“We do not believe that the law sanctifies anyone. We believe that we must keep that law or we will not be saved in the kingdom of heaven. The transgressor cannot be saved in the kingdom of glory. It is not the law that sanctifies anyone, nor saves us; that law stands and cries out, repent, that your sins may be blotted out. And then the sinner goes to Jesus, and as the sinner promises that he will obey the requirements of the law, He blots out their guilty stains and sets them free, and gives them power with God.—Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, 1885, p. 7. (Sermon at Santa Rosa, “Hearing and Doing,” March 7, 1885.)

“We are looking beyond time; we are looking to eternity. We are trying to live in such a way that Christ can say, Well done, good and faithful servant. Let us live, every one of us, in that way. We may make mistakes; we may err; but God will not leave us in error. ‘If we sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’ There is hope for us; we are prisoners of hope. Let us grasp the rich promises of God. The garden of God is full of rich promises. Oh, let us gather them; let us take them home; let us show that we believe in God. Let us take Him at His word; let not one of us be found distrusting God or doubting Him.

“Let us be growing Christians. We are not to stand still. We are to be in advance today of what we were yesterday; every day learning to be more trustful, more fully relying upon Jesus. Thus we are to grow up. You do not at one bound reach perfection; sanctification is the work of a lifetime.…

“You want to be like little children, hanging upon the merits of a crucified-and-risen Saviour, and then you will be fortified. How? The angels of God will be around you as a wall of fire; the righteousness of Christ, which you claim, goes before you, and the glory of God is your reward. God sanctify our tongues; God sanctify our thoughts; God sanctify our minds, that we may dwell upon heavenly themes, and then that we may impart that knowledge and light to others. There is great advancement for us, and do not stop here. May God help you to make the most of your responsibilities.—Ms 9, 1891, pp. 14, 15, 18, 19. (Sermon, “Make Proper Use of Talents,” August 22, 1891.)

“The thoughts must be upon heavenly things if you desire the Holy Spirit of God to impress truth upon the mind and soften and subdue the heart, inspiring ardent love of truth, of justice, of mercy, and of purity. The Spirit will bring to your remembrance the most precious jewels of thought. The whole heart will be warm with the contemplation of Jesus and His love, His teachings will be cherished, and you will love to speak to others the comforting things that have been opened to you by the Spirit of God. This is the privilege of every son and daughter of God. Oh, if those who believe the truth would love and fear the Lord always, if they would abide in Christ, they would treasure up the most precious experience; they would have moral and intellectual power; the grace of God would be in them ‘like a well of water springing up into everlasting life,’ and would flow forth from them as streams of living water. When persecution comes, the influence of such souls will be manifest; they will delight to magnify the truth.—Letter 19b, 1892, 6. (Written to Elder O.A. Olsen, June 19, 1892.)

“Truth, precious truth, is sanctifying in its influence. The sanctification of the soul by the operation of the Holy Spirit is the implanting of Christ’s nature in humanity. It is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ revealed in character, and the grace of Christ brought into active exercise in good works. Thus the character is transformed more and more perfectly after the image of Christ, in righteousness and true holiness. There are broad requirements in divine truth stretching out into one line after another of good works. The truths of the gospel are not unconnected; uniting, they form one string of heavenly jewels, as in the personal work of Christ, and like threads of gold they run through the whole of Christian work and experience.

“Christ is the complete system of truth. He says, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’ All true believers center in Christ, their character is irradiated by Christ; all meet in Christ, and circulate about Christ. Truth comes from heaven to purify and cleanse the human agent from every moral defilement. It leads to benevolent action, to kind, tender, thoughtful love toward the needy, the distressed, the suffering. This is practical obedience to the words of Christ.—Manuscript Releases, vol.34, 1894, 6. (“Testimony 4,” August 3, 1894.)

“Satan claimed to be sanctified, and exalted himself above God even in the courts of heaven. So great was his deceptive power that he corrupted a large number of angels, and enlisted their sympathy in his selfish interest. When he tempted Christ in the wilderness he claimed that he was sanctified, that he was a pure angel from the heavenly courts; but Jesus was not deceived by his pretensions and neither will those be deceived who live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. God will not accept a willful, imperfect obedience. Those who claim to be sanctified, and yet turn away their ears from hearing the law prove themselves to be the children of disobedience whose carnal hearts are not subject to the law of God, and neither indeed can be.—Manuscript Releases, vol. 40, 1894, 6. (“Sanctification and Repentance,” October 10, 1894.)…

“The Word has made the statement, ‘I am the Lord that do sanctify you’ if you observe the Sabbath. This is the only true sanctification in the Scriptures—that which comes from God because of obedience to His commandments. Then we may know that the little companies assembled together to worship the Lord on the day which He has blessed and made holy, have a right to claim the rich blessings of Jehovah. He who has declared that His words are spirit and life, should have their faith in strong exercise that the Lord Jesus is an honored guest in their assemblies. ‘Where two or three are met together in My name, there am I in their midst.’ If He is there, it is to enlighten and bless. Therefore as we assemble together, we all have a solemn sense of the presence of God, and know that the angels of God are in the assembly. The messengers of the gospel know by experience its truth, power and excellence. It is the hours of the Sabbath that are sacred and sanctified and holy, and every true worshiper who keeps holy the Sabbath, should claim the promise, ‘That ye may know I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.’

“I tried to make this point as impressive as possible, that the Sabbath day was a special occasion on which the people of the Lord were celebrating the memorial of His Creation; that on the Sabbath the Lord was in the assembly to bless and sanctify, and if they have faith in the Lord every Sabbath would be a day when His people in a special manner will be blessed in their acts of obedience in keeping the commandments of God.—Letter 8, 1898, 3, 4. (To Mrs. Gotzian, February 14, 1898.)

“‘We love Him, because He first loved us.’ True conversion, true sanctification, will be the cause of the change in our views and our feelings toward one another and toward God. ‘We have known and believed the love that God hath toward us. God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.’ We must increase in faith. We must know the sanctification of the Spirit. In earnest prayer we must seek God, that the divine Spirit may work in us. God then will be glorified by the example of the human agent. We shall be workers together with God.

“Sanctification of soul, body, and spirit will surround us with the atmosphere of heaven. If God has chosen us from eternity, it is that we might be holy, our conscience purged from dead works to serve the living God. We must not in any way make self our god. God has given Himself to die for us, that He might purify us from all iniquity. The Lord will carry on this work of perfection for us if we will allow ourselves to be controlled by Him. He carries on this work for our good and His own name’s glory.

“We must bear a living testimony to the people, presenting before them the simplicity of faith. We must take God at His word, and believe that He will do just as He has said. If He chastises us, it is that we may be partakers of His divine nature. It runs through all His designs and plans to carry on a daily sanctification in us. Shall we not see our work? Shall we not present to others their duty, the privilege they have of growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ?

“‘This is the will of God, even your sanctification.’ We have not pressed forward to the mark of the prize of our high calling. Self has found too much room. Oh, let the work be done under the special direction of the Holy Spirit. The Lord demands all the powers of mind and being. It is His will that we should be conformed to Him in will, in temper, in spirit, in our meditations. The work of righteousness cannot be carried forward unless we exercise implicit faith. Move every day under God’s mighty working power. The fruit of righteousness is quietness and assurance forever. If we had exercised more faith in God and had trusted less to our own ideas and wisdom, God would have manifested His power in a marked manner on human hearts. By a union with Him, by living faith, we are privileged to enjoy the virtue and efficacy of His mediation. Hence we are crucified with Christ, dead with Christ, risen with Christ, to walk in newness of life with Him.—Letter 105, 1898, 5–7. (To Elder and Mrs. S. N. Haskell, November 28, 1898.)”

Manuscript Releases, vol. 4, 339–349.

Bible Study Guides – The New Birth

December 9 – 15, 2001

“Except a Man be Born Again”

MEMORY VERSE: “Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” John 3:3

STUDY HELP: Christ’s Object Lessons, 98–102.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “Born again means a transformation, a new birth in Christ Jesus.” The Adventist Home, 206.


“All are not constituted alike. Conversions are not all alike. Jesus impresses the heart, and the sinner is born again to new life. Often souls have been drawn to Christ when there was no violent conviction, no soul rending, no remorseful terrors. They looked upon an uplifted Saviour; they lived. They saw the soul’s need; they saw the Saviour’s sufficiency and His claims; they heard His voice saying, ‘Follow Me,’ and they rose up and followed Him. This conversion was genuine, and the religious life was just as decided as was that of others who suffered all the agony of a violent process.” Evangelism, 287, 288.

“O Wretched Man that I Am!”

1 What must each of us admit before we can be born again? Romans 7:18. Compare Ephesians 2:2, 3.

NOTE: See Steps to Christ, 19.

2 How does Jeremiah state the impossibility of a person transforming himself? Jeremiah 13:23.

NOTE: “Our hearts are evil, and we cannot change them.… Education, culture, the exercise of the will, human effort, all have their proper sphere, but here they are powerless. They may produce an outward correctness of behavior, but they cannot change the heart; they cannot purify the springs of life. There must be a power working from within, a new life from above, before men can be changed from sin to holiness. That power is Christ. His grace alone can quicken the lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to God, to holiness.” God’s Amazing Grace, 120.

“Through Jesus Christ Our Lord”

3 What is the only remedy for the soul’s sickness? Romans 7:24, 25, first part.

NOTE: “The converting power of God can transform inherited and cultivated tendencies; for the religion of Jesus is uplifting. ‘Born again’ means a transformation, a new birth in Christ Jesus.” The Adventist Home, 206.

“The change of heart represented by the new birth can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.…Pride and self-love resist the Spirit of God; every natural inclination of the soul opposes the change from self-importance and pride to the meekness and lowliness of Christ. But if we would travel in the pathway to eternal life, we must not listen to the whispering of self. In humility and contrition we must beseech our heavenly Father, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.’ Psalm 51:10. As we receive divine light, and cooperate with the heavenly intelligences, we are ‘born again,’ freed from the defilement of sin by the power of Christ. The mighty power of the Holy Spirit works an entire transformation in the character of the human agent, making him a new creature in Christ Jesus.” The Faith I Live By, 137.

4 How does Paul describe the change that God makes through Christ? Ephesians 2:4–6. Compare Ephesians 1:3–6.

NOTE: “We must each become acquainted with Christ in order properly to represent Him to the world. ‘His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue’ (2 Peter 1:3). None of us need excuse our hasty temper, our misshapen characters, our selfishness, envy, jealousy, or any impurity of soul, body, or spirit.…We must learn of Christ. We must know what He is to those He has ransomed. We must realize that through belief in Him it is our privilege to be partakers of the divine nature, and so escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. Then we are cleansed from all sin, all defects of character. We need not retain one sinful propensity. As we partake of the divine nature, hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong are cut away from the character, and we are made a living power for good. Ever learning of the divine Teacher, daily partaking of His nature, we cooperate with God in overcoming Satan’s temptations. God works, and man works, that man may be one with Christ as Christ is one with God. Then we sit together with Christ in heavenly places. The mind rests with peace and assurance in Jesus.…In Him there is inexhaustible fullness.…God has given us every facility, every grace. He has provided the riches of heaven’s treasure, and it is our privilege to draw continually from this capital.” God’s Amazing Grace, 235.

“A Living Sacrifice”

5 What part must we play in the work of conversion? Romans 12:1. Compare Psalm 50:5.

NOTE: See Early Writings, 66.

6 What precious gifts will this sacrifice buy for us? Revelation 3:18.

NOTE: “Buy faith and love, the precious, beautiful attributes of our Redeemer.…He invites us to buy the white raiment, which is His glorious righteousness; and the eyesalve, that we may discern spiritual things. Oh, shall we not open the heart’s door to this heavenly visitor? We cannot provide a robe of righteousness for ourselves, for the prophet says, ‘All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.’ Isaiah 64:6. There is nothing in us from which we can clothe the soul so that its nakedness shall not appear. We are to receive the robe of righteousness woven in the loom of heaven, even the spotless robe of Christ’s righteousness. The eye is the sensitive conscience, the inner light, of the mind. Upon its correct view of things the spiritual healthfulness of the whole soul and being depends. The ‘eyesalve,’ the Word of God, makes the conscience smart under its application, for it convicts of sin. But the smarting is necessary that the healing may follow, and the eye be single to the glory of God.…Says Christ, By renouncing your own self-sufficiency, giving up all things, however dear to you, you may buy the gold, the raiment, and the eyesalve that you may see.” Our High Calling, 350.

“Crucified with Christ”

7 How does Paul describe this living sacrifice? Galatians 2:20.

NOTE: “God will accept nothing less than unreserved surrender. Half-hearted, sinful Christians can never enter heaven. There they would find no happiness; for they know nothing of the high, holy principles that govern the members of the royal family. The true Christian keeps the windows of the soul open heavenward. He lives in fellowship with Christ. His will is conformed to the will of Christ. His highest desire is to become more and more Christlike.…Earnestly and untiringly we are to strive to reach God’s ideal for us. Not as a penance are we to do this, but as the only means of gaining true happiness. The only way to gain peace and joy is to have a living connection with Him who gave His life for us, who died that we might live, and who lives to unite His power with the efforts of those who are striving to overcome.” This Day With God, 145.

8 What change will this sacrifice of self work in us? Romans 12:2.

NOTE: “The transforming power of Christ’s grace molds the one who gives himself to God’s service. Imbued with the Spirit of the Redeemer, he is ready to deny self, ready to take up the cross, ready to make any sacrifice for the Master. No longer can he be indifferent to the souls perishing around him. He is lifted above self-serving. He has been created anew in Christ, and self-serving has no place in his life. He realizes that every part of his being belongs to Christ, who has redeemed him from the slavery of sin; that every moment of his future has been bought with the precious lifeblood of God’s only-begotten Son.” Lift Him Up, 58.

“Christ came to restore to its original loveliness a world ruined by sin.…In the new earth there will be no sin nor disease.…And the body will be restored to its original perfection. We shall wear the spotless image of our Lord.…As the heart becomes transformed by the renewing of the mind, the graces of the Spirit leave their impress on the face, and it expresses the refinement, delicacy, peace, benevolence, and pure and tender love that reign in the heart.” My Life Today, 153.

“A New Heart Will I Give You”

9 How is the contrast between the sinner and the converted soul described? Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26, 27.

NOTE: “Be not discouraged because your heart seems hard. Every obstacle, every internal foe, only increases your need of Christ. He came to take away the heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh. Look to Him for special grace to overcome your peculiar faults. When assailed by temptation, steadfastly resist the evil promptings.…Cry to the dear Saviour for help to sacrifice every idol and to put away every darling sin. Let the eye of faith see Jesus standing before the Father’s throne, presenting His wounded hands as He pleads for you. Believe that strength comes to you through your precious Saviour.” God’s Amazing Grace, 84.

10 What plea does the Lord make to His people? Ezekiel 18:31, 32.

NOTE: See Prophets and Kings, 325.

“Create in Me a Clean Heart”

11 What prayer of David’s should also be ours? Psalm 51:10. Compare Matthew 23:25–28.

NOTE: “Unless the mind of God becomes the mind of man, every effort to purify himself will be useless; for it is impossible to elevate man except through a knowledge of God. The outward gloss may be put on, and men may be as were the Pharisees whom Jesus describes as ‘whited sepulchres,’ full of corruption and dead men’s bones. But all the deformity of the soul is open to Him who judgeth righteously, and unless the truth is planted in the heart, it cannot control the life. Cleansing the outside of the cup will never make the vessel pure within. A nominal acceptance of truth is good as far as it goes, and the ability to give a reason for our faith is a good accomplishment, but if the truth does not go deeper than this, the soul will never be saved.” Our High Calling, 142.

12 What prayer must accompany our desire for a new heart? Psalm 139:23, 24.

NOTE: “The Lord Jesus has given man an example in His own life. For the selfish heart of sin, He gives the new heart of love. He changes the heart, and produces an entire revolution in the soul. He brings light out of darkness, love out of enmity, and holiness out of impurity, that those who believe in Christ may represent Christ’s life and character to the world.” Testimonies to Southern Africa, 39.

“If Christ is abiding in the heart, He will be in all our thoughts. Our deepest thoughts will be of Him, His love, His purity. He will fill all the chambers of the mind. Our affections will center about Jesus. All our hopes and expectations will be associated with Him. To live the life we now live by faith in the Son of God, looking forward to and loving His appearing, will be the soul’s highest joy. ” In Heavenly Places, 163.

By Gordon Anderson

Ask the Pastor – Instant Conversion


Is there such a thing as an instant conversion? Should not conversions take place over a period of time so that people can process the gospel?


The New Testament is our model for carrying the gospel to the entire world. In the Book of Acts, we find the example of an instant conversion of the Philippian jailer. (See Acts 16:16–34.) Although an earthquake is a shaky foundation on which to make a religious decision, the jailer at Philippi serves as an example of such an experience. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

The testimony of the apostle Paul served to make sense of what had happened and caused this jailer to fear God. Fear sometimes contributes to an instant conversion. Certain other circumstances sometimes do the same, but God can use all events in an effort to confront individuals with the decision of accepting Jesus as Saviour.

Fear can bring a person to a point of clarity in understanding so that conversion can, in reality, take place. This jailer was fearful. He was afraid of the earthquake. He was fearful that the prisoners had escaped. He was fearful that he would be held accountable for their escape. When he learned that everything was all right, the first question he asked was, “What must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30. He recognized that what had happened was not just a natural event. When something unusual takes place in a person’s life, it puts into motion the thought that there might be some supernatural cause for what is happening, and when an explanation is found, conversions can happen instantly.

Paul’s quick response was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Verse 31. From all appearances, this man was a hardened prison keeper. He was Roman, a heathen man. But an event of such proportions brought about an instant conversion.

Instant conversions such as this one can take place today. We do not know the extent of God’s working in an individual’s life. All we need to know is that we need to be instant in season and out of season to preach the gospel message, as was Paul. Paul’s words were short and to the point: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” This message has not changed since that day. Jesus is still the Saviour of fallen mankind and always will be. Some will study long; others will be converted in an instant. We need to be ready to be used of the Lord to bring the message of hope and salvation whenever circumstances call for us to witness.

Pastor Mike Baugher is a retired minister of the gospel. If you have a question you would like Pastor Mike to answer, e-mail it to:, or mail it to: LandMarks, Steps to Life, P. O. Box 782828, Wichita, KS 67278.

Question – Is there such a thing as an instant conversion?


Is there such a thing as an instant conversion?


What is an instant conversion? The word conversion means, “an experience associated with a definite and decisive adoption of religion.” It means that you change, you do a U-turn and go a different direction. It takes some people longer to change their minds than others. After the mind is changed, then the way of life has to be reeducated to the change; the old habits have to be forsaken and replaced with new habits, which often takes a period of time. But, when you talk about an instant conversion, you are usually talking about the time when the decision is made to follow the Lord.

An example of an instant conversion given in the Bible is of the thief on the cross. Such a conversion is sometimes called a deathbed conversion or an instant conversion. Let us look at what the Spirit of Prophecy has to say about this. Speaking of the thief on the cross, Ellen White wrote: “He had seen and heard Jesus, and had been convicted by His teaching, but he had been turned away from Him by the priests and rulers.” The Desire of Ages, 749.

So, actually, we might ask, Did the thief on the cross have an instant conversion? or was it the result of previous wooing by the Holy Spirit? Whatever the case, when it was brought about, it happened instantly.

We do not deny that there are people who are converted instantly, when they suddenly see and hear Christianity for the first time and see that it is something better than they have ever before known. But this is very rare. Usually the individual has heard the truth, read a book, had some Christian contact or other Christian influences, such as a grandparent, parents, or other relatives who were Christians. But these influences did not take hold previously. Then, when the truth is brought to the person’s mind in a meeting, a conversation, or through some irregularity happening in the life, it causes the person to give his or her heart to the Lord. He or she makes a sudden turn around, which may be called an instant conversion, because it happens so quickly, but it is actually the result of previous experiences and truths that the person had before heard.

Conversion is not just something that happens when you first give your heart to the Lord. Conversion needs to take place every day. Paul said, “I die daily.” 1 Corinthians 15:31. Jesus said, “If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23.

The Lord is longsuffering and merciful, not willing that any should perish. (11 Peter 3:9.) He bears long with the sinner, and the Holy Spirit pleads with the person until he either submits his heart to the Lord or turns to his own way, and his heart is too hard to impress anymore. At that time, the Lord leaves the individual to the result of his own choices. If he chooses to follow the Lord, the Holy Spirit abides with him, and he is given spiritual guidance and protection. If he chooses to follow his own inclinations, he is left to follow his own decisions and to reap the results of his own mistakes.

The Spirit of Prophecy informs us that, “Some among the redeemed will have laid hold of Christ in the last hours of life, and in heaven instruction will be given to those who, when they died, did not understand perfectly the plan of salvation. Christ will lead the redeemed ones beside the river of life, and will open to them that which while on this earth they could not understand.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 262.

If you have a Bible question you would like answered, e-mail it to:, or mail it to: LandMarks, Steps to Life, P. O. Box 782828, Wichita, KS 67278.

My Conversion Story

There was a song I heard in my childhood years that had a verse that said, “If it had not been for the Lord who was on my side, where would I be?” This verse expresses the theme of my heart when I think of the goodness of God and all He has done for me. If it had not been for a God who loves His enemies, where would I be? And if it had not been for a God who looked upon me with pity and acted upon me with grace, then where would I be? Only God truly knows where I would be, but because I know where I was, I magnify Jehovah for where I am today. I stand and testify of a heart-changing God who has delivered my soul from the chains of darkness and joined it to the Son of light. The Almighty Father has proved His love to me in ways that have left me so convinced that there is no greater love. And as I reflect upon the saving grace that has produced my conversion, my heart is overwhelmed with a great debt that is due to His name. At a time when I thought that all hope was lost, the hands of God were directing the events of my life in order for His power to be seen.

The incidents that brought about my conversion are living monuments that bear witness to the patience, mercy, and forgiveness of the God who is as powerful today as He was in the days of Moses. On the ninth of June, 2000, a day that is far from being forgotten, an event occurred that would eventually change my life forever. On this day I decided to engage in a criminal act which I had never done before. I was barely eighteen years old, and a high school graduate for only nine days. Young and full of worldly aspirations, my reasons for participating in this crime were a combination of greed, pride, and the fear of rejection. I had little concern about the consequences of my actions, but not enough to restrain my ambitions. So there I was, even in the brightness of the morning, endeavoring to experience a new dimension of the criminal life in an attempt to gain not only wealth, but also a higher degree of honor within my social group.

As I proceeded to engage in this crime, something suddenly occurred that was not part of the plan. It just so happened that while I was leaving the scene, an officer was driving down the same street, headed directly toward the scene. By the time I noticed him, it was too late to get into my vehicle. Therefore, I walked along the city street, hoping that he would just drive by, but he did not. To my surprise and dismay, he stopped right beside me and stepped out of his car. After a short investigation, a foot pursuit transpired, after which I was arrested. So there I was, detained in the county jail. This was my first time incarcerated as an adult. The only other time I spent incarcerated was when I was sixteen years old. And even that was not a true incarceration because it lasted for only a few hours until my father arrived to get me. However, this time was different; hours turned into days, days into weeks, and weeks into months. But little did I know that the hands of God were directing the events in order for His power to be seen.

Prior to my trial, the District Attorney offered me a plea bargain that I did not accept because prison was included. At eighteen years old and weighting a mere 120 pounds, prison was the last place I wanted to be. I thought that if I were sent to prison, I would definitely come face to face with death. Not only did my body size influence my reasoning, but the fact that I had made many enemies throughout this entire process also strengthened my fears. Therefore, I decided to disregard the plea and place my life instead into the hands of the jury. Now this was undoubtedly an unwise decision. The amount of time offered in the plea bargain was no match to the amount of time I could have received if found guilty of all eleven charges. But the hands of God were directing the events in order for His power to be seen.

After the selection of the jury, the trial was in full session. Evidence was brought forward, witnesses bore their testimonies, and arguments were exchanged between the District Attorney and my lawyer. After a two-day trial, the process of deliberation finally began. Before the jury began to deliberate, there was no doubt that I was guilty of all charges. Not only did the evidence prove my guilt, but the fact that I refused to testify on my own behalf also provided solid evidence of my guilt. So there I was, awaiting my fate. Now, if I had been convicted of all eleven charges, I would have been incarcerated for the rest of my life. But the hands of God were directing the events in order for His power to be seen. And it just so happened on the day before the deliberation that the uncle of one of the jurors died. As a result of this, the juror was overwhelmed with grief that would not allow her to continue in the deliberation process. Therefore, she asked to be excused from the process and dismissed from her jury duties. After investigating the validity of the claim of her uncle’s death, it was determined that his death had indeed occurred. So, according to certain regulations, she was granted her request.

Now that this juror was dismissed, there were only eleven jurors remaining to decide my case. By law, at least twelve jurors must be present to deliberate and decide a verdict. Now that there were only eleven, I was given an option to either allow them to render a verdict or declare a mistrial. Well, considering the fact that all evidence was against me, and my guilt was apparent, I immediately declared a mistrial. As a result of this declaration, the District Attorney had several options to choose from; he could have dismissed my charges, filed a motion for a retrial, or offered me another plea agreement. As time passed, I prepared myself to face another trial. I knew that my charges would not be dismissed, and I thought that no better plea would be offered than the one that I had refused. But the hands of God were directing the events in order for His power to be seen.

Around a month after the trial, my attorney visited me with news regarding the status of my case. The report he brought was far beyond my expectations. Previously, the District Attorney had attempted to provide the Labette Correctional Conservation Camp (boot camp) for me as an alternative to prison. But boot camp did not accept me because of the severity of my crimes. Following my trial, however, the Lord put it upon the heart of the judge to write a letter to the administrators of boot camp requesting that they accept me into their program. This resulted in great success, and as a result of their acceptance of me, the District Attorney revised his plea bargain, which granted me community probation upon the completion of the boot camp program. This was the news that my attorney presented. Out of exceeding joy I immediately accepted the plea agreement. And after spending six months in boot camp, I was released back into the community. This amounted to a total of fourteen months of incarceration.

Though I learned many life-improving methods in boot camp, it was not enough to change my evil conduct. I did not learn the discipline needed to keep me out of the streets. And most importantly, I did not learn the reality of where a life of sin would end. Upon my release, I continued to travel the path to destruction. Even though I was given a three years’ probation period, I did not abide by the terms laid out in the agreement. I continued to associate with the same social group, and I got heavily involved with alcohol. The motivation I gained from boot camp was applied to my endeavors to become rich. And due to my involvement with illegal drugs, I was slowly gaining wealth. So there I was, living free and prospering in many ways. But even though I was gaining the desires of my heart, deep down I was afraid. I did not want to live in fear for the rest of my life, yet my fears were not capable of restraining my egotistic ways. But the hands of God were directing the events in order for His power to be seen.

A wise king once said, “He who covers his sins will not prosper.” Proverbs 28:13. Fourteen months after my release, this proverb was proved true in my life. As a result of my continual engagement in illegal activities, I found myself sitting in the county jail again. This was the second time I had been arrested as an adult. The crimes that I committed this time were not as severe as the former crimes, but the amount of time I was facing was still great. However, the effects of this latter incarceration were different from the former. Immediately after my incarceration, I began to question myself and ponder the course of my life. Most disturbing to me was the thought of leaving my little girl, who was only two months old, in a world too large for her to live in without her father. I could not believe that I abandoned her. For this and other reasons, my heart was severely broken, and I wept for many nights. “What am I doing?” “Is there a better way to live?” “Where will I end up in life?” These were some of the various questions I asked myself as I sought the meaning of my life.

As I mentioned earlier, my second incarceration was in many ways different from the first. Since I was still on probation when I was arrested, my probation was revoked, and I was immediately transported to the Department of Corrections. Before my transportation, however, the Lord began to thoroughly impress my heart. While still in the county jail, I began to read the Scriptures with an earnest desire for change. I began to cry out to God in desperation for help. I began to realize that it was my own selfish desires that were ruining my life. No longer could I blame others for my problems; I knew that I was my worst enemy. As I read the Word, revelations filled my mind. I began to confess my sins and exercise trust in Jesus Christ. Little concern was given to the amount of time I was facing. I had experienced the peace of God that expelled many worries. I had come to realize that the hands of God were directing the events in order for His power to be seen.

Upon my arrival to prison, I was comforted with the assurance that God was with me. I did not know what to expect, but I knew that I was determined to continue in His Word. After about a month, I received a visit from my attorney during which he informed me about the status of my new case. You see, somehow my new charges were dropped, even before I was sent to the Department of Corrections. The only reason I was sent was to finish the time appointed from my previous case. But while I was in prison, my new charges were refiled. During his visit, my attorney related to me the amount of time I was facing. He informed me that I could receive at least fifteen years in prison if convicted. But little did he know that the hands of God were directing the events in order for His power to be seen.

After my attorney’s visit, I remained calm and peaceful. I related the news to some of my street associates who were also serving prison sentences. They were amazed that I was facing such a large amount of time. And they were even more amazed at how I remained happy and unconcerned. They thought I was strange because of my change of conduct, and our association grew further and further apart until they finally recognized my sincerity. I was determined to live right, and I could not allow any man to persuade me to do otherwise. I had experienced the touch of God’s love, so neither life nor death could steal the joy that I had in my heart. Even with the thought of facing fifteen years, I concluded that nothing could separate me from the love of God.

As time passed, I was transported back to the county jail to face the new charges that had been refiled. I wasn’t there very long until my attorney visited me with news regarding the position of my case. To this day I am amazed at the power of God and how He continually intervened in my life. To my surprise, two of the original three charges were not refiled. It seemed as if my attorney was not fully aware of this when he visited me in prison. What we thought was a fifteen years prospect was drastically decreased. Furthermore, my attorney informed me that the District Attorney was extending a plea agreement that consisted of only a 34-month prison term consecutive to my prior case. After pondering over the pros and cons, I eventually accepted the offer. I had already experienced the prison environment and was not troubled over the thought of serving a little more time. The peace of God was ruling in my heart, and I knew that nothing would happen to me aside from His will. I knew that the hands of God were directing the events in order for His power to be seen.

In the second half of Proverbs 28:13, King Solomon says, “… whoever confesses and forsakes [his sins] will have mercy.” Just as the former half of this proverb was proved true to me, so was the latter. I was eventually transported back to prison to complete both prison sentences. For the entire forty months of my incarceration, I spent my time developing a close relationship with the Father and His Son. Hours upon hours were devoted to studying, praying, and meditating. I began to see life in a very different way. I knew that all the recent events of my life were a part of God’s plan to gain my attention. If it had not been for the Lord who was on my side, I would be either permanently incarcerated or six feet underground. But Jehovah’s love is immeasurable, and His judgments cannot be overturned. The Father is actively engaged in the administration of His saving grace. He is earnestly stretching out His arms to the lost sheep that are still wandering in the mountains and deserts of this world. And because of the fact that He has patiently labored for my deliverance, I am determined to labor with Him for the deliverance of others. By the grace of God, I will fight the good fight until the end. By His might, I will run with endurance. And until the day that my breath departs, I will earnestly work to let the world know that the hands of God are directing the events in order for His power to be seen.

A member of Steps to Life staff, Demario Carter works in the Mail Order Services Department. He can be contacted by e-mail at: or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Old Flesh New Spirit

There is a serious and very bothersome mistake, which is made by many persons.

That mistake is made in thinking that when they are converted, their old sinful flesh is blotted out.

In other words, they make the mistake of thinking that they are to be delivered from the flesh by having it taken away from them altogether.

Then, when they find that this is not so, when they find that the same old flesh, with its inclinations, its besetments, and its enticements, is still there, they are not prepared for it, and so become discouraged, and are ready to think that they never were converted at all.

And yet, if they would think a little, they ought to be able to see that that is all a mistake. Did you not have exactly the same body after you were converted that you had before? Was not that body composed of exactly the same material—the same flesh and bones and blood—after you were converted as that of which it was composed before? To these questions everybody will promptly say “Yes.” And plainly that is the truth.

And now there are further questions: Was not that flesh also of exactly the same quality as before? Was it not still human flesh, natural flesh, as certainly as it was before?—To this also everybody will say “Yes.”

Then also a still further question: It being the same flesh, and of the same quality,—it still being human flesh, natural flesh,—is it not also still just as certainly sinful flesh as it was before?

Just here is where creeps in the mistake of these many persons. To this last question they are inclined to think that the answer should be “No,” when it must be only a decided “Yes.” And this decided “Yes” must be maintained so long as we continue in this natural body.

And when it is decided and constantly maintained that the flesh of the converted person is still sinful flesh, and only sinful flesh, he is so thoroughly convinced that in his flesh dwells no good thing that he will never allow a shadow of confidence in the flesh. And this being so, his sole dependence is upon something other than the flesh, even upon the Holy Spirit of God; his source of strength and hope is altogether exclusive of the flesh, even in Jesus Christ only. And being everlastingly watchful, suspicious, and thoroughly distrustful of the flesh, he never can expect any good thing from that source, and so is prepared by the power of God to beat back and crush down without mercy every impulse or suggestion that may arise from it; and so does not fail, does not become discouraged, but goes on from victory to victory and from strength to strength.

Conversion, then, you see, does not put new flesh upon the old spirit; but a new Spirit within the old flesh. It does not propose to bring new flesh to the old mind; but a new mind to the old flesh. Deliverance and victory are not gained by having the human nature taken away; but by receiving the divine nature to subdue and have dominion over the human,—not by the taking away of the sinful flesh, but by the sending in of the sinless Spirit to conquer and condemn sin in the flesh.

The Scripture does not say, Let this flesh be upon you, which was also upon Christ; but it does say, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5.

The Scripture does not say, Be ye transformed by the renewing of your flesh; but it does say, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2. We shall be translated by the renewing of our flesh; but we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

The Lord Jesus took the same flesh and blood, the same human nature, that we have,—flesh just like our sinful flesh,—and because of sin, and by the power of the Spirit of God through the divine mind that was in him, “condemned sin in the flesh.” Romans 8:3. And therein is our deliverance (Romans 7:25), therein is our victory. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus,” “A new heart will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you.” [Ezekiel 36:26, last part.]

Do not be discouraged at sight of sinfulness in the flesh. It is only in the light of the Spirit of God, and by the discernment of the mind of Christ, that you can see so much sinfulness in your flesh; and the more sinfulness you see in your flesh, the more of the Spirit of God you certainly have. This is a sure test. Then when you see sinfulness abundant in you, thank the Lord that you have so much of the Spirit of God that you can see so much of the sinfulness; and know of a surety that when sinfulness abounds, grace much more abounds in order that “as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Unbelieving Israel, not having the righteousness which is of faith, and so not appreciating the great sacrifice that the Heavenly Father has made, sought righteousness by virtue of the offering itself, and because of the merit of presenting the offering.

Thus was perverted every form of service, and everything which God had appointed to be the means of expression to a living faith, and which could not have any real meaning except by the living presence and power of Christ Himself in the life. And even this was not enough. For, not finding the peace and satisfaction of an accomplished righteousness in any of this, nor in all of it together, they heaped upon these things which the Lord had appointed for another purpose, but which they had perverted to purposes of their own invention,—they heaped upon these things ten thousand traditions, exactions, and hair-splitting distinctions of their own invention; and all, all, in a vain hope of attaining righteousness. For the rabbis taught what was practically a confession of despair, that “if but one person could only for one day keep the whole law and not offend in one point—nay, if but one person could but keep that one point of the law which affected the due observance of the Sabbath—then the troubles of Israel would be ended, and the Messiah at last would come.”—Farrar, “Life and Work of St. Paul,” 37. See also 36, 83. What could possibly more fittingly describe a dead formalism than does this? And yet for all this conscious dearth in their own lives, there was still enough supposed merit to cause them to count themselves so much better than other people that all others were but as dogs in comparison.

It is not so with those who are accounted righteous by the Lord upon a living faith freely exercised. For when the Lord counts a man righteous, he is actually righteous before God, and by this very fact is separated from all the people of the world. But this is not because of any excellence of his own, nor of the “merit” of anything that he has done. It is altogether because of the excellence of the Lord and of what He has done. And the man for whom this has been done, knows that in himself he is no better than anybody else; but rather in the light of the righteousness of God that is freely imparted to him, he, in the humility of true faith, willingly counts others better than himself. Philippians 2:3.

This giving themselves great credit for what they themselves had done, and counting themselves better than all other people upon the merit of what they had done—this were at once to land men fully in the complete self-righteousness of the Phariseeism. They counted themselves so much better than all other people that there could not possibly be any basis of comparison. It seemed to them a perfectly ruinous revolution to preach as the truth of God that “there is no respect of persons with God.” [Acts 10:34.]

And what of the actual life of such people, all this time? O, it was only a life of injustice and oppression, malice and envy, variance and emulation, backbiting and tale-bearing, hypocrisy and meanness; boasting of their great honour of the law, and through breaking the law dishonouring God; their hearts filled with murder, and the tongues crying loudly for blood of One of their brethren, yet they could not cross the threshold of a Roman tribunal “lest they should be defiled!” [John 10:28, last part.] Intense sticklers for the Sabbath; yet spending the holy day in spying treachery and conspiracy to murder.

What God thought and still thinks of all such ways as this, is shown plainly enough for our present purpose, in just two short passages of scripture. Here is His word to Israel—the ten tribes—while yet their day lingered: “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt-offerings and your meat-offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peace-offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from Me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” Amos 5:21-24.

And to Judah near the same time He said the same thing, in these words: “Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats. When ye come to appear before Me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread My courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto Me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hateth; they are a trouble unto Me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide Mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood.

“Wash ye, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:10-18.

The Lord Himself had appointed these feast days and solemn assemblies, these burnt-offerings, meat-offerings, and peace-offerings; but now He says He hates them and will not accept them. Their fine songs, sung by their trained choirs, and accompanied with instruments of music, making a grand display,—all this that they got off for wonderfully fine music, He called “noise,” and wanted it taken away.

He has never appointed any feast days, nor solemn assemblies, nor sacrifices, nor offerings, nor songs, for any such purpose as that for which these were being used. He had appointed all these as the means of worshipful expression of a living faith by which the Lord Himself should abide in the heart and work righteousness in the life, so that in righteousness they could judge the fatherless and plead for the widows; and so that judgment could run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Songs sung in the pomp and stylish intonation of a vain show, are but “noise;” while the simple expression, “Our Father,” flowing from a heart touched by the power of a true and living faith and “spoken in sincerity by human lips, is music” which enters into the inclining ear (Psalm 116:2) of the Heavenly Father, and brings divine blessing in power to the soul.

This and this alone is what He had appointed these things for; and never, never to be used in the hollow pretense of a dead formalism to answer in righteousness for the iniquity of a carnal heart. Nothing but the washing away of the sins by the blood of the Lamb of God, and the purifying of the heart by living faith—nothing but this could ever make these things acceptable to Him who appointed them.

Even this side of the cross of Christ, which itself should be the everlasting destruction of it, the same dead formalism, and empty profession, has exalted itself, and has been the bane of the profession of Christianity everywhere. Very soon, unconverted men crept into the church and exalted themselves in the place of Christ. Not finding the living presence of Christ in the heart by living faith, they have ever since sought to have the forms of Christianity supply the lack of His presence, which alone can give meaning and life to these forms.

In this system of perverseness, regeneration is through the form of baptism, and even this by a mere sprinkling of a few drops of water; the real presence of Christ is in the form of the Lord’s supper; the hope of salvation is in being connected with a form of the church. And so on throughout the whole list of the forms of Christianity. Not content with thus perverting the divinely appointed forms of Christianity, they have heaped upon this, ten thousand inventions of their own, in penance, pilgrimages, traditions, and hair-splitting distinctions.

And, as of old, and always with mere formalists, the life is simply and continually, the manifestation of the works of the flesh,—strife and contention; hypocrisy and iniquity; persecution, spying, treachery, and every evil work. This is the Papacy.

This evil spirit of a dead formalism, however, has spread itself far beyond the bounds of the organized Papacy. It is the bane of the profession of Christianity everywhere today; and even the profession of the Christianity of the third angel’s message has not entirely escaped it. It is to be the world-wide prevailing evil of the last days up to the very coming of the Lord in glory in the clouds of heaven.

For, “this know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” II Timothy 3:1-5.

This all-prevailing form of godliness without the power, and which even denies the power, is the dead formalism against which we are to fight the good fight of living faith. The living faith which is brought to the world in the third angel’s message is to save us from being swallowed up in this worldwide sea of a dead formalism.

How is it with you individually to-day? Is yours a dead formalism, or a living faith? Have you the form of godliness without the power? or have you by living faith the living presence and power of the living Saviour in the heart, giving divine meaning, life, and joy to all the forms of worship and of service which Christ has appointed; and working the works of God and manifesting the fruits of the Spirit in all the life?

Except as the means of finding Christ the living Saviour in the word, and the living faith of Him, even this word itself, can be turned to a dead formalism now as it was of old when He was on the earth. He said to them then (Revised Version), “Ye search the Scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of Me. And ye will not come to Me that ye may have life.” John 5:39, 40.

They thought to find eternal life in the Scriptures without Christ, that is, by doing it themselves. But “this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son,”—as we find Him in the Scriptures, and not in the words of the Scriptures without Him. For they are they that testify of Him. This is their object. Therefore, “he that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” I John 5:11, 12.

“True godliness elevates the thoughts and actions; then the external forms of religion accord with the Christian’s internal purity; then those ceremonies required in the service of God are not meaningless rites, like those of the hypocritical Pharisees.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, 219.

©Copyright 1995 TEACH Services, Inc.

Used with Permission.

Romans 7

Two completely opposite interpretations occur within Seventh-day Adventism, today, concerning the seventh chapter of Romans. The difference is a question about what Paul meant when he said: “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” Romans 7:15.

Was that Paul’s actual spiritual experience at the time, when he, as a converted Christian, wrote to the Romans? Or was he illustrating a lesson using an earlier experience in his life, when he had realized the Law’s demands, but was not yet converted and therefore had not received insight into God’s plan of salvation from sin?

Without hesitation we recognize much from the illustration in our own struggle in the Christian life, but is it exactly the same for everyone? Also, what did Paul mean when, later on, he said that we should not feel any obligation or indebtedness to the flesh?

“We are debtors, not to the flesh,” but that we, with the Spirit’s power, shall “mortify the deeds of the body.” Romans 8:12, 13. Naturally, we can fall and then Jesus raises us up again, but that is not what Paul is dealing with here. The question is not so much concerned with Paul’s conversion as it is with whether we believe that God is powerful enough to be able to give us “power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12), and strength to subdue our sinful nature. Did God ask too much of Cain when He said to him that he should “rule over” (Genesis 4:7) his nature? Was it impossible for the woman taken in adultery to, in God’s strength, “go, and sin no more”? (John 8:11.) Also, was Peter able to do the humanly impossible —to walk on the water?

The question is fundamental and serious. If Paul, that giant of God’s servants, were converted in Romans 7:15–25, and yet could not do other than sin, none—not even God—can demand that we stop sinning. It would indirectly be an excuse for us to continue to live in sin, because then it would be impossible to overcome sin and keep the law of God. But that statement is, in fact, Satan’s basic lie since the rebellion in heaven. (See The Desire of Ages, 309.)

This interpretation shall, with the help of parallel texts, attempt to clarify whether Paul described himself as being converted or not, in Romans 7:14–23.


Different Methods of Interpretation


When God teaches us about important truths, which He does not want us to misunderstand, He repeats the message using different illustrations. The book of Ezekiel, chapters 4, 5, 12, 15, 17, 23 and 24, are striking examples of how He does this. In these chapters, God speaks to the Jews through the prophet, and warns them that because of their backsliding from the faith, and the spread of corruption among both the rulers and people, they will be carried away into captivity to Babylon. At that time, as during all of the history of the Israelites, there were only a few among the people, and even fewer among the leaders, who took any notice of God’s warnings through His prophets.

When it has to do with Righteousness by Faith, and victory over the temptation to transgress the law of God after being born again, God uses the same method of repetition as we find in Paul’s letter to the Romans. However, in spite of the fact that He uses four parables which are unambiguous, some interpret His statements differently, and, as a result, they limit their interpretation to a few texts in the fourth repetition.

To interpret a subject with a limited number of texts, however, is to invite an incorrect interpretation. When others interpret God’s Word in that way, we criticize them. Nevertheless, Romans 7:7–25 is often interpreted with this same “limited-number-of-texts” interpretation procedure within Seventh-day Adventism today. The moral declension in the world and the ecumenical spirit among professed Christians, influence Adventists to an ever-increasing degree, through the introduction of Romish lines of thought into our theology. Aurelius Augustine’s (354–430 A.D.) doctrine of inherited sin has greatly influenced how many Adventists believe, and it is a deciding factor in understanding Romans, chapter 7.

Peter counsels us about how some will use Paul’s writings, in 2 Peter 3:15, 16: “Even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.” Therefore, each of us should be careful not to draw hasty conclusions about what Paul means. In addition to this, some texts are poorly translated, or even incorrectly translated, depending upon whether the translator had a Romish, or Biblically based viewpoint. However, we must also understand Paul’s letter correctly; and it is true that those who really want to understand will understand, if they will ignore their own and others’ prejudices and interpretations and listen directly to the Holy Spirit’s instruction in the Bible. (James1:5.) God’s Word is given through the Holy Spirit and it never contradicts itself.


Paul’s Conversion


What was the consequence of Paul’s conversion? Those who claim that he was converted in Romans 7:14–23, believe, in practice, that Paul, who through God’s grace should “[be obedient] to the faith among all nations” (Romans 1:5), could not avoid sinning himself—or, in other words, that nothing had actually happened in his life after he, in Romans 7:25, exclaimed that he had obtained the solution to his sin problem through Jesus Christ.

Is the Holy Spirit’s power which accompanied the preaching of the gospel (1 Thessalonians 5) only a promise for the future, and not in reality something which leads us to liberty and victory over sin in our everyday life here and now? Many today say that it applies to the future when they expect that the “latter rain,” by a miracle, shall so change them that they stop sinning. They also say that now (before the latter rain), no one can escape the transgression of God’s law, and they often refer to Paul’s experience, in the seventh chapter of his letter to the Romans, to support their view.


Different Definitions


It is obvious that differences of understanding are caused by differences in definitions of what conversion involves. Is one already converted when only one’s will and aim is to do good, or is one first converted when one has received the power to effect a complete change, and go in the opposite direction?

Roman Catholic theology teaches that it is enough to will to do good. This means that God has instituted a law that one cannot live up to. It is acceptable for Catholics to sin. Their ideals, in the first place, are guiding principles that are neither necessary nor possible to live up to. There is only a continual pardon but no victory over sin. But is that the Gospel of the Bible? Is the aim and the will enough? Doesn’t it need something more than that?


Examples of Conversions


Perhaps the experience of Pentecost, in Acts 2:36–38, can shed some light on the question of conversion. Peter had just preached the Pentecost message of the new covenant and that the Jews had slain their own King, the only true Mediator between God and them. He stressed the fact that God’s sacrificial Lamb was given and that the service of reconciliation in the holy apartment of the heavenly sanctuary had begun.

When the Jews, who had gathered, heard that, “they were pricked in their heart.” They felt that they needed more than their symbolic service in the earthly temple, and they had a will to alter the state of things. But were they converted by the will alone to change? No. Instead, they asked: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter saw that they were now ready and answered: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:38.

In the same way, Paul was “pricked in [his] heart” when he realized the demands of the law. (See Acts 26:14, 22:10, The Acts of the Apostles, 112–122.) He says: “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” Romans 7:9. Paul understood that it required more than outer religious formalism. He wanted to follow the demands of the law, but he was powerless to do so. He was “sold as a slave to sin” and was “[captive] to the law of sin.” Romans 7:23. Paul had no alternative! Does that really describe, as some declare, a person’s life after having been changed and set free (Luke 4:18; 33–36) by the grace of God? Is it not so, instead, as Paul describes it here in Romans 7:14–23, an account of how he deals with the demands of the law—without grace?

Paul had the desire, but, realizing the hopeless situation with his carnal nature, exclaimed in despair: “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” The Swedish Bible (1917 edition) has it thus: “Who shall save me from this body of sin?” At this point, he was also ready to receive the power of conversion, finding the answer as did the Jews on the day of Pentecost: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 7:25.

That joyous message was the solution to his problem, “for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth . . .” Romans 1:16. The Gospel is not only about forgiveness; it also concerns the Holy Spirit’s power in us to win the victory over the world, Satan and ourselves. By ourselves, we have no power to oppose our nature and our intelligent fiend, Satan. However, God grants us the power through: “Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” Jude 24.

That power is not a miracle that belongs to the future. It is the same power which Jesus requested of His Father to overcome evil. It is the same power which Enoch (who walked with God) and Elijah (who was taken up to heaven) both received. When Paul found the solution to his problem, he received an alternative to his earlier life. He could choose one or the other. He summarized the two alternatives at the end of the seventh and beginning the eighth chapter of his letter to the Romans.

“So then with the mind [spirit] I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death . . . That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 7:25, 8:1, 2, 4.


Four Parallel Confirmations


Does the information, up to this point, support what Paul wrote earlier in his letter? A deciding factor is to know why he wrote the letter and to whom he wrote it. It can be established that he wrote partly to highly educated Christians of heathen origin as well as to Jewish Christians who were on intimate terms with “the law” but without grace, and who therefore tried to earn their salvation through “works” alone. Paul wrote: “thou art called a Jew, and restest [v.i. to be left, to remain; to stay; to continue—Webster’s dictionary] in the law . . . Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?” Romans 2:17, 21. (Read verses 17–29.)

The Swedish Bible (1917 edition) renders it thus: “You call yourselves Jews and trust in the law . . . You who want to teach others don’t learn yourselves!” These Jews kept the outward letter of the law, but their hearts did not keep the spirit of the law. Their Christianity was motivated by a fear of punishment, or of desire for an expected reward. The driving force behind their type of Christianity was not love to God for His sacrifice or for that which was right.

The structure of the letter shows that Paul wrote to people who were familiar with the way that the Old Testament conveyed a particular truth; namely that of repetition. Since Paul wrote to people with a knowledge of the Old Testament’s method of description, he has repeated what he says in Romans 7:7; 8:4, about serving either the “flesh” or the “spirit,” not less than three times earlier, from Romans chapter five. The first description he gives is that of the theology of baptism. In the second, he illustrates the principle through the story of the slave who was freed to serve another master. The third is a picture of a woman who, through the law, is bound to her husband until he dies, but after his death she is free to give herself to another man.


  1. The Symbol of Baptism


Paul begins with the theology of baptism, since baptism is the symbol for the death of Jesus, His burial and resurrection—the fundamental principles of everything else in God’s plan of salvation. As an introduction to his teaching, he talks about Adam who, through his transgression, brought sin and death into the world, but explains that, in Romans 5:18, “the second Adam,” Jesus Christ, had come and solved the problem of sin and death by His righteous life and His substitutionary death. By that means, none were automatically judged to die for eternity. The “second Adam” now offers redemption and power to overcome. Therefore, “as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:21.

The Swedish Bible (1917 edition) renders it thus: “As sin had exercised its domination in and through death, so should now also grace through righteousness exercise its domination to everlasting life and that through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

After this, Paul poses a question to the Romans: “Shall we continue in sin? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Romans 6:1–3. Paul explains here for the Romans that those who have been baptized have died, been buried and have been resurrected and therefore “should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4.

The old man of flesh is buried “that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.” Romans 6:6, 7.

The grammatical form, used in the above quotations, is continuous. That means that something begins at a point of time and continues to go on now. By way of explanation, one could say: It began to rain yesterday and has continued to rain ever since. (Another text with the continuous form is John 3:16 where it says: “that whosoever believeth [and continues to believe] shall be saved.”)

In the same way, shall the old man be dead, and remain dead. The new, spiritual man shall live and continue to live. Paul exhorts them: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Romans 6:12–14.

Accordingly, Paul says that a new power has been established which shall have Lordly dominion and press down the former.


  1. The Obliging Servant


Yet again Paul asks: “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?” Romans 6:15.

This time, Paul illustrates his salvation from sin by using the example of a servant who becomes released from his servitude, and who, of his own free will and with all his heart, chooses, instead, to obey his deliverer. The servant’s relationship to his master was well known in Roman society which was full of servants or slaves taken from the people of those lands which the Romans had conquered. But Israel also had a slave system of its own with a system of regulations governing it. If an Israelite found himself in a debt situation where he could not manage to repay, he could be forced to sell himself as a servant to another Israelite so that he did not need to starve. However, he became free and was released from his debt in the seventh, or “free,” year. A real slave, however, was bound to his master and remained his slave for life, unless a rich or powerful person released him.

The servant, who had been released, Paul spiritually applied to the Christian whom Jesus had redeemed. He exclaimed: “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you . . . for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.” Romans 6:17–19.

Paul says that the Christian is free to serve the good instead of, as earlier, his own fallen nature, when he had no other alternative than to be a slave to the world and Satan.

Next month we will study out the last two illustrations that Paul uses.*

*Charles Axelson passed away in July of 1998.

Charles Axelson has been a faithful Seventh-day Adventist in Sweden for many years. Over 20 years ago Charles was involved in an automobile accident that left him a quadraplegic. Using a stick in his cheek, he was active as a writer and an artist. He had the respect and love of his associates and he is missed by each one. He was looking forward to this article being published in Land Marks magazine. We look forward to seeing Charles again—seeing him jump for joy that he can walk again. Then we will all spend eternity together forever.