Bible Study Guides – “Our God Whom We Serve Is Able To Deliver”

July 21, 2001 – July 27, 2001

MEMORY VERSE “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isaiah 43:2.

STUDY HELP: Prophets and Kings, 503–513.


“Important are the lessons to be learned from the experience of the Hebrew youth on the plain of Dura. In this our day, many of God’s servants, though innocent of wrongdoing, will be given over to suffer humiliation and abuse at the hands of those who, inspired by Satan, are filled with envy and religious bigotry. Especially will the wrath of man be aroused against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment; and at last a universal decree will denounce these as deserving of death. The season of distress before God’s people will call for a faith that will not falter. His children must make it manifest that He is the only object of their worship, and that no consideration, not even that of life itself, can induce them to make the least concession to false worship.” Prophets and Kings, 512.

“In the Plain of Dura”

1 What gesture of pride did Nebuchadnezzar make? Daniel 3:1.

NOTE: “Light direct from Heaven had been permitted to shine upon King Nebuchadnezzar, and for a little time he was influenced by the fear of God. But a few years of prosperity filled his heart with pride, and he forgot his acknowledgment of the living God. He resumed his idol worship with increased zeal and bigotry. From the treasures obtained in war he made a golden image to represent the one that he had seen in his dream, setting it up in the plain of Dura, and commanding all the rulers and the people to worship it, on pain of death. This statue was about ninety feet in height and nine in breadth, and in the eyes of that idolatrous people it presented a most imposing and majestic appearance.” The Sanctified Life, 36, 37.

“Thus the grand lesson given by God to the heathen, and to all people, was misconstrued and misplaced. That which was designed by God to teach lessons of truth, and to give the world clear, distinct rays of light, Nebuchadnezzar turned from its purpose, making it minister to his pride and vanity. The prophetic illustration was made to serve for the glorification of humanity. The symbol designed to unfold important events was turned into a symbol which would hinder the spread of that knowledge which God designed the kingdoms of the earth should receive. By the height and beauty of his image, by the material of which it was formed, the king sought to make error and false doctrine magnificent and attractive, more powerful, seemingly, than anything God had given.” Signs of the Times, April 29, 1897.

2 What command did Nebuchadnezzar make regarding the image? Daniel 3:2–7.

NOTE: “This scheme, devised in the counsel of Satan, was made in order to compel the three Hebrew children to obey human laws in direct opposition to the laws of Jehovah. The most learned of the nation, men who were noted for their aptness and educational advantages, thus worked to form a confederacy that would exalt the king of Babylon and excite enmity against the Hebrew captives. They prevailed upon the king to enact certain laws which these youth could not consent to respect. The worship of the image which the king had set up, was made the established religion of the country.” Signs of the Times, September 2, 1897.

“There are Certain Jews”

3 What accusation was made by certain Chaldeans? Daniel 3:8–12.

NOTE: “These men who thus accused the Hebrews had been saved from death by Daniel’s appeal to the king in their behalf, but they were envious of the three Hebrews, and were desirous of hurting their influence; they therefore carried the complaint to the king that these men had dared to disobey his commands.” Signs of the Times, May 6, 1897.

4 What was the king’s immediate reaction to the news of the three young men’s disobedience? Daniel 3:13.

NOTE: “The thought that his slightest wish should not be respected at the dedication of the image, filled the king with rage, and he commanded that the men be brought before him. ‘Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? ’ How short-lived is the exaltation bestowed by men! How little dependence can be placed in them! These three men, once honored, and entrusted with great responsibilities, are now the objects of the wrath of a king whose will is law. Truly we can not trust in princes.” Signs of the Times, May 6, 1897.

5 What was the king’s considered response? Daniel 3:14, 15.

NOTE: “As the three Hebrews stood before the king, he was convinced that they possessed something the other wise men of his kingdom did not have. They had been faithful in the performance of every duty. He would give them another trial. If only they would signify their willingness to unite with the multitude in worshiping the image, all would be well with them; ‘but if ye worship not,’ he added, ‘ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.’ Then with his hand stretched upward in defiance, he demanded, ‘Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? ’” Prophets and Kings, 507.

“Our God is Able to Deliver”

6 What response did the three give the king? Daniel 3:16–18.

NOTE: “They had learned from the history of their fathers that disobedience to God is dishonor, disaster, and ruin; that the fear of the Lord is not only the beginning of wisdom but the foundation of all true prosperity. They look with calmness upon the fiery furnace and the idolatrous throng. They have trusted in God, and He will not fail them now. Their answer is respectful, but decided: ‘Be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up’ (Daniel 3:18).” The Sanctified Life, 37.

“Thus these youth, imbued with the Holy Spirit, declared to the whole nation their faith, that He whom they worshiped was the only true and living God. This demonstration of their own faith was the most eloquent presentation of their principles. In order to impress idolaters with the power and greatness of the living God, His servants must reveal their own reverence for God. They must make it manifest that He is the only object of their honor and worship, and that no consideration, not even the preservation of life itself, can induce them to make the least concession to idolatry. These lessons have a direct and vital bearing upon our experience in these last days.” In Heavenly Places, 149.

7 What punishment immediately followed the young men’s reply? Daniel 3:19–21.

NOTE: “When the king saw that his will was not received as the will of God, he was ‘full of fury,’ and the form of his visage was changed against these men. Satanic attributes made his countenance appear as the countenance of a demon; and with all the force he could command, he ordered that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than its wont, and commanded the most mighty men to bind the youth, and cast them into the furnace. He felt that it required more than ordinary power to deal with these noble men. His mind was strongly impressed that something unusual would interpose in their behalf, and his strongest men were ordered to deal with them. The king’s command was urgent. He was anxious to punish the men who had dared to exercise their will in opposition to his will; and without delay, with all their clothing upon them, they were cast into the fire.” Signs of the Times, May 6, 1897.

“Four Men Loose Walking In the Midst of the Fire”

8 What was the effect of the furnace on the executioners of the three young men? Daniel 3:22.

NOTE: “The king’s wrath knew no limits. In the very height of his power and glory, to be thus defied by the representatives of a despised and captive race was an insult which his proud spirit could not endure. The fiery furnace had been heated seven times more than it was wont, and into it were cast the Hebrew exiles. So furious were the flames, that the men who cast them in were burned to death.” The Sanctified Life, 38.

9 What astonishing sight met Nebuchadnezzar’s eyes? Daniel 3:24, 25.

NOTE: “How did that heathen king know what the Son of God was like? The Hebrew captives filling positions of trust in Babylon had in life and character represented before him the truth. When asked for a reason of their faith, they had given it without hesitation. Plainly and simply they had presented the principles of righteousness, thus teaching those around them of the God whom they worshiped. They had told of Christ, the Redeemer to come; and in the form of the fourth in the midst of the fire the king recognized the Son of God. . . .” Conflict and Courage, 252.

10 What wonderful Bible promise was thus fulfilled? Isaiah 43:2.

NOTE: “He who walked with the Hebrew worthies in the fiery furnace will be with His followers wherever they are. His abiding presence will comfort and sustain. In the midst of the time of trouble—trouble such as has not been since there was a nation—His chosen ones will stand unmoved. Satan with all the hosts of evil cannot destroy the weakest of God’s saints. Angels that excel in strength will protect them, and in their behalf Jehovah will reveal Himself as a ‘God of gods,’ able to save to the uttermost those who have put their trust in Him.” Conflict and Courage, 252.

“Nor Was an Hair of Their Head Singed”

11 What words did the king address to the three young men? Daniel 3:26.

NOTE: “And now, his own greatness and dignity forgotten, Nebuchadnezzar descended from his throne and, going to the mouth of the furnace, cried out, ‘Ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither.’ Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came forth before the vast multitude, showing themselves unhurt. The presence of their Saviour had guarded them from harm, and only their fetters had been burned. ‘And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.’” Prophets and Kings, 509.

12 What effect had the fire had upon them? Daniel 3:27.

NOTE: “And they obeyed, showing themselves unhurt before that vast multitude, not even the smell of fire being upon their garments. This miracle produced a striking change in the minds of the people. The great golden image, set up with such display, was forgotten. The king published a decree that any one speaking against the God of these men should be put to death; ‘because there is no other god that can deliver after this sort.’” Review and Herald, February 1, 1881.

13 What was the king’s reaction to the courage and faith of the three young men? Daniel 3:28–30.

NOTE: “These three Hebrews possessed genuine sanctification. True Christian principle will not stop to weigh consequences. It does not ask, What will people think of me if I do this? or, How will it affect my worldly prospects if I do that? With the most intense longing the children of God desire to know what He would have them do, that their works may glorify Him. The Lord has made ample provision that the hearts and lives of all His followers may be controlled by divine grace, that they may be as burning and shining lights in the world. These faithful Hebrews possessed great natural ability, they had enjoyed the highest intellectual culture, and now occupied a position of honor; but all this did not lead them to forget God. Their powers were yielded to the sanctifying influence of divine grace. By their steadfast integrity they showed forth the praises of Him who had called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. In their wonderful deliverance were displayed, before that vast assembly, the power and majesty of God. Jesus placed Himself by their side in the fiery furnace, and by the glory of His presence convinced the proud king of Babylon that it could be no other than the Son of God. The light of Heaven had been shining forth from Daniel and his companions, until all their associates understood the faith which ennobled their lives and beautified their characters. By the deliverance of His faithful servants, the Lord declares that He will take His stand with the oppressed and overthrow all earthly powers that would trample upon the authority of the God of heaven.” The Sanctified Life, 39, 40.

What Manner of Persons

In 11 Peter 3:11, the question is asked, “What manner of persons ought you to be?” This chapter of 11 Peter is the last letter from the apostle Peter. In the first chapter, he tells us that very soon he is going to die. He knows that, just as the Lord predicted to him, he will very soon be crucified. In the second chapter, he predicts a worldwide apostasy in Christendom after his death and describes the awful apostasy that will come into the Christian church. In the third chapter, he speaks of the times in which we are living, and he tells the people how they can be sure of obtaining eternal life. He tells them that the word of prophecy is surer than what they see or hear.

Verse 3 of 11 Peter 3 says, “This knowing first, that mockers shall come in the last days.” What is this mockery? What are these mockers going to say? Peter goes on to list other things that will happen in the last days.

Promise of His Coming

People will ask, “Where is the promise of His coming?” This is a statement of unbelief. The last days are described in the Scriptures as a time of great unbelief. Most of the world does not believe. Are we living in that time? Yes, it is recorded in our history books. Many historians refer to the period of time that we often call the Middle Ages and the Dark Ages as the age of faith. It was a very wicked time, a time when millions of Bible-believing Christians were martyred for their faith, but it was still an age of faith. Even those who were killing other people claimed they were Christians who believed in God and in the Bible. But the last days are described as a time of unbelief. Jesus described them in that manner—He said it would be like the days of Noah. (Matthew 24:37.) Were the days of Noah a time of unbelief? Well, there were only eight people in the ark! The last days are repeatedly described as a time of great unbelief.

I was reading recently that various mathematicians have tried to figure out what the population might have been at the time of the flood. Remember, people before the flood lived to be nearly 1,000 years of age, so if you consider that, a woman could probably have borne children for 300 to 400 years. How many children would a woman have during that time? One mathematician said that it would be the easiest thing in the world for the average family to have 18 to 20 children, so he used the lower number of 18 in his calculations. There are people in our time who have a dozen or more children, so 18 is not an unrealistic number. We know that people in the Old Testament had many children. In Genesis 5, we are told that Enoch lived for 365 years; his first child, Methuselah, was born when he was 65. Then it states that after that he “begat sons and daughters.” (Verses 21, 22.) He would have had at least two sons and two daughters in addition to Methuselah, so Enoch would have had a minimum of five children. It could have been six or eight or ten. This mathematician calculated that at the time of the flood, if the average family had 18 children, the population could have been between 700 and 800 million people! If the average family had been 20, the population would have been over a billion. Ellen White says that there was a vast population in the world at that time. (See Patriarchs and Prophets, 102.) It is almost certain that, at a minimum, there were hundreds of millions of people, and there could easily have been over a billion.

Out of those hundreds of millions, there were only eight people in the ark. Was that an age of unbelief? Jesus foretold that it will be like that again at the end, and Peter foretold that it would be a time of great unbelief. The people will be mocking those who are expecting the Lord to come. They will say that we expected Him to come years ago, and we cannot contradict that.

Lust, Unbelief

People will be going after their own lusts. In other words, they will be following their own human cravings.

People will be expressing unbelief. People will say, “Since the fathers fell asleep, everything continues as it has from the beginning of creation.” That is the Uniformitarian Theory that was developed in the last 200–250 years. This Theory states that if you cut into a mountain to observe the sediment and you determine that two-tenths of an inch of sediment is being laid down every year in this mountain, by cutting down so many feet, you can say that this mountain is so many million years old, because you believe that the same amount of sediment being laid down now has been laying down for centuries.

In 1979, I toured the geology building at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. I went through the entire building—looking for their evidence that things were many millions of years old. I went to every display in the whole building, and there is only one piece of evidence—the Uniformitarian Theory. The whole field of geology is built on this Theory. Almost 1,800 years before this Theory was developed, Peter said that that is what people would say in the last days. According to Bible prophecy, this Theory is proof that we are living in the last days.

Willingly Ignorant

People are willingly ignorant that this world came into existence by the Word of God. This world is not something that just developed over a long period of time. It came into existence by the Word of God. People want to be ignorant; they do not want to remember this. We have the most startling proof of this today. I have read a book about the researches of an orthodontist who went to Europe and other areas to study the skulls of people such as the Neanderthal man and the Promagnum man, who were supposed to be millions of years old. He secured permission to take x-ray pictures of some of the skulls. He began doing some measurements and calculations and found information that was so startling—and that so startlingly disproved previous theories—that his life was actually in danger.

Robert Gentry, the man who wrote Creation’s Tiny Mystery [Earth Science Associates, Knoxville, Tennessee, 1986], which describes how stones were created, challenged some organizations in court. He has written 11 different research reports of his findings on his rock research. No one has been able to fault his research. In court, when the evolutionists were asked to refute his research, they said, “That is just a tiny mystery that we cannot explain.” He has submitted his reports for publication, but the journals refuse to publish them. Do you know why they refuse to publish them? Because the Bible says that in the last days people willingly, wantonly desire to forget. It is exactly what the Bible says. They do not want to remember that the heavens and earth came into existence by the Word of God.

The world that was deluged by water during the Flood was destroyed. The Flood is one of the things of which the people are willingly ignorant. If any of you find a geology or biology textbook that teaches that there was a worldwide flood about 4,400 years ago, let me know. I have never seen one. Our textbooks never acknowledge a worldwide flood; they only tell of an ice age. Notice what Peter says: “But the heavens and the earth which now are, by the same Word, are kept treasured up for fire unto the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” Verse 7.

Fire Coming

The Bible teaches that there is fire coming. The third angel’s message teaches that there is fire coming. I have never preached much about hell. I do not like to think about it. I do not like to preach about it. I do not like to talk about it, but it is in the Bible. We need to recognize that each one of us has a heaven to win and a hell to shun. (See Selected Messages, Book 1, 96.) We need to always have this in mind when we are speaking with other people. Perhaps it would help us overcome some of our timidity. When we are witnessing, we are trying to save them from hell and motivate them to choose heaven, if they will listen.

Peter says that fire is coming; a time of judgment for the ungodly is coming. Jude 15 talks about the same thing. Jesus spoke about it in Matthew 13.

Big Surprise

An overwhelming surprise is coming upon our world. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief.” 11 Peter 3:10. It is going to be an overwhelming surprise. The verse continues, “. . . in which the heavens with a great rushing sound will pass away and the elements will be burned up. The earth will be destroyed and the works in it.” It is all going to be burned up—our cars, our houses, our possessions. The only possessions we have that will not be burned up, if they are saved, are our children. People can be saved; things cannot be saved. Realizing that everything is going to be burned up helps us to evaluate what is important and what is not important.

Peter’s Query

It is in this context—seeing that everything around us is going to be destroyed—that Peter asks, “What manner of persons should we be in all holy manner of life and godly conduct?” Verse 11. Is this something important to study? If everything around us is going to be destroyed, and we hope to escape the destruction, what manner of people should we be?

Peter gives us hope. He says, “New heavens and a new earth, according to His promise, we expect, in which dwells righteousness.” Verse 13. He tells of the re-creation wherein righteousness dwells. What is righteousness? It is right doing. Romans 7:12 says, “The law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good.” A righteous person lives according to God’s Law. An unrighteousness person is someone who does not live according to God’s Law. (See 1 John 5:17.) “Little children, do not let anyone deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous just as He is righteous. He that sins is of the devil, for the devil sins from the beginning.” 1 John 3:7, 8.

Peter asks what manner of persons we should be. Consider these things:

Moral Excellence

Moral excellence is a holy manner of life. In 1 Peter 1:15, it says, “You be holy, because I am holy.” Holiness is God-likeness or piety. So often, in religion, we use certain words over and over again, and most of our children cannot understand them. The average child probably cannot tell you what the word holy means. Piety, sometimes translated virtue, means moral excellence.

“Wherefore, beloved, expecting these things, be diligent, spotless, and unblemished [or blameless] to be found by Him in peace.” 11 Peter 3:14. What does it mean to be spotless? Paul uses this term repeatedly. What makes the character spotted? Sin. So, if you are without spot, you are without sin. Remember that the sacrifices were to be without spot or blemish.

The Bible tells us what it is that brings the character into condemnation and what constitutes a person with a righteous or holy character. You may study this in 11 Peter 1:3–8 and Galatians 5:22, 23. The Bible actually gives us more lists of those things that bring the character into condemnation. (See Romans 1:29–32; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Galatians 5:19–21). Jesus says that these are the things that defile a man (Matthew 15:17–20); and John gives three lists in the last of the Book of Revelation.

God must have known that we needed to have these things spelled out. In Revelation 21:5–8, it talks about the one that overcomes, and then it gives a list, and it says that the people with these defiling characteristics are going to be in hellfire. Revelation 21:27 includes a short list; a longer list is cited in Revelation 22. We usually quote verse 14 regarding those who keep the commandments and who will enter in through the gate, but then, if you look at verse 15, a list is given of people who will be on the outside. The Bible gives us lists so we will know which people are spotted and which people are blameless—who will be accounted pious and holy.

Notice 11 Peter 3:17: “Therefore, you beloved, knowing these things beforehand, guard yourself in order that not with the error of the unprincipled one, sometimes referred to as the wicked one, you might be led away and fall from your own steadfastness.” This is a command. Do you suppose, when the Bible gives us a command, that we should pay special attention to what we are to do?

Guard Your Association

This is a general command, but it is a command. It says, “guard yourself.” From what are we to guard ourselves? “The one who walks with wise men, also he will be wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed.” Proverbs 13:20. According to this verse, we need to guard ourselves concerning our associations. Will there be those who will lose their faith because they associated with the wrong crowd? People think this happens only to children and young people, so we are very concerned with whom our children associate. As adults, however, we are not immune from our associations. Do you realize that every social association has an effect on us? We affect the other person, but they also affect us. This verse can make all the difference between hell and heaven for a lot of people.

The very same principle is discussed in Psalm 1. We need to guard ourselves regarding our associations. Someone may wonder, then, whether we should be social in order to save people. Yes, we should. But Ellen White says that is our only reason for being social with the ungodly—we should associate with them for one purpose only, and that is if we are trying to save them. “Let us ever bear in mind that our Saviour left the heavenly courts, and came to a world polluted by sin. By his own life he has shown his followers how they can be in the world, and yet not be of the world. He came not to partake of its delusive pleasures, to be swayed by its customs, or to follow its practices, but to seek and to save the lost. With this object, and this only, can the Christian consent to remain in the company of the ungodly.” Sketches From the Life of Paul, 299.

Yes, we have to do business with the ungodly. We could not exist in this world if we did not do business with them, but we do not need to associate with them socially, except as we are trying to win them to Christ. If we are not doing something for their salvation, we had better watch out, because we will be destroyed in the process. “The world is not to be our criterion. We are not to associate with the ungodly and partake of their spirit, for they will lead the heart away from God to the worship of false gods. . . . It is by leading the followers of Christ to associate with the ungodly and unite in their amusements that Satan is most successful in alluring them into sin.” The Adventist Home, 459, 460.

Guard What You See

“I will not put before my eyes the wicked thing.” Psalm 101:3. Peter says to guard yourselves lest you be led away with the error of the unprincipled ones and you fall from your own steadfastness. (11 Peter 3:17.) This is happening today with frightful speed among those who profess to be waiting for the coming of the Son of man, because they are not guarded. Are you guarding yourself? Are you saying, “I have a moral responsibility to God, not just for with whom I associate, but for that at which I am looking?” When you look at something, are you evaluating whether you need to know about it, whether it is going to help you to be ready for heaven, or whether it is some base, wicked thing, just for entertainment?

In my observations, I have learned that people in our society believe that they are simply being entertained by what they are looking at, but the fact of the matter is, they are being educated, and it is not the Holy Spirit who is educating them. Always remember that.

If you are a Seventh-day Adventist, you claim that you are waiting and preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus. Peter cautions to guard yourself, and David says he will not put any base thing in front of his eyes; he speaks of his hatred for such things. This is an important principle, and the Bible emphasizes it in more than one place. This is something to take to the Lord in your own devotions. Pray about it and ask the Lord to give you wisdom and willpower and self-control to look only at that that is pleasing in His eyes. Ask yourself, “Would the Lord be pleased with what I am looking at? Could the Lord sit right beside me on the sofa and could we watch this together?”

I am very fearful that many, many Seventh-day Adventists will lose their way to heaven and end up in hellfire as a result of what they are looking at on their videos and on their television sets. I am not out to point fingers; I just want people to think about what they are looking at and what they are listening to—is it helping them get ready for heaven or not?

“The sinners in Zion are terrified. Terror has seized the profane ones. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? The one who does righteousness; who speaks uprightly, who rejects the gain of oppressions, the one who will not accept a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed, and who shuts his eyes from seeing evil.” Isaiah 33:14–16. When there is terror in Zion among the profane ones, who is it that is going to dwell with the devouring fire? Remember, the Bible says, Our God is a devouring fire. (See Exodus 24:17; Isaiah 30:27.) When God comes, wherever sin is, it will be devoured.

Do you want to be one of those who shuts his ears from hearing about bloodshed and shuts his eyes from seeing evil? That is how we must be living if we are going to be ready when Christ comes. We will have to be guarding what we hear and see.

Guard What You Hear

We not only need to be guarding what we see, but we need to be guarding what we hear as well. To what are you listening? To what kinds of music are you listening? What kinds of videos are you watching and to what kinds of programs are you listening? Are the programs you look at or listen to ones you could enjoy with Jesus sitting beside you? Could you have a good conversation and enjoy the programs together? We need to be guarded.

Guard Your Appetite and Imagination

We need to guard what we taste, what we eat, and what we drink. There are many texts in the Bible regarding this, such as Isaiah 55; 1 Corinthians 10:20, 21; Daniel 1:8. The Bible teaches us that we need to be guarded concerning what we eat and drink. Paul says, “Whatsoever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31.

We need to guard our imaginations. Very often sin begins in the imagination. After a person has been thinking about something for a long time, he begins to talk about it, and than he eventually does it. The Bible has a lot to say about the imagination. Psalm 19:14 speaks about the words of the mouth and the thoughts or imagination of the heart—that they may be acceptable to the Lord. In 11 Corinthians 10:5, we are told that every thought is to be brought into subjection to Christ. We are not ready for Jesus to come until that occurs.

Guard your imagination, “In order that you might not be led astray by the error of the unprincipled ones.” 11 Peter 3:17. What does it mean to be unprincipled? The unprincipled ones are lustful or licentious. It has reference to unbridled lust, shamelessness, outrageous conduct, unchaste handling of males or females, and lawless works. That is the way it is described in 11 Peter 2:6–10.

There are good things on which to exercise the imagination. Ellen White says that we should try to picture the home of the saved; we should spend time trying to imagine what heaven is like. (See Marana-tha, 319, 355.) It is a good exercise for the imagination. There are good uses for the imagination, but the devil tries to divert the imagination to evil causes so that it is like it was before the Flood.

Avoid These Things

Those are the five things. We need to guard our association; we need to be guarded in what we see; we need to be guarded in what we hear; we need to be guarded in what we taste; and we need to guard our imaginations.

We must avoid these things, or we will all perish. “And the Lord saw that great was the evil of man upon the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all day long.” Genesis 6:5. That is how it was before the Flood. The people’s thoughts were evil all day long. That is the reason for the Flood, and Jesus said that it will be this way again just before the Second Coming of Christ.

Grow in Grace

To the people who have guarded themselves, who are not being led away by the error of the unprincipled ones into lustful, lawless conduct, the Bible says, “But grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” 11 Peter 3:18.

Very soon after penning these words, Peter would be crucified. He knew it, because the Lord had told him that he would be crucified just as He had been. Before his death, he had wanted to write one last time to the churches. As he came to the close of his letter—the last communication that he, as a human being in this world, would have before his own crucifixion—he wanted to appeal to the Christians to not become part of the great apostasy that he saw coming (described in detail in 11 Peter 2). He was telling us how we should be guarded and prepared, without spot and blameless, and as he closed his letter, he made this final appeal: “Grow, grow in grace.”

Will there ever be a time in this world when we do not need to grow in grace? No, there will never be a time in this world when this will not be applicable. This is something that we can pray about every morning. We can say, “Lord, I am commanded in your word that I am to grow in grace, and I am surrendering my life to you today, choosing to guard myself, choosing to do my part, but Lord, only You can supply the grace.” We need to do our part—to guard ourselves—but we need to ask the Lord to bring that miracle of grace about, because only He can supply it. The promise in the Scriptures is that He has all of the grace that we need for whatever our struggles may be—appetite, passion, the desire for pleasure, impatience, losing our temper. We need grace if we are going to overcome, and God has all of the grace that we need. We only need to ask for it.

[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]

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

Signs – Which Direction are You Turning?

On November 1, 1755, an earthquake struck in the Atlantic Ocean. It is commonly known as The Great Lisbon Earthquake. The total duration of the shaking lasted ten minutes, comprising three distinct jolts. A devastating fire following the earthquake destroyed a large part of Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, and a very strong tsunami caused heavy destruction along the coasts of Portugal, south Spain and western Morocco. Geologists today estimate that the earthquake approached magnitude 9. The effects from the earthquake were far reaching, with shaking felt in North Africa.

May 19, 1780, stands in history as The Dark Day. Since the time of Moses, no period of darkness of equal density, extent or duration has ever been recorded. “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.” Joel 2:31. The moon became as red as blood on the night of the Dark Day, May 19, 1780. Milo Bostick in Stone’s History of Massachusetts says, “The moon which was at its full, had the appearance of blood.”

On November 13, 1833, the skies over the eastern United States were lit up by thousands of shooting stars every minute. This display lasted for four hours preceding dawn that day.

These phenomena were the fulfillment of the signs given before the coming of Jesus. At first, the people were afraid and gathered themselves together to pray. However, when nothing happened they soon went back to their former lifestyles.

“We are living in the time of the end. The fast-fulfilling signs of the times declare that the coming of Christ is near at hand. The days in which we live are solemn and important. The Spirit of God is gradually but surely being withdrawn from the earth. Plagues and judgments are already falling upon the despisers of the grace of God. The calamities by land and sea, the unsettled state of society, the alarms of war, are portentous. They forecast approaching events of the greatest magnitude.

“The agencies of evil are combining their forces and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis. Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones.” Lift Him Up, 356.

Then is described the condition of the world at that time. Ellen White says, “Bold robberies are of frequent occurrence. Strikes are common. Thefts and murders are committed on every hand. Men possessed of demons are taking the lives of men, women, and little children. Men have become infatuated with vice, and every species of evil prevails.” Ibid.

“On one occasion, when in New York City, I was in the night season called upon to behold buildings rising story after story toward heaven. These buildings were warranted to be fireproof, and they were erected to glorify the owners and builders. Higher and still higher these buildings rose, and in them the most costly material was used. Those to whom these buildings belonged were not asking themselves: ‘How can we best glorify God?’ The Lord was not in their thoughts.

“I thought: ‘Oh, that those who are thus investing their means could see their course as God sees it! They are piling up magnificent buildings, but how foolish in the sight of the Ruler of the universe is their planning and devising. They are not studying with all the powers of heart and mind how they may glorify God. They have lost sight of this, the first duty of man.’

“As these lofty buildings went up, the owners rejoiced with ambitious pride that they had money to use in gratifying self and provoking the envy of their neighbors. Much of the money that they thus invested had been obtained through exaction, through grinding down the poor. They forgot that in heaven an account of every business transaction is kept; every unjust deal, every fraudulent act, is there recorded. The time is coming when in their fraud and insolence men will reach a point that the Lord will not permit them to pass, and they will learn that there is a limit to the forbearance of Jehovah.

“The scene that next passed before me was an alarm of fire. Men looked at the lofty and supposedly fire-proof buildings and said: ‘They are perfectly safe.’ But these buildings were consumed as if made of pitch. The fire engines could do nothing to stay the destruction. The firemen were unable to operate the engines.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 12, 13.

The day before 9/11 when the twin towers in New York came down, there was a special documentary aired on the television explaining how the buildings had been erected and how they had withstood the 1993 bombing attempt to bring them down. They were declared to have been built from the most costly material, were fireproof and that nothing could bring them down. Some, since the attack, claim that there had been bombs put inside, and that there was an explosion because of the way the building fell. No, the prophet of God said buildings would come down. Angels touched those buildings. That was our modern day sign, a wake up call. God said, “I am coming.” If you want to know how the people reacted in November of 1755 and how they responded in 1780 and again in 1833, just remember how the people responded after 9/11. All of a sudden, sports were no longer important and churches of all different denominations filled up.

In The Review and Herald, September 10, 1901, Ellen White says, “Satan has devised a multitude of ways in which to keep men from serving God. He has invented sports and games, into which men enter with such intensity that one would suppose a crown of life was to reward the winner.” The purpose of this is to take the minds of God’s people so that they will not think of God. But now, after a tragedy, everybody agrees, no baseball games, no football games; all of the evening talk shows and laugh shows were stopped. All of sudden, people who were not interested before, were interested in talking about God.

When I first moved into my neighborhood, my neighbors invited us over for little housewarming parties and would offer me beer, which I would refuse. I told them I am a minister and they would say, Well, my pastor is cool. My pastor and I are buddies and he knows that he can come to my house and have a beer and no one is going to know. I told him I don’t drink, but you can go ahead and drink. Because I refused to join them we were known as killjoys and are no longer invited to their parties. I would see neighbors run by my house to their parties thinking I did not see them with their wine bottles and beer, etc. When they got so far, often I would call out the door and ask them how they were doing.

But after 9/11, it was different. These same people who had shunned me now wanted me to come and pray in their homes. Everybody in our area would drive by and wave. Everybody was afraid. They became solemn and serious about God. This is the same way people responded in November of 1755 when the great Lisbon earthquake struck, and also how people responded in 1780 when the sun went black and the moon turned red. It is how people responded in 1833 when all the stars were falling. These were all events beyond their control and they were scared.

In the days of Noah, when the animals boarded that ark, directed by an unseen hand, everybody was interested and intrigued. These were intelligent people, some of whom lived to be 950 years old; they were not cave men. You can only imagine what inventions there were and what your computer skills would be like with 900 years of experience. When the people saw this, everybody was frightened, just like now. But, in those next seven days after the door of the ark had been shut, when nothing else happened, they went back to business as usual. Fear will never convict a person to be loyal to God. The prophet of God says that when that angel swirled around in the sky, dropped down and got hold of that massive door of the ark and shut it, everybody was afraid. There was quiet. If the rain had started right then the people would have said, “Lord, if you would only have given me a few more days, I was going to get on board.”

Instead, God allowed that emotion to wear off. The first day, everybody was praying; the second day everybody was praying. You can just imagine Wednesday night prayer meeting—all the churches were filled just like they were after 9/11. But when nothing happened, somebody cracked a little joke and before you knew it, by Thursday, they were all laughing and saying that Noah was a wild fanatic. All of the preachers were preaching on that next Sabbath and planning on doing whatever they do after sunset Saturday.

Out of nowhere on that eighth day, dark hellish clouds came together and with combustion that man had never experienced, from the top and from the bottom. Water came from everywhere but by then it was too late for help. Then, the people wanted God and cried to Noah but the door was shut and the opportunity to be saved was passed.

Some today are trapped in regard to their siblings, children and parents who do not want to know their God. It comes to a point when each needs to ask, Who is my brother; who is my sister; who is my mother—they that do the will of my Father. When Noah entered that ark he had many family members who remained outside. The Bible said his father had more children, so there must have been sisters and brothers and maybe his mother was still alive, screaming for help when the rain started falling. Noah had to keep trusting in God—his name means rest. Salvation is an individual decision and Noah rested in his confidence in God.

“There are not many, even among educators and statesmen, who comprehend the causes that underlie the present state of society. Those who hold the reins of government are not able to solve the problem of moral corruption, poverty, pauperism, and increasing crime. They are struggling in vain to place business operations on a more secure basis.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 13.

Few understand the time in which we are living. Shortly after these disasters we are being told that the economy is coming back and everything is going to be good. This is not true; we are at the end of time. God did not leave us without a witness. In detail He tells us to listen. We must believe in the prophets. These testimonies were not written for one hundred years ago; they were written for our warning today.

Because nothing more happened right away after 9/11, people have become relaxed again. Now we see the economy is gone and is not coming back. Everybody is crying for the government to support them. Take care of us; take care of us; you are responsible for us! They are going to take care of us with their many schemes, but not without a cost. There is healthcare—at what cost? Save your home—at what cost?

This dear little lady prophetess is trying to tell us, through the Holy Spirit, that we should have our houses in order. There is no time to pretend that you have an experience that you don’t really have. Only you know what goes on when no one else is looking but God. Only you know how interested you really are in His Word. We need to ask God for help now for He will not cast us out, but some will not consistently ask. Are we too busy being occupied with the cares of this world to seek Him with all of our hearts? Do we leave the sanctuary after a seed of truth has dropped into our hearts and then not allow it to take root because of casual talking and neglecting to pray and praise God for what He has done for us? We should be able to go home and spend time in prayer, pleading with God for help, lest we perish. Ask Him for help and then linger to hear His voice. The prophet of God said that when she was 15 years old, she used to wait until her twin sister was asleep and then get out of bed and plead with God and agonize with Him and tell Him that she would not go to bed until He blessed her. She said that sometimes the sun would come up before she slept, but the Lord blessed her because she had prevailed in prayer. You have to search and ask God and the promise says that you will receive it. It is worth asking for.

The world in this condition cannot continue to go on indefinitely. Are you ready for Jesus to come? Have you really embraced eternal life? The Bible says that this is life eternal that you know Jesus (John 17:3). Do you really know Him? Jesus desires to have an intimate, personal relationship with you. The younger you are the easier it will be without having to fight through all of the different things you have conditioned yourself to believe. John the Baptist was a young man, preaching and doing ministry before Jesus came and commenced His ministry. When Jesus approached where he was baptizing, He said, “This is the Lamb of God” (John 1:36). God wants us to know Him, to recognize Him like John did. How angels must weep seeing so many unprepared and not interested in getting ready to go home.

Whatever the enemy of souls offers you, it is only temporary. Life in this world is so short. “Why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth.” Ezekiel 18:31, 32. To those who reject the offer of eternal life God asks, Why will you die? Take a look at your life and ask, Are the pleasures of this world worth losing heaven over? The Lord says that He has no pleasure at all in your death, so why will you die?

Isaiah 5:4 says, “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?” What more could God have done for you? These are pertinent questions. When the world turns their back on you and when nobody else understands, the Lord says, Come; it is going to be alright. Choose life and spend eternity with Jesus, the One who loves you and shed His innocent blood that you might live. Though you have rejected Him and spat in His face in the past, when you are ready, He says, Come. He never mentions the spit. He says, I want to give you My victory. When we walk in the flesh, we crucify Him afresh. Jesus has a personal interest in seeing you in heaven. You were created for His pleasure and for His joy. He wants to save you.

“Why will ye die, O house of Israel?” “What could have been done more to my vineyard?” Make your choice today. Make a decision right now to give your heart to the Lord. He longs to create in you a new heart right now.

“A new heart also will I give you.” Ezekiel 36:26.

Pastor Stephen Lewis is an international speaker and director of The Present Truth. This article is from a sermon he preached at Steps to Life Camp Meeting, 2009. He can be contacted at

Current Events – Fire and Flood

“In the last scenes of this earth’s history, … The waters of the deep will overflow their boundaries. Property and life will be destroyed by fire and flood. We should be preparing for the mansions that Christ has gone to prepare for them that love Him. There is a rest from earth’s conflict. … As men depart further and further from God, Satan is permitted to have power over the children of disobedience. He hurls destruction among men. There is calamity by land and sea. Property and life are destroyed by fire and flood.” Maranatha, 174, 176.

For those in the western United States hoping for a respite from the raging wildfires that have plagued several states, the outlook isn’t good: Much of the West is at high risk for continued wildfires due to unusually dry and hot conditions.

Firefighters struggled on Wednesday [June 27, 2012] to beat back a wildfire raging at the edge of Colorado Springs, Colorado, that doubled in size overnight, forced more than 32,000 people from their homes and was nipping at the edges of the U.S. Air Force Academy. Wildfires also were burning in other parts of Colorado and in Utah and Montana.

A wildfire in Montana that has scorched 19,000 acres (7,690 ha) in the eastern part of the state has forced 600 residents to leave their homes. An unknown number of houses were destroyed in Montana.

In Utah, authorities found a body in the ashes of the fast-moving Wood Hollow Fire about 100 miles (160 km) south of Salt Lake City on Tuesday, marking the first fatality in a blaze that has scorched more than 46,190 acres (18,692 ha) of rolling hills covered by parched cheatgrass and sagebrush.

Colorado accounts for several of the 29 large active wildfires being fought across the country. The bulk of them were in seven western states—Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, Arizona and California—according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho., June 27, 2012.

The remnants of Tropical Storm Debby moved out into the open Atlantic on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, and rains finally eased over Florida, but the state was struggling to clean up the soggy mess left behind.

The storm deluged parts of central and northern Florida with more than two feet of rain as it hovered in the Gulf of Mexico and cut across the peninsula.

Many in Debby’s path were still recovering from flooding that damaged homes, washed out roads, opened up sinkholes and closed a section of Interstate 10 – the state’s main east-west highway. Water was up to the roofs at some homes in low lying areas of Live Oak, Florida, on Wednesday. Several feet of water remained around businesses in downtown near the courthouse and many roads were impassable.

Wakulla County, Florida, meanwhile, has seen more than 26 inches of rain. Authorities there advised people to stay in their homes due to washed out and flooded roads. Flash flood warnings were issued for parts of northern Florida and southern Georgia as Debby moved eastward. Hundreds of thousands of people have been impacted, many having to leave flooded homes in Florida’s Panhandle.