The love of Jesus is the fruit born by the Holy Spirit that gives birth to its graces, which are joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. In Testimonies, vol. 2, 134 and 135, the following is recorded: “Mildness, gentleness, forbearance, longsuffering, being not easily provoked, bearing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things—these are the fruit growing upon the precious tree of love, which is of heavenly growth.”

It is through the Holy Spirit that Christ dwells in and with the believer making it possible for him or her to possess this fruit. This is made evident in these statements: “The Lord Jesus acts through the Holy Spirit; for it is His representative. Through it He infuses spiritual life into the soul, quickening its energies for good, cleansing it from moral defilement, and giving it a fitness for His kingdom.” Sons and Daughters of God, 282.

On the same page we also read, “Never will the human heart know happiness until it is submitted to be molded by the Spirit of God. The Spirit conforms the renewed soul to the model, Jesus Christ. Through the influence of the Spirit, enmity against God is changed into faith and love, and pride into humility. The soul perceives the beauty of truth, and Christ is honored in excellence and perfection of character.” Ibid.

In the same book is recorded these precious words: “By partaking of the Spirit of God, conforming to the law of God, man becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ brings His disciples into a living union with Himself and with the Father. Through the working of the Holy Spirit upon the human mind, man is made complete in Christ Jesus. Unity with Christ establishes a bond of unity with one another. This unity is the most convincing proof to the world of the majesty and virtue of Christ, and of His power to take away sin.

“The powers of darkness stand a poor chance against believers who love one another as Christ has loved them, who refuse to create alienation and strife, who stand together, who are kind, courteous, and tender-hearted, cherishing the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. We must have the Spirit of Christ, or we are none of His.” Ibid., 286.

“Love is the tie that binds our hearts to God as our father; joy is the glad emotion that springs up after our reconciliation with God; peace is the summer calm that settles down upon the soul that has entered into its rest. Love has been called the foundation of the fabric; joy, the superstructure; peace, the crown of the work. Love has a primary place, for it is ‘shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost’ [Romans 5:5]. Joy is dependent upon love, and may well be called ‘joy of the Holy Ghost’ [1 Thessalonians 1:6, last part]. It is enshrined in the very heart of love. It rises and falls, with love itself, like the thin thread of mercury in the thermometer, by the action of the surrounding atmosphere. Pieces linked with joy ‘in believing’ [Romans 15:13]. Peace and joy are the two ingredients of the kingdom of God. It is ‘the peace to which we are called in one body’ [Colossians 3:15], which will keep our hearts and minds in the midst of all worldly agitations.” Pulpit Commentary, vol. 20, Edited by Joseph Exell and H. D. M. Spence, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, 1985, 275.

Let us look at the fruit of longsuffering that grows on the tree of love.

By definition longsuffering in Greek is – mak-ro-thuma, which is forbearance, patience, longsuffering (macros – long and thumos – temper); patience is also a synonym.

William Barclay states, “Makrothumia, this is a great word. The writer of First Maccabees says that it was by makrothumia that the Romans became masters of the world, and by that he means the Roman persistence, which would never make peace with an enemy even in defeat, a kind of conquering patience. Generally speaking the word is not used of patience in regard to things or events but in regard to people. Chysostom said that it is the grace of the man who could revenge himself and does not, the man who is slow to wrath. The most illuminating thing about it is that it is commonly used in the New Testament of the attitude of God towards men. If God had been a man, He would have wiped out this world long ago; but He has that patience which bears with all our sinning … . In our dealings with our fellowmen we must reproduce this loving, forbearing, forgiving, patience attitude of God towards ourselves.” The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians, William Barclay, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, KY, 2002, 50, 51.

“Longsuffering bears something, yea, many things, without seeking to be avenged by word or act.

“ ‘Long-suffering’ is patience with offence; long endurance. If you are longsuffering, you will not impart to others your supposed knowledge of your brother’s mistakes and errors. You will seek to help and save him, because he has been purchased with the blood of Christ.” My Life Today, 52. “He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” James 5:20.

Robert South, the English poet who lived from 1634 to 1716, penned these memorable words on forbearance: “It is a noble and great thing to cover the blemishes and excuse the failings of a friend; to draw a curtain before his stains, and display his perfection; to bury his weaknesses in silence, but to proclaim his virtues on a house-top.” The New Dictionary of Thoughts, Tyron Edwards; C.N. Catrevas, Standard Book Company, New York, 1955, 216.

Longsuffering or forbearance is of divine origin: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.” Lamentations 3:22.

“Or let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me.” Isaiah 27:5.

“Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy.” Micah 7:18.

“And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” Exodus 34:6.

“Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” Romans 2:4.

“But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” Psalm 86:15.

Longsuffering is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish; it is the opposite of anger and is associated with mercy, as used of God.

Longsuffering—Two Areas

  1. Man’s longsuffering toward his fellowmen
  2. God’s longsuffering toward sinners

I will address only number one:

Man’s Longsuffering Toward His Fellowmen

The great apostle Paul admonishing the Ephesian Christians wrote, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.” Ephesians 4:1, 2.

In his epistle to the Colossian Christians he tells us how to display longsuffering: “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.” Colossians 1:10, 11.

It is impossible to have longsuffering without first experiencing joy in the Holy Spirit! Paul shows to the Colossians that love or charity is the fundamental element necessary in the life of the Christian to experience longsuffering and to exercise it to others. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” Colossians 3:12–14.

The apostle describes the reason for mercy being shown to him by Jesus Christ: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” I Timothy 1:15, 16.

In our effort to point lost humanity to Christ, Paul counsels us to do it with much longsuffering: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
II Timothy 4:2.

Forbearance or longsuffering MUST be cultivated in the home!

“If we are courteous and gentle at home, we shall carry the savor of a pleasant disposition when away from home. If we manifest forbearance, patience, meekness, and fortitude in the home, we shall be able to be a light to the world.” The Adventist Home, 429.

“We can manifest a thousand little attentions in friendly words and pleasant looks, which will be reflected upon us again. Thoughtless Christians manifest by their neglect of others that they are not in union with Christ. It is impossible to be in union with Christ and yet be unkind to others and forgetful of their rights.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 539.

“Those who profess to be followers of Christ and are at the same time rough, unkind, and uncourteous in words and deportment have not learned of Jesus.” The Adventist Home, 427.

Parents should set examples of forbearance or longsuffering.

“Parents should so conduct themselves that their lives will be a daily lesson of self-control and forbearance to their household.” Temperance, 180.

In counseling a wife and husband who were members of the church, Ellen White instructed them concerning the will of God for them. “You should cultivate the charity and longsuffering of Christ. By a watchful, suspicious spirit in regard to the motives and conduct of others, you frequently counteract the good you have done. You are cherishing a feeling that is chilling in its influence, that repulses, but does not attract and win. You must be willing to become as yielding and forbearing in your disposition as you desire others to be. Selfish love of your own opinions and ways will, in a great measure, destroy your power to do the good you are desirous of doing.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 61.

Here is where many Christians fail when wrong is done to them; they fail to show even an ounce of longsuffering or forbearance, but listen to this statement found in the book, The Ministry of Healing, 487: “So long as we are in the world, we shall meet with adverse influences. There will be provocations to test the temper; and it is by meeting these in a right spirit that the Christian graces are developed. If Christ dwells in us, we shall be patient, kind, and forbearing, cheerful amid frets and irritations. Day by day and year by year we shall conquer self, and grow into a noble heroism. This is our allotted task; but it cannot be accomplished without help from Jesus, resolute decision, unwavering purpose, continual watchfulness, and unceasing prayer. Each one has a personal battle to fight. Not even God can make our characters noble or our lives useful, unless we become co-workers with Him. Those who decline the struggle lose the strength and joy of victory.”

There is a terrible misunderstanding that many Christians hold to concerning the attitude toward the erring one. They say that kindness and longsuffering should never cease toward the erring in the church. Is this the attitude to be displayed towards those who willfully continue in transgression and sin?

Counsel is given to us concerning this matter: “To hate and reprove sin, and at the same time to show pity and tenderness for the sinner, is a difficult attainment. The more earnest our own efforts to attain to holiness of heart and life, the more acute will be our perception of sin and the more decided our disapproval of any deviation from the right. We must guard against undue severity toward the wrongdoer, but we must also be careful not to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. There is need of showing Christlike patience and love for the erring one, but there is also danger of showing so great toleration for his error that he will look upon himself as undeserving of reproof, and will reject it as uncalled for and unjust.

“Ministers of the gospel sometimes do great harm by allowing their forbearance toward the erring to degenerate into toleration of sins and even participation in them. Thus they are led to excuse and palliate that which God condemns, and after a time they become so blinded as to commend the very ones whom God commands them to reprove. He who has blunted his spiritual perceptions by sinful leniency toward those whom God condemns, will erelong commit a greater sin by severity and harshness toward those whom God approves.” The Acts of the Apostles, 504.

The English orator and statesman Edmund Burke emphatically declares: “There is a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue.” Edwards, 216.

In Prophets and Kings, 236, Ellen White states, “Even kindness should have its limits.”

There will always be those members in the church who will disregard the words of God. Therefore, it is felt that they should be disassociated from the church and no forbearance be shown. Paul instructed the Thessalonian Christians: “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” II Thessalonians 3:14, 15.

Paul counsels the brother to note or mark those who willfully disregard the word of God and have no company, association, or mix up together with them. But those who are marked must not be treated as an enemy; forbearance must be shown with the hope that they will repent.

The Scriptures declare, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30. We have established that a divine element of the Holy Spirit is longsuffering, yet the Holy Scriptures declare that the Holy Spirit can be grieved to the point that He gives up on a sinner. You see, the words “grieve not” can be rightly translated “stop grieving the Holy Spirit.” This clearly shows an ongoing practice, a habitual attitude in spite of much counsel, pleading, advice and expressions of love.

No wonder David prayed, “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.” Psalm 51: 11.

So then if the Holy Spirit can be grieved to the point of giving up on a sinner, it stands true therefore that once a person is under the control of the Holy Spirit in spite of how much love there be for sinners and unrepentant human beings, that person has got to let go or cease showing forbearance and say, in the words of the prophet Hosea, “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” Hosea 4:17.

Today the call comes to each and everyone: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” II Peter 3:9 Amen!

Pastor Ivan Plummer ministers through the Emmanuel Seventh Day Church Ministries in Bronx, New York. He may be contacted by telephone at: 718-882-3900.

God’s Forbearance

There are three texts of Scripture I would like to tie together in order that an understanding of God’s forbearance may be appreciated and attained.

  • Romans 2:4: “Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?”
  • Romans 3:25: “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”
  • II Peter 3:15: “And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you.”

The long-suffering of God is not salvation, but it makes salvation possible. Both Peter and the apostle Paul maintain that in spite of the attitude of ungodly persons toward salvation and accounting the Lord’s delay as proof that His promise would never be fulfilled, it is rather an evidence of the Savior’s merciful patience. He waits that all who will, may have the opportunity to accept salvation.

This leads me to point out concretely that God is indeed a long-suffering God and that this will always be a distinct characteristic of the personhood of God. Even though His long-suffering may find its limit with some of His creatures, yet He will always, throughout eternity, be long-suffering.

I will hasten to present two areas of God’s long-suffering:

  1. God is long-suffering, will always be long-suffering as long as eternity lasts. For as a divine attribute it is a part of God’s nature. It therefore devolves upon us His followers to be like Him!
  2. God will not always be long-suffering!

Study Area #1

God is long-suffering, will always be long-suffering as long as eternity shall last. When I speak of God, it must be understood as speaking of the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In the context of our topic the fruit of the Holy Spirit, long-suffering, has already been established as one of the graces of the Holy Spirit that grows on the tree of love—love being the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, since the Holy Spirit must control the believer in Christ, it stands true that the believer must possess that long-suffering that is of heavenly origin—a divine attribute.

“The Hebrew uses the expression ‘erik’ aph, which means literally ‘long of face,’ and then also ‘slow to anger,’ while the Greek expresses the same idea by the word makrothumia. It is that aspect of the goodness or love of God in virtue of which He bears with the froward and evil in spite of their long and continued disobedience. In the exercise of this attribute the sinner is contemplated as continuing in sin, notwithstanding the admonitions and warning that come to him. It reveals itself in the postponement of the merited judgment.” Systematic Theology, by Louis Berkhof, Eerdman’s Publishing, Michigan, 72, 3.

Scriptural References To Support This Doctrine Are:

  • “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” Exodus 34:6
  • “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” Psalm 86:15
  • “Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” Romans 2:4
  • “What if God, willing to shew His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” Romans 9:22
  • “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” I Peter 3:20

“And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you.” II Peter 3:15

Spirit of Prophecy Also Supports This Doctrine:

“In every age, for the sake of those who have remained true, as well as because of His infinite love for the erring, God has borne long with the rebellious, and has urged them to forsake their course of evil and return to Him.” Prophets and Kings, 324.

“The long-suffering of God is wonderful. Long does justice wait while mercy pleads with the sinner.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 177.

“The law requires righteousness—a righteous life, a perfect character; and this man has not to give. He cannot meet the claims of God’s holy law. But Christ, coming to the earth as man, lived a holy life, and developed a perfect character. These He offers as a free gift to all who will receive them. His life stands for the life of men. Thus they have remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” The Desire of Ages, 762.

“The forbearance of God caused Hophni and Phinehas to harden their hearts and to become still bolder in transgression.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 582. The Scripture declares in Ecclesiastes 8:11, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”

“Our God is a God of mercy. With long-sufferance and tender compassion He deals with the transgressors of His law.” Prophets and Kings, 275.

“The forbearance of God has been very great—so great that when we consider the continuous insult to His holy commandments, we marvel.” Ibid., 276.

“It [the coming of the Lord] will not tarry past the time that the message is borne to all nations, tongues, and peoples. Shall we who claim to be students of prophecy forget that God’s forbearance to the wicked is a part of the vast and merciful plan by which He is seeking to compass the salvation of souls?” Evangelism, 697.

Thus we see the eternal nature of the Almighty revealed. God purposes to be a long-suffering God to His creatures throughout eternity. He says to Moses, as recorded in Exodus 34:6, “The Lord, The Lord God.” This expresses the Deity, the Almighty Eternal One who is always gracious, always merciful, always long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth.

Study Area #2

God will not always be long-suffering!

Scriptural References To Support This Doctrine Are:

  • “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” Exodus 20:5
  • “Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” Exodus 34:7
  • “And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke Me? and how long will it be ere they believe Me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they. And Moses said unto the Lord, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for Thou broughtest up this people in Thy might from among them;) And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou Lord art among this people, that thou Lord art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying, Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which He sware unto them, therefore He hath slain them in the wilderness. And now, I beseech Thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as Thou hast spoken, saying, The Lord is long-suffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Pardon, I beseech Thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of Thy mercy, and as Thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now. And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word.” Numbers 14:11–20
  • “For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act.” Isaiah 28:21
  • “The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.” Nahum 1:3
  • “For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him.” Hebrews 2:2, 3
  • “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.” Revelation 14:9, 10

There are many more scriptural passages that strongly support the teaching that God will not always be long-suffering. This needs proper understanding lest there be misunderstanding. Scripture shows that while God by His very nature is long-suffering and will always be long-suffering, yet He will not always be long-suffering to the unrepentant rebellious sinner. God by His righteousness and justice must reward sin and its originator, as well as all sinners who side with the originator of sin. This, however, does not mean that His nature has changed; He is still a long-suffering God. In His rewarding the originator of sin as well as sinners, He is demonstrating respect for His creatures’ right to choose—their power of choice. The Scriptures state in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Also, in Deuteronomy 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”

Spirit of Prophecy References On This Doctrine:

“God is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish; but His forbearance has a limit, and when the boundary is past, there is no second probation. His wrath will go forth and He will destroy without remedy.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol 7, 946.

“The end of God’s forbearance with those who persist in disobedience is approaching rapidly.

“Ought men to be surprised over a sudden and unexpected change in the dealings of the Supreme Ruler with the inhabitants of a fallen world? Ought they to be surprised when punishment follows transgression and increasing crime? Ought they to be surprised that God should bring destruction and death upon those whose ill-gotten gains have been obtained through deception and fraud? Notwithstanding the fact that increasing light regarding God’s requirements has been shining on their pathway, many have refused to recognize Jehovah’s rulership, and have chosen to remain under the black banner of the originator of all rebellion against the government of heaven.

“The forbearance of God has been very great—so great that when we consider the continuous insult to His holy commandments, we marvel. The Omnipotent One has been exerting a restraining power over His own attributes. But He will certainly arise to punish the wicked, who so boldly defy the just claims of the Decalogue.

“God allows men a period of probation; but there is a point beyond which divine patience is exhausted, and the judgments of God are sure to follow. The Lord bears long with men, and with cities, mercifully giving warnings to save them from divine wrath; but a time will come when pleadings for mercy will no longer be heard, and the rebellious element that continues to reject the light of truth will be blotted out, in mercy to themselves and to those who would otherwise be influenced by their example.” Prophets and Kings, 276.

“God waits long for the sinner to repent. He manifests a wonderful forbearance. But He must at last call the transgressor of His law to account.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1147.

“In His dealings with the human race, God bears long with the impenitent. He uses His appointed agencies to call men to allegiance, and offers them His full pardon if they will repent. But because God is long-suffering, men presume on His mercy. ‘Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil’ [Ecclesiastes 8:11]. The patience and long-suffering of God, which should soften and subdue the soul, has an altogether different influence upon the careless and sinful. It leads them to cast off restraint, and strengthens them in resistance. They think that the God who has borne so much from them will not heed their perversity. If we lived in a dispensation of immediate retribution, offenses against God would not occur so often. But though delayed, the punishment is none the less certain. There are limits even to the forbearance of God. The boundary of His long-suffering may be reached, and then He will surely punish. And when He does take up the case of the presumptuous sinner, He will not cease till He has made a full end.

“Very few realize the sinfulness of sin; they flatter themselves that God is too good to punish the offender. But the cases of Miriam, Aaron, David, and many others show that it is not a safe thing to sin against God in deed, in word, or even in thought. God is a being of infinite love and compassion, but He also declares Himself to be a ‘consuming fire, even a jealous God.’ Deuteronomy 4:24.” The Review and Herald, August 14, 1900.

“Men are prone to abuse the long-suffering of God, and to presume on His forbearance. But there is a point in human iniquity when it is time for God to interfere; and terrible are the issues.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 372.

“God’s judgments will be visited upon those who are seeking to oppress and destroy His people. His long forbearance with the wicked emboldens men in transgression, but their punishment is nonetheless certain and terrible because it is long delayed.” The Great Controversy, 627.

“The forbearance of God was very great toward the children of men; but when they stubbornly persisted in their impenitence, He removed from them His protecting hand. They refused to listen to the voice of God in His created works, and in the warnings, counsels, and reproofs of His word, and thus He was forced to speak to them through judgments.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 588.

For us living in the period of the end of this world, what will be the sign that the limit of God’s forbearance is reached? “By the decree enforcing the institution of the papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.

“As the approach of the Roman armies was a sign to the disciples of the impending destruction of Jerusalem, so may this apostasy be a sign to us that the limit of God’s forbearance is reached, that the measure of our nation’s iniquity is full, and that the angel of mercy is about to take her flight, never to return.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 451.

This will be the visible sign for us here on earth to know that God’s longsuffering for the unrepentant sinner is reached. There will also be a sign in the courts of heaven that establishes that God’s forbearance has ended; this, of course, is the invisible sign for us.

“When the third angel’s message closes, mercy no longer pleads for the guilty inhabitants of the earth. The people of God have accomplished their work. They have received ‘the latter rain,’ ‘the refreshing from the presence of the Lord,’ and they are prepared for the trying hour before them. … Christ has made the atonement for His people and blotted out their sins. …

“When He leaves the sanctuary, darkness covers the inhabitants of the earth. In that fearful time the righteous must live in the sight of a holy God without an intercessor. The restraint which has been upon the wicked is removed, and Satan has entire control of the finally impenitent. God’s long-suffering has ended. The world has rejected His mercy, despised His love, and trampled upon His law. The wicked have passed the boundary of their probation; the Spirit of God, persistently resisted, has been at last withdrawn. Unsheltered by divine grace, they have no protection from the wicked one. Satan will then plunge the inhabitants of the earth into one great, final trouble. As the angels of God cease to hold in check the fierce winds of human passion, all the elements of strife will be let loose. The whole world will be involved in ruin more terrible than that which came upon Jerusalem of old.” The Great Controversy, 613, 614.

How Can We Apply This?

  • As God is long-suffering, so we must always possess this divine grace.
  • As God bears long with the unrepentant sinner, so we also should bear patiently with each other.
  • As God cut off His long-suffering from the unrepentant sinner by virtue of the sinner’s right to choose, so we as children of God must show respect to the unrepentant and their right to choose to persist in sin. While showing them love, we must leave them in the hands of God who only can read the heart!
  • That we as God’s professed people can, by our continuing in sin, disobedience and rebellion, most surely grieve the Holy Spirit and terminate our chance for eternal salvation.

Christ, God’s dear Son, who became our Redeemer, was cut off because He became sin for us. Thus a statement was made at Golgotha’s hill! What was that statement? What really happened at Calvary?

Calvary demonstrated that there is a limit to the long-suffering of God. Sin calls into operation the long-suffering of God, but God’s love dictates that sin must be forever destroyed!

“But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them.” Psalm 103:17, 18.

Today it is so important that we all remember that, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” II Peter 3:9, 10.

Today, if you hear His voice harden not your hearts, for today is the day of salvation; tomorrow might be too late!

Pastor Ivan Plummer ministers through the Emmanuel Seventh Day Church Ministries in Bronx, New York. He may be contacted by telephone at: 718-882-3900.