Bible Study Guides – “Teach Us to Pray”

December 30, 2000 – January 5, 2001

General Introduction

“Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Not that it is necessary in order to make known to God what we are, but in order to enable us to receive Him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him.

“When Jesus was upon the earth, He taught His disciples how to pray. He directed them to present their daily needs before God, and to cast all their care upon Him. And the assurance He gave them that their petitions should be heard, is assurance also to us.

“Jesus Himself, while He dwelt among men, was often in prayer. Our Saviour identified Himself with our needs and weakness, in that He became a suppliant, a petitioner, seeking from His Father fresh supplies of strength, that He might come forth braced for duty and trial. He is our example in all things. He is a brother in our infirmities, ‘in all points tempted like as we are;’ but as the sinless one His nature recoiled from evil; He endured struggles and torture of soul in a world of sin. His humanity made prayer a necessity and a privilege. He found comfort and joy in communion with His Father. And if the Saviour of men, the Son of God, felt the need of prayer, how much more should feeble, sinful mortals feel the necessity of fervent, constant prayer. Our heavenly Father waits to bestow upon us the fullness of His blessing. It is our privilege to drink largely at the fountain of boundless love. What a wonder it is that we pray so little! God is ready and willing to hear the sincere prayer of the humblest of His children, and yet there is much manifest reluctance on our part to make known our wants to God. What can the angels of heaven think of poor helpless human beings, who are subject to temptation, when God’s heart of infinite love yearns toward them, ready to give them more than they can ask or think, and yet they pray so little, and have so little faith? The angels love to bow before God; they love to be near Him. They regard communion with God as their highest joy; and yet the children of earth, who need so much the help that God only can give, seem satisfied to walk without the light of His Spirit, the companionship of His presence.” Steps to Christ, 93, 94.

“After This Manner Therefore Pray Ye”

MEMORY VERSE: “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Matthew 6:6.

STUDY HELP: Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 102–122.


“Jesus gives them no new form of prayer. That which He has before taught them He repeats, as if He would say, ‘You need to understand what I have already given. It has a depth of meaning you have not yet fathomed.’ The Saviour does not, however, restrict us to the use of these exact words. As one with humanity, He presents His own ideal of prayer, words so simple that they may be adopted by the little child, yet so comprehensive that their significance can never be fully grasped by the greatest minds. We are taught to come to God with our tribute of thanksgiving, to make known our wants, to confess our sins, and to claim His mercy in accordance with His promise.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 103.

“When Ye Pray, Say ‘Our Father’”

  1. How did Jesus teach us to address God? Was this a new insight into God? Luke 11:2. (Compare Psalm 89:26; Psalm 103:13; Isaiah 63:16; Isaiah 64:8.)

NOTE: “Jesus teaches us to call His Father our Father. He is not ashamed to call us brethren. Hebrews 2:11. So ready, so eager, is the Saviour’s heart to welcome us as members of the family of God, that in the very first words we are to use in approaching God He places the assurance of our divine relationship, ‘Our Father.’” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 103, 104.

  1. How does Jesus make it possible for us to become sons and daughters of God? John 1:12.

NOTE: “Satan had claimed that it was impossible for man to obey God’s commandments; and in our own strength it is true that we cannot obey them. But Christ came in the form of humanity, and by His perfect obedience He proved that humanity and divinity combined can obey every one of God’s precepts.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 314.

“Hallowed be Thy name”

  1. In our prayers, how should we speak the name of God? Matthew 6:9.

NOTE: “To hallow the name of the Lord requires that the words in which we speak of the Supreme Being be uttered with reverence. ‘Holy and reverend is His name.’ Psalm 111:9.…When you pray, ‘Hallowed be Thy name,’ you ask that it may be hallowed in this world, hallowed in you.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 106, 107.

  1. What prayer and petition should introduce our prayers? Matthew 6:9, 10.

NOTE: “The petition, ‘Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven,’ is a prayer that the reign of evil on this earth may be ended, that sin may be forever destroyed, and the kingdom of righteousness be established.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 110.

“Give Us Day by Day Our Daily Bread”

  1. How should our prayers demonstrate our dependence on God? Luke 11:3.

NOTE: “When you have thus made God’s service your first interest, you may ask with confidence that your own needs may be supplied. If you have renounced self and given yourself to Christ you are a member of the family of God, and everything in the Father’s house is for you.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 110.

  1. For what other kind of bread do we need daily to pray? Matthew 4:4; John 6:27, 51.

NOTE: “We receive Christ through His word, and the Holy Spirit is given to open the word of God to our understanding, and bring home its truths to our hearts. We are to pray day by day that as we read His word, God will send His Spirit to reveal to us the truth that will strengthen our souls for the day’s need.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 112, 113.

“Forgive Us Our Sins”

  1. What further petition should also be an essential part of our daily prayer? Luke 11:4, first part.

NOTE: “When God gives the promise that He ‘will abundantly pardon,’ He adds, as if the meaning of that promise exceeded all that we could comprehend: ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’ Isaiah 55:7–9. God’s forgiveness is not merely a judicial act by which He sets us free from condemnation. It is not only forgiveness for sin, but reclaiming from sin. It is the outflow of redeeming love that transforms the heart.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 114.

  1. What condition accompanies God’s promise to forgive us as we confess? Matthew 6:14, 15.

NOTE: “We are not forgiven because we forgive, but as we forgive. The ground of all forgiveness is found in the unmerited love of God, but by our attitude toward others we show whether we have made that love our own. Wherefore Christ says, ‘With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.’ Matthew 7:2.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 251.

“Deliver Us From the Evil One”

  1. What petition for divine guidance and protection should form part of our prayer? Luke 11:4, last part.

NOTE: “The prayer, ‘Bring us not into temptation,’ is itself a promise. If we commit ourselves to God we have the assurance, He ‘will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.’ 1 Corinthians 10:13. The only safeguard against evil is the indwelling of Christ in the heart through faith in His righteousness.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 118.

  1. What precious promises of deliverance may we claim in prayer? Psalm 50:15; Psalm 86:7; Psalm 91:15.

NOTE: “But the promise, ‘My grace is sufficient’ (2 Corinthians 12:9), has been fulfilled in my case. There can be no doubt on my part. My hours of pain have been hours of prayer, for I have known to whom to take my sorrows. I have the privilege of reinforcing my feeble strength by laying hold upon infinite power. By day and night I stand on the solid rock of God’s promises. My heart goes out to Jesus in loving trust. He knows what is best for me. My nights would be lonely did I not claim the promise, ‘Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me’ (Psalm 50:15).” Selected Messages, Book 2, 240.

“For Thine is the Kingdom”

  1. When Daniel was shown the succession of mighty persecuting powers, what assurance was he given? Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:27.

NOTE: “Fearful perils are before those who bear responsibilities in the cause of God—perils the thought of which make me tremble.…but let us not forget that the three great powers of heaven are working, that a divine hand is on the wheel, and that God will bring His purposes to pass.” Evangelism, 65.

  1. What blessed hope and assurance should conclude our prayers? Matthew 6:13, last part.

NOTE: “We are now standing on the threshold of great and solemn events. A crisis is before us, such as the world has never witnessed. And sweetly to us, as to the first disciples, comes the assurance that God’s kingdom ruleth over all. The program of coming events is in the hands of our Maker.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 121.

The Power of Speech, Part II

Editor’s Note: Steps to Life Ministries, just as every Christian ministry and church, occasionally struggles through a crisis. More often than not, a contributing factor, and perhaps the major component of such crises, has to do with speech. Believing this to be a spiritual problem, we have chosen to seek counsel from the Bible and from the Pen of Inspiration. This article continues with a collection of counsel compiled to help heal wounds and bring harmony and unity.]

One sin unconfessed and unrepented of, will close for you the gates of the city of God.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, 40.

The Measure of Forgiveness

“If your brethren err, you are to forgive them. When they come to you with confession, you should not say, I do not think they are humble enough. I do not think they feel their confession. What right have you to judge them, as if you could read the heart? The word of God says, ‘If he repent, forgive him. And if he trespasses against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.’ Luke 17:3, 4. And not only seven times, but seventy times seven—just as often as God forgives you.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 249, 250.

No Compromise with Evil

“The gospel makes no compromise with evil. It cannot excuse sin. Secret sins are to be confessed in secret to God; but, for open sin, open confession is required. The reproach of the disciple’s sin is cast upon Christ. It causes Satan to triumph, and wavering souls to stumble. By giving proof of repentance, the disciple, so far as lies in his power, is to remove this reproach.” The Desire of Ages, 811.

Sincere Confession Essential

“Many, many confessions should never be spoken in the hearing of mortals; for the result is that which the limited judgment of finite beings does not anticipate. . . . God will be better glorified if we confess the secret, inbred corruption of the heart to Jesus alone than if we open its recesses to finite, erring man, who cannot judge righteously unless his heart is constantly imbued with the Spirit of God. . . . Do not pour into human ears the story which God alone should hear. . . .

“Your sins may be as mountains before you; but if you humble your heart, and confess your sins, trusting in the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour, He will forgive, and will cleanse you from all unrighteousness. . . . Desire the fullness of the grace of Christ. Let your heart be filled with an intense longing for His righteousness.” The Faith I Live By, 128.

Pentecostal Energy Needed

“The Lord calls for a renewal of the straight testimony borne in years past. He calls for a renewal of spiritual life. The spiritual energies of His people have long been torpid, but there is to be a resurrection from apparent death. By prayer and confession of sin we must clear the King’s highway. As we do this, the power of the Spirit will come to us. We need the pentecostal energy. This will come; for the Lord has promised to send His Spirit as the all-conquering power.” Gospel Workers, 307, 308.

Search Heart for Lurking Sin

“In this great day of atonement our work is that of heart-searching, of self-abasement, and confession of sin, each humbling his own soul before God, and seeking pardon for himself individually. Anciently every one that did not on the day of atonement afflict his soul, was cut off from the people. God would have us work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. If each will search and see what sins are lurking in his own heart to shut out Jesus, he will find such a work to do that he will be ready to esteem others better than himself. He will no longer seek to pluck the mote out of his brother’s eye while a beam is in his own eye.” Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, 213.

Destroy Root of Bitterness

“The prejudices and opinions that prevailed at Minneapolis are not dead by any means; the seeds sown there in some hearts are ready to spring into life and bear a like harvest. The tops have been cut down, but the roots have never been eradicated, and they still bear their unholy fruit to poison the judgment, pervert the perceptions, and blind the understanding of those with whom you connect, in regard to the message and the messengers. When, by thorough confession, you destroy the root of bitterness, you will see light in God’s light. Without this thorough work you will never clear your souls. You need to study the word of God with a purpose, not to confirm your own ideas, but to bring them to be trimmed, to be condemned or approved, as they are or are not in harmony with the word of God. The Bible should be your constant companion. You should study the Testimonies, not to pick out certain sentences to use as you see fit, to strengthen your assertions, while you disregard the plainest statements given to correct your course of action.” Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 326.

“Take your brother right by the hand, and ask him to forgive you. It will not hurt you to get down on your knees, if necessary to do so. Get all the roots of bitterness out of the way. Have all these feelings blotted out by hearty confession one to another. Do not be satisfied with a sort of general confession. Come right to the point. Let the blood of Jesus cancel your wrongs in the Book of Life. You want to be set free, that you may perfect holiness in the fear to God.” Review and Herald, August 14, 1888.

Confession of Sin

“The Scripture bids us, ‘Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.’ James 5:16. To the one asking for prayer, let thoughts like these be presented: ‘We cannot read the heart, or know the secrets of your life. These are known only to yourself and to God. If you repent of your sins, it is your duty to make confession of them.’ Sin of a private character is to be confessed to Christ, the only mediator between God and man. For ‘if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’ 1 John 2:1. Every sin is an offense against God and is to be confessed to Him through Christ. Every open sin should be as openly confessed. Wrong done to a fellow being should be made right with the one who has been offended. If any who are seeking health have been guilty of evilspeaking, if they have sowed discord in the home, the neighborhood, or the church, and have stirred up alienation and dissension, if by any wrong practice they have led others into sin, these things should be confessed before God and before those who have been offended. ‘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.” The Ministry of Healing, 228, 229.

Danger of Rebellion

“It is hardly possible for men to offer greater insult to God than to despise and reject the instrumentalities He would use for their salvation. The Israelites had not only done this, but had purposed to put both Moses and Aaron to death. Yet they did not realize the necessity of seeking pardon of God for their grievous sin. That night of probation was not passed in repentance and confession, but in devising some way to resist the evidences which showed them to be the greatest of sinners. They still cherished hatred of the men of God’s appointment, and braced themselves to resist their authority. Satan was at hand to pervert their judgment and lead them blindfold to destruction.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 402.

“The enmity that is cherished toward the servants of God by those who have yielded to the power of Satan changes at times to a feeling of reconciliation and favor, but the change does not always prove to be lasting. After evil-minded men have engaged in doing and saying wicked things against the Lord’s servants, the conviction that they have been in the wrong sometimes takes deep hold upon their minds. The Spirit of the Lord strives with them, and they humble their hearts before God, and before those whose influence they have sought to destroy, and they may change their course toward them. But as they again open the door to the suggestions of the evil one, the old doubts are revived, the old enmity is awakened, and they return to engage in the same work which they repented of, and for a time abandoned. Again they speak evil, accusing and condemning in the bitterest manner the very ones to whom they made most humble confession. Satan can use such souls with far greater power after such a course has been pursued than he could before, because they have sinned against greater light.” Ibid., 662, 663.

Disposal of Sin

“Some men’s sins are open beforehand, confessed in penitence, and forsaken, and they go beforehand to judgment. Pardon is written over against the names of these men. But other men’s sins follow after, and are not put away by repentance and confession, and these sins will stand registered against them in the books of heaven.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 916.

True Confession

“Confession of sin, whether public or private, should be heartfelt and freely expressed. It is not to be urged from the sinner. . . .

“True confession is always of a specific character, and acknowledges particular sins. They may be of such a nature as to be brought before God only; they may be wrongs that should be confessed to individuals who have suffered injury through them; or they may be of a public character, and should then be as publicly confessed. But all confession should be definite and to the point, acknowledging the very sins of which you are guilty.” Steps to Christ, 38.

“Confession will not be acceptable to God without sincere repentance and reformation. There must be decided changes in the life; everything offensive to God must be put away.” Ibid., 39.

“The examples in God’s word of genuine repentance and humiliation reveal a spirit of confession in which there is no excuse for sin or attempt at self-justification.” Ibid., 41.

Erroneous Ideas of Confession

“There are confessions of a nature that should be brought before a select few and acknowledged by the sinner in deepest humility. The matter must not be conducted in such a way that vice shall be construed into virtue and the sinner made proud of his evil doings. If there are things of a disgraceful nature that should come before the church, let them be brought before a few proper persons selected to hear them, and do not put the cause of Christ to open shame by publishing abroad the hypocrisy that has existed in the church. It would cast reflections upon those who had tried to be Christlike in character. These things should be considered.

“Then there are confessions that the Lord has bidden us make to one another. If you have wronged your brother by word or deed you are first to be reconciled to him before your worship will be acceptable to heaven. Confess to those whom you have injured, and make restitution, bringing forth fruit meet for repentance. If anyone has feelings of bitterness, wrath, or malice toward a brother, let him go to him personally, confess his sin, and seek forgiveness.

“I [Ellen White] recognize, on the other hand, the danger of yielding to the temptation to conceal sin or to compromise with it, and thus act the hypocrite. Be sure that the confession fully covers the influence of the wrong committed, that no duty to God, to your neighbor, or to the church is left undone, and then you may lay hold upon Christ with confidence, expecting His blessing. But the question of how and to whom sins should be confessed is one that demands careful, prayerful study. We must consider it from all points, weighing it before God and seeking divine illumination. We should inquire whether to confess publicly the sins of which we have been guilty will do good or harm. Will it show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of the darkness into His marvelous light? Will it help to purify the minds of the people, or will the open relation of the deceptions practiced in denying the truth have an after influence to contaminate other minds and destroy confidence in us?” Testimonies, vol. 5, 645, 646.

Unforgiving Receive no Mercy

“He who is unforgiving cuts off the very channel through which alone he can receive mercy from God. We should not think that unless those who have injured us confess the wrong we are justified in withholding from them our forgiveness. It is their part, no doubt, to humble their hearts by repentance and confession; but we are to have a spirit of compassion toward those who have trespassed against us, whether or not they confess their faults. However sorely they may have wounded us, we are not to cherish our grievances and sympathize with ourselves over our injuries; but as we hope to be pardoned for our offenses against God we are to pardon all who have done evil to us.” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 113, 114.

Set Things in Order

“God requires things to be set in order. He calls for men of decided fidelity. He has no use in an emergency for two-sided men. He wants men who will lay their hand upon a work, and say, This is not according to the will of God. It is this miserable thing in dealing with wrongs that God has condemned. The work that will meet the mind of the Spirit of God has not yet begun in Battle Creek [Michigan]. When the work of seeking God with all the heart commences, there will be many confessions made that are now buried. I do not at present feel it my duty to confess for those who ought to make, not a general, but a plain, definite confession, and so cleanse the Lord’s institutions from the defilement that has come upon them.” General Conference Daily Bulletin, March 2, 1899.

“It is not yet too late to redeem the neglect of the past. Let there be a renewal of the first love. Search out the ones you have driven away; bind up by confession the wounds you have made. Many have become discouraged in the struggle of life whom one word of kindly cheer and courage would have strengthened to overcome. Come close to the great heart of pitying love, and let the current of that divine compassion flow into your heart and from you to the hearts of others. Never, never become cold, heartless, unsympathetic. Never lose an opportunity to say a word that will encourage hope. We can not tell how far-reaching may be the influence of our words of kindness, our efforts to lighten some burden.” Pacific Union Recorder, April 10, 1902.

Be Reconciled to Thy Brother

“I [Ellen White] am instructed to say that there are sins between man and his God that no other human being need know anything about. If the one on whom such sins rest will make his peace with God, the Lord will forgive him, and the burden will roll off his soul. He will then make confession to his fellow-men, if he has wronged them, and as he confesses, God will be merciful, and will forgive his sin.

“One such confession is an evidence of the presence of the miracle-working power of God, and it leads to other confessions, not general confessions, but confessions of particular wrongs that have existed between brethren. God values above gold or silver the one who makes such a confession. ‘I will make a man more precious than fine gold,’ He says, ‘even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.’ [Isaiah 13:12.]” Ibid., December 1, 1904.

“During the past night I [Ellen White] seemed to be standing before a large company of believers. I was saying to them, Now, at the very beginning of this meeting, is the time for you individually to search your own hearts and discern your individual needs. Have you committed wrongs and concealed them? If so, you have a work of confession to do. You have not to confess the sins of your neighbor or your brother, but you need to come to God in repentance and confession of your own wrong-doing.” Ibid., May 6, 1909.

“A brother said he was laboring to find rest for his soul, but he does not feel free. He said that he had felt an antipathy to a certain brother. He begged his brother to give him his hand and forgive him for his feelings. This confession was well wet down with tears.” Review and Herald, May 4, 1876.

“Now, as the old year is passing away and the new year coming in, is a good time for those who have cherished alienation and bitterness to make confession to one another.” Ibid., December 26, 1882.

An Individual Work

“Are we by repentance and confession sending our sins beforehand to Judgment, that they may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come? This is an individual work,—a work which we cannot safely delay. We should take hold of it earnestly; our salvation depends upon our sincerity and zeal. Let the cry be awakened in every heart, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ ” Ibid., August 28, 1883.

“We each have a work to do that no one can do for us. The Lord would be pleased to see us humble our hearts before him, confessing our sins, and righting every wrong that exists between us and our brethren. There is danger that the adversary will suggest that we need not humble our hearts before God; that we need not make confession to our brethren of the wrongs we have done them in speaking of their faults, magnifying their errors, putting wrong constructions upon their words, and letting into our hearts enmity against them. Some have entertained such feelings. Alienation, prejudice, and jealousy have ruled in hearts, and love for Jesus and for one another has been supplanted by these weeds of Satan’s planting. Brethren, shall we let the enemy triumph by allowing these wrongs to go uncorrected?” Ibid., March 4, 1884.

To be continued . . .

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.

What If . . . Almost

An American poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, once wrote, “Of all the words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’ ” If that is true, then one of the most tragic words in human language must be the word almost.

What if and almost speak of aborted opportunities and missed chances. Have you ever played the What if and Almost games in your life?

What if I had accepted that job across the considered how Almost impacts our spiritual lives, and how our lives would be affected if Jesus had played the game of What if?

Our Worth

What if Jesus would have said, “Never mind, those people are not worth My life”?

Paul wrote, “both Jews and Gentiles . . . are all under sin.” And he continued: “There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat [is] an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps [is] under their lips: Whose mouth [is] full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet [are] swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery [are] in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:9–18.

These verses describe not only the people of Paul’s time but each one of us—without the loving mercy of Jesus Christ and His atoning blood.

When these words were penned, God, looking over all the people, could not find a single one who feared Him or sought after Him. The people had either abandoned or corrupted their worship of Him. They not only had turned their backs on God but they had turned against their brethren, thus showing the evil propensity of human nature in general.

What if God was to search our souls today? Could He find a single one with the “fear of God before their eyes”?

Through our actions, words, and music we have corrupted our worship to Him. Ignoring the counsel we have been given, we do not, in our churches, approach His throne with respect or reverence. “The angels veil their faces in His presence. The cherubim and the bright and holy seraphim approach His throne with solemn reverence. How much more should we finite, sinful beings, come in a reverent manner before the Lord, our Maker!” The Faith I Live By, 41.

As Paul described, by our malicious and wicked words we bury, as it were, the reputations of all men. We practice the habits of lying, defamation, and slandering, thus wounding, blasting, and poisoning the reputations of others. Destruction is our work, and misery to us and to the objects of our malice is the consequence of our murderous conduct. We have no peace in ourselves, and we certainly do not allow others to live in quiet.

With very little variation, these are the evils in which the vast mass of mankind delight and live. Without Christ’s death on the cross, we could hope for nothing more.

What We Deserve

What if Jesus had said, “Forget it! You all get what you deserve forever—death”?

“For the wages of sin [is] death.” Romans 6:23. “Sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. Whatever sin may promise of pleasure or advantage, the end to which it necessarily leads is the destruction of body and soul.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.

“From the opening of the great controversy it has been Satan’s purpose to misrepresent God’s character and to excite rebellion against His law, and this work appears to be crowned with success. The multitudes give ear to Satan’s deceptions and set themselves against God. . . . Through Satan’s temptations the whole human race have become transgressors of God’s law.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 338.

Even if it is just one little, darling sin that is cherished, the Scripture is clear. What we deserve is death. What we have the opportunity to receive, as a result of Christ’s mercy and atoning blood, is eternal life. “By the sacrifice of His Son a way is opened whereby they [sinners] may return to God. Through the grace of Christ they may be enabled to render obedience to the Father’s law.” Ibid.

With the redeeming grace of the crucified Jesus, this what if has a very different ending.

“The Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity.” Isaiah 26:21. “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth?” Malachi 3:2. “Jesus, our Redeemer, . . . suffered more than we can be called upon to suffer. He bore our infirmities and was in all points tempted as we are. He did not suffer thus on His own account, but because of our sins; and now, relying on the merits of our Overcomer, we may become victors in His name.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 86.

Because Jesus did not play the What if game, we may have eternal life, as a result of His sufferings, death, and resurrection.

Almost Released

What if Pilate had released Jesus? He almost did. Upon examining Jesus, Pilate found no basis for the charges against Him. Neither did Herod. Pilate did not see that Jesus had done anything to deserve death, so he told the gathering that he would release Him. But the chief priests, the rulers, and the people—with one voice—cried out their desire to have Barabbas (imprisoned for an insurrection in the city and for murder) released instead. (See Luke 23:13–24.)

Pilate may be the most infamous almoster in history, because he almost released Jesus. He almost lowered the gavel and said, “Not guilty.” He almost dismissed the charges against this innocent Man, but then he conceded to the demands of the people.

What a difference it would have made in our perception of Pilate if he had stood firm to principle and released Jesus. He almost did it, but he did not. He had the authority to do it. All he had to do was speak the word decisively, and Jesus would have been set free. He did it, almost.

“If at the first Pilate had stood firm, refusing to condemn a man whom he found guiltless, he would have broken the fatal chain that was to bind him in remorse and guilt as long as he lived. Had he carried out his convictions of right, the Jews would not have presumed to dictate to him. Christ would have been put to death, but the guilt would not have rested upon Pilate.” The Desire of Ages, 732.

Father, Forgive Them

So Jesus was released to His death. Soldiers went about their tasks. They were used to crucifying people. They had done it many times before. First, they laid the cross upon the ground, then they placed Jesus upon it, driving sharp spikes through His hands and feet. Then they hoisted the rough wooden cross into the air and dropped it into the hole that had held crosses before. Perhaps they even drove stakes into the ground around the cross to steady it. And then they were done. Jesus was crucified.

There He hangs between heaven and earth. Looking through tears and blood, He could see the faces of the people who had gathered around Him. Perhaps he was looking for familiar faces, but He did not see Peter or James or Andrew or Bartholomew. The soldiers gather underneath the cross and begin throwing dice, gambling for His robe.

Do we see a little bit of ourselves in the soldiers at the foot of the cross? Sometimes we are so close to the cross and yet so far away. Almost we decide to look upon the Saviour and accept His love and grace, but then we become distracted. They were right there, right next to the blood that was dropping to the ground. They could hear the cries of pain. They could look up at any time and see Jesus, but their minds were on other things—on the material things of life.

Jesus began to pray. “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. Father, forgive the soldier who drove the nails into my hands. Father, forgive Pilate who found me innocent but sentenced me to die anyway. Forgive Annas and Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin and all the rest. And Father, forgive the Christians who will meet in [your church] in [your town] in 2004, because their sins nailed Me here, too. Yes, Father, forgive them all.”

What if you and I prayed that kind of prayer? Would it bring us to our knees before our Saviour? Would it make a difference in our lives and in the lives of those around us? “We are not forgiven because we forgive, but as we forgive. The ground of all forgiveness is found in the unmerited love of God, but by our attitude toward others we show whether we have made that love our own. Wherefore Christ says, ‘With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.’ Matthew 7:2.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 251.

What if He had Escaped?

Scientists tell us that self-preservation is a very basic instinct. Whenever we encounter danger, we automatically seek to protect ourselves. If we stumble, we put our hands out to break the expected fall. If we are riding in an automobile and suddenly it appears that we are going to crash, we automatically brace ourselves—even though experts say that is not the wisest thing to do. We automatically do it, because self-preservation is a basic instinct in man.

So the enemies of Jesus gathered beneath His cross. They reasoned that Jesus would want to save Himself. They thought that if He really was the Son of God then He had the power to come down from the cross. That would be the natural thing to do. But when Jesus did not save His own life, they assumed He did not have the power and therefore was not the Son of God. “He saved others; himself he cannot save,” they mocked among themselves. (See Mark 15:29–32.) That was their conclusion—a logical conclusion but a false conclusion.

You see, Jesus could have saved Himself. He could have saved Himself by not going to Jerusalem. He could have stayed in Galilee. He could have saved Himself by escaping from the Garden of Gethsemane. He could have saved Himself when He was in Pilate’s judgment hall. He chose not to escape.

What if Jesus had escaped and saved Himself? Well, Jesus could not have saved Himself and us, too. There is no greater love than “that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13.

What if we try to save ourselves? “You cannot save yourself from the tempter’s power, but he trembles and flees when the merits of that [Jesus’] precious blood are urged.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 317. “You want your own way, and do not rend your heart before God, and with brokenness and contrition cast yourself all broken, sinful, and polluted, upon His mercy. Your efforts to save yourself, if persisted in, will result in your certain ruin.” Ibid., vol. 2, 89. “You cannot save yourself by any good work that you may do. The Lord Jesus has not made you a sin-bearer.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 325.

“The cross of Christ is our only hope. It reveals to us the greatness of our Father’s love and the fact that the Majesty of heaven submitted to insult, mockery, humiliation, and suffering for the joy of seeing perishing souls saved in His kingdom. . . . Save yourself and your household, for the salvation of the soul is precious.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 502, 503.

What if we are almost persuaded to accept Jesus, His sufferings, His death on the cross, and His resurrection? “To be almost persuaded, means to put aside the proffered mercy, to be convinced of the right way, but to refuse to accept the cross of a crucified Redeemer.” Sketches From the Life of Paul, 260. [Emphasis supplied.]

Oh, friend, that is a game you do not want to lose. Do not decide to wait for a more favorable opportunity; it may never come. That is a what if you want joyously to testify that you did. That is an almost you want to report as fully accepted.

“It is perilous to the soul to hesitate, question, and criticize divine light. Satan will present his temptations until the light will appear as darkness, and many will reject the very truth that would have proved the saving of their souls. Those who walk in its rays will find it growing brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.” Review and Herald, September 3, 1889.

A LandMarks staff member, Anna Schultz writes from her home near Sedalia, Colorado. She may be contacted by e-mail at:

The Depth of the Cross

You have, in all probability, noticed in your life, as I have in mine, that sometimes, after we have learned and known great truths for a while, we begin to take them for granted. We need to refresh our minds from time to time regarding these great truths that the Lord has been so gracious in giving to us.

Ephesians 3:14–19 says, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what [is] the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

In this passage, Paul was contemplating the eternal purpose of God in Christ Jesus. As he was doing this, he was humbled to his knees in prayer, where he was praying for every believer. As he realized the tremendous sacrifice of Deity for the redemption of fallen man—for you and for me—he asked heaven if we could have a little comprehension of Christ’s sacrifice, so we could understand more of this immeasurable love. In our finite minds, we have no concept of the love that Jesus has for us. He wanted us to realize this love, not just for the sake of knowledge, but that we might be filled with the fullness of God.

Where do we find this immeasurable love of which Paul speaks? The following three statements may help us understand where to find it.

“There is one great central truth to be kept ever before the mind in the searching of the Scriptures—Christ and Him crucified. Every other truth is invested with influence and power corresponding to its relation to this theme.” The Faith I Live By, 50.

“The cross of Calvary challenges, and will finally vanquish, every earthly and hellish power. In the cross all influence centers, and from it all influence goes forth. It is the great center of attraction, for on it Christ gave up His life for the human race.” Sons and Daughters of God, 242.

“The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light which streams from the cross of Calvary, and in connection with the wondrous, central truth of the Saviour’s atonement. Those who study the Redeemer’s wonderful sacrifice grow in grace and knowledge.

“I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption—the Son of God uplifted on the cross of Calvary. This is to be the theme of every discourse. Christ declares, ‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.’ ” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1137.

None of us can deny the force and the power of these statements. But in many churches this theme is preached far too little. It is merely mentioned at times. The cross of Christ is our inexhaustible source of power for the Christian walk. Do you need power in your Christian life? I do. In this article, we are going to look at four revelations that the cross will show us, if we look deeply enough.

Just a Story

I read an article some time back about a 9- or 10-year-old boy by the name of Braun who lived over 100 years ago. Braun’s parents were not Christians; they were agnostics. They thought, however, that at least once in his life their little boy needed to attend church, so they could say they had exposed their son to religion. They sent him to church with his nanny in a horse-drawn buggy.

The pastor was speaking about the cross, and for the first time in his life, Braun heard about a man by the name of Jesus Who was nailed to a cruel, old cross. He heard for the first time about the blood that dripped down this Man’s face and about the thorns that were stuck in His brow. He heard about the Roman soldiers who hammered the rough nails into this Man’s hands.

It was not long before Braun began to cry. He had never previously heard this story. Between sobs he loudly whispered, “Nanny, why don’t these men do something about this poor Man on the cross? Why don’t the people in the church take Him down? He’s innocent!”

The nanny was getting a little nervous about Braun acting up in church. He looked around at the congregation, and he was astonished. He saw the head deacon in the back of the church, sleeping. He saw some teenagers whispering, telling stories, laughing, and giggling. He saw another man with a newspaper under his Bible, pretending to read the Bible, but reading the daily news instead.

“Nanny, why don’t they do something? Take this poor Man down off the cross,” pleaded the sobbing boy.

Attempting to comfort him, the nanny said, “Herr Braun, it is just a story. Don’t worry about it. You’ll forget about it when we get home.”

Is the cross just a story for us? Is it something that we sing about once in awhile? Is it something that we hear about in sermons once in awhile, something the pastor may refer to in passing, or maybe we mention in prayer?

What is the cross to you? Has the cross reached down into your life and changed it from the core? That is what it is meant to do. What difference does the cross make in your marriage? What about the relationships between you and your children, your spouse, or the people you meet each day? Does the cross make any difference in the way you treat others? When you encounter despair and discouragement, what does the cross do for you then, if anything?

We do not need to know so much about the cross theologically as we need to know and understand how it affects our lives.

Magnitude of God’s Forgiveness

The first revelation we will consider reveals the magnitude of God’s forgiveness. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Romans 5:8–10.

We were His enemies, but He is our friend. God is not the enemy of His enemies, as we sometimes are. It is hard to be a friend to our enemy, but that is what God is. We deserve death, but He gives us life. We deserve condemnation, but He acquits us. We deserve a crown of thorns; He gives us a crown of glory. You and I, my friends, deserve the cross, but He gives us a throne. What a God we serve, what a Friend!

Father, Forgive Them

As we consider the cross and the magnitude of its forgiveness, we must contemplate what Jesus went through at Pilate’s judgment hall. We can picture a Man, stripped to His waist, His hands tied above His head. When those strong, Roman soldiers came in to whip His back, they did not use just a leather strap. The Roman whips had pieces of bone and jagged metal embedded in the straps, so with every whip to the back, pieces of flesh were torn out. He took our whipping—something that we deserve—but our Friend, while we were His enemies, took it for us.

As we reflect on Calvary, we can understand why He fell three times under the great burden of carrying His cross. He was weak from loss of blood. You and I could have done no better whatsoever.

As He was stretched out on the cross and those nails were driven through His flesh, He said nothing. As the cross was taken up and thrust into its hole, His flesh was ripped again when it hit the bottom. What were the only words that we hear from Jesus at this time? “Father, forgive them.” We see forgiveness at the cross, the great magnitude of forgiveness.

Judas betrayed Him; Peter denied Him; and the Jews forsook Him. The cross is very cruel, unjust, and unfair. You do not just nail a Man to a cross who touched blind eyes and they opened. You do not nail a Man to a cross who touched people’s ears and they became unstopped; they could hear the beautiful birds singing. You do not nail a Man to a cross who touched withered arms and legs and they immediately became vibrant with new life. A Man who can give back life to the dead—you just do not nail a Man like this to a cross. But they did that to Jesus! Yet, all we hear from Him is, “Father, forgive them.”

Do Unto Others

When we come to the cross, we receive forgiveness, so we can be forgiving to people in our lives. We know that Jesus has forgiven us from all of our past sins, so when people treat us cruelly or unjustly, we can forgive them, because we have been forgiven.

When we come to the cross, we find mercy, so we can be merciful to others. We have no excuse to not forgive people when they treat us unjustly. We can hear the echo of Paul’s words as we read, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32.

Has somebody wronged you? Has somebody hurt your feelings? Someone thoughtlessly and wrongly saying something can easily hurt your feelings. They may not even realize what they said, and they do not mean to hurt your feelings. But your feelings get hurt.

Instead of going to that brother or sister to straighten things out, some people will refrain from ever coming to church again, or they will find another group with which to worship. That is not the way to do it. We must come to one another and forgive our brothers and sisters, if they have done something wrong to us. Our souls will be flooded with the peace of Jesus when we do this.

Forgiveness a Conscious Choice

All of us have things in our past lives that we remember, perhaps with anger or regret. Maybe your mother left your dad for another man. Maybe your father was an alcoholic. It may be that your parents did not raise you the way they should have (at least in your eyes)—so you have built up resentment and bitterness, and hold grudges. We must let these things go. We must come to the cross, receive forgiveness and the freedom from guilt, and then we can forgive others. It has to be done that way.

Perhaps you have read the story of Corrie ten Boom. In 1938 or 1939, she and her sister were captured by the Germans and sent to Ravens-bruck, a prison camp. It was noth-ing but a place of death. People by the thousands were brought there in train cars. They were told that they were going to be safe from the dangers of war in this retreat. They fully expected to be going back to their beautiful homes when the war was over.

When they arrived at the prison camps, they heard joyful, happy music; people were singing to them. But all too soon they learned that they had arrived at a place of death. Some would be gassed immediately upon arriving; some would be killed a month later, but as a rule, no one would live more than six months at any one of these camps. In fact, the fires of the furnaces burned for six years straight—from 1939 to 1945, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Millions and millions of innocent people were gassed to death.

But Corrie ten Boom was mistakenly released from this death sentence. She was accidentally let go—one of the very few people who got out of the camp alive. Corrie ten Boom set up a home in her native Holland for people as they were released from the prison camps. After the war, she spoke to many people in Germany and other countries about God’s forgiveness.

Do you know what she saw in the survivors of the ravages of war and the horrible things that were done to them? She saw that the people who were able to forgive were those who could go on living and functioning normally. Those who could not forgive were mentally unbalanced, and many suffered nervous breakdowns, which affected the rest of their lives. Forgiveness made the difference!

One night, in Munich, as she was speaking on God’s forgiveness, she noticed a man in the crowd; a man she would never forget. He was about 5 feet 10 inches tall, with deep-set eyes, a stocky build, and a square face. After her eloquent speech on forgiveness, this man came up to her, extended his hand, and asked, “Can you forgive me?” This man had been one of the cruelest guards in the Ravensbruck prison camp. She remembered how, when she and her sister walked in front of this guard, he had reached out and pulled her sister’s blouse off just to embarrass her. She remembered how this guard hit her sister in the face with his fist, knocking her to the ground and crushing her ribs with his leather boot heel. She remembered how her sister withered away to 90 pounds and died in this camp—this was one of the men responsible. Here he was, standing in front of her asking, “Can you forgive me?”

Corrie ten Boom wanted to spit in his face. She wanted to reach out and slap him across his face. Every emotion in her cried out for revenge, but she knew that unless she forgave him, every ounce of love in her would dry up. She knew that the bitterness, the resentment, and the unwillingness to forgive would eat out her spiritual heart. Contrary to her feelings, she reached out her hand and said, “Brother, I forgive you.” She wrote that immediately a new peace flooded through her.

Forgiveness is a conscious choice on your part and on mine—a choice to release someone from your condemnation because Christ has released you from His condemnation. We have to make that choice.

Is there someone to whom you need to express your forgiveness? There may be. Do you need to make a phone call to someone and say, “Brother (or sister), I forgive you; there may be a wall of separation between us, but I forgive you”?

When we come to the cross and see how Jesus forgives us of all the things that we have done, He will pour that forgiveness into our lives, so we can forgive others. Do you see now how the cross reveals the magnitude of God’s forgiveness?

Depth of God’s Love

The cross also reveals the enormity of the depth of God’s love. It leads us to a deeper message of His love than we have ever known before. This is the way Paul expresses it: “For He [God] made Him [Christ] who knew no sin [to be] sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 11 Corinthians 5:21. What a statement! Did Jesus ever sin? The Bible tells us that He never sinned. (See Hebrews 4:15.) He was tempted, just like you and I are tempted, but He never sinned. Did He ever think an evil thought? No! We are told He never sinned even by a thought. (See Review and Herald, November 8, 1887.) He never committed an unselfish act, but He who knew no sin became sin for us.

What are these deeper lessons we need to learn that, once we understand, our whole being, our whole way of thinking will be transformed? The cross must do this for us, or we are not taking full advantage of the power of Christianity. What is the power behind the cross that breaks the habits of sin in our lives? What is it that makes a dishonest man honest, that makes an impure woman pure, that makes an angry man patient? The cross breaks the grip of sin in our lives. We do not need a fancy theological definition here. What we need to understand are the practical realities of the cross. We need not only to know and to understand but also to experience the transforming power of the cross. It has to be experienced in our lives or it is of no avail.

Paul reveals the depth for which we are looking: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’).” Galatians 3:13. What is the curse of the law from which He has redeemed us? Death! Death is the major curse of the law.


Jesus voluntarily accepted and bore the corporate guilt of all humanity. As He hung on the cross, the Father turned away from Him, because of the sins for humanity that He bore. It was too much for Jesus to have this happen, because He had always been with the Father. This broke His heart. (See John 8:19; 10:30; The Great Controversy, 539.)

Jesus did not know whether He would ever be resurrected. He did not see through the portals of the tomb during those hours He was on the cross. He did not see Himself coming forth a victor. But He was willing to go to the grave and never, ever come up—if that meant that you and I could have hope of eternal life. Praise the Lord!

If He had fought against that—if He would have said, “No, there are not enough people who are going to accept this sacrifice; I want down; I want to go back to heaven; let these folks do what they want”—we would have no hope of heaven nor any hope of eternal life. I am so thankful that we serve a God who was willing to endure going through with the plan of redemption for you and me.

What He Experienced

I would like to share the following quotations:

“Bodily pain was but a small part of the agony of God’s dear Son. The sins of the world were upon Him, also the sense of His Father’s wrath as He suffered the penalty of the law transgressed. It was these that crushed His divine soul. It was the hiding of His Father’s face—a sense that His own dear Father had forsaken Him—which brought despair. The separation that sin makes between God and man was fully realized and keenly felt by the innocent, suffering Man of Calvary. He was oppressed by the powers of darkness. He had not one ray of light to brighten the future.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 214. Jesus experienced a lot of bodily pain, but we are told that His mental anguish of being separated from His Father was so much greater that He hardly felt the physical torture. It hurt Him more to have His Father turn away from Him.

“He could not see through the portals of the tomb. Bright hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the tomb a conqueror and His Father’s acceptance of His sacrifice. The sin of the world, with all its terribleness, was felt to the utmost by the Son of God. The displeasure of the Father for sin, and its penalty, which is death, were all that He could realize through this amazing darkness.” Ibid., 209, 210.

But, do you know what is beautiful? The Desire of Ages, 693, says, “His decision is made. He will save man at any cost to Himself.” Praise the Lord for His decision.

We need to make the decision to follow Him at any cost. We must! Can you imagine Jesus, the Creator of the universe, dying on that cross and saying that it was all worth it if you and I will be in heaven with His—with our—Father, even if it meant He might never be there again? He wants you and me to be there so much that He was willing to give up everything for us. This is the Man who created the worlds with His mouth; He spoke a word and this earth came into existence. He carpeted the earth with beautiful green. He is the one who caused the streams to flow and the brooks to babble. He caused the fruit trees to blossom. He gave the birds their songs so that we may enjoy their beautiful tunes. When His name is spoken in heaven, angels sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy.” They long to fulfill His every command. This is the Man who died on the cross for you and me. He was willing to go to the tomb so that you and I could sit upon a throne in heaven. For Jesus, the knowledge that some day we could be in heaven, made His death worth it all.

Your Worth

We have seen that the cross revealed the magnitude of God’s forgiveness and the enormity and depth of His love. We will now see that the cross reveals our worth.

We are definitely worth something; we are not just merely cosmic dust in this vast universe God created. We are not just skin coverings over bones and muscles. We are worth something in the sight of God. Sometimes that is hard to understand. With approximately six billion people in this world, we wonder how we could make a difference. How can God actually know about us individually when there are so many people? But it is true. He has a place in His heart just for you and just for me. I am so thankful that our God is able to love more than just a few people. He is able to love and to have a place in His heart for each one of us. His heart is so big—He is omnipotent and omniscient; He is omnipresent—He has a big, big heart.

Paul put it so personally when he said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20. We can understand this a little better by using a very crude illustration. Parents may have eight, nine, or ten children. Let us say that one of the children dies from a disease or an accident. That would be a terrible tragedy. You would not say to that couple: “Well, don’t worry about it, because you have all those other children. Won’t they take the place of the one who died?” No, there would still be a place in the parents’ hearts for the one child who died.

We have an infinite God—can He not love more than just eight children? He has billions and billions of children, and He loves every one of them just as though he or she were the only one upon this earth. He would have died for only one. That is how much He loves us!

“The value of a soul, who can estimate? Would you know its worth, go to Gethsemane, and there watch with Christ through those hours of anguish, when He sweat as it were great drops of blood. Look upon the Saviour uplifted on the cross. Hear that despairing cry, ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ Mark 15:34. Look upon the wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet. Remember that Christ risked all. For our redemption, heaven itself was imperiled. At the foot of the cross, remembering that for one sinner Christ would have laid down His life, you may estimate the value of a soul.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 196.

We cannot comprehend it, can we? When we look up at Him, when we gaze upon those outstretched arms, He says, “I care for you. You are personal to Me, and I want you to be in heaven with Me forever.”

Hope in Despair

The cross also reveals hope in despair. What are some of the things that took place on that dark, crucifixion Friday? Jesus was nailed to a cross. A crown of thorns was placed on His head. A spear was stuck in His side. The sun quit shining. The birds stopped singing. Judas betrayed Him; Peter denied Him; the disciples fled.

A lot of terrible things happened on that Friday, and worst of all, the Son of God died on that dark Friday. But what was about to happen on resurrection morning? Joy was to be found on that Sunday morning resurrection! The sun rose; the birds sang; and most of all, the voice of God spoke, “Son, I call Thee.” That big, heavy stone that sealed up the tomb of God could no longer hold Him; it rolled away like a little pebble. Praise the Lord! And He came out, a victor! Conqueror! There is hope in despair.

You may be going through a crucifixion, but friend, there is a resurrection in the morning. Just stay with it; hold to your Christian walk; contemplate the cross and all of these things that it reveals. It can change your life! And it will, if you will let it.

We may each be going through some terrible heartaches right now. Heartache is worse than physical pain, much worse. We know that to be true because of what we are told regarding Jesus—His heart was aching more than the physical torture done to His body.

Maybe you are going through the agony of divorce. That can be worse than death itself. Maybe you are having economic problems. Something in your life can be hurting you to the extent that you must have the cross experience, and you must see and understand that there is a resurrection morning coming; there is joy! There is joy in the morning! We do have hope.

Christ is the Gospel

“Hanging upon the cross Christ was the gospel. . . . This is our message, our argument, our doctrine, our warning to the impenitent, our encouragement for the sorrowing, the hope for every believer.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1113.

This is our hope, friend. At the cross, you find forgiveness, and you find deliverance from guilt. At the cross, you find mercy, so you can be merciful to other people. At the cross, the love of God will break the habits of sin in your life, and believe me, sin is a hard habit to break. The only thing that will break it is the love of God, when you fall at the foot of the cross. That is where you can give yourself away to Jesus. Give yourself away! What can you do on your own? Nothing! You can do nothing without Him. (See John 15:5.) At the cross, Jesus says, “I care for you. You are more than a speck of dust in this vast universe.” At the cross, you will draw nearer and nearer to God. Is that not what you want? There is hope in despair.

The Master Artist

There is a beautiful, Muslim mosque in Teheran, Iran. While building the mosque, the workers had waited for an order of expensive mirrors to be shipped from Italy. These mirrors had cost tens of thousands of dollars. The mirrors finally arrived at the airport in Teheran, and the workers then shipped them to the work site, but when the crates were opened, they found that all of the mirrors were broken. Many of the workers were so discouraged that they just wanted to throw the broken pieces away and forget about it. But a master artist, seeing the dilemma, took a hammer and began breaking the pieces even more. He broke them all. The other workers thought he had lost his mind. What was he thinking, breaking these expensive mirrors? But then he took the jagged pieces of mirrors and set them in wet cement in the walls of the mosque. Today, the sun, shining down through the translucent roof, is reflected from the broken pieces. It looks as though the room is filled with millions of diamonds. The broken mirrors became more beautiful than they were before they were broken.

Bring your brokenness to the cross. You will become more beautiful than you have ever been before. The Master Artist of the cross can touch you—and your brokenness will become beautiful.

“In every true disciple this love, like sacred fire, burns on the altar of the heart. It was on the earth that the love of God was revealed through Christ. It is on the earth that His children are to reflect this love through blameless lives. Thus sinners will be led to the cross to behold the Lamb of God.” The Acts of the Apostles, 334.

I pray that this love will be manifested to everyone we meet.

Jerry Timmons was a Steps to Life staff member when he was fatally injured in an automobile accident, January 11, 2003.

Bible Study Guides – Parables from the Master Teacher – When to Forgive

September 8, 2019 – September 14, 2019

Key Text

“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15).

Study Help:  Christ’s Object Lessons, 243–251.


“Nothing can justify an unforgiving spirit. He who is unmerciful toward others shows that he himself is not a partaker of God’s pardoning grace. In God’s forgiveness the heart of the erring one is drawn close to the great heart of Infinite Love. The tide of divine compassion flows into the sinner’s soul, and from him to the souls of others.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 251.



  • What lesson was Jesus trying to teach Peter regarding his view of forgiveness? Matthew 18:21, 22.

Note: “The rabbis limited the exercise of forgiveness to three offenses. Peter, carrying out, as he supposed, the teaching of Christ, thought to extend it to seven, the number signifying perfection. But Christ taught that we are never to become weary of forgiving.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 243.

  • How should we treat those who injure us? Why? Luke 17:3; Galatians 6:1.

Note: “Too often when wrongs are committed again and again, and the wrongdoer confesses his fault, the injured one becomes weary, and thinks he has forgiven quite enough. …

“If your brethren err, you are to forgive them. … You should not say … I do not think they feel their confession. What right have you to judge them, as if you could read the heart? … And not only seven times, but seventy times seven—just as often as God forgives you.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 249, 250.



  • In the parable of the debtors, what fate was about to befall a servant who owed a great debt to his king? Matthew 18:23–25.
  • How did the king respond to the servant’s plea for mercy? Matthew 18:26, 27.

Note: “The pardon granted by this king represents a divine forgiveness of all sin. Christ is represented by the king, who, moved with compassion, forgave the debt of his servant. Man was under the condemnation of the broken law. He could not save himself, and for this reason Christ came to this world, clothed His divinity with humanity, and gave His life, the just for the unjust. He gave Himself for our sins, and to every soul He freely offers the blood-bought pardon. ‘With the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption’ (Psalm 130:7).” Christ’s Object Lessons, 244, 245.

  • As we have received abundant forgiveness from Christ for our own sins, what obligation does this pardon place us under? 1John 4:11; Matthew 10:8.

 Note: “There are no sins He [God] will not forgive in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the sinner’s only hope, and if he rests here in sincere faith, he is sure of pardon and that full and free. There is only one channel and that is accessible to all, and through that channel a rich and abundant forgiveness awaits the penitent, contrite soul and the darkest sins are forgiven.” The Faith I Live By, 102.

“We ourselves owe everything to God’s free grace. Grace in the covenant ordained our adoption. Grace in the Saviour effected our redemption, our regeneration, and our exaltation to heirship with Christ. Let this grace be revealed to others.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 250.

“Nothing can justify an unforgiving spirit. He who is unmerciful toward others shows that he himself is not a partaker of God’s pardoning grace. In God’s forgiveness the heart of the erring one is drawn close to the great heart of Infinite Love. The tide of divine compassion flows into the sinner’s soul, and from him to the souls of others. The tenderness and mercy that Christ has revealed in His own precious life will be seen in those who become sharers of His grace.” Ibid., 251.



  • How did the servant who had been forgiven a very large debt treat one of his fellow servants who owed him but a small sum? Matthew 18:28–30.

Note: “In the parable, when the debtor pleaded for delay, with the promise, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all’ (Matthew 18:29, last part), the sentence was revoked. The whole debt was canceled. And he was soon given an opportunity to follow the example of the master who had forgiven him. Going out, he met a fellow servant who owed him a small sum. He had been forgiven ten thousand talents; the debtor owed him a hundred pence. But he who had been so mercifully treated, dealt with his fellow laborer in an altogether different manner. His debtor made an appeal similar to that which he himself had made to the king, but without a similar result. He who had so recently been forgiven was not tenderhearted and pitiful. The mercy shown him he did not exercise in dealing with his fellowservant.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 245.

  • What did the king do when he heard about this merciless action? Matthew 18:31–34. What lesson does this parable teach us?

Note: “He who refuses to forgive is thereby casting away his own hope of pardon.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 247.

  • What pattern of forgiveness did Jesus leave us in His own life? 1 Peter 2:23; Luke 23:34. How do we often fail in this regard?

Note: “We shall need to have the love of Christ, that we may not cherish an unforgiving spirit. Let us not think that unless those who have injured us confess their wrongs, we are justified in withholding from them our forgiveness. We should not accumulate our grievances, holding them to our hearts until the one we think guilty has humbled his heart by repentance and confession. … However sorely they may have wounded us, we are not to cherish our grievances and sympathize with ourselves over our injuries, but as we hope to be pardoned for our offenses against God, so must we pardon those who have done evil to us.” Sons and Daughters of God, 144.



  • What principle of forgiveness does Jesus present in the prayer He taught His disciples? Matthew 6:12, 14, 15. How only can we truthfully pray this prayer?

Note: “A great blessing is here asked upon conditions. We ourselves state these conditions. We ask that the mercy of God toward us may be measured by the mercy which we extend to others. Christ declares that this is the rule by which the Lord will deal with us: ‘If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses’ (Matthew 6:14, 15). Wonderful terms! but how little are they understood or heeded. One of the most common sins, and one that is attended with most pernicious results, is the indulgence of an unforgiving spirit. How many will cherish animosity or revenge and then bow before God and ask to be forgiven as they forgive. Surely they can have no true sense of the import of this prayer or they would not dare take it upon their lips. We are dependent upon the pardoning mercy of God every day and every hour; how then can we cherish bitterness and malice toward our fellow sinners!” God’s Amazing Grace, 328.

  • What can we expect if we manifest an unforgiving spirit toward others, and why? Matthew 6:15; 18:34, 35.

Note: “We are not forgiven because we forgive, but as we forgive. The ground of all forgiveness is found in the unmerited love of God, but by our attitude toward others we show whether we have made that love our own. Wherefore Christ says, ‘With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again’ (Matthew 7:2).” Christ’s Object Lessons, 251. [Emphasis author’s.]

  • How can we show others true forgiveness? Ephesians 4:32.

Note: “Let the tenderness and mercy that Jesus has revealed in His own precious life be an example to us of the manner in which we should treat our fellow beings.” My Life Today, 235.



  • What exchange did Christ make in our behalf? 1Peter 3:18.

 Note: “Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. ‘With His stripes we are healed’ (Isaiah 53:5, last part).” The Desire of Ages, 25.

  • What does He ask us to give in return? John 13:34.

Note: “Often have you needed the forgiveness of Jesus. You have been constantly dependent upon His compassion and love. Yet have you not failed to manifest toward others the spirit which Christ has exercised toward you? Have you felt a burden for the one whom you saw venturing into forbidden paths? Have you kindly admonished him? Have you wept for him and prayed with him and for him? Have you shown by words of tenderness and kindly acts that you love him and desire to save him?” Testimonies, vol. 5, 610.



1     What should be our attitude when our brother or sister injures us several times and then says he or she is sorry? Why?

2    What must we learn to bear with in others? If we fail to bear with our brothers and sisters, what does this say about ourselves?

3    If those who have injured us do not confess what they have done, what should we do? Why?

4    What do we lack when we fail to forgive others?

5    How can we show the compassion and forgiveness of Christ toward those who have gone astray?

Children’s Story – The Potatoes

A teacher struggled with knowing how to teach her kindergarten students to get along. It was so bad that she decided to let her class play a game. The children were instructed to bring to class the next day a plastic bag containing potatoes. Each potato was to be given the name of a person that the child did not like, so the number of potatoes each child carried in his sack varied and reflected the number and names of his enemies. Some had two potatoes, some three, while some others had up to five potatoes.

The children were required to carry the potatoes with them in the plastic bag wherever they went for one entire week.

At first the children thought it was fun carrying around these potatoes with names on them, but as the days passed by they tired of the game and began to get sick of carrying around their burdens, especially when an unpleasant aroma wafted from the plastic bag as their potatoes started to rot. There were many complaints, especially from the children who had to carry up to five potatoes, making their bags heavy. At the end of the week there was much relief when the game finally ended.

The teacher asked the children, “How did you feel while carrying the potatoes with you for one week?” The children shared their frustrations of the trouble that they had to go through carrying the heavy and smelly potatoes. Then the hidden meaning behind the game was told to the children.

She said, “Carrying rotten potatoes with you constantly is exactly what happens when you carry hatred for somebody inside your heart. The stench of hatred pollutes your heart as well as your body. You carry it with you wherever you go and it affects everything you do. If you cannot tolerate the smell of rotten potatoes for just one week, can you imagine what it is like to have the stench of hatred in your heart for your whole lifetime?”

We must throw out any hatred and evil thoughts we might be harboring in our hearts against anyone so that we do not carry the stench of anger for our whole lifetime. Carrying hatred causes grumpiness and anger and makes the one carrying it hard to get along with. As Jesus forgives us, we also are to forgive others.

Joseph’s brothers threw him into a pit and then sold him into slavery (Genesis 37). You can read all of the terrible things that happened to him, yet he never carried any anger or hatred. Though he was thrown into prison and falsely accused by Potipher’s wife, Joseph harbored no hatred, anger or revenge and was still able to happily help those around him in the prison, warming the hearts of all connected with him. Many years later when reunited with his brothers, though he had been treated so cruelly, he repaid them with forgiveness and compassion. There was not a hint of hatred in his heart.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:14, 15: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Sometimes it is very hard to forgive someone who has done or said something evil against you, but never let another person’s bad actions infect the peace you have available in Jesus.

Forgiveness may be something we give to other people, but it is really a gift to ourselves. Holding onto anger and unforgiveness destroys both health and happiness, causing wretchedness that no one enjoys being around. Each day brings new opportunities for us to forgive and forget.

God is willing to create a new heart and to renew a right spirit in all who ask Him and remove that root of bitterness that so many carry with them.

Keys to the Storehouse – A Genuine Apology

Today, genuine, heartfelt apologies are a rare commodity. Many people go to great lengths to convince the other person that they were responsible for the impatient or angry reaction that they received. In making an apology for not responding in a Christlike manner, are you a person who has to justify your actions and make excuses for yourself putting the blame right back on the other person to whom you are apologizing?

James says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” James 5:16. This does not say to blame your faults on the other person while you are confessing and you will be healed.

The devil made me do it was a popular saying used when people did something they knew was unacceptable. Many people used this saying to as an excuse for whatever they did in their life, but can we use that excuse and blame another person for our own anger? Is it their fault and are we justified blaming others for our own impatience? It comes right down to the fact that each person is responsible for his/her own sins. Whatever the circumstances, a reaction of anger and impatience is sin and we are not at liberty to blame others for our lack of control.

Those very trying circumstances that often come our way are opportunities to exercise that most precious gift—the power of choice! Instead of a negative reaction, why not call on the One who is all powerful and not willing that any would perish but overcome the devil by reflecting the character of Jesus. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict the heart of the one stirring up trouble and not ours to cast blame.

Approaching a person and saying, “I am so sorry I was impatient with you, but you …” or “I am sorry I lost my temper, but you …” is an attempt to transfer blame on someone else for my own lack of control so I will feel better. When apologizing for a wrong word or act and then qualifying it by using the word but, shows that the apology is not genuine. It is devoid of sorrow of heart and merely an attempt to cover the guilt with fig leaves, leaving no healing for either party.

A heartfelt apology is filled with the sad reality that the person has fallen short of the glory of God—fallen short of the character of Jesus in the moment of testing and trial that the Lord has allowed. Whenever I hear somebody apologizing while excusing themselves by blaming somebody else for their actions, I immediately send up a prayer for them.

The expression of regret or sorrow in an apology is like balm on an open wound that brings healing to both parties. The admission of guilt to a wounded person often results in a deeper relationship between the two, for where there had once been contention, now there is a proven trust. The next time you find yourself apologizing, remember to avoid the but word and you may be surprised to see the result of the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit by also receiving an apology in return.

Heavenly Father, put within me that heartfelt sorrow when I have misrepresented Your character. Alert me to the danger of blaming others. Take away that homemade fig leaf covering that I so often use to excuse or cover my actions and words that are not Christlike and cover me with the blood of Jesus and give me a heart of repentance. Help me to take full responsibility of my actions so that all parties will be healed. Amen.

Find peace and healing as you turn this key and enter the Storehouse.

Questions and Answers – Forgiveness

If persons that I have always thought to be my friends pass me by without speaking, and talk to injure me without a cause, am I bound to forgive them and feel as friendly as before—even before they ask forgiveness? Christ does not forgive unless we ask; need we unless we are asked?


We should hold the spirit of forgiveness toward all. This does not mean that we should go to him who has wronged us and say, “We forgive you,” for that would be by implication to charge him with wrong. But we should show that we are friendly and ready to forgive, and should be ready to forgive, or else we would not really forgive when asked. Christ was anxious to forgive us a long time before we asked Him; and, therefore, as soon as we came to that place where we saw our need of His pardon, and showed that we saw our need by asking, the only place where the forgiveness could do us good, Christ there and then freely granted what He was anxious to do all the time. “Even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Colossians 3:13. “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25. But to thus forgive we must hold toward all the spirit of forgiveness, whether they ask pardon or not. But this is the very thing which it is difficult for us to do. Shall we offer two suggestions, which may be of help?

1 We can easier forgive others when we think that they, by endeavoring to injure us, are injuring themselves far more. They can only injure our reputation, or that which is to us extraneous, but can never injure our character without our consent; but they do injure that which to every soul should be of superlative value—their own character. Knowing this, our pity should be aroused.

2 If we, in the language of the poet, would “Remember thy follies, thy sins, and thy crimes; How vast is that infinite debt! Yet Mercy hath seven by seventy times been swift to forgive and forget.” He loved us and therefore forgave, even praying to God to forgive His tormentors. Can we not do the same?

From The Signs of the Times, August 21, 1893.

Some questions and answers never change!

If you have a Bible question you wish to have answered, please write to Steps to Life or email it to:


“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”

Luke 6:37

Notice in the last part of that verse we are told that if we forgive, we will be forgiven. True forgiveness comes from only one Source—the Lord. As human beings, we sometimes like to think that the other person deserves what they get because of what they have done. Somehow we find it so hard to find forgiveness from the heart. When mistreated or, in our opinion, been dealt with unfairly, it is so easy to justify our desire to retaliate. We need so much help with that.

Forgiveness is a gift from God and is given to us from above. It not only comes from God but is required by Him and is an essential characteristic to have if we are ever to enter into His kingdom. Jesus has told us in the Lord’s prayer that He would forgive those who have forgiven others or as we forgive others. In our personal lives we need to learn how to forgive from the heart.

One of the best ways to learn how to do this is to contemplate on the life of Christ. We are told, “It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit. If we would be saved at last, we must learn the lesson of penitence and humiliation at the foot of the cross.” The Desire of Ages, 83. Take each point one by one and meditate on each scene.

As we think about the value of things in this life we see that sin is the most expensive thing that is in this world. You may think it is expensive to buy a fancy car. You may think it is expensive to buy a luxurious house. But the most expensive thing in the world is sin, because sin cost the blood of our Saviour, God’s only dear son. It is only by His blood that we are cleansed from sin, and by accepting the gift we were offered at Calvary that we are able to forgive others.

The forgiving spirit is a gift to each of us from God. We cannot buy it. We cannot earn it, but we must accept it. It is well for us to remember that God forgives. In fact, in Micah 7:19 it says, “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

He takes our sins and casts them into the depths of the sea where they cannot possibly be retrieved. He not only forgives us, but He casts away our sins so that they are not part of us anymore. David said that he takes our sins and puts them away as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). This is the extent that we are to forgive others and to the same measure that we forgive, we will be forgiven.

One of the Bible writers that many of us, if not all of us, have gained a real Christian experience from is Paul. He witnessed the forgiveness of sin, which contributed to his conversion and subsequent life. The letters he wrote to encourage the early church, which make up a large part of the New Testament, have been a wonderful blessing and encouragement to Christians throughout the ages.

“The Saviour had spoken to Saul through Stephen, whose clear reasoning could not be controverted. The learned Jew had seen the face of the martyr reflecting the light of Christ’s glory—appearing as if ‘it had been the face of an angel’ (Acts 6:15). He had witnessed Stephen’s forbearance toward his enemies and his forgiveness of them. He had also witnessed the fortitude and cheerful resignation of many whom he had caused to be tormented and afflicted. He had seen some yield up even their lives with rejoicing for the sake of their faith.

“All these things had appealed loudly to Saul and at times had thrust upon his mind an almost overwhelming conviction that Jesus was the promised Messiah.” The Acts of the Apostles, 116.

Paul said he witnessed Jesus Christ through Stephen in his forbearance towards His enemies and his forgiveness. Paul thought upon that forgiveness and the appearance of Stephen as he gave up his life—his face looked like an angel.

I have long thought about how he was converted by that forgiveness and how important it is to each one of us. We never know how our actions or our expressions will affect the experience of another person. Let us from day to day continue with a forgiving spirit and a Christlike experience.

Remember always that others need our love and they need our forgiveness. May we always remember to do this as day by day we walk in the Christian way.

Ruth Grosboll, matriarch of Steps to Life, lived a long life in the service of her Master. She served as a missionary nurse in Myanmar, formerly Burma. In her later years she held the position of receptionist and correspondent at Steps to Life Ministry, blessing many people with her heartfelt encouraging letters. She is sadly missed to this day.