“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.” Matthew. 6:14,15.

We should not suppose there is a more plain condition in the Holy Bible. From the lips of the great Forgiver comes words that cannot be mistaken. There is no room for holding grudges, no room for a loveless attitude on the part of any professed believer in Jesus as their Savior.

Have you been forgiven of your sins? Have you experienced the peace that passes all understanding? Do you love much?

“Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” Luke 7:47.

Does Your Heart Break?

Is there anyone who has not been hurt by a sinner? Is there anyone who has not had their heart thrust through with words spoken without forethought as to the consequences? The pain may be even greater from a premeditated personal attack.

Every day in our world sin takes its toll. Tens of thousands die because of reckless behavior. Minds swim in a thought process of “Why?” “How could this have happened?” Thoughts of abandonment, despair, and retaliation stir the cauldron of human godlessness.

The world, of course, is going mad. Acts of hatred will increase. Words spoken in rage and acts of violence will gather a momentum that will stun onlookers, as the planet reaches its final, probationary hours.

Tested and Tried

The time is at hand when those who have not been sanctified by the truth will become bitter enemies of those loyal to God. Our spiritual lives will be tested as though there is not another being on the face of the earth, (See The Great Controversy, 608, 490.) Ponder the pressures God’s people are about to face.

Jesus “came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” John 1:11. Have you ever been rejected by those closest to you? Perhaps you have been rejected in no uncertain terms, in very emphatic, rude or crude ways. Have you been mocked, derided, scorned… hated?

“But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.” John 15:25.

Cause to Hate

Think of this Scripture for a moment. Did the religious leaders have cause to hate Jesus? From a just point, no, of course not. Jesus was the spotless Lamb of God. On the other hand, from an unjust viewpoint, they had tremendous cause to hate Him, because He was toppling their entire tower of man-made authority over the people. He was a daily

threat to the established entrenchment of human power. Have we been forgiven much? Do we love much? Have we put as much energy into soul winning, especially in our own families, as those apostates put into stopping Jesus?

Have you ever noticed the number of times the word “suffer” is used in connection with Jesus, as He spoke of His own experience? Consider these two statements after His resurrection: “And He [Christ] said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:” and “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?” Luke 24:46, 26.

To what “things” was our Lord referring? Cleopas and his fellow traveller provide our answer; “…Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and have crucified Him.” Luke 24:19, 20.

Here is the sad, common thread running through the garment of Christ’s sufferings. Seven times before His death Jesus spoke of how He would suffer. The connecting link is the word “pentho,” meaning “to experience a sensation or impression (usually painful).” Strong’s Concordance, Greek Dictionary, 56.

When Jesus spoke of His suffering, He did not equate it to experiencing the loss of connection to His Father, something of which we could have no understanding. He linked it to something we can and will understand, in vivid terms, in the soon coming crisis.

“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.” Matthew 16:21.

Too Great a Threat

Jesus stated to us His suffering came at the hands of men who should have received Him and His truth with great joy. They should have received His offers of a kingdom a thousand times greater than the one they so desired. They did not. He was too great a threat to their system of religious power and authority. So they discussed, planned, and

carried out their hatred and unjust cause. The pain Jesus experienced was tremendous. How could men be so blind? How could they refuse so great a salvation? How could they act like demons and walk in darkness while professing belief in heavenly light? Jesus knew the answer, of course, though it did not release Him from experiencing the pain of rejection.

His greatest pain was in sensing rejection from His Father as He took on the sins of the world. God be praised through ceaseless ages, we shall not have to undergo such rejection. But make no mistake; a pain is coming we may have had tastes of, yet the full flavor of rejection still awaits.

“Already the judgments of God are abroad in the land, as seen in storms, in floods, in tempests, in earthquakes, in peril by land and by sea. The great I AM is speaking to those who make void His law. When God’s wrath is poured out upon the earth, who will then be able to stand? Now is the time for God’s people to show themselves true to principle. When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when His law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage and firmness be the most unflinching. To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few—this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason. The nation will be on the side of the great rebel leader.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 136.

How did Jesus make it through? “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34.

We Have No Excuse

Did they hate Him without a cause? Yes and no. Did they know what they were doing? Yes and no. Dear Reader, do we know what we are doing? Is our cause a just one? They could have known. We have no excuses. If there is even a hint of lovelessness in us, we shall not receive the latter rain. Whatever pain we have gone through, or will yet go through at the hands of those closest to us, it is still eternally true that love and forgiveness are more powerful than pain and rejection.

We must never forget Paul’s timely words; “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered: And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.” Hebrews 5:8, 9.

As remnant believers in the work of Jesus in the Most Holy Place above, we have seen and heard much of character perfection from pen and pulpit. Have we considered what is coming that shall finish this work of the Holy Spirit within us? It is all tied in together in God’s plans of human restoration to Christlikeness.

The apostle Peter wrote more about this than any other author. Certainly he was a man who went through much emotional and physical pain and was a witness to Christ’s sufferings. His reflections, under the guidance of the Spirit, himself being a holy man of God, are to be noted.

“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye shall be buffeted for your faults, ye take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously: Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Peter 2:19-24.

Deserving of Death

Let us face it; as sinners we only deserve death. But as we learn obedience through the things we suffer, God is filling us with eternal life from the infusion of higher principles, something swiftly being lost in our world. God desires witnesses. Witnesses who are able to stand on high principles and carry them through in our daily lives—no small task.

In the opening of this letter Peter writes, “Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” 1 Peter 1:11.

The word “glory” in the Greek comes from the word “doxa” which is to make something apparent or obvious, like the noon day sun, shining in all its glory. We know by study that the word glory is synonymous with God’s character. Then behold, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12, 13.

Love and Forgive

In partaking of Christ’s sufferings, going through the dark tunnel of rejection by leaders and those who make profession of truth, our characters undergo transformation that we may be pure, even as He is pure. We have hope beyond the human struggles with kingly power and Romanism. We have hope beyond the struggles of deception in human hearts. If we do not or cannot forgive all infractions or violations of sinners against ourselves, we do not and cannot have the fullness of Christ; we will not be ready to take on the final crisis or meet Jesus in peace when He returns. We stand on principle, but we must love in Christ and be ready to forgive.

There are too many amongst God’s people who continue to grind the ax of bitterness, who cannot wait for an opportunity to tell others how they have been maligned or mistreated. Does this give glory to God or ennoble our characters? Nay. And it must cease, if we expect God to use us when He takes the reigns in the finishing thrust. Is this not just before us? The end of all things is at hand.

“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, [in His way, His truth, and His life, in His brethren preparing for translation at His return] but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busibody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” 1 Peter 4:14-19.

Can we see the issues at stake for our lives? We must, or we will not see or enter the kingdom of God. Being born again is to have love to God and to our fellow men—sinners just as we are. If we believe in a truth that can sanctify fully, completely and entirely, our hearts will be perfected in love, which will cast out fear, which will leave in us only pity for those who oppose themselves, and deny the Lord that bought them. (See 2 Timothy 2:25, 26 and 2 Peter 2:1-3.)

“In the prayer that Christ taught His disciples was the request: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. We cannot repeat this prayer from the heart and dare to be unforgiving, for we ask the Lord to forgive our trespasses against Him in the same manner that we forgive those who trespass against us. But few realize the true import of this prayer. If those who are unforgiving did comprehend the depth of its meaning they would not dare to repeat it and ask God to deal with them as they deal with their fellow mortals. And yet this spirit of hardness and lack of forgiveness exists even among brethren to a fearful extent. Brother is exacting with brother.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 95.

Soon God will pull together a people of one accord, a people who will have experienced the blessings of being forgiven and of forgiving others. Hearts will be joined in chords of love and expectation of God doing marvelous things for His children, as we enter the final stages of earth’s history. Learn from the past what you can, but do not hold on to its pain. Give that to Jesus.

The Enemy Within

“And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” Matthew 10:36. Has this happened to you? Is it happening even now? Marital pain? Family strife? Has or is the professed household of faith putting you through sore trial and grief? Then strengthen your connection with our Father in heaven, and receive the power of forgiveness that you may have the peace, the patience and the faith of Jesus.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32.

“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Colossians 3:13.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Bible Study Guides – Righteousness

October 6, 2001 – October 12, 2001

 “Awake to Righteousness, and Sin Not”

Memory Verse: “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.” Ephesians 5:9.

Study Help: Christ’s Object Lessons, 310–316.

Thought to Remember: “Righteousness is right doing.”


“There never was a time when it was so important that the followers of Christ should study the Bible as now. Deceptive influences are upon all sides, and it is essential that you counsel with Jesus, your best friend. The wayfaring man may find the way of life through faith and obedience, through abiding in the sunshine of Christ’s righteousness. But how shall we understand what is meant by these terms, if we do not understand the Bible? In the Word of God duty is made plain, and everything relating to the religious life is presented in a definite way. The whole plan of salvation is delineated, and the helps to the soul are pointed out. The way in which the believer may be complete in Christ is unfolded.” Youth’s Instructor, May 18, 1893.

“None Righteous, No, Not One”

1 Because of our sins, what is the state of the human heart? Romans 3:12. Read verses 9–18.

note: “The only definition we find in the Bible for sin is that ‘sin is the transgression of the law’ (1 John 3:4). The Word of God declares, ‘All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). ‘There is none that doeth good, no, not one’ (Romans 3:12). Many are deceived concerning the condition of their hearts. They do not realize that the natural heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. They wrap themselves about with their own righteousness, and are satisfied in reaching their own human standard of character; but how fatally they fail when they do not reach the divine standard, and of themselves they cannot meet the requirements of God. We may measure ourselves by ourselves, we may compare ourselves among ourselves, we may say we do as well as this one or that one, but the question to which the judgment will call for an answer is, Do we meet the claims of high heaven? Do we reach the divine standard? Are our hearts in harmony with the God of heaven? The human family have all transgressed the law of God, and as transgressors of the law, man is hopelessly ruined; for he is the enemy of God, without strength to do any good thing.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 321, 322.

2 How does the Lord regard our attempts to make ourselves righteous? Isaiah 64:6.

note: “In their professed service to God, the Jews were really working for self. Their righteousness was the fruit of their own efforts to keep the law according to their own ideas and for their own selfish benefit. Hence it could be no better than they were. In their endeavor to make themselves holy, they were trying to bring a clean thing out of an unclean. The law of God is as holy as He is holy, as perfect as He is perfect. It presents to men the righteousness of God. It is impossible for man, of himself, to keep this law; for the nature of man is depraved, deformed, and wholly unlike the character of God. The works of the selfish heart are ‘as an unclean thing;’ and ‘all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.’ Isaiah 64:6.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 54.

“Hunger and Thirst After Righteousness”

3 What is righteousness? Psalm 1; Psalm 119:172.

note: “Righteousness is right doing, and it is by their deeds that all will be judged. Our characters are revealed by what we do. The works show whether the faith is genuine.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 312.

“Righteousness is holiness, likeness to God, and ‘God is love.’ 1 John 4:16. It is conformity to the law of God, for ‘all Thy commandments are righteousness’ (Psalm 119:172), and ‘love is the fulfilling of the law’ (Romans 13:10). Righteousness is love, and love is the light and the life of God. The righteousness of God is embodied in Christ. We receive righteousness by receiving Him.” The Faith I Live By, 109.

4 What is the relationship between obedience and righteousness? Romans 6:16.

note: “You need the true spirit of obedience to the Word of God. You must make decided reforms in your own customs and practices, conforming your life to the saving principles of the law of God. When you do this, you will have the righteousness of Christ which pervades that law, because you love God and recognize His law as a transcript of His character.” Child Guidance, 69.

“True obedience is the outworking of a principle within. It springs from the love of righteousness, the love of the law of God. The essence of all righteousness is loyalty to our Redeemer. This will lead us to do right because it is right, because right doing is pleasing to God.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 97.

“What is Man, That He Should be Clean?”

5 Because all have disobeyed God’s law, what way has God devised for accounting sinners as righteous? Romans 5:19.

note: “Righteousness is obedience to the law. The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner’s account. Christ’s righteousness is accepted in place of man’s failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous, and loves him as He loves His Son. This is how faith is accounted righteousness; and the pardoned soul goes on from grace to grace, from light to a greater light. He can say with rejoicing, ‘Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life’ (Titus 3:5–7).” Faith and Works, 101.

6 Will God account us as righteous if we do not forsake our sins? Isaiah 55:7; Zechariah 3:3, 4.

note: “No repentance is genuine that does not work reformation. The righteousness of Christ is not a cloak to cover unconfessed and unforsaken sin; it is a principle of life that transforms the character and controls the conduct. Holiness is wholeness for God; it is the entire surrender of heart and life to the indwelling of the principles of heaven.” The Desire of Ages, 555.

“Christ has paid the price of your redemption. There is only one thing that you can do, and that is to take the gift of God. You can come in all your need, and plead the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour; but you cannot come expecting that Christ will cover your wickedness, your daily indulgence in sin, with His robe of righteousness.” Bible Echo, May 15, 1892.

“Christ’s righteousness will not cover the unrighteousness of any one. ‘All unrighteousness is sin,’ and ‘sin is the transgression of the law,’ therefore, those who are breaking the law of God and teaching others to break it, will not be covered with the garments of Christ’s righteousness. He came not to save men in their sins; but from their sins. ‘And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; hereby know we that we are in Him.’ These utterances are weighty, and should be duly considered.” Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, July 24, 1888.

“If we confess our sins…”

7 How may the unrighteousness that we have done be cleansed from our lives? 1 John 1:9; Jeremiah 3:13; Ezekiel 36:25.

note: “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. 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. The confession that is the outpouring of the inmost soul finds its way to the God of infinite pity. 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.

8 Is forgiveness all that God promises the repentant soul? Acts 2:38; Ezekiel 36:25–27; Acts 3:19.

note: “There are those who listen to the truth, and are convinced that they have been living in opposition to Christ. They are condemned, and they repent of their transgressions. Relying upon the merits of Christ, exercising true faith in Him, they receive pardon for sin. As they cease to do evil and learn to do well, they grow in grace and in the knowledge of God. They see that they must sacrifice in order to separate from the world; and after counting the cost, they look upon all as loss if they may but win Christ. They have enlisted in Christ’s army. The warfare is before them, and they enter it bravely and cheerfully, fighting against their natural inclinations and selfish desires, bringing the will into subjection to the will of Christ. Daily they seek the Lord for grace to obey Him, and they are strengthened and helped. This is true conversion. In humble, grateful dependence he who has been given a new heart relies upon the help of Christ. He reveals in his life the fruit of righteousness. He once loved himself. Worldly pleasure was his delight. Now his idol is dethroned, and God reigns supreme. The sins he once loved he now hates. Firmly and resolutely he follows in the path of holiness.” Youth’s Instructor, September 26, 1901.

“The Righteousness of God which is by Faith of Jesus Christ”

9 What will be seen in the life of the one who accepts the righteousness of Christ? Philippians 1:9–11.

note: “It was impossible for the sinner to keep the law of God, which was holy, just, and good; but this impossibility was removed by the impartation of the righteousness of Christ to the repenting, believing soul. The life and death of Christ in behalf of sinful man were for the purpose of restoring the sinner to God’s favor, through imparting to him the righteousness that would meet the claims of the law and find acceptance with the Father.” Faith and Works, 118.

“Christ actually bore the punishment of the sins of the world, that His righteousness might be imputed to sinners, and through repentance and faith they might become like Him in holiness of character. He says, ‘I bear the guilt of that man’s sins. Let Me take the punishment and the repenting sinner stand before Thee innocent.’ The moment the sinner believes in Christ, he stands in the sight of God uncondemned; for the righteousness of Christ is his: Christ’s perfect obedience is imputed to him. But he must co-operate with divine power, and put forth his human effort to subdue sin, and stand complete in Christ. The ransom paid by Christ is sufficient for the salvation of all men; but it will avail for only those who become new creatures in Christ Jesus, loyal subjects of God’s everlasting kingdom. His suffering will not shield from punishment the unrepenting, disloyal sinner. Christ’s work was to restore man to his original state, to heal him, through divine power, from the wounds and bruises made by sin. Man’s part is to lay hold by faith of the merits of Christ, and co-operate with the divine agencies in forming a righteous character; so that God may save the sinner, and yet be just and His righteous law vindicated.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 429, 430.

10 What fruit will be seen in the life of the one who has repented, receiving the Holy Spirit and the righteousness of Christ? Ephesians 5:9–11; James 3:17, 18.

note: “There is no human being in the world but bears fruit of some kind, either good or evil; and Christ has made it possible for every soul to bear most precious fruit. Obedience to the requirements of God, submission to the will of Christ, will yield in the life the peaceable fruits of righteousness. The inhabitants of this world are dear to God’s family.…He gave the richest gift that heaven could bestow, that men and women might return from their rebellion to His law, and accept into their hearts and lives the principles of heaven. If men would acknowledge the Gift, and accept His sacrifice, their transgressions would be pardoned, and the grace of God would be imparted to them to help them to yield in their lives the precious fruits of holiness. ‘Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit.’ We have a representation to make to the world of pure principles, holy ambitions, noble aspirations, that will distinguish us from all other people, making us a separate nation, a peculiar people.” God’s Amazing Grace, 249.

“The Fine Linen is the Righteousness of Saints”

11 How is righteousness received into the life? Romans 3:22; Philippians 3:9.

note: “By His perfect obedience He has made it possible for every human being to obey God’s commandments. When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness. Then as the Lord looks upon us He sees, not the fig-leaf garment, not the nakedness and deformity of sin, but His own robe of righteousness, which is perfect obedience to the law of Jehovah.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 312.

12 What is the evidence that a person is righteous? 1 John 3:7.

note: “We have no righteousness of our own with which to meet the claims of the law of God. But Christ has made a way of escape for us. He lived on earth amid trials and temptations such as we have to meet. He lived a sinless life. He died for us, and now He offers to take our sins and give us His righteousness. If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. Christ’s character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned. More than this, Christ changes the heart. He abides in your heart by faith. You are to maintain this connection with Christ by faith and the continual surrender of your will to Him; and so long as you do this, He will work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. So you may say, ‘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. So Jesus said to His disciples, ‘It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.’ Matthew 10:20. Then with Christ working in you, you will manifest the same spirit and do the same good works—works of righteousness, obedience. So we have nothing in ourselves of which to boast. We have no ground for self-exaltation. Our only ground of hope is in the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and in that wrought by His Spirit working in and through us.” Steps to Christ, 62, 63.

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.

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.

Christ Our Righteousness, Part I

Today, numerous errors are being circulated among God’s people regarding justification by faith, sanctification, and other salvation doctrines. As a result, many members are being misled and captivated by gross errors, most of which have originated in the churches of the world which we know as Babylon.

Concerning justification, the servant of the Lord has told us, “The enemy of man and God is not willing that this truth should be clearly presented; for he knows that if the people receive it fully, his power will be broken.” Review and Herald, September 3, 1889. Is it any wonder, then, that Satan has infiltrated God’s true church with some of his ministers whom he has inspired to preach a false justification by faith?

Recently, I found these alarming inspired passages concerning righteousness by faith: “There is not one in one hundred [now notice this—not one in one hundred] who understands for himself the Bible truth on this subject that is so necessary to our present and eternal welfare.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 360. And then this quote, “Our churches are dying for the want of teaching on the subject of righteousness by faith in Christ.” This Day With God, 93.

These very disturbing facts have led me to prepare this series of messages. First, let us note that, strange as it may seem, the teaching and preaching of error to our people can at times result in a great blessing. I think I can hear you say, “Brother Nelson, how could this be possible?” Let us take courage from the following counsel from the Lord: “Every time that error is advanced, it will work for good to those who sincerely love God; for when the truth is shadowed by error, those whom the Lord has made His sentinels will make the truth sharper and clearer. They will search the Scriptures for evidence of their faith. The advancement of error is the call for God’s servants to arouse, and place the truth in bold relief.” The Signs of the Times, January 6, 1898. This we shall endeavor to do, for it is my greatest desire, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to be a watchman for God.

The Foundation

The Scriptures introduce the basis, or the foundation, upon which justification by faith rests by explaining what Christ wants to do for us. John 1:29 says, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 6:33 tells us, “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” In John 3:17, we read, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

That which Christ has provided for us, and wants to do for us, is the basis or foundation of justification by faith. Now, as we begin this study, we need to know not only the basis upon which justification is possible, but also what the conditions are for receiving justification.

Basis of Justification

But first, let us study more about the basis. In the Bible, both Adam and Christ represent the human race. Therefore, what spiritually occurred with Adam and Christ has to do with everyone born into this world. For example, when Adam, the representative of our race, was tempted by Satan to rebel against God, and in doing so sinned, he brought death upon himself and all his descendents. When Christ became our representative by coming to earth in human flesh through the miracle of the Holy Spirit, He likewise was tempted by the devil to sin. But He did not rebel as Adam did. He obeyed God. He never sinned. And because of His victory over Satan, He was able and willing to die for our sins so that the sentence of death, through Adam, could be reversed to eternal life if we accept Christ’s death in our place.

The result of Adam’s sin was that all mankind have likewise sinned and received the death penalty. But, praise God, the Son of God chose to take the place of Adam, as head and representative of the human race, and by His death on the cross He paid the penalty of our death sentence, providing an offer of redemption to all who will believe in Him. We read, in John 3:16, 17, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

Throughout the entire Word of God, this basis for justification by faith is confirmed. For example, let us read Romans 5:12, 17–19, which says, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” “(For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one [judgment came] upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [the free gift came] upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”

The Spirit of Prophecy, which is always in harmony with God’s Word, likewise teaches that Jesus, in order to save us, took the place of Adam as our representative. “Jesus humbled himself, clothing his divinity with humanity, in order that he might stand as the head and representative of the human family.” The Signs of the Times, January 16, 1896.


Let us consider the conditions upon which justification by faith and sanctification are possible for individuals. Did I hear someone ask, “Are there conditions for a man to be justified? Is not justification a free gift?” From New Zealand, Ellen White wrote to A.T. Jones. He was one of the two men who presented the truth of righteousness by faith to God’s church in 1888. But, by the year 1893, he had begun to proclaim over and over, “There are no conditions.” The Lord showed his mistake to Ellen White in a vision. Her letter to Jones, from which the following sentence is taken, is recorded in Selected Messages, Book 1, 377. “There are conditions to our receiving justification and sanctification, and the righteousness of Christ.”

To meet the conditions does not mean that we make a payment for our salvation. Man’s works either before or after justification are valueless in themselves. They cannot purchase salvation. Salvation is a free gift, but, God says, only to those who meet the conditions. Adam chose to believe the lie of Satan. He rebelled against his Maker by sinning. He accepted the conditions for believing the lie of Satan that he would become as the gods. He ignored God’s truth that the wages of sin is death. But, when we choose to obey what Christ says, this process is reversed. We reject Satan and accept the following conditions laid down by Christ in order that we might escape death and receive eternal life.

Five Conditions

There are five conditions:

1. We accept by faith Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice on Calvary’s cross for us.

2. We surrender completely, repent, and confess our sins to God.

3. We believe that God forgives our individual sins.

4. We personally experience the gift of justification by faith by being born again.

5. We abide in Christ through a continual, loving relationship of trust and obedience. This fifth condition results in our sanctification.

Let us consider these five conditions one at a time. The first condition requires that we believe and personally accept Christ’s sacrifice. As this topic unfolds, we shall observe that there is more to the term believe than many have supposed. In fact, all five of the listed conditions are embodied in the words, “Whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”


The second condition is surrender. This involves repentance, death to self and sin, and confession. In Acts 2:38, we learn that we must repent. “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Notice the importance that Ellen White gives to this condition: “Repent, repent, repent, was the message wrung out by John the Baptist in the wilderness. Christ’s message to the people was ‘Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.’ Luke 13:5. And the apostles were commanded to preach everywhere that men should repent.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 19.

But take note, can we repent in our own strength? No way! Through His servant, the Lord says, “Who is desirous of becoming truly repentant? What must he do? He must come to Jesus, just as he is, without delay. He must believe that the word of Christ is true, and, believing the promise, ask, that he may receive. When sincere desire prompts men to pray, they will not pray in vain. The Lord will fulfil His word, and will give the Holy Spirit to lead to repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ibid., Book 1, 393.

We must also confess our sins. 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The same condition existed in Old Testament times. In 11 Chronicles 7:14, we read, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin.” How beautiful that is!

How important are these conditions? Pay close attention to this: “Those who have not humbled their souls before God in acknowledging their guilt, have not yet fulfilled the first condition for acceptance. If we have not experienced that repentance which is not to be repented of, and have not with true humiliation of soul and brokeness of spirit confessed our sins, abhorring our iniquity, we have never truly sought for the forgiveness of sin; and if we have never sought, we have never found the peace of God. The only reason why we do not have remission of sins that are past is that we are not willing to humble our hearts and comply with the conditions of the word of truth.” Steps to Christ, 37, 38.

God Forgives

Consider now the third condition, which reveals that we must believe that God forgives our sins. Remember, there are conditions to be met before we can truly believe that He has done this. “Man must be emptied of self before he can be, in the fullest sense, a believer in Jesus.” The Desire of Ages, 280. This is very important, for Jesus says to the unforgiven, “I never knew you.” Why? “You have not exercised genuine repentance toward God for the transgression of His holy law, and you cannot have genuine faith in Me, for it was My mission to exalt God’s law.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 239.

“To believe in Jesus is to take Him as your Redeemer, as your Pattern.” This Day With God, 299. After we have met these specified conditions so that we can truly believe in Christ, then we can believe. “The moment we ask for forgiveness in contrition and sincerity, God forgives. Oh, what a glorious truth! Preach it, pray it, sing it.” The Signs of the Times, September 4, 1893.

And so, speaking plainly, we are justified by faith in Christ, who died for us. Faith in itself does not save us. It is faith in the Son of God that saves. Permit me to present this in the words of Elder John Janiuk as given in his book, The Great Controversy End Game, Book 2 (publisher unknown, 1999, 3): “When you and I, by faith through repentance, confession, surrender, accept Christ’s death on the cross for us and His righteousness as our substitute and our Saviour, then God accepts us because we accept His Son. He sees us as if we had never sinned and He accepts us as if we are sinless. This is the heart of justification by faith.” How beautifully that is stated!

New Birth

The fourth condition states that we must experience the new birth. Christ told Nicodemus that before he could see the kingdom of God he must be born again. When God forgives a man, He provides him with a new heart, a new birth. In Ezekiel 36:26, we read, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”

Many do not realize that justification by faith includes the new birth, which is a new mind. Inspiration clearly reveals this truth: “To be pardoned in the way that Christ pardons, is not only to be forgiven, but to be renewed in the spirit of our mind.” Review and Herald, August 19, 1890.

This takes place when we come to the Lord just as David did after he had sinned against Bathsheba. Consider his prayer in Psalm 51:2, 7, 10: “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

In commenting on David’s experience, Ellen White said, “But forgiveness has a broader meaning than many suppose. . . . 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. [I like that!] It is the outflow of redeeming love that transforms the heart. David had the true conception of forgiveness when he prayed, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.’ ” Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 114. When God forgives, He also cleanses the soul and creates a new heart in which Christ can dwell. Is that not marvelous?

How do we receive such righteousness? “We receive righteousness by receiving Him [Jesus].” Ibid., 18. So, when we die to self, the new birth brings Christ, with His Righteousness, into our hearts to dwell therein. In Testimonies, vol. 5, 46, we are told that, “[We] are not reconciled to God, neither can be, until self is crucified and Christ lives in the heart by faith.” What a wonderful experience to all who are willing to die to self. Then we can say, “Christ is my righteousness.”

Water to the Thirsty

I hope we are beginning to get a clearer picture of justification by faith. Ellen White wrote, “When the doctrine of justification by faith was presented . . . it came to many as water comes to the thirsty traveler.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 360.

In my younger days, I often hiked in the desert. I well remember once when I was completely out of water and desperate. Then I suddenly discovered a very small stream trickling into the sand. It was coming from a far-off mountain, but was just enough to quench my thirst. How thankful I was to God for finding the water. When we discover the marvelous truth of justification by faith, we too will exclaim with Ellen White, “The sweetest melodies that come from God through human lips—justification by faith, and the righteousness of Christ.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 426.

Garments of Righteousness

At justification, heavenly peace floods the soul. Paul tells us, in Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Oh what a glorious truth! When we are justified, we stand faultless before God. But, you ask, “How can this be?” This is because we are clothed in the beautiful garments of Christ’s righteousness.

“When the penitent sinner, contrite before God, discerns Christ’s atonement in his behalf, and accepts this atonement as his only hope in this life and the future life, his sins are pardoned. This is justification by faith. Every believing soul is to conform his will entirely to God’s will, and keep in a state of repentance and contrition, exercising faith in the atoning merits of the Redeemer and advancing from strength to strength, from glory to glory.

“Pardon and justification are one and the same thing. Through faith, the believer passes from the position of a rebel, a child of sin and Satan, to the position of a loyal subject of Christ Jesus, not because of an inherent goodness, but because Christ receives him as His child by adoption. The sinner receives the forgiveness of his sins, because these sins are borne by his Substitute and Surety. The Lord speaks to His heavenly Father, saying: ‘This is My child. I reprieve him from the condemnation of death, giving him My life insurance policy—eternal life—because I have taken his place and have suffered for his sins. He is even My beloved son.’ Thus man, pardoned, and clothed with the beautiful garments of Christ’s righteousness, stands faultless before God.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1070.

The more we understand about righteousness by faith, the more glorious it becomes. But remember, “Without the transforming process which can come alone through divine power, the original propensities to sin are left in the heart in all their strength, to forge new chains, to impose a slavery that can never be broken by human power. But men can never enter heaven with their old tastes, inclinations, idols, ideas, and theories.” Review and Herald, August 19, 1890.

Praise the Lord that, through justification by faith, in which we are forgiven and renewed, the image of Christ is stamped upon the mind, heart, and soul, making it possible for man to have the mind of Christ as did the apostle Paul. Only a holy person can enter heaven. Did I hear you ask, “How can a man be holy?” “As the sinner, drawn by the power of Christ approaches the uplifted cross, and prostrates himself before it, there is a new creation. A new heart is given him. He becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus. Holiness finds that it has nothing more to require. God Himself, ‘is the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.’ Romans 3:26.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 163. This reception of a new heart and the righteousness of Christ is what makes a man holy. Can you imagine a born-again man, of whom it is said that holiness finds that it has nothing more to require?

Could we ask for anything more? But do not forget, a man will not feel that he himself is holy, nor say he is holy, yet this is how God looks upon him because of Christ—His righteousness is accounted to him. Further, by this same process he is made fit for heaven—born again and converted, which are one and the same. “When the sinner is converted he receives the Holy Spirit, that makes him a child of God, and fits him for the society of the redeemed and the angelic host. He is made a joint heir with Christ.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 488.

“The grace of Christ purifies while it pardons, and fits men for a holy heaven.” That I May Know Him, 336. It is Christ’s indwelling righteousness that both justifies and fits men for heaven. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27. When justification is completed, sanctification has just begun. Jesus begins to live out His life within man, imparting His righteousness, making him more and still more fit for heaven as he develops a character according to the pattern, Christ Jesus.

The experience of the apostle Paul will be our daily experience. In Galatians 2:20, it says, “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.” Is all of this good news, or should I say thrilling news, exciting news?

In forgiving our past disobedience, the obedience of Christ is placed to the account of the repentant sinner, just as if it were he himself who had obeyed. “The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can obtain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner’s account. Christ’s righteousness is accepted in the place of man’s failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous, and loves him as He loves His Son.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 367.

Did you catch the significance of that last line? Why does God love us such? Is it not that, through the Spirit, God’s Son dwells within the heart of man? Then, when God looks at man’s heart, He sees not man’s filthy rags of disobedience, but the righteousness of His own Son dwelling there within the heart. Oh, what a God! God loves us as He loved His Son. Incomprehensible! But, beloved, it is true! Oh, what a salvation!

The true Christian does not work to be saved. Such an experience fills the heart with unspeakable joy and peace. He is having a true and living relationship with his Saviour—an experience that makes it possible for him to achieve victory over every temptation and sin. What assurance that brings to man.

“If you are right with God today, you are ready if Christ should come today.” In Heavenly Places, 227. Do you like that kind of assurance? But how can I know that Jesus, with His righteousness, is living within my heart and my mind? In the Review and Herald, June 4, 1895, we are told, “Righteousness within is testified to by righteousness without.”

Continual Obedience

Now we come to the last condition, which is continual obedience. It is through obedience that we may maintain our sanctified state. But there is more. We also have learned that continual obedience is the only way we can retain our justified state as well. Ellen White wrote, “While God can be just, and yet justify the sinner through the merits of Christ, no man can cover his soul with the garments of Christ’s righteousness while practicing known sins or neglecting known duties. God requires the entire surrender of the heart, before justification can take place; and in order for man to retain justification, there must be continual obedience, through active, living faith that works by love and purifies the soul.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 366.

Now for one more grand truth: Did you know that as long as we maintain our justification and our sanctification that our eternal life has already begun for us here and now? Oh friend, this is for real! 1 John 5:12 says, “He that hath the Son hath life.” “It is through the Spirit that Christ dwells in us; and the Spirit of God, received into the heart by faith, is the beginning of life eternal.” The Desire of Ages, 388. What a glorious truth! Beloved, this is exciting, good news.

This truth is further confirmed by the prophet John. In 1 John 5:11–13, we read, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; [and] he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

No wonder Paul exclaimed, in 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” No wonder Ellen White proclaims, “Preach it, pray it, sing it.”

For over 60 years Pastor Lawrence Nelson served as an evangelist and minister for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Of that time, he served 13 years as the director of evangelism for youth at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Upon retirement from the General Conference, he continued to pastor, but when, as a result of his stand for truth, he was denied the opportunity to continue his pastorate, he started Keep the Faith Audio Tape Ministry, recording his sermons and making them available to individuals. Before his retirement from this ministry in 2004, over 18,000 audio tapes were being sent around the world each month.

Bible Study Guides – The Work of Redemption, Part I

July 1, 2007 – July 7, 2007

Key Text

“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.

Study Help: The Desire of Ages, 19−22.


“There are but few who have an appreciation of the grievous character of sin, and who comprehend the greatness of the ruin that has resulted from the transgression of God’s law. By examining the wonderful plan of redemption to restore the sinner to the moral image of God, we see that the only means for man’s deliverance was wrought out by the self-sacrifice, and the unparalleled condescension and love of the Son of God. He alone had the strength to fight the battles with the great adversary of God and man, and, as our substitute and surety, he has given power to those who lay hold of him by faith, to become victors in his name, and through his merits.” Review and Herald, August 21, 1888.

1 In whom do we have redemption? What is the signification of the term? Romans 3:24.

note: “The great work of redemption could be carried out only by the Redeemer taking the place of fallen Adam. With the sins of the world laid upon Him, He would go over the ground where Adam stumbled. He would bear a test infinitely more severe than that which Adam failed to endure. He would overcome on man’s account, and conquer the tempter, that, through His obedience, His purity of character and steadfast integrity, His righteousness might be imputed to man, that, through His name, man might overcome the foe on his own account.” Confrontation, 17, 18.

“In freeing our souls from the bondage of sin, God has wrought for us a deliverance greater than that of the Hebrews at the Red Sea.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 289. [Emphasis added.]

“The deliverance of Israel from Egypt was an object lesson of redemption.” The Desire of Ages, 77. [Emphasis added.]

2 What did man lose by the fall of Adam and Eve? Romans 5:12; Genesis 2:17.

note: “Sorrow filled heaven, as it was realized that man was lost, and that world which God had created was to be filled with mortals doomed to misery, sickness, and death. . . . The whole family of Adam must die.” Early Writings, 149.

“Immortality, promised to man on condition of obedience, had been forfeited by transgression. Adam could not transmit to his posterity that which he did not possess; and there could have been no hope for the fallen race had not God, by the sacrifice of His Son, brought immortality within their reach. . . . Every man may come into possession of this priceless blessing if he will comply with the conditions.” The Great Controversy, 533.

3 When man was created, what was given to him? Genesis 1:26. To whom did he surrender this dominion? Luke 4:5, 6. Then, what needs to be done that man may be brought back to God’s original plan?

note: “After the earth with its teeming animal and vegetable life had been called into existence, man, the crowning work of the Creator, and the one for whom the beautiful earth had been fitted up, was brought upon the stage of action. To him was given dominion over all that his eye could behold.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 44.

“He [Satan] asked the Saviour to bow to his authority, promising that if He would do so, the kingdoms of the world would be His. He pointed Christ to his success in the world, enumerating the principalities and powers that were subject to him. He declared that what the law of Jehovah could not do, he had done.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1083.

“When Satan declared to Christ, The kingdom and glory of the world are delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it, he stated what was true only in part, and he declared it to serve his own purpose of deception. Satan’s dominion was that wrested from Adam, but Adam was the vicegerent of the Creator. His was not an independent rule. The earth is God’s, and He has committed all things to His Son. Adam was to reign subject to Christ. When Adam betrayed his sovereignty into Satan’s hands, Christ still remained the rightful King.” The Desire of Ages, 129.

4 What is Christ made to believers? 1 Corinthians 1:30.

note: “We have not looked away from ourselves, believing that Jesus is a living Saviour. We must not think that our own grace and merits will save us; the grace of Christ is our only hope of salvation. . . . When we trust God fully, when we rely upon the merits of Jesus as a sin-pardoning Saviour, we shall receive all the help that we can desire.

“We look to self, as though we had power to save ourselves; but Jesus died for us because we are helpless to do this. In Him is our hope, our justification, our righteousness.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 351.

5 What does Jesus say of His own existence? Revelation 22:13. Of what significance has the expression “alpha and omega”?

note: “All the great truths of the Scriptures center in Christ; rightly understood, all lead to Him. Let Christ be presented as the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, of the great plan of redemption.” Evangelism, 485.

“When the students of prophecy shall set hearts to know the truths of Revelation, they will realize what an importance is attached to this search. Christ Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the Genesis of the Old Testament, and the Revelation of the New. Both meet together in Christ. Adam and God are reconciled by the obedience of the second Adam, who accomplished the work of overcoming the temptations of Satan and redeeming Adam’s disgraceful failure and fall.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1092, 1093.

6 What is the first step in the work of redemption? Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:12−14.

note: “[Ephesians 1:7 quoted.] Yes, only believe that God is your helper. He wants to restore His moral image in man. As you draw near to Him with confession and repentance, He will draw near to you with mercy and forgiveness.” Steps to Christ, 55.

“ ‘He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.’ [Proverbs 28:13.]

“The conditions of obtaining mercy of God are simple and just and reasonable. The Lord does not require us to do some grievous thing in order that we may have the forgiveness of sin. We need not make long and wearisome pilgrimages or perform painful penances, to commend our souls to the God of heaven or to expiate our transgression; but he that confesseth and forsaketh his sin shall have mercy. This is a precious promise, given to fallen man to encourage him to trust in the God of love and to seek for eternal life in His kingdom.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 635.

7 Through whom does the forgiveness of sins come? Matthew 1:21; Acts 13:38.

note: “God waits to bestow the blessing of forgiveness of sins, of pardon for iniquity, of the gift of righteousness upon all who will believe in His love, and accept of His salvation. Christ is ready to say to the repenting sinner, ‘. . . Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee. . . .’ Zechariah 3:4−7. Christ is the connecting link between God and man. The blood of Jesus Christ is the eloquent plea that speaks in behalf of sinners.” Our High Calling, 38.

8 When sins are pardoned, how does it affect the sinner’s past life? 1 John 1:9. How does the Lord look upon the forgiven one? Romans 4:7, 8.

note: “God requires that we confess our sins, and humble our hearts before Him; but at the same time we should have confidence in Him as a tender Father, who will not forsake those who put their trust in Him. Many of us walk by sight, and not by faith. We believe the things that are seen, but do not appreciate the precious promises given us in God’s Word; and yet we cannot dishonor God more decidedly than by showing that we distrust what He says, and question whether the Lord is in earnest with us or is deceiving us.

“God does not give us up because of our sins. We may make mistakes, and grieve His Spirit; but when we repent, and come to Him with contrite hearts, He will not turn us away. There are hindrances to be removed. Wrong feelings have been cherished, and there have been pride, self-sufficiency, impatience, and murmurings. All these separate us from God. Sins must be confessed; there must be a deeper work of grace in the heart.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 350, 351.

9 What does forgiveness or justification bring? Romans 5:1.

note: “Pardon and justification are one and the same thing. Through faith, the believer passes from the position of a rebel, a child of sin and Satan, to the position of a loyal subject of Christ Jesus, not because of an inherent goodness, but because Christ receives him as His child by adoption. The sinner receives the forgiveness of his sins, because these sins are borne by his Substitute and Surety. . . . Thus man, pardoned, and clothed with the beautiful garments of Christ’s righteousness, stands faultless before God. . . .

“Justification is the opposite of condemnation. God’s boundless mercy is exercised toward those who are wholly undeserving. He forgives transgressions and sins for the sake of Jesus, who has become the propitiation for our sins. Through faith in Christ, the guilty transgressor is brought into favor with God and into the strong hope of life eternal.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1070, 1071.

10 Why do we have peace? Romans 8:1; John 14:24.

note: “The religion of Christ means more than the forgiveness of sin; it means taking away our sins, and filling the vacuum with the graces of the Holy Spirit. It means divine illumination, rejoicing in God. It means a heart emptied of self, and blessed with the abiding presence of Christ. When Christ reigns in the soul, there is purity, freedom from sin. The glory, the fullness, the completeness of the gospel plan is fulfilled in the life. The acceptance of the Saviour brings a glow of perfect peace, perfect love, perfect assurance. The beauty and fragrance of the character of Christ revealed in the life testifies that God has indeed sent His Son into the world to be its Saviour.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 419, 420.

11 What has Christ given to everyone whom He has redeemed from sin? 11 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13. Of what is this Spirit an earnest or pledge? Ephesians 1:14.

note: “In giving the Holy Spirit, it was impossible for God to give more. To this gift nothing could be added. By it all needs are supplied. The Holy Spirit is the vital presence of God, and if appreciated will call forth praise and thanksgiving, and will ever be springing up unto everlasting life.” Ye Shall Receive Power, 284.

“There is a serious, solemn work to be done at this time. In all places the standard is to be lifted. God has [Ephesians 1:9−13 quoted]. The word of truth, Bible truth, present truth, is to be presented calmly, soberly, in the demonstration of the Spirit, for the angels of God are making impressions upon minds. . . . [Verse 13, last part, quoted.]

“What is the seal of the living God, which is placed in the foreheads of His people? It is a mark which angels, but not human eyes, can read; for the destroying angel must see this mark of redemption. The intelligent mind has seen the sign of the cross of Calvary in the Lord’s adopted sons and daughters. The sin of the transgression of the law of God is taken away. They have on the wedding garment, and are obedient and faithful to all God’s commands.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 51, 52.

12 To what time are believers sealed? Ephesians 4:30.

note: “Let the church arise, and repent of her back-slidings before God. Let the watchmen awake, and give the trumpet a certain sound. It is a definite warning that we have to proclaim. . . .

“The work is before us; will we engage in it? We must work fast, we must go steadily forward. We must be preparing for the great day of the Lord. We have no time to lose, no time to be engaged in selfish purposes. The world is to be warned. What are we doing as individuals to bring the light before others? God has left to every man his work; every one has a part to act, and we cannot neglect this work except at the peril of our souls.

“O my brethren, will you grieve the Holy Spirit, and cause it to depart? Will you shut out the blessed Saviour, because you are unprepared for his presence? Will you leave souls to perish without the knowledge of the truth, because you love your ease too well to bear the burden that Jesus bore for you? Let us awake out of sleep.” Review and Herald, March 22, 1887.

Children’s Story – An Act of the Will

“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.” She spoke from personal experience. Of all the places that she could be right now, this small church in northern Germany was the last place Corrie ten Boom wanted to be, but the first place she felt called.

The many wounds inflicted by the Nazi regime were still bleeding in her heart as she spoke to the congregation about God’s love and forgiveness. Just months ago, she had been imprisoned in the Ravensbruck concentration camp; one of the most notorious and deadly camps of World War II; the very place where her beloved sister, Betsy, lost her life with countless other women. Only twenty percent of the women who entered the gates of the camp, ever lived to see freedom again.

Corrie’s mind flickered back to eight months ago and the German congregation in front of her disappeared behind the memory of the bitterly cold night Betsy was taken from her. Corrie still felt the chill of Betsy’s frail, icy fingers on her hand. Her clear blue eyes, warmed by God’s love, echoed her last words to Corrie. “Remember, dear sister,” she whispered gently, “no pit is so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

Corrie spent a sleepless night next to her dead sister, reliving the vicious beating Betsy had endured at the hand of one of the German guards. Corrie could still see the hatred in the steely blue eyes of a man wholly consumed by a very different spirit than that of her beloved sister. Already emaciated and faint, the scourging had robbed Betsy of what little strength she still hung on to. And now she was gone. Like a robber who had stolen millions, the guard had come back for the pennies that were left. Silent tears of hatred and fervent prayers for forgiveness tore Corrie in two as her heart fought a war not unlike the one that was tearing the world apart outside. Even as she was suffering at the hand of her enemy, Betsy claimed aloud God’s forgiveness for the man. Corrie prayed for the same spirit.

The memories vanished again and the sea of German faces reappeared. “We all are adversaries of Christ, and yet His forgiveness is offered freely.” She continued, “As we ought to offer forgiveness to one another no matter how great or small the offense.”

After the service, Corrie stood by the doors of the church speaking with the members as they filed out of the sanctuary. She warmly shook hands and exchanged kind words with these people who had a short time ago been enemies, and her heart overflowed with gratitude—and then stopped. A face in the crowd that was moving slowly past froze her in place, causing her convictions on forgiveness to shake as violently as her hands. A few moments later, the same steel blue eyes that had flashed with hatred for her sister were staring her in the face. But the hatred was gone. In its place was a deep sorrow and a question. “Forgive me, Miss ten Boom,” he pleaded quietly, and held out a trembling hand toward her. “Please.” Corrie looked long and hard at the man who had killed her sister—“forgiveness—no matter the temperature of the heart,” she reminded herself, and raised her hand to grasp his. Tears of joy and freedom flowed from both their eyes.

Bible Study Guides – Justification by Faith – Forgiveness

November 18 – 24, 2018

Key Text

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

Study Help: The Signs of the Times, February 14, 1895; Ibid., July 29, 1913.


“Repentance, as well as forgiveness, is the gift of God through Christ. It is through the influence of the Holy Spirit that we are convicted of sin and feel our need of pardon.” Faith and Works, 38.



  • What does God offer us through the redemption Jesus Christ accomplished, and for what aim? Ephesians 1:7; Acts 26:17, 18.

Note: “Jesus knows the circumstances of every soul. You may say, I am sinful, very sinful. You may be; but the worse you are, the more you need Jesus. He turns no weeping, contrite one away. … He bids every trembling soul take courage. Freely will He pardon all who come to Him for forgiveness and restoration. …

“The souls that turn to Him for refuge, Jesus lifts above the accusing and the strife of tongues. No man or evil angel can impeach these souls. Christ unites them to His own divine-human nature.” The Desire of Ages, 568.

“The object of the Great Teacher is the restoration of the image of God in the soul.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 436.



  • What life changing consequences are in store for those whom God forgives? Romans 8:28–30.

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



  • In the parable of the prodigal son, what can we learn of the forgiving love of God toward us? Luke 15:20–23.

Note: “In the parable there is no taunting, no casting up to the prodigal of his evil course. The son feels that the past is forgiven and forgotten, blotted out forever. And so God says to the sinner, ‘I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins’ (Isaiah 44:22). ‘I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more’ (Jeremiah 31:34). ‘Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon’ (Isaiah 55:7). ‘In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found’ (Jeremiah 50:20).

“What assurance here, of God’s willingness to receive the repenting sinner!” Christ’s Object Lessons, 204, 205.

“Christ came to this world to prove the falsity of this [Satanic] statement [that there is no forgiveness with God], to show that God is love, that like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. Follow the Saviour from the manger to the cross, mark His life of unselfish ministry, His agony in the garden, and His death on the cross; and know that with God there is plenteous forgiveness. He abhors sin, but with a love that passes knowledge He loves the sinner.” The Review and Herald, January 19, 1911.

  • What must be really believed in order to be overcomers? Mark 2:5.

Note: “Here is where thousands fail; they do not believe that Jesus pardons them personally, individually. They do not take God at His word. It is the privilege of all who comply with the conditions to know for themselves that pardon is freely extended for every sin. Put away the suspicion that God’s promises are not meant for you. They are for every repentant transgressor. Strength and grace have been provided through Christ to be brought by ministering angels to every believing soul. None are so sinful that they cannot find strength, purity, and righteousness in Jesus, who died for them. He is waiting to strip them of their garments stained and polluted with sin, and to put upon them the white robes of righteousness; He bids them live and not die.” Steps to Christ, 52, 53.



  • When a sinner is forgiven, what must he also do? What is the measure of forgiveness? Luke 11:4; Matthew 6:15.

Note: “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. …

“It is true that he may once have received forgiveness; but his unmerciful spirit shows that he now rejects God’s pardoning love. He has separated himself from God, and is in the same condition as before he was forgiven. He has denied his repentance, and his sins are upon him as if he had not repented.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 251.

“[Matthew 6:14, 15 quoted.] 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.

  • To what extent should we forgive those who have offended us? Luke 17:3, 4.
  • How did Jesus forgive even those who were responsible for His death? Luke 23:34.

Note: “Jesus was earning the right to become the advocate of men in the Father’s presence.

“That prayer of Christ for His enemies embraced the world. It took in every sinner that had lived or should live, from the beginning of the world to the end of time. Upon all rests the guilt of crucifying the Son of God. To all, forgiveness is freely offered.” The Desire of Ages, 745.



  • In addition to forgiveness, what further process will God do for the one who confesses his sins? 1 John 1:9.

Note: “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. David had the true conception of forgiveness when he prayed, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me’ (Psalm 51:10). And again he says, ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us’ (Psalm 103:12).” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 114.

  • Since God has saved us by His grace and given us the Holy Spirit, how shall we respond in our daily life? Titus 3:3–8.

Note: “He [Paul] bids Titus to instruct the church that while they should trust to the merits of Christ for salvation, divine grace, dwelling in their hearts, will lead to the faithful performance of all the duties of life.” The Sanctified Life, 87.



1     Why can we only obtain forgiveness of sin through Jesus? Why was it necessary for Him to partake of our fallen human nature?

2    How can we encourage those who are erring and discouraged?

3    What should we remember when we are tempted to believe that we cannot come back to God after we have sinned?

4    How should we treat those who have offended us? What happens to us if we refuse to forgive others?

5    What will take place in the heart of those who receive God’s forgiveness?

© 2017 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Five Aspects of Forgiveness

There are five aspects of forgiveness that are necessary to consider and experience. In order to become better Christians, we need to understand, receive and willingly apply these principles to our own lives.

1 Receiving forgiveness from God

2 Asking forgiveness of others

3 Forgiving ourself

4 Forgiving God

5 Forgiving others

Notice point two and point five. Often we ask others to forgive us, but are we as willing to forgive others under all circumstances? Many times before we forgive, we have to think about it first before even considering forgiveness.

Receiving Forgiveness from God

Los Angeles is well known as a very rough and unstable environment with several gangs living there. For a time that is where I lived and worked as a colporteur and Bible worker. Once I was studying and praying with two Bible workers in a public place. As we knelt together we were unaware of being watched by a young man, a gangster who appeared to be in his mid-twenties. He could be easily identified as a gangster by the type of clothing that he wore. Within gangs, the tougher you look the more impressive you are and the more respect you get from the other gang members.

We continued to pray, “Lord, we pray that You will remove from us every spot and every wrinkle so that we can be sure to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Father, we know the blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross has the power to heal, has the power to cleanse and has the power to restore all that are willing to change. Though their sins be as scarlet, You will make them as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18), as white as the clouds in the sky.”

As we finished praying, the young man approached us, and while still holding a beer in his hand, said to us, “Do you mean that everything I have done and every horrible thing that I have been involved in and do, the blood of Jesus can make me as a new creature, a new man?”

I responded, “Yes, but the blood has no power unless you confess to God everything that you have done wrong. Then the blood has the power to cleanse.”

He then asked, “How does this work? I don’t understand what you are saying. I cannot process all of what you are telling me. Can you give me a picture?”

I told him the following story: A company I knew that manufactured home cleaning products once gave three gallons of chlorine to its workers, free of charge every week, to test the product in a home environment. The employees were required to document on a survey form their opinion of the effectiveness of the product. The manager was eager to develop a detergent to clean filth and dirt from clothes, yet he did not appear to be particularly concerned with his own personal hygiene, as every time he would come to the laboratory, his appearance was dirty.

I told the young man, “That is exactly as the blood of Jesus. The blood has power, but we must willingly apply it faithfully and use its cleansing power. Only then will we become as a clean man. Many of us can be in the same situation as the manager who developed a strong detergent but neglected to use it himself. There is power in the blood of Jesus, but first it needs to be acknowledged, then accepted to have an effect. Once we confess our sins to Him, the power of the blood will kick in as it is applied to our life.”

The young man listened intently and replied, “Really? I want that, brother; I want it really bad.” He threw the can of beer he was holding away and continued, “I really want to become a Christian. I am sick of the way I am living.” From that point on we had Bible studies, and I never saw him drink alcohol again. Years have passed since that day he gave his heart to Jesus. He became a Seventh-day Adventist, has since married, and now has his own family.

Some of us are not willing to surrender everything to God. The first step is to recognize our need of a Saviour and then receive the forgiveness that is offered by God. Many of us are not willing to admit the deep secrets of which others are unaware and the personal struggles that we have. This denial and refusal to surrender to God is often the cause of developing an angry personality, which ultimately becomes very aggressive in nature. Consequently, this attitude then spills over into the family, affecting everyone negatively. There is much relief in acknowledging our faults to God and confessing our sins. “Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us, of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service and honor of God supreme will find perplexities vanish, and a plain path before their feet.” The Desire of Ages, 330.

Those who, instead of surrendering themselves to God, avoiding their conviction, attempting to excuse themselves or justifying whatever they are doing, only deceive themselves. Many Christians are deceiving themselves. Many refuse to die to self and fall on the Rock, Christ Jesus, and for this reason, divorce rates are climbing and child abuse is flourishing. If each one would consider others as more important than themselves and fill the role that has been divinely appointed to them, there would not be the amount of suffering or broken families that we see today.

Some people say, “I have no problem with God being my Saviour, but I do have a problem with making Him everything, because that means He has control of my life.” To experience real forgiveness is to allow God to take hold of the reigns by confessing and surrendering everything to Him. They will be amazed at the difference it makes, experiencing the power of the blood of Jesus in every aspect of their life.

An illustration in the book, Streams in the Desert, by Mrs. Charles Cowman (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1928; 1965 by Cowman Publications), pictures a woman looking out from her window at the mountains. A leaf hanging from a little branch is seen clearly from the window, and as the dew of the early morning forms, she watches, as the dew becomes a drop of clean, fresh water. Drop upon drop is formed and drips to regions below. She peers down to see where the water is going. As she watches she traces its descent into the gutter. Reflecting on the contrast between the pure glistening dewdrops and the gutter water, she begins to pray: “Lord, I am, I know, like that gutter water, filthy, contaminated, dirty but I know You can make me to be like this drop of dew from the branch.” Time went by, and the Lord answered her prayer.

Elsewhere in the same book, she relates how she read about the cycles of city water and decided that she “wanted to see where some of the water from the city went.”

As she followed the water, the filthy, polluted water, she noticed what happened. It was morning, and as the sun came out, some of the water evaporated. The water arose into the heavens, gathering to begin a new cycle in the never-ending cycle of water. And then that evaporated water, once filthy and polluted, now gathered into the heavens, formed clouds, and descended in the form of refreshing, life-giving rain, purified and cleansed, ready to impart life and vigor to the earth.

It was God who designed that the early dew of the morning and the evaporation of water forming clouds for the rain would provide clean, clear water to refresh the earth. So what can we learn by these little vignettes of the morning dew and the gutters of the cities? They provide a representation of the filth and pollution of sin in our lives, refreshed and cleansed by the power of the love and forgiveness of God, which in turn we, cleansed and forgiven, radiate to those around us. Just as water, once filthy, impure and polluted rises to be cleansed and purified to return to the earth with life giving vigor, so God takes the impurities of our lives and cleanses and purifies us, so we can share with others His redeeming love. The Lord is the Living Water. See John 4:10–14.

This world is like that cycle of water. The drop of water, once pure and clean, is like the world right after creation. Adam and Eve were created in the image of God, without blemish, without wrinkles, without sin—perfect human beings. Then, like the drop of dew falling into the gutter, sin entered God’s perfect creation, and because of disobedience, purity turned into the filthiness like that of the gutter. But just as the water that evaporates in the sun, God says that through Jesus Christ, we can be changed, transformed, converted and pure again. He can do that; it is the cycle of the spiritual life.

God is able to transform all of us from that drop of water in the gutter into the dew. He can do the same with our mind, with our heart, with our own habits. Whatever we have, God is able to transform us into His sons and daughters.

All we have to do is get to that point where we can say, “Lord, I have done so many things wrong; I need your help; I ask for forgiveness.”

Asking Forgiveness from Others

Even if we have not done anything against anyone, we are told, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Matthew 5:23, 24.

The word of God says, “If thy brother has something against thee.” We might not have anything against our brother, but if we do the Lord says, “Don’t come to worship Me when you still have bitterness or bad feelings against your brother. Go and sort it out first; then come and worship. Leave your gift and go and make peace with your brother and then come back and give me your offering” (Matthew 18:15, 5:24). Sometimes we do not care about others and have a rude and arrogant attitude towards our brethren, but the Lord gives explicit instruction about such, “Don’t do that; go and make peace with your brother and sister and after peace has been made, then come and give your offerings to Me.”

This is a very important step in humility. In the sanctuary service, there are three distinct steps to pass through: the altar of sacrifice, the holy place and the holy of holies or most holy place. As we enter into the court through the gate, which represents Jesus, the first article of furniture to be seen is the altar of sacrifice. After repenting and making peace with God and accepting the sacrifice of Jesus, we must pass the laver, the place of washing situated in the courtyard right before we can enter into the holy place. If we are not reconciled with our brother, holding onto differences and grudges, we do not grow spiritually and are left behind in the outer court. Those differences must be resolved before entering into the holy place.

After Cain killed Abel, Jesus asked Cain, “Where is thy brother?” And Cain answered, “Am I my brother’s keeper [Geneses 4:9]?” If we are not willing to forgive others, if we are not our brother’s keeper, we are our brother’s killer. The Bible is very clear about this in I John 3:15, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” This is very serious business, as there will be no murderers in heaven. We need to pray to God to show us if we have anything in our hearts or our minds that is against anybody. The Bible says, “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13). If I am breaking the commandments, the Lord says, “No commandment breaker will enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Matthew 6:12. Here we see that our sins are forgiven as we also forgive others.

Forgiving Ourselves

Many children of God are living in a self-condemned state. Although God forgives their sins after they have genuinely repented and confessed them, they find it hard to forgive themselves. In many of these instances, they have trouble sleeping and are constantly worried. The Lord says, “My son, confess it to Me and you are forgiven” (1 John 1:9). We also need to forgive ourselves for what we have done. Some of us allow the devil to make us feel so guilty. Satan loves to make us feel miserable, guilty, and worthless. We must remember John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The Lord says, “I sent My Son, My only begotten Son, to die for you.”

Paul says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1. We need to forgive ourselves, believe and apply the Word of God to our lives, and say, “Lord, I am going to give honor and glory unto You in my life, and I will no more feel sorry for myself. I believe that You died and now live again; You gave me this hope that I will carry on a life worthy of You, Lord. I accept your forgiveness for my sins, and I turn myself over to You. Thank you, Jesus!”

Forgiving God

This is the most difficult and the most critical task for Christians today. Many blame God for everything bad that happens. I was in India when the earthquake that struck Haiti (January 12, 2010) was brought to my attention. A Hindu man approached me and said, “You are a Christian. Explain to me why your God allowed this earthquake to destroy these people. Are you willing to forgive your God?”

I replied, “Forgive God? For what? God doesn’t require any forgiveness. We often do not have the understanding of why God does what He does or why He allows things to happen, but He knows why.”

Others question God when tragedy strikes their family. They ask, “Why did you take my wife away from me?” “Lord, you took my husband. Why?” “Why do you allow my son to be so sick?” “Why is my daughter dying?” “Why am I suffering this economic crisis?” Why this? Why that?

There is often no answer to the question, Why?

God is Holy and just and good, but many of us doubt and question Him instead of trusting in Him that all things work out for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). He who knows the end from the beginning has all of this world’s affairs in His hand and is well able to direct matters for the good of all.

God created everything in the beginning to be perfect (Genesis 1:1, 31). It was because of disobedience that things went astray. The disasters we often experience are a direct result of sin. Some things that happen to us are a direct result of our own personal sins. Others are natural consequences of 6,000 years of collective sin over which we have no control. Continual questioning and holding grudges against God for such circumstances will cause our love for Him to grow cold. That will affect our ability to pray and trust Him due to our anger and unwillingness to forgive. Those who are faithful will, one day, understand all things, but for now, we must exercise faith, trust, and patience.

Forgiving Others

I grew up in a large family. Sometimes when I did something to one of my sisters or brothers and asked them to forgive me, they would say, “Yeah, you feel sorry, sure, and you ask me to forgive you just like that. Oh, no! You will need to do something for me before I forgive you.” That may have meant taking over all the chores for the next two weeks and then, at the end of that time, there may be more required of me. I was never able to pay the debt and buy my forgiveness.

We often forget or ignore the fact that God freely forgives, expecting nothing in return except a change of heart and a new direction of obedience. But so many of us are willing to forgive others, only with reservations. “I forgive you, but I am going to keep a distance from you from now on. I forgive you, but I no longer trust you! I have got to keep my eyes on you.” When Peter asked how many times we were to forgive, Jesus said seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22). How frequently have we had to repent and ask God for forgiveness for the same sin? And don’t we expect to be forgiven each time? Maybe we should remember our own pathetic experience when dealing with others!

Coming to God with a contrite heart, He is willing time after time to forgive and then cleanse us from all of our unrighteousness. When was the last time we forgave someone and then helped them over a sin problem? Working through a problem often means there is a stronger bond between the parties that once had ought against each other. Working together, showing true repentance and forgiveness builds a bond of trust that has been proven and tried. That is the experience that God is having with us—we repent of our sins and He forgives us, creating a bond of love that no man can break.

Having forgiveness for others is crucial to our salvation. “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.” Matthew 6:14, 15. Without our sins forgiven there is no way to have eternal life.

When we learn the principle of forgiveness, we will show that the love of Christ is in us, and one day we will hear the words, “It’s over My son; the kingdom of heaven is yours. Well done, My good and faithful servant; enter into My joy” (Matthew 25:23).

Pastor Domingo Nuñez is Director of Outreach Ministry for Steps to Life. He is involved in the coordination of world mission projects and he travels extensively, encouraging the many home churches supported by Steps to Life. He can be contacted at: 316-788-5559, or by email at:

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: