The Cost of God’s Grace

Before modern modes of transport, it was a very rugged trip to cross the United States from the east coast to either Oregon or to California. Many people believed that there were great rewards to be gained in the West and with the desire in their hearts to make life easier for their families, they would set out on their journey to search for gold or other riches. Many were successful, but others were not so fortunate.

One man who left his wife and his son in the eastern United States and went out to California to seek riches prospered enough that he sent for his wife and son to come and join him. Instead of having them endure such a rugged journey as was involved in traveling on a stagecoach clear across the country, he arranged, as many did in those days, for them to board a ship for their journey. The Panama Canal did not yet exist, so the sea journey to California from New York or South Carolina took you all the way around the bottom of South America and up to Los Angeles or San Francisco. Tickets were purchased for this man’s wife and son to board the ship to California.

The straits at the bottom of South America are notorious for the violent storms that arise in that area. Unfortunately, the ship carrying this man’s precious cargo was involved in one of these storms and went down. As the ship was sinking, the passengers and crew scrambled to get on lifeboats. Looking desperately to save herself and her son, the mother discovered that there was only one seat left on the lifeboat. Without hesitation she lifted her son into that seat. As he looked up to her for the last time she said to him, “When you get to California tell your father that your mother died for you.” In order for him to live, she knew that she would have to die.

Grace is expensive  

Grace is the most expensive thing in the world. Paul wrote, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

Again he says, “You He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:1–9).

Grace is wonderful

Because of grace, your sins and my sins can be forgiven. In fact, Paul said that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). Even if you are the chief of sinners, the worst sinner in this world, your sins can be forgiven. But friend, don’t ever forget that the forgiveness of sins came at a great cost.

“We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9). By grace your sins can be forgiven, but that grace is expensive; it cost heaven the greatest sacrifice that has ever been made. The sacrifice was not just one of money, but a sacrifice that involved suffering, separation, and the agonizing death of the dear Son of God.

Grace received changes people 

We can never be the same or live the same after we have received grace. Why? Because it cost so much to give it to us. The little boy who took the last seat on the lifeboat would never be the same again because he knew that an infinite price had been paid for his life. He would be a different person for he gained life at the expense of another.

Writing to Titus, Paul said, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly [without being intoxicated], righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11–14). Notice especially verse 14. Jesus did not come to this world and die on the cross so that you could go on and just live the same as you did before. Notice why He did it. It says, “He gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Receiving God’s grace will change you.

“He [Jesus] died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15). As long as that boy lived, his most treasured memory would be of his mother, who gave her life for him. He could never live in a way that would bring dishonor upon her memory. Jesus died for all, so that we would no longer live for ourselves. Friend, if you’re living for yourself, you are living under the banner of the evil one and are still under his control. He claims you as his own (see The Desire of Ages, 130). The devil knows well that if he can get you to live for yourself then he’s got you; you are in his kingdom. Jesus died so that we would no longer live for ourselves, but for the One who died for us.

If that boy had lived his life for himself, lived a sinful life and brought dishonor upon his mother’s memory, it would have been considered a terrible crime. Jesus has died for all and whoever turns his or her back on Him, choosing to live selfishly commits a heinous crime. The Bible says, “If we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:26–29)? It is an insult; it is an outrage to the Holy Spirit, to go on and live in sin after receiving the grace of Christ and acknowledging His sacrifice.

“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears” (Hebrews 12:14–17). Friend, grace is not something that can be trifled with. It is the most wonderful and generous gift in the world. It is expensive; it cost the greatest sacrifice that has ever been made. It shows that God is willing to save even the chief of sinners, but when a price like that has been paid to make grace available, it must be respected. Unfortunately, that is not what has happened in the Christian world for the last 2000 years.

Jude 4 says, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, it is the thought that because of the abundance of grace available, you can just go on and sin because all you have to do is ask for it to be forgiven. Sin and repent, sin and repent again. This doctrine has overtaken a large part of the Christian world. People think they can deliberately sin and then go and confess it to the priest, or sin and then go and tell the Lord that they are sorry. Friend, that is a dangerous game to play. That is an example of premeditated sin, turning the grace of God into lewdness, making God’s grace essentially granting permission to sin. It is not uncommon for people to think that they can sin and then come and ask God for forgiveness. That is what Esau did. He thought he could come and be forgiven at any time, but he found out God was not Someone who could be trifled with.

“We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1). Evidently it is possible to receive the grace of God in vain or we would not have been given this counsel. The grace of God does not only provide forgiveness from sins that are past, but the grace of God brings you the power to make it possible to live a new life, free from sin. If you don’t ever live the new life, then the grace of God is in vain for you.

Grace stabilizes a person’s life

From the time that little boy arrived in California, he felt duty bound to bring honor to his mother’s memory. He would maintain a constant effort to do what is right. Paul says, “Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them” (Hebrews 13:9). Notice Paul says that grace will establish you; in other words, stabilize you so that you can’t be just blown about here and there by every wind of doctrine, till you are not sure what to believe.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Grace stabilizes a person’s life so they’re always attempting to do what is right.

Grace makes life serious, never a carnival Life is precious because it has been purchased at an infinite price. Grace makes life serious. “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3). Your neighbor’s life is also precious because of the infinite price that was paid for the entire race. Realization of that completely changes the way we regard and deal with each other. This is one of the main differences between Christian and non-Christian nations. Christian nations recognize that a human life is precious and will do anything that they can to preserve it. In non-Christian nations oftentimes life is cheap. Grace makes life more serious. True Christians recognize the infinite price that has been paid, not only for their own life but for the lives of all and affects the way they deal with each other.

A crude illustration is the way two different types of rock are treated. My house used to be on a country road about 300 feet back. To maintain the driveway, we would have dump trucks deliver rock which would be dumped on the driveway which I then smoothed out with the blade of my tractor. The reason the rock was brought in the dump trucks and dumped out and driven over is because that rock was common rock; it was not precious. But there are some rocks that are precious – a diamond for instance. You would not put diamonds in a dump truck and dump them on a driveway, smooth them out with a tractor and drive on them. Though they would make it a very hard road, diamonds are way too precious for that. Instead, you would place them in a velvet lined box and store them in a secure place, such as a safety deposit box or bank vault. Diamonds would be treated completely differently from the common rocks that you put on your driveway.

If I understand that all lives are precious, how then will I treat you? Some people, like rough diamonds, need their flaws removed and then to be polished. A diamond in the rough is still a diamond. It may need a lot of polishing and grinding in God’s workshop, but it’s still a diamond. Think about it. How do we treat each other? Do you treat your fellow men like gravel to be picked up and dumped here or there and driven on, or do you treat them like a diamond, though they still may be a bit rough?

Grace changes the way that we speak

There are many texts in the Bible about our speech. “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6). “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).

In an Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah, it says, “You are fairer than the sons of men; grace is poured upon Your lips; therefore God has blessed You forever” (Psalm 45:2). A Christian speaks with grace. “He who loves purity of heart and has grace on his lips, the King will be his friend” (Proverbs 22:11).

The path of grace leads to character perfection

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14–16).

The Lord has promised that before the final outpouring of His judgments on this world, there is going to be a revival of primitive godliness among His people that has not been seen since the time of the apostles. We earnestly pray that we will accept the grace that has been freely offered, hold fast our confession, take up the armor of God and join with Him to take a part in this finishing work before Jesus returns.

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

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

Bible Study Guides – The Parting Gift of Jesus

June 16 – 22, 2002

MEMORY VERSE: “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” Isaiah 59:19, last part.

INTRODUCTION: “The lifework given us is that of preparation for the life eternal. If we accomplish this work as God designs we shall, every temptation may work for our advancement; for as we resist its allurements, we make progress in the divine life. In the heat of the conflict, unseen agencies will be by our side, commanded of heaven to aid us in our wrestlings; and in the crisis, strength and firmness and energy will be imparted to us, and we shall have more than mortal power. . . .

“Those who would be conquerors must engage in conflict with unseen agencies. . . .The Holy Spirit is ever at work, seeking to purify, refine, and discipline the souls of men, in order that they may become fitted for the society of saints and angels.” God’s Amazing Grace, 209.

  1. When Jesus was going to leave His disciples and go back to His Father what did He promise to send to them? John 14:16, 17.

NOTE: “Before this [the crucifixion of Christ] the Spirit had been in the world; from the very beginning of the work of redemption He had been moving upon men’s hearts. But while Christ was on earth, the disciples had desired no other helper. Not until they were deprived of His presence would they feel their need of the Spirit, and then He would come.

“The Holy Spirit is Christ’s representative, but divested of the personality of humanity, and independent thereof. Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally. Therefore it was for their interest that He should go to the Father, and send the Spirit to be His successor on earth. No one could then have any advantage because of his location or his personal contact with Christ. By the Spirit the Saviour would be accessible to all. In this sense He would be nearer to them than if He had not ascended on high.

“This promise belongs to us now as surely as it belonged to the disciples. . . .Let every church member kneel before God, and pray earnestly for the impartation of the Spirit. Cry, ‘Lord, increase my faith. Make me to understand Thy Word; for the entrance of Thy Word giveth light. Refresh me by Thy presence.’. . .” God’s Amazing Grace, 191.

  1. Who inspired the writings of the Old Testament? 2 Peter 1:21.

NOTE: “From the beginning, God has been working by His Holy Spirit through human instrumentalities for the accomplishment of His purpose in behalf of the fallen race. This was manifest in the lives of the patriarchs. To the church in the wilderness also, in the time of Moses, God gave His ‘good Spirit to instruct them’ (Nehemiah 9:20). And in the days of the apostles He wrought mightily for His church through the agency of the Holy Spirit. The same power that sustained the patriarchs . . . and that made the work of the apostolic church effective, has upheld God’s faithful children in every succeeding age. It was through the power of the Holy Spirit that during the Dark Ages the Waldensian Christians helped to prepare the way for the Reformation. It was the same power that made successful the efforts of the noble men and women who pioneered the way for the establishment of modern missions. . . .” God’s Amazing Grace, 190.

  1. What instructions did Jesus give the disciples as to what they were to do before they went out to preach the Gospel? Luke 24:49.

NOTE: “Christ’s visible presence was about to be withdrawn from the disciples, but a new endowment of power was to be theirs. The Holy Spirit was to be given them in its fullness, sealing them for their work.” God’s Amazing Grace, 192.

  1. What was the result of the disciples praying for ten days in the upper room? Acts 2:1, 2.

NOTE: See The Desire of Ages, 827.

  1. What was the result of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the ‘former rain’? Acts 2:3–8.

NOTE: “The Jews had been scattered to almost every nation, and spoke various languages. They had come long distances to Jerusalem, and had temporarily taken up their abode there, to remain through the religious festivals then in progress and to observe their requirements. When assembled, they were of every known tongue. This diversity of languages was a great obstacle to the labors of God’s servants in publishing the doctrine of Christ to the uttermost parts of the earth. That God should supply the deficiency of the apostles in a miraculous manner was to the people the most perfect confirmation of the testimony of these witnesses for Christ. The Holy Spirit had done for them that which they could not have accomplished for themselves in a lifetime; they could now spread the truth of the gospel abroad, speaking with accuracy the language of those for whom they were laboring. This miraculous gift was the highest evidence they could present to the world that their commission bore the signet of Heaven.” The Story of Redemption, 242, 243.

  1. What does Peter admonish us to do? Acts 3:19.

NOTE: “The Third Angel’s Message is swelling into a loud cry, and you must not feel at liberty to neglect the present duty, and still entertain the idea that at some future time you will be the recipients of great blessing, when without any effort on your part a wonderful revival will take place. . . . Today you are to have your vessel purified, that it may be ready for the heavenly dew, ready for the showers of the latter rain; for the latter rain will come, and the blessing of God will fill every soul that is purified from every defilement. It is our work today to yield our souls to Christ, that we may be fitted for the time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord—fitted for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. . . .” Evangelism, 701.

“Instead of living in expectation of some special season of excitement, we are wisely to improve present opportunities, doing that which must be done in order that souls may be saved. Instead of exhausting the powers of our mind in speculations in regard to the times and seasons which the Lord has placed in His own power, and withheld from men, we are to yield ourselves to the control of the Holy Spirit, to do present duties, to give the bread of life, unadulterated with human opinions, to souls who are perishing for the truth. —Review and Herald, March 22, 1892.” Evangelism, 701, 702.

  1. In whose names did Jesus tell the disciples to baptize? Matthew 28:19.

NOTE: “They were to teach the observance of all things whatsoever Jesus had commanded them, and were to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Jesus was about to be removed from His disciples; but He assured them that although He should ascend to His Father, His Spirit and influence would be with them always, and with their successors even unto the end of the world.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, 238.

  1. Jesus told us to ask and we would receive (Matthew 7:7, 8). For what are we to ask? Zechariah 10:1.

NOTE: “It is true that in the time of the end, when God’s work in the earth is closing, the earnest efforts put forth by consecrated believers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit are to be accompanied by special tokens of divine favor. Under the figure of the early and the latter rain, that falls in Eastern lands at seedtime and harvest, the Hebrew prophets foretold the bestowal of spiritual grace in extraordinary measure upon God’s church. The outpouring of the Spirit in the days of the apostles was the beginning of the early, or former, rain, and glorious was the result. To the end of time the presence of the Spirit is to abide with the true church.

“But near the close of earth’s harvest, a special bestowal of spiritual grace is promised to prepare the church for the coming of the Son of man. This outpouring of the Spirit is likened to the falling of the latter rain; and it is for this added power that Christians are to send their petitions to the Lord of the harvest ‘in the time of the latter rain.’” The Acts of the Apostles, 54, 55.

  1. What is the result of receiving the Holy Spirit? Romans 8:1–14.

NOTE: “All who consecrate soul, body, and spirit to God will be constantly receiving a new endowment of physical and mental power. The inexhaustible supplies of heaven are at their command. Christ gives them the breath of His own spirit, the life of His own life. The Holy Spirit puts forth its highest energies to work in heart and mind. The grace of God enlarges and multiplies their faculties, and every perfection of the divine nature comes to their assistance in the work of saving souls. Through co-operation with Christ they are complete in Him, and in their human weakness they are enabled to do the deeds of Omnipotence.” The Desire of Ages, 827.

  1. What sin did Jesus say would not be forgiven? Matthew 12:31.

NOTE: “God destroys no one. The sinner destroys himself by his own impenitence. No one need look upon the sin against the Holy Ghost as something mysterious and indefinable. The sin against the Holy Ghost is the sin of persistent refusal to respond to the invitation to repent.” The Faith I Live By, 58.

  1. What is heaven’s ultimate goal? John 14:1–3.

NOTE: “Better than all the friendship of the world is the friendship of Christ’s redeemed. Better than a title to the noblest palace on earth is a title to the mansions our Lord has gone to prepare. And better than all the words of earthly praise will be the Saviour’s words to His faithful servants, ‘Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ Matthew 25:34.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 374.

By Ruth Grosboll

The Perfect Gift

“The holiday season is fast approaching with its interchange of gifts, and old and young are intently studying what they can bestow upon their friends as a token of affectionate remembrance. It is pleasant to receive a gift, however small, from those we love. It is an assurance that we are not forgotten, and seems to bind us to them a little closer. . . . It is right to bestow upon one another tokens of love and remembrance . . . .” The Adventist Home, 478.

“Do you have all your shopping done yet?” This question is often used as a greeting to our friends during the holiday time of the year. Even strangers ask strangers this question as they endure long cashier checkout lines. More often than not the answer is an agonized No!

There are some people for whom it is very hard to make the right gift selection. You have no idea what they need or want. You have no clue what their size or color preference might be. Perhaps the recipient is picky, or when you have decided, after days of struggle, on just the right present, you discover they have purchased the item for themselves. The biggest challenge in gift buying is purchasing for the person who seems to be in need of nothing; they have every necessity and imaginable gadget anyone could desire. But God knows exactly what each person needs.

Gift of the Saviour

If ever there was a gift where “everybody needs one,” “one size fits all,” or “you cannot do without it,” this is it! This Promised Gift became a need when, in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve chose to believe the smooth enticements of the serpent rather than the life-giving instructions of their Father.

“Plain and specific prophecies had been given regarding the appearance of the Promised One. To Adam was given an assurance of the coming of the Redeemer. The sentence pronounced on Satan, ‘I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel’ (Genesis 3:15), was to our first parents a promise of the redemption to be wrought out through Christ.” The Acts of the Apostles, 222.

God did not hold the human race in suspense as to when the Promised Gift would be given. He revealed the time: “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” Galations 4:4. “When the fullness of time was come, He sent forth His Son. The One appointed in the councils of heaven came to this earth as man’s instructor. The rich benevolence of God gave Him to our world, and to meet the necessities of human nature He took humanity upon Himself. To the astonishment of the heavenly host the eternal Word came to this world as a helpless babe. Fully prepared, He left the royal courts and mysteriously allied Himself with fallen human beings. ‘The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.’ John 1:14.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 259.

Can any of you who are parents comprehend giving your only son to people who, for the most part, do not have an interest in him? That is exactly what God did for us: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son . . . .” John 3:16. Imagine giving to someone an item that is very precious to you, that you have sacrificed greatly to give, and they put it away on a closet shelf and forget about it! “The priests . . . of Israel had been given the privilege of receiving Christ as their Saviour, without money and without price. But they refused the precious gift offered them in the most tender spirit of constraining love.” The Desire of Ages, 564.

“It is your Creator who has poured out to you all heaven in one wondrous gift,—His only-begotten Son. . . .” Counsels on Stewardship, 46.

You may have heard the phrase, “The gift that goes on giving.” That definitely describes what happens when the gift of the Saviour is given and accepted!

Gift of Salvation

After telling of the incomprehensible gift God gave, John 3:16 continues: “. . . that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23.

It is the desire of God’s heart to continue to give, especially to those individuals who accept the gift of His Son. Even to those who do not at first appreciate and accept the gift of His Son, He continues to offer the Gift—just as human parents desire to give special things to their children and continue to sacrificially offer gifts, even when their offerings are scorned and rejected. “The great gift of salvation has been placed within our reach at an infinite cost to the Father and the Son. To neglect salvation, is to neglect the knowledge of the Father and of the Son whom God hath sent in order that man might become a partaker of the divine nature, and thus, with Christ, an heir of all things. A neglect to lay hold of the priceless treasure of salvation, means the eternal ruin of your soul. The peril of indifference to God and neglect of his gift, is measured by the greatness of salvation. God has done to the uttermost of his almighty power. The resources of infinite love have been exhausted in devising and executing the plan of redemption for man. God has revealed his character in the goodness, the mercy, compassion, and love manifested to save a race of guilty rebels.” Review and Herald, March 10, 1891.

“The paternal character of God is revealed in his holy law, proving him to be full of mercy, goodness, and truth. God has manifested unparalleled love in giving his beloved Son to die for fallen man; but men have not appreciated this love, and have refused the gift of salvation. How patiently God has borne with sinners, and will still bear with them till the measure of ingratitude and iniquity is full, and the world is ripe for judgment and wrath.” Ibid., September 3, 1889.

He does not, however, want the action of acceptance to be based purely on the desire of future reward. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9.

“The sinner views the spirituality of the law of God and its eternal obligations. He sees the love of God in providing a substitute and surety for guilty man, and that substitute is One equal with God. This display of grace in the gift of salvation to the world fills the sinner with amazement. This love of God to man breaks every barrier down. He comes to the cross, which has been placed midway between divinity and humanity, and repents of his sins of transgression, because Christ has been drawing him to Himself. He does not expect the law to cleanse him from sin, for there is no pardoning quality in the law to save the transgressors of the law. He looks to the atoning Sacrifice as his only hope, through repentance toward God—because the laws of His government have been broken—and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ as the One who can save and cleanse the sinner from every transgression.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 194.

“The gift of God is eternal life. The Lord desires all who receive His grace to trust entirely in Him. He calls upon us to exercise pure, simple faith, trusting in Him, without a question as to what recompense we shall receive. We are to work heartily in His service, showing that we have perfect confidence that He will judge righteously.” Lift Him Up, 343.

“The faith in Christ which saves the soul is not what it is represented to be by many. ‘Believe, believe,’ is their cry; ‘only believe in Christ, and you will be saved. It is all you have to do.’ While true faith trusts wholly in Christ for salvation, it will lead to perfect conformity to the law of God. Faith is manifested by works. And the apostle John declares, ‘He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.’ [1 John 2:4.]” Review and Herald, October 5, 1886.

Gift of the Holy Spirit

As we accept the gift of the Saviour and, subsequently, the gift of salvation, our loving Father has promised yet another gift: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; [Even] the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” “But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14:16–18, 26.

God desires to give this Gift to us that we, like Christ, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, may be prepared for the coming conflict. (See Counsels on Diet and Foods, 153.) Instruction is given to us from the pen of inspiration on how we are to prepare for this Gift. We “should uplift the standard of temperance from a Christian point of view, showing that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and bringing to the minds of the people the responsibility resting upon them as God’s purchased possession to make mind and body a holy temple, fit for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 75. We are to control our appetites and passions so we “have a sound physical constitution, and mental and spiritual strength,” ready to accept the indwelling Spirit. Conflict and Courage, 271.

Other character weaknesses must be overcome as well. “The Holy Spirit does not abide in the heart of him who is peevish if others do not agree with his ideas and plans. From the lips of such a man there come scathing remarks, which grieve the Spirit away, and develop attributes that are satanic rather than divine. The Lord desires those connected with His work to speak at all times with the meekness of Christ. If you are provoked, do not become impatient. Manifest the gentleness of which Christ has given us an example in His life. . . .” Counsels on Stewardship, 115.

“Every individual must realize his own necessity. The heart must be emptied of every defilement, and cleansed for the indwelling of the Spirit. It was by the confession and forsaking of sin, by earnest prayer and consecration of themselves to God, that the early disciples prepared for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The same work, only in greater degree, must be done now. . . .” The Faith I Live By, 333.

As the Holy Spirit dwells within, additional gifts will be shared: “To hearts that have become purified through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, all is changed. These can know God.” Reflecting Christ, 378.

“We do not see Christ and speak to Him, but His Holy Spirit is just as near us in one place as in another. It works in and through every one who receives Christ. Those who know the indwelling of the Spirit reveal the fruits [gifts] of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.” The Faith I Live By, 57.

“The talents that Christ entrusts to His church represent especially the gifts and blessings imparted by the Holy Spirit. ‘To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.’ 1 Corinthians 12:8–11. All men do not receive the same gifts, but to every servant of the Master some gift of the Spirit is promised.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 327.

Gift of Grace

The last precious gift God gives to us that we will address in this article is the gift of grace. ” ‘Unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ,’ the Spirit ‘dividing to every man severally as He will.’ Ephesians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 12:11. The gifts are already ours in Christ, but their actual possession depends upon our reception of the Spirit of God.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 327.

“The Lord saw our fallen condition; He saw our need of grace, and because He loved our souls, He has given us grace and peace. Grace means favor to one who is undeserving, to one who is lost. The fact that we are sinners, instead of shutting us away from the mercy and love of God, makes the exercise of His love to us a positive necessity in order that we may be saved.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 347.

“In the matchless gift of His son, God has encircled the whole world with an atmosphere of grace as real as the air which circulates around the globe. All who choose to breathe this life-giving atmosphere will live, and grow up to the stature of men and women in Christ Jesus.” God’s Amazing Grace, 238.

What do You do with a Gift?

Every parent has had the experience of searching for some special gift for their child and then, after all their effort, seeing the child spend more time playing with the box the gift came in than with the gift itself. The feeling you have at that time approximates the feeling God must have about the attitudes some of His children display towards the gifts He gives. What should our attitude be to God?

Express Gratitude

We should first express our gratitude. “Thanks [be] unto God for his unspeakable gift.” 2 Corinthians 9:15. How we appreciate receiving a note of thanks for a gift we have given! Our feelings toward the gift recipient become more tender, and we look forward to the pleasure of bestowing more gifts upon them. But, how disappointed we become when we do not receive an acknowledgement of our carefully selected gift. Since we are created in the image of God, it would seem feasible that He experiences the same feelings from our reactions to His gifts.

“The thought that Christ died to obtain for us the gift of everlasting life, is enough to call forth from our hearts the most sincere and fervent gratitude, and from our lips the most enthusiastic praise.” Sons and Daughters of God, 238.

“Before angels and men we should reveal our gratitude for what he has done for us.” Review and Herald, September 12, 1899.

Use It

It is a pleasure to us to see a gift we have given being utilized. It makes us happy to know that it is benefiting the receiver. It gives God pleasure when we use His gifts.

“Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” 1 Timothy 4:14.

“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did [it] ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 1:12–14.

“As stewards of the grace of God, . . . It means much, very much to us to be strengthened by His rich grace day by day, to be enabled to understand His will, to be found faithful in that which is least as well as in that which is great. When this is our experience, the service of Christ will be a reality to us. God demands this of us, and before angels and men we should reveal our gratitude for what he has done for us.” Counsels on Stewardship, 111.

“The work of labor for the salvation of souls does not rest alone upon the delegated minister, but that to every man God had given his work. The Lord’s work is to be carried forward by the living members of Christ’s body, and in the great divine appointment of God each one is to be educated to act a part in the conversion of souls. He has enlisted in the army of the Lord, not for ease, not to study his own amusement, but to endure hardships as a faithful soldier of the cross of Christ. Every private must act his part, be vigilant, be courageous, be true.” This Day With God, 368.

Share It

A gift brings even more enjoyment and fulfillment when it is shared. “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:6, 7.

“There are some who are liberal with their gifts, and these gifts call forth the grateful praise of those who through them are given a knowledge of the gospel. The givers become the subject of the prayers of those who receive the benefit of the offerings made.” Pacific Union Recorder, November 14, 1907.

“As the plan of redemption begins and ends with a gift, so it is to be carried forward. The same spirit of sacrifice which purchased salvation for us will dwell in the hearts of all who become partakers of the heavenly gift. Says the apostle Peter: ‘As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.’ Said Jesus to His disciples as He sent them forth: ‘Freely ye have received, freely give.’ In him who is fully in sympathy with Christ there can be nothing selfish or exclusive. He who drinks of the living water will find that it is ‘in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.’ [John 4:14.] The Spirit of Christ within him is like a spring welling up in the desert, flowing to refresh all, and making those who are ready to perish, eager to drink of the water of life.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 730.

As you review your gift list this holiday season, consider sharing the Perfect Gift. Ellen White advises that “We should make our gifts such as will prove a real benefit to the receiver. I would recommend such books as will be an aid in understanding the word of God or that will increase our love for its precepts. Provide something to be read during these long winter evenings.” The Adventist Home, 479. What greater gift can be given than the knowledge of the Saviour who longs to give, through His grace, salvation? The recipient who receives and accepts this Perfect Gift will be offering praise and thanks throughout eternity.

Bible Study Guides – The Broad Scope of the Prophet’s Work

October 14, 2007 – October 20, 2007

Key Text

“And by a prophet the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved.” Hosea 12:13.

Study Help: Selected Messages, Book 1, 33, 34; Education, 45-50.


“The last work of the prophet Elijah was to visit all the schools of the prophets in Israel, and to give the students divine instruction.” Review and Herald, March 4, 1909.

“Apollos, an Alexandrian Jew, visited Ephesus. He had received the highest Grecian culture, and was a scholar and an orator. He had heard the teachings of John the Baptist, had received the baptism of repentance, and was a living witness that the work of the prophet was not in vain.” Sketches From the Life of Paul, 119.

“God never selected as a prophet either the high priest or any great personage; but rather, he chose low and despised men, once even the shepherd Amos.” The Great Controversy (1888), 142.

1 What does God reveal to His servants the prophets? Amos 3:7.

note: “When, therefore, he [William Miller] found, in his study of the Bible, various chronological periods that, according to his understanding of them, extended to the second coming of Christ, he could not but regard them as the ‘times before appointed,’ [Acts 17:26] which God had revealed unto His servants. ‘The secret things,’ says Moses, ‘belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever;’ and the Lord declares by the prophet Amos, that He ‘will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.’ Deuteronomy 29:29; Amos 3:7. The students of God’s word may, then, confidently expect to find the most stupendous event to take place in human history clearly pointed out in the Scriptures of truth.” The Great Controversy, 324.

2 What was Moses’ work as Israel’s prophet? Hosea 12:13.

note: “Moses heard the call from heaven to exchange his shepherd’s crook for the rod of authority; to leave his flock of sheep and take the leadership of Israel. The divine command found him self-distrustful, slow of speech, and timid. He was overwhelmed with a sense of his incapacity to be a mouthpiece for God. But he accepted the work, putting his whole trust in the Lord. The greatness of his mission called into exercise the best powers of his mind. God blessed his ready obedience, and he became eloquent, hopeful, self-possessed, fitted for the greatest work ever given to man. Of him it is written: ‘There hath not arisen a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom Jehovah knew face to face.’ Deuteronomy 34:10, A.R.V.” The Ministry of Healing, 475.

3 What was the first great truth revealed in Moses’ writings? Genesis 1:1.

note: “In the beginning, God was revealed in all the works of creation. . . . And upon all things in earth, and air, and sky, He wrote the message of the Father’s love.” Medical Ministry, 10.

“The preparation of the written word began in the time of Moses. Inspired revelations were then embodied in an inspired book. This work continued during the long period of sixteen hundred years¾from Moses, the historian of creation and the law, to John, the recorder of the most sublime truths of the gospel.” The Great Controversy, “Introduction,” v.

4 From what source did Moses receive the various statutes and precepts given to the children of Israel? Deuteronomy 4:1, 2, 5.

note: “Moses was commanded to write, as God should bid him, judgments and laws giving minute instruction as to what was required. These directions relating to the duty of the people to God, to one another, and to the stranger were only the principles of the Ten Commandments amplified and given in a specific manner, that none need err. They were designed to guard the sacredness of the ten precepts engraved on the tables of stone.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 364.

5 In what law did the prophet present instruction to ensure the well-being of God’s chosen people? Malachi 4:4.

note: “In the teaching that God gave to Israel, the preservation of health received careful attention. The people who had come from slavery with the uncleanly and unhealthful habits which it engenders, were subjected to the strictest training in the wilderness before entering Canaan. Health principles were taught and sanitary laws enforced.” The Ministry of Healing, 277.

“God gave to Israel instruction in all the principles essential to physical as well as to moral health, and it was concerning these principles no less than concerning those of the moral law that He commanded them: [Deuteronomy 6:6-9, 20-24 quoted].

“Had the Israelites obeyed the instruction they received, and profited by their advantages, they would have been the world’s object lesson of health and prosperity. If as a people they had lived according to God’s plan, they would have been preserved from the diseases that afflicted other nations. Above any other people they would have possessed physical strength and vigor of intellect. They would have been the mightiest nation on the earth.” Ibid., 283.

“The Israelites failed of fulfilling God’s purpose, and thus failed of receiving the blessings that might have been theirs. But in Joseph and Daniel, in Moses and Elisha, and many others, we have noble examples of the results of the true plan of living. Like faithfulness today will produce like results.” Ibid., 285.

6 Before Moses died, what view of the Promised Land was given to him? Deuteronomy 34:1-5.

note: “A panoramic view of the Land of Promise was presented to him. Every part of the country was spread out before him, not faint and uncertain in the dim distance, but standing out clear, distinct, and beautiful to his delighted vision. In this scene it was presented, not as it then appeared, but as it would become, with God’s blessing upon it, in the possession of Israel. He seemed to be looking upon a second Eden. There were mountains clothed with cedars of Lebanon, hills gray with olives and fragrant with the odor of the vine, wide green plains bright with flowers and rich in fruitfulness, here the palm trees of the tropics, there waving fields of wheat and barley, sunny valleys musical with the ripple of brooks and the song of birds, goodly cities and fair gardens, lakes rich in ‘the abundance of the seas,’ [Deuteronomy 33:19] grazing flocks upon the hillsides, and even amid the rocks the wild bee’s hoarded treasures. It was indeed such a land as Moses, inspired by the Spirit of God, had described to Israel.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 472.

7 What Old Testament incident reveals the prophet as an educator, living and working with his students? 11 Kings 6:1-3.

note: “The schools of the prophets were founded by Samuel to serve as a barrier against the widespread corruption, to provide for the moral and spiritual welfare of the youth, and to promote the future prosperity of the nation by furnishing it with men qualified to act in the fear of God as leaders and counselors. In the accomplishment of this object Samuel gathered companies of young men who were pious, intelligent, and studious. These were called the sons of the prophets.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 593.

“The schools of the prophets, established by Samuel, had fallen into decay during the years of Israel’s apostasy. Elijah re-established these schools, making provision for young men to gain an education that would lead them to magnify the law and make it honorable. Three of these schools, one at Gilgal, one at Bethel, and one at Jericho, are mentioned in the record. Just before Elijah was taken to heaven, he and Elisha visited these centers of training.” Prophets and Kings, 224, 225.

8 What is a difficult yet most important feature of the prophet’s work? Jeremiah 1:17-19; Ezekiel 2:3-8.

note: “He [God] sent His prophets to warn the guilty, denounce their sins, and pronounce judgment upon them. . . .

“In His providence the Lord has seen fit to teach and warn His people in various ways. By direct command, by the sacred writings, and by the spirit of prophecy has He made known unto them His will. My work has been to speak plainly of the faults and errors of God’s people. . . . But I [Ellen White] have been shown that it is not mine to choose my work, but humbly to obey the will of God.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 12, 13.

9 In what role was the prophet frequently cast? Jeremiah 29:19; 32:33.

note: “There are those who profess to believe and to teach the truths of the Old Testament, while they reject the New. But in refusing to receive the teachings of Christ, they show that they do not believe that which patriarchs and prophets have spoken.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 128.

“In the commission to His disciples, Christ not only outlined their work but gave them their message. Teach the people, He said, ‘to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.’ [Matthew 28:20.] The disciples were to teach what Christ had taught. That which He had spoken, not only in person, but through all the prophets and teachers of the Old Testament, is here included.” Evangelism, 15.

10 What helpful lesson concerning prophetic guidance is taught by a simple Old Testament experience? 1 Samuel 9:1-10, 18-20.

note: “Saul was the son of a powerful and wealthy chief, yet in accordance with the simplicity of the times he was engaged with his father in the humble duties of a husbandman. Some of his father’s animals having strayed upon the mountains, Saul went with a servant to seek for them. For three days they searched in vain, when, as they were not far from Ramah, the home of Samuel, the servant proposed that they should inquire of the prophet concerning the missing property. ‘I have here at hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver,’ he said: ‘that will I give to the man of God, to tell us our way.’ [1 Samuel 9:8.] This was in accordance with the custom of the times. A person approaching a superior in rank or office made him a small present, as an expression of respect. . . .

“At the gate of the city Saul was met by the prophet himself. God had revealed to Samuel that at that time the chosen king of Israel would present himself before him. . . .

“To the request of Saul, ‘Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer’s house is,’ Samuel replied, ‘I am the seer.’ [Verses 18, 19.] Assuring him also that the lost animals had been found, he urged him to tarry and attend the feast, at the same time giving some intimation of the great destiny before him.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 608, 609.

11 What message of hope did Isaiah give? Isaiah 40:1, 2.

note: “The covenant mercy of God led Him to interpose in behalf of His people Israel after their severe chastisement before their enemies. Israel had chosen to walk in her own wisdom and righteousness in the place of the wisdom and righteousness of God, and as a result her nation was ruined. God permitted them to suffer under a double yoke, that they might be humiliated and repent. But in their dispersion and captivity, the Jews were not left in a hopeless state. Encouragement was given them, for through this humiliation they were to be brought to seek the Lord. God gave to Isaiah a message for this people: [Isaiah 40:1, 2 quoted].” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1144.

12 What appealing message may be considered as summing up the over-all objective of the messages of the prophets? Amos 4:12, last part.

note: “My brother, my sister, I urge you to prepare for the coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven. Day by day cast the love of the world out of your hearts. Understand by experience what it means to have fellowship with Christ. Prepare for the judgment, that when Christ shall come, to be admired in all them that believe, you may be among those who will meet Him in peace.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 285.

“A book has been given us to guide our feet through the perils of this dark world to heaven. It tells us how we can escape the wrath of God, and also tells of the sufferings of Christ for us, the great sacrifice that has been made that we might be saved and enjoy the presence of God forever. And if any come short at last, having heard the truth as they have in this land of light, it will be their own fault; they will be without excuse. The word of God tells us how we may become perfect Christians and escape the seven last plagues. But they took no interest to find this out. Other things diverted the mind, idols were cherished by them, and God’s Holy Word was neglected and slighted. God has been trifled with by professed Christians, and when His Holy Word shall judge them in the last day, they will be found wanting. That word which they have neglected for foolish storybooks, tries their lives. That is the standard; their motives, words, works, and the manner in which they use their time are all compared with the written word of God; and if they come short then, their cases are decided forever.” Ibid., vol. 1, 125, 126.

Bible Study Guides – A Gift That Guides and Guards

December 9, 2007 – December 15, 2007

Key Text

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” Psalm 32:8.

Study Help: Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 24–62.


During the 70 years of her ministry (1845–1915), Ellen White was used as God’s instrument to bring prophetic guidance to His people, often in times of crisis. A review of the guiding and guarding influences of the spirit of prophecy through the years of the church’s work gives clear, convincing ground for confidence in God’s leadership. Speaking of the early days of the movement when error and fanaticism threatened the leaders, she wrote:

“Those who passed over the ground step by step in the past history of our experience, seeing the chain of truth in the prophecies, were prepared to accept and obey every ray of light. They were praying, fasting, searching, digging for the truth as for hidden treasures, and the Holy Spirit, we know, was teaching and guiding us. Many theories were advanced, bearing a semblance of truth, but so mingled with misinterpreted and misapplied scriptures, that they led to dangerous errors. Very well do we know how every point of truth was established, and the seal set upon it by the Holy Spirit of God. And all the time voices were heard, ‘Here is the truth,’ ‘I have the truth; follow me.’ But the warnings came, ‘Go not ye after them. I have not sent them, but they ran.’ (See Jeremiah 23:21.)

“The leadings of the Lord were marked, and most wonderful were His revelations of what is truth. Point after point was established by the Lord God of heaven. That which was truth then, is truth today.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 103, 104.

Ellen White was not the leader of the advent movement as Moses was of the Exodus movement. She did not serve in a kingly capacity as David did over Israel. Her work was more like the work of Samuel, who was a teacher in Israel. But as the Israel of old “from Dan to Beersheba” recognized in Samuel the work of a true prophet of God, so have Seventh-day Adventists recognized in the work of Ellen White an instrumentality of God’s Holy Spirit sent to give guidance, spiritual aid, and comfort to His people. Her messages have been a guarding, preserving influence.

1 What were the prophets in olden times frequently called? I Samuel 9:9.

Note: In one of her earliest books, Spiritual Gifts, Book 1, Ellen White described the many scenes of the great controversy vision given to her at Lovett’s Grove, Ohio, in the spring of 1858. In writing out her views, she prepared a book of 219 pages. Over 200 times she wrote, “I was shown”; “I was pointed back”; “I saw”; “I was told”; “It was presented before me”; and other such phraseology. These same phrases are repeatedly used in other of her writings. Thus she described scenes past and future as an “eyewitness.”

The prophetic work of Ellen White from the earliest days of the advent movement, offered:

  • Protection against danger from within the church. (See Testimonies, vol. 1, 113–115; 311–323; 356, 357; 409–419.)
  • Protection against danger from without the church. (See Early Writings, 59, 60; 262–266.)
  • Guidance in the understanding of basic Christian truths. (See Early Writings, 145–295.)

2 How does the prophet Isaiah describe those who publish peace and salvation? Isaiah 52:7.

Note: At a conference held in the home of Otis Nichols at Dorchester, Massachusetts, in November 1848, the pioneers sought God for special guidance. Heaven seemed near, and to Ellen White was given a vision. After the vision, she said to her husband:

“I have a message for you. You must begin to print a little paper and send it out to the people. Let it be small at first; but as the people read, they will send you means with which to print, and it will be a success from the first. From this small beginning it was shown to me to be like streams of light that went clear round the world.” Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 125. Thus Present Truth, the first periodical of the Advent movement, was begun.

3 What experience in the New Testament church demonstrated the value of church order and organization? Acts 6:1–6. Compare Acts 15:1–32.

Note: “I [Ellen White] saw that this door at which the enemy comes in to perplex and trouble the flock can be shut. I inquired of the angel how it could be closed. He said, ‘The church must flee to God’s Word and become established upon gospel order, which has been overlooked and neglected.’ This is indispensably necessary in order to bring the church into the unity of the faith. I saw that in the apostles’ day the church was in danger of being deceived and imposed upon by false teachers. Therefore the brethren chose men who had given good evidence that they were capable of ruling well their own house and preserving order in their own families, and who could enlighten those who were in darkness. Inquiry was made of God concerning these, and then, according to the mind of the church and the Holy Ghost, they were set apart by the laying on of hands. Having received their commission from God and having the approbation of the church, they went forth baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and administering the ordinances of the Lord’s house, often waiting upon the saints by presenting them the emblems of the broken body and spilt blood of the crucified Saviour, to keep fresh in the memory of God’s beloved children His sufferings and death.

“I [Ellen White] saw that we are no more secure from false teachers now than they were in the apostles’ days; and, if we do no more, we should take as special measures as they did to secure the peace, harmony, and union of the flock. We have their example, and should follow it.” Early Writings, 100, 101.

4 What experience came to the apostle Paul that led him to carry the gospel to Europe? Acts 16:9, 10.

Note: “From all countries the Macedonian cry is sounding: ‘Come over, . . . and help us.’ [Acts 16:9.] God has opened fields before us, and if human agencies would but co-operate with divine agencies, many, many souls would be won to the truth.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 46.

“The instruction the Lord has given me [Ellen White] is that a field should not be shunned because it has objectionable features. This world was seared and marred by the curse, but still Christ came to it.” Medical Ministry, 321.

5 In the days of Hezekiah, what remarkable instance of divine guidance and protection is recorded? 11 Chronicles 32:22. Compare Isaiah 37:1, 2, 6, 7, 33–37.

Note: As Hezekiah, the God-fearing king, and the prophet Isaiah sought the deliverance of Judah from threatened annihilation at the hand of the boastful king of Assyria, God “guided them on every side.” (11 Chronicles 32:22.)

God has also guided His present-day people “on every side” through the spirit of prophecy. For example:

  • Health reform. “The health work began with the establishment of a sanitarium in 1866.” Arthur L. White, Ellen G. White: The Early Elmshaven Years, vol. 5, 1900–1905, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, D.C., 71. (See Testimonies, vol. 1, 485–494.)
  • Education. “Educational work was started with the opening of Battle Creek College in 1874.” Ibid.
  • Organization. “It has been a necessity to organize union conferences, that the General Conference shall not exercise dictation over all the separate conferences. The power vested in the Conference is not to be centered in one man, or two men, or six men; there is to be a council of men over the separate divisions.” Last Day Events, 55.

6 In addition to leading the nation of Israel, what other work is Moses said to have done? Hosea 12:13.

Note: God miraculously delivered Israel, by the hand of Moses, out of slavery and led them to the borders of the Promised Land. A review of God’s present-day people discloses how, by the hand of the prophetess Ellen White, they have been “preserved” by the divine instruction and protected from Satan’s many attacks.

For instance, one of the first burdens laid upon Ellen White was to erect a wall about the church and protect it from fanatics who taught extreme views such as holy flesh and instantaneous sanctification. Others attempted to set specific times for the Lord to come. (See Selected Messages, Book 2, 31–38; Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 83–89; Testimonies, vol. 1, 72.) These dangerous views were squarely met by Ellen White.

The church will face fanatics again, and the experiences of the past will be repeated. Though extreme views will be taught and practiced, Goxd’s true people will not be misled.

“The principles of truth that God has revealed to us are our only true foundation. They have made us what we are. The lapse of time has not lessened their value. It is the constant effort of the enemy to remove these truths from their setting, and to put in their place spurious theories. He will bring in everything that he possibly can to carry out his deceptive designs. But the Lord will raise up men of keen perception, who will give these truths their proper place in the plan of God.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 201.

7 What may God’s commandment-keeping church, having the “testimony of Jesus,” expect at the hand of the dragon, Satan? Revelation 12:17.

Note: “Through deceptive means and unseen channels, Satan is working to strengthen his authority and to place obstacles in the way of God’s people, that souls may not be freed from his power and gathered under the banner of Christ. By his deceptions he is seeking to allure souls from Christ, and those who are not established upon the truth will surely be taken in his snare. And those whom he cannot lead into sin he will persecute, as the Jews did Christ.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 295.

8 For what purpose did Christ place the gifts in the church? Ephesians 4:11, 13.

Note: “I [Ellen White] have been shown that just such phases of error as I was compelled to meet among Advent believers after the passing of the time in 1844, will be repeated in these last days. In our early experience, I had to go from place to place and bear message after message to disappointed companies of believers. The evidences accompanying my messages were so great that the honest in heart received as truth the words that were spoken. The power of God was revealed in a marked manner, and men and women were freed from the baleful influence of fanaticism and disorder, and were brought into the unity of the faith.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 376.

9 What did the messages of the prophet Elisha do for Israel? 11 Kings 6:8–12.

Note: The attacks upon God’s people today may not be in the form of physical violence, yet they are no less real and perilous. One form in which the archenemy brings his attacks is from within, as misguided and overzealous souls misuse the spirit of prophecy counsels that were given to reform. Ellen White wrote:

“Although there are evils existing in the church, and will be until the end of the world, the church in these last days is to be the light of the world that is polluted and demoralized by sin. The church, enfeebled and defective, needing to be reproved, warned, and counseled, is the only object upon earth upon which Christ bestows His supreme regard.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 49.

10 At a time of crisis in the experience of Israel, through what means did the Lord lead to deliverance and bring about that deliverance? 11 Chronicles 20:14–20. Compare Judges 4:1–7, 14.

Note: Just as Jahaziel and Deborah proclaimed turning points for God’s people, so Ellen White gave messages that were turning points. The prophetic message she presented on a Sabbath afternoon in 1868 in Bushnell, Michigan, was the turning point in the life of the Bushnell church. The preceding Sabbath the members had decided to disband, but the providential appearance of Ellen White and her husband, Elder James White, turned the tide.

“An appointment had been made through a notice on the back page of the Review published on Tuesday, July 16. Neither [Ellen and James White] had ever been to Bushnell [Michigan], but the elder of the Greenville church, A. W. Maynard, and the elder of the Orleans church, S. H. King, had suggested a grove meeting at Bushnell, where there was a struggling group of believers. …

“As the dwindling company of discouraged Sabbathkeepers at Bushnell had met the previous Sabbath morning, July 13, only seven were present, and they had decided to hold no more meetings (The Signs of the Times, August 29, 1878). But the notice in the Review led them to get word around for at least one more meeting. …

“All the Sabbathkeepers were on the grounds Sabbath morning. After James White had spoken, Ellen, Bible in hand, began to speak from a text of Scripture and then paused. Laying her Bible aside, she began to address those who had accepted the Sabbath in that place. She was not acquainted with them and did not know their names, but she addressed a number of persons. …

“She described each peculiar case, stating that the Lord had shown her their cases two years previous [most likely in the vision at Rochester], and that, while she was just then speaking from the Bible, that view had flashed over her mind, like sudden lightning in a dark night distinctly revealing every object. …

“Sunday morning there was a baptism, and the Bushnell church was organized and officers chosen. In the years that followed, several workers in the cause came from that church.” Arthur L. White, Ellen G. White: The Progressive Years, vol. 2, 1862–1876, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, D.C., 189–191.

Merit or Grace

In the beginning of Acts 16, it says that while Paul and Silas were answering the Macedonian call in Philippi, they were beaten and put in jail without a trial. That night there was an earthquake, and the jailer was also afraid that the prisoners would escape, which would result in him being under the death sentence, so he decided to kill himself. “But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.’ Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas, And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ ” Acts 16:28–30.

That is the most important question that any human being can ask: “What must I do to be saved?” Paul says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household” (verse 31). That night was a successful one night evangelistic series. No sermons were preached; it consisted only of a song service. Paul and Silas, in chains, sang in the prison praising the Lord. Then, suddenly, there was an earthquake. The jailer realized the prisoners had something that he did not have, and he wanted it; he wanted to be saved. They told him to, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.”

Salvation is not complicated. It is simple enough that a child can understand it. All you have to do is believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

Believe is often translated faith in the Bible. The Greek word translated believe, means to believe something enough to make a commitment to it. It is not merely an intellectual knowledge; it is a commitment. To believe in Jesus is to make a commitment to Him.

United States citizens are proud that they live in the land of the free and the home of the brave and do not live under the servitude of lords. The Roman Empire did understand the meaning of the word lord, because approximately two-thirds of the population was in slavery, with only one-third free. Those who were unfortunate to be slaves had a lord. Their master was called their lord. And that master, or lord, had absolute authority over their lives. In fact, if the slave did something that the lord did not like, he had authority to kill him without a trial because he was a slave. When Paul said, “Believe in the Lord,” the jailer knew exactly what the word Lord meant.

In Western society today, there are many who say they believe in Jesus as their Lord, but He had something to say to them. “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” Luke 6:46. Is Jesus really Lord to those who disobey Him and are they guaranteed salvation? Jesus predicted that in the last generation this very thing would happen.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you: depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ” Matthew 7:21–23.

Notice, these are people who call Jesus Lord, but they do not do what He says. They break His law. There is no nation in the world that does not have laws. Judges in the courts of all countries consider a person to be a loyal citizen if he keeps the laws. God also has laws, and He decides the loyalty of the citizen of His government by the keeping of His law. In the final judgment, God will ask the same question that worldly judges ask: “Have you kept the law?”

When countries make laws, they are ever changing them and updating them. It is estimated that there have been over 35 million different human laws made; however, in God’s government, He has made only one law that has ten parts. The whole universe can be governed with one law that a child can read and understand. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15.

Ellen White wrote, “Let this point be fully settled in every mind: If we accept Christ as a Redeemer, we must accept Him as a Ruler. We cannot have the assurance and perfect confiding trust in Christ as our Saviour until we acknowledge Him as our King and are obedient to His commandments. Thus we evidence our allegiance to God.” Faith and Works, 16.

Is Jesus the Lord of your life? Many people today in the Western world want Jesus to be the Saviour of their life, but they do not want Him to be the Lord of their life. In essence they are saying, “We won’t have this man reign over us” (Luke 19:14).

  • Paraphrasing John 3:16, it is seen to have seven parts after recognizing God:
  • “God” – brings us to acknowledge an Almighty Authority, Himself, He
  • “so loved the world” – the strongest motive, love
  • “that He gave” – at ultimate cost
  • “His only begotten Son” – that resulted in the greatest gift that has ever been given
  • “that whoever” – this is the widest welcome that has ever been given
  • “believes in Him” – that is the easiest escape that has ever been given
  • “should not perish” – assuring divine deliverance
  • “but have everlasting life” – they will receive a priceless possession

Putting it all together, John 3:16 would read, “The One who has Almighty authority, motivated by the strongest motivation, gave the greatest gift, to give us the widest welcome, and the easiest escape, and divine deliverance, so that we might have a priceless possession.”

It is this subject that we are admonished to talk about the most. Ellen White wrote, “There is not a point that needs to be dwelt upon more earnestly, repeated more frequently, or established more firmly in the minds of all, than the impossibility of fallen man meriting anything by his own best good works. Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone. …

“Let the subject be made distinct and plain that it is not possible to effect anything in our standing before God or in the gift of God to us through creature merit.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, 420.

If we are going to inherit eternal life, we need to understand that there is nothing we can ever do to provide any part of the merit. It is a gift that comes through grace alone, to the person who believes. One of the greatest deceptions of all time, that has permeated all heathen religions and also the Christian world, is the idea that we are saved by faith and works.

Martin Luther fought this idea during the reformation. The belief that a person is saved by faith and works opens the door for believing that not only your own good works, but also those of others and even the saints give merit to salvation.

The book of James says that, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20, 26). True faith produces works; however, those works have no merit and have no saving power.

“Should faith and works purchase the gift of salvation for anyone, then the Creator is under obligation to the creature. Here is an opportunity for falsehood to be accepted as truth. If any man can merit salvation by anything he may do, then he is in the same position as the Catholic to do penance for his sins. Salvation, then, is partly of debt that may be earned as wages. If man cannot, by any of his good works, merit salvation, then it must be wholly of grace, received by man as a sinner because he receives and believes in Jesus. It is wholly a free gift.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, 420.

When you work or have a job, your employer is obligated to give you the appropriate wages. But if a man cannot, by any of his good works, merit salvation, and it is received by him, as a sinner, just because he receives and believes the promise in Jesus, then it is completely by grace—a free gift.

The apostle Paul wrote about this a great deal in the books of Romans, Galatians and Ephesians. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9. “If Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him Who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imparts righteousness apart from works.” Romans 4:2–6 (Literal translation).

Paul emphasized this point because of the error being taught in Christ’s day that a person was saved by grace, but they needed to do something first; they needed to be circumcised first, and then they would receive the grace.

That same teaching is very popular in churches today, including the Protestant churches, but it is not called circumcision. Some say first you need to repent, and that is true, but there are no merits in repentance. Some say that you need to have faith—belief. There is no merit just because you have faith. Salvation is through grace alone; it is a free gift and does not come because of anything that you do.

“It [salvation] is wholly a free gift. Justification by faith is placed beyond controversy. And all this controversy is ended, as soon as the matter is settled that the merits of fallen man in his good works can never procure eternal life for him.” Faith and Works, 20.

But the devil pulls another trick on those who do understand that there is nothing you can do to save yourself. Hundreds of millions of Christians in the world today believe that the church can save you if you are a member or are baptized. If you are a member of the Catholic Church, you need to be an active participant in the seven sacraments, which, if observed, enable you to receive the grace.

Stated bluntly, the church is unable to save anyone, and there will be billions of people lost who have been baptized. Billions of people who have partaken of the communion supper will not be in the kingdom of heaven. We cannot save ourselves, and the church cannot save us either. This same deception that is popular today was also popular in the days of Christ. The people believed that if they were not connected to Israel, the church, they would not be saved. Even Christ’s disciples believed this.

John records an incident when Jesus gave sight to the man who was born blind. There was a big church trial, and before it was over, because the man confessed Christ, he was disfellowshiped. “The Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, ‘Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?’ His parents answered them and said, ‘We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself.’ ” John 9:18–21.

Everybody in town, including his parents, knew what had happened, because the news had gone all over town, so why did they lie? They must have known it was wrong to lie and that no liars will be in heaven (Revelation 21:8). “His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, because the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed He was the Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue.” John 9:22 (Literal translation).

They were under one of the most powerful delusions that can happen to a person. They had been taught that if you were disfellowshiped from the synagogue, you would not have eternal life. Ironically, the very thing they did do, lie, would keep them out of the kingdom of God. They thought that as long as they stayed in and had that connection with the church, they would be saved.

If they really wanted to be saved, they would have had to allow themselves to be disfellowshiped and not lie. This story is important, because this has happened millions of times since then. The very thing that people think will assure them of eternal life is the very thing that guarantees their destruction. Jesus’ own disciples believed this.

“ ‘I am the true Vine’ [John 15:1]. The Jews had always regarded the vine as the most noble of plants, and a type of all that was powerful, excellent, and fruitful. Israel had been represented as a vine which God had planted in the Promised Land. The Jews based their hope of salvation on the fact of their connection with Israel.” The Desire of Ages, 675.

Jesus says, “I am the real vine. Think not that through a connection with Israel you may become partakers of the life of God and inheritors of His promise. Through Me alone is spiritual life received.” Are you connected with the True Vine? Baptism with water is a symbol and important, but if you do not have what it represents, the symbol will not save you.

Peter explains what baptism represents. “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ ” Acts 2:37, 38. Baptism by water represents baptism by the Holy Spirit.

Even though church will not save you, it is important to belong to one. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body (the church)—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” I Corinthians 12:13. Baptism, water baptism, is the door into the church. But water baptism is a symbol that won’t save you if you don’t have what it represents.

You become a member of the body of Christ when you are baptized by the Holy Spirit. Paul met some people in Acts 19 who had been baptized, and he asked if they had received the Holy Spirit. They said they had been baptized into John’s baptism and were told they needed to be baptized again. This clearly indicates that baptism is not really valid if you have not received the Holy Spirit.

There are many who have attended church all their life and decide to be rebaptized because they did not know before what they were doing or were not prepared. They did not receive the Holy Spirit.

If you have not received the Holy Spirit, the church cannot save you. The big question is, Are you connected with Jesus? Jesus said, “I am the true Vine.” There are two things working to connect the branches to the grape vines. The outer connection, the lignite in the wood, just holds them physically to the vine. The outer connection could be likened to church membership. When a person is baptized with water and makes a profession, they are now a “member” of the church, outwardly. It has an outer connection, but if the life sap does not flow through the inner part of that vine into the branch, it will die. This is described in John 15.

The dead branch is a person who is a member of the church, professing to be a Christian. They profess to be getting ready for Jesus to come, and they look like they are connected, but the only trouble is, there is no life in them.

When working with grape vines, you learn to trim and tie up the vines. Every dead branch is cut off. Jesus said, “That’s what My Father does.” Notice what He says in John 15:2–5: “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit He prunes [cleanses/purifies], that it may bear more fruit. You are already purified or cleansed, because of the word which I have spoken to you. ‘Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing’ ” (Literal translation).

Is the life of Christ coming into your life and is the Holy Spirit working a transformation in your life, changing the way you think and the way you act? Do others recognize you as a Christian?

There have been many discussions about creature merit. Theologians have been arguing these things for hundreds of years. Ellen White wrote about these discussions. She said,

“Discussions may be entered into by mortals strenuously advocating creature merit, and each man striving for the supremacy, but they simply do not know that all the time, in principle and character, they are misrepresenting the truth as it is in Jesus. They are in a fog of bewilderment. They need the divine love of God which is represented by gold tried in the fire; they need the white raiment of Christ’s pure character; and they need the heavenly eyesalve that they might discern with astonishment the utter worthlessness of creature merit to earn the wages of eternal life.” Faith and Works, 23.

How much is creature merit worth? She calls it utter worthlessness.

“The Lord Jesus imparts all the powers, all the grace, all the penitence, all the inclination, all the pardon of sins, in presenting His righteousness for man to grasp by living faith—which is also the gift of God. If you would gather together everything that is good and holy and noble and lovely in man and then present the subject to the angels of God as acting a part in the salvation of the human soul or in merit, the proposition would be rejected as treason.” Ibid., 24. Even the angels would say it was treason against the government of God.

Salvation is not complicated. It is a natural human tendency to want to do something to gain merit, so that we can be saved, but we can never be saved that way. Ellen White says, “He need not wait until he has made a suitable repentance before he may take hold upon Christ’s righteousness. We do not understand the matter of salvation. It is just as simple as ABC. But we don’t understand it.” Ibid., 64.

How can you receive the gift of salvation? Just say, “Lord, I’m choosing to believe in Jesus as the Lord of my life and Saviour from sin.” Jesus stated it in that simple language, over and over again. The apostle John, more than any other apostle, quoted Jesus’ words on that subject. For instance, he said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” John 5:24. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” John 6:47. That is not complicated. Jesus said, “If you believe in Me, you have eternal life.”

There is much to be thankful for. “The people had not been destroyed by the serpents in their long travels through the wilderness. They had been an ungrateful people.

“We are just so. We do not realize the thousand dangers that our heavenly Father has kept us from. We do not realize the great blessing that He has bestowed upon us in giving us food and raiment, in preserving our lives by sending the guardian angels to watch over us. Every day we should be thankful for this. We ought to have gratitude stirring in our hearts and come to God with a gratitude offering every day. We ought to gather around the family altar every day and praise Him for His watchcare over us. The children of Israel had lost sight that God was protecting them from the venomous beasts. But when He withdrew His hand their sting was upon them.” Ibid., 69.

We ought to have such gratitude that we gather around the family altar every day and praise Him for His watchcare over us. The children of Israel had lost sight that God was protecting them from the venomous beasts, but when He withdrew His hand, their sting was upon them. If we could just comprehend how simple the plan of salvation is. All you have to do is choose to believe. Some may say they cannot. Remember the man who came to Jesus and He said, “If you can believe, everything is possible” (Mark 9:23). The man then said, “Lord, I believe,” but he was struggling with doubt, just the way people are today. It is the devil’s intention to try to destroy all who believe by causing doubt. This man was struggling with doubt, and he said, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” [verse 24].

Ellen White says that if you pray that prayer you can never perish. The plan of salvation is that simple. If we really believed it, we would be happy; we would be thankful; we would be rejoicing; we would be praising God every day for what He has done for us.

In the wilderness, the children of Israel were told to look at the brass snake and be saved (Numbers 21:8, 9). The Lord says, “Look unto Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and none else.” Isaiah 45:22 (Literal translation). This is not complicated. Are you willing to look? A dead snake, a brass snake, cannot save anybody. The Lord says, “If you will look, I will save you.” The problem we have is that we live in a world where the religion of Cain is more popular than the true religion. The religion of Cain says you have to do something for the Lord to save you. That is a deception. Just come to Jesus, just the way you are right now, with all of your sins, with all of your weaknesses. You cannot make yourself better.

Jesus said, “He who comes to Me, I will in no case cast out” (John 6:37). If you will come, He will save you. If you look, He will save you. You don’t have to do something first; just come to Jesus right now, just the way you are, with all of your sins, with all of your guilt, with all of your failings, with all of your past; come with everything that is wrong with you. He just says, “Look to Me. Come to Me, I will save you. You do the coming, I will do the saving.”

We cannot save ourselves; the church cannot save us, and no human being can save us. Only Jesus can save us.

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

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


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.
John 3:16

There are many reasons why this text is often referred to as the most precious promise in the entire Bible. Many sermons have centered on the wonderful opportunity that this text offers and the wonderful insight into salvation that it provides.

For most Christians, this verse is the first one committed to memory, usually at a very young age. Many explanations have been provided by many learned people on exactly what this unfathomable gift encompasses and what is involved in believing.

The mystery of this gift, the incarnation of our Saviour, will undoubtedly remain just that—a mystery—until we cross the Jordan, and even then, it will remain an object of study throughout eternity.

One aspect of this verse, however, that is opened for us fairly clearly through mining the word of God is what is involved in believing. Unfortunately, many broad road Christians use the simplest definition of believe to claim assured salvation, while failing to understand the true meaning of this word as Christ used it. They fail to recall (or willingly overlook) the text in which James uses the exact same Greek word when he states in James 2:19 that, “The devils also believe, and tremble.” Thus it is clear that the Holy Spirit impressed upon James that simply believing as it is commonly understood is not sufficient for salvation.

However, the aspect of this text that this article will dwell on is the all-inclusive word that occurs in front of believe: whosoever. There is no greater delight that springs up in the human heart than when the realization occurs that “whosoever” includes “me.”

This word that contains such unrestricted hope for the true believer occurs in the New Testament over one hundred times. However, not only does it offer unrestricted hope, but it also carries dire warnings of condemnation. A study of its use and application reveals to the searcher for truth both the mercy and the justice of an all-wise and loving God.

An exhaustive analysis of its several Greek forms is beyond the scope of this article, though it does make for a very rewarding personal study. Here, however, we will concentrate on one single occurrence and the events that led up to that use.

The instance that this article will focus on occurred following a series of interesting events in Jesus’ life, as recorded in Matthew 21, an intriguing record of several days in Christ’s life just prior to His crucifixion.

Inspiration tells us that, “The events which preceded His great sacrifice must be such as to call attention to the sacrifice itself.” The Desire of Ages, 571.

Matthew 21 is a fascinating chapter. It begins with Christ’s entry into Jerusalem—a fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 9. His entry created such a commotion that the bystanders asked what was going on. Who is this who is causing such an uproar? They were told, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” Verse 11, NKJV.

“The events connected with this triumphal ride would be the talk of every tongue, and would bring Jesus before every mind.” The Desire of Ages, 571.

While the Jewish leaders were engaged in contentious conversation with the Roman authorities, trying to get them to restrain the tumult raised by Jesus’ entry, Jesus went unnoticed into the temple, where all was relatively quiet, as the worshipers had been drawn outside by the activity surrounding His arrival and had become distracted by the contention between the temple authorities and the Roman soldiers. He subsequently withdrew quietly from the temple with His disciples, returning to Bethany.

The following day, as He headed back to the temple, He passed a fig orchard. Finding a tree fully leafed out, He searched it for figs, but found that it contained no fruit, just as He had found the Jewish nation barren of spiritual fruit.

Inspiration tells us that there were four qualities—four fruits—that He had hoped to find among His people when He came to dwell among them—four qualities that His true followers will and indeed must manifest when He returns to gather them to the kingdom: self-sacrifice [“Put off the old man with his deeds …” Colossians 3:9], compassion [“Do unto others …” Luke 6:31], zeal for God [“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” II Timothy 4:2], and a deep yearning of soul for the salvation of their fellow men [“Go ye therefore and teach …” Matthew 28:19]. (See The Desire of Ages, 583.)

The utter lack of those qualities was symbolized by the barren fig tree. Christ’s cursing of the tree “showed what the Jewish people would be when the grace of God was removed from them. Refusing to impart blessing, they would no longer receive it.” Ibid.

Then Jesus moved on to the temple, where the second cleansing occurred, during which Jesus quoted scripture to show the priests that they were fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies in making God’s house, the temple, a den of thieves.

Recognizing that Jesus was a true prophet, as the multitudes had proclaimed as He entered the city, the blind and the lame came to Him seeking healing. As they were healed, they could not contain their gratitude. Scripture says that the children proclaimed, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” Matthew 21:15. Why was it the children who bore the testimony?

In the story of the blind man who was healed on the Sabbath, his parents along with their son were disfellowshiped because they professed faith in Jesus as the Messiah. In fact, the church had issued a warning that any who professed faith in Jesus as the Messiah would be disfellowshiped. Therefore none of the adults were willing to speak what they knew in their hearts to be the truth. Thus it was that the children sang out.

“As the children sang in the temple courts, ‘Hosanna; Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord’ (Mark 11:9), so in these last days children’s voices will be raised to give the last message of warning to a perishing world. When heavenly intelligences see that men are no longer permitted to present the truth, the Spirit of God will come upon the children, and they will do a work in the proclamation of the truth which the older workers cannot do because their way will be hedged up.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 176.

Following this event that was so joyous to those blessed and healed by Christ—but that was such a consternation to the Jewish religious leaders—there occurred a confrontation between the latter group and Jesus, during which was fulfilled Christ’s statement spoken in an earlier confrontation with the same group: “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Matthew 12:37.

After being baffled in their efforts to obtain from Jesus a statement on the source of His authority (Matthew 21:23–27), Jesus spoke the parable of the two sons, one who promised his father that he would go work in the father’s vineyard but did not, and the other who said that he wouldn’t, but ultimately did. When the Pharisees and scribes correctly answered that the latter son was the one who did the will of the father, they realized that they had brought condemnation upon themselves in their answer. Christ drove home the point by telling them, “The publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” Matthew 21:31.

Christ followed this parable with another that further clarified the condition of the Jewish leaders. In the parable of the householder and the tenants, Christ made crystal clear the fate of those who failed to recognize Him as the Messiah. And once again, they pronounced their own condemnation: “They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.” Verse 41.

Then comes one of Christ’s clearest statements on the fate of the Jewish nation.

“Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” Verses 42–44.

Here Christ states the fate of those who fail to accept Christ as the only “name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.

We have two choices, and whosoever makes the wise choice shall be broken—broken from the chain of sin and misery that so besets this world (Romans 3); broken from the bondage of captivity from which Christ came to free His children (Isaiah 49:25); broken from the hold that Satan has on those who fail to avail themselves of the grace of Christ (John 8:36).

“Do not entertain the thought that because you have made mistakes, because your life has been darkened by errors, your Heavenly Father does not love you and will not hear you when you pray. He says, ‘Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.’ ‘The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.’ [John 6:37; James 5:11.] His heart of love is touched by our sorrows, and even by our utterance of them. Take to Him everything that perplexes the mind. Nothing is too great for Him to bear; for He holds up worlds, He rules over the affairs of the universe. Nothing that in any way concerns our peace is too small for Him to notice. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel. None have fallen so low, none are so vile, that they can not find deliverance in Christ. The demoniacs of Gadara, in the place of prayer could utter only the words of Satan; but yet the heart’s unspoken appeal was heard. No cry from a soul in need is unheeded.

“The ear of the Lord is open to the cry of every suppliant. Even before the prayer is offered or the yearning desire of the soul made known, the Spirit of God goes forth to meet it. Never has there been a genuine desire, never a tear shed in contrition of soul, but grace from Christ has gone forth to meet the grace working upon the human heart.” The Signs of the Times, June 18, 1902.

“Whosoever believeth … .” Those who claim this promise—so dear to the seeker of salvation, so all-encompassing, so full of hope—must accept with it a responsibility to sink the shaft deeply into the word of God to ensure a full comprehension of what believing in Jesus Christ truly means, and to understand the commitment required to truly believe.

“Whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them … .” Matthew 7:24

“Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men … .” Matthew 10:32

“Whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven … .” Matthew 12:50

“Whosoever will save his life … .” Matthew 16:25

“Whosoever will be great among you … .” Matthew 20:26

“Whosoever will be chief among you … .” Matthew 20:27

“Whosoever shall do the will of God … .” Mark 3:35

“Whosoever will come after Me … .” Mark 8:34

“Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:4

“Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17

“Whosoever believeth … .” John 3:16

John Pearson is the office manager and a board member of Steps to Life. After retiring as chief financial officer for the Grand Canyon Association, Grand Canyon, Arizona, he moved to Wichita, Kansas, to join the Steps team. He may be contacted by email at: