Hope for the Hopeless

Section 1

Although the condition of all the descendants of Adam and Eve is hopeless without Jesus, the anointed Savior of mankind, through Christ, there is hope for those who are apparently the most hopeless of mankind. The following statements contain encouragement for those who feel hopeless:

“God sees all the possibilities there are in men to work out His divine end; and those who are called to be laborers together with Him, He will instruct to work according to His plans. As co-workers with Christ they will labor for the poor, the outcast, and the depraved. They will not fail nor be discouraged, for, imbued with the Spirit of Christ, they will see hope for the most hopeless. They will work in God’s lines, realizing that man must be sought for and labored for in order to be made Christlike.” Review and Herald, May 29, 1900. [All emphasis supplied throughout unless otherwise noted.]

“This is the work of God’s laborers—to bring to Jesus souls who have gone away from His direct teachings and have apparently gone to pieces on the rocks and reefs of sin. These broken lives, which have been apparently hopeless, He promises to make whole.” Upward Look, 162.

“Tell the poor desponding ones who have gone astray that they need not despair. Though they have erred, and have not been building a right character, God has joy to restore them, even the joy of His salvation. He delights to take apparently hopeless material, those through whom Satan has worked, and make them the subjects of His grace. He rejoices to deliver them from the wrath which is to fall upon the disobedient. Tell them there is healing, cleansing for every soul. There is a place for them at the Lord’s table. He is waiting to bid them welcome.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 234.

“I entreat the heralds of the gospel of Christ never to become discouraged, never to regard the most hardened sinner as beyond the reach of the grace of God. The one apparently hopeless may accept the truth in the love of it. He who turns the hearts of men as the rivers of water are turned, can bring the most selfish, sin-hardened soul to Christ. Is anything too hard for God to do? ‘My word,’ He declares, ‘shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.’ Isaiah 55:11.” Gospel Workers, 267.

“Jesus is now sending His message to a fallen world.…He has committed Himself to the work of our redemption. He resolved that He would spare nothing, however costly, withhold nothing, however dear, which would restore the moral image of God in man. And He holds in store gift upon gift, waiting for the proper channels through which He can communicate the treasures of eternal life.” Signs of the Times, February 22, 1899.

“Come to Jesus, and receive rest and peace. You may have the blessing even now. Satan suggests that you are helpless, and cannot bless yourself. It is true; you are helpless. But lift up Jesus before him: ‘I have a risen Savior. In Him I trust, and He will never suffer me to be confounded. In His name I triumph. He is my righteousness, and my crown of rejoicing.’ Let no one here feel that his case is hopeless; for it is not. You may see that you are sinful and undone; but it is just on this account that you need a Savior. If you have sins to confess, lose no time. These moments are golden. ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ 1 John 1:9. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled; for Jesus has promised it. Precious Savior! His arms are open to receive us, and His great heart of love is waiting to bless us.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 352, 353.

“Do not, I entreat of you, sit down in hopeless despair and do nothing. Do not heed any further the great tempter that it is no use for you to try. You could but perish if you came to Jesus just as you are, sinful and polluted, vile and depraved; but Jesus is amply able to save the very hardest and the most wicked and defiled sinner.” Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, 143.

“There are multitudes today as truly under the power of evil spirits as was the demoniac of Capernaum. All who willfully depart from God’s commandments are placing themselves under the control of Satan. Many a man tampers with evil, thinking that he can break away at pleasure; but he is lured on and on, until he finds himself controlled by a will stronger than his own. He cannot escape its mysterious power. Secret sin or master passion may hold him a captive as helpless as was the demoniac of Capernaum.”

“Yet his condition is not hopeless. God does not control our minds without our consent; but every man is free to choose what power he will have to rule over him. None have fallen so low, none are so vile, but that they may find deliverance in Christ. The demoniac, in place of prayer, could utter only the words of Satan; yet the heart’s unspoken appeal was heard. No cry from a soul in need, though it fail of utterance in words, will be unheeded. Those who consent to enter into covenant with God are not left to the power of Satan or to the infirmity of their own nature.” Ministry of Healing, 92, 93.

Section 2

It is possible for human beings to make choices that will result in their condition becoming hopeless. The following statements show how this is done:

If we close our eyes to the divine light that is shining upon us: “Men who will not admit the claims of God’s law, which are so very plain, will generally take a lawless course; for they have so long taken sides with the great rebel in warring against the law of God. . . . Their case is as hopeless as was that of the Jews, who would not see the light which Christ brought to them.” Review and Herald, March 23, 1886.

If we indulge pride and self-sufficiency: “The evil that led to Peter’s fall and that shut out the Pharisee from communion with God is proving the ruin of thousands today. There is nothing so offensive to God or so dangerous to the human soul as pride and self-sufficiency. Of all sins it is the most hopeless, the most incurable.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 154.

If we cherish unbelief: “The Jews through unbelief felt no need of Christ. Bodily diseases, however aggravated and apparently hopeless, were met and baffled by His divine power; but the disease of the soul, fastened in unbelief and blind prejudice, took firmer hold upon those who closed their eyes against the light. The most powerful evidence that could be produced only strengthened their opposition. Leprosy and palsy were not so terrible as bigotry and unbelief. Jesus turned from the teachers of Israel, and their chains of darkness and skepticism tightened about them.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, 176.

“The stronger the evidence that was presented to their minds that Jesus had power on earth to forgive sins, as well as to heal the sick, the more they armed themselves with hatred and unbelief, till God left them to the forging of chains that would bind them in hopeless darkness. There was no reserve power to reach hearts so hardened with malice and skepticism.” Signs of the Times, October 16, 1879.

If we attempt to excuse or conceal our sins: “Satan leads many to believe that God will overlook their unfaithfulness in the minor affairs of life; but the Lord shows in His dealings with Jacob that He will in no wise sanction or tolerate evil. All who endeavor to excuse or conceal their sins, and permit them to remain upon the books of heaven, unconfessed and unforgiven, will be overcome by Satan. The more exalted their profession and the more honorable the position which they hold, the more grievous is their course in the sight of God and the more sure the triumph of their great adversary. Those who delay a preparation for the day of God cannot obtain it in the time of trouble or at any subsequent time. The case of all such is hopeless.” The Great Controversy, 620.

If we delay to overcome: “But let no one neglect present opportunities and delay repentance, presuming on the eleventh-hour conversion of the thief, and trusting to a death-bed repentance. Every ray of light neglected leaves the sinner in greater darkness than before, till some fearful deception may take possession of his mind, and his case may become hopeless.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, 159.

If we do not make an absolute surrender of self: “Without the absolute surrender of self, soul, body, and spirit the contest is hopeless. Self must be hid in Christ. Said Paul, [Philippians 2:7–11 quoted].” Bible Training School, October 1, 1916.

Section 3

Through the results of past wrong choices, some people are very near to becoming hopeless, but if they will turn to the Lord He will still save them. Situations that result in this condition are discussed in the following quotations:

Bad marriages: “He [Satan] is busily engaged in influencing those who are wholly unsuited to each other to unite their interests. He exults in this work, for by it he can produce more misery and hopeless woe to the human family than by exercising his skill in any other direction.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 248.

Sexual Sins: “You have a work to do for your own soul. Make haste, or it will be forever too late. God will now forgive the scarlet sin if you will do those things you ought to do to make your wrongs right. I do not say your case is hopeless, but you have certainly almost sinned away your day of grace; and yet Jesus is in the sanctuary. Jesus pleads in your behalf. Your brethren and your sisters have labored much for you; so much interest have they manifested for you that you have regarded crime and sins as a light matter. But Jesus loves you, and I present or lift up Jesus before you.

“Satan tells you that it is not best for you to cease sinning; you have gone so far in disobedience and transgression that it is no use for you to try to come back to God. While I feel that full disgrace of your sins is upon you, while I would have you see sin as it is, I would all the time present Jesus as a sin-pardoning Savior. The sands of your life are nearly run out, and now if you will come to God just as you are, without one plea but that He has died to save the chiefest of sinners, you will find pardon even in this the eleventh hour. Man must cooperate with God. Christ did not die to have the power to cover transgression unrepented of and unconfessed. Not all sins are to be confessed publicly, but some are to be confessed alone to God and the parties that have been injured.” Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, 133–137. (See the entire chapter called “Counsels to People With Moral Problems.”)

Depression and the contemplation of suicide: “You say you are tempted to cut the brittle thread of life; but if you do, then your case is hopeless, for you add the sin of murder to all your other sins. But if you come just as you are, helpless and sin-polluted, and cast yourself at the foot of the cross, poor, miserable, blind, and naked, there is a Savior to lift you up.” Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, 143.

Long established habits of talking doubt and unbelief: “To question and doubt and cherish unbelief in order to excuse ourselves in stepping aside from the straight path is a far easier matter than to purify the soul through a belief of the truth, and obedience thereto. But when better influences lead one to desire to return, he finds himself entangled in such a network of Satan, like a fly in a spider’s web, that it seems a hopeless task to him, and he seldom recovers himself from the snare laid for him by the wily foe.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 46.

Section 4

The following inspired statements contain cautions and counsels to keep you from despair and hopelessness and to help make you a blessing to those who feel hopeless:

Do not overwork. This will make you hopeless in your outlook: “The Lord expects His servants to be diligent in business and fervent in spirit. But He does not want them to overwork. It is not work, but overwork, without periods of rest, that breaks people down, endangering the life forces. Those who overwork soon reach the place where they work in a hopeless way. The work done to the Lord is to be done in cheerfulness and with courage. He wants us to bring spirit and life and hope into our work.” Signs of the Times, May 10, 1905.

Avoid debt. Debt brings depression and feelings of hopelessness:

“The Lord does not want anyone to be unhappy. My brother, your case is not hopeless. . . . Leave the business which makes you nervous and restless. When you have done all you can, trust in God. Get out of debt, and never again get into debt. Live so economically that you will not have to feel the galling burden of debt.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 136.

Do not look down on any sinner as though you are better than he is. Remember that we all must have infinite mercy extended to us daily or we would be hopeless: “There is need of an impartial examination of our hearts to dispel the pleasing illusions of self-love. Our condition is helpless and hopeless unless infinite mercy is granted us daily, and pardon is written against our names in the heavenly records. Those only who see and feel their spiritual necessities will go to Jesus for that help which they so much need, and which He only can give. He alone can cleanse us from all sin. He alone can place upon us the robe of righteousness.” Signs of the Times, January 4, 1883.

Give the gospel invitation for as long as possible. Even in the last hour of life the gospel can be presented and a soul saved if it is accepted: “Would that physicians might understand the greatness of the service they could render to humanity if they were able to speak simply and tenderly of the love of Jesus and of His willingness to save souls, even at the last hour of life. Many physicians fail to see what a noble influence they might exert by accepting Christ and laying hold of eternal interests. They continue to live a hopeless life, a life in which God is not recognized. They refuse to be illuminated by the Light of the world, and are in a far worse condition than the one who is suffering from physical disease.” The Kress Collection, 41.q

Heaven and Earth Reunited

Pentecost is usually thought of as the time when the power of God was poured out and those present spoke in tongues, but in this article, a most heartwarming, emotional and stimulating text will be highlighted that hopefully will be riveted in your minds forever.

John 20:17 reveals what happened when Mary discovered that Jesus was alive after His crucifixion, death and burial. “Jesus saith unto her, Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God.”

The hope is that somehow this text will have a new and tremendous meaning, and that we may experience and exclaim with the Apostle Paul, “I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:14–19).

In the typical sanctuary service of ancient Israel it was customary for the high priest to lay aside pontifical robes and to officiate in the white linen dress of an ordinary priest. So likewise the Son of God came down to this earth from heaven and He laid aside His royal robes, clothing Himself with humanity to offer Himself as a ransom for humanity. Paul, speaking of this in 1 Corinthians 5:7, last part, says, “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” He did this to fulfill the requirements of the Passover, for as the word of God reveals, Christ Himself became the priest and Christ Himself became the victim. Thus He made an atonement for our sins, but in God’s blueprint for complete salvation He foresaw the need for yet some additional steps in order to restore man to his rightful place.

The atonement provided only for the forgiveness of sins, but sin had separated humanity from God so something more needed to be done to reunite man with his Creator; therefore God devised additional plans so that this could be accomplished. If these details were followed precisely this would make it possible for finite man to comprehend how heaven and earth, which were now separated, could be reunited in oneness, making it possible for you and me to actually become part of the family of God.

Immediately after the Passover Sabbath on the first day of the week, we read in Leviticus 23 verses 5, 9–11, “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s Passover.” “The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.”

It was on the first day of the week that the sheaf was to be waved before God by the priest.  Jesus fulfilled this in person since He was the wave sheaf.

You remember that the Passover lamb was slain on Friday at the ninth hour, which was 3 o’clock in the afternoon as we reckon time today and that great curtain in the sanctuary separating the holy from the most holy which was some 60 to 70 feet in height was ripped from top to bottom by none other than God Himself. At that precise moment the priest was about to kill the sacrificial lamb, but because of this terrifying experience the lamb slipped away, and, in its place, Jesus was crucified at the exact moment that the lamb was to be slain.

During the Sabbath hours after His crucifixion, Jesus lay in a sleep of death in the tomb, but on the first day He is to awake and present the wave sheaf offering. Divine prediction must be fulfilled, for Christ was the wave sheaf. He became the firstfruits by His own resurrection. Thus He was able to comply with the stipulation which was laid down by God a thousand years before.

Let’s see how He did this. This first sheaf of grain was to be presented on the first day following the Passover Sabbath. Consider what actually took place. It is still dark. The gravestone covering the tomb’s entrance is still in place. The Roman seal is unbroken and around the tomb stand the Roman guards. If you look by Divine perception you will see a host of evil angels but looking more closely you will see a heavenly host immediately surrounding the sepulcher. Matthew tells us what took place. “And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it” (Matthew 28:2). This was the same angel that took the place of Lucifer. Instantly, when this angel arrived all of the evil angels fled and the soldiers fell as dead men. This mighty angel rolled that great stone, which was at least 6 feet in diameter, as if it were a pebble. And then he cried out, “Son of God, come forth; Thy Father calls Thee.” Immediately Christ comes forth from the tomb as the angelic host sings with great joy, “Thou hast vanquished Satan and the powers of darkness; Thou hast swallowed up death in victory!” The Desire of Ages, 780.

But something else has taken place as Jesus arose. It’s a startling event, for an earthquake has opened a multitude of other graves. Individuals arose from their graves who had given their lives as a testimony to God’s truth. These resurrected saints are the Savior’s trophies of victory over the power of death. No longer are they captives of Satan. They are now redeemed, brought forth from the grave, the firstfruits of the end time resurrection. Christ had raised many others from death when He was here on this earth. For example, there was the son of the widow of Nain. There was the ruler’s little daughter, and there was Lazarus who had died and had been buried for three days. Each of these had to die again. But these resurrected saints who arose when Christ arose would never die. They were raised to everlasting life.

Shortly after these saints had arisen out of their graves, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb. Imagine her amazement as she discovers that the tomb is empty. She fears that someone has stolen the body of Jesus. “And they [two angels] say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto Him, Sir, if Thou have borne Him hence, tell me where Thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away.” You see, her eyes were so filled with tears that she could not see clearly. Continuing, “Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto Him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God” (John 20:13–17).

There is something about this that we have in common. We are now the family of God and God is our Father. Something is about to occur that makes this possible, something that will reunite heaven with earth. What is this wonder? Christ is about to ascend to heaven where He will present Himself to the Father as the wave sheaf, the symbol of the first resurrected life of the great harvest to come.

Immediately, Jesus leaves this earth, He leaves Mary and goes to heaven where He is to approach His Father for the express purpose of presenting Himself as the wave sheaf. Apparently travel in space is no problem for Deity. One moment He is talking to Mary and the next moment He is billions of miles away standing before His Father. There He presents Himself as the firstfruits of the resurrection. It is a private meeting and it is not open to the universe. Here the assurance is given that Christ’s sacrifice has been accepted.

“He [Christ] ascended to the heavenly courts, and from God Himself heard the assurance that His atonement for the sins of men had been ample, that through His blood all might gain eternal life. The Father ratified the covenant made with Christ, that He would receive repentant and obedient men,” and please mark these words: The Father said “that He would receive repentant and obedient men, and would love them even as He loves His Son.” The Desire of Ages, 790. [Emphasis supplied.]

Amazing! Can you comprehend that? Naturally the Father loves His Son, but we who have been sinners, we who have damned Him, we who have done all kinds of evil things, can it be that God still loves us? Oh yes, we have always believed that but, loved us as much as He loved His Son? That’s what a family is all about, isn’t it? To be in the family of God and to be loved individually as much as God loves His Son, it boggles the mind.

No sooner had this short visit been accomplished with the Father then He immediately returns to this earth. During His absence, other women have arrived at the tomb. The Desire of Ages, 793: “After He had ascended to the Father, Jesus appeared to the other women, saying, ‘All hail. And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshiped Him’ (Matthew 28:9).” He wouldn’t let Mary touch Him as He first had to go to heaven to present the wave sheaf. “Then said Jesus unto them, ‘Be not afraid: go tell My brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see Me’ (verse 10).” Ibid. The time has now arrived that He can assure the disciples that He has fulfilled His pledge. Isaiah 13:12: “I will make a man more precious than fine gold.” No question about it. We can become sons and daughters of the family of God, each loved as much as God loves His Son who died for us. Praise His holy name! Oh, what God has planned for us!

Now He says to these women, Tell the disciples, Go into Galilee where I am going to instruct them for the next 40 days. In Acts the first chapter, verse 3, we read, “To whom also He showed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs.” There they handled Him, they slept with Him, they ate with Him, they talked with Him, they were with Him 40 days. No question about it, Jesus was alive. But there must be 50 days, not 40, that must take place before the next great event which is called Pentecost. It will be at this coming celebration when the covenant will be ratified with His church. It was ratified with God when Christ presented Himself as the wave sheaf, but at Pentecost it is to be ratified to the church.

Why is this? Had not Christ already died for the atonement? Christ had already arisen in victory over death and already presented the wave sheaf to His Father in heaven. Then why must there be a Pentecost? Because something else is needed to unite heaven with earth. The church of God must be given divine power to give the gospel to the entire world and this cannot take place until additional firstfruits are presented to God the Father in heaven before the universe.

Every divine stipulation that you find in the Scripture must be fulfilled; nothing fails. Leviticus 23:15–17: “And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete [that is, 49 days]: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord. Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord.”

These verses draw our attention once again to this special group that were resurrected when Jesus arose. They arose with Him on the resurrection day. They represent the family of God on this earth. They are the pledge of assurance that the resurrection of all the righteous will take place when Christ comes the second time. “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14).

So it was in this divine plan that when Christ, after His resurrection had presented the wave sheaf to His Father, that He would go back to earth and return again to heaven, this time bringing a great multitude of His trophies to present them as the family of earth, to be united with the family of God.

But before this takes place a multitude of captives from the grave must first perform a special work. They are to go into the city of Jerusalem and to declare to the honest in heart that Christ had indeed risen from the dead. They were to be living proof that He had risen. This was necessary for several reasons. The priests had paid the soldiers to lie by commanding them to say that His disciples came by night and stole Jesus away while they slept. That in itself was quite a deception because any soldier knew that if he went to sleep at his post he would be killed.

Furthermore, the Sadducees who were supposed to be God’s ministers in His temple during the day of Christ had for centuries taught the people to disbelieve in the resurrection. For a hundred years they had preached the devil’s doctrine that there was no resurrection. So God is going to make sure there is no misunderstanding. Imagine, when these risen saints came to a person’s home and knocked at the door and said, “Look at me; I just arose from the grave with Jesus of Nazareth.” There could be no question about it. Here was living proof, for they declared that when Jesus arose, they arose with Him. Can you imagine the impact that this made?

Here is a lesson for us. In those days the ministers were teaching Satan’s lies to the people so that they would not accept Jesus when He came. We are told that the same evil power today will have his men preaching from the hellish torch of Satan. (See Last Day Events, 179.) They will again be teaching false doctrines and if you believe them you will not be ready to go home with Jesus when He comes. We must study continually. God’s word never leaves an honest soul in doubt.

For 40 days these risen saints went from house to house and from person to person telling the good news. The Spirit of God led them to honest souls, proving beyond a doubt that Jesus had indeed risen. “These went into the city, and appeared unto many, declaring, Christ has risen from the dead, and we be risen with Him.” The Desire of Ages, 786.

In Isaiah 26:19 prophecy had predicted this: “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise … and the earth shall cast out the dead.”

Every prophecy in the Bible is always fulfilled to the exact letter. But more than this, these risen saints were to give assurance to us who are alive today that God always keeps His promise, for we soon shall witness a coming resurrection ourselves. “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). What a day that is going to be!

“The voice that cried from the cross, ‘It is finished,’ was heard among the dead. It pierced the wall of sepulchers, and summoned the sleepers to arise. Thus will it be when the voice of Christ shall be heard from heaven. That voice will penetrate the graves and unbar the tombs, and the dead in Christ shall arise. At the Saviour’s resurrection a few graves were opened, but at His second coming all the precious dead shall hear His voice, and shall come forth to glorious, immortal life.

“The same power that raised Christ from the dead will raise His church, and glorify it with Him, above all principalities, above all powers, above every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the world to come.” The Desire of Ages, 787.

Oh beloved, there are some mighty wonderful things to happen soon.

Now back to the 40 days Christ spent with His disciples before returning to heaven with His trophies. He knows that there is needed time in heaven to prepare for a glorious homecoming. Besides this, His disciples will need time to prepare for heaven’s overflow of that great celebration at which time heaven will bestow the Holy Spirit in its fullness, ratifying the covenant with His church.

Now let us follow this step by step. Jesus the risen Saviour is about to return victoriously to heaven bringing with Him His trophies. For 40 days Jesus has authenticated to His disciples that He is the living Saviour. No longer must He be associated with the tomb. Now they must think of Him as being alive, a glorified being, indeed, our Great High Priest who is in heaven’s sanctuary now for us.

Next, Jesus chooses a spot for His ascension. It will be the Mount of Olives upon which His feet will again rest at the close of the millennium when Jesus brings the New Jerusalem to this earth. As Jesus bids His disciples goodbye, they watch as He slowly ascends from among His disciples and they hear clearly the very last words that He ever spoke on this earth: “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

As the disciples watched, a cloud of glory hides Jesus from their sight. As the chariots of angels receive the Savior, the air is filled with the sweetest music as the angelic host sings. It is now that two angels reveal themselves and speak. “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). These are the same two angels who were His personal body guards while He was here on earth throughout His mission. They longed to go with Jesus to heaven but in love for the disciples they linger behind to remind His faithful disciples that Jesus would come again.

In the meanwhile, the multitude of captives who arose with Christ had joined the Savior in the clouds. They are on their way to heaven with Jesus as He returns to the Father. These risen saints are of the first fruits. This is what Paul meant when he said, “When He [Christ] ascended up on high, He led captivity captive” (Ephesians 4:8).

As Jesus ascended with His trophies, all heaven is astir in preparation to welcome the Savior. Jesus leads the way and the multitude of His captives follow as the escorting angels begin to cry, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in” (Psalm 24:7). Then those angels who were on the walls of Jerusalem cry back, “Who is this King of glory” (verse 8, first part)? Not that they didn’t know, but they loved to hear it. Back came the words, “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle” (verse 8, last part). Again, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in” (verse 9). “Who is this King of glory” (verse 10, first part)? Back comes the words, “The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory” (verse 10, last part).

Now look closely as this mighty reception takes place at the walls of the New Jerusalem. The gates are opened as Jesus and the redeemed that arose with Him sweep through the gate into the city itself. There they go to the center of that great city where that throne encircled by a rainbow is found. Here the countless sons of God, the representatives of unfallen worlds, and the billions of unfallen angels also assemble to celebrate Christ’s triumphant return. This is the same heavenly council before which Lucifer had accused God and His Son. Here are the representatives of the sinless worlds over which Satan has sought to establish his dominion. They are all eager to celebrate the triumph of their king. But wait … Christ raises His hand and “He waves them back. Not yet; He cannot now receive the coronet of glory and the royal robe. He enters into the presence of His Father. He points to His wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet; He lifts His hands, bearing the print of the nails. He points to the tokens of His triumph; He presents to God the wave sheaf, those raised with Him as representatives of that great multitude who shall come forth from the grave at His second coming.” The Desire of Ages, 834.

Now watch as Christ approaches closer to the Father. Imagine the joy as God beholds the family of earth that are now before Him who are resurrected with Christ, the trophies of the Saviour. Recall the pledge that the Father and His Son made before sin entered. Recall the covenant promise to redeem sinners. Listen once again to that cry on the cross when Christ cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Watch as Christ now presents the trophies to the Father with these words, “Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am” (John 17:24). Listen as the Pentecostal celebration takes place, when you hear the words of God that justice is satisfied. Satan is forever vanquished. At last Christ’s struggling children are now accepted by God, for where Christ is, there His church shall be. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10). Behold the Father’s arms as He encircles His Son.

“With joy unutterable, rulers and principalities and powers acknowledge the supremacy of the Prince of life. The angel host prostrate themselves before Him, while the glad shout fills all the courts of heaven, ‘Worthy, worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing’ (Revelation 5:12).” The Desire of Ages, 834.

Now the words of Christ have full assurance. My God is your God. My Father is your Father. Oh if we could only comprehend this when troubles come—that we have a Father we can go to. Never forget He has told us that He loves us as much as He loves our Savior, Jesus Christ. What kind of life would we live in this world if we really realize that we are now sons and daughters of the Almighty, for the family of earth is reunited with the family of God. This is why Revelation 5 states, “Every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, … heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (verse 13). Words cannot adequately express the joy that the family on earth is now united with the family of heaven. This Pentecost celebration should ring a bell every day in our lives. We belong to Jesus. We are His. We were bought. We were redeemed. We are sons and daughters of Divinity. God is our Father, for Pentecost had finally arrived.

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1–4).

This earthly celebration is important for us because the Savior’s sacrifice is now accepted by the universe. The gospel story is beyond question. Now the Holy Spirit fills the heart of each disciple on this earth with a spirit that leads God’s church to victory. When we speak of Pentecost our memories should recall Calvary’s atonement that was accepted, that the enemy of death itself has been defeated, that Christ has ascended with His risen saints giving us full assurance of a final resurrection soon to take place. Pentecost assures us that we are now the family of God. This, the joy of Pentecost, should be our daily experience. Every day let us remember the words of Jesus, “I ascend unto My Father, and your Father, to My God, and your God.”


For more than fifty years, Lawrence Nelson served the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a church pastor, evangelist, and then in Conference, Union, and General Conference leadership. When God laid upon him the responsibility to “tell it like it is” to alert the people how the church was leading them into the worldwide ecumenical movement, he was forbidden to preach in any church within the Oregon Conference. Though nothing could be found in his preaching that was contrary to the doctrines of the church, he was considered divisive. As a result, Keep the Faith Audio Tape Ministry was born. Elder Nelson passed to his rest on April 18, 2012.

Bible Study Guides-Justification by Faith – Jesus Christ Our Only Hope

October 21 – 27, 2018

Key Text

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Study Help: Selected Messages, Book 1, 226–228.


“Christ alone is exalted to be ‘a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.’ ‘Neither is there salvation in any other’ (Acts 5:31; 4:12).” Christ’s Object Lessons, 264.



  • What promise of salvation was given to Adam and Eve after they sinned? Genesis 3:15.

Note: “To Adam, the offering of the first sacrifice was a most painful ceremony. His hand must be raised to take life, which only God could give. It was the first time he had ever witnessed death, and he knew that had he been obedient to God, there would have been no death of man or beast. As he slew the innocent victim, he trembled at the thought that his sin must shed the blood of the spotless Lamb of God. This scene gave him a deeper and more vivid sense of the greatness of his transgression, which nothing but the death of God’s dear Son could expiate. And he marveled at the infinite goodness that would give such a ransom to save the guilty. A star of hope illumined the dark and terrible future and relieved it of utter desolation.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 68.

  • How does the prophet Isaiah explain this substitution? Isaiah 53:4, 5.

Note: “Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His.” The Desire of Ages, 25.



  • What is the condition of eternal life? Matthew 19:16, 17.

Note: “The condition of eternal life is now just what it always has been—just what it was in Paradise before the fall of our first parents—perfect obedience to the law of God, perfect righteousness. If eternal life were granted on any condition short of this, then the happiness of the whole universe would be imperiled. The way would be open for sin, with all its train of woe and misery, to be immortalized.” Steps to Christ, 62.

“Christ does not lessen the claims of the law. In unmistakable language He presents obedience to it as the condition of eternal life—the same condition that was required of Adam before his fall. The Lord expects no less of the soul now than He expected of man in Paradise, perfect obedience, unblemished righteousness. The requirement under the covenant of grace is just as broad as the requirement made in Eden—harmony with God’s law, which is holy, just, and good.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 391.

“As the Bible presents two laws, one changeless and eternal, the other provisional and temporary, so there are two covenants. The covenant of grace was first made with man in Eden, when after the Fall there was given a divine promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head. To all men this covenant offered pardon and the assisting grace of God for future obedience through faith in Christ. It also promised them eternal life on condition of fidelity to God’s law. Thus the patriarchs received the hope of salvation.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 370.

  • Since perfect obedience to the law of God is the condition of eternal life and all human beings have sinned, how can the descendants of Adam have eternal life? Roman 3:23–26; Romans 8:1–4?

Note: “It was possible for Adam, before the fall, to form a righteous character by obedience to God’s law. But he failed to do this, and because of his sin our natures are fallen and we cannot make ourselves righteous. Since we are sinful, unholy, we cannot perfectly obey the holy law. We have no righteousness of our own with which to meet the claims of the law of God. But Christ has made a way of escape for us. He lived on earth amid trials and temptations such as we have to meet. He lived a sinless life. He died for us, and now He offers to take our sins and give us His righteousness.” Steps to Christ, 62.



  • What assurance do we have through the merits of Christ? Romans 5:1–11; Philippians 3:7–11; Ephesians 1:4–11.

Note: “The world’s Redeemer, the only begotten Son of God, by His perfect obedience to the law, by His life and character, redeemed that which was lost in the fall, and made it possible for man to obey that holy law of righteousness which Adam transgressed. Christ did not exchange His divinity for humanity, but combined humanity with divinity; and in humanity He lived the law in behalf of the human family. The sins of every one who will receive Christ were set to His account, and He has fully satisfied the justice of God.” Special Testimonies on Education, 21.

“Because man fallen could not overcome Satan with his human strength, Christ came from the royal courts of Heaven to help him with His human and divine strength combined. Christ knew that Adam in Eden, with his superior advantages, might have withstood the temptations of Satan, and conquered him. He also knew that it was not possible for man, out of Eden, separated from the light and love of God since the fall, to resist the temptations of Satan in his own strength. In order to bring hope to man, and save him from complete ruin, He humbled Himself to take man’s nature, that, with His divine power combined with the human, He might reach man where he is. He obtains for the fallen sons and daughters of Adam that strength which it is impossible for them to gain for themselves, that in His name they might overcome the temptations of Satan.” The Review and Herald, August 18, 1874.

  • What was prophesied by Daniel in regard to the righteousness of Christ? Daniel 9:24.

Note: “In the prophecy of Daniel it was recorded of Christ that He shall ‘make reconciliation for iniquity, and … bring in everlasting righteousness’ (Daniel 9:24). Every soul may say: ‘By His perfect obedience He has satisfied the claims of the law, and my only hope is found in looking to Him as my substitute and surety, who obeyed the law perfectly for me. By faith in His merits I am free from the condemnation of the law. He clothes me with His righteousness, which answers all the demands of the law. I am complete in Him who brings in everlasting righteousness.’ ” Selected Messages, Book 1, 396.



  • Under what symbol did John the Baptist introduce Christ to the people? John 1:29.

Note: “John had been deeply moved as he saw Jesus bowed as a suppliant, pleading with tears for the approval of the Father. As the glory of God encircled Him, and the voice from heaven was heard, John recognized the token which God had promised. He knew that it was the world’s Redeemer whom he had baptized. The Holy Spirit rested upon him, and with outstretched hand pointing to Jesus, he cried, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29).” The Desire of Ages, 112.

  • What does the apostle Peter say about Jesus Christ as the redemptive sacrifice for sin? 1 Peter 1:18, 19.

Note: “ ‘In Him [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily’ (Colossians 2:9). Men need to understand that Deity suffered and sank under the agonies of Calvary. Yet Jesus Christ whom God gave for the ransom of the world purchased the church with His own blood. The Majesty of heaven was made to suffer at the hands of religious zealots, who claimed to be the most enlightened people upon the face of the earth.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 907.

“As the sinner looks upon the Saviour dying on Calvary, and realizes that the Sufferer is divine, he asks why, this great sacrifice was made; and the cross points to the holy law of God, which has been transgressed. The death of Christ is an unanswerable argument to the immutability and righteousness of the law. In prophesying of Christ, Isaiah says, ‘He will magnify the law, and make it honourable’ (Isaiah 42:21). The law has no power to pardon the evil-doer. Its office is to point out his defects, that he may realize his need of One who is mighty to save, realize his need of One who will become his substitute, his surety, his righteousness. Jesus meets the need of the sinner; for He has taken upon Him the sins of the transgressor. ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed’ (Isaiah 53:5). The Lord could have cut off the sinner, and utterly destroyed him; but the more costly plan was chosen. In His great love He provides hope for the hopeless, giving His only begotten Son to bear the sins of the world.” The Bible Echo, March 15, 1893.



  • What unanswerable question did Christ put to His enemies? John 8:46.

Note: “In His life on earth, Christ developed a perfect character, He rendered perfect obedience to His Father’s commandments. In coming to the world in human form, in becoming subject to the law, in revealing to men that He bore their sickness, their sorrow, their guilt, He did not become a sinner. Before the Pharisees He could say, ‘Which of you convinceth me of sin?’ (John 8:46). Not one stain of sin was found upon Him. He stood before the world the spotless Lamb of God.” The Youth’s Instructor, December 29, 1898.

  • How can we be saved? John 3:16–18.

Note: “How, then, are we to be saved? ‘As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,’ so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29). The light shining from the cross reveals the love of God. His love is drawing us to Himself. If we do not resist this drawing, we shall be led to the foot of the cross in repentance for the sins that have crucified the Saviour. Then the Spirit of God through faith produces a new life in the soul. The thoughts and desires are brought into obedience to the will of Christ. The heart, the mind, are created anew in the image of Him who works in us to subdue all things to Himself. Then the law of God is written in the mind and heart, and we can say with Christ, ‘I delight to do Thy will, O my God’ (Psalm 40:8).” The Desire of Ages, 175, 176.



1     Explain Isaiah 53:4, 5.

2    How does the Bible clarify human righteousness? Isaiah 64:6.

3    How can we present perfect obedience to the law of God?

4    What does the death of Christ on Calvary prove?

5    What challenge did Christ direct to His enemies?


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

Bible Study Guides – Behold, I Come Quickly! — A Glorious, Joy-Inspiring Hope

July 1 – 7

Key Text

“Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints” (Jude 14, last part).

Study Help: The Great Controversy, 299–303.


“To God’s pilgrim people, so long left to sojourn in ‘the region and shadow of death,’ a precious, joy-inspiring hope is given in the promise of His appearing, who is ‘the resurrection and the life,’ to ‘bring home again His banished’ (Matthew 4:16; John 11:25; 2 Samuel 14:13, last part).” The Great Controversy, 299.



  •  Very early in history, what was the seventh patriarch from Adam shown in vision—and how did it motivate him in a powerful way? Jude 14, 15.

Note: “By the spirit of prophecy He [God] carried him [Enoch] down through the generations that should live after the Flood, and showed him the great events connected with the second coming of Christ and the end of the world. …

“In prophetic vision he was instructed concerning the death of Christ, and was shown His coming in glory, attended by all the holy angels, to ransom His people from the grave. He also saw the corrupt state of the world when Christ should appear the second time—that there would be a boastful, presumptuous, self-willed generation, denying the only God and the Lord Jesus Christ, trampling upon the law, and despising the atonement. He saw the righteous crowned with glory and honor, and the wicked banished from the presence of the Lord, and destroyed by fire.

“Enoch became a preacher of righteousness, making known to the people what God had revealed to him.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 85, 86.



  •  Describe the way God’s people in Old Testament times expressed their hope in Christ’s second coming. Psalms 50:1–4; 96:11–13.

Note: “The coming of Christ to usher in the reign of righteousness has inspired the most sublime and impassioned utterances of the sacred writers. The poets and prophets of the Bible have dwelt upon it in words glowing with celestial fire.” The Great Controversy, 300.

  • With what exalted language did the prophet Habakkuk describe Jesus’ return? Habakkuk 3:3–6.
  • What comforting, encouraging promise is repeated to New Testament believers, and how should this influence us in a mighty way? Acts 1:10, 11.

Note: “The Saviour’s parting promise upon Olivet, that He would come again, lighted up the future for His disciples, filling their hearts with joy and hope that sorrow could not quench nor trials dim.” The Great Controversy, 302.

“[Acts 1:11 quoted.] Precious, indeed, was this promise to those sorrowing disciples, that they should again see Jesus who was greatly beloved by them all. Precious also is this promise to every true follower of Christ. None who truly love Jesus will be sorry that He is coming again. And as they approach nearer to the coming of the Son of man, the true lovers of Jesus will look forward with joyous hope, and will seek to get all ready to behold Him whom their souls loveth, who died to redeem them.

“Jesus is coming! But not to listen to the woes of mankind, and to hear the guilty sinner confess his sins, and to speak pardon to him; for every one’s case will then be decided for life or death. Those who have lived in sin will remain sinners forever. Those who have confessed their sins to Jesus in the sanctuary, have made Him their friend and have loved His appearing, will have pardon written for all their sins, and they, having purified their souls ‘in obeying the truth’ (1 Peter 1:22), will remain pure and holy forever.” The Youth’s Instructor, April 1, 1854.



  •  How can we gain courage from the hope expressed by Paul? Titus 2:11–13.

Note: “We are pilgrims and strangers who are waiting, hoping, and praying for that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. If we believe this and bring it into our practical life, what vigorous action would this faith and hope inspire; what fervent love one for another; what careful holy living for the glory of God; and in our respect for the recompense of the reward, what distinct lines of demarcation would be evidenced between us and the world.” Evangelism, 220.

“God designs that His people shall fix their eyes heavenward, looking for the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. While the attention of worldlings is turned to various enterprises, ours should be to the heavens; our faith should reach further and further into the glorious mysteries of the heavenly treasure, drawing the precious, divine rays of light from the heavenly sanctuary to shine in our hearts, as they shine upon the face of Jesus. …

“The desire of our Lord is that we should be watching, so that when He cometh and knocketh we may open to Him immediately.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 194, 195.

  • How will Jesus appear to those who are eagerly awaiting His return? Hebrews 9:28, last part.

Note: “Christ, at the close of His work as mediator, will appear ‘without sin unto salvation’ (Hebrews 9:28), to bless His waiting people with eternal life.” The Great Controversy, 485.

“Jesus is coming as He ascended into heaven, only with additional splendor. He is coming with the glory of His Father, and all the holy angels with Him, to escort Him on His way. Instead of the cruel crown of thorns to pierce His holy temples, a crown of dazzling glory will deck His sacred brow. He will not then appear, the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; but His countenance will shine brighter than the noonday sun. He will not wear a plain seamless coat, but a garment whiter than snow—of dazzling brightness.” The Youth’s Instructor, April 1, 1854.



  •  What message in Luther’s sermons resonated with the teaching of Paul with regard to the final-judgment hour? Hebrews 9:27.

Note: “Luther declared: ‘I persuade myself verily, that the day of judgment will not be absent full three hundred years. God will not, cannot, suffer this wicked world much longer.’ ‘The great day is drawing near in which the kingdom of abominations shall be overthrown.’ ” The Great Controversy, 303.

  • What conviction did other Reformers have, and what is likewise to be our main priority today? Revelation 16:15.

Note: “ ‘This aged world is not far from its end,’ said Melanchthon. Calvin bids Christians ‘not to hesitate, ardently desiring the day of Christ’s coming as of all events most auspicious’; and declares that ‘the whole family of the faithful will keep in view that day.’ ‘We must hunger after Christ, we must seek, contemplate,’ he says, ‘till the dawning of that great day, when our Lord will fully manifest the glory of His kingdom.’

“ ‘Has not the Lord Jesus carried up our flesh into heaven?’ said Knox, the Scotch Reformer, ‘and shall He not return? We know that He shall return, and that with expedition.’ Ridley and Latimer, who laid down their lives for the truth, looked in faith for the Lord’s coming. Ridley wrote: ‘The world without doubt—this I do believe, and therefore I say it—draws to an end. Let us with John, the servant of God, cry in our hearts unto our Saviour Christ, Come, Lord Jesus, come.’ ” The Great Controversy, 303.

“The return of Christ to our world will not be long delayed. Let this be the keynote of every message.

“The blessed hope of the second appearing of Christ, with its solemn realities, needs to be often presented to the people. Looking for the soon appearing of our Lord will lead us to regard earthly things as emptiness and nothingness. …

“It cannot now be said by the Lord’s servants, as it was by the prophet Daniel: ‘The time appointed was long’ (Daniel 10:1). It is now but a short time till the witnesses for God will have done their work in preparing the way of the Lord.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 406.



  •  Explain the responsibility of all who are serious about meeting the Master in peace when He returns. Amos 4:12, last part; Zephaniah 2:3.

Note: “Christ says, ‘I know thy works’ (Revelation 2:2). He knows whether you are living a life of perfection and if you love to talk and think of Him, and whether it is your joy to praise Him. Do we expect to get to heaven at last and join the heavenly choir? Just as we go into the grave we will come up as far as the character is concerned. … Now is the time for washing and ironing. It is the time to wash our robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb.

“When the lawyer came to Christ and asked, ‘What shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ the answer was, ‘Keep the commandments’ (Luke 10:25; Luke 18:18, 20). Here a positive question is asked by the lawyer, and he receives an answer just as positive.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 9, 262.

  • What will be the deep sentiment of all who wholeheartedly embrace Christ’s promise that He will come back soon? Revelation 22:20.

Note: “I want to honor Him that sitteth on the throne. I want my voice to echo and re-echo through the courts of heaven. Will you be there? Then you must educate your voice to praise Him on earth, and then you can join the heavenly choir and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. God help us, and fill us with all fullness and power, and then we can taste of the joys of the world to come.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, 128.



 1      What should I consider about the depth of my longing for Jesus’ return?

2      Why are the promises concerning Jesus’ return to provide us strength?

3      Why is it important to cultivate a real desire to share this truth with others?

4      How did the 16th century Reformers inspire faith in Christ’s return?

5      We are saved by faith, so what reveals genuine commitment in our faith?

The Christian’s Hope

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

(Words by Edward Mote)

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV.

This is likely the most well-known verse in the entire Bible, and well it should be. This one verse sums up the entire theme of the Bible. Yet, often it is quickly read or quoted without deep thought as to its meaning or intent. In this brief, succinct text is the powerful message and comprehensive sketch of the marvelous and beautiful covenant that God the Father made with His Son “from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:8 KJV.

“The central theme of the Bible, the theme about which every other in the whole book clusters, is the redemption plan, the restoration in the human soul of the image of God. From the first intimation of hope in the sentence pronounced in Eden to that last glorious promise of the Revelation, ‘They shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads’ (Revelation 22:4), the burden of every book and every passage of the Bible is the unfolding of this wondrous theme—man’s uplifting—the power of God, ‘which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (I Corinthians 15:57).

“He who grasps this thought has before him an infinite field for study. He has the key that will unlock to him the whole treasure house of God’s word.” Education, 125, 126. An understanding of this theme opens God’s treasure house.

Let’s add another thought. “There is but little benefit derived from a hasty reading of the Scriptures. One may read the whole Bible through and yet fail to see its beauty or comprehend its deep and hidden meaning. One passage studied until its significance is clear to the mind and its relation to the plan of salvation is evident, is of more value than the perusal of many chapters with no definite purpose in view and no positive instruction gained.” Steps to Christ, 90. Every book, every chapter, every passage of the Bible needs to be understood in light of the plan of salvation.

Hebrews 2:1–3 gives us a wonderful exhortation: “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard.”

But what necessitated this new covenant, this plan of salvation or redemption? We find the answer in the very beginning of the Bible where we read that after the creation of the world, after explicit, loving instruction from the Creator Himself, and His holy angels, man chose to distrust and disobey the voice of his Creator, his rightful Sovereign. Man deliberately chose to become a traitor to the kingdom and government of his divine King.

His disobedience left man in a terrible situation. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.’ And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.’ Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’ ” Genesis 3:7–13.

The immediate results of choosing to distrust and disobey the Sovereign Creator of the universe was that they found themselves naked, physically. Their robe of light was gone. To cover up their nakedness they sewed fig leaves together. From the perfect comfort and ease of a robe of light (nothing binding, poking, scratching, restricting) to wearing leaves sewn together! What a contrast. But even worse, they experienced a nakedness of soul! They felt a sense of guilt and sin.1

They experienced, for the first time, fear, the need to hide, terror, and dread of the future. And blame came into the picture. Where there had been perfect love, peace, joy, trust, thoughtfulness of the other, instead there was now protection of self at the expense of the other. Most remarkably, God Himself was blamed. With all these things came the inevitable result–separation: separation in the relationship between Adam and Eve, and even more dire, separation between man and His God, the Life-giver; resulting in the consequence of eternal death. Romans 6:23. Terrible, terrible consequences for one “little” sin. Just remember, God sees not as we see, and we need to see things as He sees them. This was not one “little” sin, as is abundantly clear from the serious results, and from what was necessary to correct the situation.

God was not content to leave man to the terrible consequences of this conscious choice. No. Praise His wonderful mercy, grace, and love.

God gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him may not die [the second, eternal death], but have eternal life (John 3:16). Remarkably, when the Lord God visited Adam and Eve in the evening of that fateful day, His immediate response to them was one of tender mercy; in spite of the fact that laid open before His eyes were the scenes of what it would cost Himself, the angelic host, the entire universe to atone for the sin just committed. When first God saw the guilty pair, after gaining from them an account of their sin, He imparted to them hope through a promise; He gave them His covenant. This promise, this covenant, is found in Genesis 3:15, which reads, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel.” Who is speaking, and to whom? Who are the parties involved and what happens to them? What does it mean?

If we go back one verse we find that God is speaking (in the presence of Adam and Eve) to the serpent, also known as the devil and Satan.2 God says to Satan that enmity (extreme hatred) would exist between himself and the woman, meaning between Satan and God’s true followers. God continues by saying between your seed (that is, Satan’s followers) and her Seed, singular Seed. Turning to Galatians 3:16, we find clearly stated in the Bible just who this singular, this one Seed, is: “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his Seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your Seed,’ that is, Christ.” So when God says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed,” that Seed, singular, is speaking of Christ. God continues, clarifying what this means. He says, “He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel.” God says, “He,” [that is, Christ], that Seed, “shall bruise your head.” Other translations use the word “crush.” Christ would “crush” the serpent’s head. We well know that when a head is crushed, death is the sure result. In some way, in the future, Christ would do something that would bring the sure result of death to Satan. Then God continues by saying that Satan would bruise His (Christ’s) heel.

Of course we know that in sacrificing His life upon Calvary, both of these conditions were met. Christ, by His death assured the final end of Satan. He would eventually crush his head. And in causing wicked men to crucify Christ, Satan did indeed bruise Christ’s heel. This wound, this death that looked so final, was simply a temporary wound. Christ was raised to victory and triumph over Satan, over death (eternal consequences for sin), over his power upon any who would choose to “believe on Him.” What a promise. What a merciful, loving God that would give this beacon of hope to the very ones that necessitated the tremendous sacrifice that He would have to make to give them this hope.

This was not an easy thing for the Father, or His Son. “Before the Father He pleaded in the sinner’s behalf, while the host of heaven awaited the result with an intensity of interest that words cannot express. Long continued was that mysterious communing—‘the counsel of peace’ (Zechariah 6:13) for the fallen sons of men. The plan of salvation had been laid before the creation of the earth; for Christ is ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ (Revelation 13:8); yet it was a struggle, even with the King of the universe, to yield up His Son to die for the guilty race.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 63. Oh, no. This was not an easy thing.

Why was it so very difficult for the Father to “yield up His Son to die for the guilty race?” Let’s consider two quotes from that beautiful book, The Desire of Ages. The first is found on page 131, and the second, page 49. After reading the first part of both quotes, please note particularly the last phrase of each, and then meditate on the true meaning of that phrase. “Never can the cost of our redemption be realized until the redeemed shall stand with the Redeemer before the throne of God. Then as the glories of the eternal home burst upon our enraptured senses we shall remember that Jesus left all this for us, that He not only became an exile from the heavenly courts, but for us took the risk of failure and eternal loss.”

“Satan in heaven had hated Christ for His position in the courts of God. He hated Him the more when he himself was dethroned. He hated Him who pledged Himself to redeem a race of sinners. Yet into the world where Satan claimed dominion God permitted His Son to come, a helpless babe, subject to the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet life’s peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss.”

Do you really comprehend it? For us He took the risk of failure. When you and I fail, we have a Saviour. We have a contingency plan. We have a way out. But Jesus, if Jesus had failed, that was it. There was no contingency plan for Him; no way out; no other option; no Plan B. And as if that isn’t enough, the last part of that phrase says, it would have been eternal loss. Never again would He have seen His Father. Never again would He have experienced the joys, the bliss, the perfection, the beauty of heaven or the worship and adoration of the heavenly hosts. For Him, the loss would have been final and eternal. Is it any wonder that it was a “struggle, even with the King of the universe, to yield up His Son to die for the guilty race”?

This is the covenant God and His Son Jesus made on our behalf. This is the incomprehensible plan of salvation provided on our behalf. “God was to be manifest in Christ, ‘reconciling the world unto Himself’ (II Corinthians 5:19). Man had become so degraded by sin that it was impossible for him, in himself, to come into harmony with Him whose nature is purity and goodness. But Christ, after having redeemed man from the condemnation of the law, could impart divine power to unite with human effort. Thus by repentance toward God and faith in Christ the fallen children of Adam might once more become ‘sons of God’ (I John 3:2).” Patriarchs and Prophets, 63, 64.

We have covered who made this covenant (God the Father and His Son, Jesus), when it was made (before the foundations of the earth) and to whom it was given and when, (Adam and Eve immediately after their sin). Now let us look at the conditions necessary to make this plan a reality, and what it cost God the Father, Jesus, the angelic host, and in fact the entire universe.3

As you read this list, please deeply contemplate the meaning of each.

  1. Christ would take upon Himself the guilt and shame of sin.
  2. It would separate God the Father and His Son.
  3. Christ would reach the depths of misery to rescue the human race.
  4. Man’s salvation cost their (the heavenly angels) Loved Commander unutterable woe.
  5. Jesus must leave heaven and come in contact with the degradation of earth.
  6. Jesus had to endure sorrow, shame, and death.
  7. Jesus would stand between the sinner and the penalty of sin.
  8. He did this even though few would receive Him as the Son of God.
  9. Jesus would leave His high position as the Majesty of heaven (humble Himself).
  10. Jesus would by His own experience know the sorrows and temptations of man.
  11. He would endure every insult and torture Satan could inspire.
  12. He must die the cruelest of deaths.
  13. Jesus must pass long hours of agony so terrible angels could not watch.
  14. Not only could the angels not watch, they were forbidden to interfere.
  15. He had to endure anguish of soul.
  16. He died from a broken heart.
  17. Jesus took the part of the sinner, lifted up on the cross.
  18. Jesus bore the weight of the sins of the whole world.
  19. Jesus took human nature on Himself.
  20. This plan involved all heaven. (Think, for example, of the change in the lives of the holy angels who now minister to those degraded and in every way inferior to themselves. Have you ever thought of what their lives were like before sin—what consumed their time?)

If Jesus were successful with carrying out this first part:

  1. He would redeem fallen man from the law and bring him again into harmony with heaven.
  2. God would take away our sin.
  3. `Christ would by His death ransom many.
  4. He would destroy Satan who had the power of death.
  5. Jesus would recover the kingdom that man had lost by sin.
  6. He would provide a way for the redeemed to inherit the kingdom and dwell therein forever.
  7. He would provide the means to blot out sin and sinners forever.
  8. The kingdom of glory, interrupted at the entrance of sin, would be restored at the eradication of Satan, of sin and of those who refuse to separate from sin.

If Jesus were not successful with carrying out this first part, the result would be eternal loss.

Lest we forget ourselves and think that Jesus’ death on the cross is all that is required, let’s think again of the tremendous price our salvation cost our God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Oh, how could we ever think we can do despite to His laws and love? Or even simply turn away? Though we in no way had anything to do with making this covenant, or in carrying out the requirements to make possible our salvation, we must realize that we do have a response to make, a response of devoted love.

The Bible tells us, “If you love Me …” John 14:15, and then states what we will do. Even using earthly standards, what an ungrateful wretch anyone would be if, ransomed at great cost from a kidnapping, they spat in the face of, slapped, or simply walked away from the one providing the ransom. With the kind of cost we have just outlined that God and Jesus paid for our ransom, is there any request or requirement on the part of God that could be considered too high for what They have done? No, no, a thousand times no.

Furthermore, we must remember that what is required is not based on “works.” Paul addresses this when he says, “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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8–10 KJV). What is required must be based on, and flow out of, a response of love for the great sacrifice that was made on our behalf. The response is one of total devotion to the One who made the ultimate sacrifice for you and for me.

Yet, what God asks of us is not difficult or unreasonable. He only asks two things. These two things are very simply outlined in two succinct and straightforward texts. First, I John 1:9 KJV tells us, “If we confess our sins.” Notice the word of condition here. If, a little two letter word, but full of import. If we confess, and only if we confess, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What a promise. He is not only faithful to forgive us, but He, because of His great sacrifice is also “just” in forgiving us, and He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Now to the second requirement, the second principle that God requires of us. (Just remember, God will not ask us to do anything that He will not give us the power to do.) Matthew 5:48 NIV: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Well, that is quite a statement. It not only says what to be, (perfect), but it even specifies how perfect, “as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Lest you doubt, thinking this is an isolated text, here are a few of many others. I John 2:1: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” I John 3:3: “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” I John 3:6–9: “No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

“If you love Me.” Friend, do you love your Redeemer? He says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15.

Paul says the same thing. “In view of your participation in the gospel [the plan of redemption, the covenant] from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:5, 6. This is a very clear teaching in the word of God. Jesus died that we might have the power to overcome Satan and sin.

Our God is a God of such love as words cannot even express. His heart of infinite love yearns over His wayward children. Consider these words of yearning: “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?” ’ Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel’ (Ezekiel 33:10, 11 NKJV)?” It is this heart of infinite love that conceived, implemented and carried out the conditions for our salvation.

To our God and His Son, this plan, this covenant was of such importance, He desired us to know and understand it to such a degree that it is the central theme throughout His entire Word as we read in the quote at the beginning from Education, 126.

Each individual on this earth is unique. Each processes thought differently. Different things spark our understanding. God understands our minds better than we ever could. And He so desires each and every one to be able to grasp the knowledge of the covenant that He gave it many names. Let’s explore some of the various names for this covenant.

The various names for the covenant will be in italics. Of course there are endless numbers of texts that refer to this covenant. Remember this covenant is the one great theme of the entire Bible so we can’t possibly list them all here. This list is intended to heighten the knowledge and awareness of this wonderful plan, and picture a number of the different titles or phrases by which it is known such that in your own personal studies they boldly stand out as you study.

Psalm 111:9 NKJV ­– “He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever: Holy and awesome is His name.”

Psalm 103:17, 18 NKJV – “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them.”

Psalm 25:10 NKJV – “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.”

Ezekiel 37:26 NKJV – “Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore.”

Ephesians 3:8–11 NKJV – “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Hebrews 9:12 NKJV – “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”

Hebrews 9:15 NKJV – “And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”

Revelation 14:6 NKJV – “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.”

Romans 1:16 NKJV – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

Colossians 1:6 NKJV – “Which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth.”

Colossians 1:13, 14 NKJV – “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

The Signs of the Times, June 21, 1899 – “The blood of the cross sealed the irrevocable covenant which ensures to our Redeemer the heathen for His inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession.”

The Signs of the Times, August 24, 1891 – “The terms of this oneness between God and man in the great covenant of redemption were arranged with Christ from all eternity. The covenant of grace was revealed to the patriarchs. The covenant made with Abraham [or Abrahamic Covenant] four hundred and thirty years before the law was spoken on Sinai was a covenant confirmed by God in Christ, the very same gospel which is preached to us. ‘The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. …’ (Galatians 3:8). The covenant of grace is not a new truth, for it existed in the mind of God from all eternity. This is why it is called the everlasting covenant. The plan of redemption was not conceived after the fall of man to cure the dreadful evil; the apostle Paul speaks of the gospel, the preaching of Jesus Christ, as ‘the revelation of the mystery, which hath been kept in silence through times eternal, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, is made known unto all the nations unto obedience of faith’(Romans 25, 26 RV).”

Exodus 19:5 NKJV – “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.”

In summary, “ ‘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). Oh, the mystery of redemption! the love of God for a world that did not love Him! Who can know the depths of that love which ‘passeth knowledge’? Through endless ages immortal minds, seeking to comprehend the mystery of that incomprehensible love, will wonder and adore.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 63, 64.

Anything other than this new covenant is simply sinking sand. The new covenant is our only true foundation, or solid rock in this time of storm. It is my hope and prayer that each one will do more than just “wonder and adore” but freely, ardently give your heart to our merciful, gracious, long-suffering Saviour, and through the power of His new covenant, fulfill His command, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

1 See Patriarchs and Prophets, 57, for a more complete narration of the consequences of their fall.

2 See Revelation 12:9; 20:2; II Corinthians 11:3

3 Patriarchs and Prophets, 63–70, for deeper study.

[All emphasis supplied.]

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New American Standard Bible.)

Brenda Douay is a staff member at Steps to Life. She may be contacted by email at: brendadouay@stepstolife.org.

Helplessness, Hopelessness … and Hope

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots?

Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.” Jeremiah 13:23 NJKV

“We have no hope but in Jesus. He alone can reach us with His hand to lift us up out of the depths of discouragement and hopelessness and place our feet upon the Rock. Although the human soul may cling to Jesus with all the desperate sense of his great need, Jesus will cling to the souls bought by His own blood with a firmer grasp than the sinner clings to Him.

“I [Ellen White] read this over and over again, for it is so full of assurance: ‘Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need’ (Hebrews 4:14–16). … What a Saviour we have–a risen Saviour, One who can save all who come unto Him!” That I May Know Him, 80.

“Through the goodness and mercy of Christ the sinner is to be restored to the divine favor. God in Christ is daily beseeching men to be reconciled to God. With outstretched arms He is ready to receive and welcome not only the sinner but the prodigal. His dying love, manifested on Calvary, is the sinner’s assurance of acceptance, peace, and love. Teach these things in the simplest form, that the sin-darkened soul may see the light shining from the cross of Calvary.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 178, 179.

What beautiful thoughts and truths are revealed in these words of inspiration! Dear friend, are you ever in need? Does your heart, does your soul ever cry out in despair? Do you feel and know your desperate condition as a sinner? Truly there are temporal or earthly needs, but our spiritual need is even greater, even deeper, and even more hopeless when left on our own. Listen to the way God describes the reality of our condition as revealed to Isaiah, the prophet: “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6. Does this leave room for the thought that there is any goodness in us? If our righteousness is as a filthy rag, what does that say for the rest of us? We need Jesus. We are helpless in and of ourselves. “We have no hope but in Jesus.”

I want to establish this fact beyond the shadow of a doubt not only theoretically, but as a deep, heart wrenching reality. Until we know the depth of our need, we will never receive the help we need. Too often we think ourselves relatively good. I’m OK, you’re OK kind of mentality. But that is not reality in God’s eyes. We are absolutely helpless to be good. As a leopard cannot change its spots, so we cannot change the spots of sin in our lives. Our righteousness is as filthy rags. “It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are evil, and we cannot change them. ‘Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.’ ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be’ (Job 14:4; Romans 8:7).” Steps to Christ, 18.

We know from Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death. Therefore, we are doomed if left to ourselves and we must recognize our need before we can get the help we so desperately need. Jesus repeatedly, during His ministry on earth, illustrated the basic fact that in order to get help you must feel a need.

“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” ’ ” Revelation 3:14–19.

Through John, Jesus sends a message to His church in Laodicea, the last of the churches mentioned in Revelation 2, revealing to them their true state, that of believing they are rich and increased with goods, when in reality they are described by God as being “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” He warns them that if they continue in this state He will vomit them out of His mouth. There is no hope for this people if they do not see their true condition. They will be vomited out of the mouth of God. The Laodiceans must feel their need before they can receive help.

In the gospel of Luke, Jesus tells a parable to a group of people who had a pretty good opinion of themselves. “He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’ ” Luke 18:9–14.

Only one of the men left the temple justified in the sight of God. It was not the one who felt no need. Rather it was the man who knew his wretched condition before God. Not one of us is “good” enough to stand before a righteous and holy God in our own goodness. The Bible describes all our righteousness as being filthy rags.

Jesus Himself also said in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Again we see that it is those that feel their need that will be filled. Countless Bible stories illustrate that it is only the one who knows his need that will receive help.

We have seen clearly through Inspiration that we have no hope in and of ourselves. We are totally helpless to change our wicked and evil natures; we must have Divine help. So the question might be asked, as it is stated in Steps to Christ, 23, “How shall a man be just with God? How shall the sinner be made righteous?”

What is the very first thing that needs to happen in this process of the sinner being made righteous? Continuing in Steps to Christ, 23: “How shall a man be just with God? How shall the sinner be made righteous? It is only through Christ that we can be brought into harmony with God, with holiness; but how are we to come to Christ? Many are asking the same question as did the multitude on the Day of Pentecost, when, convicted of sin, they cried out, ‘What shall we do?’ The first word of Peter’s answer was, ‘Repent’ (Acts 2:37, 38). At another time, shortly after, he said, ‘Repent … and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out’ (Acts 3:19).”

The first step is to repent, but what does it mean to repent? The Encarta Dictionary defines “repent” like this: “To recognize the wrong in something you have done and be sorry about it.” So in order to repent you need a conviction that you have done something wrong, and that you are sorry for.

We are going to learn just how depraved we are in our dreadful condition and ruin, and how good and merciful and loving our God really is. John 16:8 says that we have become so lost that we are not able to recognize our evilness and cannot even gain a conviction of sin on our own. “And when He [the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin.” If we already have a conviction, why would we be told that when the Holy Spirit comes He would convict the world? It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that a conviction of sin is experienced.

Once convicted of sin we are sorry about it and have true repentance. “Repentance includes sorrow for sin and a turning away from it. We shall not renounce sin unless we see its sinfulness; until we turn away from it in heart, there will be no real change in the life.

“There are many who fail to understand the true nature of repentance. Multitudes sorrow that they have sinned and even make an outward reformation because they fear that their wrongdoing will bring suffering upon themselves. But this is not repentance in the Bible sense.” Steps to Christ, 23.

To repent because of the impending consequences is not true repentance or true reform. True repentance means that “the sinner has a sense of the righteousness of Jehovah and feels the terror of appearing, in his own guilt and uncleanness, before the Searcher of hearts. He sees the love of God, the beauty of holiness, the joy of purity; he longs to be cleansed and to be restored to communion with Heaven.” Ibid., 24.

We see an example of true repentance in David after his sin with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah. “His repentance was sincere and deep. There was no effort to palliate [lesson the intensity or severity; attempt to make an offense seem less serious by giving excuses] his guilt; no desire to escape the judgment threatened, inspired his prayer. David saw the enormity of his transgression; he saw the defilement of his soul; he loathed his sin. It was not for pardon only that he prayed, but for purity of heart. He longed for the joy of holiness—to be restored to harmony and communion with God.” Ibid., 24, 25.

Listen to David’s plea to God. “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy loving-kindness: according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. … For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. … Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. … Create in me a clean heart, O God; And renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence; And take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold me with Thy free spirit. … Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of Thy righteousness (Psalm 51:1–14 KJV).” Ibid., 25.

Here we see true, deep, sincere repentance; not a repentance of making excuses, or of blaming someone else, or a desire to escape the punishment for his sin. But rather we see a sincere, heart-cry for restoration with His God. This is the meaning of true repentance.

Again though, as we study, we find how truly helpless we are of ourselves. “A repentance such as this, is beyond the reach of our own power to accomplish; it is obtained only from Christ, Who ascended up on high and has given gifts unto men.” Ibid., 25.

Again we read that this repentance can come only from Christ. “It is the virtue that goes forth from Christ, that leads to genuine repentance. Peter made the matter clear in his statement to the Israelites when he said, ‘Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins’ (Acts 5:31).” Ibid., 26. [Emphasis added.]

Jesus Himself also said, “ ‘I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me’ (John 12:32). Christ must be revealed to the sinner as the Saviour dying for the sins of the world; and as we behold the Lamb of God upon the cross of Calvary, the mystery of redemption begins to unfold to our minds and the goodness of God leads us to repentance. … And as Christ draws them to look upon His cross, to behold Him whom their sins have pierced, the commandment comes home to the conscience. The wickedness of their life, the deep-seated sin of the soul, is revealed to them. They begin to comprehend something of the righteousness of Christ, and exclaim, ‘What is sin, that it should require such a sacrifice for the redemption of its victim? Was all this love, all this suffering, all this humiliation, demanded, that we might not perish, but have everlasting life?’ ” Ibid., 26, 27. [Emphasis added.]

The answer is quite simply and profoundly, yes. What love, what devotion, what longing for righteousness this should engender in our hearts for the sacrifice that made possible our rescue from the doom of death required by our sin.

“One ray of the glory of God, one gleam of the purity of Christ, penetrating the soul, makes every spot of defilement painfully distinct, and lays bare the deformity and defects of the human character. It makes apparent the unhallowed desires, the infidelity of the heart, the impurity of the lips. The sinner’s acts of disloyalty in making void the law of God, are exposed to his sight, and his spirit is stricken and afflicted under the searching influence of the Spirit of God. He loathes himself as he views the pure, spotless character of Christ.” Ibid., 29.

So, the first step in this process of coming to Christ is conviction and repentance. If our conviction and repentance are sincere, what will follow is confession. Once we are convicted of wrongdoing and experience sorrow, there is an action that we need to take in order to be forgiven. 1 John 1:9 states this very clearly. It says: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The most important word in this text is just a little two letter word “if.” All the rest of the text hinges on that one word. And that word implies that we have a choice. We can choose to confess—or not. In order to gain forgiveness and cleansing we must confess. We will not be forgiven or cleansed unless we do confess. It seems that confession then is a very important step. So let’s see what God says about confession. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 KJV.

Steps to Christ 37, 38 gives us a very beautiful explanation of confession. “The conditions of obtaining mercy of God are simple and just and reasonable. The Lord does not require us to do some grievous thing in order that we may have the forgiveness of sin. We need not make long and wearisome pilgrimages, or perform painful penances, to commend our souls to the God of heaven or to expiate our transgression; but he that confesseth and forsaketh his sin shall have mercy.

“The apostle says, ‘Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed’ (James 5:16). Confess your sins to God, Who only can forgive them, and your faults to one another. If you have given offense to your friend or neighbor, you are to acknowledge your wrong, and it is his duty freely to forgive you. Then you are to seek the forgiveness of God, because the brother you have wounded is the property of God, and in injuring him you sinned against his Creator and Redeemer. The case is brought before the only true Mediator, our great High Priest, Who ‘was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,’ and Who is ‘touched with the feeling of our infirmities,’ and is able to cleanse from every stain of iniquity (Hebrews 4:15).

“Those who have not humbled their souls before God in acknowledging their guilt, have not yet fulfilled the first condition of acceptance. If we have not experienced that repentance which is not to be repented of, and have not with true humiliation of soul and brokenness of spirit confessed our sins, abhorring our iniquity, we have never truly sought for the forgiveness of sin; and if we have never sought, we have never found the peace of God. The only reason why we do not have remission of sins that are past is that we are not willing to humble our hearts and comply with the conditions of the word of truth. Explicit instruction is given concerning this matter. [Now what does this confession of sin involve?] Confession of sin, whether public or private, should be heartfelt [you must truly mean it] and freely expressed [it can’t be dragged out of you, forced, or coerced]. It is not to be urged from the sinner. It is not to be made in a flippant and careless way, or forced from those who have no realizing sense of the abhorrent character of sin. The confession that is the outpouring of the inmost soul finds its way to the God of infinite pity. The psalmist says, ‘The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit’ (Psalm 34:18).”

In order for our confession to be heard by God it must be 1) heartfelt, 2) freely expressed, 3) not made in a flippant or careless way, 4) not forced, 5) with a realization of the abhorrent character of sin, 6) be the outpouring of the inmost soul. This is true repentance as we saw with David.

“True confession is always of a specific character, and acknowledges particular sins. They may be of such a nature as to be brought before God only; they may be wrongs that should be confessed to individuals who have suffered injury through them; or they may be of a public character, and should then be as publicly confessed. But all confession should be definite and to the point, acknowledging the very sins of which you are guilty.” Ibid., 38. In addition here we find that true confession, 1) is of a specific character, 2) acknowledges particular sins, 3) may need to be kept only between you and God, 4) if the sin wronged or caused suffering to another, it should be confessed to that individual, 5) if the sin was public, it should be publicly confessed, 6) is definite, 7) to the point.

“Confession will not be acceptable to God without sincere repentance and reformation. There must be decided changes in the life; everything offensive to God must be put away. This will be the result of genuine sorrow for sin. The work that we have to do on our part is plainly set before us: ‘Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow’ (Isaiah 1:16, 17). ‘If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die’ (Ezekiel 33:15). Paul says, speaking of the work of repentance: ‘Ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter’ (II Corinthians 7:11).

“When sin has deadened the moral perceptions, the wrongdoer does not discern the defects of his character nor realize the enormity of the evil he has committed; and unless he yields to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit he remains in partial blindness to his sin. His confessions are not sincere and in earnest. To every acknowledgment of his guilt he adds an apology in excuse of his course, declaring that if it had not been for certain circumstances he would not have done this or that for which he is reproved. …

“The examples in God’s word of genuine repentance and humiliation reveal a spirit of confession in which there is no excuse for sin or attempt at self-justification. Paul did not seek to shield himself; he paints his sin in its darkest hue, not attempting to lessen his guilt. He says, ‘Many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities’ (Acts 26:10, 11). He does not hesitate to declare that ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief’ (I Timothy 1:15).

“The humble and broken heart, subdued by genuine repentance, will appreciate something of the love of God and the cost of Calvary; and as a son confesses to a loving father, so will the truly penitent bring all his sins before God. And it is written, ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (I John 1:9).” Ibid., 39–41.

Why are these things, conviction, repentance and confession so very important, and what do they have to do with the kingdom of glory? The kingdom of glory is the kingdom established by God, governed by His perfect law (Psalm 19:7). In this kingdom there is no sin. Sin cannot exist in God’s presence. Since sin has entered this world, in His mercy and love God provided a means for our restoration. It is called the plan of salvation.

The covenant that God made with His son Jesus “before the foundations of the earth” was simply “an arrangement for bringing men again into harmony with the divine will, placing them where they could obey God’s law.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 371. These steps, conviction, repentance and confession are the beginnings of our part in this great plan for our restoration. “It is man’s part to respond to His great love, by appropriating the great salvation the blessing of the Lord has made it possible for man to obtain.” Lift Him Up, 232.

These truths should awaken in us the most ardent, the most tender, the most devoted love for the One Who loved us so much that “He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

NKJV unless otherwise noted.

Brenda Douay is a staff member at Steps to Life. She may be contacted by email at: brendadouay@stepstolife.org.