Why is it so Difficult to Turn Around? Part 1

God’s work is going to be finished soon, and I want to be part of it when it finishes—do you? In this article, I want to study with you about what the Holy Spirit can do in our lives. The best title, though, that I could come up with is, “Why Is It so Difficult to Turn Around?” There are many people for whom the Holy Spirit cannot do anything in their lives, because they will not turn in the right direction.

Gospel Order

In the early church, when the Holy Spirit was poured out, 3,000 people were converted in a day; many more accepted Christ, and God added to their numbers daily. (Acts 2:41, 47.) How did someone become a member of the apostolic church? When the people heard that they were the ones that crucified Jesus, they were pricked in their hearts and they asked, “What shall we do?” Peter told them, “Repent and be baptized.” (Verses 36–38.) All through the New Testament baptism is the door into the church.

We need to recognize that when the Holy Spirit comes, He never does away with gospel order. God always works in an organized way. That is why, before we have a baptism, it is our custom to entertain a motion that the baptismal candidates be accepted into church membership, subject to their baptism. That is orderly procedure. The Holy Spirit does not work in a disorderly way; the Holy Spirit works in an orderly way. Things were done this way in the New Testament. If a person was baptized and professed faith in Jesus, then he or she became a member of the church. But, the Holy Spirit cannot do anything for you or for me unless we turn around.

Turn Around

In the Bible, the basic meanings of the Greek and Hebrew words that are translated “to be converted” or “to repent” simply are “to change your mind” or “to turn around.” The Holy Spirit cannot do anything for us if we do not change our minds or turn around. Isaiah 45:22 says, “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! Because I am God, and there is not anybody else.” In other words, there is no other God. The first word of the verse, in my Bible, is turn, “turn to Me.” If we do that, we will be saved. Some Bible versions say, “look to me;” it means the same thing.

From this verse, we can see that it is vital that we turn to the Lord and look to Him, so we can be saved. Remember, I have entitled this article, “Why Is It so Difficult to Turn Around?” It is difficult to turn around, because from our memory banks, we have things in our minds that we have believed for a long time. After we have believed something for a long time, we are just sure that it is the truth, even though it may not be. That is what happened to the Jews in the days of Jesus. There were certain things that they had known for so long that they were sure that they were the truth, but they were not.

Believing an Error

“The Jews refused to receive Christ, because He did not come in accordance with their expectations. The ideas of finite men were held as infallible, because hoary with age.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 64. They had believed it for so long that they thought it was infallible.

That would never happen again, would it? Read the next sentence: “This is the danger to which the church is now exposed.” Ibid. What is the danger to which we are exposed? That we have believed certain things for so long that we just know that is the way it is.

No matter how long we have believed an error, at some point in time, we are going to be forced to recognize it was not so. A lot of people are not going to recognize until the end of the millennium that what they believed was not truth, but they are going to recognize it then. Every error that an individual has believed, he or she is going to be forced, at some point, to acknowledge, but it will be too late someday to be saved, even though the error is acknowledged.

“This is the danger to which the church is now exposed—that the inventions of finite men shall mark out the precise way for the Holy Spirit to come.” Ibid., 64, 65. What is the danger? That we will get in our minds the way that the Holy Spirit has to come, and if the Holy Spirit does not come the way that we think, we will not accept it. Ellen White goes on to write, “Though they would not care to acknowledge it, some have already done this.” Ibid., 65. That is alarming!

In another statement, Mrs. White wrote: “They [ministers, church leaders] will not open their eyes to discern the fact that they have misinterpreted and misapplied the Scriptures, and have built up false theories, calling them fundamental doctrines of the faith.” Ibid., 70. What are these false theories called? They are called fundamental doctrines of faith. Who was building up these false theories and calling them fundamental doctrines of faith? The leading Seventh-day Adventist ministers. We would never do that again, would we?

Well, read the following statement: “Even Seventh-day Adventists are in danger of closing their eyes to truth as it is in Jesus, because it contradicts something which they have taken for granted as truth . . . .” Ibid. How interesting! We are in danger of closing our eyes to the truth. Why? Because the truth contradicts something that we think is the truth, and we have thought it was the truth for so long that we are sure we know.

Know for Sure

Galileo threatened with imprisonment Let me ask you a question just to make you think. How many things do you know for sure that are not so? You cannot answer that. Since you know it for sure, you do not know which things that you know for sure are not so. If you study history, you know the story of Galileo. In the 1600s, the whole world was sure that they knew the truth—that the earth was the stationary center of the universe. Through his studies and research, Galileo discovered this theory was false, but his newfound knowledge directly contradicted the long-standing geocentric view held by the Roman Catholic Church. Galileo was threatened with imprisonment if he did not recant. The trouble was, he was right, and the whole world was wrong. (“Galileo Galilei,” www.About.com, cited October 5, 2004.)

There are many stories in the Bible like that. The most famous one, of course, is the one of Noah. People thought that Noah could not be right, because everybody else believed something else. I have stated it before, and I will state it again: The truth is never, ever dependent on numbers. Never. If you were the only person in the whole world who knew that the seventh day is the Sabbath, if there was not another person in the whole world that knew that the seventh day is the Sabbath, it would still be the truth. The truth is the truth whether anyone believes it or not.

“Many things will appear distinctly as truth which will not be acceptable to those who think their own interpretations of the Scripture always right. Most decided changes will have to be made in regard to ideas which some have accepted as without a flaw.” Ibid., 76.

An Adventist minister wrote a letter to a lady recently, stating, “Everybody (all the Adventists) believes this except ,” and he named a heretic who did not believe it. Does that make it right, because everybody believes it? We can never determine what the truth is just by how many people believe something. In the days of Christ, if we had done that, we would have rejected Jesus. We would also have rejected John the Baptist, Elijah, Noah, the apostle Paul, Martin Luther, and James and Ellen White.

It is vital that we each have an open mind and pray, “Lord, if there is some area in my life where I need to be willing to change my thinking about something that I have known all my life but that evidence now shows it to not be so, turn me around.”


Did you know that error is more attractive than truth to the human mind? Did you know that truth is unpopular? Was truth unpopular when Jesus was here? It most certainly was. Why?

We may have trouble understanding why someone would not want to know and believe the truth. Have you ever given a Bible study to someone who told you, “I just want to know the truth”?

You say, “Well, good, let us study the truth.” You start to study with them, and after awhile they do not want to study anymore, because they found out something they did not want to hear. Have you ever seen that happen?

The fact of the matter is that error is more attractive to the human mind today than is truth. Ellen White gave an illustration as to why that is true. She said, “Truth was unpopular in Christ’s day. It is unpopular in our day. It has been unpopular ever since Satan first gave man a disrelish for it by presenting fables that lead to self-exaltation.” The Desire of Ages, 242. If space allowed, we could go through many, many, many of the false doctrines that are being proclaimed today, and we would see the connection between those false doctrines and self-exaltation. That is why the truth is unpopular. But it is not just self-exaltation; that is only one reason.

After we have believed something, if we are going to turn, the Lord says, turn, “Turn to Me and be saved.” Why is it so hard to turn? How many people have you met lately that like to acknowledge that they have been wrong? We each have what is known as pride of opinion. Please do not tell me that you are the only human being in the world that does not have that. That would be difficult for me to believe. This is a universal, human problem. We do not like to acknowledge that we may have been wrong on something, but remember, the devil has introduced myths and fables that lead to self-exaltation. It is humbling for us to admit that we have believed a fable.

This happens the most with fanaticism. One day, a long time ago, my brother Marshall and I were talking about fanaticism, and he told me, “The thing behind fanaticism is spiritual pride.” I had never considered that before, but after pondering that thought for a few years, I had to agree; that is exactly what it is.

If we know something that other people do not know, we have pride, because we have insider knowledge that not everybody has. We have the inside scoop. We feel better than those other poor folks who do not have the knowledge that we have. That is one of the driving forces of fanaticism. It leads to self-exaltation.

There are people who get rich telling other people that they will give them the inside scoop about this or that or something else. I get letters from such people all the time. The problem is, they always want money to give me the inside scoop, so I do not have the inside scoop about very much.

Who is in the most danger of getting involved in this special insider knowledge and fanaticism? Someone may say that it is the person that does not have very much education. That is 180 degrees wrong! The people that are in the most danger are people such as ministers, physicians, lawyers, and other people that are highly educated and very intelligent. Of all people, they are in the greatest danger of getting snagged into fanaticism and error. It is more attractive than the truth.

We Avoid Humiliation

We have already started to look at why error is more attractive than the truth and why it is difficult to turn around. We have seen that it is very difficult and humiliating for us to acknowledge that we have been wrong. It is hard to acknowledge that we have made mistakes. We are afraid that others will think less of us. Our pride is injured; we are humiliated. We desire to avoid this humiliation as long as possible. That is what leads to procrastination.

Have you noticed that, as you study the Bible with people and they come to understand some things that they need to change in their lives if they are going to come into harmony with the Bible, they put off making the changes? It is humiliating for them to acknowledge that they have been in error, so they stall as long as possible.

I worked with an evangelist one time who said, “Do not ever make the person that you are studying with the ‘goat’ of whatever you are talking about. If there is a problem, do not let them be responsible for it. Put it on somebody else, because they cannot take it.” It is difficult for us to turn around, because it is hard for us to acknowledge when we are wrong. It is hard to acknowledge our mistakes.

We do not want to be humiliated, so sometimes people do what the Jews did. The Jews started to resist the truth when John the Baptist was there, and then they resisted the truth more when Jesus came. After Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected from the dead, they could not refute it. You would think they would have turned then, but they did not. Have you ever wondered why they would not turn to the Lord when they had the evidence of the resurrection and the ascension? There were over 500 witnesses that could have said, “We saw Him, and we talked to Him.” (See 1 Corinthians 15:6.) Why did they not turn? Because they had developed a habit.

I am mentioning this, because I am frightened of Adventists developing a similar habit. If we develop a habit and promote and practice it long enough, it will become almost impossible for us to turn around. Our pride will be at stake. The time may come when we have resisted something so long that even if it is proven to us to be truth, we would continue to resist it.

Resisting Truth

“Every act of resistance makes it harder to yield. Being the leaders of the people, the priests and rulers felt it incumbent on them to defend the course they had taken. They must prove that they had been in the right. Having committed themselves in opposition to Christ, every act of resistance became an additional incentive to persist in the same path. The events of their past career of opposition are as precious treasures to be jealously guarded. And the hatred and malignity that inspired those acts are concentrated against the apostles.

“The spirit of God revealed its presence unto those who, irrespective of the fear or favor of men, declared the truth which had been committed to them. Under the demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power, the Jews saw their guilt in refusing the evidence that God had sent; but they would not yield their wicked resistance. Their obstinacy became more and more determined, and worked the ruin of their souls. It was not that they could not yield, for they could, yet would not. It was not alone that they had been guilty, and deserving of wrath, but that they armed themselves with the attributes of Satan, and determinedly continued to be opposed to God. Every day, in their refusal to repent, they took up their rebellion afresh.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 74. That is why it is difficult to turn around—all of those reasons.

How to Turn

Now let us look at the good news of how to turn around, and what will happen if we do turn around. Jehovah said to Moses, as recorded in Numbers 21:8, 9, “Make for you a fiery serpent, and put it upon a pole; and it shall be that everyone who has been bitten and shall look upon it will live. And Moses made a bronze serpent, and he set it upon [a pole], and it was, if anyone had been bitten by a snake among men, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” There was not any power in that bronze serpent to make anyone live, and he or she knew that. It was not the serpent; it was the fact that they chose to turn and to look at it. In other words, they chose to look in the right direction. They chose to look to the Lord, to turn and look toward Him. This Scripture applies to every person in this world, because we have all been stung. The Bible, in Revelation 12, talks about “that ancient serpent,” and we have all been stung by it. That serpent’s bite is lethal; it will kill us forever. Unless God’s divine power is exercised in our behalf, we are lost 100 percent of the time.

But what happened, when the serpent had stung the people, if they chose to look toward the bronze serpent? They lived! We do not need to make it complicated. That is what the Scripture says. There is Someone that, if we look to Him, can and will heal us from all the consequences of sin. He will take our sins away. If we do not turn to Him, He will not take our sins away; we will die forever.

I have noticed over and over again that the people who are involved in all kinds of sin are looked upon as the worst of human beings, yet they get saved, because they recognize that they have a problem. People who have not been involved in some kind of crime or other terrible sin—at least they do not think of what they do as a terrible sin—do not get saved, because they think they are pretty good already. They are like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time. The Pharisees today may say, “I have never robbed a bank.” An elderly man once told me that he had never told a lie! I thought, “Brother, I am not sure but what that is the biggest one you have told!”

Friend, if you say, “I have never lied; I have never robbed a bank; I have never taken any illicit drugs; I have never committed fornication; I have never done what other people do, so I am okay,” you might be the worst sinner in church, the worst sinner in the land! Jesus told the Pharisees that the prostitutes and the tax collectors would go into the kingdom before them, because they were victims of spiritual pride.

All Have Been Stung

The Bible teaches that the ancient serpent has stung every single human being. But there is Someone that can take all that away from us, and He will take it away, if we will look to Him. We cannot look to Him the way the Pharisees did. They never got saved. We have to look to Him the way the tax collector did, and say, “Lord, I need a Saviour. I need somebody to save me. I am in a pit that I cannot get out of.” The fact of the matter is that every single human being in the world is in a pit he cannot get out of without Jesus. The only difference is that some people know it, and some people do not know it. Sometimes the Lord has to let us get into big trouble, so we can find out our need.

The blood of Christ is so powerful that if we choose to trust in His merits, He is going to save us from every sin we have ever committed, and He is going to save us from the power of sin within. “As the high priest sprinkled the warm blood upon the mercy seat, while the fragrant cloud of incense ascended before God, so while we confess our sins and plead the efficacy of Christ’s atoning blood, our prayers are to ascend to heaven, fragrant with the merits of our Saviour’s character. Notwithstanding our unworthiness, we are ever to bear in mind that there is One that can take away sin and save the sinner.” Ibid., 92, 93. There is Someone—He can take our sins; He can save us, and He will do it, if we look to Him. The next sentence says, “Every sin acknowledged before God with a contrite heart, He will remove.” Ibid., 93. If we confess our sins before the Lord, He will take them away.

To be continued . . .

[Some Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]

Pastor Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: historic@stepstolife.org or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.


Bible Study Guides – Humility on Stilts?

December 27, 2009 – January 2, 2010

Key Text

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Revelation 3:19–21.

Study Help: The Review and Herald, April 19, 1892—Christ’s Instructions to His Followers; The Desire of Ages, 650 or entire chapter—A Servant of Servants.


“My brethren, try the wearing of Christ’s yoke. Come down from your spiritual stilts and practice the grace of humility. Put away every evil surmising and be willing to see the value of the gifts God has bestowed on your brethren.” Evangelism 102.

1 What is the first character attribute we need so that our humility is not on stilts? Matthew 5:3.

Note. “Fear lest you make a mistake, and bring dishonor upon the name of the Lord. Cry unto him, believing that he has power to save. This is the humility that we want; not a humility on stilts, parading itself before the eyes of men, that it may win praise for righteousness.” The Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 1, 1892.

2 While we see our helplessness, what are we to continually do? I Peter 5:6. Instead of feeding on the “husks of self-righteousness,” from whom should our nourishment come?

Note: “We are to surrender our hearts to God, that He may renew and sanctify us, and fit us for His heavenly court. We are not to wait for some special time, but today we are to give ourselves to Him, refusing to be the servants of sin. Do you imagine you can leave off sin a little at a time? Oh, leave the accursed thing at once! Hate the things that Christ hates, love the things that Christ loves. Has He not by His death and suffering made provision for your cleansing from sin? When we begin to realize that we are sinners, and fall on the Rock to be broken, the everlasting arms are placed about us, and we are brought close to the heart of Jesus. Then we shall be charmed with His loveliness, and disgusted with our own righteousness. We need to come close to the foot of the cross. The more we humble ourselves there, the more exalted will God’s love appear. The grace and righteousness of Christ will not avail for him who feels whole, for him who thinks he is reasonably good, who is contented with his own condition. There is no room for Christ in the heart of him who does not realize his need of divine light and aid.

“Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:3). There is fullness of grace in God, and we may have His spirit and power in large measure. Do not feed on the husks of self-righteousness, but go to the Lord. He has the best robe to put upon you, and His arms are open to receive. Christ will say, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him, and clothe him with a change of raiment’ [Zechariah 3:4].” Selected Messages, Book 1, 327, 328.

3 What are we to do with regard to our own salvation? Philippians 2:12.

Note: “The Lord has commanded us, ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling’ [Philippians 2:12]. But what does this mean? It means that you feel your necessity, that you are poor in spirit, that you rejoice with trembling. It means that you know that in the very words you utter you may make a mistake, that in the very best of your work self may be so mingled that your efforts may be valueless, that you realize that your efficiency is in Christ. Oh, let the cry of the soul continually be—‘Hangs my helpless soul on Thee.’ ” The Signs of the Times, May 16, 1892.

4 Because pride tends to get in the way, and represents self, which of the Ten Commandments do we break when we are on those high stilts? Exodus 20:3.

Note: “Idolaters are condemned by the word of God. Their folly consists in trusting in self for salvation, in bowing down to the works of their own hands. God classes as idolaters those who trust in their own wisdom, their own devising, depending for success on their riches and power, striving to strengthen themselves by alliance with men whom the world calls great, but who fail to discern the binding claims of His law.” The Review and Herald, March 15, 1906.

5 What is the difference between the Pharisee and the publican? Luke 18:10–14. What does it mean to “parade” yourself before men?

Note: “The Pharisee and the publican represent two great classes into which those who come to worship God are divided. Their first two representatives are found in the first two children that were born into the world. Cain thought himself righteous, and he came to God with a thank offering only. He made no confession of sin, and acknowledged no need of mercy. But Abel came with the blood that pointed to the Lamb of God. He came as a sinner, confessing himself lost; his only hope was the unmerited love of God. The Lord had respect to his offering, but to Cain and his offering He had not respect. The sense of need, the recognition of our poverty and sin, is the very first condition of acceptance with God. ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ Matthew 5:3.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 152.

“The humility that Jesus speaks of in the text is not a humility on stilts, as was the Pharisee’s, parading itself before the eyes of men, that his righteousness might be seen and praised of men. Humility is before honor.” The Signs of the Times, May 16, 1892.

6 Because the Pharisee’s humility was on stilts, what door was being blocked from being opened? Revelation 3:20.

Note: “Every warning, reproof, and entreaty in the Word of God, or through His delegated messengers, is a knock at the door of the heart; it is the voice of Jesus, asking for entrance. With every knock unheeded, your determination to open becomes weaker and weaker. If the voice of Jesus is not heeded at once, it becomes confused in the mind with a multitude of other voices, the world’s care and business engross the attention, and conviction dies away. The heart becomes less impressible, and lapses into a perilous unconsciousness of the shortness of time, and of the great eternity beyond.

“Many have so much rubbish piled up at the door of the heart that they cannot admit Jesus. Some have difficulties between themselves and their brethren to remove; others have evil tempers, pride, covetousness; with others, love of the world bars the entrance. All this must be taken away, before they can open the door and welcome the Saviour in.

“Our work is to open the door of the heart and let Jesus come in. He is knocking for entrance. … Will you open the door? Jesus is standing at the door of your heart. Let Him in, the heavenly Guest.” Our High Calling, 352.

7 If the stilts or pride is not removed, what will we miss out on if our humility is on stilts? Revelation 3:21.

Note: “Pride feels no need, and so it closes the heart against Christ and the infinite blessings He came to give. There is no room for Jesus in the heart of such a person. Those who are rich and honorable in their own eyes do not ask in faith, and receive the blessing of God. They feel that they are full; therefore they go away empty. Those who know that they cannot possibly save themselves, or of themselves do any righteous action, are the ones who appreciate the help that Christ can bestow. They are the poor in spirit, whom He declares to be blessed.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 7.

8 What kind of heart must we have before we can even be called a believer in Jesus? Psalm 51:17; Revelation 3:17, 18.

Note: “Faith and love are the gold tried in the fire. But with many the gold has become dim, and the rich treasure has been lost. The righteousness of Christ is to them as a robe unworn, a fountain untouched. To them it is said, ‘I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.’ Revelation 2:4, 5.

“ ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.’ Psalm 51:17. Man must be emptied of self before he can be, in the fullest sense, a believer in Jesus. When self is renounced, then the Lord can make man a new creature. New bottles can contain the new wine. The love of Christ will animate the believer with new life. In him who looks unto the Author and Finisher of our faith the character of Christ will be manifest.” The Desire of Ages, 280.

9 When you come down from your stilts, what will God do for you? Philippians 2:13.

Note: “How thankful we should be that we have a heavenly Intercessor. Jesus presents us to the Father robed in his righteousness. He pleads before God in our behalf. He says, ‘I have taken the sinner’s place. Look not upon this wayward child, but look on me. Look not upon his filthy garments, but look on my righteousness.’ When we are forgiven for our sins, when our filthy garments are taken away, then we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling; but we are not left to do the work alone; ‘for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.’ [Philippians 2:13.] God works and man works; and as this co-operation is maintained, the richest blessings will come upon those who labor together with God.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 1, 1892.

10 While on stilts there is no room except for self; but, Who will come to dwell with you when you do away with those stilts? Isaiah 57:15.

Note: “Those who are filled with self-esteem and self-love do not feel the need of a living, personal union with Christ. The heart that has not fallen on the Rock is proud of its wholeness. Men want a dignified religion. They desire to walk in a path wide enough to take in their own attributes. Their self-love, their love of popularity and love of praise, exclude the Saviour from their hearts, and without Him there is gloom and sadness. But Christ dwelling in the soul is a wellspring of joy. For all who receive Him, the very keynote of the word of God is rejoicing.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 162.

Additional Reading

“But as we come to feel our utter reliance upon Christ for salvation, are we to fold our hands and say, I have nothing to do, Jesus has done it all?—No; we are to put forth every energy, that we may become ‘partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust’ [II Peter 1:4]. We are to be overcomers, to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. We are to be continually watching, waiting, praying, and working. But do all that we may, yet we can do nothing to pay a ransom for our souls. But while we see our helplessness, we are to be continually looking unto Jesus, who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. We can do nothing to originate faith, for faith is the gift of God. Neither can we perfect it, for Christ is the Finisher of our faith. It is all of Christ.

“All the longing after a better life is from Christ, and is an evidence that he is drawing you to himself and that you are responding to his drawing power. You are to be as clay in the hands of the potter, and if you submit yourself to Christ, he will fashion you into a vessel unto honor, fit for the Master’s use. The only thing that stands in the way of the soul who is not fashioned after the divine Pattern is that he does not become poor in spirit; for he who is poor in spirit will look to a higher Source than himself, that he may obtain the grace which will make him rich unto God. While he will feel that he cannot originate anything, he will say, ‘The Lord is my helper’ [Hebrews 13:6]. …

“ ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ The humility that Jesus speaks of in the text is not a humility on stilts, as was the Pharisee’s, parading itself before the eyes of men, that his righteousness might be seen and praised of men. Humility is before honor. The apostle exhorts the followers of Christ: ‘Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up’ [James 4:10]. ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.’ Fear lest you shall make a mistake, and bring dishonor upon the name of the Lord. Cry unto him, believing that he has power to save. This is the humility that we want. We need a physician and restorer for our souls, and when we come unto Christ petitioning for his grace, the Comforter will breathe his words into our souls, ‘My peace give I unto you’ [John 14:27]. ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ We are to come as little children to God; and as we realize our poverty, we are not to tell it to men, but to God. Do not tell your weakness to those who can give you no strength. Tell it to God; for he will know just what to do for you.” The Signs of the Times, May 16, 1892.

“The heavenly Guest is standing at your door, while you are piling up obstructions to bar his entrance. Jesus is knocking through the prosperity he gives you. He loads you with blessings to test your fidelity, that they may flow out from you to others. Will you permit your selfishness to triumph? Will you squander God’s talents, and lose your soul through idolatrous love of the blessings he has given?” The Review and Herald, November 2, 1886.

Lesson Studies were prepared by Judy Hallingstad of the LandMarks staff. She can be contacted at judyhallingstad@stepstolife.org .

Bible Study Guides – A Vital Characteristic

April 3, 2011 – April 9, 2011

Key Text

“The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.” Proverbs 15:33.

Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 5, 253, 254; That I May Know Him, 65.


“Humility will be cultivated, because we shall feel our nothingness, and realize our dependence upon God.” The Youth’s Instructor, August 31, 1893.


  • In contrast to the anguish of those who reject God’s wisdom (Proverbs 1:20–32), what is promised to all who seek to maintain their heart in faithfulness? Proverbs 1:33.

Note: “In the work of heart-keeping we must be instant in prayer, unwearied in petitioning the throne of grace for assistance. Those who take the name of Christian should come to God in earnestness and humility, pleading for help. The Saviour has told us to pray without ceasing. The Christian can not always be in the position of prayer, but his thoughts and desires can always be upward. Our self-confidence would vanish, did we talk less and pray more.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1157.

  • How do we become eligible to gain heavenly wisdom? Proverbs 3:34; 4:1; 11:2.

Note: “Obtain an experimental knowledge of God by wearing the yoke of Christ. He gives wisdom to the meek and lowly, enabling them to judge of what is truth, bringing to light the why and wherefore, pointing out the result of certain actions. The Holy Spirit teaches the student of the Scriptures to judge all things by the standard of righteousness and truth and justice. The divine revelation supplies him with the knowledge that he needs.” Counsels on Health, 371.


  • What is the key to life’s happiness? Proverbs 3:5–8.

Note: “In our separation from God, in our pride and darkness, we are constantly seeking to elevate ourselves, and we forget that lowliness of mind is power. … Pride and self-importance, when compared with lowliness and humility, are indeed weakness. We are invited to learn of Him who was meek and lowly of heart; then we shall experience that rest and peace so much to be desired.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 477.

  • How can God use us most effectively? Proverbs 15:33; 16:3.

Note: “The Lord can use most effectually those who are most sensible of their own unworthiness and inefficiency. He will teach them to exercise the courage of faith. He will make them strong by uniting their weakness to his might, wise by connecting their ignorance with his wisdom.” The Signs of the Times, June 23, 1881.

  • What attitude are we to cultivate from our very youth? Ecclesiastes 11:9, 10; 12:1. How can we promote the grace of humility in the children and youth within our care?

Note: “One of the characteristics that should be especially cherished and cultivated in every child is that self-forgetfulness which imparts to the life such an unconscious grace. Of all excellences of character this is one of the most beautiful, and for every true lifework it is one of the qualifications most essential.

“Children need appreciation, sympathy, and encouragement, but care should be taken not to foster in them a love of praise. It is not wise to give them special notice, or to repeat before them their clever sayings. The parent or teacher who keeps in view the true ideal of character and the possibilities of achievement, cannot cherish or encourage self-sufficiency. He will not encourage in the youth the desire or effort to display their ability or proficiency. He who looks higher than himself will be humble; yet he will possess a dignity that is not abashed or disconcerted by outward display or human greatness.” Education, 237.


  • What is the secret of true strength? Proverbs 10:29; Isaiah 26:3, 4.

Note: “The Lord can work most effectually through those who are most sensible of their own insufficiency, and who will rely upon Him as their leader and source of strength. He will make them strong by uniting their weakness to His might, and wise by connecting their ignorance with His wisdom.

“If they would cherish true humility, the Lord could do much more for His people; but there are few who can be trusted with any large measure of responsibility or success without becoming self-confident and forgetful of their dependence upon God. This is why, in choosing the instruments for His work, the Lord passes by those whom the world honors as great, talented, and brilliant. They are too often proud and self-sufficient. They feel competent to act without counsel from God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 553, 554.

  • What is the main difference between the proud, self-sufficient person and the teachable one? Proverbs 9:8, 9. How are those who are teachable blessed? Proverbs 9:10.

Note: “The teachable and trusting ones, having a right purpose and a pure heart, need not wait for great occasions or for extraordinary abilities before they employ their powers. They should not stand irresolute, questioning, and fearing what the world will say or think of them. We are not to weary ourselves with anxious care, but to go on, quietly performing with faithfulness the work which God assigns us, and leaving the result wholly with him.

“If they but preserve their sincerity, their meekness, and humility, the poorest, weakest, and humblest of Christ’s followers, working in love, may start waves of blessing that shall go on widening and deepening, to refresh and bless the world. In order that they may do this, Christ must shine forth in their character. Let the daily life be a reflection of the life of Christ, and the testimony thus borne to the world will have a powerful influence. Heaven alone will reveal the fruits of an unselfish, holy life.” The Signs of the Times, June 23, 1881.


  • What thoughts should we keep in mind, especially during this present era of Laodicea—the antitypical Day of Atonement? Isaiah 53:3; Ecclesiastes 7:2–8; I Peter 5:5, 6.

Note: “Another great need of the church is humility—the deep humility of Christ. Believers need to see the necessity of working as Christ worked. O for that devotion and humility of heart that will lead God’s people to do those things that Christ has commanded, and still in all humility and truth say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done only that which it was our duty to do! But many, many are swelling with pride and importance, who in God’s estimation are lukewarm. Self-gratification is revealed because of a few things accomplished. Where do we hear the testimony of hearts that are broken in repentance and confession before God? Where do we see professed believers wearing the yoke of Christ? How little time is given to fervent prayer, the result of which would be the possession of a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price.” The Review and Herald, September 16, 1909.

  • Throughout history, what has caused both men and churches to either rise or fall? Proverbs 18:12. What must we realize in seeking to follow Jesus? Proverbs 29:23.

Note: “There is too much of self and too little of Jesus in the ministry of all denominations. The Lord uses humble men to proclaim His messages. Had Christ come in the majesty of a king, with the pomp which attends the great men of earth, many would have accepted Him. But Jesus of Nazareth did not dazzle the senses with a display of outward glory and make this the foundation of their reverence. He came as a humble man to be the Teacher and Exemplar as well as the Redeemer of the race. Had He encouraged pomp, had He come followed by a retinue of the great men of earth, how could He have taught humility? How could He have presented such burning truths as in His Sermon upon the Mount? His example was such as He wished all His followers to imitate.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 253.


  • How did Christ illustrate the life of God—and why was He so often misunderstood? Proverbs 13:9; 4:18, 19.

Note: “Our Saviour was the light of the world, but the world knew Him not. He was constantly employed in works of mercy, shedding light upon the pathway of all; yet He did not call upon those with whom He mingled to behold His unexampled virtue, His self-denial, self-sacrifice, and benevolence. The Jews did not admire such a life. They considered His religion worthless, because it did not accord with their standard of piety. They decided that Christ was not religious in spirit or character; for their religion consisted in display, in praying publicly, and in doing works of charity for effect. They trumpeted their good deeds, as do those who claim sanctification. They would have all understand that they are without sin. But the whole life of Christ was in direct contrast to this. He sought neither gain nor honor. His wonderful acts of healing were performed in as quiet a manner as possible, although He could not restrain the enthusiasm of those who were the recipients of His great blessings. Humility and meekness characterized His life. And it was because of His lowly walk and unassuming manners, which were in such marked contrast to their own, that the Pharisees would not accept Him.” The Sanctified Life, 14.

  • How should Christ’s life affect us? Proverbs 4:10–13.

Note: “If Christ had to make so great a sacrifice, if he had to endure such sufferings because of my sin, shall I not bow in humility, and regret that I have inflicted such grief upon his divine soul?” The Signs of the Times, October 28, 1889.

Review and Thought Questions

1 Name one essential key to diligent “heart-keeping.”

2 How can we improve the attitude of our children?

3 Why is a teachable spirit so desirable?

4 What is special about God’s true remnant in any age?

5 Why can the true believer expect to be misunderstood?

Copyright © 2002 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Editorial – Are We Humble Enough to be Saved, part 2

It was pride that caused the Jewish Nation to reject Christ

“The Jewish leaders discerned the truth that Christ presented, but they also realized that it meant the greatest humiliation to them to accept of the rich salvation brought to them through this humble teacher. To be saved through grace alone, to confess that in and of themselves they deserved no favors, was to acknowledge that which was contrary to their cherished ideas, and to lay in the dust their pride, vanity, and ambition. To receive the benediction that Christ pronounced, they saw that an entire change must take place in their lives, but this fact they did not relish.” Sabbath School Worker, August 1, 1895. See also Patriarchs and Prophets, 475.

Pride results in evil surmising and a spirit of accusation and criticism

“When the Spirit of God rests upon you, there will be no feeling of envy or jealousy in examining another’s position; there will be no spirit of accusation and criticism, such as Satan inspired in the hearts of the Jewish leaders against Christ. As Christ said to Nicodemus, so I say to you, ‘Ye must be born again.’ ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ You must have the divine mold before you can discern the sacred claims of the truth. Unless the teacher is a learner in the school of Christ, he is not fitted to teach others.” 1888 Materials, 534.

“Never have an idea that you know more than your brethren, but just keep humble. It was this spirit of evil surmising that brought all the weakness into the Jewish nation.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 11, 243.

It was pride that caused Adventism to reject the message that God sent to us in 1888

“The conference at Minneapolis was the golden opportunity for all present to humble the heart before God, and to welcome Jesus as the great Instructor; but the stand taken by some at that meeting proved their ruin. They have never seen clearly since, and they never will; for they persistently cherish the spirit that prevailed there, a wicked criticizing, denunciatory spirit…They will be asked in the Judgment, ‘Who required this at your hand, to rise up against the message and the messengers I sent to My people with light, with grace and power? Why have you lifted up your souls against God? Why did you not humble your hearts before God, and repent of your rejection of the message of mercy He has sent you?’ The Lord has not inspired these brethren to resist the truth. He designed that they should be baptized with the Holy Spirit, and be living channels of light to communicate the light to our world, in clear, bright rays.” Paulson Collection, 154.

“From this meeting decisions will be made for life or for death; not that anyone needs to perish, but spiritual pride and self-confidence will close the door that Jesus and His Holy Spirit’s power shall not be admitted. They shall have another chance to be undeceived, and to repent, confess their sins, and come to Christ and be converted that He shall heal them.’”1888 Materials, 277.

“If all the brethren at Minneapolis had been seeking the Lord with humility of mind, there would have been no conflict, no clashing, no uncourteous words, nothing unwise advanced. But men who were capable of being entrusted with great interests, desired to reveal their executive ability in guiding the vessel through the breakers to the harbor. They did not wait for divine guidance.” 1888 Materials, 1229.

Those who stumbled at Minneapolis had to overcome their pride or they could not be saved. Do you believe that God is the same in His requirements today? The most basic problems in Minneapolis were not theology. The most basic problems today are not theology. “Only by pride comes contention.” Proverbs 13:10. Even if our theology is all right if the condition of our heart is wrong then we have something to overcome—the old man must be crucified, a new creation must take place, a contrite and humble spirit must develop among us or we will be just as guilty as those in 1888 whether our theology is right or not.

Jockeying for position, pride of opinion, the war of words, the strife of tongues, the attempt to prove that we are just dealing with issues when the facts reveal that it is personalities that are being dealt with even more—all of this and more is evidence for our need to humble ourselves before God in dust and ashes and “pray to him, morning, noon, and night, to give you a meek and humble spirit, a mild temper, an affectionate disposition.” Youth’s Instructor, January 1, 1856.

Bible Study Guides – Our Deep Need for Educational Reform

May 6, 2012 – May 12, 2012

Key Text

“The Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6.

Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 6, 126–133.


“John the Baptist received a training for his life work, not in the schools of the rabbis, but in the wilderness, alone with God and His Word.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, 394.


  • What is God’s mandate for all human beings who accept the Three Angels’ Messages? Revelation 14:6–12; I Peter 1:12.

Note: “In the book of Revelation we read of a special work that God desires to have His people do in these last days. He has revealed His law and shown us the truth for this time. This truth is constantly unfolding, and God designs that we shall be intelligent in regard to it, that we may be able to distinguish between right and wrong, between righteousness and unrighteousness.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 127, 128.

“There are many precious truths contained in the Word of God, but it is ‘present truth’ that the flock needs now.” Early Writings, 63. [Emphasis author’s.]

  • Why is studying prophecy vital to our education? II Peter 1:19.

Note: “The third angel’s message, the great testing truth for this time, is to be taught in all our institutions. God designs that through them this special warning shall be given, and bright beams of light shall shine to the world. Time is short. The perils of the last days are upon us, and we should watch and pray, and study and heed the lessons that are given us in the books of Daniel and the Revelation. …

“These things concern our eternal welfare, and teachers and students should give more attention to them.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 128, 129.


  • How early in life were the educational goals for John the Baptist established? Luke 1:13–17, 24, 25, 39–41. How did he respond?

Note: “John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, received his early training from his parents. The greater portion of his life was spent in the wilderness, that he might not be influenced by beholding the lax piety of the priests and rabbis or by learning their maxims and traditions, through which right principles were perverted and belittled. … It was John’s choice to forgo the enjoyments and luxuries of city life for the stern discipline of the wilderness. Here his surroundings were favorable to habits of simplicity and self-denial. Uninterrupted by the clamor of the world, he could here study the lessons of nature, of revelation, and of providence. The words of the angel to Zacharias had been often repeated to John by his God-fearing parents. From his childhood his mission had been kept before him, and he accepted the holy trust. To him the solitude of the desert was a welcome escape from the society in which suspicion, unbelief, and impurity had become well-nigh all-pervading. He distrusted his own power to withstand temptation and shrank from constant contact with sin lest he should lose the sense of its exceeding sinfulness.

“But the life of John was not spent in idleness, in ascetic gloom, or in selfish isolation. From time to time he went forth to mingle with men, and he was ever an interested observer of what was passing in the world. From his quiet retreat he watched the unfolding of events. With vision illuminated by the Divine Spirit, he studied the characters of men, that he might understand how to reach their hearts with the message of heaven.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 221, 222.

“He [John] did not live thus [in the wilderness] for any selfish purpose. In his time the Jewish religious teachers had well-nigh lost all spiritual life. Nothing in their teaching stood out clear and convincing. They had so inclosed themselves within themselves, and were regarded as possessing such sanctity, that none of the people disputed what they said or taught.

“But the life of John was a special life; and it was the will of God that he should separate from the busy haunts of men, and learn his life lessons from nature and from nature’s God, receiving his impressions from Him alone.” The Signs of the Times, February 18, 1897.


  • As education is training for a lifework, what is the underlying lifework of all who accept the Three Angels’ Messages, regardless of the occupation they pursue? Matthew 3:1–3; Luke 11:1, last part.

Note: “What is our work? The same as that given to John the Baptist.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 9.

“The same spirit that actuated Jesus, controlled the mind of John the Baptist. Their testimony corresponded; their lives were given to the same reformatory work. … John, by his unselfish joy in the successful ministry of Jesus, presents to the world the truest type of nobility ever exhibited by mortal man.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, 138, 139.

  • Why should we be inspired by the example of Brother Shireman whom the Lord’s messenger saw fit to mention by name? Proverbs 2:6.

Note: “There is one here in this congregation, Shireman by name, who has established church after church; and how did he establish them? He went into a field where there was nothing. He was a carpenter. He would build his house, and then call in the people, and hold Bible readings. There he would work till a good, strong church was established. Then did he stand and say, Look at the good work I have done? No; he would go to another place, and repeat the same thing. This he did over and over again.

“Where did this brother get his education? I will tell you. He got it in the same manner that John the Baptist got his education, when he went into the desert and into the wilderness. The priests and rulers were so troubled and distressed because John did not walk according to the old, regular order in getting his education. Yet Jesus said there was not a greater prophet than John the Baptist.

“We do not say that you should go nowhere or anywhere to get an education, but we do say that every man is not dependent upon a school or college education to do work for the Master, if he is converted to God, soul, body, and spirit. He is in connection with the great Teacher, the greatest Missionary that the world ever knew.” The General Conference Bulletin, April 8, 1901.


  • What is the most effective protection against sin? Psalm 119:11.

Note: “The urgent necessities that are making themselves felt in this time demand a constant education in the word of God. This is present truth. Throughout the world there should be a reform in Bible study, for it is needed now as never before.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 131.

  • Explain the depth of the Bible’s role in true education. Proverbs 9:10.

Note: “The great work of life is character-building; and a knowledge of God is the foundation of all true education.” Christian Education, 64, 65.

“We commend to every student the Book of books as the grandest study for the human intelligence, as the education essential for this life, and for eternal life.” Special Testimonies on Education, 217.

  • How are we blessed by studying and obeying God’s word? Jeremiah 15:16; John 6:63; II Timothy 3:16, 17.

Note: “The word must be searched in order to purify and prepare those who receive it to become members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 132.

“As they [God’s hungering, thirsting people] feed upon His word, they find that it is spirit and life. The word destroys the natural, earthly nature, and imparts a new life in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes to the soul as a Comforter. By the transforming agency of His grace, the image of God is reproduced in the disciple; he becomes a new creature. Love takes the place of hatred, and the heart receives the divine similitude. This is what it means to live ‘by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God’ [Matthew 4:4]. This is eating the Bread that comes down from heaven.” The Desire of Ages, 391.


  • When we are truly educated, what fruits are seen? James 3:17.

Note: “While the gospel constantly sanctifies and ennobles the receiver, it will never lead us to cherish selfish and exalted ideas of our own ability or merit in contrast with that of others. It never nurtures pride and self-esteem. Every soul who sees Christ as He is, will abase self. He will exalt the Saviour as the ‘chiefest among ten thousand,’ the One ‘altogether lovely’ [Song of Solomon 5:10, 16].

“The most essential, enduring education is that which will develop the nobler qualities, which will encourage a spirit of universal kindliness, leading the youth to think no evil of any one lest they shall misjudge motives and misinterpret words and actions. The time devoted to this kind of instruction will yield fruit to everlasting life.” Christian Education, 201, 202.

“The essence of true politeness is consideration for others. The essential, enduring education is that which broadens the sympathies and encourages universal kindliness. That so-called culture which does not make a youth deferential toward his parents, appreciative of their excellences, forbearing toward their defects, and helpful to their necessities; which does not make him considerate and tender, generous and helpful toward the young, the old, and the unfortunate, and courteous toward all, is a failure.” Education, 241.

  • What should educators ever keep in mind? II Corinthians 3:5.

Note: “We want more of God and less of self. When we get the education that is needful, we should impart it.” The General Conference Bulletin, April 8, 1901.


1 Why is our era distinct in what needs to be taught in education?

2 What should we learn from the education of John the Baptist?

3 How did the attitude of Brother Shireman reveal his higher education?

4 Why is the Bible the most effective textbook we can have?

5 Instead of exaltation by degrees, what does God honor in education?

© 2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Editorial – Are We Humble Enough to be Saved, part 1

The Lord saves such as be of a contrite ( Humble ) spirit. Psalm 34.

None of us will be saved unless we humble ourselves before God.

“All who are finally saved will in this life humble themselves before God, and seek to do His will. Thus the influence that goes forth from them will be of the character that makes for peace, that strengthens piety, that increases spiritual efficiency.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 458.

Humility is one of the great lessons of the life of Christ from the stable to Calvary. It is a focal point of His teachings.

“In order that man might be in partnership with the great firm of heaven, Christ’s lessons, from the beginning to the close of His life, taught humility before God. This would lead man to a love for his brother,—a spirit of love and forbearance toward all for whom Christ has died. Genuine humility is expressed in the words: ‘Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, and of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.’ Humility is the lesson which Jesus has given in all His teachings all through His ministry, by both precept and example. He raised this precious attribute out of the dust in which it had been trodden, and clothed it with the garments of His own righteousness.” Review and Herald, June 21, 1898.

When we are humble we will be removed from a spirit to criticize our brethren.

“God calls upon His people to be converted, to become humble as a little child, that they may have childlike faith. Those who have grown hard and cold and unimpressionable, may have the form of godliness but they have lost the virtue that keeps the mind humble. ‘Blessed are the poor in the spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ Remove from the heart that criticizing spirit. God hates it. Those who yield to this spirit have given themselves up to do Satan’s work, and he stands by exulting.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 15, 166.

Humility will keep us from murmuring and complaining.

“‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’” These are not murmurers and complainers, but those who are content with their condition and surroundings in life. They do not cherish the feeling that they deserve a better position than that which Providence has assigned them, but manifest a spirit of gratitude for every favor bestowed upon them. Every proud thought and exalted feeling is banished.” Reflecting Christ, 61.

Humility will keep us from becoming hard-hearted.

“Unless we do cultivate humility in view of our own deficiencies, there will be developed in us an element of hard-heartedness akin to that in the character of Satan. Criticism and coldness and disunion in the church will undo the work of the Holy Spirit of God.” Signs of the Times, May 18, 1888.

Humility will enable us to receive any rebuke that God sends us.

“God sends to the church the greatest blessing he can give them in a knowledge of themselves. Satan is alluring them to sin that they may be lost; God gives a clear presentation of their sins that they may repent and be saved. The greatest danger of the world is, that sin does not appear sinful. This is the greatest evil existing in the church; sin is glossed over with self-complacency. Blessed indeed are they who possess a sensitive conscience; who can weep and mourn over their spiritual poverty and wanderings from God; who are poor in spirit and can receive the reproof God sends them; and who, with confessions and brokenness of heart, will take their places, all penitent, in humiliation at the cross of Christ. God knows it is good for men to tread a hard and humble path, to encounter difficulties, to experience disappointments, and to suffer affliction. Faith strengthens by coming in conflict with doubt, and resisting unbelief through the strength of Jesus.” Signs of the Times, June 15, 1876.

When humble we can endure the murmuring, reproach and provocation of others without retaliation.

“Consider the life of Moses. Meekness in the midst of murmuring, reproach, and provocation constituted the brightest trait in his character. Daniel was of a humble spirit. Although he was surrounded with distrust and suspicion, and his enemies laid a snare for his life, yet he never deviated from principle. He maintained a serene and cheerful trust in God. Above all, let the life of Christ teach you. When reviled, He reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not. This lesson you must learn, or you will never enter heaven.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 368.

The End


These are not pleasant, but they are very profitable. They give us true views of ourselves. They help us to find our right place. They serve to show what manner of spirit we are of. Some persons profess to serve God, when a secret desire for promotion is the mainspring of their zeal in His cause. How much better that such persons should meet with humiliating disappointments than that they should be apparently successful. The effect will be to cause a decided change. They will discover the baseness of the motives that have prompted them to activity in the cause of Christ, or if they do not, they will forsake that course in disgust at their failure to procure promotion. Not so with those who love our Lord in sincerity. The humblest place in the house of God will be by them preferred to the highest exaltation that the service of sin, of self, and of the world, can give.

Welcome to humiliations. They are like our Lord’s crown of thorns, painful to wear, and sure to be the occasion of many blows upon our heads from the reeds in the hands of our enemies. But they are a mark of honor, as well as abasement. They indicate our willingness to suffer with Christ. They evince our willingness to bear the cross of Christ. They are a part of our badge of discipleship. Faith esteems them, though at present sharp and painful, as of more value than all the treasures of earth; for it looks forward through the telescope of God’s word to the time when the crown of thorns shall be changed into a crown of inexpressible loveliness, and of priceless value. Then every thorn will become a ray of glory, and every pang of anguish be changed to joy unutterable. Welcome the cross of Christ! Welcome the shame, the pain, and the humiliation! Welcome the humble life of Christ’s disciples, and welcome at last their infinite reward!

The Signs of the Times, January 29, 1880.

Bible Study Guides – Our Value in Christ

December 7, 2014 – December 13, 2014

Key Text

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” II Corinthians 13:5.

Study Help: Steps to Christ, 93–104.


“In the light of the cross alone can the true value of the human soul be estimated.” The Acts of the Apostles, 273.


  • Against what must we be continually on guard to avoid falling from grace? Jeremiah 17:9, 10; Proverbs 16:18; I Corinthians 10:12.

Note: “Christ has provided means whereby our whole life may be an unbroken communion with Himself; but the sense of Christ’s abiding presence can come only through living faith. …

“Let all contemplate the completeness it is their privilege to have and ask themselves the question, Is my will submerged in Christ’s will? Is the fullness and richness of the Living Vine—His goodness, His mercy, His compassion and love—seen in my life and character?” In Heavenly Places, 56.

  • Give an example of a proper self-view and of submitting to the will of Jesus. I Corinthians 9:26, 27; 15:30, 31; Mark 7:14–23.

Note: “The essential work is to conform the tastes, the appetite, the passions, the motives, the desires, to the great moral standard of righteousness. The work must begin at the heart. That must be pure, wholly conformed to Christ’s will, else some master passion, or some habit or defect, will become a power to destroy. God will accept of nothing short of the whole heart.” Christian Education, 51.


  • What could likely be hindering our ability to serve God? Matthew 18:1–4.

Note: “Self-will in us must die; Christ’s will alone must be obeyed. The soldier in Christ’s army must learn to endure hardness, deny self, take up the cross, and follow where His Captain leads the way. There are many things to do which are trying to human nature, and painful to flesh and blood. This work of self-subduing requires determined, continuous effort. In fighting the good fight of faith, obtaining precious victories, we are laying hold of eternal life.” The Youth’s Instructor, December 22, 1886.

“Jesus gave His life for the life of the world, and He places an infinite value upon man. He desires that man shall appreciate himself, and consider his future well-being. … If the spiritual vision is clear, unseen realities will be looked upon in their true value.” Counsels on Stewardship, 136.

  • What needs to change that we may have a right relationship with God? Matthew 6:24; Proverbs 8:13.

Note: “Naturally we are self-centered and opinionated. But when we learn the lessons that Christ desires to teach us, we become partakers of His nature; henceforth we live His life. The wonderful example of Christ, the matchless tenderness with which He entered into the feelings of others, weeping with those who wept, rejoicing with those who rejoiced, must have a deep influence upon the character of all who follow Him in sincerity. By kindly words and acts they will try to make the path easy for weary feet.” The Ministry of Healing, 157, 158.

“There are some who think that in matters of practical Christianity, they have a superior intelligence. Whether or not this is so, will be demonstrated by the life-actions. Are they self-centered, or are they moved by the Holy Spirit of truth and righteousness? Religion is to become a living, active principle. The one all-absorbing motive of the true Christian is to give an expression of the goodness and love of Christ.” Loma Linda Messages, 318.


  • In seeking God, what should we keep in mind? James 4:6–10; Luke 17:10.

Note: “Jesus is officiating in the presence of God, offering up His shed blood, as it had been a lamb slain. Jesus presents the oblation offered for every offense and every shortcoming of the sinner.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 344.

“When Christ died upon the cross of Calvary, the new and living way was thrown open to Jew and Gentile alike.

“Angels rejoiced as the Saviour cried, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30)! The great plan of redemption was to be carried out. Through a life of obedience, the sons of Adam might be exalted finally to the presence of God.” The Story of Jesus, 147.

“Perfection through our own good works we can never attain. The soul who sees Jesus by faith, repudiates his own righteousness. He sees himself as incomplete, his repentance insufficient, his strongest faith but feebleness, his most costly sacrifice as meager, and he sinks in humility at the foot of the cross. But a voice speaks to him from the oracles of God’s Word. In amazement he hears the message, ‘Ye are complete in Him’ (Colossians 2:10). Now all is at rest in his soul. No longer must he strive to find some worthiness in himself, some meritorious deed by which to gain the favor of God.” Faith and Works, 107.

  • What must we always remember about salvation? I Corinthians 1:27–31.

Note: “The science of salvation is to be the burden of every sermon, the theme of every song. Let it be poured forth in every supplication. Let nothing be brought into the preaching of the Word to supplement Christ, the Word and power of God. Let His name, the only name given under heaven whereby we may be saved, be exalted in every discourse, and from Sabbath to Sabbath let the trumpet of the watchmen give a certain sound. Christ is the science and eloquence of the gospel, and His ministers are to hold forth the Word of life, presenting hope to the penitent, peace to the troubled and desponding, and grace and completeness and strength to the believing.” The Voice in Speech and Song, 337.


  • What are we commanded to do with regard to our own spiritual condition? Galatians 6:4; II Corinthians 13:5.

Note: “A great many are likely to be deceived in regard to their spiritual condition. In Christ we shall have the victory. In Him we have a perfect Model. While He hated sin with a perfect hatred, He could weep over the sinner. He possessed the divine nature, while He had the humility of a little child. He had in His character that which we must have in our characters, undeviating perseverance in the path of duty, from which no obstacles or dangers could divert Him, while His heart was so full of compassion that the woes of humanity touched His heart with tenderest compassion.” This Day With God, 279.

  • How does God see us in relation to His law with its demands of justice? Isaiah 63:5, 8, 9; I Peter 1:18, 19; Romans 5:8–10.

Note: “The law of God had been broken. The divine government had been dishonored, and justice demanded that the penalty of transgression be paid.

“To save the race from eternal death, the Son of God volunteered to bear the punishment of disobedience. Only by the humiliation of the Prince of heaven could the dishonor be removed, justice be satisfied, and man be restored to that which he had forfeited by disobedience. There was no other way. For an angel to come to this earth, to pass over the ground where Adam stumbled and fell, would not have sufficed. This could not have removed one stain of sin, or brought to man one hour of probation.

“Christ, equal with God, the brightness of the Father’s ‘glory, and the express image of his person’ (Hebrews 1:3), clothed His divinity with humanity, and came to this earth to suffer and die for sinners. The only-begotten Son of God humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. By bearing in His body the curse of sin, He placed happiness and immortality within the reach of all. …

“When we realize that His suffering was necessary in order to secure our eternal well-being, our hearts are touched and melted.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 308, 309.


  • What are the differences between pride, humility, and self-pity? Daniel 4:29–33; James 4:13–16; Genesis 27:34.

Note: “In self-love, self-exaltation, and pride, there is great weakness; but in humility there is great strength. … In our separation from God, in our pride and darkness, we are constantly seeking to elevate ourselves, forgetting that lowliness of mind is power.” The Signs of the Times, October 21, 1897.

  • Why did God’s people fail to obey His will in times past? Numbers 13:30–14:4; I Samuel 17:4–11, 24; I Kings 19:1–18. How should we behave instead?

Note: “Zeal and energy must be intensified; talents that are rusting from inaction must be pressed into service. The voice that would say, ‘Wait; do not allow yourself to have burdens imposed upon you,’ is the voice of the cowardly spies. We want Calebs now who will press to the front—chieftains in Israel who with courageous words will make a strong report in favor of immediate action. When the selfish, ease-loving, panic-stricken people, fearing tall giants and inaccessible walls, clamor for retreat, let the voice of the Calebs be heard, even though the cowardly ones stand with stones in their hands, ready to beat them down for their faithful testimony.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 383.


1 Of what must the Christian constantly beware?

2 How does one develop a proper perspective?

3 Are we deserving of salvation?

4 How do I stand in relation to the cross of Christ?

5 What do we too often forget about pride in opposition to humility?

Copyright © 2013 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Insights from the Book of Isaiah (1) – Pride and Humility

November 19 – 25

Key Text

“Be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

Study Help: Prophets and Kings, 349–366.


“The pride of Assyria and its fall are to serve as an object lesson to the end of time.” Prophets and Kings, 366.



  • With what reasoning did Hezekiah encourage his people to face the Assyrians—and how had the words of Isaiah helped in this crisis? 2 Chronicles 32:7, 8, first part; Isaiah 12:6.

Note: “At the time of Hezekiah’s accession to the throne of Judah, the Assyrians had already carried captive a large number of the children of Israel from the northern kingdom; and a few years after he had begun to reign, and while he was still strengthening the defenses of Jerusalem, the Assyrians besieged and captured Samaria and scattered the ten tribes among the many provinces of the Assyrian realm. The borders of Judah were only a few miles distant, with Jerusalem less than fifty miles away; and the rich spoils to be found within the temple would tempt the enemy to return. But the king of Judah had determined to do his part in preparing to resist the enemy.” Prophets and Kings, 351.

  • Why could Hezekiah trust in God’s help? Isaiah 10:12, 24–27; 14:24–27. How did the people respond to his appeal? 2 Chronicles 32:8, last part.

Note: “Nothing more quickly inspires faith than the exercise of faith. The king of Judah had prepared for the coming storm; and now, confident that the prophecy against the Assyrians would be fulfilled, he stayed his soul upon God.” Prophets and Kings, 351.



  • When, to all appearances, the prospects seemed hopeless for Judah, how did the Assyrian officers make things even worse? Isaiah 36:13–20.

Note: “The long-expected crisis finally came. The forces of Assyria, advancing from triumph to triumph, appeared in Judea. Confident of victory, the leaders divided their forces into two armies, one of which was to meet the Egyptian army to the southward, while the other was to besiege Jerusalem.

“Judah’s only hope was now in God. All possible help from Egypt had been cut off, and no other nations were near to lend a friendly hand.

“The Assyrian officers, sure of the strength of their disciplined forces, arranged for a conference with the chief men of Judah, during which they insolently demanded the surrender of the city. This demand was accompanied by blasphemous revilings against the God of the Hebrews. Because of the weakness and apostasy of Israel and Judah, the name of God was no longer feared among the nations, but had become a subject for continual reproach.” Prophets and Kings, 352.

  • How did Judah respond to the taunts of the haughty Assyrians—and what does this experience remind us about attitude? Isaiah 36:21, 22; 37:1–4.

Note: “The same masterful mind that plotted against the faithful in ages past is still seeking to rid the earth of those who fear God and obey His law. … Persecuting rulers, ministers, and church members will conspire against them. With voice and pen, by boasts, threats, and ridicule, they will seek to overthrow their faith.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 450.

“When persons meet together for the investigation of points of faith concerning which there is a difference of opinion, the spirit which controls them will be manifested. Those who are standing in defense of truth should be calm and self-possessed. If they have the mind of Christ, they will be kind and courteous. They will not be betrayed into the use of harsh language. They will not regard themselves as infallible, nor look with contempt upon those who differ with them. They will not regard them as enemies, nor meet them with ridicule or jesting.” Gospel Workers (1892), 389.



  • At the peak of Judah’s crisis with Assyria, what message did God give to Hezekiah through Isaiah? 2 Kings 19:5–7. Why are these great historical experiences so important for us to contemplate?

Note: “God would have us recall His dealings with His people in the past to save them from their enemies. He has always chosen extremities, when there seemed no possible chance for deliverance from Satan’s workings, for the manifestation of His power. Man’s necessity is God’s opportunity.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 714.

“Not in freedom from trial, but in the midst of it, is Christian character developed. Exposure to rebuffs and opposition leads the follower of Christ to greater watchfulness and more earnest prayer to the mighty Helper. Severe trial endured by the grace of God develops patience, vigilance, fortitude, and a deep and abiding trust in God. It is the triumph of the Christian faith that it enables its followers to suffer and be strong; to submit, and thus to conquer; to be killed all the day long, and yet to live; to bear the cross, and thus to win the crown of glory.” The Acts of the Apostles, 467, 468.

“Those who are finally victorious will have seasons of terrible perplexity and trial in their religious life; but they must not cast away their confidence, for this is a part of their discipline in the school of Christ, and it is essential in order that all dross may be purged away.” Messages to Young People, 63.

  • During this crisis, what did Isaiah and Hezekiah do? 2 Chronicles 32:20; 2 Kings 19:14–19.

Note: “Hezekiah’s pleadings in behalf of Judah and of the honor of their Supreme Ruler were in harmony with the mind of God. Solomon, in his benediction at the dedication of the temple, had prayed the Lord to maintain ‘the cause of His people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require: that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else’ (1 Kings 8:59, 60). Especially was the Lord to show favor when, in times of war or of oppression by an army, the chief men of Israel should enter the house of prayer and plead for deliverance.” Prophets and Kings, 359.



  • What reassurance did the Lord send to the king and people of Ju­dah? 2 Kings 19:20–22, 28, 32–34. What should we learn from the way God supplied their needs, though their land was laid waste? Verse 29.

Note: “As were God’s people anciently, so we should be prepared to advance when the cloud rises and moves forward, and to halt when the cloud stops. We must adjust our movements to the guidance of God’s Spirit. In the place of following ways of our own devising, we are to co-operate with divinity. Thus we shall be enabled to keep pace with our Leader.

“In order to be a Christian, it is not necessary for a man to have great talents. The human agent may have no voice in legislative councils; he may not be permitted to deliberate in senates or vote in parliaments; yet he has access to God. The King of kings bends low to listen to the prayer coming from one who desires to do the Master’s will. An earnest prayer offered from a sincere, contrite heart is of more value in God’s sight than is eloquence of speech. God hears every prayer offered with the incense of faith. His weakest child may exert an influence in harmony with the councils of heaven. It is in answer to prayer that God revives His work.” The Review and Herald, June 23, 1903.

  • In what sense does the fate of Assyria present a general principle for every age? Isaiah 30:27, 28; Proverbs 11:17; 16:18.

Note: “With unerring accuracy the Infinite One still keeps account with the nations. While His mercy is tendered, with calls to repentance, this account remains open; but when the figures reach a certain amount which God has fixed, the ministry of His wrath begins. The account is closed. Divine patience ceases. Mercy no longer pleads in their behalf.” The Review and Herald, June 3, 1915.

“ ‘The pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the scepter of Egypt shall depart away’ (Zechariah 10:11). This is true not only of the nations that arrayed themselves against God in ancient times, but also of nations today who fail of fulfilling the divine purpose. In the day of final awards, when the righteous Judge of all the earth shall ‘sift the nations’ (Isaiah 30:28), and those that have kept the truth shall be permitted to enter the City of God, heaven’s arches will ring with the triumphant songs of the redeemed.” Prophets and Kings, 366.



  • What practical lessons should we derive from the experience in­volving Hezekiah, Isaiah, and the Assyrians? 1 Peter 5:5–7; Proverbs 16:18.

Note: “There are many ways in which God can punish, and punishment will surely follow wherever pride is indulged. … Let a man be lifted up by a sense of his own ability, and trust in his human strength, and he will surely be overcome by temptation. God will bring him down. He will teach him his utter weakness, that he may feel his need of divine aid.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 332, 333.

“We should humble ourselves daily before God, and not feel that our wisdom is perfect. We should take hold of the work with earnestness. We should not pray for God to humble us; for when God takes hold of us, He will humble us in a way that we would not enjoy. But we must day by day humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. We are to work out our own salvation with fear and with trembling. While it is God that works in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure, we are to co-operate with Him while He works through us. We must guard against lifting up our souls in self-esteem. But you will say, How am I to know that Christ is in my heart? If, when you are criticized or corrected in your way, and things do not go just as you think they ought to go—if then you let your passion arise instead of bearing the correction and being patient and kind, Christ is not abiding in the heart.

“Christ placed such a value upon man that He gave His own life to redeem him; and He requires every power and faculty of our being to be in perfect subjection to Him. But we are not to esteem ourselves only in the light in which God esteemed us by the cross of Calvary. Let us not be afraid to show our humility by kindness, courteousness, and forbearance. Do not let self arise and think, It is I they are trying to hurt by their false reports.” The Review and Herald, July 12, 1887.



 1      How did Hezekiah rise to the occasion in the face of the Assyrian threat?

2      How should we respond to the “Sennacheribs” in our life?

3      In the crisis Judah faced, how did God honor His ancient covenant?

4      What can we learn from the way Assyria’s apparent prosperity melted?

5      Name a few litmus tests that reveal our individual level of humility.

Copyright © 2016 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.