Joshua and the Angel

Matthew 25:1–13 records the parable of the ten virgins. From this parable, we learn that not everyone who believes they are saved will actually be saved. Nor will just claiming to be a Christian save you.

Our eternal destiny is a very personal and important, awesome and serious subject. It is difficult for you and I to comprehend just how important because we only live a few years in this world. The question we must ask ourselves is, “What must I do in order to have eternal life?”

There is a common belief throughout most Protestant denominations that we will all, ultimately, go to the same place. But the Bible is very clear that this is not true. In fact, there is no other truth so clearly taught in Scripture than this. In the parable of the ten virgins, did they all end up at the same place? They all expected to be at the bridegroom’s wedding, but only the five wise virgins were allowed entry.

So, let’s see what the Bible does say regarding where we will go and how we will get there.

“And anyone not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15

There will be people in this world, some living right now, who will be cast into the lake of fire.

“But there shall by no means enter it [heaven] anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:27

Only those whose names are written in the book of life will be allowed to enter the holy city.

So we see that the Bible clearly states that there are two completely different places that the people of this world will go, depending on whether or not their names are recorded in the book of life. The tragedy is, in our modern world, that so many who expect to be saved will discover in the end that they are lost.

After studying all the texts in the Gospels that talk about wailing and gnashing of teeth, I found that Jesus wasn’t talking about atheists, infidels, or unbelievers. He was talking about Christians who thought they were going to be saved, but who had come right up to the end, and were not saved.

And so, I want to study with you about our eternal destiny. There are many Bible passages that we could use to introduce this subject, Matthew 25, speaking of the ten virgins, is one. But I want to start with a prophecy that concerns the spiritual condition of God’s people in the last days, just before Jesus comes. A startling prophecy that reveals our condition on the inside.

Zechariah 3 contains a prophecy concerning the spiritual condition of God’s people in the last days, just before Jesus returns. Here we read of those who do not have the wedding garment on and are not ready to be part of the wedding feast.

“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him.” Verse 1

The word Satan is one of the very few words in the English language that is a direct transliteration from a Hebrew word meaning the adversary. This name was given to Lucifer after he fell, because he is the adversary of God. He is also the adversary of all who chose to follow God.

“And the Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’ ” Verse 2

Only God can have an argument with Satan. In fact, the Spirit of Prophecy tells us that Jesus Christ Himself refused to argue with Satan, referring him to His Father.

The brand that is plucked from the fire is you and me and those who, because of their sins, are about to be destroyed, but the Lord says, “No, I will save you.”

So, Joshua has been pulled out of the fire, but notice his condition. “Now Joshua was clothed in filthy garments.” Verse 3

“Joshua the high priest, ‘clothed with filthy garments,’ stand[s] before the Angel of the Lord, entreating the mercy of God in behalf of his people who are in deep affliction. Satan stands at his right hand to resist him. Because Israel had been chosen to preserve the knowledge of God in the earth, they had been … the special objects of Satan’s enmity, and he had determined to cause their destruction. He could do them no harm while they were obedient to God; therefore he had bent all his power and cunning to enticing them into sin. Ensnared by his temptations they had transgressed the law of God and thus separated from the Source of their strength, and had been left to become the prey of their heathen enemies. … Yet they were not forsaken of the Lord. …

“As Joshua humbly pleads for the fulfilment of God’s promises, Satan stands up boldly to resist him. He points to the transgressions of Israel as a reason why that people should not be restored to the favor of God. He claims them as his prey and demands that they be given into his hands to be destroyed.

“The high priest cannot defend himself or his people from Satan’s accusations. He does not claim that Israel are free from fault. In his filthy garments, symbolizing the sins of the people, which he bears as their representative, he stands before the Angel, confessing their guilt, yet pointing to their repentance and humiliation, relying upon the mercy of a sin-pardoning Redeemer and in faith claiming the promises of God.” Testimonies, Vol. 5, 468, 469

We know that we cannot be part of the wedding feast if we remain in our filthy garments, but because of our sins, that is our condition. Throughout the Bible, filthy rags represent an imperfect character. We can try to clothe ourselves with any manner of covering, but to no avail as God sees everything in our hearts.

Finding Joshua clothed in filthy garments, the Angel said, “Then He answered and said to those who stood before Him, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’ And to him He said, ‘See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.’ And I said, ‘Let them put a clean turban on his head.’ So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the Lord stood by.” Zechariah 3:4, 5

The removal of the filthy garments represents the taking away of iniquity. The Lord says that it is He who provides the change of clothing, a royal robe, one that can be worn to a royal wedding.

“Then the Angel of the Lord admonished Joshua, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you will walk in My ways, and if you will keep My command, then you shall also judge My house, and likewise have charge of My courts; I will give you places to walk among those who stand here.

“ ‘Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, you and your companions who sit before you, for they are a wondrous sign … .’ ” Verses 6–8, first part

As a young preacher, I assumed that God’s people would know what causes them to be clothed in filthy garments, but I’ve learned lately the necessity of going over the basics so that we will understand exactly what is involved when we talk about a biblical subject. So, this is the question: “What is it that causes God’s people to be clothed in filthy garments?”

A filthy garment is a polluted and defiled garment, and if you find yourself still clothed in them when probation closes, you will be lost.

“He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.” Revelation 22:11, 12

The one who is filthy will remain filthy. But those who are saved will have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:14

Wearing filthy garments represents a sinful character. “And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Revelation 19:8. This is one of the clearest verses in all the Bible showing that our garments represent our character.

The Bible tells us of many ways by which our characters can be defiled. Here are just a few:

  1. The way we eat. Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14

These chapters tell us how to distinguish between clean and unclean foods, and instructs us “to consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Leviticus 11:44

  1. Lewdness and immodesty. Leviticus 18

This includes pornography, dress, music, what we read, television, movies, videos, the internet, and social media. “Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you.” Verse 24

In particular, the entertainment industry has had a profound effect upon man’s character. In a single movie or television program, you can experience nudity, lewd and coarse language, and the actors are being dishonest simply by virtue of pretending to be someone they are not. The clothing that is worn excites the sexual senses and does not modestly cover the body. The lyrics of the popular music styles today encourage violence, disobedience, immodesty, disrespect, and often, outright blasphemy. These entertainers are put before our children as role models, someone to emulate to prove that they are successful and well-liked.

If we want to have our character perfected, if we want to reflect Christ’s character, then we must remove these influences from our life. It is time to go to the Lord, and with deep contrition of heart, pray, “Lord help me.” This is why historic Adventist preachers spend so much time preaching about how to overcome sin. If these influences remain in our lives, then it would do no good for the Lord to give us new raiment for we would just get it dirty again.

  1. Sexual immorality/unrestrained passion. Exodus 32

“Your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.” Verse 7

The God-ordained restraint between a man and woman has been broken. There is an intended respect between the genders that should be maintained. In this world, there is a certain familiarity in touching and speaking between men and women that should be preserved only within the bonds of marriage between husband and wife. People today say, “Oh, that’s just the way I am. I don’t mean anything by it.” Or “That’s just the way it is in our culture. We’re friendly people.” But these activities can cause the minds of God’s people to be filled with lust, desire, and envy, resulting in filthy garments.

  1. Deuteronomy 25 and Leviticus 19

“You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure.” Deuteronomy 25:13–15, first part

The Lord wants us to be strictly honest in all that we do.

“These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord [strife] among brethren.” Proverbs 6:16–19. All these things will make our garments filthy.

Remember, “But there shall by no means enter it [heaven] anything that defiles, or causes an abomination … .” Revelation 21:27, first part

  1. Evil surmising/stirring up strife/gossip. 1 Timothy 6:3–5

In 1 Timothy, Paul talks about people who engage in evil conjecturing or evil suspicioning. Gossiping and carrying tales, even if they are true, is not an activity that a child of God should be involved in. Reputations are ruined, particularly if the tale isn’t true, souls are scarred and driven from the church—both the subject of the gossip as well as the one carrying the gossip.

  1. The content of the heart and mind.

There are many scriptures that speak to this form of defilement. What is in our hearts directs our actions.

“ ‘You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.” But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.’ ” Matthew 5:21, 22

God is not suggesting that it is okay for you to be angry at your brother if you have a good reason. Anger begins in the heart and mind of a man. God is telling us that being angry is so bad that it can cause us to desire evil things and make us filthy with sin.

“ ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour, and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.’ ” Verses 43, 44

Hatred grows in the heart and mind. When we allow it a place there, it can take control of our lives.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Verses 27, 28

There are people who believe that the consequences of thinking about doing something are not the same as actually doing it. So, if I dream of having relations with someone other than my spouse, but I don’t really do it, then I am not guilty of committing adultery. This is one of the devil’s lies. The truth is, lust is found in the heart and mind, and if we look upon another person with evil desire, then we are guilty of making our garments filthy.

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

Because evil lives in my heart and mind, if I want to wear clean garments, then I must have my heart and mind cleansed and purified; only then can I be delivered from my filthy garments.

Friends, we must now get serious about changing from our filthy garments and putting on Christ’s robe of righteousness. Our very nature requires a complete overhaul. First, we must recognize our true condition. Then, we must go to the Source of all power, the One who is mighty to save.

The Lord says that if we will walk in His ways and keep His commandments, then we will one day govern His house and keep His courts. We will be men and women at whom people will wonder. The unsaved, those without the wedding garment, will see God’s people dressed in the spotless, clean wedding garments, their characters perfected, ready to spend eternity with Jesus.

“To the marriage supper of the Lamb will come many who have not on the wedding garment—the robe [Christ] purchased for them with His lifeblood. From lips that never make a mistake come the words, ‘Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?’ (Matthew 22:12). Those [thus] addressed are speechless. They know that words would be useless. The truth, with its sanctifying power, has not been brought into the soul, and the tongue that once spoke so readily of the truth is now silent. The words are then spoken, ‘Take them out of My presence. They are not worthy to taste of My supper’ (cf. Luke 14:24).” The Upward Look, 301

As the sinner is separated from God’s loyal children, Christ looks upon them with deep sorrow. From His quivering lips come the mournful words of regret, “I loved them. I gave My life for them. But they persisted in rejecting My pleadings, and continued in sin.”

Do you want your filthy garments to be removed?

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

Every Man’s Destiny Decided

The God we serve is merciful and longsuffering. He loathes to punish, but righteousness and judgment are the foundation of His throne, and the time will come when He must pass judgment and determine every man’s destiny. For God’s children, that is in progress right now. For those who have not accepted the gospel, the judgment takes place during the millennium spoken of in Revelation 20.

The judgment should always be in our view because we are living in the most solemn period of earth’s history, when the eternal destiny of everyone who has ever professed the name of Christ is being decided. If you are uncertain about these facts or do not understand them, you are invited to go to the Steps to Life web page to enroll in our Bible course. These studies will enable you to not only understand what the Bible says about the judgment and that it is taking place right now, but also to help prepare you to be ready for that grand and awful day when the judgment is finished and every man’s eternal destiny is fixed by an unchangeable decree.

Here are a few facts about the judgment:

We will be judged by our deeds: Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14; 2 Corinthians 5:10.

We will be judged according to the words we have spoken—for the recording angel has recorded them all: Matthew 12:36, 37; Ecclesiastes 5:6, 7.

We will be judged according to the thoughts we have espoused and cherished: Isaiah 66:18; Matthew 15:19, 20; 1 Corinthians 4:5.

Our name must be retained in the book of life in order for us to be saved: Revelation 20:13–15.

For our names to be retained in the book of life, we must overcome sin: Revelation 3:5.

We must be Christlike in character: 1 John 3:1–3; Colossians 1:27, 28.

The standard of character by which we will be judged is the ten commandments: James 2:10–12.

“Let the heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is Judge.” Psalm 50:6

“Silently, unnoticed as the midnight thief, will come the decisive hour which marks the fixing of every man’s destiny, the final withdrawal of mercy’s offer to guilty men.” The Great Controversy, 491

“Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming … lest, coming suddenly, He find you sleeping.” Mark 13:35, 36

Who Must Give an Account?

Some people believe that when a person dies, life is over for them. Others believe that when a person dies, there will be a future resurrection and then they will have to face judgment. Which view is correct? What is the weight of evidence? Is it true that someday everyone will have to give an account of themselves?

The Bible says that a time is coming when every human being will stand before the judgment seat of God. “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” John 5:28, 29

We read in John 11 that Jesus raised the man Lazarus from the dead. This miracle was not performed in private; in fact, there was a great multitude of witnesses. Lazarus’ sisters, the mourners, and many others who had come to the burial were there, much like we attend our own funeral services today.

“Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, ‘Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?’ Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.’ Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Loose him, and let him go.’ Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him.” Verses 39–45

When Jesus came the first time, He came for salvation. He stated it this way to Nicodemus in John 3:17: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

But when He comes the second time, the Bible repeatedly states that He is coming to bring judgment. At this second coming, each individual will either be saved or lost; and when the judgment seat is set, every human being will have to give an account of himself to God. From the beginning to the end, the Bible assures us that there will be a judgment.

Paul says in Romans 14:12, “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” Peter says in 1 Peter 4:5, “They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 32:36, “For the Lord will judge His people … .” We read in Psalm 9:7 that God “has prepared His throne for judgment.” And Psalm 50:3, 4 says, “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous all around Him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people.”

In this world, many believe that they can do wrong and get away with it just because no one knows what they have done. But there is Someone who knows. God knows even the most secret things we do. Solomon wrote about this in Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil.” David had something to say about this as well in Psalm 139:1–4, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me.

“You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.” God understands what you are thinking even before you think it.

Then David says in verses 7–12, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell [the grave], behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,’ even the night shall be light about me; indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You.”

It does not matter if it is daytime or nighttime, if you are on land or at sea, no matter where you are David says that the Lord knows. God is watching us and keeping record of what we think, do, and say. Jesus talks about this recordkeeping in Matthew 12:36, 37, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” God keeps a record of “every secret thing that is done.”

God keeps very good records and we find in the Greek New Testament that “Jesus saw their thoughts.” God knows what we do and what we say, but He also can discern our thoughts before they ever become actions or words. Isaiah 66:18 says, “I know their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory.”

We find something very similar in 1 Corinthians 4:5, “Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts.”

When the Bible says, “reveal the counsels of the hearts,” it means that our very thoughts, those that no one has ever known, will be revealed. Jesus said to the disciples, “Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.” Matthew 10:26

In the judgment, every record that God has been keeping, all the things that cannot be hidden from Him—about every person, every society, every church, every nation, every institution, every government, every group of people, and every family—will be made known.

Should this make us afraid of the coming judgment? Jesus says in Matthew 16:24–27, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each, according to his works.”

Notice that the judgment is going to be based upon what we have done in this life. Very many are going to find this distressing when they think of the awful things they have done. They will be wondering what will happen to them. God has been keeping a record of the sins of every individual life and unless that record is expunged, or blotted out, we will be in big trouble.

And that brings us to the gospel, because saving people from their sins is what the gospel is all about. Anything that we have done that is contrary to the law of God must be forgiven and blotted out of our record. John says, “If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. The sins committed in the past and their guilt, along with the power sin has over our lives, can all be taken away.

Paul describes this in detail in Romans 3:23–25: “[F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.”

Being saved, however, involves much more than just having our sins forgiven. While it is necessary for our sins to be forgiven so that we will be found worthy for heaven in the judgment, something more is involved in being saved than simply forgiveness of sins. The Bible says that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. Romans 6:23, first part, says, “For the wages of sin is death … .” And Hebrews 9:22, last part, says, “and without shedding of blood there is no remission” of sin. Jesus’ death on the cross, the shedding of His blood, paid the penalty for sin, but, 1 John 1:7 tells us, that “if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from every sin.”

Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” John 3:5. If we are not born of the Holy Spirit, we cannot be saved and will not enter into the kingdom of God. That is why Paul was so emphatic about the fact that the judgment is according to works. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10. Our works have no merit to gain salvation, but our works demonstrate the miraculous change wrought by the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

When a person is brought before a judge in an earthly court of law, his conduct is measured against the standard of the law to determine if he has committed transgression. How does God determine whether what we have done is good or bad? He also has a standard against which our thoughts, deeds, and words are measured. This standard is the law of God.

Many decades after Jesus died on the cross, James tells us clearly that God’s ten commandments, His law, is the standard for His coming judgment. “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.” James 2:10–12

Here James is quoting the sixth and seventh commandments. Even if you keep the whole law, all the commandments, but one, you are a transgressor, guilty of breaking the whole law. The ten commandments are one law—one law with ten parts—and it is by this standard that we all will be judged when Jesus comes.

Paul, writing in Titus 2:11–14, says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” And Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8. Here is the reason that Jesus died on the cross—that He might redeem us, save us from every lawless deed, and purify us.

So, there are some questions we should be asking ourselves: Am I being purified? Am I being cleansed from my sins by the blood of Jesus? Am I receiving the Holy Spirit so that I now have a new heart and a new mind?

If we are to have lives in harmony with the law of God, then the answers to each of these questions must be Yes. For if we have not been purified and cleansed, if our hearts and minds are the same old, sinful ones we’ve always had, then we are not in harmony with the government and law of God and we will be in trouble on the day of judgment.

To be in harmony with any earthly government, we must be in harmony with the laws of that government. The same holds true of the heavenly government. Many people today make a profession of Christianity, but they have never been born of the Holy Spirit and are therefore not in harmony with the laws of heaven.

Romans 8:1, 2 say, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” But notice then what Paul says in verses 4–9, 14: “[T] hat the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. … For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”

Those who walk according to the law of God and no longer according to the flesh, in the judgment will be judged to be the sons of God. But those simply making a profession of Christianity, who have not been born of the Holy Spirit, who continue in sin, while desiring and hoping to be saved, will be judged out of harmony with God’s government and law and they will be condemned.

Friends, our goal in this life must be to be like Jesus. Christlikeness is the standard of character that we must reach in this life, if we are to be judged worthy of heaven and eternity. We can read this in John 8 and 1 John 3 and in other texts throughout the Bible. “Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2

To be ready for Jesus’ second appearing and to be judged worthy of heaven, we must have reached God’s standard of Christlikeness in our lives. This is accomplished only by the wonder-working power of the Holy Spirit. Paul describes those who will make up God’s church on the day of judgment in Ephesians 5:27, “[T]hat He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” This church is ready to meet the Lord when He comes. “And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Revelation 14:5

Someone might think that there is no hope for them, but if we commit our lives to Jesus Christ, He can and will work every miracle that is needed so that we can have the character of Christ formed in our lives just as He wants us to have. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

God doesn’t do things halfway. If we will commit our lives to Him today, He will complete the work that He has begun in our hearts, just as He promised.

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

Angels in the Judgment

Of the final scene of the judgment the prophet Daniel, while an exile in Babylon, writes: “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court [judgment] was seated, and the books were opened.” Daniel 7:10

In this most important of all court scenes, the Judge is represented as having more than a million angels as His assistants, while more than a hundred million are court attendants. The books containing the records of the lives of men are opened, the court is convened, and the judgment is set.

John, in vision on the lonely Patmos, adds important features to this imposing scene: “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and the books were opened. … And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.” Revelation 20:12

At the great judgment day the record books of heaven will be opened, and the future of all will be decided according to what has been written therein by the recording angels.

Of the righteous as they near the end of this world’s history, we read, “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for them who feared the Lord and who meditate on His name.” Malachi 3:16

This book of remembrance was written by those heavenly messengers who ministered before Him. It has been shown from the Scriptures that angels are ever present with men; that they minister to the people of God, and deliver them from evil. They behold all the actions of men; they hear every idle word that is spoken. They take notice of everything that will come into judgment. The conclusion is natural, and seems almost unavoidable, that the angels make the record of these things; that the books of human action are written by them. This belief is so generally accepted that the term, “recording angel,” has become proverbial.

Not only do the angels act as guardians and protectors to the servants of God, but they also execute judgments upon the wicked and disobedient.

When Balaam, the sinning prophet, started on his journey to the land of Moab to curse Israel, God’s anger was kindled against him, and the angel of the Lord met him, “and took his stand in the way as an adversary against him. … Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand.” Numbers 22:22, 31

Yet so blinded by avarice was Balaam that he still went on his journey, and was finally among the slain in the overthrow of Moab when they fought against Israel. (See Joshua 13:22.)

When David sinned in numbering Israel, it is recorded that “God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. … Then David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between the earth and the heaven, having in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem.” 1 Chronicles 21:15, 16

The eyes of David were opened, and he saw the messenger of destruction. By humility, confession of sin, and strong cries to God the plague was stayed, and the sword of the avenging angel was sheathed.

When Sodom became so wicked that its very presence could no longer be tolerated, two angels came to Lot with the message, “For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” Genesis 19:13

When Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came against Israel and Jerusalem with an immense army, Hezekiah, king of Judah, cried to the Lord, “Then the Lord sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor … .” 2 Chronicles 32:21. And that night the angel slew 185,000 of the blasphemous host. (See 2 Kings 19:35.)

Coming to our own time, we are led to believe, in the language of another, “that the sudden judgments which frequently overtake evildoers are executed upon them by the angels of God.” Jehovah has not withdrawn His hand from the affairs of the world. The earth today is “filled with violence,” and is far worse than in the days of the visitations of old. Is it not reasonable, therefore, to suppose that God’s methods have not changed, and that His mighty angels have a part to act in some of the punishments of individuals in this life, as well as in the reverses which overtake some of the wicked nations?

Of the great harvest of the world, our Saviour speaks in His parable recorded in Matthew 13:37–39: “ ‘He who sows the good seed is the Son of man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age [world], and the reapers are the angels.’ ”

By these angels the good seed is brought into the garner, but the wicked, represented as tares, will be cast into the furnace of the great burning day.

Just prior to the second coming of Christ seven awful plagues will be sent upon the wicked. (See Revelation 15:1.) These are to be poured out by seven angels selected for that purpose.

When the work of the gospel is finished, our Saviour will come again to this earth to take His faithful people to Himself. On this glorious mission He will be accompanied by all the holy angels. (See Matthew 25:31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7–10.)

Of this glad day the apostle Paul writes, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. This gathering of the saints will be made by the angels. (See Matthew 24:30, 31.)

As the archangel in midheaven sounds the trump of God, the earth trembles, the graves are opened, and the sleeping saints arise, clothed with immortality. The same angel who has watched over that humble saint through life, and has marked his final resting place, now stands by his grave; and as the child of God comes up from his dusty bed, he clasps him in his arms, and bears him away in triumph to their coming Lord. O glorious scene! Victory to the saints! Joyful triumph to the Son of God! And the angels share in the glory and the joy. They have borne an important part in the work of redemption, and they rejoice in its final success.

Past, Present, and Future, James Edson White, Southern Publishing Association, ©1909, 84–92.

In Danger of Hell Fire

If a person cherishes a spirit of malice and unkindness, he is cherishing a spirit that will result in hatred and a desire for revenge. This is why the Bible says that a person who hates his brother is a murderer and cannot hope to have eternal life. The question is, how can this spirit be removed or changed?

Across the Sea of Galilee from where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount was the land of Bashan. This land, filled with wild gorges and wooded areas, had for a long time been a favorite lurking ground for criminals of all descriptions. Even in Jesus’ day, there were reports of frequent murders and robberies committed in the area. People thought that if Jesus was teaching the law, He would have a stern rebuke for the people committing these crimes. They were shocked when He quoted the sixth commandment that says, “You shall not murder,” and showed that the commandment applied to them.

The people of that time cherished bitter hatred against the Romans and other people of their own country who did not in all things conform to their ideas. They were contentious and passionate, and so Jesus said to them, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ [an empty-headed, vain fellow] shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ [a person who has abandoned himself to wickedness] shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matthew 5:21, 22

Actually, many of the most accurate and ancient manuscripts leave out the words “without a cause.” The text would then read: “I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council.”

This spirit of hatred and revenge is at the basis of murders. It originated with Lucifer, the leading angel of heaven. His name became Satan, which means adversary, devil, or slanderer. This spirit led him to put to death the Son of God. The New Testament is very clear, the person, the intelligence that was behind the crucifixion of Jesus, was not just the Jewish leaders or the Roman government or Pilate, but an influence of supernatural forces. The devil wanted to destroy the Son of God, so he engineered and programmed the whole event. The heavenly universe saw and knew exactly what was going on, but the people of the earth did not know or understand.

So, as with the devil and many in ancient Israel, whoever today cherishes malice or unkindness is cherishing the same spirit and its fruit will be death. The revengeful thought is the seed that once grown or unfolded, produces the evil deed. The Bible says, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15

In the gift of His Son, given for our redemption, God has shown how high a value He places on every human soul. He gives no one permission or liberty to speak contemptuously about another human being. It is true, having eyes and ears, we will see and hear of faults and weaknesses in other human beings. But God claims these as His property, first because He created them, as we find in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.”

But human beings are doubly His because He purchased them back by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. So, since all human beings were created in the image of God, even those that have been most degraded by sin, we are to treat one another with respect and compassion. When we study the life of Jesus, we find that He treated even His persecutors with politeness and courtesy.

Jesus teaches us in the Sermon on the Mount that God will hold us accountable if we speak contemptuously about anyone for whom Jesus laid down His life. The New Testament also is very strict about this principle. Notice what it says in 1 Corinthians 4:7: “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”

Paul says that everything you have received is from God, so why do you talk as if you produced something on your own? Paul also says in Romans 14:4: “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.”

We are not to speak contemptuously of any human being no matter how degraded they are because of a life of sin. We are not to condemn our brother or sister as someone who is beyond the reach of salvation, as though they cannot be saved. If we pronounce judgment on someone else and say that we believe they cannot be saved, Jesus says that we are in danger of hell fire ourselves. The book of Jude provides us with an example of how we should talk and treat our fellow human beings. “Yet Michael [one who is like God] the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ ” Jude 9. Jesus did not bring a railing accusation against the devil. If He had, He would have placed Himself on Satan’s ground for accusations are the weapon of the wicked one. Revelation 12:10 says, “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.’ ”

This scripture calls Satan “the accuser of the brethren.” Jesus did not bring an accusation against the devil; He left it for His Father to decide the condemnation and judgment of the devil. We are to follow His example. When we are brought into conflict with the enemies of Christ, for He still has many enemies in this world, we are to say nothing with a spirit of retaliation, or anything appearing to be a reviling or railing accusation. If we stand as a mouthpiece for God, as all Christians should, then we should not utter words that even the Majesty of heaven would not use when contending with the devil. We must leave with God the work of judging and condemning.

The love of God is a positive, active principle, a living spring ever-flowing out to bless others. If the love of Christ really dwells in our hearts, we not only will refrain from cherishing evil against our brother or sister, or speaking in a contemptuous way to them or about them, but we will ever and always seek to manifest love for them. In Matthew 5:23, 24, Jesus said, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” In other words, don’t even go to church to worship the Lord in public until you have made things right with the person that you have wronged. We cannot expect to be able to express faith in God’s pardoning love if we are indulging an unloving spirit.

If, when we come before God, we remember that someone else has something against us, then we are to leave our gift of prayer, thanksgiving, or freewill offering, and we are to go to that brother or sister with whom we are at variance, and in humility confess our sin and ask them to forgive us. If we have in any manner defrauded or injured them, we are to attempt to make restitution. This has been a principle in the Bible from the most ancient times.

Ezekiel 33:15 says, “If the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die.” So, if we have unwittingly borne false witness against a brother or sister, if we have misstated their words, if we have injured their influence in any way, we need to go to those with whom we have conversed about them and take back all the injurious misstatements.

If Christians would do this in matters of difficulty between Christian brothers or sisters, if instead of laying them before third parties we went frankly and honestly to speak directly to them to make things right, in the spirit of Christian love, how much evil might be prevented. How much bitterness, would be avoided, and how closely Christians would be united in a bond of brotherly love (Hebrews 12:15).

As Jesus presented His sermon, the Jews prided themselves on their morality and they looked with horror upon the sensual practices of the Romans and other nations. But when Jesus showed them that the sixth commandment had to do with what was in the mind and heart, not just in the action, He also revealed something shocking about the seventh commandment. He said in Matthew 5:27, 28: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” When the thought of evil is loved and cherished, even secretly, it shows that sin still reigns in the heart.

He who finds pleasure in dwelling upon scenes of impurity, he who indulges the evil thought and the lustful look, may behold in the open sin the result of what he has been thinking. The Bible is very clear that all human beings are tempted in this world. But temptation does not create the evil that is revealed; it only develops or makes manifest that which was already in the heart, although it has been hidden. The Bible says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7. “For out of it [the heart] spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23, last part

To prevent a physical disease from spreading to another part of the body and destroying the life, a man would submit to having a part of his body, an arm or a hand, amputated. How much more should a person be willing to surrender whatever imperils the life of his soul? In Matthew 5:29, 30, He said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”

This is a spiritual principle: whatever endangers the soul must be given up. If we are looking at something that endangers our souls, then we must stop looking at it. If we are handling something that endangers our souls, we must put it away. If where our feet take us is somewhere that endangers our souls, we must stop going there, because, through the gospel, souls that have been degraded and enslaved by Satan, by sin, are to be redeemed and are to share the glorious liberty of the sons of God. God’s purpose is not just to deliver us from the suffering that is the inevitable result of sin, His purpose is to save us from sin itself.

The gospel purifies, transforms, and sanctifies the soul that has been corrupted and deformed. It is to be clothed in “the beauty of the Lord our God.” Psalm 90:17. It is “to be conformed to the image of His Son.” Romans 8:29. The Bible says that “ ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ ” 1 Corinthians 2:9. In fact, eternity alone can reveal the glorious destiny to which every man and woman may be restored.

If we are going to reach this high ideal, whatever causes our souls to stumble must be sacrificed. It is through the will that sin retains its hold upon us. Often it seems to us that if we surrender everything to the Lord, we will be maimed, or crippled, or unable to do the things we have been planning to do. But it is through the surrender of the will to God, represented by Jesus as the plucking out of the eye or the cutting off of the hand, that we are freed from sin’s grip.

Jesus says it is better to enter into life, even if we are maimed or crippled, than to continue in sin and lose our souls. You see, God is the fountain of life and we can only have life as we are in communion with Him. Sin separates us from God and if we are separated from God, we may exist for a little time, but it is inevitable that we will die. The only way that we can truly live is when we surrender to the Lord as our Master and Saviour, and through that surrender we will receive what the Lord wants to give to us.

If we refuse to yield our will to God, if we cling to self and sin, then we are choosing death because sin is going to be destroyed (1 John 3:8), and we will be destroyed along with it.

Friend, what will be your destiny? You have a choice to make. Will you forsake your sin and live, or will you hang on to it and be destroyed?

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

Why Doesn’t God Show Up?

Not long ago, I watched a video regarding the recent “deconversion” of a number of Christian celebrities. Many reasons were given by these individuals as to why they had decided to abandon their faith, but one in particular stood out to me, “Why doesn’t God show up? If God is so powerful, so loving, why are there so many bad things in the world?” One of these individuals said, “Why doesn’t God cure cancer? If I was omnipotent, that’s what I’d do.” How many times have you wondered that same thing?

While a strong spiritual argument to the fact that God does show up can be presented, there are two thoughts I’d like to specifically explore.

God says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways… . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8, 9. He also says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you … thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” The KJV says, “to give you an expected end.”

Our future and hope is not in this world and while God does promise blessings and provides what we need in this life, He does not promise it will always be easy or fair. He does not promise, for now, that He will remove all the obstacles or take away all the bad things. We think in terms of the here and now, but God thinks and plans in the what-is-to-come. The reason that bad things happen, that life isn’t fair, but rather is hard and painful sometimes, is because of sin and our penchant for indulging in it. Which leads to my second thought.

The entire history of this world is one of spiritual conflict. The purpose of this conflict is to prove to everyone in this world and all the universe the true heinousness and perniciousness of sin.  So then, how could God, no matter how much He may want to, remove all the consequences of sin, both the natural ones and those that come from our individual choices?

Remember where sin began. Heaven is a perfect place and Lucifer still exercised his God-given free will to be jealous and prideful, and to spread discontent and malice toward God and His Son even there, aspiring to be like and equal with God. So, if God were to make this earth some kind of perfect place, sin would still find a way in it because there are so many people who would still choose to do evil.

Once this conflict is over, everyone will know sin for exactly what it is and those who have developed and maintained a saving relationship with Jesus Christ will not want to be sinful anymore. There will be no desire for sin and the Bible says that as a result “affliction [sin] will not rise up a second time.” Nahum 1:9

In addition to these two thoughts there are two others to consider: the vindication of God’s Law—the representation of His character—and the building up of a people, a church, who follow God’s will.

“Every question of truth and error in the long-standing controversy has now been made plain. The results of rebellion, the fruits of setting aside the divine statutes, have been laid open to the view of all created intelligences. The working out of Satan’s rule in contrast with the government of God has been presented to the whole universe. Satan’s own works have condemned him. God’s wisdom, His justice, and His goodness stand fully vindicated. It is seen that all His dealings in the great controversy have been conducted with respect to the eternal good of His people and the good of all the worlds that He has created. … The history of sin will stand to all eternity as a witness that with the existence of God’s law is bound up the happiness of all the beings He has created. With all the facts of the great controversy in view, the whole universe, both loyal and rebellious, with one accord declare: ‘Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints.’ ” Maranatha, 346

“The final judgment is a most solemn, awful event. This must take place before the universe. To the Lord Jesus the Father has committed all judgment. He will declare the reward of loyalty to all who obey the law of Jehovah. God will be honored and His government vindicated and glorified, and that in the presence of the inhabitants of the unfallen worlds. On the largest possible scale will the government of God be vindicated and exalted. It is not the judgment of one individual or of one nation but of the whole world. Oh, what a change will then be made in the understanding of all created beings. Then all will see the value of eternal life.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 349

At long last, the universe will clearly see the insidiousness of Satan’s efforts to destroy God’s character and his insinuations that His law is one of tyranny rather than love. But Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross to save the souls of all mankind, and every word and deed of His life, proved that God’s law was crafted in love, that the happiness and well-being of man is bound up with it.

“God is omnipotent, omniscient, immutable. He always pursues a straightforward course. His law is truth—unchanging, eternal truth. His precepts are consistent with His attributes. But Satan makes them appear in a false light. By perverting them he seeks to give human beings an unfavorable impression of God. Throughout his rebellion he has sought to represent God as an unjust, tyrannical being.

“But Satan’s hypocrisy has been unmasked by Christ’s life, trial, and death. Christ took upon Himself human nature, and by His perfect life demonstrated the falsity of the claims of him who constantly accuses those who are trying to obey God’s law. And the blood of Christ shed on the cross is the everlasting, incontrovertible testimony that God’s law is as immutable as is His own character.” Christ Triumphant, 291

And then there is the church of God. What, or more accurately who are God’s people?

“The church on earth is God’s temple, and it is to assume divine proportions before the world. This building is to be the light of the world. It is to be composed of living stones laid close together, stone fitting to stone, making a solid building. All these stones are not of the same shape or dimension. Some are large and some are small, but each one has its own place to fill. In the whole building there is not to be one misshapen stone. Each one is perfect. And each stone is a living stone, a stone that emits light. The value of the stones is determined by the light they reflect to the world.

“Now is the time for the stones to be taken from the quarry of the world and brought into God’s workshop, to be hewed, squared, and polished, that they may shine. This is God’s plan, and He desires all who profess to believe the truth to fill their respective places in the great, grand work for this time.

“The angelic architect has brought his golden measuring rod from heaven, that every stone may be hewed and squared by the divine measurement, and polished to shine as an emblem of heaven, radiating in all directions the bright, clear beams of the Sun of Righteousness.

“In this world we are to shine in good works. The Lord requires His people … to reflect the light of God’s character, God’s love, as Christ reflected it. As we look unto Jesus, all our lives will be aglow with that wondrous light. Every part of us is to be light; then whichever way we turn, light will be reflected from us to others. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. In Him is no darkness at all; therefore, if we are in Christ, there will be no darkness in us.” In Heavenly Places, 281

So why has it taken so long? Why has this controversy continued for more than 6,000 years?

“The reason why the Bridegroom delays is because He is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance. … O that each … would appreciate the value of the soul that has been purchased at infinite cost on Calvary! O that each one would place a proper estimate upon the capabilities that have been given him of God! Through Christ you may climb the ladder of progress, and bring every power under the control of Jesus. You may represent the character of Jesus. In spirit, in thought, in word, and in action, you may make manifest that you are moved by the Spirit of Christ, and your life may wield a power of influence over others.” The Youth’s Instructor, September 20, 1894

“The Light of the world is shining upon us that we might absorb the divine rays and let this light shine upon others in good works, that many souls shall be led to glorify our Father which is in heaven. He is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, and it grieves the heart of Jesus that so many refuse the offers of His mercy and matchless love.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 303

Friends, we can be absolutely certain that God has, does and will show up. The Bible says, “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth.” Psalm 145:18

It may not always look the way we think it should but, “When we are in trouble and pressed down with anxieties, the Lord is near, and He bids us cast all our care upon Him, because He cares for us. …

“He comes to all His children in their affliction. In time of danger He is their refuge. In sorrow, He offers them joy and consolation. … He utters the gracious invitation, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ …

“Those who turn to God with heart and soul and mind will find in Him peaceful security. …

“He knows just what we need, just what we can bear, and He will give us grace to endure every trial and test that He brings upon us. …

“Every provision has been made to meet the needs of our spiritual and our moral nature.” Our Father Cares, 17, 18

Doesn’t that sound like a God who shows up? And if we can’t clearly see that God is present, available, powerful and patiently waiting on us, then it is because we are looking somewhere else, or we want Him to respond in a way we expect or even demand, or we think we know better what to do and how to do it.

If you are concerned that maybe God hasn’t shown up, think about this. From the beginning God knew that evil would spread across this world and its people. He knew that they would choose to follow another. Yet, instead of abandoning the idea of creating this world, He made a plan to restore its people to their rightful place as His created children, if they chose Him to be their Father. He provided the Holy Spirit to speak to hearts and effect transformation in the lives of those seeking it. He provided the Lamb as our life pattern and ultimately as a sacrifice to pay the penalty, one we could not pay, for the sins of the whole world. He provides love, forgiveness, restoration, atonement, rest, faith, peace and opportunity. Whatever is necessary is provided to bring even a single one of His children back into a right relationship with Himself, including the entire host of heaven, if needed.

God doesn’t have to show up. He’s never been away. He’s always been right here. We may not understand why and how things happen in this world, but it isn’t because God has failed to be present. I know that there are a lot of terrible things going on in the world and a lot of innocent people are hurt. And that is why we ask the question “Why doesn’t God show up?” But I have faith that when this world finally comes to an end, when sin and Satan are gone, that God will make everything come out right for those who put their trust in Him. We must always remember what God has promised us: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

The question isn’t whether God will show up, but will we?

Judy Rebarchek is a member of the LandMarks team. She can be contacted at: judyrebarchek@stepstolife.org

Bible Study Guides – Qualities of Genuine Stewardship

July 4 – 10, 2021

Key Text

“Thou art my portion, O Lord: I have said that I would keep Thy words” (Psalm 119:57).

Study Help: Child Guidance, 150–168.

Introduction

“All that we possess, our mental and physical powers, all the blessings of the present and the future life, are delivered to us stamped with the cross of Calvary.” The Review and Herald, December 14, 1886.

Sunday

1 CONTENTMENT

1.a. What should we realize about all of our earthly possessions? Job 1:21.

 Note: “All things belong to God. Men may ignore His claims. While He bountifully bestows His blessings upon them, they may use His gifts for their own selfish gratification; but they will be called to give an account for their stewardship.

“A steward identifies himself with his master. He accepts the responsibilities of a steward, and he must act in his master’s stead, doing as his master would do were he presiding. His master’s interests become his. The position of a steward is one of dignity because his master trusts him. If in any wise he acts selfishly and turns the advantages gained by trading with his lord’s goods to his own advantage, he has perverted the trust reposed in him.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 246.

1.b. How can we learn to be content with our earthly possessions? Psalm 37:16; Proverbs 15:16; 1 Timothy 6:8, 17–19.

Note: “We think of Jesus the Creator of all the worlds, and how He came into the world as a poor man. He had not where to lay His head. So poverty is no disgrace. Sin is a disgrace.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, 1514.

Monday

2 FAIRNESS

2.a. Since we should be content with our earthly possessions, how should we treat the earthly possessions of others? Deuteronomy 16:19, 20.

Note: “In the last great issue between Christ’s followers and the powers of darkness, Satan offers his bribes to men and women. Some sell themselves for naught; for what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”  Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 243.

“We must feel a special interest in looking upon the things of others—not to covet them, not to find fault with them, not to remark upon them and present them in a false light, but to do strict justice in all things to our brethren and all with whom we have any dealings.” That I May Know Him, 176.

2.b. What does God want us to realize about the evils of partiality? Deuteronomy 24:17; Romans 2:11.

Note: “No distinction on account of nationality, race, or caste, is recognized by God. He is the Maker of all mankind. All men are of one family by creation, and all are one through redemption. Christ came to demolish every wall of partition, to throw open every compartment of the temple courts, that every soul may have free access to God. His love is so broad, so deep, so full, that it penetrates everywhere. It lifts out of Satan’s influence those who have been deluded by his deceptions, and places them within reach of the throne of God, the throne encircled by the rainbow of promise. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free.” Prophets and Kings, 369, 370.

“The reason for all division, discord, and difference is found in separation from Christ. Christ is the center to which all should be attracted; for the nearer we approach the center, the closer we shall come together in feeling, in sympathy, in love, growing into the character and image of Jesus. With God there is no respect of persons. …

“The Son of the infinite God, the Lord of life and glory, descended in humiliation to the life of the lowliest, that no one might feel himself excluded from His presence. He made Himself accessible to all. He did not select a favored few with whom to associate and ignore all others.” That I May Know Him, 99.

Tuesday

3 HONESTY

3.a. What blessing is given to all who follow integrity in all their transactions? Proverbs 10:9.

3.b. What should link the actions, the words, and even the thoughts of the faithful steward? Proverbs 12:5, 17; 14:2.

Note: “By the terms of our stewardship we are placed under obligation, not only to God, but to man.” Education, 139.

3.c. How does the Lord consider those who are dishonest in business? Proverbs 16:11; 20:10.

Note: “It is neither the magnitude nor the seeming insignificance of a business transaction that makes it fair or unfair, honest or dishonest. By the least departure from rectitude we place ourselves on the enemy’s ground, and may go on, step by step, to any length of injustice. A large proportion of the Christian world divorce religion from their business.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 337.

“An honest man, according to Christ’s measurement, is one who will manifest unbending integrity. Deceitful weights and false balances, with which many seek to advance their interests in the world, are abomination in the sight of God. Yet many who profess to keep the commandments of God are dealing with false weights and false balances. When a man is indeed connected with God, and is keeping His law in truth, his life will reveal the fact; for all his actions will be in harmony with the teachings of Christ. He will not sell his honor for gain. His principles are built upon the sure foundation, and his conduct in worldly matters is a transcript of his principles. Firm integrity shines forth as gold amid the dross and rubbish of the world. Deceit, falsehood, and unfaithfulness may be glossed over and hidden from the eyes of man, but not from the eyes of God. The angels of God, who watch the development of character and weigh moral worth, record in the books of heaven these minor transactions which reveal character. If a workman in the daily vocations of life is unfaithful and slights his work, the world will not judge incorrectly if they estimate his standard in religion according to his standard in business.” Ibid., 310, 311.

Wednesday

4 HUMILITY

4.a. What is the reward for the humble, faithful steward? Psalm 37:11; Proverbs 22:4; Matthew 18:4.

Note: “Supreme love for God and unselfish love for one another, this is the best gift that the heavenly Father can bestow. Let all believers draw near to God and to one another, that God may draw near to them. No man is to be exalted as supreme. No man is to suppose that he is infallible because he has been enlightened by God and used by Him in bringing souls to the truth. Our endowments are valuable only as they are used as God’s entrusted talents to magnify the truth. The one through whom God works is never to exalt himself, never to seek to rule. As a wise steward, he is to do his work in sincerity and humility. He is to do God service by imparting what he has received, by speaking the truth in love in a clear, decided manner. Thus he is to enlighten others, remembering always that God only can impress the mind and purify the heart.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 275.

4.b. Why is a humble spirit necessary? Proverbs 29:23.

Note: “Love, compassion, and tenderness are to be revealed amongst us. Put on, as the elect of God, mercy and kindness. The sins that were practiced before conversion are to be put off with the old man. With the new man, Christ Jesus, are to be put on ‘kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering’ (Colossians 3:12).

“Those who have risen with Christ to walk in newness of life are the elect of God. They are holy unto the Lord, and are acknowledged by Him as His beloved. As such, they are under solemn covenant to distinguish themselves by showing humility of mind. They are to clothe themselves in garments of righteousness. They are separate from the world, from its spirit, its practices, and they are to reveal that they are learning of Him who says, ‘I am meek and lowly in heart’ (Matthew 11:29). If they realize that they have died with Christ, if they keep their baptismal vow, the world will have no power to draw them aside to deny Christ. If they live the life of Christ in this world, they are partakers of the divine nature. Then, when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, they also will appear with Him in glory.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 236, 237.

Thursday

5 OBEDIENCE

5.a. What characteristics were shown to John the Revelator when he saw the people of God in these last days? Revelation 14:12.

5.b. Identify some specific instructions concerning legitimate business principles? Deuteronomy 5:32, 33; 25:13–15; Luke 11:28.

Note: “There is no branch of legitimate business for which the Bible does not afford an essential preparation. Its principles of diligence, honesty, thrift, temperance, and purity are the secret of true success. These principles, as set forth in the book of Proverbs, constitute a treasury of practical wisdom. Where can the merchant, the artisan, the director of men in any department of business, find better maxims for himself or for his employees than are found in these words of the wise man [Proverbs 22:29; 14:23; 13:4; 23:21; 20:19; 17:27; 20:3; 4:14; 6:28; 13:20; 18:24 quoted]. …

“How many a man might have escaped financial failure and ruin by heeding the warnings, so often repeated and emphasized in the Scriptures. …

“These are principles with which are bound up the well-being of society, of both secular and religious associations. It is these principles that give security to property and life. For all that makes confidence and co-operation possible, the world is indebted to the law of God, as given in His word, and as still traced, in lines often obscure and well-nigh obliterated, in the hearts of men.” Education, 135–137.

Friday

PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS

1    How can you be content with your earthly possessions?

2    How should you treat others in your financial transactions?

3    What blessings will you receive if you are honest in all your transactions?

4    How can humility be manifested in my life in practical ways?

5    Name some benefits pertaining to financial honesty.

Copyright 2011, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.

Inspiration – Preparation for Christ’s Coming

He [Christ] is nearer now than when we first believed. The day of the Lord is right at hand, and it is not safe for us to delay [to prepare for] His coming.

Do you think that any of us, when He comes, will be brought before the great Judge and will feel that we have devoted too much time to preparation? Will such thoughts come into our minds? Shall we think that we have been altogether too sympathetic, that we have devoted too much time in winning souls back to Christ, and binding up the brokenhearted? No indeed. Our thoughts will be these as we look back to those who stand before the Judge: “Why didn’t I help them at such a time when I ought to?” or, “O, I am glad I did deny myself and help them to stand on the solid rock.” These are the very thoughts that will come up to us in the judgment when everyone is judged according to the deeds done in the body.

And as many are weighed in the balance, they will be found wanting. Then they will proclaim their sins upon the housetop. They will not be afraid to have everybody know their sins, if they can only make restitution for them and save one soul. But let us thank God today that we are not yet before the judgment seat of God, but we have an Intercessor, One who has loved us so that He gave His own precious life for us individually, just as though there was not another soul in the universe. He died for us, and we are of infinite value of Jesus Christ. How can we measure the sacrifice He has made for us? Then we should feel how we have wounded and bruised the Son of God and put Him to an open shame when we deny Him.

It is not that you come out in words and deny Him, but in your actions you deny Christ so that He is ashamed to call you brethren. We want every one of us to be consecrated to God.

Let the plowshare go deep, and uproot all this Phariseeism, and let this self-righteousness be torn all to pieces. The very best way to have this done is to fall on the Rock and be broken. Just as soon as you see there is nothing in you that is righteous, just as soon as you have a dread of sin, you will fall on the Rock, and then it is that Christ can take you and mold you and fashion you into a vessel of honor. But just as soon as you allow your thoughts and feelings to be turned against one another, this is unlike Christ, and just so sure it is that you are not vessels unto honor, but dishonor. You don’t give God a chance; you are trying to fashion yourself after a mold of your own imagination, but you want to take that out of your mind, and keep Christ before you every day—when you rise up and when you sit down, when you go out and when you come in.

You want to exercise all that Christian politeness and respect because you are the purchase of the blood of Christ, and He has died upon Calvary’s cross that we might live. Christ Himself has bridged the gulf for us. It is our duty to help those who are downcast. Recollect what their privileges are, and don’t talk of the difficulties, but go right to them and try to bind up the brokenhearted. These are right in the church all around us. Never have an idea that you know more than your brethren, but just keep humble. It was this spirit of surmising that brought all the weakness into the Jewish nation.

We want to learn in the school of Christ meekness and lowliness of heart, and from whom are we to learn these lessons? Jesus says, “I am meek and lowly of heart.” “Learn of Me” (Matthew 11:29). Now, if there is anything in us like self, then Christ cannot dwell there. We want to represent Christ to the world. We must have self hid with Christ in God, and when this is the case we will represent Christ to the world. Oh, there is something wonderful about it—He loves us as He loves His Son (see John 17:23). Just think of it—loves us as He does His Son! This is wonderful, wonderful. In Him we have all heaven presented to us, and the more we see in Jesus the less we see that is good in self. …

May God help us to put away self and cling to Jesus; then we will spring up and bear fruit to the glory of God.

Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, 102–104.

The Atonement and the Sanctuary

The Spirit of the Lord has given pointed warnings concerning the doctrine of the atonement.

“The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs them to fill.” The Great Controversy, 488.

“Satan is striving continually to bring in fanciful suppositions in regard to the sanctuary, degrading the wonderful representations of God and the ministry of Christ for our salvation into something that suits the carnal mind. He removes its presiding power from the hearts of believers, and supplies its place with fantastic theories invented to make void the truths of the atonement, and destroy our confidence in the doctrines which we have held sacred since the third angel’s message was first given. Thus he would rob us of our faith in the very message that has made us a separate people, and has given character and power to our work.” Evangelism, 225.

These words are being fulfilled before our very eyes today. The word atonement is mentioned only once in the King James translation of the New Testament and reads: “Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:9–11). However, the word reconciliation or its derivative (translated from the same Greek word or its derivative) is found nine times, five of which are found in 2 Corinthians 5:18–20 and two in Romans 5:10. The other two (1 Corinthians 7:11 and Romans 11:15) do not pertain to the cross of Christ.

Speaking of the reconciliation, Paul says, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:18–21). Paul says God has reconciled us and the world and given to us the ministry of reconciliation to go forth as ambassadors, taking the word of reconciliation, which is a call to be reconciled. How can people who have been reconciled be called to be reconciled?

When we think of the atonement or reconciliation, we usually limit our understanding to the cross. Yet we are told that Jesus is ministering as our High Priest, not the sacrifice, to make reconciliation. “Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17). This word is primarily different from the previous word in that it does not carry the connotation of being restored to divine favor, but denotes the mercy received through Christ as our “propitiation.”

“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).

Although the word atonement is found only once in the New Testament, it is mentioned 80 times in the Old Testament (10 times in Exodus, 49 times in Leviticus, 17 times in Numbers, and once each in 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, and Nehemiah). Over half of these are found in the book of Leviticus and pertain to the sanctuary service. Therefore, to fully understand the atonement, we must also understand the biblical doctrine of the sanctuary. There is only one people in the whole wide world that even remotely understand this great Bible truth, and many of them have but clouded concepts of this glorious doctrine.

Most Christians have come to believe that the atonement is based solely upon the cross. But what good would the sacrifice of Jesus have been, if He had remained in the grave? You see, the atonement consists of much more than many are aware. “It was not alone His [Christ’s] betrayal in the garden or His agony upon the cross that constituted the atonement. The humiliation of which His poverty formed a part was included in His great sacrifice. The whole series of sorrows which compassed humanity Christ bore upon His divine soul.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1103.

The atonement is as much an ongoing process as is salvation. Under the Levitical law, when the animal was sacrificed, was not the person forgiven? Was not an atonement made? Why then did the blood have to be taken into the sanctuary? Why was it necessary that there be a yearly “cleansing of the sanctuary” if a full and final atonement had already been made in the death of the sacrifice?

Notice what Scripture says: “And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with Him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness” (Leviticus 16:7–10).

If the death alone was sufficient, why did the blood have to be carried into the sanctuary? Why was an atonement made as much as a year after the sacrifice? Because it took more than the sacrifice. This is what Paul meant when he said, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain” and “we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:17, 19).

On the surface the popular evangelical view of the atonement sounds so good, and thus we join in thought with the errors of evangelicalism and claim that it all happened 2000 years ago; that the atonement is finished, over, final, and complete. However, this presents a real problem, for where does that leave us? Where does it leave Jesus? Where is Jesus now? What is He doing? What are we to be doing? Why are we still here? Why hasn’t Jesus come back? These are questions that find no satisfactory answer if one holds the common view conveyed to Christianity through Catholicism.

We find the parallel to the ministry of Jesus, our high priest, in the heavenly sanctuary in the services of the earthly sanctuary. God gave the following instruction for the earthly high priest on the day of atonement. “And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness” (Leviticus 16:20–22).

While here on this earth Jesus was declared to be “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” and more than 700 years before His birth, the prophet Isaiah had declared that He was to be “brought as a lamb to the slaughter” (John 1:29; Isaiah 53:7).

Beyond any doubt, the Son of the Living God became our Sacrifice to cleanse us from sin, for “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). But the good news of the Gospel of Christ is that He was more than just a Sacrifice. He did more than just die for us. He now lives for us as well. He burst forth from that tomb victorious and He declares: “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore” (Revelation 1:18).

Death could not hold the Son of God, who is now “set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1). “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). Herein lies our hope, for there is but “one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5, 6).

Jesus died as our Sacrifice, but more than this, He ascended to heaven to minister as our Intercessor, our Mediator in the heavenly sanctuary. There He began the first apartment phase of His ministry—that of the forgiveness of our sins through the merits of His own shed blood.

Without this ministry of Jesus where would we be? “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23; 6:23). But praise God, Jesus is there, and “if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” and “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 2:1; 1:9).

This ministry of Jesus had its parallel in the daily ministry of the priests in the holy place of the earthly sanctuary and “For eighteen centuries this work of ministration continued in the first apartment of the sanctuary. The blood of Christ, pleaded in behalf of penitent believers, secured their pardon and acceptance with the Father, yet their sins still remained upon the books of record. As in the typical service there was a work of atonement at the close of the year, so before Christ’s work for the redemption of men is completed, there is a work of atonement for the removal of sin from the sanctuary. This is the service which began when the 2300 days ended. At that time, as foretold by Daniel the prophet, our High Priest entered the most holy, to perform the last division of his solemn work—to cleanse the sanctuary.

“As anciently the sins of the people were by faith placed upon the sin offering, and through its blood transferred, in figure, to the earthly sanctuary, so in the new covenant the sins of the repentant are by faith placed upon Christ and transferred, in fact, to the heavenly sanctuary. And as the typical cleansing of the earthly was accomplished by the removal of the sins by which it had been polluted, so the actual cleansing of the heavenly is to be accomplished by the removal, or blotting out, of the sins which are there recorded. But, before this can be accomplished, there must be an examination of the books of record to determine who, through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, are entitled to the benefits of His atonement. The cleansing of the sanctuary therefore involves a work of investigation—a work of judgment. This work must be performed prior to the coming of Christ to redeem His people; for when He comes, His reward is with Him to give to every man according to his works (Revelation 22:12).

“Thus those who followed in the light of the prophetic word saw that, instead of coming to the earth at the termination of the 2300 days in 1844, Christ then entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary to perform the closing work of atonement preparatory to His coming.” The Great Controversy, 421, 422.

This has always been the position of Seventh-day Adventists until recently. F. D. Nichol stated in his book Answers to Objections, 408: “We believe that Christ’s work of atonement was begun, rather than completed, at Calvary.”

The cleansing of the sanctuary was the last service to be completed in the yearly round of ministration. It was the closing work of the atonement, the removal of and putting away of the sins of the people, and it prefigured the work of our High Priest in heaven in the removal or blotting out of the sins of His people, which are registered in the heavenly records, as well as the removal of sin from their lives. The atonement is not over, regardless of what Babylon may say.

Notice what God says is to take place when it is over. “Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people” (Leviticus 23:27–30). The word here translated “cut off” means to kill or destroy. (See Exodus 4:24; Hosea 4:6; Daniel 9:26.)

“Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. … While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth. This work is more clearly presented in the messages of Revelation 14.

“When this work shall have been accomplished, the followers of Christ will be ready for His appearing. … Then the church which our Lord at His coming is to receive to Himself will be a ‘glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing’ (Ephesians 5:27).” The Great Controversy, 425.

The passionate pleas of the prophet should awaken in our hearts and minds a riveting realization of who we are and the tremendous importance of the fact that we are living in the day of atonement.

“Shall we forget our holy calling, brethren? Shall the mournful deterioration of piety be seen among us, that caused the rejection of the Jewish nation? Shall we who have had so great light upon Bible truth let a dry, dead formalism take the place of zeal and faith? … We must arouse and take in the situation. We are in the day of atonement, and we are to work in harmony with Christ’s work of cleansing the sanctuary from the sins of the people. Let no man who desires to be found with the wedding garment on, resist our Lord in His office work. As He is, so will His followers be in this world. We must now set before the people the work which by faith we see our great High-priest accomplishing in the heavenly sanctuary. Those who do not sympathize with Jesus in His work in the heavenly courts, who do not cleanse the soul temple of every defilement, but who engage in some enterprise not in harmony with this work, are joining with the enemy of God and man in leading minds away from the truth and work for this time.” The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, January 21, 1890.

“Christ is in the heavenly sanctuary, and He is there to make an atonement for the people. He is there to present His wounded side and pierced hands to His Father. He is there to plead for His Church that is upon the earth. He is cleansing the sanctuary from the sins of the people. What is our work? It is our work to be in harmony with the work of Christ. By faith we are to work with Him, to be in union with Him.” Ibid., January 28, 1890.

If we accept the Evangelical position on the atonement, we must say there is no such thing as a cleansing of the sanctuary, the day of atonement, or an investigative judgment beginning in 1844. Yet the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy are very clear that we are today living in the great day of final atonement and investigative judgment. When this work of atonement in the heavenly sanctuary has been completed, Jesus will leave the heavenly sanctuary making the awesome pronouncement, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:11, 12), and return to this earth to receive His people.

“As the priest entered the most holy once a year to cleanse the earthly sanctuary, so Jesus entered the most holy of the heavenly, at the end of the 2300 days of Daniel 8, in 1844, to make a final atonement for all who could be benefitted by His mediation, and thus to cleanse the sanctuary.” Early Writings, 253.

“Now, while our great High Priest is making the atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ. Not even by a thought could our Saviour be brought to yield to the power of temptation. Satan finds in human hearts some point where he can gain a foothold; some sinful desire is cherished, by means of which his temptations assert their power. But Christ declared of Himself, ‘The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me’ (John 14:30). Satan could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. He had kept His Father’s commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to his advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble.

“It is in this life that we are to separate sin from us, through faith in the atoning blood of Christ.” The Great Controversy, 623.

Joe Gresham was raised in an agnostic, humanistic environment and first experienced the life-changing power of the love of God at age 27. His transformation from a life of crime and violence into an international speaker is a miracle of God’s grace. An ordained minister, evangelist, author, radio and TV speaker, Joe served on the staff of Andrews University as adjunct professor of religion.

Chapter 6 Desire of Ages — Chapters 70, 71 & 72

PROPHETIC PARALLELS
The Church “Then”. . . . . .and the Church Now

by Terry S. Ross

DA 637- 38: “… Christ on the Mount of Olives pictured to His disciples the scene of the great Judgment day. And He represented its decision as turning upon one point. When the nations are gathered before Him, there will be but two classes, and their eternal destiny will be determined by what they have done or have neglected to do for Him in the person of the poor and the suffering….

“Jesus had told His disciples that they were to be hated of all men, to be persecuted and afflicted. Many would be driven from their homes, and brought to poverty. Many would be in distress through disease and privation. Many would be cast into prison. To all who forsook friends or home for His sake He had promised in this life a hundred- fold. Now He assured a special blessing to all who should minister to their brethren. In all who suffer for My name, said Jesus, you are to recognize Me. As you would minister to Me, so you are to minister to them. This is the evidence that you are My disciples….

“THOSE WHOM CHRIST COMMENDS IN THE JUDGMENT MAY HAVE KNOWN LITTLE OF THEOLOGY, BUT THEY HAVE CHERISHED HIS PRINCIPLES. Through the influence of the divine Spirit they have been a blessing to those about them. Even among the heathen are those who have cherished the spirit of kindness; before the words of life had fallen upon their ears, they have befriended the missionaries, even ministering to them at the peril of their own lives.”

Here Jesus sets forth the truth regarding those who will be saved in the last days, those who consist of His disciples. First of all, a ministry that is commended by Christ is one in which people are the main concern. The ministry will be paying attention to the best interests of the people. Secondly, Jesus also says that the true ministers would be hated of all men, persecuted and afflicted. Those who minister, in turn, to these faithful leaders are those whom Christ commends in the Judgment. These “may have known little of theology, but they have cherished His principles.”

I know from my own experience that it is not imperative that one knows every answer to realize when they hear something, whether it’s right or not. Many times over the last several years I have waited on something I’ve heard, choosing not to act on it because the principle of it didn’t seem to square up with the Lord’s principles. Many more times than not have I been glad to have adhered to what I thought was God’s principle in the matter. Time and time again it has proven to be a saviour to both Cathy and me. The better you understand what the principles of God are, the better you will be safeguarded in any given situation. When you decide to act on the right principle, even if you don’t happen to know everything about the subject in question, it usually ends up saving you a lot of unnecessary grief later.

DA 639: “The angels of heaven are sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. We know not now who they are; it is not yet made manifest who shall overcome, and share the inheritance of the saints in light; but angels of heaven are passing throughout the length and breadth of the earth, seeking to comfort the sorrowing, to protect the imperiled, to win the hearts of men to Christ. Not one is neglected or passed by. God is no respecter of persons, and He has an equal care for all the souls He has created.”

Two important principles are brought to light. God’s love extends to every soul and is unconditional. Now please don’t get this mixed up with some who would have you believe that because God’s love is unconditional, His promises are unconditional. This would be a fatal mistake! NONE OF GOD’S PROMISES ARE UNCONDITIONAL. ALL PROMISES ARE CONDITIONAL BASED UPON OBEDIENCE. God loves you no matter what you do, but He will not save you no matter what you do. God’s love and God’s promises are two different things and if not rightly understood can result in disaster. God is no respecter of persons. Poverty or riches mean nothing to God. Neither do profession or position. All are judged by the same laws set forth by God.

Also, let us be very sensitive to the timing of the last events which we are now experiencing. While the heat of the battle intensifies, we should be aware that it is only God who closes probation, not any man. Even the angels cannot do this. “We know not now who they are; it is not yet made manifest who shall overcome, and share the inheritance of the saints in light;…” Let’s not forget that Saul, a staunch Conference man who fiercely persecuted THE church, became Paul AFTER the “church” leaders had crucified Jesus and AFTER the stoning of Stephen.

DA 641: “Those who minister to others will be ministered unto by the Chief Shepherd. They themselves will drink of the living water, and will be satisfied. They will not be longing for exciting amusements, or for some change in their lives. The great topic of interest will be, how to save the souls that are ready to perish. Social intercourse will be profitable. The love of the Redeemer will draw hearts together in unity. …

“Love to man is the earthward manifestation of the love of God. It was to implant this love, to make us children of one family, that the King of Glory became one with us. And when His parting words are fulfilled, ‘Love one another, as I have loved you; ’ (JOHN 15: 12) when we love the world as He has loved it, then for us His mission is accomplished. We are fitted for heaven; for we have heaven in our hearts.”

Those who secure heaven will have a genuine love for their fellow man. When one is called to minister, it involves far more than just preaching. It means service to others in love. It means having a sincere interest in the well- being of others. Even as the enemy of Christ sought to destroy Him, even through gossip and slander the “church” attempted to destroy His influence and defame His character, even in the face of apparent failure,

Jesus demonstrated that He valued every soul. No matter how vile, no matter what present or past sin, Jesus never turned away a soul who came to Him for salvation. Jesus pitied those who refused His invitations of mercy and forgiveness. He NEVER took pleasure in their destruction.

DA 643- 4: “There was ‘a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. ’ THIS CONTENTION, CARRIED ON IN THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST, GRIEVED AND WOUNDED HIM. The disciples clung to their favorite idea that Christ would assert His power, and take His position on the throne of David. And in heart each still longed for the highest place in the kingdom. They had placed their own estimate upon themselves and upon one another, and instead of regarding their brethren as more worthy, they had placed themselves first. The request of James and John to sit on the right and left of Christ’s throne, had excited the indignation of the others. That the two brothers should presume to ask for the highest position, so stirred the ten that alienation threatened. They felt that they were misjudged, that their fidelity and talents were not appreciated. Judas was the most severe upon James and John. …

“Another cause of dissension had arisen. At a feast it was customary for a servant to wash the feet of the guests, and on this occasion preparation had been made for the service. The pitcher, the basin, and the towel were there, in readiness for the feet- washing; but no servant was present, and it was the disciples’ part to perform it. But each of the disciples, yielding to wounded pride, determined not to act the part of a servant. All manifested a stoical unconcern, seeming unconscious that there was anything for them to do. By their silence they refused to humble themselves.

“How was Christ to bring these poor souls where Satan would not gain over them a decided victory? How could He show that a MERE PROFESSION OF DISCIPLESHIP DID NOT MAKE THEM DISCIPLES, OR INSURE THEM A PLACE IN HIS KINGDOM? How could He show that IT IS LOVING SERVICE, TRUE HUMILITY, WHICH CONSTITUTES REAL GREATNESS? How was He to kindle love in their hearts, and enable them to comprehend what He longed to tell them?

“The disciples made no move toward serving one another. Jesus waited for a time to see what they would do. Then He, the divine Teacher, rose from the table. Laying aside the outer garment that would have impeded His movements, He took a towel, and girded Himself. With surprised interest the disciples looked on, and in silence waited to see what was to follow. ‘After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. ’ THIS ACTION OPENED THE EYES OF THE DISCIPLES. BITTER SHAME AND HUMILIATION FILLED THEIR HEARTS. THEY UNDERSTOOD THE UNSPOKEN REBUKE, AND SAW THEMSELVES IN ALTOGETHER A NEW LIGHT.

“So Christ expressed His love for His disciples. Their selfish spirit filled Him with sorrow, but He entered into no controversy with them regarding their difficulty. Instead He gave them an example they would never forget. His love for them was not easily disturbed or quenched. He knew that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He came from God, and went to God. He had a full consciousness of His divinity; but He had laid aside His royal crown and kingly robes, and had taken the form of a servant. One of the last acts of His life on earth was to gird Himself as a servant, and perform a servant’s part.”

Many of us today (not only in Conference offices) are needing to learn what is defined as humble service. These passages were written primarily, in all fairness, about the experiences of the Independent Leaders – those chosen and tested by Christ. They were to take a message to the Ancient Adventists and the world especially attended by the power of the early rain at Pentecost. This time and these events are being repeated. We must pass these tests if we are to continue to be Christ’s disciples.

DA 646- 9: “Like Peter and his brethren, we too have been washed in the blood of Christ, yet often through contact with evil the heart’s purity is soiled. We must come to Christ for His cleansing grace. Peter shrank from bringing his soiled feet in contact with the hands of his Lord and Master; but how often we bring our sinful, polluted hearts in contact with the heart of Christ. How grievous to Him is our evil temper, our vanity and pride. Yet all our infirmity and defilement we must bring to Him. He alone can wash us clean. We are not prepared for communion with Him unless cleansed by His efficacy.”

We, like Peter should realize that we must allow the Lord to wash us totally of every defilement. The foot- washing is a symbol or type of higher cleansing that comes from Christ alone. It represents His work of purification in the life of the sinner. Judas refused this higher cleansing. Peter realized without it he would be lost! We have two Independent Leaders with two different experiences. Judas knew what needed to be done. Judas was drawn to Christ. But Judas refused to be humbled and clung to his pride. Judas became possessed by a demon. Peter at first refused the Lord’s offer as well. Peter also became aware that he needed to let go of his pride and decided that he would. Peter became possessed by the Holy Spirit. Two Independent ministers: one entered into the cleansing and was saved; one entered not and was lost.

DA 649: “Christ would have His disciples understand that although He had washed their feet, this did not in the least detract from His dignity. ‘Ye call Me Master and Lord, and ye say well; for so I am. ’ And being so infinitely superior, He imparted grace and significance to the service. No one was so exalted as Christ, and yet He stooped to the humblest duty. That His people might not be misled by the selfishness which dwells in the natural heart, and which strengthens by self- serving, Christ Himself set the example of humility. He would not leave this great subject in man’s charge. Of so much consequence did He regard it, that He Himself, One equal with God, acted as servant to His disciples. While they were contending for the highest place, He to whom every knee shall bow, He whom the angels of glory count it honor to serve, bowed down to wash the feet of those who called Him Lord. He washed the feet of His betrayer.”

The system (or individual) that tries to make itself greater than others, because of position or some accomplishment, is not of God. God is so great because of His unselfish service to those whom are all much lower than Himself. Those who choose to remain self- serving, although engaged in the “Lord’s work,” will never be in God’s kingdom. A life of humble service is what is great in God’s sight. He says: “In My kingdom the principle of preference and supremacy has no place. The only greatness is the greatness of humility. The only distinction is found in devotion to the service of others.” (DA 650)

DA 652- 3: “Christ was standing at the point of transition between two economies and their two great festivals. He, the spotless Lamb of God, was about to present Himself as a sin- offering, and HE WOULD THUS BRING TO AN END THE SYSTEM OF TYPES AND CEREMONIES THAT FOR FOUR THOUSAND YEARS HAD POINTED TO HIS DEATH. AS HE ATE THE PASSOVER WITH HIS DISCIPLES, HE INSTITUTED IN ITS PLACE THE SERVICE THAT WAS TO BE THE MEMORIAL OF HIS GREAT SACRIFICE. THE NATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THE JEWS WAS TO PASS AWAY FOREVER. The service which Christ established was to be observed by His followers in all lands and through ALL ages.

“The Passover was ordained as a commemoration of the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage. God had directed that, year by year, as the children should ask the meaning of this ordinance, the history should be repeated. Thus the wonderful deliverance was to be kept fresh in the minds of all. The ordinance of the Lord’s supper was given to commemorate the great deliverance wrought out as the result of the death of Christ. Till He shall come the second time in power and glory, THIS ORDINANCE is to be celebrated. It is the means by which His great work for us is to be kept fresh in our minds.”

The system of types and ceremonies which were instituted during the time of Moses was a reminder to the people that God had freed them from the bondage of Egypt. These were all ended “forever” at the cross. It had been Jesus Who had instructed Moses to institute these types and ceremonies and it was this same Jesus Who ended them. It was also this same Jesus Who “instituted in its place the service that was to be the memorial of His great sacrifice.” Did you notice that it doesn’t say that He added to these ceremonies, but rather instituted in the place of them.

There are several, I believe, well- meaning people who are confused on this issue and are actively confusing others in their attempts of trying to convince them that the old ways should be revived. What these honest, but misguided folks, apparently don’t realize is that Jesus was doing away with the entire Jewish system economy. For four thousand years this system, which included the slaying of beasts, had gone on. It had started with Adam and his sons AFTER SIN entered the world; at the time of Moses other ceremonies had been added. This is when the Sanctuary service had been instituted, as well as all the ceremonies representing the future death of Christ (and a reminder of their release from the grips of bondage in Egypt).

What does it mean “Christ was standing at the point of transition between two economies…”? Something was about to change. Something would be set aside forever and something else (new) would take the place of the old. Of course, the God (Jesus) Who had instituted one could replace it with another if He so chose and this IS what He did.

Jesus knew the future. He was about to do away with the Jews, not trusting them any more to evangelize the world, nor recognizing them any longer as a nation of “chosen” people. After all, it was He Who had chosen them. They had rejected Him and He was forced to let them go their own way.

As would be consistent with a continued rebellion against the truth the Jews refused to accept that Christ had done away with the “types and CEREMONIES THAT FOR FOUR THOUSAND YEARS HAD POINTED TO HIS DEATH.” But Jesus was moving away from the Jewish leaders. He chose laymen and told them to first re- educate the Jews who would listen, and then go to the Gentiles.

Again, as would be expected those who had rejected Christ but who were exerting their authority in the “church” rose up against the present truth and steadfastly endeavored to retain and enforce the old. This is what the argument in Acts 15 is all about. This is what Colossians 2 is all about. The Bible plainly reveals that these ceremonies were not to be laid on the Gentiles. The Bible clearly indicates that all these ceremonies and their Sabbaths are of the past. Most Seventh- day Adventists realize this and know the difference between THE Sabbath and A Sabbath. One is the perpetual Sabbath instituted during the creation week, here before sin entered into the world and be here after it is gone. The other Sabbaths were instituted as high days as part of the ceremonial laws and passed away at the cross.

These arguments concerning the feast days and their Sabbaths are nothing new. It was argued vehemently by the Apostate church leaders who had killed Christ. They wouldn’t believe Him before the cross and they still didn’t believe Him after the cross! No matter how heated folks may get, it is very obvious in God’s Word that Gentiles were not to be yolked with a burden Jesus had blotted out. The Jews were wrong (and still are) to cling to these things and the Orthodox Jew (the old style Jew who still doesn’t accept Christ as the Messiah) is still lost. He is still keeping the ceremonies. He is still keeping the feast days. He is still keeping all those old Sabbaths, but the reason he is doing so is because HE IS STILL REJECTING JESUS!

On the other hand, the Gentiles were NEVER commanded to keep these ceremonies, feast days, or Sabbaths (excepting THE Sabbath) because the Apostles rightly understood they had been replaced with the new by Jesus Himself, also the originator of the old. Please don’t miss this point. IT WAS ONLY THOSE WHO WERE REJECTING CHRIST WHO TRIED TO FORCE THESE THINGS UPON THE GENTILES. I believe many should and need to restudy this issue and stop trying to make the way of salvation through the methods of the rejected Jewish nation. I do not have to read mounds of “convincing” information from wellmeaning but misguided folks to understand and believe the plain words left to us in God’s Word and given to us through the present- day prophet.

DA 654: “The disciples had searched one another’s faces closely as they asked, ‘Lord, is it I? ’ And now the silence of Judas drew all eyes to him. Amid the confusion of questions and expressions of astonishment, Judas had not heard the words of Jesus in answer to John’s question. But now, to escape the scrutiny of the disciples, he asked as they had done, ‘Master, is it I? ’ Jesus solemnly replied, ‘Thou hast said. ’

“In surprise and confusion at the exposure of his purpose, Judas rose hastily to leave the room.”

Only two people knew the true condition, character, and motives of the self- serving Judas. Jesus had labored with Him for three and a half years, but Judas (an Independent Leader, by the way) would not surrender. He was “doing the work”; He had a head knowledge of the ways of the Master; He was on the “front lines.” But Judas refused to enter into that experience which every saved person must have. Judas did not possess the saving knowledge that is vital in a “Christian’s” life. He did not have an experiential knowledge of Christ. He had even fooled all the other disciples and the laity, but he could not fool Jesus.

Christ demonstrates that there is a limit to God’s forbearance and man’s probation in His dealings with this Independent Minister. What we need to learn as professed followers of Christ is that the heavenly principles of truth, mercy, and justice always outweigh human profession and position. It makes no difference what “group” or “camp” you are in so far as this principle is concerned. You can and will be just as lost if you support and follow Judas instead of Jesus.

DA 655- 56: “Though Jesus knew Judas from the beginning, He washed his feet. And the betrayer was privileged to unite with Christ in partaking of the sacrament. A longsuffering Saviour held out every inducement for the sinner to receive Him, to repent, and to be cleansed from the defilement of sin. This example is for us. When we suppose one to be in error and sin, we are not to divorce ourselves from him. By no careless separation are we to leave him a prey to temptation, or drive him upon Satan’s battle- ground. This is not Christ’s method. It was because the disciples were erring and faulty that He washed their feet, and all but one of the twelve were thus brought to repentance.”

Oh, the longsuffering of our Lord! We must learn to love and be longsuffering as Jesus was with Judas. Our motives must constantly be checked. There is a time, of course, when we must let one go, but I fear that in many cases we “throw people away” far too quickly. Christ let Judas go to do his work of betrayal with deep pity in His heart. He had not carelessly driven Judas onto Satan’s ground. Even in the midst of the battle, the motives of Jesus were pure and noble. He was truly interested in the salvation of souls and not in their destruction. He finds NO pleasure in the destruction of His enemies and neither will we if we have His spirit within us. We have all been the enemies of God and those who have loved God’s pity and forgiveness on their own behalf will not carelessly cast off others. Remember, the bridge of forgiveness you burn may one day be the bridge that you yourself may need to cross.

DA 659- 61: “The communion service points to Christ’s second coming. It was designed to keep this hope vivid in the minds of the disciples….

“These are the things we are never to forget. The love of Jesus, with its constraining power, is to be kept fresh in our memory. Christ has instituted this service that it may speak to our senses of the love of God that has been expressed in our behalf. There can be no union between our souls and God except through Christ. The union and love between brother and brother must be cemented and rendered eternal by the love of Jesus. And nothing less than the death of Christ could make His love efficacious for us. It is only because of His death that we can look with joy to His second coming. His sacrifice is the center of our hope. Upon this we must fix our faith. …

“As faith contemplates our Lord’s great sacrifice, the soul assimilates the spiritual life of Christ. That soul will receive spiritual strength from every communion. The service forms a living connection by which the believer is bound up with Christ, and thus bound up with the Father. In a special sense it forms a connection between dependent human beings and God. “As we receive the bread and wine symbolizing Christ’s broken body and spilled blood, we in imagination join in the scene of communion in the upper chamber. We seem to be passing through the garden consecrated by the agony of Him who bore the sins of the world. We witness the struggle by which our reconciliation with God was obtained. Christ is set forth crucified among us.

“Looking upon the crucified Redeemer, we more fully comprehend the magnitude and meaning of the sacrifice made by the Majesty of heaven. The plan of salvation is glorified before us, and the thought of Calvary awakens living and sacred emotions in our hearts. Praise to God and the Lamb will be in our hearts and on our lips; for pride and self- worship cannot flourish in the soul that keeps fresh in memory the scenes of Calvary.

“He who beholds the Saviour’s matchless love, will be elevated in thought, purified in heart, transformed in character. He will go forth to be a light to the world, to reflect in some degree this mysterious love. The more we contemplate the cross of Christ, the more fully shall we adopt the language of the apostle when he said, ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. ’ (Gal. 6: 14).”

Jesus instituted the communion service in order that we would remember Him. We are to keep in our minds that it was with a tremendous struggle that the Father and the Son paid the supreme sacrifice for each of us while we were (or maybe still are) His enemies.

We are, also, to remember the self- sacrificing life of Christ and the path that He trod alone to Calvary in our stead. We, too, have the same path to travel in our own sphere if we are to share in His glory. And we are not to forget that others are just as precious in Heaven’s sight as we are — we are to maintain a sanctified respect for the worth of every soul. The memories of the Communion Service are to lift us up to higher ground. Above the natural bend toward pride and prejudice of the carnal heart is this ceremony to lift those who would follow Jesus.

Copyright © 1999 Servants of the Saviour
Terry & Cathy Ross

Table of Contents
Acknowledgements and Forward
Chapter 1 Desire of Ages — Chapter 63
Chapter 2 Desire of Ages — Chapter 64
Chapter 3 Desire of Ages — Chapter 65
Chapter 4 Desire of Ages — Chapters 66 & 67
Chapter 5 Desire of Ages — Chapters 68 & 69
Chapter 6 Desire of Ages — Chapters 70, 71 & 72
Chapter 7 Desire of Ages — Chapter 73
Chapter 8 Desire of Ages — Chapters 74 & 75
Chapter 9 Desire of Ages — Chapters 76 & 77
Chapter 10 Desire of Ages — Chapter 78