Missing the Glory

As Bible-believing Christians, it is vitally important that every doctrine that we profess be firmly rooted in the word of God. Jesus declared that it is the word of His Father that is truth and makes us holy. “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” John 17:17. God takes ownership only of the truth. God has no part of a lie, but He tells us who the author of lies is. “You are of your father the devil … for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44. We need to “buy the truth, and do not sell it” (Proverbs 23:23) and have no part of any lie.

The purpose of a lie is to deceive, to blind the mind so that the truth cannot be understood. Satan told the very first lie to Eve in the garden of Eden. It was about death, a subject on which billions today are still deceived. The devil told our first mother, as she stood before the forbidden tree, “You will not surely die.” Genesis 3:4. This lie was in direct conflict with the truth of God regarding the punishment of death for sin. He had declared to Adam, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:17. Adam and Eve sinned, but did not drop dead that day. They did, however, die spiritually. They were no longer in unity with God, their Creator. Guilt-ridden, they fled from His presence.

Because our first parents did not physically die on the very day that they ate the forbidden fruit, the lie of Satan is eagerly believed by many Christians. Even on tombstones, phrases are carved disputing the existence of death. “There is no Death.” “Gone to Glory.” Satan’s lie is eagerly grasped for comfort at the loss of a loved one, being repeated by ministers, family, and friends at funerals and memorial services. So often, those who state, “She’s singing in the choir with the angels,” “He is in a better place,” or “He’s gone on home to glory” do not realize they are perpetuating the devil’s lie. On obituaries it is stated that the service is a “Home Going Celebration.” By the words of false comfort, spoken over the dead, God’s word has been stripped of its power to enlighten the mind to the glories of the resurrection of the just.

Is it not strange that in Christian churches, where the resurrection of Christ is regarded so highly that the first day of the week on which He rose is the day of worship, it is taught that those who die now go straight to heaven, bypassing the resurrection at Jesus’ soon return? How is it that those who follow the Master are greater and more blessed than He? Our Lord plainly told His disciples, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ ” John 15:20

In His earthly ministry, Jesus raised the dead to life, but never gave any indication that they had gone to heaven at death. Even Lazarus, whom He loved, did not enter heaven at death. When our Saviour raised him back to life, He did not say, “Lazarus, come down.” He called out to the grave where His dear friend lay, “ ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes … .” John 11:43, 44.

The raising of Lazarus from the dead agrees fully with the truth about death in the Old Testament. “The dead do not praise the Lord, nor any who go down into silence.” Psalm 115:17. “For Sheol [the grave] cannot thank You, death cannot praise You; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth. The living, the living man, he shall praise You, as I do this day.” Isaiah 38:18, 19

“Popular theology represents the righteous dead as in heaven, entered into bliss and praising God with an immortal tongue; but Hezekiah could see no such glorious prospect in death. With his words agrees the testimony of the psalmist: ‘In death there is no remembrance of Thee: in the grave who shall give Thee thanks?’ … Psalm 6:5.” The Great Controversy, 546

Jesus’ words to His disciples before He raised Lazarus shed further light on the true nature of death. He described His friend’s death as a sleep. “… ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.’ Then his disciples said, ‘Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.’ However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead.’ ” John 11:11–14. Jesus’ description of death as a sleep is straight out of the Old Testament that He loved and knew so well.

“Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death … .” Psalm 13:3

“So David rested with his fathers, and was buried in the City of David.” 1 Kings 2:10

“Then Solomon rested with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father.” 1 Kings 11:43

“And the period that Jeroboam reigned was twenty-two years. So he rested with his fathers.” 1 Kings 14:20

“So Rehoboam rested with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David.” Verse 31

How much do the dead know? Nothing at all. “For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.” Ecclesiastes 9:5

In the sleep of death, the dead know nothing and can do nothing. It is the misunderstanding or straight out refusal to believe God’s word on the matter of death that has led to such errors as channeling, using Ouija boards, wishing the dead “Heavenly Happy Birthday,” being scared of ghosts in haunted houses, holding séances to get messages from dead loved ones, or believing that dead relatives can come and talk to us. Such pretended communication is from Satan and his lying demonic forces, as evident in the history of King Saul and the witch of En Dor. (1 Samuel 28:5–25.) This happened after Samuel the prophet died and was buried in Ramah. So the “Samuel” that communicated with Saul was not the dead prophet of the Lord, but an evil spirit pretending to be God’s spokesman.

In the records of the kings of Israel and Judah, none of them, not even the righteous ones who walked in the ways of the Lord—David, Asa, or Hezekiah—are said to have gone to heaven at death. Centuries after David, “a man after [God’s] own heart” had died, specific mention was made by Peter on the Day of Pentecost, that he had not gone to heaven. “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.

For David did not ascend into the heavens … .” Acts 2:29, 34. Even Jesus did not go directly to heaven at death (John 20:17).

We now ask, “When will the dead live again?” “So man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep.” Job 14:12. And when will the atmospheric heavens be destroyed? In the “day of the Lord … in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise … .” 2 Peter 3:10. Jesus raised the dead while on earth, and at His glorious second advent, He will call the righteous dead to life. “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.” John 5:25

The truth of the first resurrection is further clarified in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trump 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.” This truth brings true healing to the grieving, as Paul summed it up in verse 18, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

On earth’s final day, when “the Son of man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him,” and sits “on the throne of His glory,” (Matthew 25:31), may we not miss out on glory, but greet Jesus in peace, and be forever with our Lord!

Patricia Smith is a second generation Seventh-day Adventist writer who loves to study and share the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy.

The First Lie, Part I

Some time ago, when we had some visitors from Europe, we had a special weekend. We visited and studied God’s word together and we studied some of the pillars of our faith. After that weekend, I received many questions; the one most frequently asked was, Are there other pillars of the Adventist faith that we need to know?

There are many people going to Seventh-day Adventist churches who do not know the pillars, the foundations of our message.

Rooted and Grounded

If you really want to get rooted and grounded in the Adventist message, ask the Lord to help you find somebody with whom you can study the Bible. I personally believe that my own ministry would not amount to very much if I were not out studying the Bible with people. It keeps you in contact with reality.

What are the questions on people’s minds? If you are studying the Bible with people, it is easy for you to think that the pillars of the Seventh-day Adventist faith are fundamental things. We have studied these doctrines, and we have studied them over and over with other people, so we do not study them in the church. We assume that people in the church know them, but Ellen White has told us that many people in our churches want to understand the way of salvation (see Evangelism, 350), but they do not. They need to know the fundamental doctrines.

Facing the Hard Texts

We need to know the objections that people have to our faith, so we are going to look at some hard texts that, if you live until Jesus comes, I can guarantee people are going to use to try to overthrow your faith.

We will start with the sixth commandment. In John 8:44, Jesus is talking to the Jewish people. It is one of the strongest rebukes that He gave to them. Jesus said to the Jewish leaders, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

I do not believe the devil understood that he was a murderer. When he began walking down this path, he did not see where it was going to lead him. Thousands of years ago if you had said to the devil, You are getting ready to break the sixth commandment, he would have said, Oh, no, I am not; I am just trying to make things better. But he was starting down a path that was going to lead him to attempt to destroy God.

If you were told straight out, You can be part of the kingdom of light and life, or you can be part of the kingdom of death and darkness, which would you choose? That would not be a hard choice to make, would it? Everybody would choose life. Well, if that is the case, how did the devil get any followers? The answer is found in John 8:44. He is the father of lies. In order to get people to follow him, he had to tell a lie, because no one would intentionally choose death over life.

His kingdom is literally the kingdom of death and darkness, and it is filled with murderers. He is called the Prince of Darkness. To get any followers he had to use deceit, and he used deceit first of all on the angels. Then he used deceit on Eve. What was the first lie that the devil told Eve in the Garden of Eden? You will not die. (See Genesis 3:4.)

The Father of Lies

God said, If you eat of this fruit, you are going to die. The devil said, No, you will not. He was trying to get Eve to do something that would cause her death. He was trying to do something that would bring death to every single descendant that she had. He was breaking the sixth commandment. I have come to the conclusion that all murderers are liars. Jesus linked murdering and lying in John 8:44.

The devil, in the Garden of Eden, murdered Adam and Eve. He caused their death. In order to get them to take the hook, he had to put some bait on it, and that was a lie. The lie was that they would not really die. After Adam and Eve sinned, the devil had murdered them. He had brought about their death and the death of every living thing. Trees died; plants died; animals died, and all men and women died.

So the devil was proved to be a liar. God told the truth. But the devil has told this same lie over and over again, right up to the present time, and has gained repeated victories. Ellen White says the lie that you will not really die is one of the two lies by which the devil will gain control over the whole world in the last days. (See The Great Controversy, 588.)

Obviously the devil is a liar, because everybody does die. So what the devil did then, was to create this fiction that there is something in you that does not die. Now in the English language it is called the soul or the spirit. This apparently is a belief of almost all heathen religions also.

Chasing Fables

I have a book at home on Tutankhamun. Some time ago, when my wife and I were in Cairo, we went to the Cairo Museum, and we actually saw some of the things that are pictured in this book. We saw a gold plated box with four women on each of the four sides. They were goddesses in the Egyptian religion.

At the top there were the hooded heads of cobras, probably 25 or 30 on each side. On the top of each one of these hooded heads of the cobras, was a sun disc. We saw carved snakes everywhere in the Museum. The snake is a symbol of Satan worship as far back as we can go. It is interesting that Satan worship and sun worship are that closely related. There must have been 100 snakes around the box.

We read that when Tutankhamun died, they made a mummy of him, but they cut out his internal organs—heart, liver, kidneys and those kinds of things, and they put them in this box. The carved goddesses were placed around the box to guard these organs.

When these people were buried, a food supply and a chariot with lots of clothes and money were buried with them. They still do this today in heathen countries. That is why, over the centuries, the graves have been robbed.

Why did they bury all of these things with these Egyptian kings? They did it because the devil had convinced them that there was an afterlife.

The Spirit of “Ka”

They had been taught, and they believed, that there was what they call the “ka.” They had different words for it in the Egyptian language. It was something within you that went on living when you died. They thought that, as long as you could keep the body intact, then, at some future time, this spirit “Ka,” whatever it is, could come back and enter the body again.

You find this, incidentally, in all the heathen religions. You find it in the Greeks. Where did the church in the Middle Ages develop that idea of the immortality of the soul? Did they get it from the Bible? No, they did not. They got it from Plato, who was a Greek philosopher, who got it from the Egyptians, who got it from the high priests of their heathen religion, which was actually demon or devil worship.

This is the lie that the devil started telling at the beginning of time. He told it to Eve, he convinced the ancient nations, and this lie has come into the Christian Church. It has come clear up to our time.

If you believe this deception, what further deception are you ready to accept? Let us put it a different way. Suppose you have a relative who dies. Suppose the form of one of these dead relatives should appear to you at some time.

I have gone through this scenario in my mind many times. What would I do? Well, I would immediately have to ask the Lord to deliver me from this demon. I understand what happens to a person when they die, and therefore if a form of one of my dead loved ones or relatives comes to me, I know immediately that somebody is trying to trick me. I am not going to go and put my arms around them, because it is not who it looks like. Are you clear on that point?

Misunderstanding the State of the Dead

Interestingly enough, most of the people who translated the Bible, and this includes the Old King James Bible from 1611, did not understand the truth about the state of the dead. They were coming out of the Dark Ages. Martin Luther, in the beginning of his career, was trained to be a priest, and he studied Aristotle and Greek philosophy. If you are mixed up on the state of the dead, is there a possibility that your own thinking could color your translation of the Bible? There most certainly is. That is exactly what happened. In fact, the most serious errors in the Old King James Bible have to do with the state of the dead.

We need to know what these errors are. They remain uncorrected in most of the English translations, so we need to understand these things. We will go over some of the “hard” texts. I believe that this is so serious, and the devil is deceiving so many millions of people today, that we should know every text in the Bible that can be thrown at us on this subject, and we should know how to answer.

Some of the texts say, unequivocally, what happens to a person when they die. In the book of Genesis there is a hard text. Let us see if we can understand this.

Collecting Objections

When a person becomes a professional salesman, the professional salesman collects objections. He knows what all the objections are to his product. Not only does he know what all the objections are, the professional salesman has written down the best answers to every objection. When you are talking to him, and you bring up an objection, he will casually give you the answer word for word—the very best answer there is to your objection. If you still object, he will give you, word for word, the second-best answer to your objection. And if you still object, he can just as casually give you the third-best answer to your objection.

Do you think that the children of light should be as wise and as intelligent as the people of this world? I believe we should. As Christians who expect that Jesus is coming soon, who want to help others get ready, we should know what the objections are to what we believe, and we should be able to look in the Bible and explain them. Let us see if we can.

Genesis 35 talks about the death of Rachel. “And so it was, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his father called him Benjamin.” Genesis 35:18. What do you do with that text? Someone says, Well, a person has a soul, and when they die their soul departs. It says so right here in this text. What is your answer?

The word soul comes from a very common Hebrew word. It is translated as soul over 400 times in the Bible, but it has another translation. It is translated as the English word life over 100 times in the Bible. If you put the other translation in this text, it would read, “And so it was, as her life was leaving (or departing) for she died, that she called his name Ben-Oni, but his father called him Benjamin.”

If you have ever talked with somebody who is dying, or who has come very close to death and has been revived, they will tell you that life departs from the feet first, and they can feel the life leaving their body. The feeling comes right up, and when it gets up to the heart, that is the end, life departs. But that does not mean that there is some conscious entity that goes up in the clouds somewhere. Life just departed.

What Really Happens When We Die?

Let us consider some texts in the book of Job that prove exactly what happens to a person when they die. We will also look at some hard texts that people think we cannot answer. You might think the book of Job would be a depressing book to read, yet this book has been one of the favorites for people who are in trouble, for thousands of years.

The book of Job was one of the favorite books among the Waldenses, those who were being persecuted and martyred for their faith. There were Waldenses who could quote the entire book of Job, word for word. In Job 3, he is bemoaning the day of his birth and then in verses 11–19 he says, “‘Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb? Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should nurse? For now I would have lain still and been quiet, I would have been asleep; Then I would have been at rest With kings and counselors of the earth, Who built ruins for themselves, Or with princes who had gold, Who filled their houses with silver; Or why was I not hidden like a stillborn child, Like infants who never saw light? There the wicked cease from troubling, And there the weary are at rest. There the prisoners rest together; They do not hear the voice of the oppressor. The small and great are there, And the servant is free from his master.’”

So the dead do not hear anything; they are not doing anything; they are resting. They are asleep. “As the cloud disappears and vanishes away, So he who goes down to the grave does not come up. He shall never return to his house, nor shall his place know him anymore.” Job 7:9, 10.

Visited by Demons

The dead are not going to come back home. If somebody comes to your house in the form of your dead loved one, it is a fraud. The devil is trying to deceive you by impersonating your loved one. Ellen White says that the devil can impersonate, and that the impersonation is perfect. (See Signs of the Times, September 3, 1894.) That is quite a statement. The form, the features of the face, the sound of the voice, are a perfect impersonation.

That spirit might tell you something that only you and the dead person knew, but it is still a fraud. It is more deceptive; that is all, because Job says that the real person who dies is never going to come to his house again.

Now let us look at a hard text and see if we can figure it out. “‘But man dies and is laid away; indeed he breathes his last And where is he? As water disappears from the sea, And a river becomes parched and dries up, So man lies down and does not rise, Till the heavens are no more.’” Job 14:10–12.

He tells us how long he is going to lie down. When will he rise again? When the heavens are no more. Now you can find out when that is if you look in the last chapters in the book of Revelation. They will not awake nor be roused from their sleep until the heavens are no more. (See Job 14:12.)

Let us look at a few texts that will give us Job’s understanding of death.

“If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, ‘Til my change comes. You shall call, and I will answer You; You shall desire the work of Your hands.’ ” Job 14:14, 15.

A Proof Text?

I was taught to use Job 14:21 as a proof text to explain the state of the dead. I never use it however, and you will see why if you read verse 22.

When a person dies, “His sons come to honor, and he does not know it; They are brought low, and he does not perceive it. But his flesh will be in pain over it, and his soul will mourn over it.” Now what are you going to do with that? I do not need to bring up all the objections that a person might have.

Job 14:21 is very clear, but what are you going to do with verse 22? Let us investigate verse 22 a little bit. Look, first of all, at Isaiah 58:7. “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and hide not yourself from your own flesh?” Whose flesh is it talking about?

This is a Biblical expression, and it is talking about your family, your loved ones. We still use that terminology today concerning our family—we say they are our own flesh and blood.

In Job 14:22 he says, “His flesh will be in pain over it.” He is talking about his relatives. His loved ones are in pain. Are you in pain if you have a loved one die? Yes, you are in a lot of pain. His flesh, his kinfolks, his relatives, are going to be in pain. That makes sense, does it not?

However, we are only half way through. What do you do with the last part of the verse? “His soul will mourn over it.” That is just about as much trouble as the first part of verse 22.

Next month we will look at the word mourn, and see what the Bible is trying to tell us.

To be continued. . . .

The First Lie, Part II

Last month we began looking at some of the texts in the Bible dealing with the state of the dead, which we might find hard to explain. We learned that we are going to have to give an answer for each of our beliefs, and we need to be prepared to do that. Let us look at a few other texts in the Bible and see how we can explain them. These texts all contain the same word, mourn. I want you to see how this word is used in the Bible.

Mis-Translated Words

In Amos 1:2 it says, “And he said: ‘The Lord roars from Zion, And utters His voice from Jerusalem; The pastures of the shepherds mourn, And the top of Carmel withers.’” Have you ever seen a pasture mourn? No, pastures cannot mourn.

Isaiah 24:4 uses this same word: “The earth mourns and fades away, The world languishes and fades away; The haughty people of the earth languish.”

In verse 7, you will see this same word used again, although some versions of the Bible have translated the word as fails in this text. The Greek word translated as fails is the same word that is translated as mourn. “The new wine fails [mourns], the vine languishes, All the merry-hearted sigh.”

Isaiah 33:9 says, “The earth mourns and languishes, Lebanon is shamed and shriveled; Sharon is like a wilderness, And Bashan and Carmel shake off their fruits.” That word, mourns, is also used in Job 14:22.

So what are these texts saying? In each one of the verses it said that something which is inanimate, like grass, or the earth, or a vine, mourned. The word that means to mourn was used. What does that mean? It means, literally, that it is languishing, languid, falling, failing, or dried up.

With this knowledge, let us look at Job 14:22, and put that same definition in there. “His relatives or his kinfolk will be in pain over it [that is over his death], And his soul will be languishing [dried up, failing, or falling—any one of those].” You see, when a flower gets droopy and falls, that is a sign that the life has gone out of it. The same word is used here. This word is also used concerning people—they mourn. But it is used, very often, in regard to inanimate things that have no life in them at all; they are languished or dried up or falling or failing. Dried up is a good translation there. So Job 14:22 is not a hard text to explain, if you have an understanding of the words.

Check the Context

There are a few texts in Ecclesiastes with which some people have trouble, such as Ecclesiastes 3:21. Remember, verse 21 is a question, not a statement: “Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?” Somebody could object and say that the spirit of man goes up, but the spirit of the beast goes down.

We ought to look at the whole context. Let us see what it says in verses 19 and 20: “For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.”

So what is the answer to verse 21? The answer is to say, Let us read verses 19 and 20. Verses 19 and 20 say that man has no advantage over the beast; they all go to one place. They are all dust. When a man dies, he is in the same condition as a beast. The only hope is the resurrection, the future.

Ecclesiastes 9; 12; Psalm 6:5 and 115:17 are texts where the wise man talks about the state of the dead, that they do not know anything. But some of the most troublesome texts in the Bible, concerning the state of the dead, are in the New Misplaced Commas

Probably the easiest one of all to explain is what Jesus said to the thief on the cross. (See Luke 23:43.) Jesus said, “Truly I say to you today . . . .” Say it right, and it will help the person understand. After you say “today” just pause for a long time.

“Truly, I say to you today [right now, when we are both on the cross], you will be with Me in paradise.” Jesus did not say, “Today you will be with Me in paradise.” How do we know that Jesus did not mean to say, “Today you will be with Me in paradise”? Can you prove it from the Bible? The answer is simple. He did not go there that day! How do we know that? Because, three days later, on the first day of the week, He said to Mary Magdalene, “I have not yet ascended to My Father . . . .” John 20:17.

According to Revelation 2:7, God’s throne is in paradise. Since, three days later, Jesus said, I have not gone yet, He was not intending to say to that man that he would be in paradise with Him that day, because He did not go there that day.

Incorrect Translations

Let us examine a text that is a little harder. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” Philippians 1:21–23.

Now when you just read this text the way it is stated in the English Bible, you are in deep trouble. You can read it over and over again, and you only have two choices: you live here in the flesh, or you depart to be with Christ. But there is a problem here, and the problem again is with the translation. Because in verse 23, the word between is an incorrect translation.

It was translated that way by translators who were trying to make it agree with what their preconceived opinion was, but that is not right at all. The Greek word that is translated between here, is the word that means out of. If you look in a Greek Lexicon, you will not find this word ever translated as between, except in this one text. It is not translated that way any place else in the Bible or in any other Greek literature, to my knowledge. Now if you put the words out of in this text, you will find that this text says something completely different. Look at verse 23 again. “For I am hard-pressed out of the two.” What does he mean hard-pressed out of the two? Paul did not want to stay here in the flesh, and he did not want to die either.

He said, Really, I am hard-pressed. I have a different desire, either staying with you or dying. What did he want to do? He wanted to be translated as was Enoch and go live with Christ. That would be far better than staying here, and it would be far better than death. Nevertheless, he says, to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. So that is a little bit harder to explain than Luke 23:43, because here you have the problem with a bad translation.

I worked with an evangelist one time who used to have many Bible translations, and he would take the one that had the right translation of the text to show the person. I found that was a very convincing technique. I have never found an English Bible that has this right, so I do not ever bring it up to people, because most people cannot read Greek. They would be taking my word for it, unless they got a Strong’s Concordance and an Interlinear Bible and checked it out, which they could do. However, we need to know the facts. If it comes up, we ought to know what the truth is, so we can explain it any time.

Difficult Texts

Another text that is difficult to understand is 11 Corinthians 5. In 11 Corinthians 5:1–8, Paul is talking about the very same concept that he was talking about in Philippians 1—how we can remain here in this body of flesh or we can die and be unclothed, but he really does not want to do either of those things. He would rather go and be with the Lord.

It will take you several minutes to go through these verses. You have to go through them phrase by phrase by phrase, then analyze, what is he saying? Being clothed, being naked as in the state of death, being clothed in this temple, or to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. He is talking about three things, not two. If you keep that in mind, you will

Let us go now to the hardest one of all. The hardest text (passage) in the whole Bible about the state of the dead, for me, is Luke 16.

Now, this could happen to anybody—suppose you come up to a passage of Scripture that you cannot explain; it seems to teach contrary to what all the rest of the Bible teaches. What are you going to do? Are you going to throw out 100 Scriptures because there is a Scripture that you cannot explain?

That would be dangerous, would it not? So even if you could not explain this passage (Luke 16) at all, you would not want to throw out all the rest of what the Bible says on this subject. To really understand this passage, I recommend you read Christ’s Object Lessons, 260–271. The title of the chapter is “A Great Gulf Fixed.”

Luke 16:19–31 is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Ellen White says, “In this parable Christ was meeting the people on their own ground.” Ibid., 263. The next question is, What was their own ground? Did the people, in Christ’s day, understand the truth about the state of the dead? They did not. You can look in the writings of Josephus and the Jews. The Jews had developed a theory about how, after you died, you went down to a hot place. They even had described what kind of a place it was.

Jesus Meets Us Where We Are

Mrs. White says, “The doctrine of a conscious state of existence between death and the resurrection was held by many of those who were listening to Christ’s words.” Ibid. So did they believe that after you died you were in a conscious state? Yes, they did. They were confused. Now, friends, we are going to get into something that I cannot fully explain. Why did the Lord not choose to correct them?

We know what Jesus believed about death, because when we read John 11, the story of Lazarus, Jesus said when he was dead that he was asleep. Nevertheless, notice what Ellen White said Jesus did: “The Saviour knew of their ideas.” He knew these people believed that you were conscious after death. He knew what they were thinking, and what did He do? “And He framed His parable so as to inculcate present important truths through these preconceived opinions.” Ibid.

He took their preconceived opinions, which were all mixed up, and He said, I am going to teach you something. I am not even going to straighten you out on that, I am just going to teach you something. Now before you and I get to arguing too much with the Lord about why He did this, let me ask you this question. Has God ever taught you something when you were all mixed up, but He did not teach it all to you at once; He just taught you a little bit? Has that ever happened to you?

That has happened to me. God does not wait until our thinking is all straightened out on everything before He starts to teach us. Sometimes He starts to teach us right where we are. We may be all mixed up, and He just comes to us on our own ground. He says, Well, I am going to tell you a story. And what a story!

Teaching by Parables

What do we learn from this story? There are several things. First, the Jews thought that they were the favorites of heaven. Who went to heaven, and who went to hell in this story? The Gentile went to heaven, and the Jew went to hell! (See Ibid., 262, 268.) That was just the beginning. They also thought that if you were rich, that proved you were honored and blessed by God. If you were poor, that meant that the curse of God was upon you. Who went to heaven, and who went to hell in this story? The rich man went to hell, and the poor man went to heaven.

I am telling you, Jesus was turning their heads pretty hard in this story. But that is not all. There is something even more important. It taught that we are judged in the future by the life that we live in this world. Our eternal destiny is determined by the life that we live, and after we die, it cannot be changed.

After you die, your eternal destiny is fixed! Ellen White says, “He held up before His hearers a mirror wherein they might see themselves in their true relation to God. . . . Christ desires His hearers to understand that it is impossible for men to secure the salvation of the soul after death. . . . The rich man had spent his life in self-pleasing, and too late he saw that he had made no provision for eternity.” Ibid., 263, 264. Then she talks about the fact that everyone has a certain amount of light, and if they do not make use of the light that they have, they will be lost.

Remember what Abraham said to the rich man who begged, “Please, if somebody went to them from the dead, if a miracle were worked, then they would believe.” Abraham said, “No, they have Moses and the prophets. If they do not believe them, they will not believe even somebody who rose from the dead.” (See Ibid., 264.) Did that turn out to be true in the case of the Jewish nation? It did.

“The conversation between Abraham and the once-rich man is figurative.” Ibid., 265. Jesus is not describing something that ever happened or that ever will happen in reality. It is a parable to illustrate certain things to the Jewish nation. Now if you study this chapter in Christ’s Object Lessons, you will find that this parable is a special teaching device of Jesus, not just for the Jewish nation. There is a whole section in this chapter to show that this parable has a special application to people who are living in the time of the end of the world. That is you and me. Now we have not exhausted the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. We have barely scratched the surface. This parable is one of the most instructive and comprehensive parables that Jesus told.

Preparing to Give an Answer

Do I have the right, on the basis of this story that Jesus told, using their preconceived opinions and giving it in figurative language, to say that you are conscious after death? No, I do not at all. Jesus has told us plainly in John 11 what He believes about the state of the dead and so have the prophets and so have the apostles.

There is a gulf, an uncertain time, and when a person dies, that gulf is fixed. That is why death is so serious and so solemn, because once a person dies their eternal destiny is fixed.

As long as you are alive, if you are on the wrong side—you can still change your destiny. You can change it either way, according to Ezekiel 18. Do you want to be headed toward the right place? Do not wait and think that you will do it just before death. That is not so easily done, and besides that, very often death comes suddenly, without time to change.

This parable about the rich man and Lazarus helps us to look at death in a completely different way. Death is not something to be afraid of or about which to worry. It is simply something for which to be prepared. We need to always be prepared.

The only way to live, and the parable of the rich man and Lazarus teaches us this, is to be ready all the time, to have your life committed to the Lord Jesus all the time, because then you are ready to live for Him. But if you die, you are ready for that, too. You do not need to worry about it, because if you are in Christ, the moment you close your eyes in death, in what will just seem a second to you, you will open them up again and have a new body.

You will have eternal life. According to the parable, you will be in Abraham’s bosom. That is figurative language, too, of course, for Heaven.

Friend, every one of you is going to be tested on this pillar of our faith. I hope that you are all ready for that test. I hope that you are ready to give an answer for your faith, with meekness and fear, to everyone that asks you. Show them what the Bible teaches, so when they hear about an apparition, and when they hear about Peter, or James, or John, or Mary, the Mother of Jesus, appearing, they will know who it is and will not be deceived. [Bible texts given in literal translation.]

The Ten Commandments, Part XVI – Truth or Consequences

God has given the gift of language so that communication can take place between members of the same species. Many animals communicate out of instinct, but man communicates through the gift of speech that God has given to him. The language of communication is given so that cooperation can take place between human beings. Through the use of words, men can cooperate in the process of building up society and getting God’s plan and principles to the entire world.

Language is a bridge between man and man. It is the circulating medium of human exchange—the exchange of thoughts, sentiments, and plans. God has ordained it so. One of the greatest joys that can take place between human beings is communication. Communication plays a very essential part in man being able to get along within the world in which he lives.

The gift of language, like all other gifts that God has given to man, can be exercised for good or for evil. We all know that. So, true to His great purpose for the human family and all that is good, God has placed a guard around language. That guard is found in the ninth commandment.

As we have studied the commandments that deal with man’s relationship to man, we have noted that several of them, as recorded in Deuteronomy 5, begin with “neither” rather than “thou.” Deuteronomy 5:20 states, “Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.”

The entire Bible really is nothing more and nothing less than an amplification of the Ten Commandments and their application to the human life. In the Scriptures, we find many encounters that are recorded concerning the human experience as it pertains to language. I have not counted them all, but it seems there are more encounters of experience concerning the ninth commandment than any one of the other commandments.

Why would that be? Because the ninth commandment is a delineation between truth and error. Truth and error are outlined in this commandment. It becomes the focal point of the entire great controversy, the great controversy between truth and error. It really has its roots and its focal point in this commandment!

A Universal Sin

Perhaps the reason for this fact is that bearing false witness is such a universal sin. It is how the devil launched his career of rebellion against God. The Bible says that lying originated with the devil; he is the father of all lies. (See John 8:44.) The Greek word, diabolis, translates into the English word, devil. If we were to give it a more literal translation, we would perhaps use the words accuser or slanderer.

The Bible says so much about lies because they have such a deadly nature. To tell a lie is even more criminal, morally speaking, than to counterfeit money or to forge a check. It is more deadly than those things because, if you write a bogus check, you can usually reclaim that check into your possession, but if you tell a lie, the words cannot be recalled. The lie may circulate and circulate, repeated again and again. An excellent illustration of lies is feathers that are blown in the wind—they are impossible to catch.

Lies are a poison. Once administered, the poison is absorbed into the very fabric of social mentality, never again to be reclaimed. We are told that there are poisons that are so deadly that if they are administered directly into the blood stream, they can cause death within three seconds. I believe that the death of a reputation can take place as rapidly as the administering of a poison into the blood stream.

Broad Scope

The ninth commandment has an equally wide range as all of the other commandments. In past articles of this series, we have seen how the commandments presented so far have a spiritual application, a very broad perspective covering the issues of mankind. The ninth commandment is no exception to that.

Its scope forbids all slander, of whatever kind—not just perjury, of telling a falsehood in court. This is where many people have focused the application of the ninth commandment, and, perhaps, in its primary application, that is where this protection originated. God did not want man to swear falsely, to tell lies against someone, so that they could in turn benefit from some item of property or some circumstance of life. So He instructed to not take an oath, to not swear falsely against our neighbor.

This whole matter of telling the truth, in the economy of Israel, was quite a serious matter. This is one of the reasons the Bible says, “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.” Deuteronomy 19:15. This takes us right to the trial of Jesus, does it not?

This commandment was designed from the very beginning to vindicate Jesus from death on Calvary’s cross. If God’s Ten Commandments, as they were given on Mount Sinai to the children of Israel, had prevailed all the way down through time, Jesus would never have had to die on Calvary’s cross. It was only because of false testimony that Jesus was convicted and went to the cross. His accusers could not find two witnesses to tell the same story. That is, they could not until they bribed them to do so. It was the violation of this commandment that led to the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. If God’s people had allowed this law, which is holy, just, and good, to prevail in their spiritual and practical experiences, Jesus would never have had to die in that way. If Jesus had not died on the cross, He still would have had to die, because the Lamb was to be sacrificed.

Those who gave such false testimony are going to be raised to face the consequence of their sin. They not only lied in a legal proceeding, but they lied to God as well, and the Bible is very clear about how God feels about being lied to Himself. The story of Ananias and Sapphira tells us how God feels about those things. (See Acts 5:1–10.)

Character Assassination

When a false report is circulated concerning someone, it basically constitutes character assassination. Sometimes physical assassination with a gun would be much easier for a person to handle than to be assassinated by words. It is amazing how quickly false reports can circulate about someone.

Pastor John Grosboll shared with me a story about himself. Some people were trying to circulate false reports about him, so they took a photograph of a big, stone mansion, super-imposed pictures of him and his wife, Evelyn, onto it, and circulated the photo around, saying that this was their home, intimating that they were living quite extravagantly. There will be an answering for that false report in the Day of Judgment. It is those kinds of things that this ninth commandment is designed to guard against.

Character or Reputation

Human speech is such an important and precious gift that God has given to us. It is so important that He has given two commandments to help us deal with it.

The third commandment says, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7. And then the ninth commandment deals with bearing false witness.

The third commandment safeguards the name of God, and the ninth commandment safeguards the reputation and the character of men. It has been said that character is what you are, and reputation is what others think about you.

False witness, in reality, can harm only a person’s reputation, but a person can damage his or her own character. Character can only be revealed and damaged when a person takes that into his or her own hands. Reputation is what others are saying about you, but your own character can only be damaged by your own self.

Brother’s Keeper

Every man can determine what his own character is going to be, but reputation is our neighbor’s opinion of us and is, therefore, wholly in his or her keeping. God has given this commandment to deal with safeguarding those who are our neighbors. In more ways than one, we are really our brother’s keeper.

This, we find, was the question that was asked in the beginning of time—“Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:9. Cain asked the Lord this when God asked where his brother was.

We are our brother’s keeper, and when we bear false witness, we betray a very sacred trust for which we will be called into account at the judgment.

Lawful Testimony

“I [Ellen White] was shown that when it is actually necessary, and they are called upon to testify in a lawful manner, it is no violation of God’s word for His children to solemnly take God to witness that what they say is the truth, and nothing but the truth.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 202.

In my years of ministry, I have, it seems, continuously run across people that have a problem with taking an oath to tell the truth. They have refused to go to court for they feel that taking an oath is a violation of the commandments. Yet we read here that Ellen White says that it is not a violation to take God as your witness as far as to tell the truth is concerned. It is the duty, really, of a witness to tell the truth, and if a person does not tell the truth, they bear a false witness or a false testimony.


The divine instruction of the ninth commandment is further amplified in Zechariah 8:16, 17: “These [are] the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these [are things] that I hate, saith the Lord.”

In John 18:37, an example is given about the Lord Jesus in this regard, fulfilling this passage in Zechariah. Jesus, speaking to Pilate, says, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” Jesus never minimized nor did he exaggerate the truth in His witnessing. He never bore false testimony nor did he stoop to telling what we might call half-truths, which are sometimes more dangerous than telling a lie.

The track of error lies very close to the track of truth. A half-truth is when you are walking down the middle of the tracks. If you have ever walked along a railroad, you know that the easiest place to walk is between the tracks, but it is also the most dangerous place to walk. A half-truth can be just as dangerous or maybe even more so than an out and out falsehood, because quite often a falsehood can be identified, but if it is coupled with some truth, identifying the error becomes more difficult.

We are living in a world in which not too much is any longer a sacred trust. We in the United States have come through a lot of political experiences—such as the Nixon administration (1969–1974) and Watergate (1972–1975) and the Clinton administration (1993–2001)—in which lies were told. We have come to realize that those who are of greatest example are telling falsehoods, providing a powerful message that it is not important to tell the truth anymore.

God and Lying

There are other texts that indicate how God feels about lying. Read Proverbs 12:22: “Lying lips [are] abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly [are] his delight.”

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and [he that] speaketh lies shall not escape.” Proverbs 19:5.

“These six [things] doth the Lord hate: yea, seven [are] an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness [that] speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” Proverbs 6:16–19.

Black or White

It has been said that a lie does not have any legs but that it is carried along with other lies. There is no difference as to the quality of the lie. It still makes its way along.

Is there any difference between a white lie and a black lie? No, there is no difference between a white lie and a black lie. Some people think that it is all right to tell a white lie, but to God, it is all sin.

When I entered into the military service, the soldiers were checked very thoroughly for colorblindness. It was important that a soldier not be colorblind, because, on a battlefield, if somebody shot a flare into the air, he or she needed to know exactly what color the flare was. There were different colored flares for different kinds of situations. Good eyesight, and the ability to recognize different colors, was imperative.

It is said that serious automobile accidents result from people who are colorblind and cannot distinguish between green lights and red lights. The same thing can happen as far as spiritual eyesight is concerned as well. We can be blinded to such an extent that we cannot discern spiritual things very well. Then we have a tendency to skew the truth somewhat, because we are blind.

White lies and black lies are caused by spiritual blindness. Although there may be a tendency to excuse white lies because we think they are harmless, they are still an abomination in the eyes of God. There are people who will lie for their own convenience and for their own profit.

We must have the right estimation of sin, and when our hearts and minds are in accord with Jesus Christ, we will view all things as He does. We will be able to recognize sin and hate it the same way that Jesus does. We will be able to see it in its proper perspective, for, as far as Jesus is concerned, there is no such thing as a white lie or a little sin.

Hate the Sin

The Bible says that Jesus loved righteousness, and He who is the Truth hated iniquity. You know, the Bible says that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. To Him that is the Truth, lying is especially hateful; it is in that list of things that He hates.

The Bible tells us, in the Book of Revelation, that all liars, and whoever loves and practices lying, is going to be excluded from the kingdom of heaven. (Revelation 21:8.)

Character Revealed

Words sometimes misrepresent character, and character can be revealed in ways other than words, but it still remains true that words are the chief revealer of character. If you want to know the character of a person, listen to him talk for a while. Character will usually be revealed in that way.

In Matthew 12:34, Jesus is talking to the Scribes and the Pharisees, and He says, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” From this text, we can see that words represent character; thus, words translate into a language that can be read by everyone.

Now, if we trace the word, character, back to its origin, we find that it means, “that which is marked, engraved, or lettered.” So, when we think about a person’s character, it is marked, engraved, and lettered. A man’s character is basically an inscription that is read concerning his habits and his lifestyle. His words characterize him; they give his characteristics. We are going to be judged by every word that we speak. Our speech is going to be a revelation of our character, and if our character is not in harmony with God’s Law, we are going to be closed out of the kingdom of heaven.

What About Your Speech?

Now, consider a few questions in the light of having to face the judgment. What is the character of your words, the tenor of your speech? Are you truthful in all things? Do your words always, and exactly, represent your opinions, your purposes, and your feelings? Do you avoid all lies—white or black? Do you avoid all false suggestions and double meanings?

Quite often we can be asked a question, and we can give an answer, thinking that we have not told a lie. But we have perhaps avoided answering the question, thinking that that is not telling a lie. However, if we are asked a question and we avoid giving a truthful answer, by giving another answer, that is telling a lie, and for that we come under the condemnation of God.

Control the Tongue

The tongue is a mighty, mighty power. It can be used for good, or it can be used for evil. Since it has these two barrels and two triggers, it needs to be kept under control. The Book of James has some tremendous things to say about this subject. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” James 1:19.

And then consider James 3:1–10: “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same [is] a perfect man, [and] able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though [they be] so great, and [are] driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whither-soever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; [it is] an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”

The Bible says that the tongue is not able to be tamed, but it is talking about a natural man. It is talking about someone who is not under the control of God. God can tame anything that we submit to Him, whether it be our attitudes, our actions, or our tongues. He can deal with it. Our tongues are powerful things, and most of us struggle with it continuously. But if we get up each morning and submit ourselves to God, with His help we will be able to resist the devil, and our tongues will be controlled.

God’s People

We know that God is going to have a people, and those people are going to be purified. Zephaniah 3:13 says: “The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make [them] afraid.”

Who are the remnant of Israel?

Is this the same as the remnant church? Yes, it is. The remnant are going to be virgins. The Bible ties this all together. The remnant are going to be God’s chosen who are going to go through the final end of all things. How do I know that? Because the Book of Revelation tells us that.

Revelation 14 begins by telling the story of the 144,000. They are standing there with the Father’s name written in their foreheads, and verse 5 says: “And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.”

Here are the qualifications for God’s people. God’s people are not only going to worship Him as their God, but they are going to be Sabbath keepers. They are going to be obedient to every aspect of God’s law, and that includes the ninth commandment, which, when properly addressed, allows the character to develop with no deceitfulness, no falsehoods, and no false witness. God’s people will have a lifestyle that is going to meet His high standard.

Of course, there is only one way that that can happen, and that is for us to submit ourselves to Him and allow Him to burn out the character defects in our lives, through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is why the Holy Spirit has been illustrated with fire. The fire is to turn to ashes those sinful traits in our lives, so we can rightly represent the character of Christ.

Of Great Importance

The ninth commandment is a very important commandment. It is a special commandment that applies in so many ways across the experience and spectrum of mankind. Regarding it, Ellen White has written:

“The ninth commandment requires of us an inviolable regard for exact truth in every declaration by which the character of our fellow men may be affected. The tongue, which is kept so little under the control of the human agent, is to be bridled by strong conscientious principles, by the law of love toward God and man.

“False-speaking in any matter, every attempt or purpose to deceive our neighbor, is here included. An intention to deceive is what constitutes falsehood. By a glance of the eye, a motion of the hand, an expression of the countenance, a falsehood may be told as effectually as by words. All intentional overstatement, every hint or insinuation calculated to convey an erroneous or exaggerated impression, even the statement of facts in such a manner as to mislead, is falsehood. This precept forbids every effort to injure our neighbor’s reputation by misrepresentation or evil surmising, by slander or tale-bearing. Even the intentional suppression of truth, by which injury may result to others, is a violation of the ninth commandment.

“He [Jesus] teaches that the exact truth should be the law of speech. ‘Let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay.’ [Matthew 5:37.] . . . These words condemn all those meaningless phrases and expletives that border on profanity. They condemn the deceptive compliments, the evasion of truth, the flattering phrases, the exaggerations, the misrepresentations in trade, that are current in society and in the business world. They teach that no one who tries to appear what he is not, or whose words do not convey the real sentiment of his heart, can be called truthful. . . .

“Everything that Christians do should be as transparent as the sunlight. Truth is of God; deception, in every one of its myriad forms, is of Satan. . . . We can not speak the truth unless our minds are continually guided by Him who is truth.” Sons and Daughters of God, 64.

To be continued . . .

A retired minister of the gospel, Pastor Mike Baugher may be contacted by e-mail at: landmarks@stepstolife.org.

Lessons from the Children of Israel, Part II

Have you ever set yourself about a task that you wanted to accomplish, but you could see that it was teetering in the balance between success and failure? Even though you do everything that you can to make it succeed, it fails. Do you, when someone asks you about the outcome, have a tendency to minimize the failure and to maximize the part that did succeed? Pride will not allow a person to exercise their faith because of the fear of failure.

Ten of the spies that had been sent into the Promised Land were scared to death, looking around and among themselves, that if the children of Israel went to the Promised Land, they were going to fail. (Numbers 13:25–14:1.) They did not want to face that. As a result of their fear, they began to work against Caleb, Joshua, Moses, and God. It appeared that they were against everything.

That is the process that we can go through. It happens that way sometimes. It seems that things can go along smoothly, and then, all of a sudden, a foul spirit can upset things so badly that everything is in an uproar.

Ultimately, the bottom line for the ten spies was not that they were concerned about Caleb and Joshua and Moses. They just did not want to obey the Lord.

That is usually the bottom line. If you begin to deal with issues and there are those of a rebellious spirit, it is usually because there is an area of rebellion in their hearts. They are not willing to surrender to the Lord, and it is really God that they are rebelling against and not the flesh and blood with which they have to deal. That is precisely what we see being taught in this lesson given from the experience of the children of Israel.

A Big Lie

“And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, [is] a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof . . . .” Numbers 13:32. This was an out and out lie. It was a fabrication of the first order. They went over to the Promised Land, and if indeed the land was eating up inhabitants, from where did the giants come? From where did the huge amount of grapes come that they brought? They fabricated the idea that it was the land.

“And all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.” Verse 32, last part. Well, that was not really true either. There were giants that were there, but now the story begins to grow. At this point the evil spirit had so influenced their thinking that they began to do things that, under other circumstances, they would never have done. They determined that they would discourage all effort to go in and possess the Promised Land, so they lied about it. They claimed there was not really anything good in it at all.

There is only one way that we can keep ourselves from falling into a similar trap, and that is, when God comes to us and reveals to us His will, we do it immediately. That is the only way we will be saved from getting involved in some kind of trap that will ultimately close us out of the Promised Land and leave us dying in the wilderness. When God comes to us, when we know what His will is, we must immediately set things in action, so we can follow what He has asked us to do.

Reaction to the Lie

What was the response of the congregation upon hearing this lie? They were rejoicing earlier, but now they have heard a lie. Their reaction is given in Numbers 14:1: “And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.”

We cannot begin to measure the amount of torment that these people experienced in their minds that night. The only reason they were tormented at all, however, was because they had forgotten that pillar of fire that was giving light through the darkness of night—and they had chosen to believe a lie. They were in their tents with the flaps closed, crying all night.

“And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return to Egypt?” Verses 2, 3. Little did the people realize that their words would be fulfilled. They would die, but not in the land of Egypt.

Maybe they had forgotten about God, but He had not forgotten about them. He had heard every word that they were saying. Right in the shadow of the cloud, right while they were in the shade of His presence, they rebelled against Him. They began to murmur and complain, and God heard it all.

There is another aspect of this lesson that needs to also be considered. That is the fact that the children of Israel not only rebelled against Joshua and Caleb, but against Moses and Aaron. They rebelled against their leaders.

Need for Leadership

We wrestle with this today, wondering how we are to relate to leadership. A spirit similar to that of the children of Israel is circulating in and amongst the congregation of modern Israel today. I believe that a lot of this came from the 1960s and the 1970s eras, when a spirit took control of a large majority of the world, and they were determined that they would not be beholden to anyone—nobody was going to tell them what to do. If they wanted to have free love, then they were going to have free love. If they wanted to do drugs, they were going to do drugs. If they wanted to just do their own thing, that was what they were going to do.

That prevailing spirit of the world in the ’60s and ’70s has made its way into the church, and we find that a lot of the turmoil within the church is because the people are not going to be beholden to anyone but God. There is a truth to that. We know that we are not to put any man before God.

Ellen White counseled: “I do hope you will not look to man, nor trust in men, but look to God and trust in God.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 4, 395. She also wrote: “Man’s inventions [sayings of others] are not only unreliable, they are dangerous; for they place man where God should be. They place the sayings of men where a ‘Thus saith the Lord’ should be.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 109.

Although we should not put man in the place of God, at the same time, we are told that an order of leadership was put in place by God to lead His people as they were making their way to the Promised Land. This order was followed by the disciples as they established churches, and is important in our groups today.

Writing of this, Mrs. White said: “The same principles of piety and justice that were to guide the rulers among God’s people in the time of Moses and of David, were also to be followed by those given the oversight of the newly organized church of God in the gospel dispensation. In the work of setting things in order in all the churches, and ordaining suitable men to act as officers, the apostles held to the high standards of leadership outlined in the Old Testament Scriptures. They maintained that he who is called to stand in a position of leading responsibility in the church ‘must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.’ Titus 1:7–9. ” The Acts of the Apostles, 95.

However, as the children of Israel began to entertain some of the thoughts that came to them, it was their determined effort to rebel against the vision of a Promised Land that was flowing with milk and honey. They first rebelled against those who tried to encourage them to enter the Promised Land; then their rebellion went up the line of command until it reached Moses and Aaron. The people began to murmur and complain against the leadership, which ultimately ended with God.

How do we understand the issue of leadership today? What is its ordained place within the congregation today? I have come to the conclusion that we need to have leadership today. We need to have people in positions that can lead the congregation. The lack of such leadership is why, in many aspects, the home church movement is in shambles. It does not have the leadership that it should.

The lessons of the children of Israel are speaking to us in these verses from Numbers. How are we going to work out the issues facing the home church movement? We must get beyond our fears, first of all. We look out and see the walled cities; we see the giants that are out there. We have been told this, and we have been told that, and as a result, we are scared to death to move forward and to bring things into the order that God would want them to be. As a result, we are still just kind of wandering along.

Determined to Rebel

Numbers 14:5–8 says, “Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, [which were] of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, [is] an exceeding good land. If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.”

I would like to take a little ministerial license on verse 9. It begins with the word only—“Only rebel not ye.” I would like to substitute, for the word only, the word please—Please do not rebel against God. I really believe that was the intent of the pastoral heart of these men in making an appeal to the people to follow the promises of God. In spite of how circumstances seemed, God was still in control of things. “[Please] rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they [are] bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord [is] with us.” Please do not be afraid of them.

We would like to believe that they followed the pastoral counsel of Caleb and Joshua and that they were willing to submit to the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Friends, this lesson is speaking to us who are living in the twenty-first century. What is to be our relationship as we make our way to the Promised Land? In reality, we in the United States are sailing along pretty well, compared to some places in the world. I am speaking even spiritually. There are places around the world where your head is cut off if you even think about changing faith. How does this relate to the pleading of Caleb and Joshua? Notice verse 10: “But all the congregation bade stone them with stones.” The people were starting a campaign to see if they could gain control and do things their way. They wanted to go back to Egypt.

Interestingly, when a person rebels against God and no longer wants to serve Him, the course that he or she takes is never a course into blatant atheism; it is a course into idolatry. As we begin to read the story of the history of the children of Israel, we see that this very same thing took place. Those Seventh-day Adventists whom I have known, who had served the Lord with faithfulness of heart and then began to rebel against God and what He wanted them to do, slid into the area of idolatry. They began to do all the things that brought them pleasure before they were Seventh-day Adventist Christians.

The shamefacedness that is to be addressed, according to the New Testament, now becomes a proud face. (See 1 Timothy 2:9.) All the bangles and bobbles are once again worn. The health message goes out the window. The modesty of dress and the places visited become an idolatrous involvement. It is not an atheistic involvement; it is an idolatrous involvement.

This is what we are actually to learn from the experiences of the children of Israel. The congregation wanted to stone the godly leadership to get them out of the way, so they could slip back into idolatry. If it had not been for the immediate intervention of God, that would have happened.

God’s Forbearance

Sometimes we wonder why things are in the state that they are. The limit of God’s forbearance has not yet been reached. When God’s forbearance has been reached, He will personally intervene and put a stop to what is happening. I never want to be in a place or in a set of circumstances where I have pushed God to the point where He has to personally intervene and bring me to the place He wants me. I want to be able to follow Him where He leads; I do not want to have to be driven with a whip. There are times when that will happen, and many experiences could probably be related as illustrations.

Numbers 14:10 continues, “The glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.” You would think that, with the next words spoken, Moses would have stood back and said, “Lord, have at it.” God said, “Moses, I want you to get out of the way. I am going to destroy all these miserable wretches. Then I will use you, and I will make a nation out of you.”

But Moses said, “Oh no, Lord, please do not do that. Spare your people.” I have never quite been able to work that out in my own thinking, but it is recorded for us. It is something we must consider.

The people had sinned, but Moses interceded on behalf of those people, and because of his action, God said, “All right, I have pardoned the people because of your intercession.” (Verse 20.) There is something to be said for personal confession and personal involvement, but we have this example that, because of the intercession of another, pardon is extended. This tells me that there is a place for the work of intercession which we do not totally understand.

Obedience Required

One thing that needs to be emphasized in this lesson from the children of Israel is the fact that, even though God requires obedience of His people, He is still a God of great mercy. He is longsuffering; He is of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression.

“And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word: but [as] truly [as] I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” Verses 20, 21. The Lord said, “My plan may know some delay. I may have to wait for a little while, but ultimately, this is going to move back out into the eternity of time, and My glory is going to be known.”

“Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it.” Verses 22, 23.

The Lord continued, declaring that Caleb had a different spirit. Caleb had followed Him, and Caleb would go into the Promised Land, and his seed would possess the land. (Verse 24.)


“(Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) Tomorrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea. And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, How long [shall I bear with] this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. Say unto them, [As truly as] I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me. Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, [concerning] which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But [as for] you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.” Verses 25–33.

This is an interesting declaration that God makes concerning their “whoredoms.” To what is God referring? He is referring to the idolatrous practices in which they were involved. For some reason, they had not yet been cleansed of all of that. It was their lapse into idolatry—their seeking another god—that had brought them to rebellion against Jehovah. And He declared, “Because of these whore-doms, because of this idolatry, your carcases are going to waste in the wilderness.”

You would think that somehow this would be all there was to Scripture, because the lessons are so clear, but we find that is not the case. There are repeated instances of God’s chosen people turning their backs on Him.

Time Prophecy

Verse 34, which is a favorite text for Seventh-day Adventists, is then given: “After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, [even] forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, [even] forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.”

Seventh-day Adventists have always looked at this text as a formula which outlines prophetic time—and rightfully so, because this is a prophecy. This formula has been utilized to determine prophetic time, because it is in the setting of prophecy that it is given. God said this is what is going to happen; this is why it is going to happen; and this is how long it is going to happen. We can very comfortably utilize this formula when we need to measure time in prophetic settings and when we need to place things in their right perspective.

This formula has correctly and successfully been applied many times, particularly so in the 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel 9. Application of this formula to the 70 weeks prophecy accurately identified the very time when Jesus would begin His ministry and how His ministry would be executed. When we see how the formula of this text fits so precisely, we are encouraged, for the Lord has given us the key to unlock other prophecies. The more prophecies we unlock, the better our understanding is of Scripture and coming events. We do not have a thing to be ashamed about as far as our understanding of the Bible is concerned; it is based on good, biblical interpretation.

Conversion Flourishes

Verse 35 says, “I the Lord have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.” So the story continues that after this pronouncement, conversion flourished among the children of Israel. They suddenly decided that what the Lord had said about them going in and taking the land, they wanted to follow.

They said, “We need to go to the place that the Lord has promised, for we have sinned.” (Verse 40.) They recognized the fact that they were not doing what God wanted, but there is more involved in gaining God’s acceptance than just saying, “I have sinned.”

Judas, clutching the bag of 30 pieces of silver, went in before the priests and, throwing the bag down before them, said, “I have sinned,” but Judas found no place for pardon. (Matthew 27:3, 4.) Many instances are given in Scripture where the confession, “I have sinned,” is voiced, but it does not bring the approbation of God upon the person.

“We are going to go up,” the people said, “and we are going to do what God told us to do after all. We have sinned, we know that this is what God wanted us to do.”

Moses said, “I am sorry; do not even try it. Do not go there.” (Verse 41.)


“Go not up, for the Lord [is] not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies.” “But they presumed to go up unto the hill top; nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and Moses, departed not out of the camp.” Verses 42, 44. The presence of God and the leadership of God stayed in the camp. But the people decided that, in spite of the fact that God’s presence and the leadership were not with them, they were going to go anyway.

That is what we call presumption. That can happen even in our own experiences. We can recognize that we have failed the Lord, but if we have not taken the proper steps to come back into His favor, and we go off on a tangent again, we will find that we will again suffer defeat. That is where confusion begins. We cannot begin to understand why we are experiencing the trouble that we are. It could be that we have not really understood what is outlined for us in the lessons from the past.

Is history indeed going to repeat itself in our generation? I hope not. I hope you have dedicated your life as I have dedicated my life to finishing the work of God. There is a lot of work that is yet to be done. It is a work of faith. God expects us to step out in faith, regardless of the circumstances; whatever the walled cities or giants may be, He says, “I want you to follow Me.”

To be continued . . .

Pastor Mike Baugher is Associate Speaker for Steps to Life. He may be contacted by e-mail at: mikebaugher@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Satan’s First Lie

Even before Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Satan put forth his first lie. Moses recorded the event in Genesis 3.

“The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”

“ ‘You will not surely die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ ” Genesis 3:2–5.

From that time on Satan has been promoting this lie, his favorite false doctrine. In the final struggle of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, this lie will be one of his most prominent deceptions. He will develop it in the form of spiritualism.

What is spiritualism? Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary says that spiritualism is “a belief that spirits of the dead communicate with the living, usually through a medium.”

Let us take notice how this error that “you will not surely die”—the immortality of the soul—plays out in last day events.

“Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former lays the foundation of spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with Rome. The Protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf to grasp the hand of spiritualism; they will reach over the abyss to clasp hands with the Roman power; and under the influence of this threefold union, this country will follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the rights of conscience.

“As spiritualism more closely imitates the nominal Christianity of the day, it has greater power to deceive and ensnare. Satan himself is converted, after the modern order of things. He will appear in the character of an angel of light. Through the agency of spiritualism, miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and many undeniable wonders will be performed. And as the spirits will profess faith in the Bible, and manifest respect for the institutions of the church, their work will be accepted as a manifestation of divine power.” The Great Controversy, 588.

“Through spiritualism, Satan appears as a benefactor of the race, healing the diseases of the people, and professing to present a new and more exalted system of religious faith; but at the same time he works as a destroyer.” Ibid., 589.

“The miracle-working power manifested through spiritualism will exert its influence against those who choose to obey God rather than men. Communications from the spirits will declare that God has sent them to convince the rejecters of Sunday of their error, affirming that the laws of the land should be obeyed as the law of God. They will lament the great wickedness in the world and second the testimony of religious teachers that the degraded state of morals is caused by the desecration of Sunday.” Ibid., 590, 591.

It is through spiritualism that the crowning act of deception will come upon the people of the earth.

“Fearful sights of a supernatural character will soon be revealed in the heavens, in token of the power of miracle-working demons. The spirits of devils will go forth to the kings of the earth and to the whole world, to fasten them in deception, and urge them on to unite with Satan in his last struggle against the government of heaven. By these agencies, rulers and subjects will be alike deceived. Persons will arise pretending to be Christ Himself, and claiming the title and worship which belong to the world’s Redeemer. They will perform wonderful miracles of healing and will profess to have revelations from heaven contradicting the testimony of the Scriptures.

“As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Saviour’s advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation. Revelation 1:13–15. The glory that surrounds him is unsurpassed by anything that mortal eyes have yet beheld. The shout of triumph rings out upon the air: ‘Christ has come! Christ has come!’ The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him, while he lifts up his hands and pronounces a blessing upon them, as Christ blessed His disciples when He was upon the earth. His voice is soft and subdued, yet full of melody. In gentle, compassionate tones he presents some of the same gracious, heavenly truths which the Saviour uttered; he heals the diseases of the people, and then, in his assumed character of Christ, he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed. He declares that those who persist in keeping holy the seventh day are blaspheming his name by refusing to listen to his angels sent to them with light and truth. This is the strong, almost overmastering delusion. Like the Samaritans who were deceived by Simon Magus, the multitudes, from the least to the greatest, give heed to these sorceries, saying: This is ‘the great power of God.’ Acts 8:10.” Ibid., 624, 625.

A clear understanding of the state of the dead—the non-immortality of the soul—will be one of the individual’s major defenses against these powerful delusions of spiritualism.

The non-immortality of the soul is one of the great pillars or landmarks of the church. Let us consider the importance placed upon this doctrine in the following statement from the Spirit of Prophecy:

“The passing of the time in 1844 was a period of great events, opening to our astonished eyes the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having decided relation to God’s people upon the earth, [also] the first and second angels’ messages and the third, unfurling the banner on which was inscribed, ‘The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus’ [Revelation 14:12]. One of the landmarks under this message was the temple of God, seen by His truth-loving people in heaven, and the ark containing the law of God. The light of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment flashed its strong rays in the pathway of the transgressors of God’s law. The non-immortality of the wicked is an old landmark. I can call to mind nothing more that can come under the head of the old landmarks.” Counsels to Writers and Editors, 30, 31.

This statement places “the non-immortality of the wicked” along with “the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven,” the Three Angels’ Messages, “the law of God,” and the Sabbath as one of “the old landmarks” of the advent faith.

In light of the importance of having a clear understanding of “the non-immortality of the wicked” let us turn to the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy for true instruction on this subject.

Let us first look at the origin of man. The word of God states that “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7. Here we see that man became a living being when God gave him the breath of life. It was the combination of both the dust of the ground and the breath of God that made the man a living being or living soul.

Now let us see what happens to man when he dies. God said, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:19. Solomon says that “the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit [the breath that God breathed into the body] returns to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7. James says that “the body without the spirit is dead.” James 2:26. The body, without the breath that God breathed into it, is lifeless. From another point of view Moses, speaking of the experience of Job, wrote that “as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter no deceit.” Job 27:3, 4.

God says that when a man dies, he simply returns back to the ground—to the elements—from which he was created in the beginning and that the breath that God breathed into the body to make it a living soul simply returns back to God. The only evidence that remains that this person has ever lived is found in the books of record which are in the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary of the New Covenant in heaven. Of this record we read, “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.” Revelation 20:12.

Solomon makes a very interesting observation concerning the dead. He says, “The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6.

Job made the following observation concerning the state of the dead: “So man lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, men will not awake or be roused from their sleep.” Death is represented here as a sleep. “If his sons are honored, he does not know it; if they are brought low, he does not see it.” Job 14:12, 21.

Solomon says that we who are living know that we will die, but the dead are not aware of anything. They do not even know that they will be raised in the first or second resurrection. See Revelation 20:4–6. This may be an appropriate time to raise, or consider the question, How can there be resurrections if man does not die? If they are already living, how can they be raised from the dead? The Scripture is very clear that there are two major resurrections, one before the 1,000 years and one following.

In the book of Revelation we have this record of the two resurrections: “I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. … This is the first resurrection.” Revelation 20:4, 5.

These verses bring to light a group of people who were killed because of their faith in Jesus and the Bible. Then it clearly states that they came to life to reign with Christ. If they had not surely died, as Satan had said, how is it that they were called to life at the beginning of the 1,000 years? In that they were raised to life is evidence that they did not live on after they were martyred. In verse 6 this event is referred to as the first resurrection.

It is interesting to note that there is another resurrection at the end of the 1,000 years in which all who have ever lived, including those who killed the faithful people, are raised to life. This is evidence that this group of people also did not live on after they died. The Scripture simply states that “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.” Revelation 20:5. (This is referring to the second resurrection.)

Paul wrote the following account of the first resurrection: “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. [Notice that death is represented as a sleep.] For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” I Thessalonians 4:15, 16.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church concerning this resurrection he said, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised.” I Corinthians 15:51, 52.

Jesus confirms the resurrection in His own words. “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out.” John 5:28, 29.

Solomon goes on to say that they have no more rewards in life and furthermore, after a time the “memory of them is forgotten” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) by those who are still living. Then he says that their love, their hate and jealousy—their character—vanishes and will never again have any part in life on this earth.

The Bible plainly states that, “The soul who sins is the one who will die.” Ezekiel 18:20. And further it says, “No one remembers you [the Lord] when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave?” Psalm 6:5.

More evidence concerning the state of the dead is found in Luke’s account of the body of David. “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day.” “For David did not ascend to heaven.” Acts 2:29, 34.

Let us refer to one more event that sheds light on the state of the individual who has died. We find the account in the Gospel of John.

“After he [Jesus] had said this, he went on to tell them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’ His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead.’ ” John 11:11–14.

In His statement Jesus uses sleep as a symbol of death. Now it is easy for us to understand the condition of the person who is dead. Just ask yourself the question, “What is the condition of my body when I am sound asleep?” The state of consciousness in sleep is the same for one who is dead.

The conclusion of this event is a wonderful encouragement to the faithful believer today. Here is the rest of the story. “Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ he said. ‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’ ” John 11:38–43.

This is a wonderful truth for the righteous dead. In the near future Jesus is going to call them from their condition in death to give them immortality and eternal life in the kingdom of glory.

And in the closing scenes of the great controversy the true knowledge of the state of the dead will be as a bulwark protecting the faithful believers from the deceptions and miracle-working power of apparitions and spirits appearing to represent the dead.

“When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?” Isaiah 8:19.

Maurice Hoppe is retired and volunteers at Steps to Life. His primary responsibility is working with the Training Program for Ministers and Church Leaders and the Training Program for Lay Workers. He also conducts a Bible Correspondence School from his home with emphasis on Bible prophecy. He can be contacted at: mauricehoppe@stepstolife.org.

Honor has Lost its Integrity

We live in a world abounding in contracts, lawsuits, counter lawsuits, a world teeming with word processors, with delete buttons and faulty memory, but lacking in one crucial commodity—men, real men. By that I mean both men and women who would be true to their word like the needle to the pole. Our world has discovered the mystery of the atom but it has forgotten the Sermon on the Mount. We live in a world of both nuclear giants and moral midgets. The churches, the business world and even the Marines are looking for a few good men.

My maternal grandfather was a cattle rancher in Cuba. My grandfather was like Lorne Greene in the series Bonanza. At my grandfather’s ranch you could ride your horse a whole day and not see the end of it and there were thousands of heads of cattle. My grandfather was not a terribly educated man, except for the fact he was self-taught and very naturally intelligent. He was not a man of many words. I had precious few times with him, as I only lived a few years of my infancy in Cuba. My father was a businessman, so he liked the city and did not see the charm of the ranch and only once in awhile would he take me to see my grandfather, but I remember those times well.

The only thing I can remember my grandfather ever telling me is something that I remember still to this day. He said, “If you speak all the time, people will not remember what you say. You must be economical with your words. If you are economical, they will be memorable and if they are memorable, they are useful. If they are useful, they will do somebody some good.” I remember grandfather getting off his beautiful white horse and grabbing me and lifting me on top of those wooden fences. He looked at me as if he was going to speak and I thought, the world is going to come to an end; my grandfather is going to speak! I looked at him as I waited for the words to come. He said, “My boy, be a man of your word.” By that time the Fidel house was already dispossessing him of everything he owned and he may have been thinking of that, but he said to me, “The only thing no one can ever take away from you, the treasure that you will always possess, is your word. When you give your word, you are giving your own soul.”

My grandfather did not know the slogan save the trees, but he did, because he never used paper. He did not need paper. When it came to doing a contract with someone, there was no need for paper or a notary public or a lawyer. He only entered into deals with real men who he knew were real men. He would look them in the eye, shake their hand and the deal was sealed. We need that today. We need the power of the word. We need our word to become real. We need to be one with our word. We need to be known by what we say.

Two of the Ten Commandments speak about how we use the tongue. The third commandment says if we believe the good news of Jesus Christ, we shall never be guilty of taking the Lord’s name in vain (Exodus 20:7). The ninth commandment becomes a wonderful promise to the one who understands and believes just how good the good news is. You will never bear false witness (Exodus 20:16).

I once wrote a book on the Ten Commandments, which was published by Pacific Press. It is titled Ten Promises of Miracles and by God’s grace 150,000 copies have been sold. I believe that the Ten Commandments, rightly understood and connected with the understanding of the gospel through the New Covenant spectacles, which is how God sees them, are not harsh, impossible rules to obey. Instead, the Ten Commandments will be seen as ten promises of God to you. The problem is that the world has been taught a gospel less than Ten Commandments. It is as if somebody gave you a wonderful Cadillac, which looks great, and when you get into it, it is so plush, but there is no motor in it. There is no gas tank. There is no radiator. Other than that you will like it, it will not take you anywhere. It is like those wonderful gifts that you buy for your grandchildren that they have seen on television. They are all excited about it, but you did not read the small print which would turn what could have been a wonderful experience into the worse you can imagine. The small print says, “Batteries not included.” Without the batteries, without the power, it simply does not do what it is supposed to do.

The world has been told that the Ten Commandments do not come with the batteries included, because it is gospel-less and only the gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). I am going to show you where the batteries are located.We obtained thousands of prints of the Ten Commandments and after being shown how beautiful they were I was asked, “What should we do with them?” I said, “They have to go into the trash.” They just stared at me in disbelief. I said, “You forgot the batteries. You have the Ten Commandments without the batteries. That is not going to help anybody.” Now we have a new poster of the Ten Commandments which includes the battery. The battery is already part of the commandments. Let me explain.

Look at Exodus 20:1: “And God spake all these words, saying …” From here on it is all God’s words. This is where the Ten Commandments actually start. Then God continues, “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Those first words are the batteries. The Ten Commandments begin with an expression of the gospel and it reminds us of who the deliverer is. The Ten Commandments come with a Saviour, the One who first took little Egypt out of Egypt, and now, by His sacrifice on the cross, has taken spiritual Egypt out of Egypt becoming the Saviour of the world. That very fact is the battery power of the commandments. Do not leave the batteries out. Never start with the third verse. The Ten Commandments start after the word saying.

Here we are reminded that we have a God who is a Deliverer. It states here what God did for His people. Sometimes He went against their will and some of them wanted to go back to Egypt. He stepped in and took them out of Egypt. He physically took them out of bondage and put them where the air was pure and where the light was illuminant, where they could breathe freedom. God put the people in a free place and said to them that this is my magna carta; this is my declaration of independence. This is what I promise my citizens. This is what I will do. I pledge myself to perform this gospel work in your life. Jesus did the same thing on Calvary; God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.

He liberated us from the world, freed us from the bondage of sin. If we believe and want to be a citizen of the free kingdom of God, He will then give us the magna carta, the ruling documents of freedom and promises, the batteries so you can live your life and be free.

The Ten Commandments rightly understood are ten promises. This is good news, not bad news. God is not a stern lawgiver, dishing out the theories of impossible-to-obey rules. He is a Saviour from breaking those commandments. The only way the commandments can be kept is because of the Saviour. The only way the commandments can be obeyed is to allow Jesus to be in control of your heart. He is your battery. Christ is the Saviour of all men and especially of those who believe (1 Timothy 4:10). This country is free to everyone, but especially to those who cherish it.

Breaking the ninth commandment is a sin, unfortunately, for which many people will lose their soul. When God says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour,” Exodus 20:16, He means that we are never to tell a lie, not even one of those white lies. It commands never to give a false impression, even by a nod of the head. It forbids all gossip, including damaging the reputation of a person by remaining silent while he or she is being accused of something and you know differently and it is possible to speak up to save that person’s reputation.

We are to “speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates.” Zechariah 8:16. All false witness somehow comes from its true origin, Satan. “He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” John 8:42. “Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight.” Proverbs 12:22. They are His delight!

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.” Proverbs 19:5. We read that God actually hates “a lying tongue, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies” (Proverbs 6:17-19). But remember that even though God hates lying, He loves the liar and wants to save him. There are people who are as sincere as any of us, who bear false witness and have no idea of what they are doing. They are among those for whom Jesus prayed as He was being crucified, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34.

Sometimes parents unwittingly teach children to tell lies. Some people are color blind and cannot tell the difference between a red light and a green light, which can cause accidents. Though a judge would not be merciful in such a case, God is merciful to those who do not know the difference between right and wrong and He sends His Holy Spirit to teach the people.

Children in schools today are being taught that the universe is a random universe, that this universe, one among billions of universes, just happened to have everything lined up right, exactly the way it needed to be to sustain life. It is just an object of chance, like the roll of the dice! We just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Scientists have had to come up with a theory to explain the incredible order of our universe. But there is no mystery. The universe is the way it is today because God made it that way to suit life. God created things just the way they needed to be. Scientists call it the big bang theory. But they are running away from the real big bang. It scares them! When the big bang happened, the elements spread so quickly that it had to have been faster than the speed of light and according to Einstein, nothing goes faster than the speed of light. For the universe to be what it is, there is only one explanation, which science does not want to accept: the big bang had an author, and His name is God.

In the last few verses of the Bible there are three warnings that tell us that whosoever loveth and maketh a lie will not be able to enter the eternal kingdom (Revelation 22:15). Fiction, which makes up the subject matter of most books and movies today, is just lies. It is not only a serious thing to make a lie, but the text says it is equally serious to love a lie.

Truth, according to Biblical principles, is very clear. We are invited to turn from fables and turn to the truth and be God’s delight. He loves those who are His true witnesses. “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that … speaketh the truth in his heart.” Psalm 15:1, 2. But, “He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.” Proverbs 10:18. In other words, smiling at someone, slapping him/her on the back, shaking his/her hand and yet hiding our hatred for him or her deep in our heart is acting out a lie and breaking the commandment. Even if it means costing your job, you may need to confront that person and be honest and truthful in all your dealings to be clean and ready to live in the heavenly kingdom.

What it boils down to is that it is impossible for any of us mortals to obey this commandment unless we are truly converted deep within. This commandment goes to the core of all things. The core of God is His Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). God is one with His Word. The same is true with us. We can never escape our words. Once words are spoken they can never be unspoken and they always have either a positive or negative response. You will be remembered by what you said, even if it came out differently from what you meant to say. For that reason the counsel is to let your words be few. This reminds me of Romans 3:10. It says, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me.” Psalm 139:23, 24.

When children would say bad things to me when I was a boy growing up in the south of Florida, Mom would say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” This is such foolishness! There are times when people have said things to you that you would rather have had a broken bone that would heal far more easily than the hurt of words. Some of us are an emotional mess, having stored in our minds those words that we have heard as children, whether it be wittingly or unwittingly. The brain has a heart. When the Bible talks about the heart, it says, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Matthew 15:19.

When we say that a person has a big heart it is not referring to the physical condition of the heart, which would be a serious medical condition, but the mind wherein lies all the thoughts and feelings, which is called the hypothalamus region. Jesus says that the evil thoughts are right there. When bad words are spoken and terrible things happen to you it is stored in your subconscious, in the basement of the hypothalamus, so to speak. Sometimes things are so tragic that you have put them into the subconscious, which can be very dangerous. God wants to cleanse these inner temples, our hearts. In fact, the promise of the gospel is a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). It is a cleansing out of the hypothalamus so you can be true and faithful. Part of the hypothalamus region controls the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system which regulates the inner organs. The pancreas and other internal organs do not depend on conscious decisions but are controlled involuntarily to do their work. This is why hanging onto stress or other negative emotions can cause physical sickness. To enjoy true health one must have a happy heart that trusts in the Lord at all times.

I visit a health center every so often where I have seen people go in terribly sick, in wheelchairs, etc., and come out running in a few weeks. I finally turned to the doctor one day and asked him, “Is there anybody who does not heal or get well here?” He said, “Oh yes, the people who cannot forgive. One of the things we teach those who come here is to write letters to the people with whom they have a problem, because that is often the reason for their sickness.” When God says to forgive, He not only is doing it for the benefit of the person who hurt you, He is doing it for your own sake, to help you.

This commandment is a promise from God to make you a true witness. It is impossible for you to be a true and faithful witness and also a false witness. It is a promise from God to make you a person of integrity, one who is always true to your word. It is a promise to make you one who will reflect the character of Christ and be a witness and a light wherever you are.

Frank Gonzales’ sermon was taken from the Ten Commandment Weekend, 2008 series aired on 3ABN. For more information contact www.3ABN.org.

Does My Flock Love a Lie?

Life is a serious gift from our Creator. It is not to be taken lightly or wasted, for in the day of judgment all must give an account.

Paul, writing from his prison cell, outlines the responsibility and job description of every man who is called to be a minister in the Christian religion. “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Colossians 1:24–28.

Paul understood his appointment as apostle and a minister to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” His preaching was so powerful that there were people who heard only one sermon that changed their lives, and they will be in the kingdom of heaven because of what they heard. The apostle Paul is not the only one who will be asked about those the Lord put in their path, for since that time there have been thousands, actually millions of preachers who will be answerable.

On judgment day the Lord will ask every preacher, “Where is your flock, the people to whom you have been preaching?” I am well aware that someday the Lord is going to ask me, “Where are the people to whom you preached? Are they here? Are they perfect in Christ Jesus? Are they on My right hand or on the left? Where is your flock?” This puts a huge responsibility on those who minister to others to deliver messages that are sometimes very difficult or not popular.

To the Ephesian elders, Paul said, “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” Acts 20:26, 27.

Have you noticed that we are living in a time when all of the counsel of God is not popular? Paul predicted that would be the case and wrote to a young preacher, Timothy: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” II Timothy 4:3, 4.

Preachers are human. They want to be popular, and it is just a human desire to want to be accepted, so in order to be popular, many preachers do not preach everything. Many of them understand perfectly well what the Bible says about the seventh-day Sabbath, but they won’t preach it, fearing they may lose more than half of their congregation. I feel sorry for them. As for myself, I decided a long time ago that I would rather preach to six people and have them ready to go to heaven, than preach to 6,000 people and have them lost.

I receive many letters from people who say, “Your church isn’t perfect. You are preaching about perfection, but your people aren’t perfect. Don’t you sin? Don’t the people in your church sin?” God can bring a whole church full of people to perfection in Christ Jesus, for that is what the Bible teaches. The whole object of Paul’s preaching was to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” To reach that goal the whole counsel of God must be preached. This consists of three things:

Doctrines—The apostle Paul taught that there are foundation doctrines as well as more advanced doctrines of which an understanding is needed. He said, “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” Hebrews 6:1–3.

The Gospel—This is one of the main themes of Paul’s preaching. “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” Galatians 1:6–10.

Practical Godliness—To explain this in the simplest possible language that even a child can understand, I’m going to quote a statement from the book The Ministry of Healing, 365. Ellen White said that, “He [Jesus] came as God’s ambassador, to show us how to live so as to secure life’s best results.” What we call practical godliness is simply, how to live and the condition of the people who are ready to meet Jesus when He comes in the clouds of heaven.

A practical Christian lifestyle is impossible without first knowing the gospel or the doctrines. Paul also wrote Timothy, “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.” I Timothy 6:11. These are the attributes of Jesus to be reflected in His people.

John the revelator describes people who will be ready for Jesus to come in the last days: “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. Notice, these people have a practical experience in endurance and patience, and they keep the commandments.

In Revelation 14:1–5, there is mentioned a special group of people called the 144,000. These are described in some detail. They will live through the final judgments that will come upon the world and will be ready for Jesus to come. If we are going to be perfect in Christ Jesus and ready for His appearing, this is the group of people that we need to especially study. According to Revelation 14:12, they must be commandment keepers.

Look at Revelation 14:5; it says, “And in their mouth was found no deceit [guile], for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Notice this verse carefully. If in your mouth there is no deceit, you will be without fault before the throne of God. This is a fact that can be proven from several different places in the Bible.

In the Old Testament, Zephaniah 3:13 says, speaking about God’s remnant people in the very last days: “The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness and speak no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth.” Twice in that one verse it says the remnant will not break the ninth commandment, which says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:16.

Facts Concerning the Ninth Commandment

ONE—The devil was the first liar and a skillful one who was able to turn one third of the angels against God and to rebel against His government. In the Garden of Eden, he caused the fall of Eve and Adam by his lies, mixing truth with his error making it more deceptive. The fallen angels have become demons who continue to harass and tempt people on this earth to also lie. Jesus said, “When he [Satan] speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44.

TWO—God never tells a lie. In fact, “It is impossible for God to lie.” Hebrews 6:18. That is an amazing text when you start to think it through. Anything that God tells you will turn out to be the truth. The devil may say the opposite, making it difficult to discern, but you can be certain that if God is speaking, it is always the truth, because God never tells a lie.

The Bible, written thousands of years ago, is true and dependable. Infidels have continually tried to prove it wrong, but it is still true. It’s impossible for God to lie, and those things that people are skeptical of now will eventually prove to be true.

THREE—A special identifying mark of the 144,000 is that they will be people who tell the truth. There is no deceit in their mouths (Revelation 14:5).

FOUR—This point is not so nice. Every person who is a liar will someday burn up. “All liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8.

This fact is so important that it is repeated three times in the last two books in the Bible. “There shall by no means enter it [the Holy City, New Jerusalem] 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.

The most scary one of all is found in Revelation 22:15: “Outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.” As I study this, I find out that it is very uncommon to find any human being that doesn’t love a few lies.

We are living in a time when lying has become more common than ever before. And this was predicted in the Bible. Paul said, “Evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” II Timothy 3:13. Notice, these people are going to deceive, and it is going to get worse and worse. They are going to deceive other people. As a liar engages in deceiving others, he also deceives himself.

Let’s consider this to better understand the ninth commandment. Remember, the 144,000 will be keepers of all the commandments, but especially the ninth commandment is emphasized and, according to Zephaniah 3, they are without deceit in their mouths not telling any lies. This is a special qualification of God’s remnant in the last time.

We have been commanded to “not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:16. In the book Patriarchs and Prophets, 309, Ellen White expounds on this commandment.

  1. Make sure that everything you say is absolutely true. We say things often that aren’t true without even thinking about it. I remember my grandfather had a pocket watch and he checked the time three times each day for the exact time. My grandmother and my wife were different than that, and if you asked them the time, it might be given as ten to eight or five to eight, but if you asked my grandfather, he would tell you, “It is 7:56 and a half.” I try to always be approximate when I tell the time, because I realize that people don’t really even know what the time is. Often times we give general answers that are not exactly right in every detail. In those cases we should be careful to make it known that our statements are approximate and not exact, being careful not to bear false witness.
  2. Making a statement with the purpose to deceive.
  3. An intentional overstatement. You may ask the evangelist how many people attended his meeting tonight and he may tell you 150. This could be an overstatement, unless the heads were counted. It is very difficult to look at a crowd and tell exactly how many people are there. An exaggeration breaks the ninth commandment.
  4. The ninth commandment is broken when by a hint or insinuation or expression you convey an erroneous message.
  5. An effort to injure our neighbor’s reputation by misrepresentation or by evil surmising breaks this commandment. A correct statement can be given either a negative or positive twist to change the meaning. Do Christians take things that other people say and do and give it a negative twist? Yes, unfortunately this happens far too often.

Listed along with an effort to injure our neighbor’s reputation by misrepresentation is evil surmising, slander, or tale bearing. Slander is repeating evil information about a person. By the way, slander is not necessarily false. The slander may be true, but do you realize if each one of us knew everything about everybody else, we could all say something about every single person that would be slanderous!

The Wise Man

In the book of Proverbs, the wise man deals many times with this subject in strong terms. Using the terms folly and fools, he says, “The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit.” Proverbs 14:8. Read through the book of Proverbs noticing everything it says about fools and folly and remembering that the folly of the fool is deceit.

“The thoughts of the righteous are right, but the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.” Proverbs 12:5. “He who speaks truth declares righteousness, but a false witness, deceit.” Verse 17. “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.” Verse 22.

Proverbs 6:16–19 says there are six things that God hates. Then he says, actually there are seven, and they are listed. Of those seven things that God hates, two of them relate to the ninth commandment.

Solomon explains why people fall into that sin: “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.” Proverbs 20:17. “He who hates, disguises it with his lips, and lays up deceit within himself; When he speaks kindly, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart; Though his hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him. A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” Proverbs 26:24–28.

Dig For a Deeper Meaning

A lie does not have to be spoken audibly. You can live a lie. In fact, your whole life can be a lie acted out—it is still a lie!

Some things really hit a tender nerve, but they need to be said if we are going to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. All acting is lying. Did you understand that? I was involved in acting as a child. I was selected in school to play the part of the grandfather. Think this through. Was I a grandfather when I was in the eighth grade? No, I was acting out a lie; it was not the truth.

When watching movies or television or some DVDs of a theatrical performance, you are watching people act things out, and you are watching a lie. When I was at Southwestern Adventist College in Keene, Texas, we used to get what we thought were good movies, things like the life of Martin Luther. The actor in the movie who played the part of Martin Luther pretended to be him. Martin Luther had been dead for 400 years, so he was acting out a lie.

Remember that in Revelation 22:15 it said that outside the city is everybody who loves and practices a lie. Those people who watch the lie love it. If they didn’t love the lie, they wouldn’t be watching it. I know what I’m talking about, because I’ve been there and watched many movies. I’m not proud of that fact, but I know what happens when you watch a movie. Many Seventh-day Adventists believe that it is the environment of the movie theater that prohibits the Christian to watch movies, so they are brought into the school settings or other “safe” environments. One of the movies that we watched while I was in high school was about Peter Marshall, a very godly man who immigrated to the United States of America and became the chaplain of the United States Senate. He was one of the most brilliant preachers and orators of the twentieth century. It was clear that he had the gift of communication, but we were watching a lie. The actor was not Peter Marshall who had been dead for ten years, and neither was the actress his wife. So we were watching a lie. Mentally we entered into this thing, loving and practicing a lie. I remember when I got done watching that movie I could hardly sleep that night having entered into that experience.

Ellen White said to those who are preachers to avoid anything theatrical, in gestures, work, preaching or in evangelism. When she was alive, the only way a person could see theatrics was to actually go to a theater. This is what she wrote:

“Among the most dangerous resorts for pleasure is the theater. Instead of being a school of morality and virtue, as is so often claimed, it is the very hotbed of immorality. Vicious habits and sinful propensities are strengthened and confirmed by these entertainments. Low songs, lewd gestures, expressions, and attitudes, deprave the imagination and debase the morals. Every youth who habitually attends such exhibitions will be corrupted in principle. There is no influence in our land more powerful to poison the imagination, to destroy religious impressions, and to blunt the relish for the tranquil pleasures and sober realities of life than theatrical amusements. The love for these scenes increases with every indulgence, as the desire for intoxicating drinks strengthens with its use. The only safe course is to shun the theater, the circus, and every other questionable place of amusement.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 652, 653.

Soon we shall all stand before the judgment bar of God, and the Lord will ask us ministers, “Where’s your flock? Are they all perfect? Are they here, perfect in Christ Jesus?” Will we be able to say, “Yes, here they are”? That will not be the case if you don’t get over watching videos, movies, DVDs and programs on the Internet that some are still watching. It is time to take a careful look into this serious situation. The 144,000 have no deceit in their mouth. They are not watching it, or listening to it, or reading it, or speaking it; they are pure.

One More Thing

“He who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk just as He walked.” I John 2:6. It was in Antioch that men and women were first called Christians, because they continually talked about Jesus and His life. With tear-dimmed eyes and quivering lips, they would tell about His suffering in Gethsemane, how He was scourged and crucified for the human family, offering the invitation to believe on Him as Lord and Saviour, to deliver them from both the guilt and power of sin. They taught that He is in heaven right now interceding for His children and that He is going to come back again to take those who have received Him out of this world. Constantly they spoke about Jesus, His life, death and ministry for His chosen ones. As people listened to this over and over, it seemed like that was all they talked about. The people said they were just like the person they talked about, so they began calling themselves Christians. A Christian is one who is a disciple, a follower of Jesus Christ. They have been called Christians from that day to the present.

Christianity has now been around for about 2,000 years. But why is it that there are hundreds of millions of people in the world who hate all Christians? It is because of hypocrisy—there are many people who profess to be Christians, but they are far from being Christlike. Professing the name Christian, but not being like Christ, is to lie. I may not say anything, but I am acting a lie.

The 144,000 will have no deceit in their mouth. They are truly Christians—like Christ. I’ll confess this to you, that when I first studied this out, it made me scared to call myself a Christian, and I realized that I had a lot of praying to do. In Revelation 12:17, it talks about the followers of Jesus, the last ones left on the earth. It says, “The dragon [the devil] was enraged with the woman [the true church], and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Notice the word remnant. Seventh-day Adventists love to call themselves the remnant of Revelation 12:17. The remnant, besides keeping the commandments of God must also have the testimony of Jesus Christ. To call myself a Seventh-day Adventist and part of the remnant means that my life should be in harmony with the Spirit of Prophecy. If I call myself a Seventh-day Adventist and my life is not in harmony with the Spirit of Prophecy, what am I doing? I am acting out a lie. To take it to the final conclusion, if you call yourself a Seventh-day Adventist church and your church is not living out the teachings of the Spirit of Prophecy, your church is acting out a lie.

The Lord is going to have a people that are Christlike, and I want to be one of them. I hope by God’s grace that each one of you can be one of them, too.

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

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