Peace that Surpasses All Understanding

The Lord will give strength to His people;

The Lord will bless His people with peace.

Psalm 29:11

It is indisputable that the Lord bestows enumerable blessings on the inhabitants of this world. The greatest blessing is a given, but establishing which of those blessings is the second greatest would be a matter of opinion. The second greatest blessing that the Lord bestows upon His people, in my opinion, is an abiding, inner peace. It is that peace that enables us to cope with life’s daily challenges and with the increasing turmoil that is so prevalent in the world today.

In John 14, Christ states clearly His desire for His disciples to be at peace.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Verse 27

It is notable that He declared this gift just a few hours before He was taken captive in the garden of Gethsemane.

A couple of chapters later, even closer to the time of His arrest, we have record of an interesting exchange between Christ and the apostles.

“ ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.’ Then some of His disciples said among themselves, ‘What is this that He says to us, “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again, a little while, and you will see Me”; and, “because I go to the Father”?’ They said therefore, ‘What is this that He says, “little while”? We do not know what He is saying.’ ” John 16:16–18

Then Christ explains in verses 19–28 what He meant—although still a bit cryptically.

The disciples responded to His explanation: “His disciples said to Him, ‘See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.’ ” Verses 29, 30

Then Christ challenges them: “Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? Indeed, the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. …’ ” Verses 31, 32

Then in His continuing determination to provide them with comfort—even though He knew that they still did not understand or realize what was going to happen beginning in just a few hours, He added, “ ‘These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ ” Verse 33

The events that followed over the following days were the fulfillment of many ancient prophecies. Then at least three times after His resurrection, Christ entreated peace upon His disciples once again. We have a record of those blessings in John 20.

“Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ ” Verses 19–21

Remember that when this scene occurred, Thomas was not present, and because he did not see the resurrected Christ, he refused to believe. His unbelief led to the third recorded time that Christ promised peace to the apostles.

“And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ ” Verse 26

The promise of peace that Christ would reveal, or give, or make possible had been promised hundreds of years before in a prophecy that is very well known and much cherished by the Christian world:

“For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6

That promise was repeated when the angels made the grand announcement to the shepherds attending their flocks. They concluded their announcement with the wonderful statement recorded in Luke 2:14 that meant more than we even understand today: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Even in the midst of the chaos of end times, the Lord makes this wonderful promise in a prophecy yet to be fulfilled:

 “For the mountains shall depart

And the hills be removed,

But My kindness shall not depart from you,

Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,

Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.”

Isaiah 54:10

There are equally wonderful promises of peace through Christ in the writings of Paul.

Even though his relationship with Christ began in a way that might be seen as somewhat unsettling, if not even a bit brutal, he nevertheless understood the basis and very foundation of that relationship when he wrote to the Romans, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1, 2

As evidence of Paul’s conviction of the peace that Christ provides, we need look no further than the salutation of all 13 of his epistles:

Romans 1:7

1 Corinthians 1:3

2 Corinthians 1:2

Galatians 1:3

Ephesians 1:2

Philippians 1:2

Colossians 1:2

1 Thessalonians 1:1

2 Thessalonians 1:2

1 Timothy 1:2

2 Timothy 1:2

Titus 1:4

Philemon 1:3.

All begin with some version of the same salutation: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

It should be indisputably clear that there is nothing more in this world that Christ and those inspired by Christ want for His followers than peace—an inner, abiding peace that can only be obtained through faith in the promises in the inspired word.

It is likely that as you read this article, you have at least one, if not many, favorite promises that instill within you a comforting sense of peace. A favorite for many people is found in Philippians 4:6, 7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Earlier in this article, it was noted that Christ and those inspired by Him consistently wish peace for His followers. In the devotional Our High Calling, there are several passages that refer to the peace that Christ wants His followers to experience.

“Shortly before His crucifixion Christ bequeathed to His disciples a legacy of peace. … This peace is not the peace that comes through conformity with the world. It is an internal rather than an external peace. Without will be wars and fightings, through the opposition of avowed enemies, and the coldness and suspicion of those who claim to be friends. The peace of Christ is not to banish division, but it is to remain amid strife and division. …

“The peace that Christ gave to His disciples, and for which we pray, is the peace that is born of truth, a peace that is not to be quenched because of division. Without may be wars and fightings, jealousies, envies, hatred, strife; but the peace of Christ is not that which the world giveth or taketh away.” Op. Cit., 328

“Sanctification, unity, peace—all are to be ours through the truth. The belief of the truth does not make men gloomy and uncomfortable. If you have peace in Christ, His precious blood is speaking pardon and hope to your soul. Yes, more, you have joy in the Holy Spirit, through accepting the precious promises. Jesus says, ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’ John 16:33. Therefore the world shall not overcome you if you believe in Me. It is a world that I have conquered. Because I have overcome, if you believe in Me, you shall overcome. …

“All that Jesus has promised, He will fulfill; and it is greatly dishonoring to Him for us to doubt Him. All His words are spirit and life. Accepted and obeyed, they will give peace and happiness and assurance forever. … Christ declares that He has given us peace; it belongs to us. And He has spoken these things, that in Him we may have that which through infinite sacrifice He had purchased for us—what He holds as ours. This peace we need not seek in the world, for the world has it not to bestow. It is in Christ. He will give it, in spite of the world, notwithstanding its threats and decrees, its alluring, deceiving promises.” Op. Cit., 329

“Mercy and truth have met together;

Righteousness and peace have kissed.”

Psalm 85:10

John R. Pearson is the office manager and a board member of Steps to Life. He may be contacted by email at:

Peace, When There Is No Peace

Eighteen hundred years ago, the Bible said that scoffers would say in the last days, “all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” 2 Peter 3:4, last part. But actually, the greatest wars, the greatest pestilences and famines, the greatest earthquakes and other disasters, have marked our time, our generation. Scoffers, even today, continue to say that all things will be as they have been from the beginning; but all things, friends, do not continue as they have.

In addition to all these natural disasters and calamities and wars that are to occur in the last days, the Bible predicted, in both the Old and New Testaments, that there would be a great international peace movement. Micah 4:1–5 says, “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, ‘Come.’ ” Notice, the Lord does not say this, the nations of the world are making this call, “ ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. For all people walk each in the name of his god … .”

In 1899, the World Court System was developed with the idea that war would be outlawed. But this world system did not stop wars from happening.

It’s likely that hardly anyone alive today remembers the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact of 1928. Officially known as the General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy, this international agreement committed the signatory states to not use war to resolve “disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them.”

Thirty-one nations signed the agreement on August 27, 1928, and the Pact went into effect on July 24, 1929. Once in effect, 25 additional countries entered into the agreement. The Pact remains in force today, however, it did not stop World War II from happening, though declared wars became rare after the end of World War II in 1945.

We talk of peace all the time and the Bible says that in the last days people would be talking peace and safety, while at the same time, there would be war.

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” Isaiah 2:2–4

Notice, in both Micah 4 and Isaiah 2, the peace movement is phrased in terms of religion. The intent of this peace movement will be that we will learn to do what is right and to follow the Lord, and we will no longer war with one another. We will stop making weapons meant to harm and cause destruction. We will learn to live in peace. We have established a world court and entered into agreements. We have established the League of Nations and now the United Nations. But regardless of what the people of the world are saying and doing in the last days, what did the Lord say?

“Proclaim this among the nations: ‘Prepare for war! Wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, “I am strong.” ’ Assemble and come, all you nations, and gather together all around. Cause your mighty ones to go down there, O Lord. ‘Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow—for their wickedness is great.’ Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” Joel 3:9–14

An awesome scripture, the very opposite of what the nations are saying. Let all the mighty men come down. The Bible is very clear that at the end of time the whole world will be gathered for war. While we say we will have peace, there will be war, and multitudes will be in the valley of decision.

So who will we be listening to? “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” Romans 6:16. Have you decided who you belong to and who you will obey?

Many people believe that they belong to the Lord and are obeying Him. They believe they are Christians, Christlike, but when Jesus comes, He will not acknowledge them as His own. They will say they have done all these marvelous things, miracles, healings, prophesies in His name, but Matthew 7:21–23 says that when Jesus comes, He won’t even know who they are. “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” Verse 23

“He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8. You see, the one that you obey, is the one you belong to, and if you say that you are a Christian, but are living in sin, it is the devil who you really belong to. The Bible calls you the devil’s spiritual child, and it points out in this same chapter what sin is, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” Verse 4

Today there are multitudes in the valley of decision, trying to understand and make up their minds who they will serve. Some might believe that they will just serve themselves, but selfishness is the root of all sin. If you serve yourself, then you are sinning and, you are on the devil’s side.

The great controversy, the war between good and evil, has been raging since Eve ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Serving God or serving self is what this millennia-long controversy is all about. Will we do just as we please or will we be loyal to God’s government and His law? Because our natural nature is selfish, we will sin and be sinners until Jesus comes unless we make a choice. If we do not decide, then we will be lost for we will simply follow our natural inclination to sin.

In Noah’s day, all the world stood in the valley of decision, but ultimately their decisions were not to accept Noah’s message and go into the ark and be saved; and as a result, every person, except for eight, lost their life, and worse, their soul. When Jesus comes, the majority of the people alive in the world will be lost, all the while hoping and desiring to be saved, simply because they do not now choose to be Christians.

In a Roman dungeon, a short time before his death as a martyr, Paul wrote a letter to a young minister by the name of Timothy. In 2 Timothy 3:1–4 he said, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

What an awful list of character traits for people to possess! Who would want to live with people like this? Yet, this is exactly why we will be unable to find peace in this world in the last days. No peace in an individual’s heart, in the family, between the races, between the nations. Without Jesus Christ in our hearts and in the world, there simply is no peace, because we all have the natural, selfish inclination to bear any or all of the character traits listed above.

But notice what Paul further says to Timothy. In the midst of the people of the world exhibiting these terrible traits of character, Paul describes the religious atmosphere as “having a form of godliness.” 2 Timothy 3:5. Outwardly the majority of the people seem to be godly, they make a profession of godliness, they go to church and claim to be Christians, but Paul says they have a “form of godliness, but [are] denying its power” and he tells Timothy to stay away from such people.

Do you know what the power of godliness is? When Jesus was here on earth, He told the Jews that “if you continue in My word … you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They were quick to reply, having forgotten their slavery in Egypt and their current condition under the authority of Rome, that they had never been in bondage to anyone. But Jesus immediately replied that the one who commits sin is the servant of sin, and the servant does not remain in the house forever (John 8:31–35), meaning, the person who is living in sin will not have eternal life.

But in Verse 36 we find that “[I]f the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” The gospel promises to set you free from sin, to enable you to live a righteous life. This can happen only as a result of being born of the Holy Spirit, experiencing what Jesus called the new birth. It is receiving from the Holy Spirit a new heart and a new mind, the implanting of a new principle of life within us so that we no longer live for ourselves, but we live to honor God and to help our fellow men.

Jesus said, unless this happens, unless the Son sets us free, then we are slaves. The slave to sin does not have eternal life, but the Son and those He sets free remain forever. That is the power of godliness, the power of divinity to set us free, not just from our guilt, because the Lord wants to do more than set us free from our guilt. He wants to set us free from the power of sin in our lives.

Since we are to turn away from those who simply have a form of godliness, but deny its power, we must be able to identify who they are. The apostle John tells us how we may know who is a follower of the Lord and who is not. “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:7–10

Laodicea, the last-day church of Revelation 3, is described as lukewarm. Paul said that the people of this church would be listening to doctrines of devils while they claimed to be religious, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” 1 Timothy 4:1

Think about it, friends. Do we claim a form of godliness while denying the power of the Holy Spirit? Or have we allowed the Holy Spirit to work the miracle of transformation in our lives so that we are not simply making a claim of godliness, but actually living a life of godliness? Are we the people described by the Bible in Revelation 14:12 as the saints of God, the holy people who keep God’s commandments and have the faith of Jesus? Are we those of whom John wrote, “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city”? Revelation 22:14

Today, we all have a decision to make. We must decide to be born again and to commit our lives to Jesus Christ. As promised, He will send the Holy Spirit to give us new hearts and new minds so that we will live new lives in Him, and then go home with Him when He comes.

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

Health Nugget – The Possibility of Peace

Today’s headlines, portraying a world seemingly on the verge of self-destruction, were foretold in the Scriptures many years ago.

“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars. … For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Matthew 24:6–8

“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” Luke 21:25, 26

Not surprisingly, many people are overwhelmed by fear, useless fear. As I see them in the medical office, they are afraid they might die, even to the point that some demand unwarranted medical testing, treatment, and even surgery and hospitalization—in an effort to guarantee what no human can guarantee.

Fear can cause a person to be too worried about his or her health. But even worse is the fact that fear can literally paralyze a person, so they are not able to do the things that they ought to be doing.

Closely allied to fear of death is worry—worry about things that are happening, and worry about things that might happen. Both are useless.

A person must give concern and thought, enough to take appropriate action to meet situations that arise. Once he has done all he can, then he must accept what cannot be changed, and what God will allow.

How can one accept a bad situation and stop worrying?

Prescription for Rest

“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28–30

Jesus is the Burden Bearer. Can you not give Him your heavy burdens in exchange for His light yoke? In the quiet hour of meditation, why not tie up your burdens in a bundle and give them to Jesus? Then quietly wait, and He will give you an assignment for the day.

Who Makes the Agenda for Your Day?

Many people simply try to do too much. It is true that some people are just lazy, but they are not the ones reading this article. Work is important. Work is life. Your work can also be considered your “calling.” But be sure your calling is of God and get your instructions every day. In fact,

  1. Look at those interruptions carefully. Some of them are special assignments that Jesus is trying to give you.
  2. Look again at your agenda for the day. Some of those things you must do are not necessary, and simply make up the burden that Jesus wants you to hand over to Him.

“Christ in His life on earth made no plans for Himself. He accepted God’s plans for Him, and day by day the Father unfolded His plans. So should we depend upon God, that our lives may be the simple outworking of His will. As we commit our ways to Him, He will direct our steps.” The Ministry of Healing, 479

Are you really willing to hand over your day and your time schedule to Him? If so, your day will be different. You will be busy, maybe busier than you expected, but the yoke will also be light and easy.

Getting the Work Done

Just being a follower of Christ, obeying His great commission, inevitably opens before us the great needs of mankind. How can this work be done and the promise of rest be fulfilled?

“Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:37, 38

“And He said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” Mark 6:31

It is clear that we, the followers of Christ, have a great work to do, but we are not expected to do it all. In fact, Jesus instructs us to pray for more laborers. His promise to be with us is in direct connection with our fulfilling the great commission, and in context, the invitation to rest with Him comes after a period of productive work for Him.

The psychology of work is that a man is most energetic and most effective when impulse strongly urges an action, and his will gives complete and unqualified approval. This response is called integrity and produces interest, confidence, and enthusiasm. There is no fatigue until the muscles themselves get tired.

Conversely, complete and utter fatigue is brought about when impulse strongly urges action, and the will strongly disapproves. The resulting conflict produces fatigue.

Prompt action is often required in daily life, but sometimes the reasoning powers move too slowly, and the will is not enlisted. The action may be performed as required, but accomplished by fear, anger, worry, or dislike. These instinctive reactions introduce inhibitions which require a tremendous amount of energy to overcome. A person can be five times as effective if he is willing and likes his job, and he won’t get tired.

Fatigue is also the cardinal symptom of depression and often is the only symptom. People who are depressed have very weak impulses and find it hard to start any activity. Coping with life is a real problem, and they have a tendency to retreat—not do much, no initiative, sit around and sleep a lot. There is a lack of motivation. The person has given up, and his self-image is low.

Persons who are depressed will actually feel better if they get involved in some activity, especially if it is interesting and vigorous. A good exercise program is one of the best things such a person can engage in.

Depression must be resisted. Another helpful activity is to write down ten things one is thankful for each morning. Thus the day is begun in a grateful, optimistic frame of mind.


When a person is tired, the first thing he thinks about is rest. In many cases rest restores energy so that a person can work efficiently again.

Rooted in the story of Creation is the seven-day week, with the seventh day set aside for rest. Many have attempted to disregard this principle in the drive to make a living, get rich, or accomplish certain goals. It was proved during World War II that factory production actually increased as the work week was shortened from 60 hours to 40 hours.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” Exodus 20:8–10

Why Is Sleep Needed?

When the body is denied sleep long enough, the electroencephalogram, a machine that records the brain’s electrical activity, will begin to show repeated sleep spindles. These are episodes of microsleep which last just three to six seconds each, but do add up over a period of time. In many activities they might not be noticed, but are most dangerous when one is driving a car.

One has no control over these microsleep episodes. They occur suddenly and without warning when sleep is lacking. Just a few hours’ sleep will restore alertness.

After as short a time as 36 hours without sleep, there is impaired thinking, loss of attention, and poor memory. Time sense is lost. Eye symptoms occur—itching, burning, blurred vision, and double vision.

With continued sleep loss, perception of reality is weakened; delusions and hallucinations may occur similar to schizophrenia. There is an 80 percent decrease in ability to perform tasks that require accuracy.

If dreaming rapid eye movement or REM sleep is suppressed, irritability or depression can occur, and some persons become severely anxious. Experiments have also shown that dream-deprived subjects are much less able to adapt to stress. REM sleep loss tends to be cumulative, and must be made up in part. It is also thought that memory is consolidated, organized, and corrected during REM sleep.

Sleeping is closely bound to the daily cycle of life. If the sleeping habits are irregular, such as having to work a night shift from time to time, a person may become hyperirritable, critical, irrational, or even childish. The sleep pattern may require up to two weeks to return to normal.

How to Sleep Well

  1. Keep active during the day. Moderate-to-vigorous exercise is most helpful. Nothing promotes sleep like being tired physically.
  2. Go to bed on an empty stomach. Supper had best be a light meal, and at least several hours before bedtime, so that digestion is completed.
  3. Have a regular time for sleep. You will tend to get sleepy at the same time every night.
  4. Avoid drugs. Avoid drinks containing caffeine, which will keep you awake. Get off sleeping pills that suppress REM sleep. Alcohol is also a drug, and will suppress REM sleep even in small amounts.
  5. Be at peace with God and your fellow man. “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Remember, you are trading in your burdens of fear, worry, insecurity, compulsion to work all the time, lack of time, and your health problems. In exchange, He has an assignment for you that is “light and easy,” and He promises rest.

With Jesus as Lord of your life, you will have time to eat two or three meals every day, time to exercise and enjoy recreation with family and friends, and time to keep Sabbath holy.

[All scripture taken from the King James Version]

Health for Today, Hope International ©1991, Hubert F. Sturges, M.D., 14–16.

Completeness of Life in Jesus

We live in a world where many people do not have much of a life. Many others feel that their cup is not even half full. Many people of all ages have been, and still are, desperately searching for completeness, for a satisfaction, a wholeness they cannot seem to find. They search for completeness in the temporary pleasures of sin and think if they could have this or enjoy that, they would then be complete. The devil spreads out so many sinful distractions and temporary pleasures, and the human race is chasing after them, trying to fill some void inside, but they only find misery.

We are aware of so little that goes on in the world, but Jesus said that when He comes, all things will be revealed. Paul says in Romans 2 that the secrets of men will be judged in that day. If you want to be ready for that day, you need to be in Christ so that your sins can be forgiven and blotted out.

This is a simple, introductory study from Colossians 2 on the subject of forgiveness and the blotting out of sin. It shows us that in Christ, life can be complete. Adam’s problem in the Garden of Eden was that he believed his life would not be complete without Eve, so much so that he was willing to sin so that she would remain a part of his life. But the completeness he thought he would have turned into trouble. He and Eve argued and blamed each other and there was no satisfaction in the life that followed. They did not find the completeness they sought because completeness is only found in Jesus Christ.

So how can we be complete, not half full or half empty? It requires faith in Him who has provided for every deficiency. Colossians 2:6 says, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” Paul returns again and again to the theme of walking in Christ. Walking in Christ is to receive Christ. How do we receive Christ? As we understand God’s character and His love more and more, we will learn to accept Christ in our hearts.

The devil has tricked the people of the world into believing that God wants to restrict their freedom and happiness. They say that God’s law is just a list of dos and don’ts that keep them from having a good life. In reality, God’s law was given to keep man from doing the immoral, illegal, and unhealthy things that will bring harm to them physically and keep them separated from God. It is important to understand that God has something better to replace anything we lose in this world, including our lives. If we are following Jesus, we will eventually receive something infinitely better than any worldly thing we may give up. God changes our mind about everything in the world, and we will see that keeping God’s law and allowing Him to change us will bring us happiness.

So the first step to receiving Christ is realizing how much God loves us and wants us to be happy, and that He is willing to give us all the best things. He has prepared a place of happiness where there is no disappointment, pain, suffering, or loneliness. In fact, Ellen White has written that God created man and woman for happiness, so if we follow God and His way, we will find happiness in Him, even if we have problems in this world. We find this assurance in Psalm 16:11, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”

The people of this world love sinning because they continually want, and they believe if only they can have what they want, it will bring them happiness and completeness. But instead, they find only emptiness and sorrow, trouble and misery, incompleteness. They may find a thrill for a time in drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, or other forms of immorality, but none of these things will bring them true satisfaction or completeness.

In 1 Corinthians 15:3, last part, the Bible tells us that Christ “died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” Studying the cross changes how the mind perceives sin. Sin is no longer desirable, nor can we believe that it could bring true happiness, because the truth is, sin—our sins—killed Jesus. The more we know, the more we will hate sin because we see what it has done and is doing. When we hate sin, the Bible says we will want to repent, because we understand that continuing in sin makes us as responsible for crucifying Christ as were those who drove the nails into His hands and called for His death. The deeper our repentance becomes, Christ is then able to work miracles in our behalf and we will walk in the way of righteousness, loving and trusting Him more.

Repentance is a change of mind and heart, a recognition that we have been ruined by sin and that there is no hope to be found in this world without Jesus. We must have a new heart, a new spirit, and a new life, but we can only find these in Christ. We must first receive Him so that we can live a Christlike life every day.

Continuing in Colossians 2, we are warned that we must be careful not to let anyone rob us of the prize that God has for us. We cannot allow ourselves to be separated from Christ through worldly philosophy. Paul says in verse 9, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Jesus is not a junior God. He is the completeness of divinity, and, because of His divinity, He can do for us what no other being can do. Paul, continuing in verse 10 says, “and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” This scripture is written in the present tense, but it will not be completely fulfilled until we are in heaven. God has many things in mind for us and until we have received those things, we are not yet fully complete.

In Colossians 2:11, Paul writes that God wants to take away the body of our humiliation, “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ …” Circumcision represents the cutting away of sin from the life.

Before we can have a new body we must first have a new spirit and a new mind. This is the work of God. “… [B]uried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” Colossians 2:12, 13.

Jesus does this work, and when we are baptized and raised again in Him, verse 14 says, “… having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Something is referred to in this scripture that used to exist, but does not exist anymore. What is this thing that no longer exists? It was something against us, written by the hand of man, an entity called decrees or ordinances. Paul says this entity was: 1) hostile toward us, 2) taken out of the way by Him [Jesus], and 3) nailed to the cross. Three times he states that this entity no longer exists.

He says that these decrees and ordinances were handwritten, and this is an exceedingly important point, because if they were handwritten, we immediately must see that he is not, in any way, talking about the ten commandments. Man writes using his whole hand. God writes with His finger.

God does not use His hand to write. We find three times in the Bible where God wrote something. John 8 in the last part of verse 6 says: “But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.” This verse tells us explicitly that He wrote with His finger.

In Daniel 5:5, we find the account of Belshazzar’s feast. “In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote … .”

And finally, Deuteronomy 9:10 tells us how God wrote the ten commandments: “Then the Lord delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God … .” Imagine the power it took for God to put His finger on the tables of stone and etch the words of the law into that stone. This clearly tells us just how permanent He intended His law to be.

As Christians, we believe that we are to let the Bible interpret itself, so let’s go to the Bible to see just what was this entity, these decrees or ordinances, written by the hand of man, not by the finger of God, that were nailed to the cross and taken out of the way.

The Bible tells us in Acts 15:10 that these decrees and ordinances were a “yoke on the neck” or a yoke of bondage. Peter says that neither we nor “our fathers” could keep these ordinances. In Galatians 5:1–6, Paul again writes about this yoke of bondage, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Ephesians 2:14–18 and Hebrews 7:16 refer to these decrees and ordinances, this yoke of bondage, as a law of fleshly commandments, handwritten by man, once against us, but now nailed to the cross.

While on Mt. Sinai, Moses received the ten commandments written by the finger of God, but he also received instruction from God, which he himself wrote by hand, that became what we know today as the ceremonial law. In Galatians 3:19, Paul describes this ceremonial law as having been added because of transgression and this law would exist until the Seed [Christ] should come. The ceremonial law required that if a person sinned, he or she had to bring a sacrifice to the sanctuary to be offered up in their behalf, and Paul said that only a sinner was required to keep the ceremonial law. But if a person was tired of sin and instead committed his or her life to obeying God’s commandments and began to live without sinning, they would not have to bring these many sin offerings to the sanctuary.

When Jesus was on earth, He never brought a sin offering to the temple. Why? Because Jesus was sinless. He kept the law and always did the will of His Father.

The book of Leviticus outlines the various aspects of the ceremonial law:

  1. Sacrifices
  2. Offerings
  3. Feasts (set times)
  4. Levitical priesthood
  5. Earthly sanctuary and its rituals

Paul says in Hebrews 13:14, “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.” We have an altar in the heavenly sanctuary at which Paul says the worshipers in the earthly sanctuary did not have a right to worship. Some people still believe that Jerusalem in Israel is where we must go to worship, but that was part of the old covenant. There is no enduring city on earth where we are told to go to worship under the new covenant.

There are large parts of the Torah written by Moses that were not a part of any ceremonial or ritual law; they were simply explanations concerning the ten commandments that were meant to provide us with a better understanding of the ten commandments and to keep us from being easily deceived by the devil’s smooth talk.

An example of this is Leviticus 11 which contains the listing of unclean foods with the admonition that they should not be eaten. Does that have anything to do with the sanctuary? Absolutely not! But it does have to do with the sixth commandment. Two thousand years ago people had to accept this by faith, but today we have science that proves that there are certain foods that will kill you. They don’t all kill you right away or people wouldn’t eat them. It was sinful to eat these foods before the ritual law was given, so these food laws were not part of the ritual law.

If we study Leviticus 18 and 20, we find that they explain the meaning of the seventh commandment. The Bible tells us many times in the New Testament that no fornicator or adulterer or anyone of this nature will be in the kingdom of heaven (see 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Galatians 5:16–21; Revelation 9:20, 21; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15). Leviticus 19 gives additional explanation regarding the second, fifth, and seventh commandments.

After Paul discusses the ceremonial or ritual law, which was added because of transgression, he tells about Jesus’ experience on the cross of Calvary, “having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” Colossians 2:14, 15. The “principalities and powers” Paul refers to here is the devil. Because of the cross, Jesus triumphed over the devil and all his host and it was guaranteed that he and his kingdom would be destroyed.

As long as a person continued in sin, the ceremonial law had to be kept and followed, and sacrifices continued to be made. Hebrews 10:1–4 explains this: “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.”

Colossians 2:16 says, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths … .” People like to argue about this text. Let’s look at the whole context surrounding it. Paul has, in verses 7 and 8, raised the issue of false teachers attempting to control the religious experience of those in the Christian church by teaching the philosophy of the world. When we study church and secular history, we find that there were two apostate groups at work. One was the gnostics and the other judaizers. Gnosticism is a terrible thing. It is so bad that almost all of the New Testament writers wrote against it. Some scholars believe that the gospel of John was written mainly to combat gnosticism in the Christian church. Paul consistently teaches against gnosticism in his epistles, but especially in Colossians 2. Gnosticism taught in part that it did not matter what a person did with their body as long as their mind was pure, however that is not what the New Testament teaches. Imagine, sinning and committing all forms of vile wickedness with the body and expecting to keep the mind pure and holy. The gnostics attempted to convince the early Christians that they could lead them to a higher Christian experience, but Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “[C]asting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” The Bible says that we all will one day stand before the judgment seat of Christ and be judged according to the deeds done in the body.

The judaizers taught that you could not be perfect unless you followed all the law of Moses and kept all the Jewish traditions. Based on the types of food and drink outlined in Numbers 6 and 28 and Leviticus 6 and 23 associated with the various feasts and ceremonies of the ceremonial law, these judaizers were judging the members of each new church that Paul established on what they ate and drank. So Paul is saying in Colossians 2:16 that they were not to let the judaizers pass judgment on them because of the food they ate or what they drank. Nor were they to be judged over the feasts, the monthly ceremonies or the weekly sabbaths associated with certain holy days, which were a shadow of things to come.

What were the festival sabbaths? There were different festival sabbaths (weeks) in the ceremonial law in addition to the seventh-day Sabbath. They were:

  • The first day of the Passover week (Exodus 12:15; Leviticus 23:5–7; Numbers 28:17, 18)
  • The seventh day of the Passover week (Exodus 12:16; Numbers 28:24, 25)
  • The first day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:24, 25; Numbers 29:1)
  • The tenth day of the seventh month (Leviticus 16:29–31; 23:27–32; Numbers 29:7)
  • The fifteenth day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:34, 35; Numbers 29:12)
  • The twenty-second day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:39)
  • The fiftieth day (Pentecost), known also as the “feast of weeks” (Leviticus 23:15, 16, 21; Deuteronomy 16:9, 10)

As with their food and drink, Paul is telling the Christian churches that they were not to allow the judaizers to judge them on the keeping of these festival sabbaths nor the other feasts and ceremonies. Paul is specific that in proper context, all these things are merely shadows [types] of things to come. All of this had to do with the ceremonial law and Hebrews 8:5 and Hebrews 10:1 distinctly state that all of the ceremonial law—food, drink, new moons, sabbaths, feasts, sacrifices—were all connected to the earthly sanctuary and all foreshadowed heavenly things to come.

“[B]ut the substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.” Colossians 2:17, last part, 18. Paul is telling the early Christians that they were to let no one judge them or dictate to them what their religious experience should be, but rather they should go to the body of Christ. He had already told them in Colossians 1:18, 24 what was the body of Christ, “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. … 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.” He is telling them, and us, not to listen to the world, but to go to the church. These worldly teachers would have you believe and follow their doctrines and worldly teachings regardless of whether it contradicts God’s word or not. But if you go to the church, to seek out a godly elder or deacon and ask for spiritual advice, they will tell you to believe what they say only as it is in harmony with the Bible.

The church in Paul’s day, just like the church today, was being attacked. Have you noticed recently that Christianity as a whole is being opposed more and more by the world, and this opposition will increase as we approach the coming of Jesus; so much so that if it were possible, even the elect will be deceived. Do not seek out the world for advice. Do not be consumed by worldly philosophy. Do not be cheated of your reward. Do not go to the world, for neither it nor its teachings will make you complete. Only by walking in Christ are we made complete. He has already fulfilled the promise of a new heart, a new mind, and new spirit. If you know Christ, then you will know the completeness of His life in you. [Emphasis supplied.]

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

A Hundredfold Now

There are in the Scriptures thoughts and claims of such a startling nature as to occasionally cause one to do a double take. One such thought is found in the words of Jesus in Mark 10:29, 30: “And Jesus answered and said, ‘Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.’ ”

Clearly, Jesus’ intention here was for us to know that no one making a sacrifice for His sake would go unrewarded. We can understand to a degree that a believer will be compensated for the loss of his family in this life by joining a larger family of faith. We can even understand the promise of persecutions because the Bible is consistent in teaching that heaven can be gained only through much tribulation. (See Acts 14:22; 2, Timothy 3:12; Matthew 24:21.) But what did Jesus mean by declaring “he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time”? What measure was Jesus using? What currency was He alluding to?

When we consider the lives of the apostles, we realize that every one of them died a martyr’s death – except for John, who barely escaped death being deep fried in a pot of boiling oil. So where was the promise of “an hundredfold” for them? But we know that Jesus never lies. This means, therefore, that each of the apostles did indeed receive “an hundredfold” in this life even though to human vision they suffered the loss of all things, including their very lives. This is of profound interest to us living in the last days because the promise of Jesus clearly embraces all His followers to the end of time even as the crisis of the ages steals relentlessly upon us with its specter of suffering and persecution.

Jesus spoke the promise of the “hundredfold” in the context of losing all things for His sake. Does this suggest that only certain believers may be entitled to the promise, while others may not? The answer is an unequivocal No. All believers, regardless of their ultimate earthly fate, may receive the “hundredfold” in this life by surrendering all by a covenant of sacrifice: “Gather My saints together unto Me; those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice” (Psalm 50:5). Every believer who has ever lived has had in his or her grasp the “hundredfold” promise in this life, because God credits us for the intents of our hearts more than for what is observable to human sight. This great promise is separate from and in addition to eternal life “in the world to come.” Thus, even though not all believers are called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice of martyrdom, all can qualify for the “hundredfold” blessing here and now by being willing to stand unyieldingly for the truth despite the cost.

To grasp the concept of the “hundredfold” we must first understand the economic principles of heaven. In the cashless economy in heaven there is no trading or bartering. All things pertaining to life and well-being are freely available to the inhabitants of that wonderful world. The river of life proceeding from the throne of God and the tree of life represent the inexhaustible supply of all things needed for the perpetuation of life and happiness. No one will ever experience scarcity or want in the great hereafter. It is in this world alone that economies are driven by the forces affecting supply and demand. The reason that precious metals are precious and gems are so expensive is that they are so rare. If rubies and diamonds were as plentiful as pebbles on the seashore, who would try to gain a monopoly on selling them? They would quite literally be “dirt cheap!” It is so in heaven. Nothing of a material nature possesses any intrinsic value because God can call into existence a planet of gold as easily as one of rock and dirt.

What then is of value in the heavenly economy? It is living, intelligent beings endowed with free wills, able to choose their own destinies. In making the will sacrosanct, God has effectively tied His own hands by a policy of strict non-interference, even though the choice may go against Him. He has limited Himself to entreating and reasoning to prompt a response. The reason for this is as profound as it is true. As a God of infinite love, the only option that could possibly harmonize with His character was that of freedom of choice. Since love begets love, and forced love is no love at all, His intent was to demonstrate His love in such a way as to evoke a love response from His creatures. This unforced, voluntary response was of such major importance to Him that He was willing to jeopardize heaven for it. For true love, by its very nature, carries with it the unavoidable risk of rejection. The fact that God had in truth given intelligent beings the ability to reject Him was proven beyond the shadow of a doubt when Lucifer chose the path of rebellion and became His staunch enemy as Satan.

In certain ways the sin experiment, its dire results notwithstanding, was necessary to definitively vindicate the Father’s character, for if rebellion had never arisen, there would always have remained a lingering question as to how free intelligent beings really are. Now that question is settled forever.

Thus, as free moral agents, intelligent beings, by choosing to reciprocate the love of the Father, afford Him that which He prizes most – sincere, heartfelt thankfulness and gratitude manifested in worshipful adoration, praise, and obedience. In the heavenly scales, the value of such a response from His creatures far outweighs the value with which He regards the entire inanimate universe. This is what He really wanted even during the Jewish era with all its bloodletting in the animal sacrifices. Unfortunately, the Jewish church misunderstood and misconstrued the rites and ceremonies by placing much emphasis on that which was truly abhorrent to the Father, while losing sight of the incredible truth they represented – the coming of the great Deliverer.

And oh, the price the Father paid that we might offer Him the genuine love He craves! We will never in eternity fully comprehend the price of our salvation, for in giving Jesus to us, the Father emptied heaven of all that was lovely and precious. If intelligent beings represent the riches of heaven, how much greater would be the worth of the Son of God, the highest of all the intelligences of the universe! The Spirit of Prophecy describes Jesus as the “outshining of the Father’s glory.” (See Education, 131, 132.) Human language cannot express the tender ties that bind the Father’s heart with that of His Son. In a real sense, the Father had to rip His own heart out and hand it to the human race in one unfathomable gift. Is it any wonder He hesitated at the fall of Adam and Eve to implement the plan of salvation? Three times Jesus went before Him in the “counsel of peace” to volunteer to die for the guilty race before the Father finally consented to it. (See Christ Triumphant, 30 and Early Writings, 126.) The hesitation was not due to a lack of love for lost man, but because the cost to Himself was going to be so supremely daunting. But love won the day, while the immutability of His law cancelled all other options. Note the following inspired words with respect to the Father’s mind in consenting to send His Son on the rescue mission:

“When God gave His Son to our world, He endowed human beings with imperishable riches—riches compared with which the treasured wealth of men since the world began is nothingness. Christ came to the earth and stood before the children of men with the hoarded love of eternity, and this is the treasure that, through our connection with Him, we are to receive, to reveal, and to impart.” The Ministry of Healing, 37. The hoarded love of eternity! How can we understand this mind-blowing concept?

Notice also in the next quote the infinite love of the Father and the principle of free choice:

“It is God’s will that all shall be saved, that not one shall perish; but He does not compel obedience. He leaves all free to say whether or not they will take advantage of His offer of mercy. In giving Jesus, He poured out all heaven in one gift, making it possible for man to come into possession of eternal riches.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 18, 345. All heaven in one gift! Absolutely unbelievable, amazing love!

Unquestionably, the driving force behind the rescue effort was love of such a degree as to stagger the human mind. The Scriptures affirm the thought: “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3).

In the parable of the pearl of great price, we see Jesus portrayed as a jewel of incredible value: “The blessings of redeeming love our Saviour compared to a precious pearl. He illustrated His lesson by the parable of the merchantman seeking goodly pearls ‘who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it’ (Matthew 13:46). Christ Himself is the pearl of great price. In Him is gathered all the glory of the Father, the fullness of the Godhead. … All that can satisfy the needs and longings of the human soul, for this world and for the world to come, is found in Christ. Our Redeemer is the pearl so precious that in comparison all things else may be accounted loss.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 115.

These revelations help us understand the promise of “an hundredfold” benefit now. It is not just for some special class of believers, but for all who will unreservedly accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. So, if Jesus is the riches of heaven poured out in one great gift to humanity – the treasure hid in the field, the pearl of great price, it is He alone who constitutes the “hundredfold” blessing to the believer. Every other benefit is simply a tiny bonus.

But the lesson goes deeper, because in order to obtain the treasure in the field or the pearl of great price, the farmer and merchantman had to “sell all that (they) had.” Short of this, the desired articles would have been out of reach. This teaches the great lesson that salvation can only be received through a complete surrender of the soul to Jesus – a total renunciation of the things of this life. A great exchange must take place with the believer giving up all to receive the priceless gift of all-in-all in Jesus. “But what do we give up, when we give all? A sin-polluted heart, for Jesus to purify, to cleanse by His own blood, and to save by His matchless love. And yet men think it hard to give up all!” Steps to Christ, 46.

In promising a mere “hundredfold” (10,000%!), Jesus was in fact stating a very conservative return on investment in human terms. For who can estimate the value of the Being around whom all heaven revolved? Jesus was the main attraction of heaven. Without Him heaven would not be heaven. Note the words of inspiration: “The Lord Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God, existed from eternity, a distinct person, yet one with the Father. He was the surpassing glory of heaven. He was the commander of the heavenly intelligences, and the adoring homage of the angels was received by Him as His right. This was no robbery of God.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 247. And so in Manuscript Releases, vol. 18, 345, previously quoted, we read again, “In giving Jesus, He (God) poured out all heaven in one gift … .”

Human minds cannot conceive such a fantastic thought, much less can human tongues express it. Who can compute the price of such a gift? We stand speechless, our heads shaking in disbelief, as we try to grasp the thought, but this is what we receive when we accept Jesus into our lives!

The thief on the cross represents those who receive salvation in the last moments of life – a death-bed conversion, as it were. It is only as we comprehend the supreme value of Jesus as our personal Saviour that we can understand how he received the “hundredfold” promise before he died. Notice what he experienced in the dialogue with Jesus: “As Christ spoke the words of promise, the dark cloud that seemed to enshroud the cross was pierced with a bright and living light. To the penitent thief came the perfect peace of acceptance with God. Christ in His humiliation was glorified. He who in all other eyes appeared to be conquered was a conqueror. He was acknowledged as the Sin-bearer.” The Signs of the Times, Oct. 25, 1905.

In acknowledging Jesus as Lord, the thief received the invaluable gift of peace and the assurance of heaven. He was face to face with eternity, but that did not matter. He was ready to die. The world held no attraction for him anymore. He had the Pearl of incalculable worth in his grasp – the “hundredfold” promise “now,” and that was enough. In his next conscious moment, he will hear the call to “awake” and rise to eternal life with Him whose crown of thorns was now exchanged for a diadem of indescribable glory.

Thus it is that the earthly existence of a Christian, whether short or extended, is measured not so much by the quantity of earthly benefits, as by the inestimable quality of peace and joy in Christ that nothing can destroy. This is the “hundredfold” promise that God lavishes on all His true children “now.” We cannot thank and praise Him enough!

[All emphasis supplied.] All scriptures are taken from the King James Version.

Dr. Pandit is a retired cardiologist living in Arkansas with his wife Dorothy. He is proud to call himself a historic Seventh-day Adventist. He, with his wife, is involved in backing two self-supporting ministries in India: 1) Medical Missionary Training and Lifestyle Center in South India and 2) A printing ministry in Western India. They are also founding members of a “home church” located in Hot Springs, AR. He can be contacted via his email address:, or phone: 870-356-4768.

Do Not Be Afraid

The time is coming when all the inhabitants of the earth will have decided whom they will follow. Some will be inside the holy city looking out, while others are on the outside looking in. Some, perhaps many of the latter group may desire to be inside, but realize that it is too late.

Many of us have loved ones who have little interest in spiritual things and our hearts ache for them. The sadness you see manifested at the funeral of a loved one will in no way compare with the loss and eternal separation from loved ones that will occur at the end of time. So, cry out and ask the Lord, How can I witness to my family? What can I say and do so they can find out about the love of Jesus?

The sin problem began when Lucifer came to doubt the love of God. Today, there is much resistance to the gospel. People are becoming hard hearted because they don’t understand the love of God. Sometimes, when we have tried to show people the prophecies and end time events which almost scare them to death, we realize that nothing is going to make sense to them if they don’t understand the love of God. In fact, what is the point of having eternal life if you don’t have a love relationship with the Creator of all things?

We find in the New Testament both the reason why people get scared when they are in trouble as well as the remedy. It is a fact that troublous times are coming before Jesus returns. The devil would like to get us so terrified that we give up. But we can be just the opposite and experience perfect peace in the midst of everything that goes on.

The Bible speaks of a time when the apostles became really terrified.

“He [Jesus] said to them [His disciples], ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’ And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him’ ” (Mark 4:35–41)!

The ship was full of water and about to sink. Jesus awoke, not as the Master of sea and sky and nature, but as a man. However, He ever trusted in His Father’s might and knew that His Father had control of it. He knew that the devil had sent the storm in an attempt to drown Him and His disciples.

It is the devil who sends a lot of storms into our lives. He is a troublemaker, and as long as he is around there will be trouble. Jesus had peace. He knew that it was not the time for them to die. His work was not yet complete, nor was that of the disciples who would take the gospel to all the world.

One time, Ellen White was on a boat in a terrible storm and many people were terrified and screaming. Someone turned to her and asked, “ ‘Are you not terrified? I suppose it is a fact that we may never reach land.’ I told her I had made Christ my refuge … if my work was not done, all the waters of the ocean could not drown me.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, 85, 86. The devil cannot kill you if God still has a work for you to do in the world.

Luke describes the scene this way: “It happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.’ And they launched out. But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him’ ” (Luke 8:22–25)! According to the words of Jesus, the disciples were afraid because they didn’t have faith.

The opposite of being terrified is to be at perfect peace. In every situation, Jesus had the peace of heaven. Paul had that same peace, which enabled him to stand unflappable amid the constant opposition of the Jews. Some wonder why the Lord allowed there to be so many millions of martyrs. By witnessing the peace that their faith gave them, many people were won to the Gospel that may not have been otherwise.

John Calvin, a devout Roman Catholic, was one who watched the martyrdom of a Protestant. Looking at the martyr’s face, he saw no fear, for he had perfect peace. It was the practice of the church to martyr people in public to induce fear in the spectators. However, the Lord gave them peace and those spectacles had the opposite effect. John Calvin saw in the martyr a peace that he didn’t have. He went back and studied his Bible and became a Protestant believer.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “And having your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Let your mind take this in. If you have peace in your heart, it will show on your face; if you have terror in your heart, those emotions are reflected on your face.

Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit in his book to the Galatians. He says that among the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, and peace. If these fruits are not manifested as we witness, the gospel will fall on deaf ears. (See Galatians 5:22, 23.)

Those who have faith have peace, but you cannot have faith until you know that you are a child of God.  Paul wrote, “And you … who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others” (Ephesians 2:1–3). This describes a person who has not experienced the gospel. They are by nature the children of wrath under the control of the devil.

John 9 tells of a blind man that Jesus healed. The Pharisees began to investigate the healing. Beginning in verse 24 they ask Jesus again about it saying, “So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, ‘Give God the glory! We know that this Man [Jesus] is a sinner.’ ” Then “He answered and said, ‘Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.’ Then they said to him again, ‘What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?’ He answered them, ‘I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?’ Then they reviled Him and said, ‘You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.’ The man answered and said to them, ‘Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears Him’ ” (verses 25–31).

Notice, the blind man understood theology better than the Pharisees. He said, if a man is a sinner he can’t go to God; he can’t exercise faith in God. God is not going to listen to him, but if a man fears Him and does His will, then He can have faith in Him. A person living in sin, does not experience the gospel and by nature is the child of the devil. It is impossible for that person to have faith in God, because he or she is not His child and does not have the privileges of a child. In order to have faith in God, you need to experience the gospel so that you can be adopted and experience what Paul calls the “adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:5, last part).

There are two kinds of children in the world. In Genesis 3:15 God said to the devil, “I will put enmity [hatred] between you and the woman, and between your seed [descendants] and her Seed [descendants].” Some people are the seed of the woman; some people are the seed of the devil. The seed of the woman are the ones who have experienced the gospel and have experienced the adoption of sons. You cannot have faith until you know that you are a child of God. Those who have not experienced that are by nature the children of wrath and the children of the devil.

The gospel, simply explained, needs to be preached over and over again. There are Christians who have attended church for years who do not have a clear understanding of the gospel and do not have peace. Many people are terrified about a possible economic collapse or impending war and all sorts of things. Somehow, we have to explain to them what the gospel is, because only by experiencing it will you have internal peace, no matter how much trouble there is in the world.

Jesus said, “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer [courage], I have overcome the world” (John 16:32, 33). In other words, there is going to be trouble on the outside, but in Him you will have peace on the inside. When that happens, it will be visible and show on your face.

How does a person experience the gospel and have peace in our troubled world?

First, a sinner needs to understand that he needs help, which is contrary to the modern teachings of many psychologists and sociologists. Maybe you’ve heard of books like “I’m Ok—You’re Ok.” By the way, that is a lie. In fact, I’m not okay and you’re not okay either. This is not a criticism, but a fact. A sinner must first recognize that he is lost and that he needs someone to save him or he will never get out from the problem he is in. He needs to realize that he is in a pit and he cannot get out without help. Without this realization the gospel can do nothing for him.

One of the biggest problems evangelists in the United States face today is that people believe they are rich, increased with goods and in need of nothing and are therefore satisfied. In that case, there is nothing a preacher, teacher, or Christian can do to help them. But when a person is susceptible to the influence of the Holy Spirit, they begin to realize that one ray of light from the throne of God makes painfully distinct the destitution and sinfulness of their soul.

Jeremiah said, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil” (Jeremiah 13:23). He also said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). Desperately wicked in the original Hebrew means literally incurable. The heart is deceitful above all things and it is incurable. It is just as incurable as any physical disease and leads to eternal death without divine help.

There are moralists who have been trying to “help” themselves for years. They study psychology and take educational courses to learn how to be better people or how to train people to help themselves. For example, consider the problem many face with overeating. National surveys reveal that it is harder to overcome overeating than to overcome either smoking or tobacco. The reason is that with smoking and tobacco you can just plain quit, but you have to eat to live. Therefore, eating must be controlled and that is a lot harder than just quitting something. You must recognize your need of help to receive help from the Lord.

When you recognize your need and come to the cross, you will experience what the Bible calls repentance. Many Christians, failing to recognize their need of help in overcoming, have a whole array of darling sins, the sins that they are in love with. Darling sins are really hard to overcome because you love doing them. 1 Corinthians 15:3 says that “Christ died for your sins,” and John wrote that “Sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4 KJV).

Know that Jesus died the awful death on the cross because of each one of our darling sins. Think about it – how can partaking in my darling sin be enjoyable when it caused so much suffering to Jesus? That is what the Bible calls repentance. Repentance means the sin is no longer darling to me anymore, but heinous. I am sorry I ever did it and I don’t want to do it again.

“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4)?

The basic meaning of the Greek word that is translated repentance means to change your mind. The sin that you once loved you now hate. You now see how much Jesus, whom you once hated loves you, and you want to change. When you begin to love Jesus, you will hate your sins. That is repentance. It involves not only being sorry for your sins but turning away from them.

The Bible says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:18). Think seriously about those darling little sins that never seemed that bad. Repentance increases and deepens as we go through the Christian life (see Christ’s Object Lessons, 160). It is not just something you experience once before you are baptized; it is something you continue to experience throughout your life.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). If my sin involves something that I did that injured somebody else, in addition to telling the Lord I’m sorry, I must go and tell that person that I am sorry.

Some people, because of death, will even have to make confessions in heaven. David will have to confess to Uriah the Hittite in heaven. The apostle Paul will need to have a conversation with Stephen about the part he played in his martyrdom as well as all the other deaths he was responsible for before his conversion. Repentance is not only making our peace with God; it is making peace with the one we have injured. That includes making restitution if there is something we can restore. If we kill somebody, we can’t make restitution, but if we’ve stolen goods, we can make restitution. Confession involves confessing to God and making restitution if it’s possible and determining not to do it again. This is our work before the close of probation.

Sin must be confessed whatever the consequences. There are people who have to decide whether they want to confess what they have done and even go to jail and be clear before God, or whether they want to cover it up and then answer to the Lord when He comes. The Christian religion involves making things right as soon as you realize the wrong.

Jeremiah says, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). After the resurrection Jesus asked Peter one question, repeating it three times. The question was, “Do you love Me?” (See John 21:15—17.) Do you really love Me? Have you made a commitment? That’s what faith is all about; in fact, in Greek the word that is translated to have faith or to believe means to believe something enough to make a commitment. For example, John 2:24, 25 says, “Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” The word translated in this passage as commit is translated faith or belief elsewhere. Faith means to acknowledge Jesus as your Lord and Savior and make a full commitment to God.

Commitment is one of the most important things in life. One of the greatest tragedies of our modern-day society is that we have lost the ability to commit. When people get married, they verbally make a commitment, yet a big percentage of those relationships end in divorce. Many more, refusing to commit to marriage, simply live together, making it easier to make their escape when the relationship sours. With no commitment there is no security; there is no peace or joy or trusting happiness, for you never know if your partner is going to walk out on you when something better shows up.

Marriage is an illustration of the relationship that God’s people have with the Lord (Ephesians 5, Revelation 19, Song of Solomon, Ezekiel 23, Hosea). In Jeremiah 3:14, the Lord says, “I am married to you.” You cannot marry someone if they don’t commit, and you cannot be a child of God until you are ready to commit to Him. Confession and repentance must be followed up with a commitment if you are to be adopted into the family of God. Jesus said, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say” (Luke 6:46)?

The thief on the cross got it. Addressing Jesus, he said, “ ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom’ ” (Luke 23:42). He knew he was a sinner and needed salvation. When he addressed Jesus as his Lord and Savior, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise” (verse 43). The gospel is not complicated. He made a commitment and was saved. Won’t you do the same and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 3) and experience the peace that passes understanding?

The Roman Catholic Church states that “The reason for the uncertainty of the state of grace lies in this: that without a special revelation nobody can with certainty of faith know whether or not he has fulfilled all the conditions that are necessary for achieving justification.” Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, ©1974, 262. Under that system there is no peace, but a continual trying to do more in order to fulfill the conditions, never sure whether you have done enough. That was the problem Martin Luther faced. He climbed the Holy Stairs of the Lateran Palace on his knees, working and working and wondering if what he did was ever enough. Paul said salvation is only available by faith alone.

“We conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds [works] of the law” (Romans 3:28).

“Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt [obligation]. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” (Romans 4:4, 5).

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). When your sins have been forgiven and you have made the commitment, you are a child of God, not because of what you have done, but because of what Jesus has done and is doing.

As we approach the end of the world, we have been warned that there will be trouble such as there has never been before Jesus returns. Seek to experience the gospel as never before so your faith will be strengthened. Know that Jesus is in charge even if it doesn’t look like it right now. The devil can’t do anything to you without the Lord allowing it and whatever He allows is for your good and often for somebody else’s good as well.

Remember, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Whatever is going on in your life, you may be tempted to be terrified, but tell the Lord you want faith to not be afraid and to experience the gospel and receive the Holy Spirit and experience perfect peace.

The peace you experience will be noticed and desired by others, opening the door for you to witness. Jesus said that the harvest is ripe. People are looking for answers to this world’s problems and we can be used to help them find the Saviour. We can be reflectors of His image. When they see that we have the joy of the Lord and have perfect peace amongst turmoil that even the devil cannot take away, they will desire Him 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 Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Life Sketches – Heaven-born Peace

Often people wonder why bad things happen to good people and why God has allowed millions of His faithful followers to be martyred by governments or various religious groups over the years.

Just before Jesus was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He said to His disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master’ (John 13:16). If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me” (John 15:18–21).

People who do not understand God, have a problem believing the one who comes to them with a message from God. When that message is diametrically opposed to the way they are used to living, they object to having their sins reproved. Just a few days before the crucifixion, Jesus again warned His disciples that they would be persecuted and delivered up to the synagogues and prisons. Although they would be brought before kings and rulers for His name’s sake, it would be an occasion for a testimony. They need not worry beforehand how to answer the charges, because they would be given an answer at that time which their adversaries would not be able to contradict or resist. They would even be betrayed by their family members and some of them would even be put to death. (See Luke 21:12–16.)

This prophecy by Jesus was fulfilled in a marked manner. In fact, there were multiple attempts to kill all the apostles, and all but John met with violent deaths. Because God had more work for John to do, he was miraculously delivered from a violent attempt on his life.

After the resurrection, Jesus predicted that Peter would glorify God by dying a martyr’s death. Notice what He said in John 21:18, 19: “ ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.’ This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ ”

That prediction was fulfilled right to the letter. When Peter was old, he and the apostle Paul both yielded up their lives as martyrs for Christ in the city of Rome, as seed for a vast harvest of millions of saints and martyrs since that time. About the time of Paul’s second arrest in Rome, Peter was also apprehended and thrust into prison. Peter had made himself especially obnoxious to Nero because he had had great success in exposing the deceptions and defeating the plots of Simon Magus, the sorcerer who had followed him to Rome to oppose and hinder the work of the gospel.

Nero was a believer in magic, and therefore he was greatly incensed against the apostle and was prompted to order his arrest. The emperor’s malice against Paul was also heightened by the fact that there were members of the imperial household, Caesar’s household, as well as other persons of distinction who had become Christians in the city of Rome as a result of Paul’s being a prisoner there for two years prior to his arrest.

Because of his malice, Nero decided to cut Paul’s life short as soon as he could find a plausible pretext for so doing. Nero’s mind had been so impressed by the force of the apostle’s words at his last trial that he deferred making a decision in the case. Paul was neither acquitted nor condemned. However, the sentence was only deferred, and it was not long before a decision was reached and pronounced that consigned the apostle to a martyr’s grave. Being a Roman citizen, he could not be subjected to torture. Therefore, he was sentenced to be beheaded.

Peter, being a Jew and a foreigner and not a Roman citizen, was condemned to be scourged and crucified. In prospect of this fearful death, the apostle remembered his great sin when he had denied Jesus during the time of His trial. His only thought was how unworthy he was to be put to death in the same manner as was his Master. Peter had sincerely repented of his sin and had been given a high commission by the Lord, but he could never forgive himself.

The two apostles, Paul and Peter, had been separated for many years in their labors because of their different commissions. Peter’s commission was to preach the gospel especially to the Jews. Paul had been commissioned to preach the gospel especially to the Gentiles. But the time and place of their martyrdom was similar, both in the region of Rome. Peter entreated his executioners as a last favor that he might be nailed to the cross with his head downward. His request was granted and, in this manner, died the great apostle Peter.

Paul was led in a private manner to the place of his execution. His persecutors were alarmed at the extent of his influence and were afraid that converts might be won to Christianity even by the scenes of his death. Few spectators were allowed to be present. But even the hardened soldiers, who attended him and listened to his words saw with amazement that he was cheerful, and even joyous, at the prospect of such a death. His spirit of forgiveness toward his murderers and his unwavering confidence in Christ right up to the end, proved a fragrance of life unto life to some who witnessed his martyrdom.

More than one person erelong accepted Christ due to Paul’s witness. To the latest hour of his life, Paul demonstrated the truth of what he had written to the Corinthian church. It says, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels [that is, the gospel] that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you. And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke,’ we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18).

In his life, Paul demonstrated the truth of which he spoke and wrote, which gave such convincing power to his preaching and to his deportment. The prophet Isaiah said, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3).

Paul experienced heaven-born, heaven-generated peace. It was written on his countenance, and responsible for winning so many souls to the gospel. Paul had what so many desired and did not have.

As Paul walked toward the place of his execution, he did not see the glimmering sword that was so soon to make him a martyr, nor did he see his executioner. Rather, his mind was in a conversation with the Eternal, saying, “O, Lord, You are my comfort, and You are my portion. When will I embrace you? When will I see You for myself with no dimming veil between?” Since his conversion, Paul had carried with him the very atmosphere of heaven. Everyone who had associated with him had seen this. They had felt the influence of his connection with Christ and the companionship of angels. “The unstudied, unconscious influence of a holy life is the most convincing sermon that can be given in favor of Christianity.” Sketches from the Life of Paul, 331. Allowing yourself to get into an argument may simply provoke opposition, but a godly example has a power that is impossible to completely resist.

Paul lost sight of his own sufferings, but he was concerned about his associates that were with him. He knew that in a few minutes he would be leaving them to cope with prejudice, and hatred, and persecution; so he endeavored to strengthen and encourage the few Christians who had accompanied him to the place of his execution. He repeated to them the exceeding precious promises given to those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. He assured them that nothing would fail of all that the Lord had spoken concerning His tried and faithful ones. He assured them as he wrote to Timothy, “I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

Christians might be oppressed for a little season with heaviness because of manifold trials and temptations. They may be destitute of earthly comfort, but they can encourage their hearts by those words. That day will come, the glad morning of peace. The perfect day will come. Paul declared to his brethren that it had not appeared to those who lived in the times of the Old Testament, the great and good things that were going to be given to those who believed in Jesus. Those who lived in Old Testament times desired, he said, to see the things that we see, and to hear the things which we hear. But they died without the sight or the knowledge. The greater light which we have received since Christ has come has made us more accountable because we know more.

Jesus said, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches” (Luke 16:10, 11)? Again in Luke 12:47, 48, Jesus said, “That servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”

Christians can behold the ladder that Jacob saw, the ladder that stretches from earth to heaven. That ladder represents Jesus Christ, who connected this earth with the infinite resources of heaven. Paul, looking toward the future, saw that there would be men and women in future ages who would not consider or hold their lives dear to themselves, but they would hold aloft the banner of the cross amid the dark mazes of infidelity. He heard in his mind these witnesses to Jesus as the Son of the Most High God, the Saviour of the world. He heard the martyrs’ shout of triumph, their fearless testimony for the faith that they know is true. It fell upon his ear from the rack, the torture chamber, the stake, the dungeon, from the dens and caves of the earth where, as he wrote, “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (Hebrews 11:37, 38).

With a continually increasing assurance, he heard the Christian of future ages saying, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” He knew that for him there awaited a crown of life. He knew the promise that Jesus gave in John 6:40 where He said to the Jews, “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

The Jews wanted deliverance from the Romans. They wanted a Messiah that would set up a temporal kingdom in this world. When Pilate asked Jesus if He was a king, the Jews interjected, “This man is against Caesar because He calls Himself a king.” And Pilate said to Him, “Are you a king” (John 18:37, first part)? And Jesus said, “You say rightly that I am a king.” But “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (verses 37, last part, 36).

The kingdom that the Lord came to set up is a kingdom of righteousness. It is a kingdom that is established in the heart. Until the heart is cured from the leprosy of sin, no person can be given the gift of eternal life. For this reason, Jesus said to the Jews, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20, 21).

The kingdom of God is within you; it has to do with a change in heart, a change in spirit that is worked out by the Holy Spirit. The kingdom that Jesus came to establish was not a physical kingdom, but a spiritual kingdom, one of righteousness.

Revelation 11:15 says, “The seventh angel sounded: and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’ ” The time is coming when the nations of this world will all come to an end and Christ will establish a kingdom that will last forever (Daniel 2; Revelation 11). That was the kingdom that the apostle Paul was looking forward to. He was looking forward to that time when the Lord would come and he would be given a crown of life. He would be resurrected. Therefore he wasn’t afraid to die; he knew that death was just a moment of silence and darkness until his Lord would return and take him and all the other saints out of this world.  He says, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6–8).

It has been almost 20 centuries since Paul, the aged, poured out his blood as a witness for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. No faithful hand recorded for the generations to come the last scenes in the life of this holy man, but inspiration has preserved his dying testimony. Like a trumpet peal his voice has rung out through the ages, nerving with his own courage thousands of faithful witnesses for Christ, and awakening in thousands of sorrow-stricken hearts the echo of his own triumphant joy.

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

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

Ask the Pastor – Make Peace and Create Evil


I have been troubled for some time about Isaiah 45:7, which says, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these [things].” Can you help me understand what this is talking about?


This is one of those texts that, if taken out of context, can be confusing. Isaiah 45 begins with God’s call to Cyrus. Cyrus was the king who invaded Babylon and took the empire from the control of Belshazzar. Although Cyrus was a heathen king, practicing a heathen religion, he was used of God to fulfill His Word. God used this king in spite of his belief structure to accomplish His will in overthrowing Babylon.

The heathen faith of Cyrus was centered in a concept called dualism. That is a belief in which two equal gods—one good, one evil—struggle for the supremacy of the world. This theory is still prevalent today, in many forms, around the world. Many non-Christians still practice the ying/yang, good/evil, and light/darkness as a religion. God, in addressing Cyrus, makes this statement (Isaiah 45:7) about light and darkness and good and evil to let him know that there were not two equal gods warring but that Jehovah was the only God, and He was in charge of the universe.

Jehovah God is responsible for everything that takes place, in the same way that a parent is responsible for what their child does. The parent does not do the evil that the child does, but the ultimate responsibility rests with the parent, by virtue of creation. God created all of His creatures with free will. It was a risk, but that is the only way that freedom could exist. When sin entered, through Adam’s disobedience, God took the responsibility and made possible a way of escape. (See John 3:16.)

As the plan of salvation is fulfilled, it will be shown that God is indeed love. He made Himself vulnerable by taking responsibility for the evil that came into the world. The mind of the Hebrew saw God in this way. Jehovah God was the power and force behind everything that happened.

In the process of all this, Cyrus needed to understand that the false gods of his kingdom were responsible for nothing. God was responsible for everything. The worlds hung in space by His Word. The light and the darkness were not the result of a war between rival gods, but God was responsible for it all. God took the blame for the evil as well as the good, but He was not the author of evil. Evil existed because of freedom gone awry.

God wanted Cyrus to understand that Someone greater than the gods of his kingdom was in control, and it was God’s plan that good should prevail, not evil. Notice verse 8 of this chapter: “Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it.”

The Bible holds all the answers, which will clarify any questions, if we will just study things through by first starting with the immediate context and then incorporating our understanding of the plan of salvation. I hope that this has helped you in your quest for greater understanding of God’s Word.

Pastor Mike Baugher is Associate Speaker for Steps to Life Ministry. If you have a question you would like Pastor Mike to answer, e-mail it to:, or mail it to: LandMarks, P. O. Box 782828, Wichita, KS 67278.

Knowing the Time, Part I

In Romans 13:11–14, we read: “And, knowing the time, that already it is the hour for you to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is far gone, the day has drawn near. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us be clothed with the weapons of light. Let us walk becomingly, as in the day, not with carousing and drunkenness and sexual orgies and sensuality, not with strife and jealousy. But clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not make provision for the flesh that you should do its lusts.” That is quite a Scripture!

Paul says that now is the time. It is the hour already for you to awake out of sleep. Do you know the time? Do you know that now is the time? Now is the time to wake up, because we do not have very much time left.

Knowing the Time in the World

I would like for you to consider just two things. The first thing is knowing the time in the world. I will not take the space to prove this, although it can be proven. If we compare Daniel 7 and Daniel 11, we will see that the great time of persecution of God’s saints, which was to last 1,260 years, was to extend until the time of the end. When that period was over, then the world was going to enter the period called, in Daniel’s prophecy, the time of the end. Most Bible writers call it the latter days or the last days.

That period of time (1,260 days) came to an end in 1798. We, then, have been in the last days or in the time of the end for over 200 years. The last days—the time of the end—is the last epochal period of this world’s history. At the end of that time, probation will close, and Jesus will come, and that will be the end of this age, the end of the world, as we know it. We are not at the beginning of the time of the end; we are at the end of the time of the end.

Increased Travel

Daniel said, in Daniel 12:4, that at the time of the end two things would happen.

He said that many are going to travel to and fro. In other words, it is going to be a time of great travel. Are we living in a time of the greatest travel since the beginning of the world? There has never, ever been a time like today. Never!

Society thought we were living in a time of great travel when I was a boy, because we had airplanes. I traveled half way around the world when I was about seven years old. But let me tell you, it was absolutely nothing compared with today.

When I was boy, I used to go with my father to the Stapleton Airport in Denver, Colorado. My father was a businessman, and at times he would need to travel by plane. While waiting for my father to depart, I would look out the airport windows, and would usually see four or five airliners waiting there—DC7s and a few Lockheed Electras. Those planes could hold between 40 and 50 passengers. That was the total number of airplanes generally at Stapleton at any one time, and I was there many times.

How is it today? At the new Denver International Airport, there are between 50 and 100 airplanes at any given time, and those planes do not hold just 40 or 50 passengers, like they did when I was a boy. They hold 100, 200, or more passengers!

We are living in a time when there is more travel. I have done a little traveling myself, and I have been in the airports of London and Paris, New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Dallas, and Los Angeles. If you go to any one of these places, you will see people from all over the world.

There has never before been a time like this. We are living in the time of the end. In the time of the end, travel is going to be increased.

Increased Knowledge

The second thing mentioned, in Daniel 12:4, is that in the time of the end there is going to be a great increase of knowledge. It says, “Knowledge shall be increased.” Are we living in a time when there has been an explosion of knowledge?

Some of you are too young to remember how things used to be, just a short time ago. Do you realize that just a few years ago, if you had a cataract in your eye and you had it removed, that after the surgery you would be sandbagged? Sandbags would be placed around your head, and you would have to lie in a hospital bed, sometimes for up to two weeks or more. But do you know how it is done today? I recently took a close relative of mine to have a cataract removed, and it was an outpatient procedure. We walked in, got it done, walked out, and went home—pretty much business as usual the rest of the day. That is just one example; there are hundreds of other examples.

A second example of increased knowledge is our cars, our airplanes, and our machines. Computers now monitor these things, indicating to us when service, repairs, or changes are needed. I am old enough to remember when it was not that way. Things were mechanical, and we thought we had a great increase of knowledge then, but now things are electrical, and everything is connected to a computer.

I remember telling people 20 years ago that we were living in an age of an explosion of knowledge—that there would soon come a time when, through the computer, we would be able to access central data banks and find out whatever we wanted that is known to man. We have been doing that now for several years.


Third, in Matthew 24, Jesus said that in the last days there would come a time when there would be great earthquakes. Have you noticed the increase of earthquakes lately?

We used to live in southern California, and, while residing there, we were always apprehensive of earthquakes. While traveling in southern California recently, I was shown a newspaper that identified the different areas where earthquakes had occurred in the last several weeks—there were over 60 places! We do not even hear about those earthquakes on the news, because the news does not report the little ones.

If you want to do an interesting study, look on the Internet for the web site that is just about earthquakes. Do you know when the incidents of earthquakes started increasing? About 1800. The time of the end is going to be the time of earthquakes. They started increasing at the time of the end. It is interesting to note that the number of earthquakes stayed about the same for many hundreds of years—for over a thousand years—until about 1800; then, for a reason no one can explain, they started increasing. Why? Jesus said that in the time of the end there would be earthquakes. Since 1950, the number of occurrences has skyrocketed. So much so that between 1980 and 1990 there were as many serious major earthquakes as the world had experienced between a.d. 526 and 1797. That is a period of almost 1,300 years. Somebody may challenge that in old times they did not record them all, but they did record them when something major happened. They did not have seismographs, but they recorded the big ones, when buildings started falling down. It is one of the signs that we are living right near the end.

Rumors of War

Another sign, the fourth, which Jesus gave, was that there would be “wars and rumors of wars.” We do not need to expound on this. World War I was going to be the war to end all wars. Did it end all wars? No, the United States was in another world war within 20 years after it ended. Since World War II, there has been a war somewhere in the world all the time—some coup d’état, revolution, or war somewhere in the world.

Peace Movement

The fifth sign of knowing the time in the world you can study out for yourselves. Bible prophecy tells us that in the last days there is going to be a great, international religious peace movement. Predicted both in Isaiah 2 and Micah 4, it is not a true revival or a true religion. Read Micah 4:1–6 carefully, and you will see that is the case. They are going to be preparing for war at the same time they are talking peace.

Hearts Fail for Fear

And, then, number six. In Luke 21, Jesus said that the time of the end will be a time when men’s hearts will fail them for fear. Are we living in a time when men’s hearts are failing them for fear? People are afraid. One thing of which they are afraid is what is happening to the worldwide economy—not just the United States, not just Europe, but the economy of the world. The worldwide economy is shaky today, and economists are scared to death. People are saying that we are out of the recession, but we are deeper in debt than ever before.

We are concerned about the environment. We are destroying our environment. One reason for concern is the natural disasters.

Have you heard on the news of the concern regarding Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming? A certain part of the park has been closed off, because the experts are saying that this area in the park could blow at any time. If it blows, it will be the biggest volcanic explosion in history, and it will be heard hundreds of miles away.

At the huge crater, where the ground is lifting, the temperature is rising and has now risen so much that all the fish are dead and there is nothing living directly around it. Just a few inches under the soil, the temperature is 200 degrees. If it completely blows, the scientists are telling us that the entire United States will be completely covered with five inches of ash, and there will be no living thing within about a 600-mile radius—everything will die. It could bring on a miniature ice age; it could destroy crops all through the Midwest.

I am not saying it will be as bad as predicted; nobody knows. But the people who have studied this phenomenon are scared. Jesus said, “Men’s hearts would be failing them for fear because of the things that are coming on the earth.” Do you realize the economic consequences of something like that? If it occurs, just that one thing alone could cause a worldwide depression.

And then, of course, there is terrorism. Everybody knows about terrorism today—not just the United States. They know about it in Spain. They know about it in London. They know about it in the Middle East. They know about it in South America. Terrorism! And, of course, there is crime, crime, crime.


Number seven. Jesus said that in the last days there would be pestilences. We are experiencing pestilences like never before in world history. One example is cancer. Oh! Somebody may say that cancer has been around for hundreds of years. Of course it has, but in 1945, do you know how many people were getting cancer? One in fifteen. In 1945 (if you read the Spirit of Prophecy), the number getting cancer had skyrocketed from what it had been in the past. Do you know what the numbers are today? One in three. Is that a pestilence? It is a pestilence, friends.

Then we have the new pestilences such as Mad Cow Disease. If you have ever read the book Deadly Feasts (Richard Rhodes, Touchstone, New York, New York, 1998), you know that Mad Cow Disease is a ticking time bomb. It is a disease that, in the future, could absolutely decimate Western Europe, the United States, and many other countries of the world. Some people think this disease is even more dangerous than AIDS. Whether or not it is I do not know. It is one of those illnesses that has a long lapse from the time a person is exposed until symptoms develop. In addition to AIDS, we have the plague or the pestilence of all the old diseases that we thought had been cured.

For example, when I was in graduate school—less than 30 years ago—we were told that the disease of smallpox would be completely eradicated, because it is a disease peculiar only to human beings. We were told that vaccinations would be available to everyone, and this would eliminate it. It would die out and would be known only in the history books. Well, this we did not succeed in doing!

We are discovering that the diseases we were so confident in knowing how to control, we cannot control. For example, have you heard in the news that we now have new bugs or new microorganisms? They are actually the old ones, but they are now resistant to our drugs. This is serious. If an elderly person gets a staph infection that does not respond to drugs, they will be in a very critical situation.

Days of Lot

In Luke 17:27–30, Jesus said that in the last days it is going to be like it was in the days of Lot. You have read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Book of Genesis. You have probably read what Ezekiel said about it in Ezekiel 16:49, 50, what Jude said about it, and what Peter said about it in 11 Peter. Jesus told us that this is the way the world is going to be in the last days when the Son of man is revealed.

I studied this subject a few years ago, and what I found was shocking. Do you realize that never before in the history of the world has homosexuality been accepted worldwide, until our time? It was accepted in Sodom, and it was accepted among the Canaanites. In Leviticus 18, we find that that is one of the reasons why the Canaanites were destroyed. It was accepted in the ten tribes of Israel, and that is one of the reasons why they were destroyed, sent out as wanderers among the nations. At a later time, it was accepted in the city of Rome, and that is one of the reasons why Rome was destroyed. It later was accepted in the nation of France, and that is one of the reasons for the French Revolution. But in the last days, it will not be a country or a city only that accepts it; it will be accepted by the whole world. We do not realize how true prophecy always is. When it says worldwide, it means worldwide.

A few days ago my wife and I were visiting with our nephew who is serving in the United States armed forces. He told me something I did not know. You think you can never get shocked, but then you learn something new. He told me that among the Muslims in Afghanistan, where he served, and throughout the neighboring countries, homosexuality is rampant. He said that they do not want the Christians to find out about it; they try to keep it secret. The United States military has to instruct the soldiers to be careful in certain situations. The prophecy of Jesus has been fulfilled exactly. We are living right at the time of the end.

When homosexuality becomes accepted, study the story of Sodom; study the story of the ten tribes; study the story of the Canaanites; study the story of Rome; study the story of France. God is not going to let that go on, friends. It is going to end.

Great Unbelief

Number nine. In the last days, according to the Book of Revelation, according to the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:24, there will come a time of gross darkness of the greatest deceptions ever to come on the world. We are living in that time.

And, finally, number ten. According to 11 Peter 3:3–7, the last days will be a time of great unbelief. The unbelief will be so great that it says that those living will deny that the heavens came into existence by the Word of God. That is exactly what has happened in the last few years—and all of it has happened since 1798. The theory of evolution to explain how we got here without God has been developed. We want a reason explaining how we got here without God. It says, in 11 Peter 3, that they would say that “since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning.” Do you realize that that is a word-for-word description of the theory of Uniformitarianism on which modern geology is based?

In 1979, my family and I traveled to the East Coast of Pennsylvania to visit my brother who was pastoring there. During Christmas time we went to the Smithsonian Institute, and while we were there, we split up to go to different places, because we could not see it all, and different people wanted to see different things. I decided that I wanted to see the geology building, which is where they tell you that this item is this many millions of years old and that item is that many millions of years old.

I visited every single exhibit to see what evidence they had for the age of each item. Do you know what evidence they had? They had only one piece of evidence for everything. This is the Uniformitarian Theory. Peter predicted the Uniformitarian Theory long before these people believed they invented it. The Bible predicted that it would be in the last days.

To be continued . . .

[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]

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

How Does Christmas Change Your World?

How does Christmas change your world? Think about that for just a moment. How will your world be different on December 26, January 18, February 12, or March 23 because of Christmas? Will you be happier? Will you have more peace in your life? Will you be a better person? Or will you simply have more things and owe more money and have to work more hours to help eliminate the additional strain that debt puts on your budget? If we are completely honest, this holiday does not really change our world all that much. Even for Christians who believe in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and the Saviour of the world, Christmas does not change our lives that much.

There are those who ignore any commemoration of December 25, citing its origin as a pagan holiday and reminding everyone that we really do not know when Christ was born. Then there are, in this day and age, the politically correct who pass this time of the year off as a winter holiday season, refusing to acknowledge any religious significance of it, as they fight to have manger scenes removed from public property.

But Ellen White wrote: “Christmas is coming. May you all have wisdom to make it a precious season.” Review and Herald, December 9, 1884.

What We Do

Largely, we celebrate this day as a great American holiday—snow, holly and mistletoe, family and friends gathered around the fireplace remembering what this special day was like when we were kids. The shopping, the parties, and all of the busy activities that we cram into the season are a part of how it goes. But when everything is said and done, the only real change Christmas brings to our world is that it makes us a little bit poorer and a lot more tired; and all of this for an event that God never called us to commemorate.

We are never once asked to remember the birth of Christ. Our celebration of His birth is a purely human endeavor. He commanded us to remember His death, which we do through the act of communion. (See 1 Corinthians 11:25, 26; John 13:4–16.) But He never asked us to celebrate His birth. It is not necessarily a bad thing to remember Christ’s birth, but does it change our lives?

The purpose of the birth of Christ was to bring a change to our world. I do not mean just “the world” in general, but I mean He came to bring a change to each and every one of our personal worlds. Where we carry out life on a day to day basis—our job, our relationships, our families, our spirituality—should all be radically transformed by the remembrance of Christ’s birth; not transformed by our celebration of Christmas, but transformed by the event itself.

Christmas Should Be

When the angel announced the birth of Christ, it said, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:10–14.

The angels tell us that the arrival of Christ in our world, Christmas as we now know it, is to be joyful. It should be something that helps quell our fears, and it should be something that brings us peace. Yet most of us today would not say that this day quells our fears, brings us true joy, or that it truly brings us peace. No, I would guess that most of us would be hard pressed to see just how Christmas changes our world, but it should and it can. Let us explore how Christmas, not just the celebration of a holiday, but the contemplation of Christ’s birth itself will change our world if we will allow it to happen.

Show the Way

At Christmas we celebrate God becoming flesh, becoming a man so that He could free all men from the power and penalty of sin. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:1, 14.

God became a man because He loves us. He became a man so that He could show us the way to salvation.

The story is told of a farmer who, one snowy, wintry evening, just before dark, heard something hit the window in his dining room. He went to investigate and saw a small bird repeatedly flying into the window glass. Farther out in the yard he saw a whole flock of little songbirds. He realized that these were birds migrating south, and they had been caught by the early snowfall. They were cold and scratching through the thin snow in search of food. The one bird had seen the light shining through the window and had tried to get into the house where it was warm.

The farmer had an idea. He had a large barn where the birds would be safe and warm, and there was plenty of hay on the floor so they could find seed. Without hesitating, he put on his coat to go out and open the barn doors. But when he had done so, the birds did not come in. He turned on a light, hoping that would attract them, but to no avail. He sprinkled seed on the ground to make a path for them to follow. They gratefully ate some of the seed, but they would not come close to the barn entrance.

Fearing for their safety, the farmer decided to take more drastic measures. He planned to circle around behind the flock and chase them into the barn. That certainly was unsuccessful! After running himself ragged, he dropped to his knees on the snow, and a thought came to him: “If only I were a bird! I could then tell them about the warm barn and the seed. I could save their lives!”

That is what Christmas is: Jesus becoming one of us so that we can understand God’s plan; Jesus becoming one of us so He can tell us how and where to find safety; Jesus becoming one of us so He can save us.

Genuine Love

Remembering Christ’s birth will change your world by allowing you to experience genuine love. “God is love.” 1 John 4:8, 16. We have all heard that said many, many times. The apostle John wrote those words in his first letter to the believers in the Mediterranean world: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” Verses 7–9.

In Christmas, God becoming man, we get to experience genuine love.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:16, 17.

God loves us so much that He gave His Son, not to condemn us but to save us! What an amazing love! So how does knowing about the love that God has for you change your world? It does not! Knowing about God’s love is not enough to change your world. You have to experience that love, but you will never experience the love of God in Christmas unless you truly believe in that love.

Peace with God

The second way that your world may change is through providing you with lasting peace.

Peace is something that all of us need but most of us do not have. Most of us spend a great deal of time and energy pursuing peace, but very little time experiencing it.

Decisions we have made and the actions we have taken in the past often haunt us. Our desire to have better, more fulfilling lives keeps us awake at night. Questions about what could have been or what should have been often plague our minds. We want to be fulfilled and satisfied. We want to be complete, but we lack that completeness and, as a result, we lack peace. Rather than days filled with peace and confidence, we find our days filled with stress and worry. Often that sensation is heightened at Christmas, because we hear all about peace on earth, but we cannot find peace in our own lives.

One of the great things about Christmas is that if we truly accept in faith what God has given us, His Son, then we can experience peace—peace with God. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1.

Jesus, that baby born in a barn and laid to rest in a manger, came to earth so that we could have peace with God. Sin separates us from God. Sin puts us at odds with God, but Jesus came to pay for our sins. He came to bring us forgiveness. His death upon the cross paid the penalty for our sins. Therefore, if we will accept His sacrifice and the forgiveness it provides, we are made right with God. When the relationship between man and God is fixed, we then experience peace with God.

Much of the lack of peace we experience is because we know that we have messed up. We know we have done things that are wrong, and we worry that God cannot love us and will not accept us because of our past.

Now, imagine the peace you can have in knowing that God has no record of your past. Imagine the peace of knowing that God has erased your past sins from His memory book. Imagine the peace of knowing that God is not looking to punish you, but that He is seeking to love you and embrace you.

When you believe the Christmas story—the whole story, not just the part about the baby in the manger, but also the part about that baby growing up and dying on a cross to pay for your sins, the part about that baby-turned-man rising from the grave and defeating sin and death—and accept God’s forgiveness, you will experience peace with God.

Peace with Others

Face it; we often do not live at peace with others. We find that other people have a way of disturbing our peace, and we never stop to consider that we tend to disturb the peace of others. Living at peace with others is hard work, but Christ calls us to do so nonetheless. “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” Romans 12:18; 14:19.

So how does Christmas help you to experience peace with others? When you understand what Christmas is all about—God providing a way for you to be at peace with Him—then you can choose to experience peace in your relationships.

If God can forgive you and restore you to a right relationship with Him, after all you have done to violate His trust and love, if you can choose to be at peace with God, then you can choose to be at peace with others. You can learn to forgive them. You can learn to tolerate what it is about them that disturbs you. And when you choose to live at peace with others, you will be less inclined to disturb their peace as well.

Peace with Yourself

One of the great aspects of peace that you get to experience because of Christmas is peace with yourself. In your more honest moments, you probably do not like yourself much. You are too aware of your failings and your sins. But, because of Christ’s birth, you can have peace with yourself. Not because what you have done does not matter, but because you are a new person in Christ. “Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 11 Corinthians 5:17. The New Living Translation of this text is especially interesting: “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!”

You can be at peace with yourself, not because you are such a great guy or terrific gal, but because in Christ you are a new creation. You are not the same old mean, evil, hurtful, self-centered person you once were. In Christ, you are forgiven, and you are a new creation. That does not mean you do not have moments when you fail. But it does mean that, in Christ, those moments become the exception and not the rule. You are growing and becoming more than that which you are today. You can be at peace with yourself because Christ is now working in you and renewing you daily.

Purpose of Life

Christmas changes your world by allowing you to experience genuine love and by providing you with a lasting peace. It also changes your world by giving your life purpose.

Too many people are not living their lives; too many people are just existing. Too many people are moving day to day without any sense of purpose in their lives. This lack of purpose leads to depression and self-destructive behavior. This lack of purpose leads to a sense of hopelessness that is heightened during the holiday season for many people. However, Christmas is about hope and purpose, and rather than feeling defeated and lost during the holidays, you can have a sense of true hope, because Christ’s birth gives purpose to your life.

Christmas brings hope because it drives home the fact that you were made for a purpose. You were made to have fellowship with God. You were created to have a relationship with God, and that relationship is so important to God that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to repair that relationship when it was broken.

Your life has purpose, and your purpose is to love God and to serve your fellow man. William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, put it like this: We are to serve with “A heart to God and a hand to man.”

Christmas, the coming of the Christ child, gives our lives purpose. Jesus came, becoming one of us, so that we could fulfill our purpose, that of having a love relationship with God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” “He came unto His own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:1, 2; 11–14.

Jesus, full of grace and truth, came from the Father; He became one of us so that He could pay for our sins and restore the relationship we were created to have with God. His birth, His death, and His resurrection give us purpose in our lives.

Imagine living life every day with a clear sense of purpose—that of knowing God and pleasing Him. Everything else fades away when you make this your focus. You have hope and purpose every day when you understand that in everything, big or small, you can grow to know God more, and you can live to please Him. “If you would secure the grand aim and purpose of life without mistake in your choice or fear of failure, you must make God first and last and best in every plan and work and thought.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 167.

Change Comes By . . .

All of these things—genuine love, peace with God, with others, with yourself, and purpose of life—come to us in the birth of Christ. Through Jesus we have the opportunity to know God; thus we are given hope and purpose.

How does Christmas change your world? It is not through the gifts or the memories made. It is not through the time spent with family. It is not through any of the trappings of the holiday. Christmas, as most people celebrate it, will not change your world. But Christmas, as the birth of Christ, the Son of God made flesh, the birth of Jesus—Immanuel—God with us, can change your world by allowing you to experience genuine love, by providing you with lasting peace, and by giving you a purpose in life. Those are major changes! Allow Christ to be the reason for and the center of your Christmas, and just see what transformation He will bring to your life.

A member of the LandMarks staff, Anna writes from her home which is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near Denver, Colorado.