Bible Study Guides – “ALL HAVE SINNED”

By Gordon Anderson

MEMORY VERSE: “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.” 1 John 3:7.

STUDY HELP: Education, 14–15.

INTRODUCTION: “There are many who in their hearts murmur against God. They say, ‘We inherit the fallen nature of Adam, and are not responsible for our natural imperfections.’ They find fault with God’s requirements, and complain that He demands what they have no power to give. Satan made the same complaint in heaven, but such thoughts dishonor God. And the Lord knoweth our thoughts afar off. He speaks to His people, saying, ‘O my people, what have I done unto thee? And wherein have I wearied thee? Testify against Me.’ ” Signs of the Times, August 29, 1892.


  1. How was man originally created? Genesis 1:27.

NOTE: “When Adam came from the Creator’s hand, he bore, in his physical, mental, and spiritual nature, a likeness to his Maker. ‘God created man in His own image’ (Genesis 1:27), and it was His purpose that the longer man lived the more fully he should reveal this image, the more fully reflect the glory of the Creator. All his faculties were capable of development; their capacity and vigor were continually to increase. Vast was the scope offered for their exercise, glorious the field opened to their research. The mysteries of the visible universe, the ‘wondrous works of Him which is perfect in knowledge’ (Job 37:16) invited man’s study. Face-to-face, heart-to-heart communion with his Maker was his high privilege. Had he remained loyal to God, all this would have been his forever. Throughout eternal ages, he would have continued to gain new treasures of knowledge, to discover fresh springs of happiness, and to obtain clearer and yet clearer conceptions of the wisdom, the power, and the love of God. More and more fully would he have fulfilled the object of his creation, more and more fully have reflected the Creator’s glory.” Education, 15.

  1. How was that image marred? Romans 8:7.

NOTE: “Through sin the divine likeness was marred, and well-nigh obliterated. Man’s physical powers were weakened, his mental capacity was lessened, his spiritual vision dimmed. He had become subject to death.” Education, 15.

  1. Does sinful man still retain the image of God? 1 Corinthians 11:7; Genesis 9:5, 6.

NOTE: “Whatever may be the nation, kindred or tongue, whether a man is white or black, he still bears the image of God, and ‘the proper study of mankind is man,’ viewed from the fact that he is the purchase of the blood of Christ. To show contempt for, to manifest hatred toward any nation, is to reveal the characteristic of Satan. God has placed His estimate upon man in giving Jesus to a life of humiliation, poverty, and self-sacrifice, to contempt, rejection, and death, in order that man, His lost sheep, might be saved.” Signs of the Times, November 20, 1893.

  1. Does God impute guilt to a person for the sins committed by his ancestors? Ezekiel 18:19, 20.

NOTE: Though, because of the presence of sin in the human race, our physical powers are weakened, our mental capacities lessened and our spiritual vision dimmed by sin, yet the Lord does not hold any man but Adam to be guilty of Adam’s sin. We do not inherit sin or its guilt.

“It is inevitable that children should suffer from the consequences of parental wrongdoing, but they are not punished for the parents’ guilt, except as they participate in their sins. It is usually the case, however, that children walk in the steps of their parents. By inheritance and example, the sons become partakers of the father’s sin. Wrong tendencies, perverted appetites, and debased morals, as well as physical disease and degeneracy, are transmitted as a legacy from father to son, to the third and fourth generation. This fearful truth should have a solemn power to restrain men from following a course of sin.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 306.

  1. How did Paul express the truth that each man suffers death for his own personal sins? Romans 5:12.

NOTE: “God declared, ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die.’ And, apart from the plan of redemption, human beings are doomed to death. ‘All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.’” Review and Herald, March 15, 1906.

“Our first parents by their disobedience opened the floodgates of woe to the race, and notwithstanding we have before us their sad experience in transgression, and the terrible result, we do not cease to sin; but while we deplore the sin of Adam, which was attended with such fearful consequences, we follow in the same course and realize the penalty of our own sins; for which suffering we alone are accountable.” Forest Park Reporter, March 30, 1879.


  1. How does Paul describe the struggle he experienced to keep the Law of God before he became a Christian? Romans 7:1, 24.

NOTE: “By sin we have been severed from the life of God. Our souls are palsied. Of ourselves, we are no more capable of living a holy life than was the impotent man capable of walking. There are many who realize their helplessness, and who long for that spiritual life which will bring them into harmony with God; they are vainly striving to obtain it. In despair they cry, ‘O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?’ Romans 7:24, margin. Let these desponding, struggling ones look up. The Saviour is bending over the purchase of His blood, saying with inexpressible tenderness and pity, ‘Wilt thou be made whole?’ He bids you arise in health and peace. Do not wait to feel that you are made whole. Believe His word, and it will be fulfilled. Put your will on the side of Christ. Will to serve Him, and in acting upon His word you will receive strength. Whatever may be the evil practice, the master passion which through long indulgence binds both soul and body, Christ is able and longs to deliver. He will impart life to the soul that is ‘dead in trespasses.’ Ephesians 2:1. He will set free the captive that is held by weakness and misfortune and the chains of sin.” Desire of Ages, 203.

  1. What was the principle reason why Paul could find no victory in his struggle to keep the Law of God? Romans 7: 25, last part.

NOTE: The words “I myself” are the key to Paul’s dilemma as a Pharisee before he encountered the Lord Jesus. The two Greek words are “ego autos.” The first word simply means “I” but the two words together mean, emphatically, “I alone.” In the context of Romans 7, it effectively means “I on my own” that is, without Christ. Paul is saying, “I alone, without Christ, with the mind serve the Law of God but with the flesh the law of sin and death.” In contrast, notice Galatians 2:20, Philippians 4: 13, Ephesians 4: 23, Romans 8: 10. What “I alone” could never do can be done “through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (For a more detailed consideration of this point, read The Word Was Made Flesh by Ralph Larson, 351 – 364.) See also Christ’s Object Lessons, 201.


  1. Who alone could bring Paul victory in his struggle to obey God’s Law? Romans 7:25, first part.

NOTE: “Paul realized his weakness, and well he might distrust his own strength. Referring to the law, he says, ‘The commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.’ He had trusted in the deeds of the law. He says, concerning his own outward life, that as ‘touching the law’ he was ‘blameless;’ and he put his trust in his own righteousness. But when the mirror of the law was held up before him, and he saw himself as God saw him, full of mistakes, stained with sin, he cried out, ‘O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ Paul beheld the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. He heard the voice of Christ saying, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.’ He determined to avail himself of the benefits of saving grace, to become dead to trespasses and sins, to have his guilt washed away in the blood of Christ, to be clothed with Christ’s righteousness, to become a branch of the Living Vine. He walked with Christ, and Jesus became to him, not a part of salvation, while his own good deeds were another part, but his all in all, the first and last and best in everything. He had the faith that draws life from Christ, that enabled him to conform his life to that of the divine example. This faith claims nothing for its possessor because of his righteousness, but claims everything because of the righteousness of Christ.”Signs of the Times, November 24, 1890.

  1. Did Christ, when He came to earth, share the common inheritance of mankind? Hebrews 2:17.

NOTE: “Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life.”Desire of Ages, 49. See also Desire of Ages, 24.

  1. What was a primary purpose of Christ coming to earth “in the likeness of sinful flesh”? Romans 8:3, 4.

NOTE: “Satan declared that it was impossible for the sons and daughters of Adam to keep the law of God, and thus charged upon God a lack of wisdom and love. If they could not keep the law, then there was fault with the Lawgiver. Men who are under the control of Satan repeat these accusations against God, in asserting that men can not keep the law of God. Jesus humbled Himself, clothing His divinity with humanity, in order that He might stand as the head and representative of the human family, and by both precept and example condemn sin in the flesh, and give the lie to Satan’s charges. He was subjected to the fiercest temptations that human nature can know, yet He sinned not; for sin is the transgression of the law. By faith He laid hold upon divinity, even as humanity may lay hold upon infinite power through Him.” Signs of the Times, January 16, 1896.


  1. Why did Paul not claim perfection? (See Philippians 3: 12.) Job 9: 20, 21 and compare Job 1:1, 8; 2:3.

NOTE: Though God Himself described Job as a perfect man, Job himself would not make that claim. Aware of the inadequacy and deceptiveness of human judgment, he knew that he did not possess unerring insight into the state of his soul.

“Let those who feel inclined to make a high profession of holiness, look into the mirror of God’s law, which discovers to us the defects of our character. Those who see the far-reaching claims of the law of God, those who realize that it is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, will not presume to make the boast of sinlessness, and venture to declare, ‘I am perfect, I am holy.’

‘If we,’ John says, not separating himself from his brethren, ‘say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.’” Signs of the Times, May 23, 1895.

  1. Once we have been justified by God’s grace, can we continue to sin? Romans 6:1. (Read verses 1–6.)

NOTE: “God’s will is expressed in His holy law, and Jesus says, ‘Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.’ The law of God is the standard by which character is to be measured, and he whose life is in harmony with that law is worthy to be trusted, but of what value is the testimony of a man whose life and teaching contradict the law of Jehovah? He then measures himself by his

own finite standard, and may claim for himself as much as does the pope of Rome; but in the light of the detector of sin, his character may be wholly wanting. He may claim great spiritual riches, and think that he is in need of nothing, and may boast of the grace of Christ, but at the same time may have turned that precious grace into lasciviousness. This spurious character of religion is on the increase, and many whose hearts are carnal prate of the grace of Christ, while at the same time they openly blaspheme the name of the God of heaven by casting contempt upon the law of God, which rebukes their inconsistent course and detects their unchristlike character.” Review and Herald, August 28, 1894.

  1. What does sin in the life of the professing Christian reveal? 1 John 3:6. (Read verses 3–10.)

NOTE: “It is folly to bid the sinner come to Christ before being convicted of his sin by being brought before the mirror of the law of God. What is the sinner to be converted from? The transgression of God’s law to obedience of it. But if he is told that he cannot keep the law of God, and that, if he should attempt it, he would be brought into bondage, to what is he then converted, from transgression of the law to a continuance in that transgression? This is absurd. Yet professed ministers of Christ tell the sinner that he is guiltless while disloyal to the law of God. Such conversions are not ratified in heaven.” Signs of the Times, July 18, 1878.

The Consecrated Way, Part VI – Brotherly Kindness

This month we continue the series on climbing Peter’s ladder of Christian perfection, gaining those attributes that are preparatory for the Lord’s return. 2 Peter 1:3–7 says,

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness . . . .”

Every rung in the ladder is important. The rung of brotherly kindness causes Christians to really stretch to grab hold, because it is not an easy achievement, even though we might think loving our brethren is one of the easier things to do. Most Christians have a tendency to divide their religious operations into two categories—their personal relationship with God and their personal relationship with their fellow man.

Rightfully so, because it is in the two tables of the law that these areas are divided. We like to convince ourselves that we are balanced in these two aspects of our lives. It is indeed God’s desire that we be balanced in these areas, but there is a tendency to become unbalanced. When that happens, there are always consequences.

Self or Others

One of the reasons the gospel has not gone any farther than it has is because the personal witness of the Christian is tied up within himself. There is the cultivation of personal piety, or what we call today having a personal relationship to God, to the neglect of other important factors, such as what we are doing to help those near us have a better, closer relationship with God.

Are we only interested in developing our own relationship, so we can become more holy, more acceptable to God, or are we interested in helping those around us become more God-like?

There has always been a danger of cultivating an inward religion to the neglect of working on behalf of others. Such cultivation is displayed in luxurious sanctuaries and in forgetting the desperate needs of the community at large. It seems there are those who donate large sums of money for projects of beauty and luxury so that their names might forever be associated with the structures, yet, at the same time, a call can go out for funds for mission projects and be met with silence.

Split Congregation

Some time ago, while I was employed as a conference pastor, I attended a workers’ meeting where I had the opportunity to visit with the conference evangelist’s wife. She told me about the church where she grew up, in a large eastern city. She said that the church consisted of a split congregation.

It was not split in the theological sense, like we experience today in Adventism, but there was a split as far as brotherly kindness was concerned. All the well-to-do people sat on one side of the church. On the other side sat all the average and below average people, as far as money was concerned. I sensed a real brotherly kindness object lesson as the story unfolded.

One day, those on the well-to-do side of the church decided that they would dress up the sanctuary a little bit. So, because most of them were on the church board, they voted to put some stained-glass windows in the church—but only on their side. The poor people could look at plain glass, as far as they were concerned, but they wanted stained glass to look at. They felt that it would help their Christian experience, while worshipping in the sanctuary, if they could look at their stained glass and know that they had a part in putting it there.

I have often wondered how those folks felt who could not afford to have the stained-glass windows on their side of the church. Did they feel that they were close to those who sat on the other side? Could they go to them with a spiritual or physical need?

Did they feel they could approach the stained glass members and find a responsive heart, because brotherly kindness was being exercised within the body of the congregation? Did they feel that they could pray with these people and have good fellowship? This was a well-known Adventist church, but brotherly kindness was lost in such a project.


Brotherly kindness can be found operating at its finest when we are doing things for others who are members of the household of faith. Go to any dictionary and you will find that brotherly means an affectionate feeling for those of the same family.

The Greek word that is used for the word brotherly kindness is philadelphia. Brotherly love actually is the more accurate translation. It is a word that is usually reserved for members of the same family. It is a special bond, which only happens when children are raised with respect and appreciation and love for their brothers and sisters of the same blood. How much closer is that brotherly affection in the family of the household of faith!

Is there a reason why the apostle Peter uses the word philadelphia, brotherly love, brotherly kindness? Incidentally, 11 Peter 1:7 is the only place in the Bible where it is translated as brotherly kindness. It is translated as brotherly love everywhere else. It is the same Greek word for those of the same blood. Are you of the same blood as those who are seated on the opposite side of the church from you? If you are not, you have not yet grabbed hold of this rung of Peter’s ladder.

There are many instances where brothers and sisters have given their lives to save another member of the family. There is a closeness, which nothing can break. There is also the other side—where there is no bond and there is even denial that there is a family tree. Do you know of instances like that? This is especially sad when these people say they are Christians. Jesus knows nothing of this kind of attitude and certainly it is something that was strange to Peter also when he wrote about brotherly kindness, brotherly love.

There is only one way that you can even begin to reach the rung of the ladder of brotherly love, or brotherly kindness, and that is if you have successfully climbed the other rungs of the ladder. You cannot stand on the ground floor and reach up and grab hold of the rung of brotherly kindness. Brotherly kindness follows godliness in Peter’s list.

Continue to Climb

Do you remember the vision that Ellen White had about the group who were traveling to the holy city? Every little way, as the path became more difficult, they would stop and reassess their situation. With each stop they would leave something behind so they could continue to climb. At every change, some members of the company were also left behind; they turned back. (See Testimonies, vol. 2, 594–597.) When we are climbing Peter’s ladder, we see that there is somewhat of a fulfillment of this vision.

We are called to continue to climb to reach the goal that is before us. We are either to keep climbing, and reach the goal, or we turn back. We cannot stop. It is either up or it is down. But if we turn back or stop climbing, we never reach the goal of character perfection, which alone qualifies us for eternal life. This is the reason why I believe that Mrs. White says there is not one in twenty who are ready to close their probation. If their probation were to close, she says that many would be without salvation just as surely as would be the common sinner. What an awesome thought! (See Christian Service, 41.)

On Which Rung Are We?

The well-to-do Adventists, that I told you about earlier, are really a representation of ourselves to one degree or another. We take people to court that we do not like. We encourage people of different color or culture to worship by themselves, not with us. We have given preference to the rich and to the famous, and if you disagree with us, you are no longer our brother!

Is it possible that God permits us to create the situations in which we find ourselves to see just how we will react to them?

Have we climbed the ladder from faith to virtue? From virtue to knowledge? From knowledge to temperance? From temperance to patience, and from patience to godliness? But now are we grunting and grunting, trying to reach up and grab hold of the rung of brotherly kindness. Let us face it; let us be honest. There are people we do not like, people that we do not care to even be around. This is never appropriate in the grace that is so available to us to strengthen us, to pull us up to and over this rung.

Attitude of Jesus

Have you ever met a person whom you admire, who really has a handle on the character challenge of this rung? They are out there. Have you ever thought about what a tremendous thing it would be if every Seventh-day Adventist could be like those people who are no respecter of persons? That is to say, they love all people, regardless of race, religion, culture, education, economic level, or station in life?

In the Jewish church of Jesus’ day there was no such thing as brotherly kindness. The rich and the famous felt that God was blessing them and that all others were little better than dogs, the dogs being the Gentiles. They certainly could not love them. But those who were a little better than dogs were scorned to despair.

When Jesus came, He tried to tell the people that they must love one another, that they should hold up one another. As a reward for His words, they nailed Him to a cross! If we would take the attitude that Jesus had about brotherly kindness and apply it to the person with whom we are most at odds, what do you suppose would happen to our own experience with the Lord? What would it do for our family and for our church?

Essential Rung

Ellen White says, “we need to take this step, to add this quality to our characters.” My Life Today, 98. Do you know why? What if the person whom you dislike the most made it to heaven with you, and the Lord had built his mansion right next to yours? How would you get along? Would you plant fast-growing trees that grow tall so you would not have to look over into his yard?

Jesus delays His return because of us. We have climbed; we have gotten rid of all offensive sins, but do we have brotherly kindness? Do we have brotherly love? Do we have the right attitude?

Have we placed more than just our hand on the rung? Are we standing on the rung with our feet? Have we really climbed up on to that rung and have now gained the victory of brotherly love and brotherly kindness?

A New Commandment

Some words from The Acts of the Apostles indirectly come to bear on this topic, although not written specifically about brotherly kindness. When Jesus was resurrected and went back to heaven, there was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2 tells us what this did for the church. Ellen White comments on the transition that took place after the descent of the Holy Spirit. “After the descent of the Holy Spirit, when the disciples went forth to proclaim a living Saviour, their one desire was the salvation of souls. They rejoiced in the sweetness of communion with saints.” The Acts of the Apostles, 547.

I do not think for one minute that there was one group on one side who said, “Let us put some stained-glass windows on our side, and let these guys over here just kind of look out through the old window glass.” It says that they rejoiced in the sweetness of communion with saints. “They were tender, thoughtful, self-denying, willing to make any sacrifice for the truth’s sake. In their daily association with one another, they revealed the love that Christ had enjoined upon them. By unselfish words and deeds they strove to kindle this love in other hearts.” Ibid.

You cannot give away what you do not have. “Such a love the believers were ever to cherish. They were to go forward in willing obedience to the new commandment.” Ibid. What was the new commandment? They were to love one another. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another.” John 13:34. It was not really new; it was old! They just had not been practicing it for generations. They hated one another!

Jesus tried to bring something back that had been a part of the plan of redemption for centuries. “So closely were they to be united with Christ that they would be enabled to fulfill all His requirements.” The Acts of the Apostles, 547, 548. If you are collecting statements about what the power of God can do for you in your life, this is one you want to mark!

That means loving one another. “Their lives were to magnify the power of a Saviour who could justify them by His righteousness.” Ibid., 548. The Holy Spirit was poured out upon these people. They sold everything they had; they put the money in a common pot. This one has needs, let us supply that need. Another has this need, let us supply it. They displayed brotherly love, brotherly kindness. (See Acts 2:38–47.)

Walk in Darkness

But a change came. Have you ever wondered why the early rain of the Holy Spirit dried up? Why those miracles did not continue to go forward like they did under the original outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost? What was the change? What began to turn the whole tide from the sweetness of communion that the saints were having with one another?

How did this philadelphia attitude, that was pervading everywhere through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, change? What took place? “The believers began to look for defects in others. Dwelling upon mistakes, giving place to unkind criticism, they lost sight of the Saviour and His love. They became stricter in regard to outward ceremonies, more particular about the theory than the practice of the faith. In their zeal to condemn others, they overlooked their own errors. They lost the brotherly love that Christ had enjoined, and, saddest of all, they were unconscious of their loss.” Ibid. Do any bells go off for you, as far as a time-oriented message for us is concerned?

It is called Laodicea, is it not? The church did not know. “They were unconscious of their loss. They did not realize that happiness and joy were going out of their lives and that, having shut the love of God out of their hearts, they would soon walk in darkness.” Ibid.

Sometimes we have a tendency to think that the greatest fear we can have is the danger of the world. We think that somehow we have to build a fence around ourselves so that the world does not encroach upon us and we lose our way, our salvation. I do not want to minimize our need to stay clear of the world. I think we need to have a great consciousness of the dangers that are out there, but there is a greater danger. “It is not the opposition of the world that most endangers the church of Christ,” Ellen White wrote. “It is the evil cherished in the hearts of believers that works their most grievous disaster and most surely retards the progress of God’s cause. There is no surer way of weakening spirituality than by cherishing envy, suspicion, fault-finding, and evil surmising. On the other hand, the strongest witness that God has sent His Son into the world is the existence of harmony and union among men of varied dispositions who form His church.” Ibid., 549.

Let It Begin With Me

How sad it would be to have climbed the ladder of Peter, struggling to reach for the rung of brotherly kindness, but not quite being able to get our fingers around it, because we cannot stand the people who are around us. Where does brotherly kindness start? It really starts with each one of us. We each have to do everything that we can do to display brotherly kindness, brotherly love.

Do we have to see everything eye to eye? No! Can I respect you if you see things differently than I do? Absolutely! Somehow we must come to grips with our condition as a people and as a movement, or we are going nowhere. Our hair will grow grayer while we wait for the Reaper to come.

He is tarrying a little while, in mercy. He is waiting for us to get our act together, so the enemy cannot say “Behold how these people, standing under the banner of Christ, hate one another.” Ibid., 550.

I want the testimony of the church of which I am a part to be, Behold, look how much they love one another! “Of the special sense in which this love should be manifested by believers, the apostle writes: ‘A new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.” Ibid., 548, 549.

Mrs. White goes on to say that when the believers, under the power of the Holy Spirit, sensed, in the fullest way, what Jesus actually did for them in dying on the cross, there was a conversion that took place that cannot be equaled by any other experience in the life. The deep conversion experience is needed to turn the life from self to others. But even when we have that deep conversion experience, there is a tendency after a while for it to wane, and we lose sight of what God has called us to do. In its place the exaction, the formalism and the ceremonies that she talks about begin to creep in and replace the conversion experience. There is a place for all of that, but not to the neglect of brotherly love. When Peter wrote the texts recorded in 11 Peter 1, I fully believe that he was able to see the unraveling that was taking place since the day of Pentecost. How sad it must have been for him.

Reaching the rung of brotherly kindness is preparation for the final rung, charity—love, Godly love, agape love. “That man [or woman] only who has unselfish love for his brother [or sister] has true love for God.” Ibid., 550. Have we done everything possible to climb up to the rung of brotherly kindness and to make it a reality in our lives, so that once our feet are firmly placed on that rung we are ready to reach over into that godly love to which God has called us?

To be concluded . . .

None But These Will Stand

I would like to direct your attention for a few moments to the first part of Matthew 24:35: “Heaven and earth shall pass away.”

In the book The Great Controversy, beginning with chapter 29, page 492, we find a series of eleven chapters which appear to be telling us how heaven and earth are going to pass away—very essential reading for all of us who are in the Seventh-day Adventist movement today.

Our Greatest Danger Today

Six chapters describe the supernatural powers that will be arrayed against us. Four chapters describe the earthly powers that will be arrayed against us, and in those chapters, I suggest that as you read them you take careful notice of the number of times the warning is against false teachers. It appears that, in Ellen White’s view, the greatest danger we face is the false teachers among us and around us in these last days.

Then there is one chapter entitled “The Scriptures a Safeguard,” telling us how we may survive. At the bottom of the first page of this chapter we find these lines: “Those who endeavor to obey all the commandments of God will be opposed and derided.” Think about that for just a moment.

Will they be called dirty names? Yes, they will be called dirty names. Will they be called legalists? Yes, they will be called legalists by people who do not even know what the word means. A legalist is one who thinks he can make it to the kingdom of God by doing all of the things that God tells him to do, without any help from the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the historic definition of a legalist and is the one that we ought to always remember.

Will they be called perfectionists? Another dirty word. Yes, they will be called perfectionists. May I point out that the doctrine of perfectionism is a specific theological doctrine, and you should not misuse that word any more than a doctor should diagnose appendicitis for a man who has a broken leg.

The doctrine of perfectionism, whenever and wherever it has appeared in the history of all churches, has rested like a three-legged stool on three legs.

  1. The first idea is the teaching that man can, by the power of Christ, live a sinless life. That is the only one of the three that Seventh-day Adventists have ever accepted.
  2. The second one is that man can have instant sanctification; he can become perfect in a moment of time. Seventh-day Adventists have always rejected that, and Ellen White very firmly rejects it.
  3. The third one is that when this instant sanctification has occurred to you, you can know it; you can recognize it, and you can testify to the world that you have become a sinless person. You know how firmly Ellen White rejects that. She often wrote that there is no instant sanctification; it is the work of a lifetime; you never lay it aside as finished.

“Those who endeavor to obey all the commandments of God will be opposed and derided.” The Great Controversy, 593. They will be called legalists. They will be called perfectionists. They will be called right-wingers, which is perhaps the most ludicrous of all of these epithets, these dirty words. If you want to check that out, all you have to do is go to a college library or any church school library and examine the books on Bible doctrines that were used in Seventh-day Adventist schools up to the mid-1950s.

You will see that those of us who call ourselves historic Adventists and who are scornfully called by others traditional Adventists (there is a propaganda technique there you understand quickly), have not deviated one iota to the right of what you see in those books. But those who have gone wildly off to the left are calling us right-wingers! That is about as crazy as anything could possibly be. But we are told that is the way it is going to be.

Fortified with the Truth

Now, how can we handle it? The very last line on page 593 of The Great Controversy is the one upon which I want you to focus your minds.

“None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict.” [Emphasis added.]

Ron Spear once said that one of the best ways to study the Bible is to read the Spirit of Prophecy, because every few pages that you read you get loaded up with Bible texts!

Folks, in the end, we are going to divide over the Spirit of Prophecy. Those who accept the Spirit of Prophecy will go one way, and those who reject it will go another way. Just hold that in your mind.

Fortified. A fort is put where you expect an attack, is it not? I want to ask you to consider the following Ellen White statement most carefully. It is a prediction of what will happen in the future.

“After the truth has been proclaimed as a witness to all nations . . .” She is referring to Matthew 24:14. “. . . this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.” We have seen ourselves as the people who had the special task of taking the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.

Tearing Down the Pillars

But notice this, “After the truth has been proclaimed as a witness to all nations, . . . there will be a removing of the landmarks, and an attempt to tear down the pillars of our faith.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 985. What might that say to us about our present position in the stream of time? Are we seeing a removing of the landmarks today?

What are these pillars, these landmarks? Depending on how you divide the Three Angels’ Messages, whether you think of them as one or as three, you can count the pillars as five or seven.

We have the landmarks defined for us in the book Counsels to Writers and Editors, 30: “The passing of the time in 1844 was a period of great events, opening to our astonished eyes the cleansing of the sanctuary [Number 1] transpiring in heaven, and having decided relation to God’s people upon the earth, [also] the first and second angels’ messages and the third. [That is one or three, depending on how you count.] . . . One of the landmarks under this message was the temple of God, seen by His truth-loving people in heaven, and the ark containing the law of God [Number 3]. The light of the Sabbath [Number 4, if you separate the Sabbath from the Law] of the fourth commandment flashed its strong rays in the pathway. . . . [Finally] The nonimmortality of the wicked is an old landmark. I can call to mind nothing more that can come under the head of the old landmarks.”

What are they?

  1. The Sanctuary
  2. The Three Angels’ Messages
  3. The Law
  4. The Sabbath
  5. Non-immortality of the soul.

Those are the landmarks, and the one under attack most bitterly, most viciously, most unyieldingly at this moment, is the sanctuary.

Attacking the Sanctuary

A gentleman called me from England recently. He asked me for some materials to help him. He said, “One of our prominent church elders has launched a paper attacking the sanctuary with the approval of the conference president.”

One week after that, I had a telephone call from Australia. The caller said, “The conference has given a man freedom to circulate among the churches attacking the sanctuary.” He wanted to know whether I would prepare a response if he sent the tapes to me. He said he would fly all the way to the United States to make videotapes of my response in an attempt to offset what this man, with the approval of the conference, was doing.

That is where we are, folks, and we must bear in mind, and be cautious while still speaking the truth, that the increasing strangeness of the behavior of some of our leaders is equaled only by the sternness of their demand that nobody dare to criticize. I am sorry. I am going to have to speak out against that just the same.

When our conference officials approve of attacks on the sanctuary, I believe it is the sacred duty of every true man of God to speak out and say, “That is wrong. That is hopelessly wrong!”

I want to focus on one thing relative to the sanctuary. A few years ago a certain gentleman came up from the lands down under and sent a lot of Seventh-day Adventist ministers into a flap of confusion by proposing that our Seventh-day Adventist pioneers were so ignorant that they did not even know that Christ went to the throne of God when He went back to heaven in a.d. 31.

A lot of our Seventh-day Adventist ministers, perhaps mostly the younger ones, did not know how to handle that at all. They were really upset and troubled by it. I am going to give you a little Bible study. Unfortunately, this is the only place where you can get this Bible study at the present time.

How Many Thrones?

Where did Christ go in a.d. 31? Revelation 3:20, 21 tells us how our pioneers understood that. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me. [Read carefully.] To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.”

How many thrones are there? Two. My throne and His throne. One is present and one is future. Which is which? He says, “I overcame [past tense]; I am set down [past tense] with My Father in His throne. You will, if you overcome [future tense], sit down with Me in My throne [future tense].” Two thrones, two times, two persons or groups of persons, and two distinctly different situations.

Now let us begin at the beginning: “The Lord said unto my Lord [God the Father said to God the Son], Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion: rule Thou in the midst of Thine enemies. . . . The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” Psalm 110:1, 2, 4.

A Scripture that is recognized by virtually all conservative commentators as a prediction, or prophecy, about our Lord, says, “And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The branch; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the Lord: Even He shall build the temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His [the Father’s] throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between Them both.” Zechariah 6:12.

Now go to the New Testament and look at Mark 16:19. “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.” In Peter’s Pentecostal sermon he states, “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted [modern translations sometimes translate that as “Therefore, being to the right hand of God exalted”], and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand [quoting Psalm 110], Until I make Thy foes Thy footstool.” Acts 2:32–35.

You see, He is not going to always be sitting on the right hand of God. He is not going to be always a priest sitting on the throne of God. Someday He is going to sit on His own throne.

“Him hath God exalted with His right hand”; again, modern translations frequently put that, “to His right hand.” It is an acceptable translation of the Greek. “. . . to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31.

Before he died, the testimony of Stephen was, “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” Acts 7:55, 56.

A Priest on His Throne

Let us get the testimony of the apostle Paul: “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, [And what is He doing there?] who also maketh intercession for us.” Romans 8:34. What kind of a person makes intercession for us? A priest on the throne of God, on the right hand of God. As Zechariah wrote, “A priest on the throne.”

Look at the following texts: “Which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 1:20.

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” Colossians 3:1.

“Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 1:3.

“But to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?” Hebrews 1:13. What is he quoting? Psalm 110.

“(For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec).” Hebrews 7:21. What is he quoting? Psalm 110.

There is another reference in Hebrews 7:17: “For He testifieth, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.”

Hebrews 8:1 and onward, “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” And then he goes on to talk about His priestly ministry there.

“But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; [Look carefully at verse 13.] From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.” Hebrews 10:12, 13. What is he quoting? Psalm 110.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2.

And, of course, we could add to these Revelation 12:5, the vision of John. “And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to His throne.”

Where Was the Father’s Throne?

Can there be any question that Christ went to the throne of the Father in a.d. 31, and sat down beside the Father as a priest on the throne of the Father, from henceforth expecting until He would sit on His own throne when His enemies are made His footstool? And we shall share that throne with Him. Now that creates a question. Where was the throne of the Father in a.d. 31? We need not speculate. The answer is in Revelation 4:1–5: “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And He that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: [Now note this] and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”

The Pioneers Still Speak

Were these seven lamps in the holy place or the most holy place? They were in the holy place, the first apartment. Where was the throne of God in a.d. 31? It was in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary. Now where do you think I learned all this? Where do you think I got this Bible study? From the writings of our pioneers.

I have a whole stack of articles written by our pioneers, the first one in 1858. That is going a long way back in Adventist history. A gentleman by the name of F. M. Bragg wrote an article entitled, “Jesus Reigns Upon Two Thrones.” He went through briefly the same material that I have shared with you here. In the Review and Herald, September 12, 1871, J. N. Andrews and J. H. Waggoner comment briefly on it. (J. H. Waggoner was the father of E. J. Waggoner of 1888 fame.)

An article by Uriah Smith talks about these things in some detail. He includes some answers to an objector, a critic, who had tried to say that God was in the Most Holy Place in a.d. 31, and that is where Christ went. I would like for you to notice how he sums up his response to that. This is a little bit different, if I may say so.

After pointing out the strange conclusions that would be forced upon us in so many different ways if we said that God the Father was in the most holy place in a.d. 31, he says this: “To such stupid driveling absurdities are we driven the moment we take the position that Christ entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary when He ascended.” Review and Herald, July 29, 1875, and August 5, 1875. Dear Brother Smith, we do not talk like that any more, do we?

In The Signs of the Times, September 18, 1893, a Mrs. M. E. Steward wrote an article entitled, “Our Priest King,” in which she covers the same ground.

In The Signs of the Times, December 10, 1894, an Elder M. H. Brown writes an article entitled, “The True Tabernacle,” and one of the subtitles is “The Two Thrones.” “Christ occupies that throne with His Father at the present and as Christ rules upon the Father’s throne and is a priest upon His Father’s throne, we know that Christ’s present office and work is that of a priest-king.”

  1. J. Waggoner makes a brief comment on it in the same fashion. (Ibid., April 18, 1895.) And beginning with the Review and Herald, June 2, 1910, Elder J. N. Loughborough put in four lengthy articles in succession all under the one title, “The Two Thrones.”

In the Australian Signs of the Times, December 23, 1929, an article by William W. Prescott appeared, entitled, “The Priest Upon the Throne.”

And, of course, in The Great Controversy, 415, 416, you will find Mrs. White briefly summing up the whole thing.

Did our pioneers know where Jesus went in a.d. 31? They most certainly did! They knew exactly where He went. They knew exactly what He was doing, and their position was just as biblical as anything could possibly be.

I cannot claim credit for this Bible study. I got it out of the writings of our pioneers. I want to testify to you that our message can stand against any challenge. Our message cannot be faulted. In its essential points, in its broad picture, it is absolutely certain. It will stand against the powers of hell itself.

Never have any questions, any doubts. I would like to appeal to you to remember those words, “None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand.” Ibid., 593. You have heard comments on the shaking time and you need to be studying that. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken.

Multitudes, Mrs. White writes, of false brethren will leave us. Companies will throw down the flag and depart from us. Chaff like a cloud will be borne away from the floor where we see only rich wheat. Men that we have admired as brilliant stars will go out in darkness and turn against us. Let us resolve that, by the grace of God, we will let the chaff blow, let the brilliant stars go, let company after company join the foe; nevertheless, we will stand though the heavens fall.

Dr. Ralph Larson completed forty years of service to the Seventh-day Adventist church, as pastor, evangelist, departmental secretary, and college and seminary teacher. His last assignment before retiring was chairman of the Church and Ministry Department of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary Far East. Upon retirement, he continued his service, diligently working with and giving counsel to those within the historic movement. This article is reprinted from the December 2000 LandMarks.

Bible Study Guides – THE PREPARATION, Part 11

October 23, 2005 – October 29, 2005

Key Text:

“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” James 5:7.

Study Help: “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1055.


“The life-work given to us is that of preparation for the life eternal, and if we accomplish this work as God has designed that we should, every temptation may work for our advance; for as we resist its allurement, we make progress in the divine life. In the heat of the conflict, while engaged in earnest spiritual warfare, unseen agencies are by our side, commissioned of heaven to aid us in our wrestlings, and in the crisis, strength and firmness and energy are imparted to us, and we have more than mortal power. But unless the human agent shall bring his will into harmony with the will of God, unless he shall forsake every idol, and overcome every wrong practice, he will never succeed in the warfare; but will be finally overcome. Those who would be conquerors must engage in conflict with unseen agencies; inward corruption must be overcome, and every thought must be brought into harmony with, and subjection to, Christ. The Holy Spirit is ever at work seeking to purify, refine, and discipline the souls of men in order that they may become fitted for the society of saints and angels, and as overcomers be able to sing the song of redemption, ascribing glory and honor to God and to the Lamb in the courts above.” Christian Education, 122, 123.

1 Why are revival and reformation so important, and what is the difference between them? Ephesians 2:1–5; 4:23. Compare John 5:21; 6:63; Romans 12:2.

note: “A revival and a reformation must take place, under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation are two different things. Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. Reformation will not bring forth the good fruit of righteousness unless it is connected with the revival of the Spirit. Revival and reformation are to do their appointed work, and in doing this work they must blend.” Review and Herald, February 25, 1902.

2 Among which class of believers is it most essential for revival to begin? Jeremiah 12:10; Acts 3:19.

note: “I tell you that there must be a thorough revival among us. There must be a converted ministry. There must be confessions, repentance, and conversions. Many who are preaching the Word need the transforming grace of Christ in their hearts. They should let nothing stand in the way of their making thorough work before it shall be forever too late.—Letter 51, 1886.” Last Day Events, 189.

3 What characteristic must God’s people demonstrate before the Holy Spirit can be poured out? Romans 6:11. Compare Romans 8:8–11.

note: “When the laborers have an abiding Christ in their own souls, when all selfishness is dead, when there is no rivalry, no strife for the supremacy, when oneness exists, when they sanctify themselves, so that love for one another is seen and felt, then the showers of the grace of the Holy Spirit will just as surely come upon them as that God’s promise will never fail in one jot or tittle. But when the work of others is discounted, that the workers may show their own superiority, they prove that their own work does not bear the signature it should. God cannot bless them.—Manuscript 24, 1896.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 175.

4 How is true conversion evidenced? Ephesians 4:32.

note: “Christianity is the revealing of the tenderest affection for one another. . . .

“Christ is to receive supreme love from the beings He has created. And He requires also that man shall cherish a sacred regard for his fellow beings. Every soul saved will be saved through love, which begins with God. True conversion is a change from selfishness to sanctified affection for God and for one another.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 114, 115.

5 What is our work today in preparation for the latter rain? 11 Chronicles 30:8; Romans 6:13.

note: “The third angel’s message is swelling into a loud cry, and you must not feel at liberty to neglect the present duty, and still entertain the idea that at some future time you will be the recipients of great blessing, when without any effort on your part a wonderful revival will take place. . . . Today you are to have your vessel purified, that it may be ready for the heavenly dew, ready for the showers of the latter rain; for the latter rain will come, and the blessing of God will fill every soul that is purified from every defilement. It is our work today to yield our souls to Christ, that we may be fitted for the time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord—fitted for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Evangelism, 701, 702.

6 What should characterize our attitude toward the latter rain? Isaiah 55:6. Compare Hosea 10:12.

note: “We need not worry about the latter rain. All we have to do is to keep the vessel clean and right side up and prepared for the reception of the heavenly rain, and keep praying, ‘Let the latter rain come into my vessel. Let the light of the glorious angel which unites with the third angel shine upon me; give me a part in the work; let me sound the proclamation; let me be a colaborer with Jesus Christ.’ Thus seeking God, let me tell you, He is fitting you up all the time, giving you His grace.” The Upward Look, 283.

7 Are God’s conditions for the latter rain too high to attain? Matthew 5:48. Compare Ephesians 3:11–14.

note: “Our heavenly Father claims not at our hands that which we cannot perform. He desires His people to labor earnestly to carry out His purpose for them. They are to pray for power, expect power, and receive power, that they may grow up into the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus.

“Not all members of the church are cultivating personal piety; therefore they do not understand their personal responsibility. They do not realize that it is their privilege and duty to reach the high standard of Christian perfection. . . . Are we looking forward to the latter rain, confidently hoping for a better day, when the church shall be endued with power from on high and thus fitted for work? The latter rain will never refresh and invigorate the indolent, who do not use the powers God has given them.” In Heavenly Places, 338.

8 What provision has God made that we might attain to the perfection necessary for the latter rain? 11 Corinthians 7:1. Compare 11 Peter 1:4; 1 John 3:3.

note: “The human organism is the handiwork of God. The organs employed in all the different functions of the body were made by Him. The Lord gives us food and drink, that the wants of the body may be supplied. He has given the earth different properties adapted to the growth of food for His children. He gives the sunshine and the showers, the early and the latter rain. He forms the clouds and sends the dew. All are His gifts. . . .

“But all these blessings will not restore in us His moral image unless we cooperate with Him, making painstaking effort to know ourselves, to understand how to care for the delicate human machinery. Man must diligently help to keep himself in harmony with nature’s laws. He who cooperates with God in the work of keeping this wonderful machinery in order, who consecrates all his powers to God, seeking intelligently to obey the laws of nature, stands in his God-given manhood, and is recorded in the books of heaven as a man.” In Heavenly Places, 157.

“We need to understand that individually we are in copartnership with God. ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,’ He admonishes us, and adds, ‘For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure’ (Philippians 2:12, 13). Here is the cooperation of the divine with human agencies. . . .

“The former and the latter rains are needed. ‘We are labourers together with God’ (1 Corinthians 3:9). The Lord alone can give the precious former and latter rain. The clouds, the sunshine, the dews at night—these are heaven’s most precious provisions. But all these favors graciously bestowed of Heaven will prove of little worth to those who do not appropriate them by diligent, painstaking effort on their part.” This Day with God, 276.

9 What precious gift has God given His people to prepare them for the latter rain? Ephesians 4:11.

note: “We call upon you to take your stand on the Lord’s side, and act your part as a loyal subject of the kingdom. Acknowledge the gift that has been placed in the church for the guidance of God’s people in the closing days of earth’s history. From the beginning the church of God has had the gift of prophecy in her midst as a living voice to counsel, admonish, and instruct.

“We have now come to the last days of the work of the third angel’s message, when Satan will work with increasing power because he knows that his time is short. At the same time there will come to us through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, diversities of operations in the outpouring of the Spirit. This is the time of the latter rain.—Letter 230, 1908.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 83.

“In sending forth His ministers our Saviour gave gifts unto men, for through them He communicates to the world the words of eternal life. This is the means which God has ordained for the perfecting of the saints in knowledge and true holiness.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 237.

10 What insightful observation is made to help us evaluate the genuineness of our profession? Ephesians 4:31, 32.

note: “There is no virtue in your prayers to God when you get right up from your prayers and begin to speak sharp words and make yourself disagreeable in your family. When you get up from your prayers and begin to fret and to find fault with everything and with God Himself—for this has been done—your prayers don’t go any higher than your head. Shall we now have that faith that works by love and purifies the soul here where this reformation means so much? Well, that is what we want; because the latter rain is coming, and we want the vessel all cleansed from its work of impurity. We want the vessel to be a vessel unto honor, fit for the Master’s use. . . .

“There is not a quarreling man—no matter if your profession is as high as heaven—nor a quarreling woman; not one that loves to talk and berate and wound and injure the souls and reputation of God’s people, that will ever enter the portals of the city of God. Why? Because there would be a second rebellion in heaven. What we need now is to be students, to learn in the school of Christ to perfect a Christlike character.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, 197, 198.

11 What is the true Christian’s highest desire? 11 Corinthians 3:18. Compare 11 Peter 1:4.

note: “God will accept nothing less than unreserved surrender. Half-hearted, sinful Christians can never enter heaven. There they would find no happiness; for they know nothing of the high, holy principles that govern the members of the royal family.

“The true Christian keeps the windows of the soul open heavenward. He lives in fellowship with Christ. His will is conformed to the will of Christ. His highest desire is to become more and more Christlike.” Review and Herald, May 16, 1907.

12 What are the credentials of those who receive the latter rain? John 13:34, 35.

note: “How broad, how full is this love. The new part of that commandment the disciples did not understand. They were to love one another as Christ had loved them. These were their credentials that Christ was formed within, the hope of glory. (Manuscript 82, 1898).” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1141.

“As the members of Christ’s body approach the period of their final conflict they will grow up into him, and will possess symmetrical characters. As the message of the third angel swells to a loud cry, great power and glory will attend the closing work. It is the latter rain, which revives and strengthens the people of God to pass through the time of Jacob’s trouble referred to by the prophets. The glory of that light which attends the third angel will be reflected upon them. God will preserve his people through that time of peril.” The Signs of the Times, November 27, 1879.

Peter’s Counsel to Parents, Part VIII: “Steadfast Unto the End”

In the second letter addressed by Peter to those who had obtained “like precious faith” with himself, the apostle sets forth the divine plan for the development of Christian character. He writes:

“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [11 Peter 1:2–8.]

Ladder of Christian Perfection

These words are full of instruction, and strike the key-note of victory. The apostle presents before the believers the ladder of Christian perfection, every step of which represents continual advancement in the knowledge of God, and in the climbing of which there is to be no standstill. Faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity are the rounds of the ladder. We are saved by climbing round after round, mounting step after step, to the height of Christ’s ideal for us. Thus he is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.


God has called his people to glory and virtue, and these will be manifest in the lives of all who are truly connected with him. Having become partakers of the heavenly gift, they are to go on to perfection, being “kept by the power of God through faith.” [1 Peter 1:5.] It is the glory of God to give his virtue to his children. He desires to see men and women reaching the highest standard; and when by faith they lay hold of the power of Christ, when they plead his unfailing promises, and claim them as their own, when with an importunity that will not be denied they seek for the power of the Holy Spirit, they will be made complete in him.

Safeguard of Knowledge

Having received the faith of the gospel, the next work of the believer is to add to his character virtue, and thus cleanse the heart and prepare the mind for the reception of the knowledge of God. This knowledge is the foundation of all true education and of all true service. It is the only real safeguard against temptation; and it is this alone that can make one like God in character. Through the knowledge of God and of his Son Jesus Christ, are given to the believer “all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” [11 Peter 1:3.] No good gift is withheld from him who sincerely desires to obtain the righteousness of God.

“This is life eternal,” Christ said, “that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” [John 17:3.] And the prophet Jeremiah declared: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” [Jeremiah 9:23, 24.] Scarcely can the human mind comprehend the breadth and depth and height of the spiritual attainments of him who gains this knowledge.

Character Perfection Possible

None need fail of attaining, in his sphere, to perfection of Christian character. By the sacrifice of Christ, provision has been made for the believer to receive all things that pertain to life and godliness. God calls upon us to reach the standard of perfection, and places before us the example of Christ’s character. In his humanity, perfected by a life of constant resistance of evil, the Saviour showed that through cooperation with divinity human beings may in this life attain to perfection of a character. This is God’s assurance to us that we too may obtain complete victory.

Before the believer is held out the wonderful possibility of being like Christ, obedient to all the principles of the law. But of himself man is utterly unable to reach this condition. The holiness that God’s Word declares he must have before he can be saved, is the result of the working of divine grace, as he bows in submission to the discipline and restraining influences of the Spirit of truth. Man’s obedience can be made perfect only by the incense of Christ’s righteousness, which fills with divine fragrance every act of obedience. The part of the Christian is to persevere in overcoming every fault. Constantly he is to pray to the Saviour to heal the disorders of his sinsick soul. He has not the wisdom nor the strength to overcome; these belong to the Lord, and he bestows them on those who in humiliation and contrition seek him for help.

The work of transformation from unholiness to holiness is a continuous one. Day by day God labors for man’s sanctification, and man is to cooperate with him, putting forth persevering efforts in the cultivation of right habits. He is to add grace to grace; and as he thus works on the plan of addition, God works for him on the plan of multiplication. He is always ready to hear and answer the prayer of the contrite heart, and grace and peace are multiplied to his faithful ones. Gladly he grants them the blessings that they need in their struggle against the evils that beset them.

There are those who attempt to ascend the ladder of Christian progress; but as they advance, they begin to put their trust in the power of man, and soon lose sight of Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith. The result is failure—the loss of all that has been gained. Sad indeed is the condition of those who, becoming weary of the way, allow the enemy of souls to rob them of the Christian graces that have been developing in their hearts and lives. “He that lacketh these things,” declares the apostle, “is blind, and can not see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” [11 Peter 1:9.]

No Possibility of Failure

The apostle Peter had had a long experience in the things of God. His faith in God’s power to save had strengthened with the years, until he had proved beyond question that there is no possibility of failure before the one who, advancing by faith, ascends round by round, ever upward and onward, to the topmost round of the ladder that reaches even to the portals of heaven.

Privileges of Believers

For many years Peter had been urging the believers to grow in grace and in a knowledge of the truth; and now, knowing that soon he would be called upon to suffer martyrdom for his faith, he once more drew attention to the precious privileges within the reach of every believer. In the full assurance of his faith, the aged disciple exhorted his brethren to steadfastness of purpose in the Christian life. “Give diligence,” he pleaded, “to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” [11 Peter 1:10, 11.] Precious assurance! Glorious is the hope set before the believer as he advances by faith toward the heights of Christian perfection!

“I will not be negligent,” the apostle continues, “to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me. Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.” [Verses 12–15.]

The apostle was well qualified to speak of the purposes of God concerning the human race; for during the earthly ministry of Christ he had seen and heard much that pertained to the kingdom of God. “We have not followed cunningly devised fables,” he reminded the believers, “when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.” [Verses 16–18.]

Safe Guide of Prophecy

Convincing as was this evidence of the certainty of the believers’ hope, there was yet another still more convincing in the witness of prophecy, through which the faith of all might be confirmed and securely anchored. “We have also,” Peter declared, “a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” [Verses 19–21.]

While exalting the “sure word of prophecy” as a safe guide in times of peril, the apostle solemnly warned the church against the torch of false prophecy, which would be uplifted by “false teachers,” who would privily bring in “damnable heresies, even denying the Lord.” These false teachers arising in the church are accounted true by many of their brethren in the faith, but the apostle compared them to “wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever.” “The latter end is worse with them,” he declared, “than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” [11 Peter 2:1, 2, 17, 20, 21.]

End Time Conditions

Looking down through the ages to the close of time, Peter was inspired to outline conditions that would exist in the world just prior to the second coming of Christ. “There shall come in the last days scoffers,” he wrote, “walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” But “when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” [11 Peter 3:3, 4; 1 Thessalonians 5:3.] Not all, however, would be ensnared by the enemy’s devices. As the end of all things earthly approached, there would be faithful ones able to discern the signs of the times. While a larger number of professing believers would deny their faith by their works, there would be a remnant who would endure to the end.

Peter kept alive in his heart the hope of Christ’s return, and he assured the church of the certain fulfilment of the Saviour’s promise, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself.” [John 14:3.] To the tried and faithful ones the coming might seem long delayed, but the apostle assured them: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

“Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found to him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you. . . . Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” [11 Peter 3:9–15, 17, 18.]

Peter’s Imprisonment

In the providence of God, Peter was permitted to close his ministry in Rome, where his imprisonment was ordered by the emperor Nero about the time of Paul’s final arrest. Thus the two veteran apostles, who for many years had been widely separated in their labors, were called upon to bear their last witness for Christ in the world’s metropolis, and upon its soil to shed their blood as the seed of a vast harvest of saints and martyrs.

Since his reinstatement after his denial of Christ, Peter had unflinchingly braved danger, and had shown a noble courage and boldness in preaching a crucified, risen, and ascended Saviour. As he lay in his cell, he called to mind the words that Christ had spoken to him: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.” [John 21:18.] Thus Jesus had made known to the disciple the very manner of his death, and even foretold the stretching of his hands upon the cross.

Peter’s Death

Peter, as a Jew and a foreigner, was condemned to be scourged and crucified. In prospect of this fearful death, the apostle remembered his great sin in denying Jesus in the hour of his trial. Once so unready to acknowledge the cross, he now counted it a joy to yield up his life for the gospel, feeling only that for him who had denied his Lord, to die in the same manner as his Master died was too great an honor. Peter had sincerely repented of that sin, and had been forgiven by Christ, as is shown by the high commission given him to feed the sheep and lambs of the flock. But he could never forgive himself. Not even the thought of the agonies of the last terrible scene could lessen the bitterness of his sorrow and repentance. As a last favor, he entreated his executioners that he might be nailed to the cross with his head downward. The request was granted, and in this manner died the great apostle Peter.

Review and Herald, September 19, 1912; September 26, 1912.

Ellen G. White (1827–1915) wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books during her lifetime. Today, including compilations from her 50,000 pages of manuscript, more than 100 titles are available in English. She is the most translated woman writer in the entire history of literature, and the most translated American author of either gender. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Mrs. White was appointed by God as a special messenger to draw the world’s attention to the Holy Scriptures and help prepare people for Christ’s second advent.

Editorial – The Higher Standard

In the world there are standards in every area of life. In the church, there are also standards relevant to our religious life—standards of conduct, standards of speech, and standards relating to even our thoughts (see the Sermon on the Mount—Matthew 5). The Ten Commandments were pointed out by Jesus in His sermon as the standard, not only of our conduct and speech, but even our thoughts. In this editorial, I want to point out the highest standard for the Christian.

“There is no higher standard than the life of Christ.” Medical Ministry, 160. The Ten Commandments are the standard, and when we hear them we are hearing the standard of character that God has for all of His children. But when we look at the life of Christ, we actually see what the standard is when lived out in the life of a person. The life of Christ provides for us not only the precept, but an actual perfect example of what a person is like when living out the principles of the commandments. Since seeing is a more powerful teaching device than hearing, and since the mind will accept what is seen over what is heard, the life of Christ provides a perfect standard and the highest standard for which we are to strive.

This is what the Lord wants to do in our lives: “God has called His people to glory and virtue, and these will be manifest in the lives of all who are truly connected with Him. Having become partakers of the heavenly gift, they are to go on unto perfection, being ‘kept by the power of God through faith.’ 1 Peter 1:5. It is the glory of God to give His virtue to His children. He desires to see men and women reaching the highest standard; and when by faith they lay hold of the power of Christ, when they plead His unfailing promises, and claim them as their own, when with an importunity that will not be denied they seek for the power of the Holy Spirit, they will be made complete in Him.” The Acts of the Apostles, 530.

The devil claims that this cannot be done, but the Lord predicts that it will happen in every one of His children: “It has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him.” 1 John 3:2. NKJV This is the experience to which God is calling you. It will happen in your life as you cooperate with the divine agencies sent to this world for your salvation.

Perfection, What is It?

Seventh-day Adventists are fond of claiming that we are the remnant church. The proof text normally used to prove our case is Revelation 12:17, which says, “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Revelation 12:9 identifies the dragon: “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” 

Many Protestants will tell you the “woman” represents the virgin Mary. Revelation 12:1–6 speaks of a woman with child, who cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. The dragon that stood before the woman ready to give birth was ready to devour her Child as soon as it was born. 

It says here that this woman bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. Revelation 19:11–15 describes in symbolic language the Second Coming of Christ. Verse 15 says, “Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

The person who rules all nations with a rod of iron is Jesus Christ. It also says something very similar to that in Revelation 2:26, 27: “… he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—He shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the potter’s vessel shall be broken in pieces, so I also have received from My Father” (literal translation).

Jesus Christ is the ruler of the nations. He was a male child, and was caught up to heaven, to God, and to His throne (Revelation 12:5). Looking at the text that says a great sign appeared in heaven, we notice that John is not here talking about a literal man or woman, dragon or beast. This is a vision that has been given in symbolic language. The Greek word is semeion, which means a symbol or a sign. 

The woman standing on the moon and clothed with the sun that brings forth a male child cannot be the virgin Mary for Revelation 12:1 speaks in symbolic language. Paul wrote, “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19). Notice, Christ is to be formed in the church. The church is to bring forth the spiritual image of Jesus Christ. 

In Colossians 1:27 we are told: “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” It is when Christ is formed within a person that he has hope of eternal life. 

A symbolic woman in Scripture refers to the church. One example of many is found in Hosea 1:2. Hosea is told to take a wife of harlotry and this harlot wife has three children. This sad story of Hosea and his wife is a type or an example of God’s experience with the children of Israel, God being the husband and the children of Israel who were supposed to be married to Him, but continually fall in love with other lovers. You can see in chapters 3 and 4 that the book of Hosea uses the symbolism of a woman representing a church and her husband representing the Lord.

Jeremiah 3:14 says, “ ‘Return, O backsliding children,’ says the Lord; ‘for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.’ ”

“Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, so have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel,” says the Lord” (verse 20).

The whole book of Song of Solomon is based on this imagery where Solomon, the husband, represents the Lord, and where the wife, a Shulamite woman, represents the church. In his letter written to the church in Corinth, Paul says, “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2).

To interpret the woman in Revelation 12 as the church is in harmony with the way this symbol is used throughout Scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments. We also know from other language used in this chapter that this woman could not be the virgin Mary. It was the seed of the woman, the church, that was to bring forth the Messiah. Verse 6 says, “Then the woman fled into the wilderness (the desert), where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” There is no record of that being the experience of the virgin Mary.

Verses 13–16 say, “Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.”

Clear back at the time of the flood, the Lord had made preparation for His people. In the mountains north of Milan, Italy, were the Alps and seven Piedmont Valleys. The passageway to get into some of these valleys was so narrow that to enter you had to go single file. A small force of men could defend the valley against a huge army. 

As a result of persecution, God’s people fled from all over the world to the kingdom of Theodoric, who controlled Italy and offered people religious freedom. Many from the eastern part of the Roman Empire, where they did not have religious freedom, fled to Italy. Freedom was short lived there; so the Christians travelled north to Milan and then north of Milan where they worshiped the Lord in freedom of conscience for hundreds of years in obscurity.

Finally, the papacy tried to wipe out the Waldenses and Revelation 12:14–16 describes the persecution against God’s saints that continued for one thousand, two hundred and sixty years, as was prophesied. Verse 17 says, “… the dragon was enraged with the woman (not the virgin Mary, for she had been dead for about 2,000 years by then). The dragon was enraged with the woman (the church), and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring (the last remnant of the church), who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

The testimony of Jesus Christ is defined in Revelation 19:10: “And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ ” God’s last church on the earth will keep the commandments and will have the spirit of prophecy. 

The remnant of anything is what is left at the end. It will be the church described in Ephesians 5:26, 27, which says, “… that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”

There are other places where the apostles describe the remnant. Paul says, “Who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:8). Various other apostles talked about the church being blameless when Jesus comes. 

Peter says in 2 Peter 3:14: “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.” John said the same in 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

This is an unpopular doctrine and many, recognizing their own imperfections feel it is an impossible goal and look for some other way to be saved without being perfect. But Paul says, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). The Holy Spirit can work a miracle in your life. 

Paul discusses the growth of the Christian life. “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you must also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

“Therefore, as the elect of God (the remnant), holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:1–14, literal translation).

Notice verse 14. More important than anything else that you try to either leave aside or adopt as part of your character, Paul says to put on love because that is the bond of perfection. 

A perfect person is one who has perfect love in his heart. It is just that simple. Love will develop all other Christian graces, leaving off the sins that have been mentioned in the previous verses. In fact, love is so powerful that the apostle Paul says you will never fail to reach Christian perfection if you have love in your heart. 1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “Love never fails.” 

Love “bears (protects) all things and believes all things.” When things get unbelievable, it still “hopes all things,” and then when it seems altogether hopeless, it “endures all things” (verse 7). “Love never fails” (verse 8, first part).

If love is the way to perfection, how can I get it? It is not a natural attribute of the carnal man. Our nature is to be selfish, to love self more than anybody else. It is a perverted form of love, the way the devil loves—selfishness. 

Jesus loved selflessly so we could be saved. The experience of His lowly birth in Bethlehem, His life, His ministry, His trial, His death on the cross; He endured it all to open the gates of Paradise for others who did not deserve it. 

Love is the bond of perfection; it is something I do not naturally have in myself, or have the ability to generate. It is given as a precious gift that we receive from Jesus.

In The Desire of Ages, 22, Ellen White wrote that love cannot be awakened by force or by authority. And then is this interesting sentence, that I have pondered many times. She says, “Only by love is love awakened.” 

Solomon talked about this. “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave, its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised” (Song of Solomon 8:6, 7).

Love cannot be bought with money, “Only by love is love awakened.”

Many years ago, an orphanage took in infants that had no mothers. These infants were not gaining weight as they should. It was found that the reason the infants were not thriving was that nobody took time to hold them or to cuddle them. They were fed but they were not being loved; so they did not thrive. Though babies are born selfish, they crave love. As the mother loves the baby and it feels secure and happy, it very quickly responds. A baby does not feel that same security and happiness with a stranger. 

There are many people, even Christians, who have never really been loved as a child and do not know how to love and often grow up emotionally crippled, which often affects that person for the rest of his life. 

The Bible talks about this. Paul says in Hebrews 12:12, 13, “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.”

This person is not one needing a cane to walk but a person who is spiritually crippled, spiritually lame and not able to walk the path the same way as somebody else. For this reason, we are not to judge people in the church, for we do not know their background. When the Lord comes again, He is going to heal these people, but for now we have a work to do. Make the paths straight and do not put an obstacle in it that they won’t be able to get over. Make special allowances for these people. 

When Jesus met people, He bent over them with a tenderness that exceeded the love of a mother for her child. Those who were healed or forgiven knew that this Person loved them, He wanted them to have everlasting life. If only one person had responded to Him, He still would have come to this world. Remember, the Shepherd had a hundred sheep and went out to find the one that was lost. 

Love comes from Jesus and to receive it from Him we must spend time with Him. Only then will we have love to give to other people and to give back to the Lord. 

Two questions about love: What is it, and What it is not?

1 John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”

Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” The one that doesn’t love Me, doesn’t keep My commandments (see John 14:22, 23). 

So, if I receive the love of Jesus into my heart, I will be obedient.

Luke 6:27, 28: “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.”

That command is impossible from a human point of view and only possible if the Holy Spirit gives you a new heart and a new spirit. 

John 13:34 and 35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for one another.”

Until Jesus went to the cross, His disciples did not know the depth of love their Master had for each one and what He was willing to give up to save mankind. Then He said, You love one another, the way I love you. 

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down One’s life for His friends.” And, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

Look at 1 John 4:7, 8: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” “We love Him because He first loved us” (verse 19).

In the book Education, 114, Ellen White says, “Only the love that flows from the heart of Christ can heal. Only he in whom that love flows, even as the sap in the tree or the blood in the body, can restore the wounded soul.”

And by the way, friends, there are wounded people all around us. But if we do not have love in our heart, we cannot heal them. 

“Love’s agencies have wonderful power, for they are divine. The soft answer that ‘turneth away wrath,’ the love that ‘suffereth long, and is kind,’ the charity that ‘covereth a multitude of sins’ (Proverbs 15:1; 1 Corinthians 13:4 R.V.; 1 Peter 4:8)—would we learn the lesson, with what power for healing would our lives be gifted!  How life would be transformed, and the earth become a very likeness and foretaste of heaven!” Education, 114.

 “True love is not a strong, fiery, impetuous passion. On the contrary, it is calm and deep in its nature. It looks beyond mere externals and is attracted by qualities alone. It is wise and discriminating, and its devotion is real and abiding. God tests and proves us by the common occurrences of life. It is the little things which reveal the chapters of the heart. It is the little attentions, the numerous small incidents and simple courtesies of life, that make up the sum of life’s happiness; and it is the neglect of kindly, encouraging, affectionate words, and the little courtesies of life, which helps compose the sum of life’s wretchedness. It will be found at last that the denial of self for the good and happiness of those around us constitutes a large share of the life record in heaven. And the fact will also be revealed that the care of self, irrespective of the good and happiness of others, is not beneath the notice of our heavenly Father.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 133.

“Mildness, gentleness, forbearance, long-suffering, being not easily provoked, bearing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things—these are the fruit growing upon the precious tree of love, which is of heavenly growth. This tree, if nourished, will prove to be an evergreen. Its branches will not decay, its leaves will not wither. It is immortal, eternal, watered continually by the dews of heaven. 

“Love is power. Intellectual and moral strength are involved in this principle, and cannot be separated from it. The power of wealth has a tendency to corrupt and destroy; the power of force is strong to do hurt; but the excellence and value of pure love consist in its efficiency to do good, and to do nothing else than good. Whatsoever is done out of pure love, be it ever so little or contemptible in the sight of men, is wholly fruitful; for God regards more with how much love one worketh than the amount he doeth. Love is of God. The unconverted heart cannot originate nor produce this plant of heavenly growth, which lives and flourishes only where Christ reigns.    

“Love cannot live without action, and every act increases, strengthens, and extends it. Love will gain the victory when argument and authority are powerless. Love works not for profit nor reward; yet God has ordained that great gain shall be the certain result of every labor of love. It is diffusive in its nature and quiet in its operation, yet strong and mighty in its purpose to overcome great evils. It is melting and transforming in its influence, and will take hold of the lives of the sinful and affect their hearts when every other means has proved unsuccessful. Wherever the power of intellect, of authority, or of force is employed, and love is not manifestly present, the affections and will of those whom we seek to reach assume a defensive, repelling position, and their strength of resistance is increased. Jesus was the Prince of Peace. He came into the world to bring resistance and authority into subjection to Himself. Wisdom and strength He could command, but the means He employed with which to overcome evil were the wisdom and strength of love. Suffer nothing to divide your interest from your present work until God shall see fit to give you another piece of work in the same field.” Ibid., 134–136.

“Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12). Ibid., 136.

Perfection is not a bad word, as many people think. Perfection simply means to have perfect love in your heart. If you love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and you love your neighbor as yourself, you are perfect. 

Perfection is not complicated. We are talking about spiritual perfection. Physical perfection will not be acquired until Jesus comes when He will change you and give you a new body. You are not even required to have mental perfection, but rather spiritual perfection. Spiritual perfection is achieved simply when a person loves God with all his heart, soul, and mind, and his neighbor as himself. And that can happen in your life when you get acquainted with Jesus. He will put that love in your heart through His Holy Spirit. Love is the first fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

When you receive Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes into your life and the first thing that happens is you receive the gift of love in your heart. And being perfect simply means to have perfect love.

It would be dangerous to take anybody to heaven who did not love God with all his heart, soul, and mind, and his neighbor as himself, for it would not be heaven for very long. Pray for that gift of perfect love so you will be ready to meet Jesus when He returns.

(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.

Bible Study Guides – Going on to Perfection

July 1, 2012 – July 7, 2012

Key Text

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.” Hebrews 6:1.

Study Help: The Acts of the Apostles, 529–538.


“We are not yet perfect; but it is our privilege to cut away from the entanglements of self and sin, and advance to perfection.” The Acts of the Apostles, 565.


  • How does an individual become a Christian? John 3:5; I Peter 1:23.

Note: “The change of heart by which we become children of God is in the Bible spoken of as birth.” Steps to Christ, 67.

“When truth becomes an abiding principle in the life, the soul is ‘born again.’ … This new birth is the result of receiving Christ as the Word of God. When by the Holy Spirit divine truths are impressed upon the heart, new conceptions are awakened, and the energies hitherto dormant are aroused to co-operate with God.” The Acts of the Apostles, 520.

  • What type of experience did the believers at Ephesus enjoy at the very beginning of their Christian life? Revelation 2:2, 3; Acts 4:32–34.

Note: “After the descent of the Holy Spirit the disciples went forth to proclaim a risen Saviour, their one desire the salvation of souls. They rejoiced in the sweetness of the communion with saints. They were tender, thoughtful, self-denying, willing to make any sacrifice for the truth’s sake. In their daily association with one another they revealed the love that Christ had commanded them to reveal. By unselfish words and deeds they strove to kindle this love in other hearts.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 241.


  • What do we expect from babies as they age? I Peter 2:2.

Note: “In giving us the privilege of studying His word, the Lord has set before us a rich banquet. Many are the benefits derived from feasting on His word, which is represented by Him as His flesh and blood, His spirit and life. By partaking of this word our spiritual strength is increased; we grow in grace and in a knowledge of the truth. Habits of self-control are formed and strengthened. The infirmities of childhood—fretfulness, willfulness, selfishness, hasty words, passionate acts—disappear, and in their place are developed the graces of Christian manhood and womanhood.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 207.

  • Spiritually speaking, how important is proper food intake in the growth of a child? II Peter 3:18; Ephesians 4:14, 15.

Note: “The work of sanctification begins in the home. Those who are Christians in the home will be Christians in the church and in the world.” My Life Today, 261.

“If as newborn babes you desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, you will have no appetite to partake of a dish of evil speaking, but all such food will be at once rejected, because those who have tasted that the Lord is gracious cannot partake of the dish of nonsense, and folly, and backbiting. They will say decidedly, ‘Take this dish away. I do not want to eat such food. It is not the bread from heaven. It is eating and drinking the very spirit of the devil; for it is his business to be an accuser of the brethren.’ ” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 458.

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


  • How does God treat those who have a limited amount of knowledge in the present truth? Acts 17:30; James 4:17.

Note: “Said the angel: ‘If light come, and that light is set aside or rejected, then comes condemnation and the frown of God; but before the light comes, there is no sin, for there is no light for them to reject.’ ” Testimonies, vol. 1, 116.

  • What is expected of those who are privileged to hear and understand the truth? Proverbs 4:18; Hebrews 6:1.

Note: “It is a sad thing when a people claiming to be reformers cease to reform.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 185.

“God requires of His people according to the grace and truth given them. All His righteous demands must be fully met. Accountable beings must walk in the light that shines upon them. If they fail to do this, their light becomes darkness, and their darkness is great in the same degree as their light was abundant.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 123.

“The word of the Lord, spoken through His servants, is received by many with questionings and fears. And many will defer their obedience to the warning and reproofs given, waiting till every shadow of uncertainty is removed from their minds. The unbelief that demands perfect knowledge will never yield to the evidence that God is pleased to give. He requires of His people faith that rests upon the weight of evidence, not upon perfect knowledge. Those followers of Christ who accept the light that God sends them must obey the voice of God speaking to them when there are many other voices crying out against it. It requires discernment to distinguish the voice of God.

“Those who will not act when the Lord calls upon them, but who wait for more certain evidence and more favorable opportunities, will walk in darkness, for the light will be withdrawn. The evidence given one day, if rejected, may never be repeated.” Ibid., vol. 3, 258.


  • Does punishment and destruction come to a people because of a lack of knowledge—or is it through a rejection of the knowledge that God gives us? Hosea 4:6.

Note: “It is not for lack of knowledge that God’s people are now perishing. They will not be condemned because they do not know the way, the truth, and the life. The truth that has reached their understanding, the light which has shone on the soul, but which has been neglected or refused, will condemn them. Those who never had the light to reject will not be in condemnation. What more could have been done for God’s vineyard than has been done? Light, precious light, shines upon God’s people; but it will not save them unless they consent to be saved by it, fully live up to it, and transmit it to others in darkness.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 123.

  • How dangerous is neglecting to follow the light we are privileged to receive? Galatians 3:1.

Note: “Religious knowledge has accumulated, and this has increased corresponding obligations. Great light has been shining upon the church, and by it they are condemned because they refuse to walk in it. If they were blind they would be without sin. But they have seen light and have heard much truth, yet are not wise and holy. Many have for years made no advancement in knowledge and true holiness. They are spiritual dwarfs. Instead of going forward to perfection, they are going back to the darkness and bondage of Egypt. Their minds are not exercised unto godliness and true holiness.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 123, 124.

“God requires of us according to the grace that He has bestowed upon us, and He will not accept less than He claims. All His righteous demands must be fully met. In order for us to discharge our responsibilities, we must stand on that elevated ground which the order and advancement of holy, sacred truth has prepared for us.” Ibid., vol. 3, 65.

“Every person who cherishes a known error, in faith or practice, is under the power of sorcery, and is practicing sorcery upon others. Satan employs him to mislead other souls.” The Signs of the Times, May 18, 1882.


  • How are we to maintain continual development as we walk with Jesus? Hebrews 13:12; Philippians 3:15; I Thessalonians 4:4.

Note: “The Word of Christ is the bread of life that is furnished for every soul that liveth. To refuse to eat this bread is death. He that neglects to partake of the Word of God shall not see life. Receiving the Word is believing the Word, and this is eating Christ’s flesh, drinking His blood. To dwell and abide in Christ is to dwell and abide in His Word; it is to bring heart and character into conformity to His commands.” The Southern Work, 52.

  • To what extent are we to continue our growth? Hebrews 6:1; Matthew 5:48.

Note: “Let us be growing Christians. We are not to stand still. We are to be in advance today of what we were yesterday; every day learning to be more trustful, more fully relying upon Jesus. Thus we are to grow up. You do not at one bound reach perfection; sanctification is the work of a lifetime.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 193.

“Every living Christian will advance daily in the divine life. As he advances toward perfection, he experiences a conversion to God every day; and this conversion is not completed until he attains to perfection of Christian character, a full preparation for the finishing touch of immortality.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 505.

“The Lord chooses His own agents, and each day under different circumstances He gives them a trial in His plan of operation. In each true-hearted endeavor to work out His plan, He chooses His agents not because they are perfect but because, through a connection with Him, they may gain perfection.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 330.

  • How can we see ourselves as we really are? Isaiah 6:1, 5; II Corinthians 13:5.

Note: “Every follower of Christ should daily examine himself, that he may become perfectly acquainted with his own conduct.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 511.

“The more experience we gain, the nearer we draw toward the pure light of heaven, the more shall we discern in ourselves that needs reforming.” Ibid., vol. 3, 542.


1 When we are truly dedicated to our Saviour, how will our priorities change?

2 For proper spiritual growth, of what type of food do we need to partake?

3 As reformers by name, are we—am I—continuing the process of true reformation?

4 What is the true cause of destruction?

5 At what point can we rest satisfied in our Christian journey?

Extra Reading

“We may all do a good work in blessing others if we will seek counsel of God and follow on in obedience and faith. The path of the just is progressive, from strength to strength, from grace to grace, and from glory to glory. The divine illumination will increase more and more, corresponding with our onward movements, qualifying us to meet the responsibilities and emergencies before us.

“When trials press you, when despondency and dark unbelief control your thoughts, when selfishness molds your actions, you do not see your need of God and of a deep and thorough knowledge of His will. You know not the will of God, neither can you know it while you live for self. You rely upon your good intentions and resolutions, and the principal sum of life is composed of resolutions made and resolutions broken. What you all need is to die to self, cease clinging to self, and surrender to God. Gladly would I comfort you if I could. Gladly would I praise your good qualities, good purposes, and good acts; but God was not pleased to show me these. He presented before me the hindrances to your gaining the noble, elevated character of holiness needful for you to have that you may not lose the heavenly rest and immortal glory He would have you attain. Look away from yourselves to Jesus. He is all and in all. The merits of the blood of a crucified and risen Saviour will avail to cleanse from the least and greatest sin. In trusting faith commit the keeping of your souls to God as unto a faithful Creator. Be not continually in fear and apprehension that God will leave you. He never will unless you depart from Him. Christ will come in and dwell with you if you will open the door of your hearts to Him. There may be perfect harmony between you and the Father and His Son if you will die to self and live unto God.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 542, 543.

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

Editorial – The Fragrant Christian

Do you have enough perfume? The fragrance of Christ’s character in His people will win many souls to Christ. “The grace of Christ is to control the temper and the voice. Its working will be seen in politeness and tender regard shown by brother for brother, in kind, encouraging words. An angel presence is in the home. The life breathes a sweet perfume, which ascends to God as holy incense. Love is manifested in kindness, gentleness, forbearance, and long-suffering.

“The countenance is changed. Christ abiding in the heart shines out in the faces of those who love Him and keep His commandments. Truth is written there. The sweet peace of heaven is revealed. There is expressed a habitual gentleness, a more than human love.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 102.

“When you open your eyes in the morning, thank God that He has kept you through the night. Thank Him for His peace in your heart. Morning, noon, and night, let gratitude as a sweet perfume ascend to heaven.” The Ministry of Healing, 253.

“God would have our families symbols of the family in heaven. Let parents and children bear this in mind every day, relating themselves to one another as members of the family of God. Then their lives will be of such a character as to give to the world an object-lesson of what families who love God and keep His commandments may be. Christ will be glorified; His peace and grace and love will pervade the family circle like a precious perfume. A beautiful offering, in the child life of Christian missionaries, will be made to God. This will make the heart of Jesus glad, and will be regarded by Him as the most precious offering He can receive.” The Review and Herald, November 17, 1896.

“The grace of Christ changes the whole man, making the coarse refined, the rough gentle, the selfish generous. It controls the temper and the voice. Its outworking is seen in politeness and tender regard shown by brother for brother, in kind, encouraging words and unselfish actions. An angel-presence is in the home. The life breathes forth a sweet perfume, which as holy incense ascends to God. Love is manifested in kindness, gentleness, forbearance, and longsuffering. The expression of the countenance is changed. The peace of heaven is revealed. There is seen a habitual gentleness, a more than human love. Humanity becomes a partaker of divinity. Christ is honored by perfection of character. As these changes are perfected, angels break forth in rapturous song, and God and Christ rejoice over souls fashioned after the divine similitude.” Ibid., August 20, 1959.

Editor’s Letter – Concerning Perfection

The following letter by Ellen White to a man and his wife who were in an unhappy marriage speaks of the necessity of reaching perfection of character and contains several hints about how to get started in this direction.

“You cannot afford to lose heaven, lose eternal life, lose the eternal weight of glory. … Why do you not act like a sane man, and be as earnest, as zealous, and as persevering in your efforts for the better life, the immortal crown, the eternal, imperishable treasure, as you are for this poor, miserable life and these poor perishable, earthly treasures?” Testimonies, vol. 1, 698.

“When tempted to murmur, censure, and indulge in fretfulness, wounding those around you, and in so doing wounding your own soul, oh! let the deep, earnest, anxious inquiry come from your soul, Shall I stand without fault before the throne of God? … Every defect in the moral character must first be remedied, every stain removed by the cleansing blood of Christ, and all the unlovely, unlovable traits of character overcome.” Ibid., 705.

“How long a time are you designing to take to prepare to be introduced into the society of heavenly angels in glory? … In the state which you and your family are in at present, all heaven would be marred should you be introduced therein. The work for you must be done here. This earth is the fitting-up place. You have not one moment to lose. All is harmony, peace, and love in heaven. No discord, no strife, no censuring, no unloving words, no clouded brows, no jars there; and no one will be introduced there who possesses any of these elements so destructive to peace and happiness. …

“Forever cease your murmurings in regard to this poor life, but let your soul’s burden be, how to secure the better life than this, a title to the mansions prepared for those who are true and faithful to the end. If you make a mistake here, everything is lost. …

“These trials of life are God’s workmen to remove the impurities, infirmities, and roughness from our characters, and fit us for the society of pure, heavenly angels in glory. But as we pass through these trials, as the fires of affliction kindle upon us, we must not keep the eye on the fire which is seen, but let the eye of faith fasten upon the things unseen, the eternal inheritance, the immortal life, the eternal weight of glory; and while we do this the fire will not consume us, but only remove the dross, and we shall come forth seven times purified, bearing the impress of the Divine.” Ibid., 705-707.